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Ohio Slipping Away From Romney; Iran's Leader Addresses U.N.; NFL Referees Closing in on New Deal; Real Deal on the Housing Market; Egypt's New Leader Takes World Stage; Life After Death Row
Aired September 26, 2012 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Suzanne, thank you so much.
And good to see all of you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
The U.S. walks out as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walks in. Here he is. The president of Iran addressing the U.N. for the very last time and used the stage today to blast the west. We'll show you exactly what happened.
But first, politics. Holy Toledo. Mitt Romney is losing Ohio now by 10 points. Ten points. We're going to share the new poll with you in just a moment here. But first, let's just take a glimpse at Romney, live pictures, second straight day, here he is, in the buckeye state.
And I want to go ahead and really just cut to the chase, if I may. To win the election November 6th, Mitt Romney pretty much must win the state of Ohio. So this is dire news for the Romney camp. Potentially 10 points down in Ohio with less than six weeks to go until the election. We're going to play some tape here. You're going to see where he was just a short time ago. An appearance east of Cleveland. Exact location, Bedford Heights, Ohio. He is talking about unemployment and federal government waste. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have 47 different federal government training programs. And they report to eight different agencies. They spent $18 billion on these programs. But too often they don't match the needs of our people. So I want to take those dollars and send them back to Ohio, or each state, so they can fashion the programs to meet the needs of their own workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And we told you, again, live pictures, Mitt Romney, right here. But we're going to look at this poll because this is the one that shows Romney now 10 points down in Ohio. And, boom, here you go. This is from "The New York Times"/CBS News/Quinnipiac University. The question they posed, if the election were held today, for whom would you vote? You can see the numbers. President Obama receiving 53 percent, Mitt Romney, 43 percent. A 10-point differential.
Now, Obama is also beating Romney's double digit in terms of national security, on health care, on taxes, crisis management, overall foreign policy. Double digit leads in all those areas in Ohio, in that poll that was released just today.
Jim Acosta, he is with me now from somewhere in northern Ohio.
Jim, tell me exactly where you are and tell us what is -- what is Team Romney's reaction to the poll showing Romney running 10 points down in Ohio.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now we're inside of a factory in Bedford Heights, Ohio, right outside of Cleveland. And on stage behind me is not only Mitt Romney, but Mike Rowe from the TV show "Dirty Jobs." Brooke, I'm sure you've seen that show before.
ACOSTA: It's a show that, you know, you see Mike Rowe going into all these, you know, dirty, nasty, ugly types of jobs and bonding with workers, blue collar workers. Well, that's sort of the theme here today. Mitt Romney is trying to connect with blue collar voters in this state. He's been doing that all day long. He did that earlier this morning in Westerville, Ohio, when he was talking about how his heart aches, as he put it, for workers in this country. It's sort of a different side of Mitt Romney the campaign is trying to show from that one that damaged this campaign so greatly last week when those hidden camera videos came out.
But just to get into those poll numbers, Brooke, I mean, you're right, you do paint a grim picture there. And when it rains, it pours. It's been raining all day for Mitt Romney here as he's been crisscrossing this state. But if you look at those CBS/"New York Times"/Quinnipiac poll numbers, this is not good news for Mitt Romney, especially going into the debate next week. All of those debates in the month of October are going to cut down on the time he has to go into these swing states and campaign.
But talking to -- I had a chance to talk to Mitt Romney yesterday. He said, look, polls go up, polls go down. And he is confident that he's going to close this gap in the final days of this race and beat the president not only in Ohio, but across the country.
Also interesting to note Mitt Romney's polling -- or political director was talking to reporters yesterday and he basically said that the Obama campaign, in his words, was trying to spike the football on the 30 yard line because there's a long, long way to go in this race. There's still more than 40 days to go, Brooke. There's a lot of time left.
BALDWIN: OK. So he says he'll close the gap. He says this to you, Jim Acosta, and we appreciate you there in Ohio.
Because now we want to keep the conversation going. We have Matt Borges, the executive director of Ohio's Republican Party. He's going to join me in just a moment.
But first, I need to mention, these are live pictures. There's the president somewhere -- there he is, upper right-hand portion of your screen. The president also in, wait for it, Ohio. He spoke just a short time ago in Bowling Green. Let's just play some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent and his running mate are big believers in top down economics. They basically think that if we just spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts that favor the very wealthiest, then -- don't boo, vote. Vote. Vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Don't boo, vote, he says. That's the president today. There he was in Bowling Green, Ohio.
And as I promised, we're joined now by Matt Borges. He's the executive director of Ohio's Republican Party.
So, Matt, welcome. Nice to see you.
MATT BORGES, EXEC. DIR., OHIO REPUBLICAN PARTY: Hi, Brooke.
BALDWIN: First, let me just get your reaction today to this poll. We just -- it was released showing your candidate, Mitt Romney, trailing in your state. A state crucial to his hopes by this 10-point number. What's your reaction, sir?
BORGES: Well, I hope the Democrats believe it. I know I don't.
BALDWIN: Why don't you believe it?
BORGES: You know, we're looking at -- well, I mean, this election is going to come down to turnout. The turnout models that are being used as the samples for these polls actually in some cases show that turnout will be better for Barack Obama in 2012 than it was in 2008. I don't know what universe these people are, you know, living in and believing that that's going to happen this time around. We've got a ground game and an effective and incredible operation led by the Romney team here in Ohio and the RNC's Victory Program taking our message directly to voters. Over 3 million voter contacts already.
And, you know, we know this is going to come down to turnout. We can't be distracted by these polls because, at the end of the day, they aren't accurate reflections of what the electorate is likely to look like.
BALDWIN: Now, hang on. I just -- I just have to -- I just have to interrupt you. And I know there are polls and there are all kinds of numbers day in and day out, but we're talking "New York Times, Quinnipiac University and CBS News. Are you saying that their numbers are wrong?
BORGES: Well, look at their samples. You know, in one instance, they were looking at a plus 10 Democratic turnout in terms of the numbers of Democrats that would turn out over the number of Republicans. And that's with the sample that they used to come up with the polling that they've made public. Of course, in 2008, there was a plus eight and so they're assuming a 25 percent increase in Democratic turnout from what we had four years ago.
BORGES: And I think every indication is that that isn't going to be what happens this time around. And so what we're looking at is a race that's very close and a race that's going to come down to who turns out their voters more effectively.
BALDWIN: OK. And I don't want to argue polls with you. I mean they are pretty specific, though if you look. They look at economy, health care, national security, women's reproductive health issues, et cetera.
But let's -- I'm going to chuck the poll. Chucking the poll. Here's my question to you then, Matt, because this is our own reporting. This is from CNN's Peter Hamby, who has a pretty stunning piece on our website. And when he talks with Ohio Republicans about Mitt Romney, and they say basically that Mitt Romney's on the wrong side of the auto bailout, that, of course, hurts him in Ohio. They say he's not taking advice from people there on the ground and they, quite frankly, say he's not making a case to be elected.
Let me -- let me read this quote here from this unnamed state wide office holder. Quote, "why is Mitt Romney running for president and what will his presidency be about? I don't think most Republicans in Ohio can answer that question. Don't make your campaign about marginal tax rates, make it about your children, your grandchildren, and the future of this country."
You're there. You're the head of the party there in the state of Ohio. Is that what you're hearing from fellow Republicans?
BORGES: Well, I can tell you that there's absolute unanimity that this president needs to be defeated and that we need to get Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan into the White House so that we can get a partner in Washington who can help Governor Kasich, you know, continue the path that he's on in terms of rebuilding the economy here in Ohio. And --
BALDWIN: But, Matt, the question I asked was, are you hearing complaints from fellow Republicans when it comes to Mitt Romney's message, that he's focusing too much on taxes, let's say, and not enough on the people of Ohio?
BORGES: Well, I'm not sure that I think that that's an accurate reflection. I mean let's look at what -- let's look at what happened here -- has happened here in Ohio. You know, we've got a governor who is really -- who has done three things that Barack Obama has not done. He's balanced a budget, he's cut taxes, and he's focused like a laser on job creation, which, last time I checked, are the exact same things that Mitt Romney is talking about doing, getting federal spending under control, looking at, you know, ways to create jobs, he's got a plan to create 13 million jobs when he takes office, and, you know, doing the kinds of things that -- you know, cutting taxes, getting regulations. The wind in our face, which is what John Kasich has called it, that's been coming from Washington since Barack Obama has been the president. So, you know, if mitt Romney is sticking to that message, Ohio is a great indication that that's exactly what will work. That's exactly what will help fix the United States' economy in the way that Governor Kasich and other leaders here have begun the process of fixing the Ohio economy.
BORGES: But no one would suggest that the job is done yet. No one would suggest that Ohioans --
BALDWIN: I understand. I understand.
BORGES: Are exempt in their portion of the $16 trillion federal deficit. We've got a long way to go. We need a partner in Washington to help us, you know, complete the job here in Ohio.
BALDWIN: Matt, here's my -- here's my final questions. My left --
BALDWIN: I'm prefacing -- left field question. What about John Boehner? You laugh, but, you know, John Boehner is the speaker of the House. Pretty big deal. From outside Cincinnati. A national figure. Huge stature. Is he out campaigning for Romney? And if not, why not?
BORGES: Yes, I mean, John Boehner is an important piece of the Ohio Republican family. You know, we love him and are proud of the job that he's doing as speaker. You know, we've got -- we've got such great, you know, Ohioans. You know, Rob Portman, who's been such an active campaigner --
BALDWIN: So, so hang on. Before we move on to Portman, where is John Boehner?
BORGES: Sure. I mean John Boehner has been actively campaigning with Mitt Romney. He was at an event with Mitt Romney not long ago here in Ohio. You know, John Boehner is an incredibly important piece of this Ohio Republican family and we couldn't be prouder to have him as speaker of the House.
BALDWIN: OK. Matt Borges, thank you so much, for us from Ohio.
And, with that, we have a lot more for you this hour. Roll it.
In his last U.N. speech as president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells the world, or at least those who will listen, than his country is going to fight. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.
Home prices may be going up, but the buyers aren't who you think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The meat hook was there. They said rebels tortured and hanged people here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: This scene inside a Syrian town where the killings don't stop.
And, he's part of the West Memphis Three. Once on death row, now free. I'll speak live with Damien Echols about his life inside a maximum security prison.
BALDWIN: If you knew absolutely nothing about Iran or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and you heard his speech today before the United Nations General Assembly, you might think he's a peace, love and understanding kind of guy. Of course, you would be wrong. But listen to part of what he said anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): Rulers must love people. Hi (ph). Just and fair order in which everybody is equal before law and in which there is no double standards. Leaders of the world must regard themselves as committed servants of the people, not their superiors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: This was Ahmadinejad's eighth time to speak before the U.N. General Assembly and most likely his last since he leaves office in June. And, you know, there were all kinds of expectations that he would go all bombastic. He did not. But that didn't keep the U.S. delegation from walking out as Ahmadinejad walked in.
I want to bring in Jill Dougherty. She is our foreign affairs correspondent.
And, Jill, are you at all surprised by what Ahmadinejad did or, perhaps more importantly, didn't say in his speech today? I mean this is someone who has denied the Holocaust, questioned Arab involvement in 9/11. Nothing really like that today.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, we expect those things, Brooke. It's kind of like, you know, when will the president kind of explode in some sort of statement. And it didn't happen. But in a way I really wasn't that surprised because, look, this is his last speech to the United Nations, as you pointed out. He thinks of himself as a statesman, the leader of the nonaligned movement. And those are the countries that, you know, in the Cold War, they weren't with Russia, they weren't with the United States, and now they -- he leads these country -- he thinks he is leading these countries that feel left out and oppressed by the hegemonic perils which would be the United States and much of the west and certainly Israel. So there were a couple of swipes at Israel, but really nothing to write home about. It was really more oppressed of the world, follow me, I will lead you because I'm the leader of the nonaligned movement. BALDWIN: Speaking of Israel, I do just want to play one of those moments where, you know, he blasts Israel and the west for efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program without actually mentioning Iran's program. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMADINEJAD: Continue (INAUDIBLE) by the uncivilized zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality. A state of mistrust (INAUDIBLE) on the international relations while there is no trust or just authority to help resolve world conflicts. No one feels secure or safe. Even those who have a stockpile thousands of atomic bombs and other arms in their arsenals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So he drew fire for saying Israel has no roots in the Middle East?
DOUGHERTY: He did --
BALDWIN: Was it like a pin dropping in there afterwards?
DOUGHERTY: Well, there were countries that listened. I mean, you know, the United States wasn't there. I think the U.K. also wasn't. But there are countries that either out of politeness, and you could kind of count China and Russia in that vein, that let him talk. That's his right. We won't comment. They may not agree, of course.
But I think, again, you have to take in context of what he was trying to do. It's not all bluster. I mean he really does -- he kind of taps into, I think, the zeitgeist of the moment by saying, look, there are problems, kind of like the 99 percent in the United States who think the system is against them.
BALDWIN: Hmm. Hmm. That's one way to look at it.
Jill Dougherty, thank you so much for covering the U.N. General Assembly for us in New York.
DOUGHERTY: Thank you.
BALDWIN: And now listen to this because one NFL player is suggesting teams may stop playing altogether if the league doesn't fix this whole ref mess. Coming up next, we're going to speak live with a man in charge of the players union about the -- really the breaking point here. Plus, we are getting word a deal may be -- let me say that again, may be very, very close.
BALDWIN: Rage, rage against the replacement refs and now the old ones may soon be on their way back. Sources tell us the NFL and the referees union are reportedly nearing an end to a lockout. I do have to say that CNN has been reaching out to the NFL, but they have declined to comment to us, at least just yet. Many of you still outraged, not just over the game Sunday night, but Monday night's NFL game and the decision to uphold that Seattle touchdown. Here's the play again, you know, giving them a win over Green Bay.
Now there's a lot of talk about how this whole mess is ruining the game. A lot of talk about the integrity of the game right now. A New Jersey lawmaker, in fact, wants to ban replacement refs in his state. Here's what he told Carol Costello today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE SWEENEY (D), NEW JERSEY STATE PRESIDENT: The NFL's committing consumer fraud on the public. I was on the radio with the commissioner of the Lingerie Football League yesterday and he told me that some of the people that were actually officiating these games were fired from his league. So that's what we have in a game that we really, truly enjoy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So if he has it right, should NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell step down? There was an op-ed in "The New York Times" today. Let me read part of it. This is from Thad Williamson. He wrote, "the handling of the NFL's labor dispute with its referees has been an epic failure. In response, the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, must step down."
I want to bring in the executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith. He has hopped on the phone with me from New York.
And, DeMaurice, you -- and I just have to throw this out there. You may not be able to go on the record, but what are you hearing as far as this lockout? Are you hearing it's over, that it's nearing an end?
DEMAURICE SMITH, NFL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION (via telephone): Well, great to join you. But -- and what we're hearing is really not that much. I can tell and have told our players and certainly willing to go on the record to tell our fans, having gone through this with the National Football League for nearly three years, no one should rejoice until the ink on the paper is dry. So until we see an actual deal between the refs, until we know that the right referees are actually on the field, no one should believe that what we've had to endure over the last five or six weeks is over.
BALDWIN: Is there ink on the paper?
SMITH: Well, put it this way, I haven't seen it.
SMITH: So until someone tells us that the real referees are on the field and that the right guys are there to protect the health and safety and welfare of our players, we don't believe that the deal is done.
SMITH: And certainly we know that the last year, for example, there were about 4,500 injuries in the National Football League. That's with about 180 players. We also know that most of those injuries occurred during a game. So we believe that the right referees should be on the field, not so much that it's going to result in a right call, but we know that the workplace will be safer if the real referees are taking care of our guys.
BALDWIN: Yes, I was talking to Drew Bledsoe yesterday and part of his fear also was, it was about the injuries as well.
But I just have to share this story, because I know one of the guys on the Packers' team, T.J. Lang, obviously upset over this call on Monday, he was apparently telling a local station that the Packers have, you know, discussed ways to, you know, strike, perhaps even by taking a knee during every play, meaning they then wouldn't play in the upcoming games if these, you know, replacement referees aren't removed. As director of the Players Association, DeMaurice, is that acceptable?
SMITH: Well, look, I'm not sure it's ever a good idea to punish our fans and take the game away from them because the league has made a mistake about how to keep our players the most safe. So what we focus on is a group of players and family men, brothers, husbands, fathers. We focus on what steps do we need to take in order to make sure that the workplace is as safe as possible.
BALDWIN: But -- so you would agree that --
SMITH: If that means --
BALDWIN: Hang on. You would agree then if the Packers take a knee, that that would rob the fans of the game of football?
SMITH: Well, I think that, look, anytime anything happens to take away from a fan's enjoyment, anytime that the league does something to jeopardize our players, all of those things are things that are not good. What we focus on as a group of men and a group of family men is what's in the best interests of the fans, what's in the best interests of the players, and taking -- whether it's taking a knee or going on strike, at the end of the day, we don't believe that that's in the best interest of either us or the fans who love our game.
BALDWIN: What about the commish? What about Roger Goodell? Because, you know, again, "New York Times" op-ed, quote, "don't blame the referees, blame the league leadership. The most basic standard of ethical leadership demands that leaders act with a concern for the good of the whole."
SMITH: At least, so far, none of the owners have called me to draft me for the job of commissioner. So, I don't think that --
BALDWIN: Sure, but do you share some frustration? Do you think this is going on far too long? That he's part of the problem? SMITH: Well -- well, look, obviously Roger, you know, works for the owners, just like I work for the players. I know that the owners of the National Football League and those teams are ultimately responsible for their obligation to keep our players safe. And I know that we were able to get our deal done. We have guaranteed contracts to an extent for first time in history. We've cut the contact during training camp in half.
SMITH: We have new benefits for concussions. We reached all of those agreements because owners stepped up to the plate to take care of the current players and to take care of the former players.
BALDWIN: No, I understand. I understand. I hear you. I hear you.
SMITH: And at the same time --
BALDWIN: We've got to go, DeMaurice, because we have to go. But let me know. And I know we're making phone calls back to that ink drying. Many a fan in this country would like to know when, in fact, it is dried. DeMaurice Smith, thank you.
Coming up next, the polls show Mitt Romney has a lot of ground to make up in six weeks, especially in the states he needs to win.
Plus, home prices, they may be up, but the buyers aren't exactly who you think here. Why the news may not be so good after all.
BALDWIN: We told you about the Ohio poll that spells very bad news for Mitt Romney. What we haven't yet mentioned is Florida. Florida, yet another one of these tossup states here, the biggest tossup state of all, Florida is also breaking Obama.
Obama, you can see, leading Mitt Romney nine points, nine points now in Florida. This is the poll by "New York Times"/CBS News/Quinnipiac University. Obama's lead in Ohio is by ten points.
This is -- this is that very same poll. As we talk about the significance here, let's just view it this way. Right now, CNN sees Obama very likely to win at least 237 electoral votes come Election Day, 237.
Were he to win Ohio and Florida that would mean re-election for Barack Obama without having to win any other tossup states, any of them. He would have 284 electoral votes to win. You know, the magic number is 270.
Romney and Obama, no surprise, both are in the state of Ohio today. Each spoke within this past half hour. I want to play some sound, this is -- we go with the president first. This is a jab at Mitt Romney for his controversial statement about 47 percent of Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who never take responsibility for their own lives.
And I got to tell you, as I travel around Ohio and as I look out on this crowd, I don't see a lot of victims. I see hard working Ohioans. That's what I see.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A lot of people can talk, talk is cheap. You can be extraordinarily eloquent and describe all the wonderful things you can do, but when you cut through the words, you can look at the record.
And when you can see policies that have not created the jobs America needs then you know it is time to choose a new leader, get a new coach, and get America growing again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, big day in politics, we will have much, much more as we move along.
Now to this, new signs today that the housing market might be turning around, this comes at a report from the federal government. Sales of new homes held pretty steady in August. You can see they were down a little bit from July.
Take a look, but way up from over one year ago. Check this out in terms of prices of new homes. They jumped 11 percent from July, and they're up a whopping 17 percent from last year.
Morgan Brennan covers real estate as a staff writer for "Forbes." Morgan, nice to see you.
MORGAN BRENNAN, STAFF WRITER, "FORBES": Hi.
BALDWIN: Question is, is this the real deal? Is this the real rebound in the housing market?
BRENNAN: I actually do believe this is the beginnings of recovery and I stress the beginnings of recovery. I do think we're starting to see a rebound. It is very localized. I think real estate needs to be taken -- you have to look at it according to your own local neighborhood.
That said, on a national level, I think we are starting to see these numbers rise for a reason. I think we are potentially at the upswing of the second half of a U-curve where housing is concerned.
That recovery will be slow. There are a lot of questions including fiscal cliffs, political elections that stand in the way of just how fast we do see a recovery in housing.
BALDWIN: So as we talk recovery, there is this fascinating story out there that we have been wanting to tell. So I wanted to ask you about this. This is twist on housing right now. This private equity firms are buying houses to offer up for rent.
You know, we keep reading quotes from would-be home buyers who are frustrated because they say they are out there trying to buy a home. They're getting squeezed because they can't win the bidding war.
You know, that involve these other multiple offers from investors who have the one thing you know that sellers want and that's cash. My question to you is how much of an impact are all these investors having on the housing market overall?
BRENNAN: I think they are having impact, again, I think it depends on your local market. I think in places like Phoenix where you're seeing as many as 10 to 20 bids on the same house and first time home buyers are being beat out by investors. That is an issue.
That being said, you have other areas like Chicago and Atlanta where you have some of these large scale bulk buying investors who are coming in and they are arguably buying the properties that nobody else wants. They're fixing them up and then renting them out to renters.
So that's actually not necessarily a bad thing and some of these markets because you can make the argument that it actually boosts the value of the neighborhood for some of these vacant homes to be cleaned up and taken over and rented out. So again, I think it depends on the neighborhood.
BALDWIN: And I think that's precisely one of the points I was trying to make with one of my producers, it sounds like it can be a great thing especially short-term.
Because if you're in the neighborhood and you know, all these homes that were for sale are suddenly, you know, they have been bought that has to be good for you as the home price goes up.
On the flip side, is it a bad thing if -- when have we become a nation of renters?
BRENNAN: I think we are already somewhat of a nation of renders now. I mean, if you look at the numbers, home ownership is at historic lows right now. We have as many as 4 million households that have converted from buying -- from home ownership to rental.
So those are people that actually are looking for inventory. I think that's the reason you have seen a surge, I think the National Association of Realtors said that rents this year are up 4 percent depending on the market. It is markedly higher.
You need inventory for those new renters. Will it stay that way? I think as long as home affordability remains low and I think maybe if the jobs market ever does come back in a meaningful way, I think we may see the conversion back to home ownership.
But right now, you need inventory and investors are providing rentals. So I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing.
BALDWIN: My landlord said, sorry, Brooke, we're upping your rent. I know you can argue with them and I have friends who have, but it is a renters market now. Morgan Brennan, thank you so much, with "Forbes." We appreciate it.
BRENNAN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up, he is an Islamist. He belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood and the U.S. gives his country more than a billion dollars in aid each and every year.
Today, Egypt's new president addresses the world and brings up fanatics. Hala Gorani is in the studio. We are going to talk Egypt next.
BALDWIN: Today is the day Egypt's new leader steps in the international spotlight, giving us a chance to see if he has what it takes to be a world player, a world negotiator if you will.
Mohamed Morsy made his debut at the United Nations just a short time ago. To say his speech is being watched closely by leaders around the world is an understatement.
Morsy is the leading figure to emerge from the Arab spring, an Islamist, a key figure in Egypt's once banned Muslim Brotherhood. We have Hala Gorani joining us.
I know you listened to the speech. What was it he specifically was saying about Israel? Because I know it is part of the question is he wanting to change the relationship that, the Egypt/Israeli relationship. What happened?
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, CNNI: Well, essentially, he reiterated his support for the Palestinian's bid for statehood that the U.N., which is in a surprise.
But one of the things I think he wanted to underline in the speech was essentially that these treaties, these agreements that have been signed in the past that Egypt is going to abide by them, I say it loudly to those wondering about our position, vis-a-vis the international agreements and conventions, we are committed to what we have signed on.
So Mohamed Morsy is saying that, he said that. As you said, in his essentially coming out party to the world. You know, there are so many interesting things about not just the content of the speech but the tone --
BALDWIN: Let's play the walking out, the introducing of himself. Here he was, Mohamed Morsy, a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT MOHAMED MORSY, EGYPT (through translator): I am the first Egyptian civilian president elected democratically and free, following a great peaceful revolution, hailed by the entire world. This revolution established a genuine legitimacy through the efforts of all Egyptians.
Inside and outside Egypt, we have taken several steps on the road toward establishing the modern states the Egyptians aspire to seek, one that is in tune with the present, based on the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean, this is the first -- after everything, you covered it in Tahrir Square and then just a couple of weeks ago with the embassy in Cairo. This is huge we're finally hearing from him.
GORANI: Yes, it is. But as I was saying before we heard from him directly, I was struck by how decisive his tone was. You may remember during the actual campaign for the presidency, when Mohamed Morsy was written off essentially as someone trailing in the polls, he was called a spare tire of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Here is a man who then ended up dismissing the head of the army, which in the decades long dictatorship in Egypt was unthinkable, of course, and also coming out in this speech today at the United Nations and talking about Palestinians, talking about Israel, talking about Sudan, talking about Somalia, positioning himself as a regional player, a regional negotiator, a negotiator as you said in the introduction.
It is interesting. He didn't meet with President Obama. We -- there was some reporting in the "New York Times" that essentially they approached the White House, got a bit of a cold reception and sort of dropped the request. So it is not happening this time.
BALDWIN: Yes. He hadn't met with anyone, perhaps a calculation on behalf of the White House as it is campaign year. Nevertheless, Hala Gorani, thank you so much.
GORANI: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Mohamed Morsi for the very first time for all of us.
It is an existence so depraved you grow numb to the sounds of torture. That is what my next guest says he lived through. Damian Echols is one of the West Memphis three, convicted killer set free last year after 18 years in prison with a twist, though, with a twist.
Echols just wrote this book about his life on and after death row. Hear why his story is far, far from over.
BALDWIN: Wow, when you hear Damian Echols story, you may think he is the unluckiest man alive. A man sentenced to death for a crime many say he did not commit.
When you read, as I did very late last night, this is a fascinating read, it's called "Life After Death," you may think he's the luckiest man around because you learn how he survived desperate poverty, death row and how he survived it all. Echols is one of the West Memphis three, teens from Arkansas convicted for the 1993 murders of these three 8-year-old boys, Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers.
Jason Baldwin and Jesse Miskeley Jr. were sent away for life while Echols was on death row waiting for his execution. Then just last year in August, after the documentary "Paradise Lost," there are multiple documentaries about the injustices in this case and decades of legal wrangling, the West Memphis Three were able to cut a deal.
And here they were. Do you remember these pictures? Walking out, walking out free, but there's an asterisk to this. Not exonerated, officially they are not innocent in the eyes of the law. It was called the Alfred Plea. They accepted it, that meant they admitted to no crime, agreed there is enough evidence to convict them.
And Damien Echols is joining me live from Los Angeles. And, Damien, first before we get started, I want to say welcome and your book is truly a fascinating read. We had this conversation at commercial break about your glasses and you can't see without them, tell me why.
DAMIEN ECHOLS, AUTHOR, "LIFE AFTER DEATH": Well, a lot of it is due to the fact that I didn't see sunlight for almost 10 years while I was in prison, I was in solitary confinement.
And I was also kept in a really small space so that my eyes never had a chance to focus on anything, you know, very far away. So gradually over time, I lost the ability to focus on things more than a couple of inches in front of my face.
BALDWIN: And so you asked if you -- I said I would rather you be able to see so that's why you're wearing the glasses, just wanted everyone to understand that. To you, to your --
ECHOLS: I usually --
BALDWIN: No, no, I just want -- on or off, Damien, it is your call. I just want you to be comfortable. But to your story, you were on death row for 18 years, no e-mail, no internet, I know you love the winter -- no snow. What has been the biggest shock about just walking free?
ECHOLS: Well, a lot of it was just the human interaction. Like I said, I was in solitary confinement for almost a decade. So I literally went from that to one day them saying, OK, that's it, go back out into the world.
So all the stimulation, you know it was just a complete and absolute overload. And for the first two to three months I was out, I was in a state of complete and absolute shock and trauma.
BALDWIN: I can't imagine and here you are more than a year late, you've written this book, you're proving as the title here there is life after death.
And so what you do in this book is you bank basically intertwine your writings from the prison cell with your life growing up, poor. You talk about how you were this heathen, you liked "Metallica" in West Memphis and there are stories that I can't even repeat on television about some of the men you shared, not cells with, but you were near.
I want to read something you wrote about how exhausted you were all the time. My exhaustion is beyond bone deep. It has seeped into my soul and every day it robs me a little more of what I once was, of what I was meant to be. There is no rest here.
If there is no life, they say it is death only if you accept it, but more and more these days I'm feeling like I don't have a choice. Damien, you write about how you couldn't have survived all those years on death row had it not been for what? You were young.
ECHOLS: Two things. I think in essence it was two things that kept me alive. One was my spiritual practice and the other was my wife. You know, there is almost no medical care on death row.
They're not going to spend a lot of time and money and energy taking care of someone they plan on killing. So when I would get really sick or in extreme pain, the only thing I had to turn to was meditation and energy work.
So that kept me, preserved my health as much as possible in that situation and also my wife, you know, we --
BALDWIN: Actually, Damien, forgive me, I want to hold you over a break. I want to ask you about this. This is an incredible story. You found your wife on death row. That story in 2 minutes.
BALDWIN: I want to pick up with Damien Echols. He has just written this book, "Life After Death." You know the story, the West Memphis Three. Damien, we were talking about your wife, who you met on death row. Tell me that story. How did that happen?
ECHOLS: We have been together for about 17 years now. And she saw the first documentary made about the case called "Paradise Lost" that came out in 1996. She was a landscape architect in New York at the time.
And she contacted me after seeing that and I knew from the very first letter that I ever received from her she was completely unlike anyone I had ever known before. She was just this amazing magical person that I wanted more all the time.
And she eventually took on the role. She did 85 percent of the work in my case. She did more work than the attorneys and private investigators combined. When we couldn't afford to pay legal bills anymore, she actually took out two personal loans just to pay off legal fees.
BALDWIN: That's incredible. She moved to Arkansas, believed in your innocence and you talk so much in the book about how she truly saved you. You know, in the book, at the very end, as part of the acknowledgement behind your wife, you acknowledge someone you call your brother in all but blood, Johnny Depp. Why did Johnny Depp get involved in your case?
ECHOLS: Well, I think initially in the beginning the reason he got involved is because when he started to see the case and hear about it, he had that feeling of this could have been me. If I would have been in this place at this time, it could have been me that they focused on. So he related to it.
BALDWIN: And also who else? Eddie Vetter has come forward, Natalie Manes --
ECHOLS: Eddie Vetter actually used to come to the prison and visit me while I was on death row, yes.
BALDWIN: Ultimately through this very unusual legal maneuver, the Alfred Plea, you know, you are free, but still guilty in the eyes of the law. I want to just play something. This is what you said two years ago to one of our correspondents here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ECHOLS: Knowing that, you know, even if I were to go to trial today, and we were to present all this new evidence and they found us not guilty, I would still for the rest of my life have people looking at me and asking these questions about me, thinking these things about me. There is no way for them to undo what has been done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Damien, you're free, but this isn't over for you. Explain to viewers that final page in your book that emotional plea.
ECHOLS: Well, I mean, that's the reason for us trying to get the word out about the book and trying to get the word out about the documentary is there is no sense of closure for us, no sense of closure for the victims' families.
The only way there is ever going to be a sense of closure is when the person who belongs in prison goes to prison, whenever we're exonerated, and the officials who did this are held responsible for what they have done.
It is not pleasant to have to relive this every day. But for me right now, my life, it is like a necessary evil. We have to keep pushing forward because really the burden of this case now rests on us. The state is not going to do anything to fix this situation.
BALDWIN: You want justice. Damien Echols, again your book, "Life After Death," pleasure, a pleasure. Thank you so much.
ECHOLS: Thank you so much for having me.
BALDWIN: Thank you. And the race for president goes to Ohio next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)