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Mitt Romney Unplugged; Shooting at Family Research Council; Syria Faces Suspension From Islam Group; Ryan's Influence On Romney; "We're On Exactly The Same Page"; How Long Until A Balanced Budget?; Biden: "Back In Chains"; Hypersonic Jet Spins Out Of Control

Aired August 15, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Mitt Romney unplugged, unleashing some of his harshest attacks yet against the president. The Obama campaign says he seems -- and I'm quoting them now -- "unhinged."

A shooting targets a leading conservative group that promotes family values. Who is behind it? New information coming in.

And a critical test of a plane that travels six times faster than the speed of sound. We're going to tell you what went so horribly wrong.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Now that Mitt Romney has teamed up with Paul Ryan, you might think he'd let his running mate take on the traditional role of attack dog. But it's Romney who has suddenly been putting the brass knuckles on in an ugly new war of words with the Obama/Biden camp.

Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is in the battleground state of Ohio right now.

Tell us what's going on, Jim. What's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney doesn't have any rallies today, but Paul Ryan, his running mate, will be here on the campus of his alma mater, Miami University of Ohio, to carry the campaign's message. And it was thought a few days ago that Romney's selection of Ryan would elevate this campaign to a debate on the ideas, but not anymore.

Earlier this morning, on one of the morning talk shows, Romney accused the president of waging a campaign of -- quote -- "hatred."


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The race for the White House has become a race to the bottom.

ROMNEY: His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then try to cobble together 51 percent of the pieces.

ACOSTA: The dog-eat-dog campaign turned vicious as Mitt Romney lashed out at President Obama after Vice President Joe Biden went for the jugular.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're going to put you all back in chains.

ACOSTA: The Obama campaign offered no apologies, describing Romney's comments as unhinged and strange coming at a time when he's pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads. Romney tried to laugh that one off.

ROMNEY: I think I'm hinged when I have to characterize what we have seen from the president's campaign.

ACOSTA: If the word unhinged sounds familiar, it's because that's how the Romney campaign described Newt Gingrich during the primaries, as a pro-Romney super PAC savaged the former speaker with negative ads.

NARRATOR: You know what makes Barack Obama happy? Newt Gingrich's baggage.

ACOSTA: A top Democratic source says the Obama campaign is giving Romney a taste of his own medicine.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are just throwing everything at the wall to see if it sticks.

ACOSTA: That explains why the president is out to turn Romney into something of a joke, mocking the GOP contender three times in the same day for once strapping the family dog to the roof of his car.

OBAMA: I mean, maybe he's tried it. He's put other things on the roof.


NARRATOR: Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare.

ACOSTA: But the Romney campaign is showing its fangs by accusing the president of cutting Medicare to pay for the new health care law. The Obama campaign notes Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, has proposed similar savings in the program.

OBAMA: My plan has already extended Medicare by nearly a decade. Their plan ends Medicare as we know it.

ACOSTA: The Medicare debate is the only shred of substance in the campaign.

JOE SOPTIC, WIFE DIED OF CANCER: I do not think Mitt Romney realizes what he's done to anyone. And furthermore, I do not think Mitt Romney's concerned. ACOSTA: The Romney campaign is still furious with this pro-Obama super PAC ad that suggests the GOP contender was responsible for the death of a steelworker's wife. The ad aired for the first time in Ohio Tuesday. But the PAC Priorities USA says it was a station error.

TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: We have a president who won't even disclaim an ad by his super PAC that accuses Mitt Romney of killing a gentleman's wife which turned out to be not even close to factually true.


ACOSTA: And Vice President Joe Biden is not letting up. At an event earlier today in Blacksburg, Virginia, Biden said Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate is a sign that the Etch A Sketch is gone. If Ryan is going to fulfill that role of the traditional campaign attack dog, he's got some catching up to do when it comes to competing with Joe Biden, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta reporting for us.

We will be speaking with a top Romney adviser, Ed Gillespie, later this hour. He's standing by live.

Other important political news, a judge's ruling in the battleground state of Pennsylvania could affect the outcome of the presidential race. He rejected a challenge to a controversial voter I.D. law.

Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, has been looking into this story for us.

A lot of viewers aren't familiar with what's going on. So update us on the latest developments.


It's making headlines in Pennsylvania today, but it's also something to keep your eye on across the country as we get closer to Election Day. Legislatures in key swing states like Pennsylvania have been tweaking the voter laws.

Now we're seeing more and more pushback in the courts as voters start asking why.


JOHNS (voice-over): Emotional battle over voting rights this election year. More than a dozen states have passed new voting rights laws, including the one in the swing state of Pennsylvania, which is requiring people to show photo I.D. in order to vote.

Opponents went to court to try to block the law, saying it could disenfranchise up to 100,000 people, especially minorities and older or sick voters, who are more likely not to have acceptable photo identification, people like 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case.

VIVIETTE APPLEWHITE, PLAINTIFF: And I just think it's terrible, because there's so many people that don't have I.D. and they're not going to be able to vote.

JOHNS: Republican Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson ruled that the opponents trying to keep the law from being enforced did not establish that disenfranchisement of voters was immediate or inevitable. In Harrisburg, the legislator who wrote the law said disenfranchisement was never intended.

DARYL METCALFE (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The only people it disenfranchises are those individual who are trying to perpetrate election fraud.

JOHNS: But the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acknowledges that it would not be able to prove a lot of voter fraud in court even if it tried. Pennsylvania is also the state where a top GOP legislator recently seemed to suggest the voter law would help Republicans win back the White House this fall.

MIKE TURZAI (R), PENNSYLVANIA STATEHOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Voter I.D., which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

JOHNS: Opponents say it just shows something other than fraud motivated the legislation.

NICOLE AUSTIN-HILLERY, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: That in the past decade that they have found only about 10 instances of in-person voter fraud. And those were mostly instances where people were simply confused and didn't know what the rules were in their area.

JOHNS (on camera): So this is about voter suppression, in your view?

AUSTIN-HILLERY: In my view and in the view of the Brennan Center, this is about keeping certain voters from the polls.

JOHNS (voice-over): The Justice Department now is studying the Pennsylvania law , which Representative Metcalfe, the author of the law, claims is a waste of time.

METCALFE: I think it's a fishing expedition where they're really overreaching. They have demanded documents from us through our Department of Transportation, demanded information that many Pennsylvanians would object to.


JOHNS: Lawyers for the opponents of the Pennsylvania law will be asking for an expedited appeal. They say the lower court should have applied a stricter standard of review to the government action in this case, but the court did not do that.

And, by the way, Wolf, I'm working on an investigative report, an hour-long investigative report for October on this issue of changes of voter laws in the states.

BLITZER: What other states are you looking at? Because there's a bunch of these laws out there.

JOHNS: Absolutely. There are a bunch of them. You just sort of have to narrow it down. We're taking a very close look at Florida, but there's a number of other states. There's Ohio, there's Wisconsin, there's Texas, there's South Carolina. This dynamic is at play in all of those states.

BLITZER: If it's a close election, this could have a serious, serious impact on the outcome.

JOHNS: Absolutely. Just a few hundred thousand votes could make all the difference.

BLITZER: We remember Florida 2000 -- 535, what, votes carried the state for President, then candidate Bush.

JOHNS: Hanging chads, right.

BLITZER: The FBI's investigating a shooting at the downtown Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council, which promotes conservative social policies.

A man is in custody right now after he allegedly shot a security guard in the arm.

CNN's Sandra Endo is outside the building for us.

Sandra, what's the latest information you're getting?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are learning more about the alleged gunman involved in this morning's shooting at the Family Research Council.

And we are learning from a law enforcement source who says that the gunman purchased a handgun fairly recently at a gun shop in Virginia. And that was purchased legally. We also understand from a law enforcement source that they obtained a backpack they believe belongs to the suspect inside the building.

Of course, it's a very active scene here right now. And according to a law enforcement source, they believe the suspect is in his late 20s. And he made comments about the Council which you had mentioned, Wolf, is a conservative Christian policy organization.

And that is when a security guard confronted him, an altercation broke out. And that is when police say the gunman allegedly opened fire, wounding the guard in his arm. And the guard fortunately is OK, in stable condition at this hour. But here's what one eyewitness had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around 10:45 in the morning, we parked. We're getting ready to walk around. And the police showed up, entered the building, told the guy, drop the gun. And, you know, at that point we just moved away and went on, had some lunch, came back and whole crime scene was -- that whole road was locked down.


ENDO: The Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, issued a statement earlier saying that: "The police are investigating this incident. Our first concern is with our colleague who was shot today. Our concern is for him and his family."

And interesting, Wolf, Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate, also issued a statement saying he's appalled by the shooting that happened today here in the nation's capital and says there's no place for such violence in our society, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sandra, what do we know about the alleged gunman and the comments that he may have made as he tried to get into that building?

ENDO: No word yet from officials on what exactly the gunman said as this all unfolded. Of course, the investigation is just beginning. They are conducting interviews and holding the gunman in custody right now, the FBI questioning him, witnesses and of course, the security guard who was injured.

But here's what the FBI had to say earlier this morning.


JACQUELINE MAGUIRE, FBI: We are looking at the motive, the intent, and working with the U.S. attorney's office. It depends on what charges are brought forth and whether it's a local crime here in D.C. or a federal crime that the case would move over and be led by the FBI.

But domestic terrorism is one of those violations as in any situation like this that would be looked for.


ENDO: So, of course, the details coming out slowly, and, of course, we are expecting to hear more as the days progress, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Sandra Endo reporting for us from the streets of Washington, D.C., thank you.

We heard the Romney campaign slam Vice President Joe Biden's so- called "back in chains" remarks. Should Biden and the Obama campaign apologize? That's coming up in "The Cafferty File."

And Paul Ryan has proposed major cuts to Medicaid. Is Mitt Romney on the same page? I will ask the campaign's senior adviser, Ed Gillespie, that question and a lot more.

And Islamic nations are set to punish the Syrian regime for its brutal civil war.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, President Obama not backing away from Joe Biden's controversial comments about putting people back in chains, which is pretty remarkable when you think about it. Speaking to a predominantly black crowd yesterday, the vice president said that Mitt Romney's vision of regulation the big banks would unchain Wall Street and, quote, "put y'all back in chains," unquote.

Biden said this in Danville, a city with a long history of racial tension. He later tried to clean up after himself by saying he'd been referring to the Republican's use of the word unshackled when talking about banks. It was too late though as he already created a bit of a fire storm.

Joe Biden has a long history of saying dumb stuff. What's alarming here is the nation's first African-American president's OK with this kind of language. The president's deputy campaign manager told MSNBC she doesn't think Biden went too far when taken in context. Quote, "We have no problem with those comments," unquote.

This is the same kind of insensitivity the president showed when he said, quote, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that," unquote. Mitt Romney's blasting Mr. Obama today, saying his campaign's all about division and attack and hatred. The Romney campaign calls Biden's comments a new low -- hard to argue with that.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani weighed in, questioning whether Biden has the mental capacity to handle the presidency should it become necessary. Oftentimes, Joe Biden says entertaining things. And it can be written off as simply putting his mouth in motion before putting his brain in gear. But the comment about putting people back in chains is loaded with racial overtones. And it's a long way from being cute. It should have been embarrassing for the nation's first black president. Apparently it wasn't.

Here's the question: Should the White House apologize for the vice president's remarks about putting people back in chains?

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

I'll bet if he had to say it over again he'd use different words.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure he would. And as John King reported here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a lot of senior Obama officials privately are not very happy with what Joe Biden had to say.

One more thing, Jack, wait until you hear what former Democratic Representative Artur Davis says to me about what Joe Biden said before that group in Virginia. We're going to have the interview at the top of the next hour.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: And Artur Davis, when he was a congressman -- Democratic congressman from Alabama, he seconded the nomination of President Obama when he was then Senator Obama to become the Democratic presidential nominee. It's blistering.

And as one of my producers tweeted earlier, it's must-see TV. That will air right at the top of the hour. You're going to be interested in this interview with Artur Davis.

CAFFERTY: Look forward to it. Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you.

Other news we're following former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is apparently writing a book in his prison cell. Kate Bolduan is monitoring that and some other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Kate, what do you have?


Well, writing appears is how Sandusky's been spending his time as he awaits sentencing on 45 child sex abuse convictions.

Johnston, Pennsylvania TV station WJAC is reporting authorities first thought he was writing his own version of events for the sentencing but now think it's a book, it would be his second book, his first book, a memoir, is unfortunately titled "Touched." The station also reports Sandusky has been off suicide watch.

We're also watching they're sending in the marines to help fight wildfires across the western U.S. helicopter units from California are joining Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units in fighting the fires by air. At least 70 large uncontained wildfires are burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi. Wow.

Also, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says the U.S. won't have any trouble making contact with still unidentified American being held in prison there. Chavez announced the man's capture last week, saying he was picked up near the border and had, quote, "all the appearances of a mercenary."

And a brand new drug scandal has hit Major League Baseball. San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for the performance enhancing drug Testosterone.

A tweet from the official major league account reads, "My positive result of a test is the use for a substance I should not have used. I'm deeply sorry for my mistake." Melky Cabrera, it is signed.

He's definitely sorry and he's definitely being punished for it now, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a sad, sad story indeed all around, especially those of us who love baseball. Thanks very much for that, Kate.


BLITZER: The U.S. military's breaking its silence about a very, very expensive new test that has failed. Stay with us. You're going to find out what happened when it launched the jet designed to go nearly 5,000 miles an hour.


BLITZER: U.N. investigators are reporting today that both Syrian regime forces and rebel fighters have committed war crimes. But they say the violations by the pro-government troops are far more severe, including murder and torture.

A powerful explosion rocked a Damascus hotel where U.N. observers are staying wounding three people. Opposition leaders say nearly 180 people were killed in today's violence across Syria. Syria's civil war has been the top topic at an Islamic summit underway right now in Saudi Arabia.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is joining us now live from Jeddah.

Nic, a formal vote to suspend Syria is expected to happen a little later today. What does this mean for the crisis in Syria?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it may have little immediate impact, wolf. I don't think anyone within that conference expects Bashar al Assad to change course. But one dynamic here, the Iranian president here part of the OIC, he's been here part of the delegation invited by King Abdullah. Really, it's a message for him because Iran only, apart from Algeria, at all the 57 states represented said Syria should not be suspended. And Iran as we know supports Bashar al Assad.

This is a very strong message from all these nations to the Iranian president while he's sitting in the room with them while they debate the horrors of the bloodshed in Syria that President Ahmadinejad is in part responsible, has Syrian blood on his hands because he won't support -- he won't support this measure Bashar al Assad.

So, that's a very important dynamic that's coming out of this conference, even if it doesn't change things on the ground immediately inside Syria, Wolf.

BLITZER: So what you're saying is this would be a real slap at the Iranian President Ahmadinejad if most of these if not all of these other Muslim nations go ahead and call for the suspension of Syria?

ROBERTSON: This is exactly how it looks. You know, there's this old saying, I know you've very familiar with it, Wolf. You hold your friends close but you hold your enemies closer still.

So when President Abdullah invites -- when King Abdullah invited President Ahmadinejad from Iraq for this conference and stood next to him in a greeting line, where all the dignitaries were coming in. It was a prime position. Ahmadinejad looked a little uncomfortable at times.

But this is really putting the spotlight on President Ahmadinejad. There's no way for him to turn away from the stare and gaze of all these other heads of state, these other 55 or 57 different member nations here respected in the OIC. This really is a putdown for him.

You can slice it and dice it any way, but there's no other conclusion that you can come up with, Wolf. King Abdullah very shrewd in what is done by essentially embarrassing president Ahmadinejad in the most polite way possible -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have much more in our next hour on what's going on, including Saudi Arabia's dramatic announcement today ordering all of its citizens out of neighboring Lebanon. Nic Robertson is on the scene. We'll stay in constant touch with you as well.

Young undocumented immigrants are lining up today to take advantage in a big change in U.S. immigration policy. In just a minute, I'll ask one of the top campaign advisors to Mitt Romney, we're talking about Ed Gillespie, if his candidate is worried about losing Hispanic votes.

And during our 6:00 p.m. eastern hour, we'll listen live as the first lady, Michelle Obama, joins her husband live on the campaign trail in Iowa.


BLITZER: There are still lots of questions about how much advice Mitt Romney intends to take from his new running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, especially when it comes to the very, very sensitive issue of Medicare.

Joining us now from Boston is a Romney campaign senior advisor, Ed Gillespie. Ed, thanks very much for coming in.

ED GILLESPIE, SENIOR ADVISER, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney is making it clear he's number one on the ticket, he's in charge. His views will stand. Listen to what he said on CBS this morning.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Congressman Ryan has joined my campaign and his campaign is my campaign now. And we're on exactly the same page. And my campaign has made it very clear, the president's cuts of $716 billion to Medicare, those cuts are going to be restored if I become president and Paul Ryan becomes vice president.


BLITZER: All right, so he made it clear that the $716 billion, which the president's budget over 10 years wanted to cut, those are increases -- projected increases in the growth of Medicare. That would go away used for something else.

But Paul Ryan, as you well know, he wanted to use that $716 billion for something else as well. But your boss, Mitt Romney, is saying Paul Ryan's views are not being accepted. Is there anything else in the Paul Ryan Medicare plan that Mitt Romney is rejecting?

GILLESPIE: Well, three things, Wolf. First of all, you said that the money that President Obama took from current beneficiaries in Medicare, the $716 billion was going to something else.

It's important to note that something else is Obama care, a massive government expansion. Most people don't like it. Most people like Medicare. They don't appreciate that he transferred all of that money from current beneficiaries to Medicare.

I think a lot of people also ought to know that under his plan Medicare Part A, the hospital trust fund, will go bankrupt in 12 years. So if you're 50 years older or younger, it will not be there for you when you retire under the Obama administration's lack of response to that problem.

Paul Ryan's budget did put that money toward extending the longevity of Medicare, not paying for Obamacare. What Governor Romney has said is that he will repeal Obama care and he will restore the cuts so a very significant difference between Governor Romney and President Obama.

That's what this election is about. The major significant differences between for example the Romney plan for a stronger middle class, more jobs, more take home pay.

And president Obama's failed policies, which have resulted in unemployment now above 8 percent for more than three years. So we're looking forward to this debate. And we're trying to elevate the debate.

It's not always easy, unfortunately, given the nature of the Obama/Biden campaign. But we want to talk about the big problems facing the country and put forward solutions like Governor Romney is doing.

And, yes, Paul Ryan is running on the Romney ticket as Joe Biden ran on the Obama ticket. He didn't agree with everything that President Obama was for back then.

BLITZER: So he's rejecting Ryan's use of that $716 billion. But is there anything else that Ryan's Medicare plan that Mitt Romney rejects? GILLESPIE: You know, Wolf, I know you want to talk about the differences -- any differences that may have existed between what Paul Ryan has voted for and thousands of votes in the House and Governor Romney.

But the Romney plan is what we're running on and the Romney Medicare proposal, which would -- there is a similar approach, by the way, in terms of saving the program for future generations, but when you sign onto a ticket as the number two, you sign on to the number one's agenda.

That's what we're running on. The Romney plan is now the Romney/Ryan plan for a stronger middle class. You can go on the web site. Viewers can go see it, detailed policies.

You can't find any detailed policies from President Obama about his second term, by the way. Get a pack of blood hounds and not find any policies for President Obama's second term. He doesn't want to talk about policies.

BLITZER: Well, if go to his campaign's web site there's page after page after page of what he supports on all of these sensitive issues, what he opposes.

GILLESPIE: I have not heard them.

BLITZER: Let's keep this discussion on a high level, Medicare obviously very important. Paul Ryan also when it comes to Medicaid, he's recommended in his budget an $800 billion cut over the next 10 years and moving that program basically to the states away from the federal government. Does the governor support that?

GILLESPIE: Well, the governor is a former governor, as you know. And he does favor giving the states greater latitude in terms of how they spend their Medicaid dollars.

There's a lot of imposition on the states from the federal government right now from Washington also as a result of Obamacare. And Governor Romney believes that the state should have much greater latitude in terms of how they spend their Medicaid dollars.

BLITZER: There's been a lot of buzz as a result of that interview that Paul Ryan gave Brit Hume at Fox News that aired yesterday including his inability to spell out would his own budget would result in a balanced budget. Listen to what he said.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know exactly what our balance is because -- I don't want to get wonky on you, but we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan.


BLITZER: Now that was pretty stunning to me. Somebody who knows Paul Ryan, interviewed him on many occasions, one of the smartest guy in the House of Representative, a real policy wonk on those budget numbers, the chairman of the Budget Committee. I was stunned to hear he doesn't know what his own budget would result in a balanced budget.

GILLESPIE: Well, Wolf, as you know, the estimates for those things are based on a lot of variables in terms of economic growth and projections relative to population and that kind of thing. I know this, Governor Romney's plan for deficit reduction will get us on a path to a balanced budget.

President Obama has racked up $5 trillion in new debt. More than a trillion-dollar deficit every year he's been in office and put forward his budget, more than a trillion dollars in deficit.

And he promised that he was going to cut the deficit in half. We know that didn't pan out. That he disappointed us on that promise like he has with so many other promises.

And the Romney plan for deficit reduction will put us on a path to a balanced budget. Barack Obama's plan is more of the same. And we can't afford that kind of debt in this country. And that's the choice.

The Romney plan for deficit reduction, which is one of the -- which is a significant part of the Romney plan for a stronger middle class, versus what we know to be a failed record on President Obama's part.

BLITZER: How many years would it take for the Romney budget to result in a balanced budget?

GILLESPIE: Wolf, I'm not sure of that myself, actually. I'll get back to you though. I'm sure it's on our web site. I should know it. I'm embarrassed on your air that I don't have that number at the top of my head. I didn't know we were going to talk about that today. I apologize.

BLITZER: All right -- budget deficits and balance budgets, national debt obviously a very important issue. One other issue before I let you go today is an important day for a lot of illegal immigrants here in the United States.

Young ones who were either brought here by their parents or had no real cause for their being illegal immigrants, they can now apply for legal residency in the United States. We're getting a lot of reaction from many of them across the country. I'll play a couple clips.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dream come true, you know, being able to be like any normal citizen, you know? Being able to go back to school, support my mom, support the rest of my family.


BLITZER: So what does the governor think about this new policy that has gone into effect today that will impact obviously a lot of folks?

GILLESPIE: Well, Governor Romney believes that we need a long- term solution to our immigration problem in this country. And this short-term solution put forward by the president may make it harder for us, actually, to reach a bipartisan consensus on the need for immigration reform.

We also believe that by the way when you have Americans of Hispanic decent who have an unemployment rate 10 percent higher than the national average, one of the most important things we can do is to get our economy moving again and make sure that Hispanic Americans like all Americans are able to get more jobs, have higher take home pay and see economic growth in this country.

And there are a lot of other issues as well that Americans of Hispanic decent care deeply about when it comes to our future and the future for their children.

BLITZER: Does he still support what he spoke about during one of the debates over the past several months self-deportation?

GILLESPIE: His position he laid out entails taking a comprehensive look at this, how to solve this problem. But he does not support President Obama's action that he's taken today. He believes that it's not going to help us get a long-term solution.

BLITZER: Ed Gillespie is the senior advisor to the Romney campaign. Ed, thanks very much for coming in. We'll stay in close touch with you as well.

GILLESPIE: You bet. Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: I think you're also going to want to hear the interview that's going to be coming up at the top hour what Archer Davies, the former Democratic congressman from Alabama. He's got some strong words on what's going on right now.

Republicans meanwhile are still fuming about Joe Biden's comments about Romney policies putting people supposedly back in chains.

In our "Strategy Session," we'll discuss that and Rudy Giuliani's latest slam on the vice president. Much more coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's get to our "Strategy Session" right now. Joining us our CNN contributor, Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona along with the Republican strategist and CNN political contributor, Mary Matalin.

Maria, let me start with you. You want to react quickly, very quickly to what we just heard from Ed Gillespie that it's Romney's policies, not Ryan's polices that clearly will prevail. MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course, that's what they want to say now, Wolf because they know that Ryan's policies, particularly the Ryan budget, which is quite extreme is something that will be an albatross around their necks if they don't distance themselves from it.

Unfortunately, Romney already said that if it did come to his desk as president, he would sign the Ryan budget. So it's going to be quite difficult for them to walk it back as much as they would want to.

BLITZER: Were you surprised, Mary, that Paul Ryan who is the budget wonk if you will, the wonk of wonks up on the Hill, doesn't even know when his own budget would result in a balanced budget?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No because there are all kinds of assumptions to be able to skort. I think he was literally answering the question. Here's what we do know.

Governor Romney has a record as governor of Massachusetts. He lowered the deficit. He balanced the budget and he created jobs. President Obama has a record as president. He has quadrupled the deficit. We have historic debt that is burdening our future as far as the eye can see and he's increased unemployment.

We have no growth and no chance of a balanced budget. Romney has balanced a budget. He has grown the economy in Massachusetts and he is the only plan in history of economic plans.

This plan and then the Ryan plan and that approach to government is the only one that's created growth as was evidenced by when Reagan did it and when John F. Kennedy did it.

So we have history and record on our side. And we have Obama's flapping jaws on his side.

BLITZER: I'm going to bring Maria back into this conversation. But Mary, as you know, he had such a detailed budget plan that spelled out cuts, spending and all sorts of areas. You would have thought he would have had an idea when his own budget would result in a balanced budget, if it ever does.

MATALIN: A lot faster than Barack Obama's.

BLITZER: He's the chairman of the Budget Committee. They have a huge staff over there. They can crunch the numbers. They can come up with assumptions. It's not that complicated.

MATALIN: You know, Wolf, clearly what's trying to happen here is the press is trying to divide Romney and Ryan. Everybody knows and in the interplanetary system of these races, the president sets the policy.

And as my old boss, Dick Cheney said, the vice president salutes smartly and carries on. We know this, the difference isn't between Ryan and Romney. The difference is between Romney/Ryan and Obama/Biden.

We can have no growth for the next four years like we've had for the past four where we can create the 12 million jobs through the various policies that Mitt Romney has detailed in our further detailed on his web site. That's the difference.

BLITZER: Maria, I want you to give me your quick reaction to what Joe Biden said yesterday. I'll play a clip of Rudy Giuliani responding. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Look at what they value and look at their budget and what they're proposing. Romney wants to let -- he said in the first hundred days he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. Going to put you all back in chains.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've never seen a vice president that has made as many mistakes, said as many stupid things. I mean, there's a real fear God forbid he ever had to be entrusted with the presidency whether he really has the mental capacity to handle it.

This guy just isn't bright. He's never been bright. He isn't bright. And people think, well, he just talks a little too much. Actually, he's just not very smart.


BLITZER: All right, go ahead, Maria, respond.

CARDONA: Well, you and I know that's not true. Biden is very bright and he has served this country very well. And Obama has tremendous faith in him. We also know that he's prone to gaffes.

And that one was cringe-worthy. I do agree with that. But I suspect that the majority of African-Americans and this is the audience that we're talking about here, are going to give him a pass on this because you know what?

He's the one who has a terrific record, he and president Obama, when it comes to issues important to minorities, African-Americans, Latinos, gays and lesbians, you name it. He's a lifelong member of the NAACP.

So I suspect that they're going to give him a pass and if you really want to talk about a campaign who is divisive, you had John Sununu a while ago talking about how he wished this president would learn to be more American.

They've coozied up to the birther and teeth Donald Trump. A Romney advisor talked about how Romney understood Great Britain more because he was Anglo Saxon. So, come on, it's a little bit of foe anger coming from the Republicans. BLITZER: Mary, I'm not going to let you respond. We're going to get full response from a Republican coming up at the top of the hour. So thanks to both of you for coming in.

In fact, speaking of that response, I want everyone right now to listen to the former congressman, the Democrat turned Republican Artur Davis. What he told me just a little while ago about Vice President Biden's back in chains remark. Listen to this.


ARTUR DAVIS, (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I know what Joe Biden was doing yesterday and every black person in that room knew who the y'all was. They knew what the chains were about. They knew what the metaphor was.


BLITZER: All right, I want you to stick around because you're going to hear this explosive news-making interview with the former Democratic congressman who seconded Barack Obama's nomination for president of the United States four years ago, what he has to say about Joe Biden and Barack Obama for that matter is startling. Standby.


BLITZER: Jack's back with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, Wolf, is should the White House apologize for the vice president's remarks about putting people back in chains?

Charlie writes, "The man should not be a heartbeat away from the presidency. If you followed his career, you'll find this is normal for him. He thinks he's funny, but almost no one gets the joke except him. They ought to put oversized shoes on Biden and a red ball on his nose, the man is a clown."

Charlie from South Carolina writes, "Why should he? I for one agree. As a black man I feel we're way too sensitive to any analogy of slavery. And this case fits that."

Jake writes, "I'm an independent who voted for Obama last time. There's no way I will vote for him again. Like many, I drank the Kool-Aid thinking he was going to American together in a way that it would benefit the country. Instead I witnessed one of the most divisive self-serving presidents in recent memory.

It's possible the economy hasn't performed like he's promised, but I can't forgive to fail to unite the country the way he said he would because he was more concerned about what it would take to stay in power."

Ian writes, "An apology. Biden should resign. He brings a disgrace to the office." Lee writes, "Part of me says yes, but if the White House acknowledged every blooper Biden made, it would only make life difficult for them. It would be better if they muzzled him and put him on a short leash."

Carol in Massachusetts say, "No, let Joe be Joe. He's always off the rails, no filters, but he's authentic. It's refreshing." Wayne in Virginia writes, "They should, Jack. But this administration only apologizes to foreign country."

If you want to read more on the subject, we got a lot of mail on this, go to the blog or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

Look forward to that interview you got coming up in a few minutes.

BLITZER: Yes, you're going to be interested in this interview for sure. Viewers will want to watch it.

A major test for a superfast jet doesn't go as planned. You're going to find out what happened when the military tried out an experimental aircraft designed to go almost 5,000 miles an hour.


BLITZER: The military's big test of the new super fast jet didn't go so well. The X-51 Waverider ended up spinning out of control and had to be destroyed.

Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining us to tell us what went so horribly wrong. What happened, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was always scheduled to go into the ocean, but not after just 30 seconds. The Air Force is telling us that the Waverider did safely separate from that B-52 that carried it into the air and the rocket boosters fired as planned.

But then they noticed the problem, a fault in one of the control fins and 30 seconds later it lost control and crashed. Now the big question is, what next? The Air Force had bought four of these Waveriders, tested now three of them.

It has one left and it's spent about $140 million on this hypersonic technology. But they've only budgeted up until this test yesterday, Wolf. So it remains to be seen if they've got the money to still use that last Waverider.

Hopefully, you didn't cancel your round trip ticket on American Airlines from here to Europe.

BLITZER: Not yet. All right, thanks very much, Chris Lawrence.