Return to Transcripts main page


Romney Criticizes London Olympics; Interview With Admiral William McRaven; Royal Welcome for Olympic Torch; Hurdles, Diving, Gymnastics And More; Russians Converge On Montana Ranch; Confusion Over Obama Faith Growing; Report: Jeb Bush Wants Rubio As VP

Aired July 26, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: He's the man who planned the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. And for the first time, he's speaking publicly and in depth about the mission that took out the world's most-wanted terrorist -- this hour, my exclusive interview with Admiral William McRaven. Stand by for that.

Also, the Olympic torch getting a royal welcome at Buckingham Palace from William, Catherine, and Harry.

Plus, a public relations nightmare unfolding right now over Chick-fil- A, the issue, same-sex marriage. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Aspen, Colorado. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

They're not the headlines Mitt Romney's campaign was hoping to see as the candidate met Britain's prime minister today. Romney sparked an uproar with remarks about London's readiness for the Olympic Games and prompted a pointed rebuke from the prime minister himself.

CNN's national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is in London and he's traveling with Romney right now.

Jim, so what's going on with the Republican candidate? What happened?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, earlier today, Mitt Romney told British leaders he's hoping to take in an Olympic swimming event during his time here in London. But with no pool in sight, he's making some waves of his own.


ACOSTA (voice-over): As Mitt Romney chatted up the Olympics in meeting after meeting with former and current British leaders, the London media were already off to the races with comments the GOP contender made about the city's preparations for the Games.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's hard to know just how well it will turn out.

ACOSTA: In an interview with NBC, Romney noted some of London's problems in getting ready for the Olympics.

ROMNEY: Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin. ACOSTA: It was that remark that drew a sharp response from British Prime Minister David Cameron. In the hours before his own scheduled meeting with Romney, Cameron put diplomacy aside and took issue with the Republican candidate's comments.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think we will show the world not just that we come together as a United Kingdom, but also we're extremely good at welcoming people from across the world.

ACOSTA: Then, in what sounded like a jab straight from a gold medal boxing match, Cameron appeared to draw a contrast between staging the Games in London vs. Salt Lake City, where Romney had guided the Olympics to success.

CAMERON: We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. I mean, of course, it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.

ACOSTA: After his meeting with Cameron, Romney faced reporters outside Number 10 Downing Street, where he tried to walk back his comments.

(on camera): Did you intend to criticize the way London has prepared for these Games?

ROMNEY: I'm very delighted with the prospects of a highly successful Olympic Games. What I have seen shows imagination and forethought and a lot of organization, and expect the Games to be highly successful.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On the same day the torch made its way through London, it was a diplomatic flame-out for Romney, who had come to the city hoping to tout his Olympics experience to voters back home. He did receive some shout-outs from British leaders.

ED MILIBAND, BRITISH LABOR PARTY LEADER: It's great to have somebody here who's organized a successful Olympic Games.

ACOSTA: Not so much on the streets of London.

OWEN CORRIGAN, LONDON: Mitt Romney is rude in what he says. He comes to visit the prime minister of the country and then he criticizes the country for the effort they put in to putting on the Olympics. I don't think it's right.


ACOSTA: Now, earlier this afternoon here in London, the mayor of this city was holding a rally, Wolf. We should tell you that at that rally the mayor of London actually called Romney out for his comments that he made about the Olympic Games to NBC, saying to a crowd -- a quote -- "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready. Are we ready? Yes, we are."

That's just some of the comments coming from the streets of London tonight. Wolf, there's no indication that any of this will have an effect on the campaign back home where as you know Romney is pummelling the president with TV ads on the economy. Romney is planning to attend the opening ceremonies with his wife, Ann, tomorrow before he heads off to Israel this weekend -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.

He's traveling with Mitt Romney in London right now. As he said, Romney's next stop is Israel. I will be traveling to Jerusalem this weekend for a one-on-one interview with the Republican presidential candidate. You will see the full interview with Mitt Romney right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. That will air on Monday.

This week, some of the world's top experts on fighting terrorism are here in Colorado for the Aspen Institute Security Forum that's co- sponsored with CNN and "The New York Times."

Today, I had a chance to conduct the first-ever public in-depth interview with U.S. Navy admiral who planned the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Admiral William McRaven may not be a household name, but as you're about to see, he's a genuine U.S. hero.


BLITZER: This is the guy who's sitting right here who had the guts to tell the commander in chief we should do it, let's do it. And when you ordered that raid and when you said you think you -- you didn't even know for sure that bin Laden was in Abbottabad at that compound about a mile or so away from the West Point of Pakistan, did you?

ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN, COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Well, let me make one thing clear. I didn't order the raid.


BLITZER: But he told the president of the United States that he thought he could do it.

MCRAVEN: I mean, and this is not a small point. The fact of the matter is it was the president of the United States that ordered the raid.

BLITZER: And he deserves an enormous amount of credit for that decision.

MCRAVEN: Absolutely, he does.


BLITZER: And when he came to the head of special operations, that would be you, and said, what do you think, what did you say?

MCRAVEN: Well, first, I will tell you that it was a long process to get there.

And our piece of it, the military piece of kind of what I look at kind of three components was probably the easiest aspect of the entire raid. The two other pieces of this were the CIA's role. And I think when the history is finally written and outlined and exposed on how the CIA determined that bin Laden was there, it will be one of the great intelligence operations in the history of intelligence organizations.

And a tremendous amount of that credit goes to Director Leon Panetta at the time because he built the right team, he had the right people, he made some very gutsy calls. And he was not concerned about who got the credit. And so when you take a look at how he built that team, which was a military and intelligence team, tremendous amount of credit goes to the agency.

And the other piece of this really is the president and his national security team. I have made it very clear to people, again, the military piece of this, we did I think 11 other raids that evening in Afghanistan. Now, I don't want to diminish the nature of this raid. It was a little bit more sporty.


MCRAVEN: And we understood that there were some strategic implications to it.

But, at the end of the day, it was what we had been doing really for 10 years. The president and his national security team -- I'm not a political guy, but I will tell you, as -- as an interested observer in this, they were magnificent in how they handled the start to finish.

We went through a number of meetings. The president asked all the right questions. His national security team, with Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton, Chairman Mullen, the vice chairman, Tom Donilon, Denis McDonough and John Brennan and others, really did a fine job of digging down to find out the facts, to make their recommendations based on the facts.

And of course the president gave me ample time to prepare once the concept was approved. But at the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions, that was instrumental in the planning process, because I pitched every plan to him.

So any indication that Bill McRaven ordered this raid, led this raid was, you know, the key piece of this raid is just patently false.

BLITZER: But you're a Navy SEAL.



BLITZER: And these men who went in there, Navy SEALs, they were taking orders from you directly.

MCRAVEN: They were.

BLITZER: You were speaking to all of them. You knew each one of them personally. Here's just a technical question. Did you rehearse it in advance?

MCRAVEN: Well, I'm not going to talk about the tactical details.

But, obviously, we're not going to do a mission like that without rehearsing. We rehearse every operation, particularly significant ones like that. As I said, I have made a point of not talking about the tactical piece of this, other than to say that it is what we do.

We get on helicopters, we go to objectives, we secure the objectives, we get back on helicopters, and we come home. I was short one helicopter, but...


BLITZER: Well, that stealth helicopter, when it went down -- and all of us have read about it, we have heard about it, I have spoken to people who were in that room, the White House SITUATION ROOM, which as opposed to another SITUATION ROOM -- but when that helicopter went down, there was a gasp, because a lot of the folks there, correct me if I'm wrong, thought of Desert One in 1980, Jimmy Carter's plan to rescue Americans in Iran.

MCRAVEN: Well, I wouldn't pretend to tell you what they were thinking.

BLITZER: What were you thinking?

MCRAVEN: I was too busy, frankly. I mean, we had a backup plan. We executed the backup plan.

And at that point in time, you're worried about getting the mission done and getting the boys back home. So we had a plan, suffice to say.

BLITZER: And it worked.

MCRAVEN: And it worked.

BLITZER: That helicopter, by the way, all the stealth technology and all that, is that gone? Has it been shared with bad guys?

MCRAVEN: I'm not going to address that.

BLITZER: You don't want to talk about it.


BLITZER: I'm curious.

All right, let's talk a little bit about -- and I want to nail this down as best as I can. You didn't have 100 percent knowledge. The president didn't have 100 percent knowledge that bin Laden was holed up in that compound. Did you have 80 percent, 50 percent? Give me a ballpark. How confident were you that a tall guy was hiding out in that compound?

MCRAVEN: Well, again, I'm not going to address the tactical piece of that.

Suffice to say we were not sure he was there. And, again, that gets back to some tough decisions that were made. My job was to get him if he was there. If he wasn't there, we would know that pretty quickly. And our intent was to get up and get out.

BLITZER: I suspect you're not going to want to answer this question, but I will ask it anyhow.


BLITZER: And as the admiral and I know -- we just spent some quality time together -- this is the United States of America. We can ask the questions. He doesn't have to answer them. But we can ask the questions.

And I think it's an important question that at least I have always been very, very curious about.

Was the mission to capture bin Laden or was the mission to kill bin Laden?

MCRAVEN: You know, that's a great question. I'm not going to answer it.


BLITZER: All right.

But there were contingencies this guy would be brought out in a helicopter and brought somewhere?

MCRAVEN: Did they teach you this, to do the end-around when your first question doesn't work?



BLITZER: Just trying to make sure. You don't want to discuss that?



BLITZER: All right. There's much more ahead. My interview will continue with Admiral William McRaven.

In our next hour, we're going to talk about the deadly challenges the U.S. is facing in Afghanistan right now. And later, in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour, we will have part three of the interview,where we discuss whether or not gays serving openly in the U.S. military has had any impact at all on special operations forces. And he commands some 66,000 special ops forces. We will talk about leaks to the news media about national security, a lot more coming up with Admiral William McRaven. Also, the duke and duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, they greet the Olympic torch at Buckingham Palace -- political Olympics as the competition between President Obama and Mitt Romney all heating up.

Plus, the unlikely collision between fast food and gay marriage.


BLITZER: Let's get to Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Before I do this, Admiral McRaven is as good as it gets. And this country is so very fortunate to have people like that at the highest levels of our military protecting us around the clock.

I watched that interview. And I got to tell you, it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. What a magnificent job --


CAFFERTY: -- he and his people did for all of us. We should be grateful.

Anyway, onto more mundane things, politics.

BLITZER: Yes. I totally agree.


Fired up, ready to go, the slogan -- or not? Turns out the rallying cry for Democrats in 2008 may not apply to this presidential campaign.

A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows that Democratic voter enthusiasm is down sharply from the last two presidential elections. Just 39 percent of Democrats say that they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual. That's down from 61 percent who felt that way in 2008, and 68 percent in 2004. And it's lower than the 51 percent of Republicans who say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting for president.

Voter enthusiasm often gives a sense of possible turnout. But it also reflects voters' expectations of their party's chances of winning. Translation: Democrats might be less optimistic about President Obama winning a second term than they were four years ago.

When you consider the fact that Republicans are more excited at this point and that they historically vote in higher rates than Democrats, not a good sign for the Obama campaign. But it's early.

On the other hand, it's possible Democrats may just not be too into the race yet and come Election Day they will turn out and vote. Maybe they won't be excited about it, but they'll vote.

Meanwhile, in another sign Democrats are not revved up, the party's having some serious fund raising issues. For two months now, President Obama and the Democrats have lagged behind Mitt Romney and the Republicans to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

It's not just the race for president. Nancy Pelosi having a tough time getting Democratic House members to contribute to the Democratic Party. In June, GOP lawmakers gave as much as three times as much money as Democrats did to their respective congressional campaign committee.

So, here is the question, why aren't Democrats as excited to vote this year?

Go to, post a comment on my blog. Or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

I know you're excited, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm always excited when it comes to covering politics because I'm a political news junkie.

I totally agree, by the way, about Admiral McRaven. Much more coming up in the next hour and then in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern Hour.

And we're going to do a special, Jack, I just want to announce to our viewers right now, Saturday 6:00 p.m., a special SITUATION ROOM, the full hour with Admiral McRaven. I think our viewers are going to want to see and get some context on what's going on on a whole bunch of issues affecting the U.S. military.

Jack, thanks so much.

CAFFERTY: I can't wait to see it and people ought to get their kids in front of the TV set and make them watch, because that's the tradition that this country was built around. Men like that. Great stuff.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thank you, jack. Appreciate it.

The Olympic torch is now in London, making its way throughout the city in a relay that included a stop at Buckingham Palace where it got a royal welcome from Prince William and his wife.

Our royal correspondent, Max Foster, is joining us. He's got details.

Max, tell us about that up close look. What happened?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just lost the end of that, Wolf, but a fantastic day. You really get the sense that now of the Olympics are here, such a big buildup hasn't there been and then we see the torch finally going to those big landmarks in London, Downing Street, House of Parliament, river of the Thames.

And then, finally, arriving there at Buckingham Palace, you saw the torch bearer going in and up to those three young royals who also Olympic ambassadors, in many ways the face of this Olympics to the outside world because when they get involved, all the cameras are there. We were there on the full court with them. They're wearing the British team outfits but fully involved in all the commonwealth countries.

We'll be back again there, Wolf, because we think Michelle Obama will be at Buckingham Palace. It hasn't been confirmed, but that's going to happen just before the opening ceremonies. So, less than 24 hours to go now, Wolf.

BLITZER: I noticed, Max, that they didn't run with the torch. Here's the question: are the royals getting involved in any of the actual events?

FOSTER: Yes. Big disappointment, wasn't it? Actually, this morning what they did is they went to an inner city school, and they're all about making sport inclusive for all and the Olympics inclusive for all. So what better way of showing that than throwing themselves into sports themselves. And they went into various parts of this school.

First of all the duchess of Cambridge, we saw her playing some table tennis which has made a few headlines here. She performed pretty badly against this young girl who was fantastic at table tennis, one of the best in London. But she was throwing herself in.

And then the next room next door we had Prince Harry shooting hoops with the young team. Missing all of the hoops. But, again, throwing himself in.

Outside Prince William had a go at football and missed the goal. It wasn't a great day for royal sport but certainly got the cameras there getting everyone in the mood. I think everyone is in the mood now, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly are. I'm getting excited. I think a lot of our viewers around the world are all getting excited as well. I thought her table tennis or ping-pong was actually not so bad. Better than mine, I think. That's just my opinion.

Hey, Max, thanks very much.

There's lots of important consumer news here in the United States today as well. Mortgage rates just hit another all-time low. Wait until you see the numbers.

And JPMorgan Chase just agreed today a multi-million-dollar settlement in a case involving its credit card customers.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: All right. This just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. We have new details on Facebook's financial health.

Lisa Sylvester has the details and some of the other top stories.

What are we learning, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just now, Facebook beat analyst expectations by reporting a 32 percent increase in revenue compared to a year ago. Still, the company lost money in its first quarter as a publicly traded company. And it's been wild in afterhours trading. At first, Facebook stock soared, but now it is down.

And JPMorgan Chase will pay $100 million to settle accusations it unfairly raised minimum payments and fees for many of its credit card customers. The agreement settles a class action lawsuit that goes back to the start of the financial crisis in late 2008. The bank argued the changes were a sensible way to reduce its risk.

And mortgage rates have hit yet another all-time low. This week, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage fell to 3.49 percent. Despite the record low though, a separate report says pending home sales in June slipped 1.4 percent compared to May -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much.

Hurdles, diving, gymnastics and more -- it's not the London Olympics we're talking about. It's the political Olympics. We'll have a closer look at the competition between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Stand by for that.

And Romney says he can do for the United States what he did for the Salt Lake winter Olympics. We're going to talk about that and more in our strategy session. Donna Brazile and Ana Navarro, they are both standing by.


BLITZER: Starting tomorrow the world will be watching the Olympic Games in London. But they only last a couple of weeks whereas the political Olympics here in the United States pitting Mitt Romney against President Obama will last all summer and then go into the fall.

The competition I must say is already in full swing. CNN's John Berman is joining us now to take a closer look at what's going on. John, the events -- are the candidates competing in -- what are these events? Give us a little sense.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, both President Obama and Mitt Romney are very fit, which is a good thing because when you think about it, our candidates today are like modern day decathlon athletes. They have to do it all and in a way they're events are harder because only the gold medal counts.


BERMAN (voice-over): Sadly, the 2012 games do not feature golf or jet skiing as official events. So neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney will compete in London. But that doesn't mean they don't have their own games. No.

They have the political Olympics. Take the hurdles. Mitt Romney had to leap over his GOP foes just to get here. You think jumping over Cain, Perry and Gingrich was easy? Just ask Rick Santorum. He ended up with the silver.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will suspend our campaign effective today.

BERMAN: Pole vault, the latest "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll showed the president vaulting to a six-point lead. Synchronized diving even without the Speedos, both campaigns medal in endless precision repetition.



ROMNEY: Create jobs.


BERMAN: While we're in the pool, a politician's least favorite event, the backstroke. Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu just visited the podium after saying the president need to learn how to be an American. Check out his backstroke.

JOHN SUNUNU, FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Frankly, I made a mistake. I shouldn't have used those words and I apologize for using those words.

BERMAN: Weight lifting, Mitt Romney better have big arms to lift the bags of money his campaign has raked in. Finally, if there's one Olympic sport our leaders know all too well, it's gymnastics.

Not all of them can handle the flips. This was Gary Bower in 2000. But today's crop is adept at the verbal gymnastics, the contortions, turns and, yes, the twists.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: He's been twisting my words around to suggest that I don't value small business.

ROMNEY: Their opposition people look for anything they can find to distort, to twist and try and make negative.

BERMAN: With all that twisting, let's get these guys on the balance beam. Meanwhile, we can only hope they don't discover beach volleyball. America couldn't bear the outfits.


BERMAN: You know, it's also a good thing it's not winter or we would be talking about ice dancing. Now, in terms of what the candidates will be watching, we know President Obama met with the men's basketball team. We know he's a big fan of theirs.

And Mitt Romney says he hopes to check out some swimming before he leaves London. And you could say he's already been working on his backstroke after this kerfuffle over the whole U.S./London ready thing -- Wolf. BLITZER: Who writes that material? Do you write all that yourself, John?

BERMAN: I have a staff of thousands.

BLITZER: That's terrific writing.

BERMAN: Thank you. I appreciate that very much.

BLITZER: Great stuff. John Berman, excellent work. I loved it. All right, thanks so much.

Important note to all of our viewers, you can catch John along with Zoraida Sambolin every morning on "EARLY START" right here at CNN. That "EARLY START" starts at 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Eastern only on CNN. Get up early even if you don't check it out. I think you'll like it.

Mitt Romney himself is making the political Olympic analogy touting his experience organizing the Salt Lake City winter games in 2002. Listen to what he tells CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview in London that will air later tonight.


ROMNEY: The country is in need of a turnaround. The Olympics was a turnaround for businesses I've been associated with that needed a turnaround.

That kind of experience of focusing on the most critical issue, building the most effective team possible, creating a common vision, unifying around that vision and then delivering results is something I think the American people would like to see in our economy right now.


BLITZER: Once again that interview with Romney on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

All right, let's talk a little bit about that and more in our "Strategy Session" joining us our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and our CNN contributor, Ana Navarro. She was the national Hispanic co-chair for Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign.

Ana, so far not starting off on a great note in Britain especially when you compare --



LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are experiencing some technical issues with wolf from Aspen, Colorado. So we will get back to him in just a moment. In the meantime, we'll continue on here from Washington, D.C. Some Russian government officials in the U.S. are up in arms about a Montana ranch housing children with behavioral problems.

The Russians claim the children are being abandoned after they were adopted in Russia by American parents. CNN's Kyung Lah has the details.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why wouldn't you come just to talk?

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arriving in a caravan wearing dark suits and carrying cameras, Russian government officials demanding entry onto a private ranch in the small town of Eureka, Montana. Both sides recorded the confrontation.

The Russians demanded to see children adopted from Russia and sent to this remote ranch by their American parents. This is the Russian Children's Rights commissioner in Moscow.

There are so many lies regarding the well-being of our kids he tells the TV crew and he's here to see the children for himself. He claims Russian children are abandoned by their children at this ranch and then neglected here.

That's a lie says Joyce Sterkel. She runs the unlicensed facility called the "Ranch for Kids," a church mission for adopted children whose problems like fetal alcohol syndrome were detected only after the adoptive parents brought them back to the U.S.

JOYCE STERKEL, "RANCH FOR KIDS": This is the United States of America. This is the sovereign state of Montana. And a foreign government cannot come in here and push your way into a private residence and a private program. That's completely uncalled for.

LAH (on camera): But that's what he tried to do.

STERKEL: That's what he tried to do.

LAH (voice-over): Two sides deeply suspicious of each other. A suspicion fuelled by a bilateral agreement on adoptions between the Russia and the U.S., which aims to protect both children and American parents.

He says key to the agreement it fundamentally gives his country more authority to check on adopted children like at the "Ranch for Kids." He spoke to CNN via Skype from Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a right to ask the permission from State Department to visit Russian children, which we are interested and we want to see and to control the situation basically we have a chance and we have a right.

LAH: Only cases of suspected neglect will be targeted. But American families are asking how much power does a foreign government have in an American home?

(on camera): The fear goes beyond what happened here at the gate with the Russians. This ranch and adoptive parents believe it's a signal about the bilateral agreement and what they'll lose as their rights as adoptive parents.

Which boy is Sean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean is in the brown.

LAH (voice-over): Sharon Houlihan adopted her son, Sean when he was 19 months old. She says he flies into fits of violent rage caused by fetal alcohol syndrome. The ranch has helped dramatically she says, and no foreign government should tell her what's best for her son.

SHARON HOULIHAN, ADOPTIVE MOTHER: When you make that commitment, they're yours. And to have a foreign government have the ability to come in to question my child and make those determinations about his well-being, I find that just not acceptable.

LAH: The State Department says it supports appropriate access for concerned foreign officials to children who have both U.S. and foreign citizenship consistent with privacy rights and only with consent of parents or legal guardians.

Bottom line, the State Department says parents will never be force today let anyone see their children under the new agreement. But the ranch owner who's already seen Russians on her doorstep doesn't believe the deal will actually protect American parents.

(on camera): What do you tell the State Department when they tell us this isn't going to happen.

STERKEL: It just did. It just did. It happened.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Eureka, Montana.


SYLVESTER: And we have now sorted out our technical issues so we're going to throw it back to Wolf Blitzer who is in Aspen, Colorado. Good to see you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Got excellent technical people here. They can sort it out very, very quickly. Appreciate it, Lisa. Don't go too far away in case we have more technical problems, you'll be ready to take over. Lisa, thanks.

We have a lot more coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM including new poll's eye-opening findings that a growing number of Republicans and conservatives think President Obama is a Muslim.

And, later, the backlash against the popular restaurant chain because of the political and religious views of its boss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: And Donna Brazile, Ana Navarro, they're still here with the "Strategy Session." Ladies, this is a poll that jumped out at me. It's shocking when you think about it. Take a look at this from the Pew Research Center.

They asked the question if you believe that President Obama is a Muslim and look at this. Over the past four years among Republicans, four years ago 16 percent said yes, 30 percent said no.

Among conservative Republicans self-identified, 16 percent to 34 percent, independents 11 percent to 16 percent, Democrats 9 percent four years ago, 8 percent now think he's a Muslim.

Donna, what's going on here? Why do more Americans especially Republicans and conservative Republicans so dramatically believe that the president of the United States who is a Christian as we all know, why do they believe he's a Muslim?

DONNA CONTRIBUTOR, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Because they want to believe what they've been told or what they hear on the radio. Look, Wolf, the campaign to smear President Obama from day one is still a very active, well-financed campaign.

For some odd reason there are millions of Americans who believe that he wasn't born in America and he's Muslim. Let me just say there's nothing wrong with being Muslim. There's nothing wrong with being a Christina.

There's nothing wrong with being Jewish. Unfortunately, people smear Muslim-Americans in this country. I find it offensive because Muslim- Americans like most other Americans care deeply about our country.

They protect our country. They want to help our country and I find it all offensive. But people don't want to believe he's a Christian, well, you know, don't go to church with him.

BLITZER: What's going on over here, Ana? What do you think?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think it's crazy. He's obviously a Christian. Mitt Romney has said he believes he's a Christian. John McCain said four years ago, he believed he was a Christian.

But, you know, look, there are people who are going to have issues. There are people who have issues with Mitt Romney being a Mormon. There are issues with people who want to have issues with Barack Obama's religion.

But the bottom line, Wolf, it's not about religion. It's about the economy. It's about the problems facing America and we really shouldn't be focusing on this. It's a minor part of what's going on.

And, you know, it's just crazy, I think, and people have to get over it. The man is a Christian. Most Americans, most Republicans believe he is a Christian. And let's get on with the big issues that are facing this country. BLITZER: Yes, but a third believe he's a Muslim. As Donna says, nothing wrong with being a Muslim, but it's amazing four years into his presidency a lot of people believe that.

Donna, you're there at the National Urban League Convention in New Orleans. Yesterday, John King was here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He pointed out that if African-Americans don't show up at the polls in big numbers as they did four years ago, the president might lose Florida, North Carolina, maybe even Ohio and Pennsylvania because of the lack of enthusiasm. What's going on here?

BRAZILE: Wolf, first of all, I think the folks here in New Orleans, the folks at the Urban League conference, they are wildly enthusiastic about re-electing President Barack Obama.

But as you all know, Wolf, this economy has taken a toll on most Americans including African-Americans, Latino Americans, young Americans. So once again Democrats will have to go out there and persuade them to vote and help them turnout.

Of course, we have these onerous restricted ID laws. We'll have to educate them and make sure they're prepared to show all multiple forms of ID. I think at the end of the day, African-Americans will surprise the country once again.

And they will turn out in record numbers like most other Americans who support the re-election of Barack Obama.

BLITZER: What about the Hispanic community, Ana? The president does remarkably well there, much better than Mitt Romney by almost all accounts, well over 60 percent. Some polls showing closer to even 70 percent. Will there be that enthusiasm for the president this time around over Mitt Romney? Will they show up?

NAVARRO: I think that's one of the big problems that Barack Obama has four years later. That with practically every constituency he's facing an enthusiasm problem, Hispanics aren't enthusiastic because they're at 11.1 unemployment.

African-Americans are unenthusiastic because they're at over 14 percent unemployment. There were huge expectations for Obama. He has not delivered to these constituents. He's not delivered on promises. He's not delivered on what people expected of him.

And that's going to be a great problem because there were two aspects of his victory. One was the wide margin of victory with groups like Hispanics, with groups like African-Americans.

But number two was the turnout. If he gets one, the margin, but doesn't get the second, the turnout, he's going to be in trouble in places like Florida.

BLITZER: Well, speaking about Florida, about the Hispanic vote -- Donna, hold on one second. I want to get Ana to tell me something about Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, still very popular. He's obviously not going to be the vice presidential running mate. He's effectively taken himself out. He's not being vetted according to his son who told me that.

But here's the question, Jeb Bush says Marco Rubio should be, Senator Marco Rubio should be Romney's running mate. What are you hearing about that, Ana?

NAVARRO: Well, I think that, you know, when Jeb Bush speaks, Mitt Romney should listen. Nobody knows Jeb Bush politically. Nobody knows Marco Rubio politically better than Jeb Bush. Marco Rubio was Jeb Bush's men tee.

We've known Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio has been around working with Jeb Bush since he was practically a teenager volunteering on Republican campaigns in Florida.

And Jeb Bush worked with Marco when Marco was a legislator and Jeb Bush was a governor. So Jeb Bush knows his talents, knows his ability. And I also think Jeb Bush greatly understands that Mitt Romney has an issue, has a problem with the Hispanic vote and that Marco Rubio could move that needle.

BLITZER: What do you think, Donna?

BRAZILE: I think Marco Rubio would be an attractive candidate, but I don't believe he's on the first, second tier. It doesn't matter. The problem is the top of the ticket. I mean, we saw just today over in Europe, I mean, he went over, I thought, to listen and learn.

And he put his foot in his mouth. So I think the problem is Mitt Romney. We talk about enthusiasm, the one thing that really gets people cheering and on their feet is listening to President Obama outline his vision for the country.

And where he intends to go in the next four years compared to where they know Mitt Romney will go, which is to go back to the same failed policies that got us in the mess in the first place.

NAVARRO: Donna, I think the Brits are used to it by now --

BLITZER: Hold on, Ana, we're out of time. So we can't continue this. But you know what, we got still a long time before November 6th.

BRAZILE: It's 100 days. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks to both of you for coming in.

All right, a fast food chain is facing a huge backlash right now after the company president denounces same sex marriage.

And coming up in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a medical technician is now being called a, quote, "Serial Infector" sparking a hepatitis scare impacting potentially thousands of people.


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

JACK CAFFERTY, ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour is, why aren't the Democrats as excited to vote this year as they were in 2008 or even 2004?

Steve writes, "Two reasons, one, they don't have Bush in the picture whom they passionately hated and, two, Obama has not delivered on his promises. Basically he smoked his hard core followers."

Dave in Las Vegas writes, "I've been a Democrat for 50 years and believed in the party flat form until now. I'm extremely disappointed in how the president has performed so far. I have no faith whatsoever in our current Congress and I don't want to vote for either candidate."

Val in North Carolina, the 2008 election was thank heavens Bush is going and this intelligent educated young man will be the first African-American president. That was a very exciting election. This year we know many of the things the president wanted to do to help the country didn't happen."

Ken in California, "Maybe the media helped create the excitement three or so years ago. Some are suggesting that George W. Bush would go down as a terrible president. I was one of those.

I don't understand why the Democrats aren't excited or even frantic. The last time I looked the Republican Congress has shut down the country in the last three and a half years. I think Election Day will answer this question."

Lou writes, "I was excited about electing Obama because he ran on the platform of providing universal health care. What we ended up with was more money and power going to the insurance giants with the mandate. It was the exact opposite of what independents likely wanted. He caved on the biggest issue of our time. It's hard to get excited about that."

And Annie in Atlanta writes, "Democrat here, I'm more excited to vote this year than I was in 2008."

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

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now there are new concerns that Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles could fall into the wrong hands.

Just ahead we're getting new information from a top U.S. intelligence official right here in Aspen, Colorado.

Also, North Korea's supreme leader shows off his new bride amid new reports he's really been married for years and may already have a child.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.