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THE SITUATION ROOM
Location of President Obama's Speech Changed; Bill Clinton to Speak at Democratic National Convention; Romney: DNC Not Answering "Better Off" Question; Twice As Many Americans On Food Stamps; Platform Changes Expected In Minutes
Aired September 5, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, we're only minutes away from the official start of the second day of this Democratic National Convention here in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We're standing by to cover all of it for you, including tonight's main attraction, the former President Bill Clinton. We're also learning new details about what he will say.
Plus, a sudden change of plans, how organizers here in Charlotte expect to deal with thousands of people now left out of the convention's last night.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Charlotte. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Their lives have been intertwined for years, not always necessarily on the friendliest terms, but when former President Bill Clinton takes the stage here tonight, he's certain to make a strong case for a second term for President Obama.
CNN's Dana Bash is learning some details about what the former president has to say in his convention speech later tonight.
Dana, what are you picking up?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have talked to several officials who are familiar with what President Clinton is going to talk about thematically.
And the whole idea, the whole reason why the Obama campaign asked him to come here and to speak from that podium is because they want him to explain the economics behind his own administration and the parallels between that and what the Obama administration is trying to do.
Now, of course, you remember, Wolf, you were covering the Clinton administration. And he did take this country into a time of surplus. So what he's going to do I'm told is explain how he did that and show the similarities between his platform and his goals and what President Obama is trying to do.
The other thing I'm told he is going to do is -- this is from one source -- "slam-dunk the Romney agenda," specifically trickle-down economics, the philosophy behind the Romney agenda and many Republicans' agenda and how from his point of view that specific kind of economic philosophy is what crushed 22 million jobs that he created, he says, during his term. So that is the sort of gist of what we're hearing that President Clinton is going to talk about tonight.
BLITZER: As you know, Dana, you hear rumblings from time to time that question whether the former president will stay on message, if you will. How much of an input has the Obama team had on what former President Clinton is expected to say tonight?
BASH: Well, by all accounts, President Clinton is writing his own speech.
And I have talked to several sources who are familiar with the process. And they say it is not unlike the process that he went through when he wrote speeches when you were covering him in the White House all those years ago. And he is getting input from all over the place, even asking various people to send him speeches and taking from that.
I am told that he has been in contact with highest levels of the Obama campaign. They are aware of what he is doing. Some have actually seen drafts of the speech. But the way the process works here with all of the speeches is there's a boiler room, there's kind of a backstage area where there's a team of officials and aides and speechwriters that comb through the speeches before they're given on this stage.
That has not happened yet with Bill Clinton. You know him well, Wolf. That is probably not a surprise to you because he is known for making last-minute changes until he gets out of the car and gets to the podium. That is what's probably going to happen tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: I remember on a few occasions when he was driving up to Capitol Hill to deliver a speech before a joint session of Congress, he was working on his speech in that White House limo and he didn't make changes until he got there.
And some of his aides were scrambling to make sure they got it into the teleprompter. Once, they didn't get it into the teleprompter. He was ad libbing, if you will, for 10 minutes or so before they finally fixed it. That's vintage Bill Clinton. We will see how it goes for him tonight.
Even if he does have teleprompter, I'm always interested to see if he goes off that advanced script. But we will be having live coverage. That will be in our 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Thanks very much, Dana, for that.
Let's get some more now on Bill Clinton. Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here.
Gloria, is there something that Bill Clinton can do in this campaign that Barack Obama can't do?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he can say to the viewers out there, do you want to go back to the economy of George W. Bush at the end of Bush's term? Or do you want to go back to the economy that you saw at the end of my term?
And what he can do is he can link Barack Obama's plans for the economy and the way Barack Obama has handled the economy to how he would have done it. So he can kind of yoke himself to President Obama and remind people, as I'm sure he will do, that things were better when Democrats were in charge, and go through what the president has done and say, I would have done this, I would have done this, I would have done that. We just need to give this time to grow and remind people what it was like when he was president.
BLITZER: And another area where he could be effective for the Obama campaign is welfare reform.
BLITZER: The Romney campaign has been hammering President Obama for gutting the work requirement supposedly of welfare reform. But it was this President Bill Clinton who signed welfare reform back in the '90s.
BORGER: It is.
Welfare reform was his baby. It is something he was very proud of. It was a bipartisan achievement. And I think Bill Clinton more than anyone else can say President Obama's not trying to undo what I did. He's trying to make it a little bit more flexible and allow states to find different ways to create jobs.
So he can say the Romney campaign is wrong on welfare reform. One kind of interesting thing about welfare reform, though, Wolf, as you look back on it and you read an awful lot about President Obama as he matured politically, originally, he wasn't a huge fan of the president's welfare reform plan when it got passed in the Congress.
Now, of course, he is. And it sort of helps show you the way that President Obama himself has changed as a politician over the years.
BLITZER: That's what politicians do. They evolve over time.
BORGER: Sometimes we call it flip-flopping. Sometimes we call it evolving, right?
BLITZER: Trying to be polite.
This Clinton/Obama relationship, it has intrigued a lot of folks, including me especially. But give us a little of your take on what this relationship is all about, because there have been highs and there have been lows.
BORGER: I think it's about golf, Wolf.
(LAUGHTER) BORGER: Not a golfer, but I think it comes down to the fact that these two men have had -- and a lot of people refer to it this way -- as kind of a transactional relationship.
They're not good friends. They're never going to be good friends. Bill Clinton was effectively running his wife's campaign for the presidency in 2008. Didn't turn out so well for her. He was not a big fan of President Obama's.
President Obama has not reached out to him all the time because President Obama doesn't really reach out to anybody all the time. But last fall, after some aides met, he asked -- President Obama asked President Clinton to have a round of golf. They had a round of golf, they started talking. The relationship grew a little closer.
And I think that was around the time when President Obama realized that maybe it would be a great idea to have Bill Clinton become his character witness here at this convention. So I think they have grown closer. They certainly respect each other. But you know, Wolf, and you know this, relationships between presidents current and former are always kind of tricky, this one in particular.
BORGER: A lot of history.
BLITZER: A lot of history there.
If last night was an effort by the Democrats to solidify the base, the liberal base of the Democratic Party, get that vote out, I think tonight will be an effort to solidify the independents, the more moderate Democrats, because Bill Clinton can be rather effective with that group of Democrats and get the vote out.
BORGER: Yes, he reinvented the Democratic Party, so it could succeed in the South and attract those moderates and independents. So they will listen to Bill Clinton.
BLITZER: Yes. That's I think some of the theory behind what's going on here.
BORGER: Yes, absolutely.
BLITZER: Gloria will be with us throughout the night as well.
So where is Mitt Romney? His campaign confirms that he is holed up inside his Vermont mansion preparing for his debates against President Obama. The six-bedroom, by the way, 6,500-square-foot house belongs to his former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, and is worth almost $4 million.
That's where he's preparing for this debate, not necessarily his mansion, but it is a mansion.
Potentially costly blunders in the Democratic platform, how did that actually happen? We're digging deeper. We will also talk about that and more with a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, the former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Also, we're counting down to the official start of night two of the Democratic National Convention. It starts in only minutes. We will have live coverage.
And a day on the lake these people will never forget, their near disaster caught on tape.
BLITZER: We're here in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Democratic National Convention. We're watching what's going on.
Later this hour, this day two of the convention formally begins. We will have live coverage starting with the gavel. That's coming up. Stand by. Major speakers tonight, including the former President Bill Clinton.
Meanwhile, other news. A magnitude-7.6 earthquake strikes off the coast of Costa Rica.
Our own Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What is going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
You can see some of the shaking that was caught on tape in this dramatic video. The quake hit about 87 miles west of the capital of San Jose and it was centered more than 28 miles deep. At least one person is now dead. Authorities initially issued tsunami warnings for parts of the Costa Rican, Panamanian, and Nicaraguan coastlines. Those have since been canceled, but there are some reports of damage.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in China today huddling with the foreign minister over the crisis in Syria. The secretary of state expressed hope that the two countries can unite behind one strategy to end the bloodshed. China and Russia are currently blocking tougher U.N. Security Council resolutions over Syria.
Meanwhile, Egypt's president is calling for change in the region, telling an Arab League meeting it's time for Syria's president to leave.
And health officials are warning Yosemite Parks from 39 countries about a potentially deadly hantavirus virus uncovered at some of the park's cabins this summer. The CDC says up to 10,000 people are at risk and six cases have been reported. Two of those infected have since died.
The syndrome is a rare lung disease, and symptoms can include fever, chills and gastrointestinal problems.
And this next shocking video, well, we will just say this is not for the faint of heart. Take a look here. It shows a family boat ride that ended up tossing them from their seats. Wow. Look at that. The boat apparently hit a large wake while passing another boat, violently knocking over and injuring the seven passengers aboard. Five of them that you see there, they had to go to the hospital with what are described as minor to moderate injuries.
And, boy, oh, boy, when you look at that video, Wolf, it looks like those folks, some of them look very lucky, very lucky indeed that it wasn't more serious, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, seat belts, maybe seat belts would have helped. Wow. That was pretty dramatic stuff.
Lisa, thank you.
The former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, is getting ready right now for a huge moment in the spotlight. And it's happening within a few hours. So what does he need to say to be really, really effective? We're breaking it down with our special panel.
BLITZER: Here in Charlotte, North Carolina, the former president of the United States Bill Clinton is getting ready for a huge moment in the spotlight a little while from now later on tonight here in the Democratic convention hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't think it's important to re-elect the president. I think it's essential.
RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: It's a long complicated relationship lots of bad sides for a really long time after that famous wrenching primary.
CLINTON: When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The problems Bill Clinton has run into in getting off message with President Obama have largely been off the cuff remarks.
CLINTON: The great thing about not being president is you can say whatever you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get straight to CNN contributor, the Sirius XM radio host Pete Dominick. He's out with the CNN grill right here in Charlotte, and he's getting some unsolicited advice from our panel about this very question -- Pete.
PETE DOMINICK, HOST, SIRIUS XM RADIO: That's right. Thank you very much, Wolf Blitzer.
All right. Bill Clinton's the big headliner guys, tonight. Everybody's talking is he going to overshadow the president? Is he going to sabotage President Obama to help out Hillary Clinton?
GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Oh, come on. This has been a summer bromance that's been building for some time.
Look, all of us who have run for office, we've run against people. And after you win or lose the election, you come back together. The Republican that I beat when I first ran for governor, I turned around and appointed him to our historical society. The woman who was running against me in lieutenant governor, I appointed her to be the director of the DNRC.
Listen, campaigns are over and you move forward if you are interested in governing.
ROSS DOUTHAT, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: So they've got Clinton in the traditional vice presidential slot tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
DOUTHAT: And that's -- it's interesting. It's sort of appropriate because the vice presidential slot is usually the slot that stands up and tears down the other candidate, right? And that is something I think Bill Clinton is very good at, because he's very good at the more than sorrow than an anger shtick. You know, he'll get up there, he'll say, our Republican friends, I have no problem with them, they're good people, they just want to strangle your puppies and feed them to Doberman pinchers. We just have some differences.
PolitiFact rated that mostly true.
SCHWEITZER: No, in the South you say, God bless their heart.
DOUTHAT: God bless them.
SCHWEITZER: They are the worst people.
DOUTHAT: Romney used to bless his heart at one point about Obama. And it was this moment of sort of strange, you know --
DOMINICK: That must have been when I was napping.
VAN JONES, AUTHOR, "REBUILD THE DREAM": Listen. If you're a Democrat, this is just -- you break out the popcorn. This is the big dog. Everybody wants to see the big dog bark.
So they'll sit there at least in the party thinking Bill Clinton is going to overshadow. We need Bill Clinton to come out and do only what Bill Clinton can do. He can make the most complicated economic argument seem as simple, just as easy as pie.
And we need that because reality is we are in a complex economic situation. You see normal Democrats who are not super powered people like Bill Clinton stumble over very simple stuff even asking are your better off, are you worse off? Bill Clinton will knock it out of the park tonight. I got my popcorn.
CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I think that's right. I think we all do. But levity aside for just a second, I think Bill Clinton actually has quite a difficult and quite an important role. It's not just to say, yes, I'm in Obama's camp now.
Last night, we got wonderful speeches. Julian Castro was fantastic. His daughter was even just so adorable.
Michelle proved once again that she is an exceptionally brilliant and beautiful woman. However, both of those speeches were purely emotional in their appeal. I love this man. You can trust this man, the American dream.
What Bill Clinton now has to do is actually make a policy argument. Why is it that Barack Obama's policies have worked or haven't worked as fast as they should have? And that's hard, because Bill Clinton made some very different choices. He famously declared the era of big government is over. He famously cut the capital gains tax. He famously triangulated.
So Clinton has the tough job of describing Obama's policies in a way that's comprehensible and also explaining what's the difference with his own policy which is are substantial in some cases.
DOUTHAT: I don't think he's going to be explaining that. That's why I think it's going to be a fairly negative speech overall, right? Because you don't want to get sort of tangled up in the 1990s Democrat, Obama Democrat argument. You want to take it to the Republicans.
FIORINA: He doesn't want to lose credibility.
DOMINICK: I don't want to get tangled up in that right now, because listen, I'm not a partisan. If I think deregulation of the financial industry is bad when the Republicans do it, I think it's bad when the Democratic president who signed that into legislation, President Clinton did it too. He's got an ad running, oh, the Republicans want to go about the deregulation, you are part of the problem, sir. We're not going to focus on -- we've forgotten about what Clinton did wrong in his personal life. And in terms of what he's done wrong, because that was so long ago. We even forgot about eight years of Bush.
But the truth is we shouldn't forget those things. And we should talk about those things and not forget when Bill Clinton is talking tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you take the hypocrites out of politics, there ain't nobody left.
DOMINICK: I'm here. I'm here.
FIORINA: But I think to your point, Pete, if you -- look speeches can be wonderful for a night and sort of dissipate over time. If Bill Clinton's speech is going to have resonance beyond tonight, I believe he has to tackle some of those obvious differences. Because if he doesn't, the Republicans most definitely will. They're going to say here are all the differences.
DOMINICK: But does he like President Obama? There's this interesting gossip and it could be a movie script, President Obama runs against his wife and they have all this bad blood and now they've gotten back together. Bill Clinton is going to do his best to sell President Obama.
DOUTHAT: Oh, yes. Talk like Democrats were all worried.
DOMINICK: He's going to sabotage him to Hillary can win in --
DOUTHAT: That's pure media nonsense. Now, would I guess that if Barack Obama loses this fall, Bill Clinton will be crying himself to sleep that night? I'd say, you know, probably not. But tonight, he's going to go out and execute.
JONES: Look, I mean, I think that he would be crying. And I tell you why -- I do think there are substantive differences between the parties now. And I do think the direction the Romney would take the country is not a direction Bill Clinton would be a cheerleader for. As best I can tell right now, Romney's basic plan to fix the economy is to cut his own taxes. I don't think Bill Clinton is going to think that that's a good way to go.
FIORINA: Although Bill Clinton famously said let's extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone. He said it six months ago.
DOMINICK: We've got to take a quick break. When we come back everybody on our panel is going to give advice to some target. We don't know what. I'll tease mine, it's going to be about the debates, unsolicited advice when we come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go.
DOMINICK: Welcome back to the CNN grill here in downtown Charlotte. The sun is out. We're having our brilliant panel conversation. It's now time to give our unsolicited advice. We all get to choose a target. I love this. They don't tell us what to talk about. We decide what we're talking about.
DOMINICK: What's on your mind?
JONES: My advice to the Democratic platform committee. Just pretend that the draft you submitted that didn't have the word God in it was just a draft. And in fact the real draft was inclusive of people like myself who are people of faith, who are Christians, who go to church and who are also progressive Democrats. We have to -- we're going to be inclusive as a party.
It doesn't mean that you then -- you leave out people like myself. Dr. King was a Christian minister. Every Democrat loves Dr. King, and celebrates him, and yet somehow we're becoming this party where you can be spiritual but not religious. That is now almost going to be the banner of the Democratic Party, it's going to leave out too many people.
DOMINICK: Unforced error.
JONES: Unforced error. And really quite foolish because they talk about faith all the time. We have -- there were prayers last night. But I guarantee you in my home state of Tennessee, more people are going to know we took God out of that platform than anything about the convention.
DOMINICK: I'm not a religious guy. I don't -- I'm an independent thinker. I like to believe. I'm a spiritual guy. But the idea of them losing that whole constituency which is the majority of Americans --
DOUTHAT: If the word of God hadn't been in there to begin with, it wouldn't have been that big a deal. But it is just sort of an obvious -- I mean, look, I don't think God is particularly offended. I think he's going to be OK.
DOMINICK: She will be fine. Unsolicited advice, Carly?
CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Mine is actually to undecided voters, a critical, small, but critical segment of the population. You know, partisan Republicans are going to vote for their team. Partisan Democrats are going to vote for their team.
What struck me so far about these two conventions is how much the conversation is the same. Everyone talks about the American dream. Everyone talks about their humble beginnings or their fathers or their grandmothers.
Everyone talks about the fact that the American dream has gotten too hard for too many people. So now to you undecided voters, I think the issue is what's going to work? What's going to work to restore the American dream to more people?
Now, you all know, I'm a conservative. I happen to be a conservative because I think decentralized decision making works better than centralized thinking. I'm a conservative because I think individuals make smarter decisions over time than an institution will make for them.
I'm a conservative because if I have to I'm going to trust a job creator and an entrepreneur more than I'm going to trust a regulator or a bureaucrat. Not because they're bad people, but because they're too far removed from the situation.
But for undecided voters whether they agree with me or not, I think they have to say everyone cares about the American dream. How reassuring, what's going to restore it now?
DOMINICK: My unsolicited advice is to the presidential commission on debates, this is a private organization, nobody knows about. They collude to prevent any third party. Democratic candidate, Republican candidate, I want a third voice. I don't care who it is.
Someone to throw them off a third idea, you know what, everybody else wants that idea too. Republican and Democratic parties are private organizations. The Commission on Presidential Debates is a private organization.
I want, A, way more debates than just three with a real healthy exchange of ideas and I want another idea there, a third and fourth idea. I think everybody wants that. It's not going to happen this year. I hope it does some time.
DOUTHAT: Touche, you're right. Gary Johnson is applauding you somewhere. Even without being in the debates Johnson could actually make a difference peeling a few votes, probably more away from Romney than Obama in a few states.
DOMINICK: We just got a minute.
DOUTHAT: So quickly my advice maybe predicatively to the Democratic Party, talking an awful lot about abortion in the first couple hours of their convention.
There was a "The Washington Post" statistic today that said as much money has been spent on abortion-related ads mostly by Democrats in this cycle than on Medicare ads.
I'm very skeptical that this is the right play for the Democratic Party. I think they're in danger of having a kind of Pat Buchan in 1992 moment in reverse where they're talking about an issue the American people aren't focused on.
SCHWEITZER: Advice for the GOP. In Tampa they didn't mention of eight years of George Bush. They don't want to talk about George Bush. And that gives us more time to talk about Bill Clinton and eight years of peace and prosperity. Don't talk about George Bush. We'll talk peace and prosperity starting tonight.
DOMINICK: There you go. That is our unsolicited advice. Guys, thanks for another brilliant conversation. We appreciate it. Now back to Wolf Blitzer here in Charlotte.
BLITZER: Pete, thanks very much, very, very good conversation indeed. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, are they really different kinds of Democrats? We're going to talk about that and much more.
The former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs now a senior advisor to the Obama campaign is standing by to join us live.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're back at the Democratic National Convention here in Charlotte. And Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, senior advisor to the Obama campaign is joining us now. Robert, thanks very much for coming in.
ROBERT GIBBS, SENIOR ADVISOR, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: We don't have the tape yet, but we've just gotten notes of what Mitt Romney is saying. He didn't really watch the first lady's speech. He didn't want to say anything bad about her.
GIBBS: I wouldn't either.
BLITZER: No. She gave a very good speech. He did say this. He says I do think that having looked at the text of the first day of the convention it's interesting there's a couple things that can't be said.
One is you've heard no one stand up and say the people are better off than they were four years ago. They really can't say that. They can't say it in all honesty particularly with the news that has come out this week.
What about that? That no one apparently said last night the country is better off today than they were four years ago?
GIBBS: The country is definitely better off than we were four years ago. Four years ago when Barack Obama walked in we were losing 800,000 jobs a month in George Bush's last month. GM and Chrysler were headed for imminent bankruptcy.
Now we've added jobs for 29 consecutive months. Chrysler's outselling Honda. GM is the biggest car company in the world. Of course we're doing better. Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely.
And the question before this convention and before this campaign is, are we going to move forward? Are we going to invest in research and innovation and education? Or are we going back to Mitt Romney's idea, big tax cuts? It didn't work the last time. I don't know why people think it would work this time.
BLITZER: He is now citing two statistics that when President Obama took office the national debt was $10 trillion. Now during this convention it's gone above $16 trillion. That's obviously a problem.
GIBBS: It is. And the question again before us is, how are we going to get our fiscal house in order? How are we going to responsibly get our budget in balance? And how are we going to pay down our debt?
And the way we're going to do that is by cutting out what we don't need, cutting out waste, which the president has already begun to do. But if we take a meat axe to the budget, and, again, we cut things like education, we make it harder for kids to go to college.
How on earth do we think that's going to build a stronger economy? We know what happens when we neglect the economy. I think that's Bill Clinton's going to talk about tonight. When he walked into the White House in 1993, he had to rebuild this economy. I think that's what he'll talk about.
BLITZER: The other statistic he says, this is Mitt Romney, he says that -- in terms of people on food stamps, he says when the president of the United States took office there were 32 million people, Americans, on food stamps.
And now merely four years later that number he says has gone up to -- he's added another 15 million people to food stamps. He says it's now 47 million people on food stamps from 32 million. That's also a bad number.
GIBBS: It is a bad number. But here's the question, how do you fix it? How do you strengthen the security of middle class families?
BLITZER: For the food stamp issue, why are so many more people on food stamps now than when he took office?
GIBBS: Because we have gone through the greatest economic calamity of our lifetimes. But here's how you don't solve it, $5 trillion in tax cuts to millionaires means higher taxes on the middle class.
They're going to pay $4 trillion or $5 trillion in taxes to wealthy people if you want to do what Mitt Romney wants to do. That's not a poverty plan. That's not a plan to strengthen the middle class and lift people up.
That's what President Clinton and Barack Obama will talk about in the last two days --
BLITZER: Do you think we'll hear from them talking about that the country is better off today than the country was four years ago?
GIBBS: I think Bill Clinton will talk about that tonight, yes.
BLITZER: I want to play this other clip. Our own Piers Morgan had an interview with Paul Ryan, the vice presidential nominee. And they had this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Was America better or worse off financially, economically, after eight years of George Bush than it was under Bill Clinton?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, we had absolute economic meltdown at the end of George Bush's administration. The entire world economy went into a deep recession.
So obviously when you have a world economic meltdown, I was there for all of that, that's not a very good time. And, yes, during the Clinton years, we had good economic growth. But Bill Clinton was a different kind of Democrat than Barack Obama.
Bill Clinton gave us welfare reform. Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to cut spending. Bill Clinton did not play the kinds of political games that President Obama is playing.
President Obama gave us more borrowing, more spending and much more regulating and putting a chilling effect on job creation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'll give you a chance to respond to Paul Ryan.
GIBBS: I see that Paul Ryan has sort of taken off right where he left us in Tampa with a speech full of lies. Look, Barack Obama has done nothing to change welfare reform except to make it stronger.
That's first and foremost. But Bill Clinton's economic plan was to ask the very wealthy to pay their share, invest in education and grow the middle class. Not grow the upper class. That's what Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to do.
And we have a choice. Do we continue on this path or do we go back to exactly what he just talked about, which is the failed Bush economic strategy? What he just talked about is the foundation and lynchpin of their entire campaign.
BLITZER: I want to move on.
GIBBS: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: -- Bill Clinton and Barack Obama they're on the same page. We'll get that message tonight in the former president's speech?
GIBBS: Absolutely. Look, I think former President Clinton is going to do a wonderful job. We've been working with him since we've invited him to speak here. He's going to be fabulous.
BLITZER: The Democratic platform, the party platform, we're hearing it was adopted yesterday, we took it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM that they're about to make some revisions because of all the commotion that resulted yesterday, the word God being omitted. What if anything can you share with us?
GIBBS: You know, that's a good question. I have not heard that today. I don't know the answer to that. Look, I will say this. I think you saw it last night. Lots of Democrats talked about God.
Lots of them talk about faith and what religion means to them. And I think there's absolutely no doubt that there are lots of God fearing Democrats throughout this hall.
BLITZER: I said it was an unforced error the fact that they didn't include Jerusalem. It's been in there forever in that platform. The fact they didn't use the word God, it's been in there forever. The fact that they took out the words that Israel's the strongest ally of the U.S. --
GIBBS: Look, Israel is our strongest ally. Obviously, there are a whole host of final status issues to two-state solution going to have to be worked out by the two parties.
But I tell you, Wolf, no president that is ever occupied the White House has done more to strengthen the defense of the Israeli people and make them safer and secure in that region.
BLITZER: That's what Ehud Barak told me.
GIBBS: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Robert Gibbs, for coming in.
GIBBS: Thanks for having me, sir.
BLITZER: We're going to have much more. We're getting ready for the official start to this convention. It begins momentarily. You'll see the gavel, all of that coming up.
And just hours after her rousing speech, the first lady, Michelle Obama, is hitting the campaign trail a bit. She took on the campaign's fight for some more money.
And as I said, the start of the campaign about to kick off, day two, the gold medal pledge of allegiance. We'll explain what's going on.
BLITZER: Fresh from her big speech last night the first lady, Michelle Obama, was talking to smaller audiences here at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
She spoke to the party's African-American and Hispanic caucuses earlier this morning telling members that this election more than any other is about the future of democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Do we want our elections to be about who buys the most ads on TV? Do we want our kids and our grand kids to walk away from this election feeling like ordinary hard working voices can no longer be heard in this country? Or are we going to show our kids that here in America we all have an equal voice in the voting booth?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The convention reconvenes in about 3 minutes. It's expected to start with an Olympic Pledge of Allegiance. You'll see it live. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're about to gavel in this convention. Day two of the Democratic National Convention here in Charlotte, North Carolina, they're about to begin the process.
Jessica Yellin, our chief White House correspondent, is getting some news for us. Jessica, what are you learning as we await the gavel?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. I'm learning from three Democratic sources that at the top of the hour when the convention is gavelled in they will change the platform for the Democratic Party to reaffirm the language reinstating Israel as the capital -- sorry, reinstating Jerusalem as the recognized capital of Israel.
As you know, when the convention came to order yesterday they adopted a platform that had lost that language, which had been the official language in 2008. And that raised the hackles of many Jewish supporters of the Democrats.
It was an issue that many in the party felt they didn't need because it didn't reflect the actual values or beliefs of this administration, I was told, or of the party. I was told in meetings today they decided they saw no reason not to change it back.
And so at the top of the hour by what's called I'm told acclimation, that will simply re-add that language back into the party's platform. Jerusalem will be recognized as the capital of Israel -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What about the omission of the word God in the platform? That caused a lot of buzz yesterday as well. Will they reinsert the word God into the platform?
YELLIN: I am still trying to determine whether that will or will not be added back in. One point somebody mentioned to me is that observant Jews don't write the word God. So it was actually a nod to observant Jews not to write the word God. And there was a phrase God given writes.
So they added in language elsewhere in the platform that recognized that the federal government can give money to organizations that proselytize. This is a gift to religious organizations.
So while God is out of the platform, there's a give to religious groups. That would sort of be seen as a balance. So I'm not sure whether God will be added back in, but that religious groups should be relieved or pleased that the platform recognized them in another way, Wolf. We'll see you in a few minutes.
BLITZER: The third omission in that platform was that Israel was America's strongest ally in the Middle East. That was not included although there were other statements noting the strong relationship between the United States and Israel. Is that going to be reinserted as far as you know?
YELLIN: I have got no indication that that will change. I have no information that that language itself will change.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff. All right, Jessica Yellin, breaking news for us. We'll standby. We'll have live coverage. We'll see if this acclimation process takes place right after the gavel right after the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, the presentation of colors, all of that will be seen live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're here at the Democratic National Convention. Let's talk about it a little bit this as we await the gavel. Candy Crowley is here. Gloria Borger is here. What do you make of this news Jessica Yellin is now breaking here on CNN?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm surprised it took so long. I think that when this news got out the Democrats probably realized they'd made a mistake. I mean, you know about platforms. Candy, you know, candidates don't always adhere to their platforms. In fact in many cases they don't.
Mitt Romney's Republican Party platform on abortion is different from his own position on abortion. But symbolically I think this is a bad move for the Democratic Party.
This is a bad move for a president who has had some problems convincing American Jews that he is on their side when it comes to Israel. So I think it was trouble they really didn't need and didn't want and in the end they decided to change it.
BLITZER: I can't tell you, Candy, how many Democrats, Obama- supporters, have said to me this was an unforced error. Why did they need to open this whole can of worms?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Because the platform said we recognize this is a point of negotiation between both parties meaning the Palestinians and the Israelis. And that's kind of existing policy and has been forever, but it's existing U.S. policy.
BLITZER: Let me read to you what was in the 2008 platform. There it is right there. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations.
It should remain a divided city accessible to the people of all faiths. Now, in the 2012 platform approved yesterday that line is missing. The line does say the president's consistent support for Israel's right to defend itself and steadfast opposition attempt to deal or legitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of enduring commitment to Israel security.
So the concern was among some why did they delete the reference to Jerusalem specifically, which had been in so many earlier platforms.
BORGER: Right. And so why delete it? Raises questions about is there a shift? Is there a subtle shift in policy from the president or the Democratic Party and why even raise those questions?
CROWLEY: Yesterday, I talked to Rahm Emanuel about it on the podium. He says I don't know anything about it. But in the last two cycles I've been here I couldn't tell you what's in the platform like it don't make any difference. Clearly, it made enough difference for them to come back and put it back in.
BLITZER: Just like at the Republican platform last week in Tampa. Few people actually go through and read that entire platform. But the lines on abortion there's an omission in the phrase in case of incest or rape or life of the mother. Since that was included it caused a lot of concern last week for Republicans.
BORGER: Right. Mitt Romney's position is there are exceptions for rape and incest and so -- but Mitt Romney had the same problem with that platform provision as George W. Bush did.
CROWLEY: Bob Dole did. They always get wrapped around that.
BLITZER: I suspect, Candy, four years from now both of these parties will be paying a little more attention to their platforms.
CROWLEY: Honestly, they've always ignored their platforms. The candidates and some of them, Bob Dole made the mistake of saying as he was a candidate, whatever, the platform.
They don't -- this is a party insider activist thing. And then the presidents or the candidates go out and they talk about what they want.
BLITZER: All right, we're getting ready. They're about to pound the gavel here for day two of this 2012 Democratic National Convention. We're standing by for live coverage.
I want to get a flavor of what's going on. There's day one, Gloria, that was last night and by all accounts if you listen to the Democrats, pretty good day for them.
BORGER: Yes. The Democrats were thrilled with last night particularly the Democrats inside this hall. And I think they also believe generally that Michelle Obama got across the message she need to get across, which is this man is the same man I married 23 years ago and the same fellow you voted for four years ago. Don't give up on him.
BLITZER: She did a pretty good job, don't you think, Candy?
CROWLEY: She did. It was certainly well-received. She had two basic missions. One was to arouse the base. Certainly that happened here. And the other was to remind the disaffected that, you know, hey, he still believes all those things. So stick with him another four years.
BLITZER: Yes. They really need -- the Obama campaign, to get that vote out on November 6th. A lot of the hard core liberal wing of the Democratic Party, they are not going to vote for Romney. BORGER: No.
BLITZER: But they may not vote and that's what they're concerned about. They want them to vote.
BORGER: So if last night was about the base, tonight with President Clinton it's going to be about appealing to those disaffected Democrats who may believe President Obama's too far to the left.
And President Clinton is going to say no he's not. He's great as far as I'm concerned. And they all liked President Clinton's economy. So, he's going to say give him some more time. Give him the patience he deserves, because he'll get the job done.
CROWLEY: I'm told what Bill Clinton will say tonight is essentially, I'm told, it's a very active, very forceful defense of what President Obama has done over the last four years. And it will be as well a comparison between the Romney agenda and what President Obama wants to do.
BLITZER: Because Bill Clinton, he can energize a lot of the moderate Democrats, a lot of the independents. He's still very popular out there.
BORGER: Oh, absolutely.
CROWLEY: It's not just about the liberal wing as Gloria rightly mentions. It's also about what swing voters there are left, what moderates there are. It's really about the folks who think that Barack Obama didn't do enough and the folks who think that he did too much. Once, this is a man with appeal to both of those.
BORGER: And what he's going to say is give him time to get the job done.