Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Brand New Forecast for Isaac; Cuba Braces for Isaac; Determined to Get Romney Nominated; Christian Activists Rally Around Akin; What Makes Romney Tick; Tropical Storm Isaac; Nightclubs in Tampa; Iran's New Gunships; Navy SEAL's New Book; Drifting is New Thrill Seeker

Aired August 23, 2012 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, we have the new forecast for the tropical storm, Isaac. Alerts are up across the Caribbean, as Florida braces for trouble. We're going to tell you where the storm may be headed.

Wind, rain and high water won't stop Mitt Romney's nomination in Tampa. Republican officials speak out about their plans for going ahead with convention activities.

And getting ready for the thousands of visitors to Tampa -- get ready. The city's strip clubs, they are ready. Why some expect Republican Convention goers to bring more business than the Super Bowl.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Just coming in, the latest forecast for Tropical Storm Isaac. Warnings are up from island to island across the Caribbean, where hundreds of thousands of people are extremely vulnerable right now. And tensions are rising in Tampa, where a potential hurricane slamming into the Bay Area could send waters rising over the site of the Republican National Convention.

Here's the latest from the National Hurricane Center. The government of the Bahamas has issued a tropical storm warning for the Southeastern Bahamas, including the Aucklands, Crooked -- Crooked Islands, Long Cay, the Inoguas and the Ragged Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well.

Chad Myers is also watching this very closely.

He's our severe weather expert -- Chad, tell us more about this. Only moments ago, we got this new update.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Brand new. Yes, the Hurricane Center now not seeing enough organization to raise the wind speed. Still 40 miles per hour. But they do see how large the storm is. And now we're getting, again, warm water, but also a lack of other wind in the area to break the storm apart. And they do expect rapid intensification.

It may stay a little bit farther to the south of Port-au-Prince than we first originally thought. And that will help Port-au-Prince a lot, because, obviously, the 400,000 people there living in tents and in the tent cities are not going to enjoy that whatsoever, with the winds could be 60 or 70.

A little farther to the south of Haiti, maybe 10 miles. And at this point, Wolf, we're only talking shifts in this line five miles here, five miles there one way or the other. It has been moving a little bit farther to the west all day.

But I still want you to focus on this everyone at home, where the east side of the line is and where the west side of the line is. That means this could still go all the way to the Carolinas. It could still go all the way to New Orleans or even into Louisiana. I've seen one model today that took it into Galveston as a Category 1 hurricane.

That's all said and done, all good. We always look at the middle of the cone as the most likely, a little less likely and probably not likely after you get past the cone. The forecast has been very good. Eighty-five miles per hour now, though. Five days out. You have to understand, it's still five days away. But that's north coast. That's the Pensacola area of Florida, not Tampa, as it makes a swipe at the west side of Florida. But it looks like it may make landfall on the Northern Gulf Coast.

BLITZER: That would be good for Tampa, bad for the Northern Gulf Coast, obviously.

MYERS: That's right.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to go to Cuba, to Havana, in a moment.

What's the -- what's the prognosis for Cuba right now, especially the Havana area?

MYERS: Yes, especially the Havana area, because you have so many people packed together there. This storm will travel right up the spine of Cuba, Wolf -- very rugged, mountainous country. I know we don't know much about it because we were never taught much about it when we were kids. But rugged country and lots of mountains that will tear the storm up.

But it will also put down an enormous amount of rainfall. When you get a storm that lands on a mountain, it just rains the entire time. It might rain for 36 hours. You could get 15 inches of rainfall making flash flooding there, from Camaguey all the way up to about Havana.

Then it loses control of the shore right here. It gets back into the warm water in the Florida Straits, south of Key West. And that's when it begins to get stronger again. Storms get stronger when they're in the water. They get weaker when they're over land. The land part will be a blessing for the U.S., that it does hit Cuba.

But I'll tell you what, the amount of rain that Cuba could get from this could be landslide and a -- and just multiple fatalities if the people can't get out of the way of these very, very heavy rains.

BLITZER: Chad Myers, we'll be staying in very, very close touch with you.

Let's go to Havana right now.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is standing by there -- what are the folks over there in Havana, Patrick, saying?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you can see behind me, it's a beautiful day in Havana. But that could be changing very, very soon. And the Cuban government has been warning for the last several days people to keep a close eye on Tropical Storm Isaac as it churns toward Cuba.

Like just about everything else, hurricane preparation is a little bit different here in Cuba. You don't see the long lines at stores, because many of these stores are already very, very bare.

Another issue here is the decrepit buildings. Havana, of course, is famous for its colonial architecture. Many of the buildings are already falling down. One Cuban architect told me today that about every other day, a building in Havana falls. And you add in that factor that Chad was talking about, that heavy rain, some heavy winds from Tropical Storm Isaac, and people here are expecting more and more of those buildings to collapse.

So that's another real concern for officials and people here in Havana.

One thing that Cuba does have, though, is generations of experience dealing with these kinds of hurricanes. There really isn't many places for people to evacuate, so they tend to go to shelters, hold their ground, be mobilized by the government and then, when everything is all and -- over and done with, then come out and clean up very, very quickly whatever damage has taken place.

But, Wolf, in years past, the recent years, Cuba's already weak economy has been virtually destroyed by punishing hurricanes. They're hoping that Tropical Storm Isaac doesn't bringing that kind of damage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A quick question about the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. We know there are a lot of prisoners there and a lot of U.S. military personnel.

What's the -- what's the assessment for -- for that area?

OPPMANN: This is so interesting. It -- it's really the only thing we've heard of so far in Cuba that's been interrupted by the approaching storm. Yesterday, they halted the trial for several 9/11 plotters, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Non -- non-essential personnel and journalists have been ordered evacuated. Several hundred people are eventually going to leave.

(AUDIO GAP)

BLITZER: It looks like we just lost our connection with Patrick Oppmann in -- in Havana, but we'll stay in close touch with him, as well.

While keeping a nervous eye on Isaac's path, Republican National Convention officials in Tampa are determined to get Mitt Romney nominated officially next week.

Our political director, Mark Preston, is over at the site of the convention.

He's joining us now -- Mark, we're hearing the first extended words from convention organizers.

What can you tell us?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, Wolf, it is -- you know, the convention organizers have been very careful not to say very much about Tropical Storm Isaac and the impact that it could have here in Tampa. They have been working the past couple of days about putting out a very, very, very careful statement about what they have to say.

Let's take a look, a little bit, about what the CEO of the convention had to say in this written statement just released a few hours ago. This is from William Harris.

He says that "Governor Scott and local emergency officials have assured us that they have the resources in place to respond to this storm should it make landfall. As our primary concern is with those in the potential path of the storm, we will continue to work closely with them and the federal officials to monitor the storm and discuss any impact it may have on the Tampa area and the state of Florida."

And, Wolf, this is the most important part: "We continue to move forward with our planning and look forward to a successful convention."

I have to tell you, Wolf, if Tampa is not in line for the storm, it still could have an impact, though, on the Republican National Convention. As we just heard, if this storm slams somewhere into the Gulf, the death and destruction would, in fact, take the convention message off -- off kilter. And then, of course, the convention organizers would have to deal with that and have to figure out how they would nominate Mitt Romney -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's what happened the first day of the Republican Convention four years ago, as I recall. On a totally unrelated matter, that controversial Republican Congressman, Todd Akin, who's running for the Senate in Missouri, he actually has been in Tampa.

What do we know about that?

PRESTON: Well, Wolf, Peter Hamby and I caught up with the congressman in some respects right here. We got some pictures of him at a hotel that's about 15 minutes away from where I'm standing right now.

He is meeting with some of the leading voices in the social conservative movement. He is at a hotel assessing his candidacy.

We know that he arrived yesterday. He held some private meetings and then today, it looked to us that he was having one-on-one meetings with some very influential figures.

Now, we spoke to many of the folks who were at this meeting, which is this very secretive group called the Council for National Policy, Wolf.

And what we heard from them is that there is a frustration among grassroots activists and conservatives that the Republican establishment, and specifically those in Washington, DC, are trying to push Todd Akin out of the race.

So while we've seen this -- this swelling to try to get Todd Akin out of the race, from the Republican establishment, we're starting to see a little bit of a backlash from the grassroots movement. We don't know when Todd Akin is going to leave Tampa, but we do know that the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, has suggested he do not attend -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, they don't want him there during the convention, which begins on Monday.

Mark, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, this is an important note. You can experience what it's like to be at the Republican National Convention. On Tuesday, I'll be hosting the CNN election roundtable, along with CNN's political team. You can submit your questions and get answers in real time.

Join our virtual chat. That's Tuesday at noon Eastern. Here's what you need to do. Log onto CNN.com/roundtable. It will walk you through the process.

Lose 10 pounds in two weeks by exercising just three minutes a day?

Not so fast. The Federal Trade Commission is slapping a huge fine on the marketers of an ab device.

And ahead, more ahead on the Republican Convention. Mitt Romney gives "Time Magazine" an in-depth interview opening up about his business history, his government history, his beliefs -- his religious beliefs, I should say. We're taking a closer look at that.

Plus, 50,000 visitors are about to start flying into Tampa for the convention.

If a storm moves in what happens to all those flights?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: With Mitt Romney's nomination only a few days away, the latest issue of "Time Magazine" gives us a very close look at the Republican standard-bearer in an in-depth interview in which he talks about government, business and his religious beliefs. "Time" magazine's deputy Washington bureau chief, Michael Crowley is here. He is joining us.

"Time" is our sister publication, as I like to say. Very, very smart stuff you got in the magazine this week. Let me read a line from the interview you did with Mitt Romney, you and Rick Stengel, the managing editor.

"In the private sector," he says, "there's an urgency to constantly update, and renew and to rethink your enterprise. As I look at government, in some respects because people in government don't recognize that they are in a competition with governments of other nations, they tend to think there isn't a need to change the way things have been done."

His philosophy was really -- his working philosophy as a businessperson at Bain really has inspired him.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, TIME DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, it absolutely has. And you know, another point he made in that same riff was that he had looked at a broad variety of companies. The original question was how what did he learn that was different from the management style of his father who ran an auto company and it was all cars.

And one thing Romney said was that, you know, there was telecom. You know, there, you know, company like Staples, so he really had a kind of a wide range of experience. But that was the key point he wanted to drive home was competitiveness, staying ahead of the curve and, of course, there's a national implication of keeping the United States ahead of competitors like China, for instance.

BLITZER: Yes. Just because you've done it in a certain way in the past doesn't mean you should continue doing it that way. You spend some time talking to him about when he was a business guy at Bain. He looked at a lot of companies before deciding to buy one.

CROWLEY: Right. Well, we have a wonderful story by Bart Gelman (ph) that really goes into some detail about how selective he was about Bain's investments. I think that he said at one point he might get 3,000 investment opportunities across his desk, and he would go for six of them. It was a one and 500 ratio, sometimes. And even Staples, which was one of the famous investments he made, he was a very slow to get in on the staples deal. There were a lot of other companies that were kind of trying to get in on Staples, and Staples ended up kind of choosing Bain, but it wasn't that Romney saw it so early. He saw but was very methodical about making sure it was a good investment, ran the numbers, reran the numbers.

He even guys with adding machines go around and do research on how much companies were spending on their office supplies. So really methodical and careful.

BLITZER: Yes. And we know Staples has been a huge success.

CROWLEY: Yes.

BLITZER: You also asked him about Afghanistan and this jumped out at me. I'll put it up on the screen.

"I concurred with his, the president's decision to add surge troops to Afghanistan. I also concur with the timetable of bringing our troops home by the end of 2014. There are some differences. I would not have announced publicly the withdrawal date of the end of 2014. That is something I would have kept between our military and the Afghan military and political leadership. I don't think the Taliban and other forces ought to know the precise timetable of our plan."

But basically, he's not disagreeing with the president's strategy in Afghanistan.

CROWLEY: Not really. I mean, he's talking about the messaging and the communication, but even Romney is talking about a 2014 date to transition to Afghan forces being in the lead, so I don't really see a lot of daylight there. Something interesting there, Wolf, I thought came later in that answer.

I asked him about a time when he had said he wanted to defeat the Taliban, not negotiate with them. He said that in a debate back in January, I believe. What I heard him say here was the Taliban is not going to be eradicated entirely. They're still going to exist in some pockets of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I thought I heard him step back a little bit from that claim, we can defeat the Taliban, and suggest, we're going to have to tolerate them on some level, which I think probably is a more realistic answer.

BLITZER: Yes. I noticed that nuance as well, an important nuance as you point out. You've got a separate article on Paul Ryan and the origins of his own political philosophies.

CROWLEY: Yes.

BLITZER: If you will, share.

CROWLEY: Well, we just -- that's the article that I wrote. And we break it down for people because Paul Ryan is, you know, a budgeter. But he's not just a numbers guy. Budgets are political documents. They're ideological documents. And I think Paul Ryan more than a lot of people in politics really has done reading, interest in various philosophers, and he has a kind of world view that comes from those people.

One of them is Ayn Rand who wrote "Atlas Shrugged" and the "Fountain Head," believe very strongly in sort of individual freedom and liberty. He loves free market economists. Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and so the supply side economists.

I think it's very important when you're understanding Paul Ryan to understand his view that cutting taxes, especially upper rate taxes leads to more economic growth. So, when people say you're cutting taxes isn't that going to create deficits. People like Paul Ryan and the supply siders who he's drawn inspiration from say, no, growth will make up the difference.

I have to add, Wolf, that a lot of mainstream economists would strongly disagree with that, and there are some examples of big tax cuts like Ronald Reagans and George W. Bushs which led to big deficits and didn't do what the supply siders expected, but that is Paul Ryan's world view, and so we break down a lot of difference influence so people can understand where he's coming from.

BLITZER: A very good piece you wrote. I read it. Thanks so much, Michael. The new issue of "Time" magazine, the cover story. There you see it right there, "The Mind Of Mitt."

CROWLEY: And everyone, please download our convention app --

BLITZER: Well, I'm going to tell our viewers. We're going to show it right now. Stand by. People can check out our new CNN/Time convention floor pass app as we're calling it for the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions available via iPhone, iPad, android or any web-enabled mobile device.

It features 24/7 breaking news, updates, and alerts daily analysis and commentary, exclusive early access to CNN/Time polls, and we'll have several photos, video, a lot more. It's your virtual ticket to the convention floors, the halls, the behind the scenes. This is it. You're pretty proud of this, aren't you?

CROWLEY: Yes. I think it looks great, and I think it will be a lot of fun, and we're really looking forward to covering the heck out of conventions.

BLITZER: I love it when our corporate cousins, "Time," CNN, we partner on these kinds of projects.

CROWLEY: Yes, it's great.

BLITZER: We should do it more often.

CROWLEY: Well, let's.

BLITZER: Can you speak to your big shots over there? CROWLEY: I'll have my people call your people.

BLITZER: All right. Good. I've got people. You've got people.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

BLITZER: You can look, but you can't go in. The Washington Monument still off limits after an earthquake here in the nation's capital last year. Now, experts have assessed if it can ever be open to visitors once again.

And later, dressing up before taking it off. A strip clubs in Tampa, they're getting ready for the Republicans carrying lots of cash. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will happen, I feel, is now in society we have a very narrow view of what beauty is. You know, a beautiful woman kind of looks like this and a beautiful man kind of looks like this. And in that future, you can have all kinds of different human beings with body types and different types of minds.

And it won't be ugly because it won't -- the conversation won't be about disability. It will be about capability, about ability, about expression. So, I call it the death of normalcy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Monsoon is bringing disaster to Pakistan and India. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, dozens of people are actually dead in Pakistan and Northern India from flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains. More than 20 deaths are confirmed in Pakistan, and India reports 20 dead. Hundreds of homes have been damaged by the rush of water.

Pakistan's disaster agency says a city in Kashmir was hit by a major landslide. It says roads are blocked and an unknown number are dead and injured.

And the Federal Reserve has cut its final cord related to the government bailout of insurance giant, AIG, and, in the process, has turned a tidy profit. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced today that it sold the last of its securities dubbed maiden lane three. The final deal brings the total profit for taxpayers to almost $18 billion.

It's now up to the treasury department to sell the rest of Washington's stake in AIG. Treasury says it expects to turn a profit, too.

And a seismic study released today says the Washington Monument can withstand a worst case earthquake scenario. The findings were announced by the superintendent of the national mall and memorial parks. The 555-foot monument has been closed since a magnitude 5.8 earthquake damaged it a year ago.

Today, damage to marble panels and interior beams will be repaired before it reopens. No time frame, though, has been given.

And if you bought something called an ab circle pro, well, you could be in for a refund. The Federal Trade Commission has filed deceptive advertising charges against marketers of the abdominal exercise device. The FDC said today that this move is part of its effort to stop overhyped health claims. The defendants have agreed to pay between $50 million and $25 million in refunds.

Infomercials promise three minutes a day on the device could make users drop ten pounds in ten weeks. So, I guess, that was just too good to be true. Three minutes a day on it, dropping ten pounds?

BLITZER: If your mother always told you if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. It's good advice from your mom, from my mom, from all the moms out there, I'm sure.

SYLVESTER: I know. I'm sure a lot of people are saying, oh, darn, it's just not true, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, three minutes a day, you lose ten pounds in a week? Maybe not. All right. Thanks very much, Lisa.

We're keeping a close eye on Isaac right now. Our severe weather expert, Chad Myers, is standing by. He's got the latest forecast. He's going to show us where, when, how hard this storm may hit.

And tens of thousands of air travelers will be heading to Tampa for the Republican convention, but what happens if Isaac ends up grounding their flights?

And remember that speed boat that David Beckham drove at the start of the London Olympics? Well, imagine this, picture a bigger version in the hands of the Iranian navy, armed, dangerous, and racing toward U.S. ships from all directions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The new forecast is now out for Tropical Storm Isaac which could become a hurricane by tomorrow. Alerts are up all across the Caribbean and officials in Tampa are eyeing Isaac nervously as they push ahead with plans for the Republican National Convention that opens Monday. Let's get the latest from our meteorologist and severe weather expert Chad Myers. This latest forecast came out. What's the headline?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The headline is there's more than one center, more than one center, and you think well how can that be a headline. Well, when there is one and it's called an eye, it becomes a hurricane. Right now this is having trouble. There's more than one circulation very close to the center and they're all fighting each other. They're fighting to try to be the big dog, the real center, and so it's not getting stronger yet.

When it works that out, that's when it will get stronger and move right over Haiti, Port-au-Prince and eventually even into Cuba. The forecast is for it to not really be too far into the Bahamas anymore. See as we get this center closer to America, closer to the fewer days away, the cone is smaller. See how small the cone is here. See how wide the cone is here. So the cone getting smaller and almost taking eastern Florida out of the cone, shifting that track farther and farther west every single time the Hurricane Center puts out a new forecast.

We'll continue to watch it. The models are still pushing it farther. Let me show you some of these models. We talk about them all the time. Right now they're coming way down south of Puerto Rico, coming up through -- there's a couple right through Miami but most of them are either on the Keys, past Key West or all the way up toward New Orleans as a very big storm, because that means if it's from here to here in the water it might be a 60-mile-per-hour storm as it leaves Cuba but it could be a lot bigger as it makes a run at the Gulf Coast -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by. We're going to get back to you, Chad, because we've got a lot more to discuss about this.

MYERS: Sure.

BLITZER: Chad Myers watching all of this unfold.

Tens of thousands of people will be heading to Tampa for the Republican National Convention, but if a major storm also visits the city, so what happens to all those flights? CNN's Sandra Endo has been looking into this part of the story for us. I'm flying down on Saturday. What should I expect?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, oh. You may be in the clear, Wolf, but right now it's something that everyone is really looking forward to because they have to keep in track of this forecast because Tampa is no stranger to severe weather and everybody knows that. And right now airlines and Tampa airport officials say they're keeping a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Isaac. Now, if it hits the city, it could be a travel nightmare for people heading to the RNC.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENDO (voice-over): Virginia delegate Matt Hurtt isn't going to let bad weather keep him from his first convention.

MATTHEW HURTT, GOP DELEGATE: I'm ready to go, you know. Storm or no storm, I'm planning on making my flight Sunday morning.

ENDO: He'll be joining some 50,000 people, expected to be flying into Tampa. HURTT: I've packed an extra umbrella and a couple of jackets just to make sure. It would definitely be my first tropical storm.

ENDO: Right now the major airlines are monitoring the storm from their operations centers, like this one at Delta Headquarters in Atlanta. The airlines we talk to say it's still too early to know what impact, if any, the storm could have on flights. This far out, Isaac's path is too unpredictable.

MYERS: Right now no indications of any cancelled flights to Tampa but if this track does turn back to the east, running this storm over Tampa, certainly there would be cancellations.

ENDO: The storm is turning in the Caribbean now and airlines are allowing passengers to change their flights for free if they're flying to impacted islands. That waiver would be extended to Tampa travelers if the weather gets messy there. And if that happens, it's bound to be more complicated because so many travelers are heading there at the same time. Airlines could also add extra flights or use larger planes to move people out of Tampa before the storm hits. Janet Zink with the Tampa Airport says if the storm comes, they are ready.

JANET ZINK, TAMPA AIRPORT SPOKESWOMAN: We've been through this before. It does not completely paralyze us. It might shut down the airport for a little while or stop flights for a while, but as I said, we're very used to dealing with this.

ENDO: Regardless of the potential storm, Matt Hurtt is determined to ride it out.

(on camera): What's your message to Mother Nature?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a great question. Bring it on, I'm ready. Let's do this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENDO: Now, the forecast will get clearer in the next few days and that's when more decisions will be made about what will happen to those flights -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of nervous travelers just watching your report right now, me amongst them. Sandy, thanks very much for coming in.

ENDO: Sure.

BLITZER: The massive storm that could become Hurricane Isaac may or may not bear down on Tampa, but the Florida city is sprucing up anyway, and that includes the strip clubs. CNN's John Zarrella is joining us now with more on what's going on. Convention, strip clubs, explain.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, it can't be all work when you're at the convention so what do you do with some of your downtime? Well there are these clubs in Tampa that are rolling out the red carpet. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA (voice-over): The waitresses are in red, white and blue. So is the vodka bottle. Here at the Dollhouse (ph) in Tampa, they've spruced up, put in a 225-inch video wall. They're bringing in a Sarah Palin look-alike too. No kidding.

(on camera): What did you put into it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know (INAUDIBLE) the bottom line will be close to a million five, inside, outside.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Yes, Tampa strip clubs are dressing up before undressing. There's an excitement in the air like going to the polls on Election Day, but going to the polls has a different meaning here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know I've been in this business 30 years and I'm telling you I get goose bumps, I've got them right now just thinking about this. To answer your question I've never been so excited in all my life.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Warren Collazzo (ph) even had these t- shirts made up that read "The Dollhouse, RNC Headquarters", certainly a must have for any conventioneer, so why all the anticipation? Well, an adult industry trade association says the Republicans spend the money.

(voice-over): An informal survey by the Association of Club Executives found that during their conventions in Minnesota and New York, Republicans spent $150 per person at adult clubs. The Democrats only $50 per person in Boston and Denver. The RNC told us it's focused on having a great convention and nominating Mitt Romney. Club dancers are counting on the supposed big dollar Republicans to make it rain dollars. Go-Go, she's the one in the middle, thinks this will be bigger than the Super Bowls she's worked.

"GO-GO", NIGHTCLUB PERFORMER: Thousand dollars an hour. That would be like -- I'm really optimistic.

ZARRELLA (on camera): A thousand an hour?

"GO-GO": Yes, that would be --

ZARRELLA: For like how many hours?

"GO-GO": Well, I'll work as long as my body can take it.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): For the most part the city tolerates the clubs but won't let them cross the line. Police have already raided a few and charged 16 women with prostitution. The mayor says the clubs are the least of his worries.

MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA, FLORIDA: Are we going to be running around strip clubs checking IDs and probably not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We added this VIP section up here.

ZARRELLA: Don Kleinhans (ph) owns the 2001 Odyssey Club, you can't miss it. The VIP room is shaped like a flying saucer. The way up is known as the stairway to heaven. Kleinhans (ph) says there's so much money to be made, dancers are calling from everywhere to work the convention.

DON KLEINHANS, TAMPA NIGHTCLUB OWNER: Just this morning we had five different calls of girls from Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago and New York.

ZARRELLA: Word has spread when the elephant's in the room, the money is good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Now, if you're concerned about being recognized going into these -- one of these clubs, the owners tell me not to be worried, they have set up private VIP entrances -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, John Zarrella, our man on the scene for us, as he always is. Appreciate it very much.

Other news we're following, including some important news, the Iranian military now feeling the need for speed. It bought a super fast boat like this one, now it has a fleet that has the United States Navy worried.

And it's not video of an accident, it's a popular and very dangerous extreme pastime that's also getting people killed. We'll share with you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The aircraft carrier the USS Stennis (ph) will start heading back to the Middle East next week, returning ahead of schedule to meet any new threats from Iran. The move comes amid tensions over Iran's nuclear program and new signs that Iran is boosting its own naval capability. CNN's senior international correspondent Dan Rivers has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Bradstone Challenger (ph), a record-breaking speed boat capable of an incredible 72 knots. A smaller version was driven by David Beckham during the opening of the Olympic Games. But now this boat is in the hands of the Iranian Navy, according to the people who built it. They say the Iranians bought the boat after numerous western attempts to block the sale.

They finally got their hands on it in 2009 from a South Africa arms dealer. And they have successfully copied the prototype calling it the Suarge One (ph), part of a fleet of super fast gunships bristling with rockets and weapons, a component of Iran's asymmetric tactics, using small boats to attack large warships. Western concerns about Iran's fleet of speed boats increased after war games in 2002 when a U.S. Navy team suffered heavy losses in a simulated attack in the Gulf. Some of their fleet was sunk by a swarm of small boats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The propellers run on the surface.

RIVERS: The Bradstone Challenger was designed by Lorne Campbell (ph) who shows me the unique blade runner hull design which makes it so fast and stable in rough seas. Now, the Iranians have his design.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very annoying, very frustrating.

RIVERS: British military intelligence have contacted him about the boat as well as other rather more shady characters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've had students from (INAUDIBLE) Iran trying to pump me for information.

RIVERS: Ian Millen works for a marine intelligence company which monitors areas like the Straits of Hormuz where a third of the world's trade of petroleum (INAUDIBLE) and where the Bradstone Challenger could be deployed. We took to the water to discuss the threat to western Navy's.

IAN MILLEN, DRYAD MARITIME INTELLIGENCE SERVICES: The idea behind the asymmetric threat of course is that it would saturate defenses, would in effect swarm like bees and be a death by a thousand bee stings. But, yes, the modern Navy's are capable of dealing with situations and threats like this.

RIVERS (on camera): You can see how difficult it is filming in a conventional speed boat doing about 20 knots. So you can imagine how much harder it is to fire a weapon going in something three times this speed. One of the military advantages of the Bradstone Challenger is it provides a much more stable platform from which to fire a weapon. The Iranians could build an entire fleet of these super fast small craft. It could pose a significant threat to western Navy's.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)

RIVERS (voice-over): Iran's Navy Commander Admiral Ali Ghadafi (ph) has boasted the U.S. tried and failed to stop delivery of the Bradstone Challenger in 2009 during a high seas stand-off that lasted 18 hours. Now that Iran has the design and its fleet of copies, the fear is it's just waiting for the pretext to deploy them in anger.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Portsmouth (ph).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: A new account of the bin Laden raid written by one of the ultimate insiders, a former Navy SEAL, it's setting off a firestorm of controversy, and they call it "drifting", it's risky and potentially deadly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: A former U.S. Navy SEAL that took part in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has written an insider's account of that vision and the top brass over at the Pentagon are not happy. Officials say the upcoming book could have dangerous repercussions. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us. What's going on here, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well look Wolf, it started earlier today when "FOX News Online" reported the name of this Navy SEAL commando. Many say this is a name that never should have been disclosed to the public. The Associated Press also reporting the name, CNN is not doing so at this time at the request of the Pentagon, which is citing its concern about the security of the other SEAL team members. AP says they weren't asked by the Pentagon to withhold the name. But the question really now is what is in this book?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): The book is called "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account Of The Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden". The author calls himself Mark Owen, but it's a fake name he picked to protect his identity. The former Navy SEAL was on the bin Laden raid according to Pentagon officials. His publisher says his account includes the stealth helicopter crash that could have killed the author and his teammates. It has already set off a fire storm even before the September 11th publication date.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: He has no right to make public the details of that raid and the operational information that is necessary in order to do that without getting approval.

STARR: Pentagon officials say the SEAL did not submit the book for security review. Now they urgently want to read it. He left the Navy in April, but could be subject to criminal prosecution. The Pentagon is asking CNN not to disclose the SEAL's real name and CNN is not doing so. The worry, other SEALS on the raid could then be identified through social media links such as Facebook.

The 36-year-old chief petty officer is a highly decorated commando, five Bronze stars with a special combat designation. A Purple Heart after being wounded, leading others under fire at least seven times. But since the 2011 bin Laden raid, controversy over how much information has gotten out. Wolf Blitzer recently asked a four- star head of Special Operations Command about unauthorized leaks.

ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN, COMMANDER, U.S. SPEC. OPERATIONS: I mean, are people affected by information that comes out? You bet they are. Are lives at risk? Absolutely.

STARR: But with a new book written by a SEAL it may be awkward for a group of former operatives criticizing the White House for leaking.

SCOTT TAYLOR, FORMER SEAL: We're upset about the amount, the unprecedented amount of leaks that have come out in the past couple of years as well as the over politicizing of the raid itself, absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now, I have to tell you, I have spoken today to a number of officers and troops in the Special Operations community and they have one clear message. They say the names should not be out there, it should be withheld at this point. There are security concerns, they insist, and they say there are plenty of other Navy and Army commandoes still out there on the front line, still serving, risking it all not becoming famous -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr, thanks very, very much. We will continue to watch this story.

Also a dangerous thrill is gaining popularity and putting innocent lives at risk.

(SOUNDS)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It is dangerous, thrilling, it could be a recipe for disaster. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom looks at new thrill rides.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CROSSTALK)

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Saudi desert, the thrill seekers gather.

(SOUNDS)

JAMJOOM: Cars skid and spin. It is called drifting and it originated in Japan before seeping into the mainstream in films like 2006's "The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift". Drifting reckless and often dangerous was celebrated this year by hip-hop star MIA (ph) in the video for her song "Bad Girls" filmed in Morocco.

(MUSIC)

(SOUNDS)

JAMJOOM: In Saudi Arabia where many forms of public entertainment are banned, it is a rare outlet for young men. Their exploits captured on countless amateur videos. Most of the time, the streets are empty, but sometimes the drivers weave maniacally through traffic, here narrowly missing a school bus. Joy riders also careen out of control, crashing in horrific fashion. In this video, at least two passengers are ejected as the vehicle rolls over.

It is not known if they survived. In June, Saudi daily newspaper (INAUDIBLE) reported that a man who had hit and killed two onlookers while drifting had been sentenced to death by beheading, a sign that the authorities are beginning to clamp down on this high risk adrenaline rush. (on camera): Drifting has also been gaining in popularity here in the UAE. But in the past few years, some drivers have begun to promote it as a sport, saying it can be done in a much safer way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go.

(SOUNDS)

JAMJOOM: (INAUDIBLE) is the United Arab Emirates 2011-2012 drift champion.

(SOUNDS)

(on camera): This doesn't get old for you. You love this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like -- my life always, I like my life to be sideways.

(SOUNDS)

JAMJOOM (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) learned the technique in Japan and now competes as part of Toyota Emirates drifting team. He takes me around the track a few times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you are looking for to do it in the public street? Maybe some of our family members on that street, maybe you can in fact kill them. For what? For nothing? For a few seconds of enjoyment (INAUDIBLE)?

(SOUNDS)

JAMJOOM: Drifting can be done safely, he says, with the right precautions.

AHMED AL-AMERI, TOYOTA EMIRATES DRIFTING TEAM: (INAUDIBLE) of the car, how you set up -- how you can make your car safety cars when you're drifting, the roll cage, seats, suits, helmet.

JAMJOOM: But for some young men, restless and bored, drifting (INAUDIBLE) may not be enough. Being beyond the law showing off and cheating death is what gives them the high octane thrill.

(SOUNDS)

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)