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President Obama to Make Important Phone Call Today; Terry Williams Given "Second Chance at Life"; The Politics of Health Care; The President: Net Jobs Creator; New Polls Show Obama in Lead; Obama, Romney Camps Lower Debate Expectations; New Tip in Jimmy Hoffa Disappearance; New Details on James Holmes in Aurora Shooting
Aired September 28, 2012 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Carol Costello, thanks very much. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, everyone. It's 11:00 on the East Coast, 8:00 on the West Coast. Let's get right down to business.
A couple guys who really never seemed to hit it off in the first place are expected to talk on the phone today, which I bring to your attention because the fate of the world is at stake. And you may roll your eyes, but don't -- because the guys in question are President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a whole lot was made of the fact that these two did not meet in person when they both travelled to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
But the White House wants you to know they do stay in touch, that there are phones in the White House and that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is in their estimation air tight.
In fact, Mr. Netanyahu himself in his U.N. address just yesterday seemed to take great pains to smooth over what had seemed like friction between himself and our commander-in-chief, all over how the world should respond to Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I very much appreciate the President's position as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping the Iran's nuclear weapons program. This goal unites the people of Israel. It unites Americans, Democrats, and Republicans alike, and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: CNN's Dan Lothian is joining me live from the White House. A two-part question right off the bat, Dan. Has the phone call happened yet and is this more about appearances, objects, just shutting everybody up?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, two good questions there.
First of all, I'm told by a senior administration official that that call has not yet happened, that it will take place sometime later today and that after that call we will get some kind of readout, perhaps a paper statement that will give us a few brief lines as to what these two leaders discussed.
But, you know, this comes sort of at an interesting time here. As you were pointing out, there's been this debate as to why President Obama did not meet face-to-face with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York.
The White House has said that it was simply a scheduling matter because the President was there early in the week. Prime Minister Netanyahu was there the latter part of the week and they point out that the two leaders do talk frequently, and Jay Carney even making the point to say that a couple of weeks ago the President did speak with him by phone for more than an hour.
So they're trying to show that there is this line of communication taking place here, but I think what's interesting to note is that yesterday we were tipped off about this phone call taking place today.
That is quite unusual because the way this usually works is that the President has a phone call with a world leader, there is some kind of a readout that comes later on. And sometimes we don't even get a readout. In fact, White House spokesman Jay Carney likes to say that they don't read out every single phone call, so perhaps that's some indication of the pressure that this White House is feeling for not having a face-to-face meeting, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: And, for his part, Governor Romney is also scheduled to have a telephone call with Benjamin Netanyahu today. Is this about politics? Is this necessary? How did that get on the agenda, all of a sudden?
LOTHIAN: Right. Perhaps a little of both here. Mitt Romney, who has been critical of the Obama administration, saying that the President has thrown Israel under the bus recently, saying that the Obama administration has a, quote, "chronic disregard" for the security of Israel.
So now, in the same day that the President will be having this phone call with Benjamin Netanyahu, Mitt Romney's campaign saying that he, too, will be speaking with him by phone. This is a chance for Mitt Romney to again show that he is a friend to Israel and that he is committed to making sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
BANFIELD: OK. Dan Lothian at the White House, thanks very much. Live for us this morning.
So it merits repeating that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had a strained relationship almost from day one. Here with me to talk about the diplomatic implications of all of this, CNN foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott.
So you've been at the U.N. all week. You've been watching this very closely all week. You've seen the dust-up over the phone call and the overture and the rebuff and all the other accusations. Is what Dan just reported on enough to smooth the ruffled feathers? Is this over? Is this all optics?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Look, I mean, these guys don't love each other. They don't love -- they're two different styles and I think that both of them wanted to provoke each other a little bit.
The reason that they never met was because you saw Prime Minister Netanyahu saying strong words about President Obama about what he perceived as foot-dragging on the so-called "red line" on Iran and so President Obama kind of said, not going to meet with you.
BANFIELD: Yes, enough of that.
LABOTT: But I think at the end of the day these two countries, they do work very closely together. The issue of Iran is so important and then there are fundamental disagreements, not necessarily on the scope and pace of Iran's nuclear program, but how to go about it and what that kind of threshold would be for military action and that's what the two leaders will be talking about.
BANFIELD: "Threshold" -- thank you for bringing that up because as I was watching yesterday Prime Minister Netanyahu pulling up the cartoonish fake bomb, adorable.
LABOTT: Red line.
BANFIELD: Right. Look at this. I mean, it's a cartoon and yet look at this. It shows essentially the point before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment to make a bomb would be his red line. He even brought out the Sharpie.
Critical? What was that? It's not as though he needs to appeal to the people in the room. They know what this is about. Is he appealing to the American public? Is he looking to try to make election hits here? What was he doing?
LABOTT: I think he was trying to show the urgency and this is cartoon and everything. It looked a little gimmicky, but got everyone's attention to the fact that they believe that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by next spring or next summer.
I mean, basically, the difference is about when to go about this: Israel feels before Iran gets all the components and goes to assemble. President Obama has laid out a red line. He's said that, "If I see Iran having all the goods, all the ingredients that go into a nuclear bomb, I'm going to act." They just don't -- he just doesn't like that red line.
BANFIELD: And let me ask you this. I know that you and I get a chance to talk off air a lot about, come on, what is this? What is everyone saying behind the scenes? I want to know if people are really concerned behind the scenes when the rhetoric is loud or if there's another time they get worried.
LABOTT: Personally, me and a lot of analysts and officials that I talk to, they're not necessarily right now worried that Iran's going to launch a nuclear -- that Israel is going to launch a preemptive strike against Iran.
When you don't hear Prime Minister Netanyahu going in front of a world audience making a red line or speaking loud or saying things, and the atmosphere is very quiet and it's very hush-hush, that's when I would worry about whether there is something going on behind the scenes that we need to worry about.
BANFIELD: So as long as we have the description by Acme of the bomb, it's not as bad as it seems.
LABOTT: It could that there's a little bit of time, but not a lot.
BANFIELD: Elise Labott, thank you. Good to see you and it's nice to see you in New York this week for the U.N. G.A.
LABOTT: Thanks for having me.
BANFIELD: All right. And, by the way, stay with CNN for the very latest on all of this, the expected phone call between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu and then other phone call with Governor Romney. We're going to bring you all the details just as soon as they're available.
BANFIELD: I'm sure you've heard the expression "getting a second chance in life." I have breaking news for you. This morning, an American has literally been given a second chance to live.
A Philadelphia judge has just ruled that Terry Williams will not be executed on October 3rd. We talked about this case on this program last week. This man was scheduled to be put to death on Wednesday next week for brutally killing another man in the '80s.
There is no doubt he's guilty of it. Let's just state that. It's the obvious, but -- and there is a big "but" -- his lawyers say that he did this because he'd been repeatedly raped by the man that he killed and that the jurors were not given all the evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN NOLAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The prosecutors knew that Mr. Norwood was alleged to have been abusing children, was never revealed before. They wanted this to be about a robbery and that's the way they shaded the testimony.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So today, the judge in the case has decided that he does not deserve to die, but he does deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Our Jason Carroll joins me now and you've been following this. I'm trying to sort of remember all the facts of the case and whether this was an expected decision, a surprise, and I'm not sure I can put my finger on either.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, as I was sitting in the court last week, to me it was not unexpected, simply from the way that the judge was questioning the prosecution about their case.
If I can just backtrack just a little bit, basically what was happening is both sides were in front of Common Appeals Court Judge Teresa Sarmina and the prosecution was saying, look, we did not suppress evidence in this case back in 1984. This did not happen.
If anyone wanted to talk about these allegations of sexual abuse at the time, Terrance Williams could have done that. The defense is saying, no way. The defense is saying, this is what happened here. You had evidence back then in 1984 that Amos Norwood had a sexual relationship.
BANFIELD: That's the victim.
CAROLL: That's the victim -- with Terrance Williams and, not only that, you also had evidence back in 1984 that Amos Norwood, the victim in the case, had been abusing other boys, as well, and you didn't turn that over to the defense.
Well, the judge listened to both sides and said, you know what? She said to the defense, "You're right. This evidence should have been turned over to the defense back in 1984. The jurors should have had an opportunity to hear that when they were making their decision."
Jurors didn't have an opportunity to hear that and, Ashleigh, you know this. I interviewed one of the jurors from 1984 just last week and she said, "Had I known then what I know now, I would not have voted for the death penalty."
BANFIELD: And it's not just that juror. There are other jurors and, actually, wasn't it that widow of Amos, as well, has come out, saying, "I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with this death penalty?" Is that -- have I got my wires crossed?
CAROLL: Well, the widow came out and said that she did not think it would be appropriate at this point for Williams to be executed.
CARROLL: So she did say that. So, at this point, here is what's going to happen. The judge has ruled that a new penalty phase is in order. She has stayed the execution, which means Williams will not, at least at this point, be executed on October 3rd.
So what does a new penalty phase mean? It means both sides will now reargue their case in front of a jury and the jurors this time will get a chance to hear about those allegations of sexual abuse.
BANFIELD: And when you say "argue their case," only the penalty portion of the case. That trial portion, which is just so thick and rich with material ... CARROLL: That's done.
BANFIELD: That's done. This is a new panel. It's so -- I'm not sure that justice can be done this much after the fact with a brand new group of people who never sat through the trial, but, Jason Carroll, excellent reporting. Thank you for that.
Stay by, if you will, for a minute because I want to bring in -- as we bring you this breaking news that Terry Williams reprieve, not going to be executed, our legal contributor, Paul Callan, is also live in Atlanta for me.
Wow. I like to call these things chewy, legal issues and it's great that you're here today to talk about this. Is there -- you're going to have to walk me through this a bit. I'm trying to rack my brain to find out why there is no issue of double jeopardy here, why there is a second penalty phase.
Once there's an adjudication where someone gets a reprieve like this, how you can you re-decide death?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: OK, here's why there's no double jeopardy.
In this particular situation, the jury is just going to be deciding whether the sentence was appropriate or not. Double jeopardy applies when someone's been found not guilty of a crime and then new evidence comes and the prosecution wants to try them again. The constitution prohibits a retrial.
It is, if a case gets reversed ...
BANFIELD: Wait, wait, wait. Before you go further, I get that. But in certain circumstances when states overturn death penalties, like Charles Manson was on death row and then California decided, you know, it's not for us, the death penalty's not for us, they're back to the death penalty now.
His death penalty was overturned. He's in life -- he's in for life now and he can never go back to a death penalty because that would be considered double jeopardy. Correct me if I'm wrong.
CALLAN: Yes, well, the point you're raising is, can death be re- imposed in the penalty phase? And I don't think it is clear it can be.
I haven't seen the judge's decision, but it's quite possible because, remember, he doesn't even have to get life without parole now, maybe because he's been in for so long, maybe because the judge wants to give him a lighter sentence because of these facts that are now known. It's going to be a lighter sentence.
I don't know that the death penalty will even be in play in the new trial. I think it's going to definitely be a lesser offense, but bear in mind something else. You were talking about it earlier, about the rich history of this case and the brutal facts of the original murder. All of that's going to come out again and I'll tell you why. Because the jury gets to take into consideration how the murder took place, whether it was a rage killing based on this abuse, sexual abuse, or as they said in the first trial, that it was a straight robbery, and that's why this thing was so important.
You know, jurors, if they think it's a rage killing because you are killing somebody who abused you, they're very unlikely to sentence somebody to death.
BANFIELD: Makes a difference. But let me ask you a really important question about jurors and their opinions after the fact. You know, the juror that Jason Carroll interviewed said, "Had I known, I never would have." Jurors have often said that.
Legally, we don't often have to give jurors some of those kinds of bits and pieces of information because it can be prejudicial for the wrong reasons. In this particular case this jury said, we never knew that life in prison without parole was an option and, had we known, we would have voted differently.
You're not allowed to know about that stuff anywhere, are you?
BANFIELD: No, you're not. In fact, although we know because we've had reporters interview the jurors, their opinions are totally irrelevant. The judge did not take that into consideration. What the judge looks at is one thing. If the jury had this one piece of evidence that this guy had been sexually abused by the person he murdered, if they had that in their hands, could that have affected the sentence?
And the judge said, you know something, it absolutely could have. And that's why the judge has ordered a new penalty phase and, as I said, I have not seen the decision, so I don't know what the judge has ordered in terms of whether the death penalty remains in play or not.
BANFIELD: Well, we're working on it.
CALLAN: But I've got to look at that and read that before I can give you a firm opinion on it. But this is big. This is big, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: You stay put if you can, Paul, if you have some time. I have other legal issues I want to talk to you about. I want to get the decision in our hands, if we can, and since it's breaking news maybe chew on this a little further with you.
In the meantime, stay put. We're going to take a break. Be right back.
BANFIELD: I don't know about you, but I really like that music. I'm just not sick of it at all.
You know that this campaign trail is completely awash with foreign policy snipes and criticism over the economy and crippled unemployment rate, but when it comes to health care, crickets, radio silence, despite the issue completely dominating this debate for most of the year.
This does not mean that you don't care about health care and it does not mean that it's disappeared from the candidates' agendas. Oh, no.
Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with their positions and their plans when it comes to your health.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Since President Obama's healthcare law was enacted, 3.1 million people under the age of 26 are now covered by their parents' plans and preventive care is covered 100 percent by insurance companies. Seniors, in particular, have benefited on prescription drugs.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the donut hole will start getting help. They'll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions and that will, over time, fill in the donut hole.
GUPTA: Five-point-five million seniors have saved a total of nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted. That's according to the Health and Human Services Department.
OBAMA: I have strengthened Medicare. We've added years to the life of Medicare and we did it by getting rid of taxpayers subsidies to insurance companies that weren't making people healthier.
GUPTA: By 2014, the law requires everyone to have health insurance, whether they purchase it themselves or through their employers and insurers can't deny you if you have a preexisting condition or increase your rates.
In hopes of covering more people, the law planned to expand Medicaid to the states with the aim of covering 17 million more people, but the Supreme Court ruled in June that it was up to each state to decide whether to expand coverage.
The law has become a cornerstone of the Obama campaign.
OBAMA: I refuse to eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor and elderly or disabled, all so those with the most can pay less.
GUPTA: But Romney says the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We know that health care is too expensive. ObamaCare doesn't make it less expensive.
GUPTA: Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, propose to cap malpractice insurance, cut Medicaid by $810 billion over the next 10 years, give states more control over their Medicaid funds, overhaul Medicare. The overhaul, people now younger than 55, when they reach retirement, would have the option of getting a voucher to purchase private insurance or they could stick with traditional Medicare.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This financial support system is designed to guarantee that seniors can always afford Medicare coverage, no exceptions.
GUPTA: While the repeal of ObamaCare would get rid of the prescription drug benefit to seniors, Romney doesn't want to take out all of the law's provisions.
ROMNEY: We have to make sure that people who have pre-existing conditions are able to get insured and that folk that get sick don't get dropped by their insurance company.
GUPTA: Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the President of the American Action Forum. He doesn't support the current healthcare law.
DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACTION FORUM: Both sides agree the amount we spend on Medicare has to be capped. They just disagree on how to get there. Romney and Ryan say what we're going to do is the give the money to seniors, give them a place to go shop for competing choices. If they don't like the care they're getting, they get to go to another choice and that that will meet the cap.
GUPTA: Jonathan Cohn supports the law and writes about healthcare for "The New Republic."
JONATHAN COHN, WRITER, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": The Obama budget says, look, we want to hold down costs to this target and we're going to do our very best to accomplish that, but we're also not going to sacrifice benefits. No matter what happens, we will make sure that seniors get the same level of benefits they're getting now.
GUPTA: Both Obama and Romney agree that healthcare needs to be more affordable. They just disagree about how to do that.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I know that they're out there chanting at his events, four more years. But let me ask you this. Do you want four more years with 23 million people struggling to find a job?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: You know, that's the kind of thing that we hear a lot, especially from Christine Romans who happens to be sitting on the set with me right now. Jobs, jobs, jobs, you have tracked these -- all right, look at these things. She throws these things on my desk all the time and expects me to make sense of it in seconds flat.
I wanted to play that sound bite of Mitt Romney before your segment today because there's been some re-jigging of some economic news that may actually throw some water on that very, very powerful linchpin of the campaign.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, economists, government economists are always sort of scrubbing and redoing the numbers, right?
So we now know after having redone, revised 2011 numbers that the Labor Department says the President is now technically a net job creator and here's why. He lost 4.3 million jobs in the first year of the administration and the new data show that about 4.4 million have been added back since then, so he is up 125,000 jobs over the four- year period.
So, technically, the talking point that the Republicans have used that he is the Obama job market, the Obama economy, we net fewer jobs today than when Obama took office ...
BANFIELD: Now is no longer true.
ROMANS: That talking point is gone. However, it doesn't mean there's a new great talking point for the administration.
BANFIELD: I was just going to say, can the Democrats spike the football on this?
ROMANS: Absolutely not.
BANFIELD: That is not a great accolade.
ROMANS: And they are not spiking the football because they have no reason to spike the football because there is another number we look at and that is something called the labor participation rate. And many people will say the most important number is 1981. That was the last time you had so few Americans actually in the labor market, such a small share of Americans in the labor market.
People have become disgruntled. They have sort of lost their way or they've been shut out of the labor market and, so, that is a troubling sign. You want more people involved in the American labor market, the most dynamic labor market in the world.
BANFIELD: They may not be able to spike the football, but they will likely be able to say, you know, look what we got handed and at least we've come out of that. You know, we fixed what we got handed, but ...
ROMANS: I think they can't be going on "what we got handed" anymore. They didn't make the problem. They haven't fixed the problem either. How are they going to fix it? BANFIELD: You do this this fast? You get this -- you figure this out? You are so smart.
ROMANS: Wait a minute. Listen, no, Kitty Byron makes this. This is like some magic that comes out of her computer. I am just the numbers girl.
BANFIELD: Romans 2015.
Thank you, Christine. Do appreciate that. Thank you very much.
I want to take you to Afghanistan for a moment. Women typically don't really have a place in society there. Trust me. Been there. They don't. Islamic extremists often use violence to keep girls from getting an education. There is one woman that braved all of that to set up a free school for girls near Kabul. She is this week's "CNN Hero."
RAZIA JAN, FOUNDER, AFGHANISTAN GIRLS SCHOOL & CNN HERO: In Afghanistan, most of the girls have no voice. They are used as property of a family. The picture is very grim.
My name is Razia Jan, and I am the founder of a girl's school in Afghanistan.
When we opened the school in 2008, 90 percent of them could not write their name. Today, 100 percent of them are educated. They can read. They can write.
I lived in the U.S. for over 38 years, but I was really affected by 9/11. I really wanted to prove that Muslims are not terrorists.
JAN: I came back here in 2002.
Who? Hey, everybody.
Girls have been the most oppressed, and I thought I have to do something.
It was a struggle in the beginning. I would sit with these men, and I would tell them, don't marry them when they're 14 years old. They want to learn.
How do you write your father's name?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: B-A-S --
JAN: After five years now, the men, they're proud of their girls when they themselves can write their name.
Still, we have to take this with cautions. So many people are so much against girls getting educated.
JAN: We provide free education to over 350 girls.
JAN: I think it is like a fire that will grow. Every year, my hope becomes more. I think I can see the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Top 10 "CNN Hero" honorees for 2012 have been revealed and this is where you come in. You can vote now for your choice for hero of the year. Just go to CNNheroes.com and vote to your heart's content.
BANFIELD: In the wake of a veritable slew of swing state polls leaning solidly in Obama's column, we do have two that are neck and neck. So have a look at this. NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist Polls, likely voters in the state of Nevada, suggesting that President Obama still holds a lead but only a two-point lead. Look at the margin -- 3.1. That's critical. Same gap, same order, state North Carolina -- 48 percent backing the President, 46 percent backing Mitt Romney. Again, check it out. There is a margin.
We also have some new Nationwide poll of polls. And here the President holds a four-point lead. And, as we'd like to remind you, when it comes to poll of polls, there is no sampling error, so those are the numbers. That's why it is critical to bring in my friend and colleague, Wolf Blitzer.
I will give you props right off the top of this segment, Mr. Blitzer, because yesterday you were talking about how the polls were criticized by the Romney campaign because they're somehow skewed, but this poll of polls we did factored in FOX News. You can't make that same claim. Way to go. It's only one day after you said that we factored in the FOX numbers.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The FOX poll is a very good poll. It is very reliable, like the NBC poll or the CBS or the ABC, and certainly our own CNN/ORC poll. And all of these polls, when you do a poll of polls, you get a snapshot. You get a trend of what's going on right now. That doesn't mean it is going to continue to go on next week or three weeks from now.
BLITZER: But it is a snapshot of what's going on.
And when I look at the polls, I like to see where they were a month ago, two weeks ago, where they are now, so you can see some trends. I always point out, as you know, Ashleigh, as important as the national polls are, these battleground state polls in Ohio and Virginia and Florida, for example, these are the critical polls because that will determine who gets the 270 electoral votes.
BANFIELD: Let me get you onto another topic that's making news today, the debates. Both of the sides are taking great pains it seems to lower the expectations for their candidates.
Let me start with a memo that came from Mitt Romney's senior, advisor Beth Myers. I will read for you, quote, "President Obama is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history. This will be the eighth one-on-one presidential debate of his political career. For Mitt Romney, it will be his first."
I suppose the question is it is gamesmanship on most accounts, but does it work?
BLITZER: They're trying to lower expectations. They're trying to make the other side seem fabulous, great debaters, if you will. I think everybody is onto what they're saying in advance of the debates.
I think they're both solid debaters. The President of the United States, I moderate rated four debates four years ago when he did debates. He didn't have to do any this cycle because no one was challenging him for the Democratic presidential nomination. I did moderate four last time, including that final one-on-one debate that he did with Hillary Clinton at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, and he is very good. And Hillary Clinton, I thought, was a better debater. And ironically, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd did really well.
But the President obviously got the Democratic nomination. He is a very solid debater. I've moderated four Republican presidential debates with Mitt Romney, and I have the same feeling about him, very solid. Knows his stuff. Not necessarily the greatest debater in the world but these will be really good debates, substantive. They both know their stuff and I am looking forward to it. And I am not lowering or raising anybody's expectations.
I think the challenge will be on both of them to get the job done. 90 minutes. There are strict rules, as you know next, Wednesday night, how long they can speak and rebuttal and what the moderators can do if you will. So it will be good. It will be good television. I think the undecided voters will get a better chance to appreciate who they are.
BANFIELD: I tell you what, Wolf, I got to make sure viewers know that it is not just Mitt Romney's camp that's been doing this. President Obama's camp has lowered stations as well, saying that, look, Mitt Romney's had the primary season. He is seasoned. He has been practicing. The President hasn't. So they're both doing it.
Let me switch gears quickly. You have to comment on the Todd Akin issue. The deadline passed for the Missouri Senate candidate to back out of the race after the controversial remarks about rape, et cetera. Now he has come with another comment. I was astounded. He is referring to his challenger, Claire McCaskill, as having -- saying the incumbent -- excuse me, saying, in 2006, McCaskill had a confidence and was very much more sort of ladylike. "Ladylike", Wolf. Is this getting --
BANFIELD: I don't know what that means. For crying out loud, it is 2012. Is it getting traction?
BLITZER: He is a nightmare for the Republican establishment. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, would so much like to be the majority leader, replacing Harry Reid. But if McCaskill wins in Missouri -- and she was in deep, deep trouble until he made all the ridiculous comments that we're familiar with by now. She has a good chance of getting herself re-elected.
And the problem is he could bring relatively vulnerable Republican Senatorial candidates down as well -- Scott Brown in Massachusetts. For example, Linda McMahon is running for the Senate seat in Connecticut. So this could potentially be a nightmare if a lot of the establishment Republicans change their mind and decide to go into Missouri and raise money for them and provide money for them and help him out. I don't think they'll do that given what they have said about him. But he is getting a little support. Even Newt Gingrich the other day came out and said you have to help this guy.
BANFIELD: Well --
BLITZER: It is a problem for Republicans because, remember, in 2008, they had a shot -- in 2010, I should say, and they had a shot of getting the majority, but they put some weak candidates up, whether in Delaware, Colorado, Nevada, and they got the minority status in the Senate as a result.
BANFIELD: I tell you what, there are a couple of Republicans who were throwing him under the bus when those "legitimate rape" comments came out.
BANFIELD: And as soon as they knew they were stuck with him, like, holy cow.
BLITZER: -- Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. If they changes their minds now and go ahead and work for him, that will be a problem.
BANFIELD: And also the people that threw him under the bus back then, just this week, many of them have come back and said, "This guy is great, we're behind him 100 percent."
Wolf, thank you. Always love it when you're on my program.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BANFIELD: And love it even more when you're on your program, too. "THE SITUATION ROOM," 4:00 Eastern. Big tease for the show.
Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BANFIELD: We're just days away as well from the debate that Wolf was just mentioning, the square off, the big face-to-face. The first presidential debate starts Wednesday night. Watch it live, 7:00 Eastern, CNN or CNN.com. Nice to have a choice.
BANFIELD: It is one of the most notorious unsolved cases in U.S. history, the disappearance and the death of former Teamster boss, Jimmy Hoffa. Now police have a brand new lead, all these years later. Crews in fact were digging at this home just outside of Detroit just this morning. The investigators have taken a few samples to determine if there may be any human remains buried here. It's all because of a tip, a tip that came from a man who had this information for the last 37 years.
An author and an expert on Hoffa gave us this insight about the tipster on "EARLY START."
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DAN MOLDEA, AUTHOR, "THE HOFFA WARS": He is a gambler who had an affiliation, a connection, with a bookmaker in Detroit who was working with Tony Giacalone. What's interesting to me is Tony Giacalone is one of the two people Jimmy Hoffa was supposed to meet at the time of his disappearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: The police chief tells CNN he thinks the tip is credible, although he is not convinced they will find Jimmy Hoffa's body.
Memo: There have been tips before that have been considered credible and turned out to be nothing.
Let me move onto this. A man that allegedly made the anti-Islam video caused a real bunch of problems around the world. Blamed for the deadly protests in the Muslim world, and now he is under arrest. It is official. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is accused of violating his own probation from a check fraud conviction that he got two years ago. The judge said no bail for you. The judge said that he has been engaged in a pattern of deception, and even said he could be a flight risk.
BANFIELD: We have some brand new court documents and details that are actually just coming on-line right now about this man, James Holmes, who is allegedly behind that horrifying movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado. The court there just released some records that may shed some new light on this case, and this man, including details about his personal notebook. Some have called it a journal. Whatever it was, he mailed it to his university psychiatrist.
I want to get straight to Jim Spellman, our CNN correspondent on the ground in Denver, who is with us now by phone.
Jim, this is critical that the court has been weighing so heavily on this notebook. At last blush, the prosecutors dumped their efforts to get their hands on this notebook, but now we're hearing that the chain of custody, the way it's been man handled may be a big problem in this case.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, you know, it's really interesting how this notebook even came to anybody's attention. We've discovered in these documents that the defense team for Holmes went to the university and said, there is a notebook, there's a package that will be mailed to you in the mailroom. We want it.
Because of that and because of all the explosives in Holmes's apartment, they notify the police. Bomb squads came. They used robots. And they got a look at the outside of it -- the police there on site.
Since then, after -- just examine it to be sure it's been safe, it's been sealed, and nobody as of the hearing last week had looked at it, not the defense, not the prosecution, not even the judge. Because there had been a question of is it doctor-patient privilege.
We're on the way of learning more about the notebook when last week the prosecution changed course and said, we don't want this right now. We'll get it anyway if an insanity defense comes up. So they stopped at that point.
Fascinating, though, if you hear that this came from Holmes's defense team that they notified authorities that this thing would be being sent.
BANFIELD: Is there anything in this discovery, in these documents today, in this preliminary hearing, that suggested he had been banned from campus, that they were afraid, had he been threatening? What else did we get in terms of his behavior prior to these alleged killings, murders?
SPELLMAN: There's been a lot of confusion about whether he was banned from campus. In open court, the prosecutors said that. They said that he was banned from campus after making threats.
Well, the defense filed a motion. They said, look, the prosecution is out of line here. He was not banned. What happened was he withdrew from the university and, in the normal course of affairs, his key cards were taken away, and he was no longer allowed access to the building because he was no longer a student.
Now, we got that before this gag order went into effect. We got that on the record from the university. The judge agreed with the defense. He declined to actually to sanction the prosecution, but he is going to allow the defense to make a public statement, despite the gag order, correcting the prosecution on that.
At best, we can tell from these documents and what we got on the record before the gag order, he wasn't banned because of any threats that were made, but rather, his key cards and his access were revoked because he himself chose to withdraw from the university.
BANFIELD: OK. Thanks, Jim. Good work. I know that you are sort of poring over the stuff coming out of that hearing. It's just wrapped up.
But we do know he is facing 152 charges for allegedly killing those 12 people and allegedly wounding those 58 other people. This happened back in July. There has been no official plea entered in this case. And we still do not know if the man you are looking at is legally competent to stand trial.
But Paul Callan is with us after the break to search not only that issue. But why we can't get our hands on more of these documents when we normally can in other proceedings?
BANFIELD: So we're following the breaking news on James Holmes in Colorado. There's a hearing that's just wrapped up and some material has come into our possession. I want to just read from you an assessment from "The Denver Post" about some of the documents today suggesting that the police who originally got that package, package that he allegedly sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, inside that package was a notebook. Some people say it was a journal. And it's been a hot, debated topic in this courtroom.
This is how "The Denver Post" says the police handled it. They first looked at it. They put it to an x-ray machine. They got a bomb squad technician wearing a special suit to remove the notebook from the package. At least one police officer saw some of the notebook's contents and then allegedly another police detective, quote, "fanned the notebook."
Paul Callan is joining me now live once again to assess the critical aspects of that.
Chain of custody can mean everything for evidence. It can destroy evidence. It can have it suppressed. So much can happen when police do things they maybe shouldn't do. I don't know that this is something they shouldn't have done. Does it stand out to you?
CALLAN: I think they'll be OK in this case. Chain of custody is really important when, say, there's a fingerprint and it goes through a lot of different people and you can't really prove how the print got there, but here we're talking about notations maybe that are made in notebooks. And I don't think there's going to be a real claim here that the cops because of the chain of custody altered the evidence. So, you know, chain of custody problems doesn't eliminate the possibility of introduction of a piece of evidence. I think they'll probably be OK in this, but it depends.
They may have violated, though, attorney -- patient privilege. That's what I would be more worried about as a prosecutor, and that could be a problem if the cops were reading stuff that they shouldn't be reading because it was medically protected.
BANFIELD: Now, I was going to talk to you about competency in this case. We've haven't gone to a competency hearing yet, so I want to go back to our other breaking story with you because, about five minutes ago, we were talk about Terry Williams --
BANFIELD: -- whose death penalty was stayed. He will not be executed on the 3rd, next week. That judge said no. Did you find anything about whether this secondary penalty phase, which another jury is going to hear now, is going to hear the death penalty or not? Could he be executed still?
CALLAN: I didn't get to read the judge's decision, but in revisiting the issue, from what I have heard by the reports from people who were in court, it sounds to me like the death penalty is still in play with the new jury. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that you can, even though the death penalty gets set aside on retrial, you can re-impose the death penalty. Not a violation of the double jeopardy clause. So --
BANFIELD: Thank you.
CALLAN: So that's what the law is in this area, but we have to see the court's decision.
BANFIELD: Thank you, Paul. I appreciate you doing that so last minute. We're flat out of time. Show's over.
Thank you to you. And NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL starts now with Suzanne Malveaux.