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THE SITUATION ROOM
Mitt Romney Delivers Foreign Policy Address; Chinese Businesses Threatening National Security?
Aired October 8, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: In a major speech, Mitt Romney says the Middle East is more dangerous under President Obama.
Two Chinese businesses trying to expand in the United States, why they could be a threat to national security.
Plus, attempting history from the edge of space.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A post-debate surge in a highly regarded poll for Mitt Romney. The presidential nominee now leading President Obama. Take a look at these numbers just out from the Pew Research center, Romney four points ahead of the president in this Pew Research Center survey of likely voters nationwide.
That's a major turnaround from just three weeks ago when the same poll had President Obama ahead by eight points. But the Obama campaign is pushing back, pointing out that the most recent survey included more Republicans in the survey than the one they conducted back in September.
And a Gallup poll of registered voters conducted before and after the debate shows the president still in the lead 50 percent to 45 percent.
Let's bring in our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's traveling with Romney in Newport News, Virginia.
Jim, what's the campaign's reaction to this new Pew poll?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I had a chance to get a brief take of a senior Romney official about the new poll numbers from the Pew Research Center and they say they're very encouraged by what they believe is evidence of their supporters being energized after last week's presidential debate.
They also feel like they're undecided voters who are giving the former Massachusetts governor a new look after what happened at the first encounter with President Obama last week in Denver. Meanwhile, all of this good campaign news comes as Mitt Romney is trying once again to draw a sharp contrast with the president on the issue of national security.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Telling a crowd of cadets and supporters at the Virginia Military Institute that hope is not a strategy on foreign policy, Mitt Romney wasted no time in building his case that the Middle East has grown more dangerous under President Obama's watch.
And exhibit A. was last month's attack that left a U.S. ambassador dead at the American Consulate in Libya.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts. They're expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East. And I will vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed our fellow Americans.
ACOSTA: Romney then seized on the recently violence in Syria and the potential for an Iranian nuclear weapon to issue a dire warning, that war in the region could be on the horizon.
ROMNEY: It's clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office.
ACOSTA: The GOP nominee pledged to get tough by reversing looming defense cuts coming at the end of the year, threatening to impose possible new sanctions on Iran and by looking for ways to arm the rebels in Syria.
Romney also said he would pursue a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians, a concept he seemed to diminish at a fund- raiser that was secretly recorded and leaked to "mother Jones" magazine.
ROMNEY: I look at the Palestinians not wanting to seek peace anyway for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel and these thorny issues, and I say, there's just no way.
NARRATOR: Reckless, amateurish.
ACOSTA: The Obama campaign tried to get the jump on Romney's speech, releasing a new ad, reminding voters of the Republican candidate's gaffe-plagued foreign trip over the summer.
Romney, Obama aides say, is no Ronald Reagan, more like Chevy Chase. Combating that image, Romney met with a group of retired generals after a speech. His campaign argued on a conference call the Romney approach would be both more muscular and bipartisan.
RICHARD WILLIAMSON, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: If you look at Harry Truman and John Kennedy and the use of power by Bill Clinton in his second term, that is a much different approach than Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.
ACOSTA: To put his vision into action, Romney will have to win first, which explains why he made an impromptu stop at a nearby elementary school. At this stage of the race, the pictures can matter almost as much as the policies.
ACOSTA: Now, Romney did mention what has been the Obama campaign's trump card on foreign policy, and that is the killing of Osama bin Laden, but Romney seemed to give the credit to what he called -- quote -- "military and intelligence professionals."
And, Wolf, getting back to the poll, I talked to another Romney aide about that Pew Research Center poll numbers showing Mitt Romney up by four points over the president. They were expressing -- that aide I should say was expressing some caution about those poll numbers saying they would prefer that number coming out on November 4, not on October 8 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta.
Mitt Romney's call to arm Syrian rebels could level the playing field in the country's civil war, but it could also put weapons in the hands potentially of terrorists.
Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is working this part of story for us.
Chris, give our viewers a reality check on what is going on.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf.
This is a major strategic difference between Governor Romney and President Obama. Governor Romney is really advocating for a more aggressive American approach to Syria. It carries a reward in that if and when Bashar al-Assad falls, the Americans and the United States would really have a seat at the table as to what comes next, but the risk is that some of the arms that could flow into Syria could be eventually end up in the hands of terrorists.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): In a Mitt Romney administration, the U.S. could be fighting a proxy war with Iran in Syria. Governor Romney said Monday that Iran is sending arms to Syria because Bashar al- Assad's downfall is a strategic defeat for Tehran.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should be working no less vigorously through our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran, rather than sitting on the sidelines.
LAWRENCE: Romney promised that as president he'd make sure Syrian rebels were armed with heavy weapons.
ROMNEY: I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and then ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks helicopters and fighter jets.
LAWRENCE: The problem is finding those who "share our values" is not as easy as it seems.
After nearly 100 civilians were killed in an attack in may, Governor Romney stated, "The Assad regime's massacre of civilians in Houla, many of them young children, is horrific. The U.S. should work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves."
While a U.N. investigation found regime forces most likely responsible for the killings, it also said rebel forces were also guilty of murder and torture and several radical Islamic groups have emerged in Syria. President Obama recently promised to send the Syrian rebels another $45 million. The U.S. has already shipped food, medicine and communications gear, but no lethal weapons.
Some former military officials say it is time to do more.
BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That does not mean the U.S. should put boots on the ground. But our leadership should be felt, it should be visible.
LAWRENCE: Now, by most estimates, the Syrian regime has thousands of battle tanks and a regular supply of ammunition from Iran to fight that kind of armament you're talking about giving the rebels things like shoulder-fired rockets. And there is a concern that sending those types of weapons in could fall into the hands of terrorists.
That's the big difference with President Obama's regime -- or his administration, I should say. He's been advocating trying to keep this a low-intensity conflict, keeping it confined within Syria's borders and keeping the fighting to mostly small arms, not the heavy weapons that Governor Romney would want to see introduced to the rebels in order to give them a chance against Assad's regime -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence with that explanation. Thanks for that report.
The Obama campaign certainly isn't wasting time hitting right back.
Kate Bolduan is monitoring and some of the other top stories.
What is going on, on this front, Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf.
The reaction started even before Romney's speech. The president is on a fund-raising swing through California, which -- our White House correspondent Dan Lothian traveling with the president and has more on this.
Dan, when's the latest?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The campaign came out swinging pretty hard. The president himself has not weighed in, reacting to Romney's speech, but last night during a big fund-raiser in Los Angeles, the president was flexing his foreign policy muscles and talking about how he ended the war in Iraq, how he's winding down the war in Afghanistan, how he's gone after terrorists, how he got Osama bin Laden.
It's evidence says the campaign of the president's strong leadership.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): As President Obama honored civil rights icon Cesar Chavez by dedication a new national monument...
OBAMA: The movement he helped to lead was sustained by a generation of organizers who stood up and spoke out and urged others to do the same.
LOTHIAN: ... his campaign worked to shred GOP nominee Mitt Romney's foreign policy chops, rolling out this hard-hitting Web ad reminding voters of what they called stumbles on the world stage.
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Governor Romney not too long ago said, the Russian Federation is our "number one geostrategic threat." Come on, think. That isn't the case.
LOTHIAN: And this TV ad now running in the important battleground state of Virginia.
NARRATOR: When our U.S. diplomats were attacked in Libya, "The New York Times" said Romney's knee-jerk response showed an extraordinary lack of presidential character.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): The campaign concludes Governor Romney has failed the commander-in-chief test. To reinforce that message, a conference call with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He's changed his mind on a number of issues, in terms of Libya, for instance. I mean, at first, he was for the intervention. Now he's against it. It's unclear where he is on Syria.
BEN LABOLT, PRESS SECRETARY, OBAMA FOR AMERICA: Behind the tough talk, he's been erratic, unsteady and irresponsible in his audition on the world stage.
LOTHIAN: From his views on Iraq to Libya to the Middle East, the Obama campaign says Governor Romney's foreign policy speech was, quote, "full of platitudes and free of substance."
The recent unrest in Egypt and Libya has given the GOP nominee an opportunity to question the president's policies and draw a contrast for voters on those issues along with the economy. But experts observed taking on an incumbent president comes with fundamental disadvantages.
JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The president has been doing this day in and day out, getting the intelligence briefings, working with all the cabinet secretaries, working with his staff. For Romney, he has to learn this every day and it all seems a little bit abstract for the president. It might have been abstract four years ago. Sure isn't abstract now.
LAWRENCE: Now, as for those new poll numbers, the Obama campaign says that the state of the race remains what it's always been, which is "close and competitive in those key battleground states, leaning towards the president" -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: You can be sure we will keep tracking the polls and see just how close it is as we approach November. Dan Lothian with the president this evening, thanks so much, Dan.
BLITZER: And go ahead.
BOLDUAN: The foreign policy battle continues right here in THE SITUATION ROOM just later this hour with a top adviser from each campaign. Colin Kahl and Richard Williamson are standing by to join us live. Looking forward to that.
BLITZER: It's going to be a good debate between two senior representatives from both campaigns.
BOLDUAN: It will, yes.
BLITZER: We're also following two Chinese telecommunications giants, both labeled a potential threat to U.S. national security. We have details of a warning coming in from the House Intelligence Committee.
BLITZER: They are two of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world and U.S. lawmakers are warning they may be Trojan horses for the Chinese government in a possible cyber-war.
Our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is following the story for us.
Jill, what exactly is the House Intelligence Committee saying about these Chinese companies?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with what they're not saying, Wolf. They're not saying that they have a smoking gun. What they are saying is, these two companies didn't provide adequate information either on their operations in the United States or about these alleged connections to the Chinese military.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): The two Chinese telecommunications companies could be a threat to the national security of the United States. That's the conclusion by the House Intelligence Committee after a yearlong probe of Huawei and ZTE.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We do not have the confidence that these two companies with their ties to the Chinese government can be entrusted with infrastructure of such critical importance.
DOUGHERTY: The committee has no proof of any wrongdoing, but its chairman claims that the companies could be a kind of Trojan horse allowing the Chinese government to gather intelligence or strike the U.S. with a cyber-war.
The committee is urging American companies as well as U.S. government systems and contractors to find other vendors. But Huawei tells CNN the committee is just trying to poke China in the eye on cyber-attacks by holding its company hostage.
BILL PLUMMER, HUAWEI: Huawei is Huawei. Huawei is not China. Whatever concerns that the committee or the U.S. government has with the state, the government of another state or vice versa has nothing to do with my company and my company should not be held hostage to someone's political agenda.
DOUGHERTY: Huawei is one of the biggest information communications technology providers in the world, a $30 billion firm with 120,000 employees worldwide operating in 140 countries.
With 1,700 employees in the U.S., it provides telecommunications infrastructure, as well as phones and tablets. It's founder was an engineer in the Chinese army nearly three decades ago, but the company denies any ties with Chinese intelligence.
The congressional committee, Huawei says, made up the mind even before the hearings began. A statement on the company's Web site says the committee's report "not only ignored our proven track record of network security in the United States and globally, but also paid no attention to the large amount of facts that we have provided."
The congressionally created U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found that Huawei receives funding from the Chinese military for research and development of cyber-communications and intelligence gathering system, but Huawei calls that charge patently false.
DOUGHERTY: Now, the other company named by the Intelligence Committee, ZTE, also denies it's directed or controlled by the Chinese government.
And Huawei says it has to suspect the only purpose of the report by the committee is to impede competition or to obstruct Chinese companies from entering the U.S. market -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And this report, Jill, had bipartisan support, not only the Republican chairman of the committee, Mike Rogers, but the Democratic ranking member as well, isn't that right?
DOUGHERTY: It's true, but one of the problems here is that this information is coming from intelligence sources. And in some cases, they actually can't say specifically what they know.
So when you try to get in to the specifics what are they doing, that's where it gets pretty hard to figure out exactly what it is.
BLITZER: Yes. Mike Rogers repeatedly saying there's classified information that backed up this conclusion, but he can't release it publicly.
Jill, thanks very, very much -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, the meningitis outbreak is getting worse. New numbers just in released by the CDC and some advice of our medical team coming up next.
BLITZER: The death toll from the meningitis outbreak in the U.S. is edging higher.
BLITZER: Move on to Mitt Romney. He calls for the United States to start arming Syrian rebels. How's that going to happen? I will ask his senior foreign policy adviser. He is standing by live, along with a senior adviser to the Obama campaign. We are standing by for a spirited debate.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney drawing a sharp distinction between President Obama and himself when it comes to Syria.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right.
The Republican presidential candidate slammed Obama's foreign policy today, saying the president has made the Middle East a more dangerous region, specifically criticizing his handling of the Syrian civil war, which Romney says he'd handle differently. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: In Syria I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and then ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks helicopters and fighter jets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's talk about that and more with Obama campaign national security adviser Colin Kahl -- he's a former deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Obama administration -- and veteran diplomat Richard Williamson, former policy adviser to the Romney campaign.
Ambassador Williamson, let me start with you. What does this mean, specifically? How would a Romney administration start arming Syrian rebels?
RICHARD WILLIAMSON, FORMER POLICY ADVISOR TO ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, first, let me just say that the speech today showed the great choice the American people have in contrast.
President Obama's embraced leading from behind. Governor Romney says the world and the U.S. is better if the U.S. leads from the front. Also, Governor Romney's embraced peace through strength, which means our economy, our military, our values being resolute, where...
BLITZER: All right.
WILLIAMSON: It's really that that's been the policy from Truman to Kennedy to Reagan.
BLITZER: Well, what about arming -- what about arming the Syrian rebels? How do you do that? What do you do?
WILLIAMSON: Yes. It goes to the leadership question, because leadership is anticipating problems, taking action early and being resolute.
In this case, in Syria, last April over a year ago, we had violence in Syria, including the poor boy 12-year-old, who was at a demonstration. He was arrested. He was returned to his family two weeks later, wrapped up in a blanket and in plastic. He'd been mutilated. He had been burned. His body was decomposing, and his penis was in his mouth.
We should have known then that Bashar al-Assad was going to be relentless and brutal in going forward to hold onto power. Instead, we went to the U.N. ad asked, "Mother, may I" from the Russians to take action. They never would.
BLITZER: All right. But I understand that. Ambassador -- I understand, Ambassador Williamson. I'm going to bring in Colin Kahl in a moment. But you still haven't explained how would you go ahead and start arming these rebels? How do you arm rebels, some of whom may be good guys, some of whom may be really bad guys?
WILLIAMSON: Well, that's why Governor Romney called last fall almost a year ago for us to have assets in there to help the moderates and the opposition to organize the opposition to get stronger, something that the Obama administration failed to do and only sent assets in in late May.
Time does not make these problems get better, they make worse. And then the governor called early this year for us to try to arm the moderate opposition.
Again, President Obama waited, waited, waited, and it was late May when he signed a presidential statement on this. And so that time is all made it much more difficult, has made it much messier. Thirty thousand have died. It's been a failure of leadership.
And what the governor did today is outlined the need for anticipation, leadership and being resolute. Not playing "Mother, may I" with the Russians at the Security Council.
BOLDUAN: Now -- now, Colin, I want to bring you in. I'd like you to respond to this. These are some pretty brutal critiques of President Obama's foreign policy.
COLIN KAHL, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN: Yes. But like much of Governor Romney's positions on foreign policy, it's mostly bluster. There's not a lot of substance.
I mean, the president has taken a clear leadership role across the region. He stood up for our values. He's defended our friends. He's gone after our enemies. On Syria, he's led the international community in isolating the regime diplomatically and economically. He's working with the opposition to provide them all kinds of assistance and to help them unify in the event of a transition away from Assad's regime.
And look, I worked on the Syria issue at the Pentagon for three years, and when it comes to this issue, there's a lot more ways to make the situation worse and get us deeper into a sectarian conflict than there is to make it better.
And I will just say that Governor Romney wants to give the opposition heavy weapons, to include weapons to shoot down Syrian fighter jets. Well, guess what? Those same weapons systems could shoot down Israeli airliners, which is why the Israelis don't want us to do that.
BLITZER: All right.
KAHL: So I mean, it's interesting that Romney says no daylight between him and the Israelis, but I guarantee there is on this issue.
BLITZER: Well, go ahead and respond, Ambassador Williamson.
WILLIAMSON: Well, this type of passive and lead-from-the-behind approach has not only resulted in 30,000 dead in Syria, and over 100,000 refugees in our NATO-allied Turkey, destabilization in the region, and now missile or arms being fired between Syria and Turkey, our NATO ally, for whom we have obligations, but that same approach has resulted in Iran getting much, much closer to nuclear breakout. It's resulted in the four -- the 20 embassies that had demonstrations.
BLITZER: But what about the specific -- the specific point...
WILLIAMSON: American flag burned and the black flag of al Qaeda raised and an American ambassador killed.
BLITZER: The specific point that Colin just made, that if you give shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to some of these guys, they wind up shooting down Israeli aircraft? How do you prevent that?
WILLIAMSON: Well, how you prevent it is not waiting until it gets out of hand, as it has today. You get involved earlier. You anticipate the problem. You lead. That's why you work with the opposition a year ago, not waiting until May when it's already being crowded out by extremists. That's why you start to arm the moderate opposition early this year. Not wait until late May before you let some of our friends do it.
Yes, it gets tougher when you fail to act, and you know what? It's going to continue to get tougher as we follow a strategy of passivity. You either lead and try to shape events, or you accept the consequences of being a bystander. And the results of being a bystander is forces that are against U.S. interests move in, fill the void, and that's why we have the turmoil in the greater Middle East today. It's unacceptable. We need leadership.
BLITZER: We're going to bring Colin back into this conversation in a moment. We'll take a quick break. We'll debate, we'll continue. We'll talk about Mitt Romney, President Obama, Israel and Iran. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Once again, Mitt Romney's attack today on President Obama's foreign policy included Israel.
BOLDUAN: He specifically pointed out the president's relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: The relationship between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel, for example, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains. The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put daylight between the United States and Israel, and he succeeded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Bring back in our panel. We're back with Obama campaign national security adviser Colin Kahl and Romney campaign foreign policy adviser Richard Williamson. Thank you guys for being back again.
So Colin, I want to start with you. Doesn't Romney have a point here? There is a very tense relationship that we all are aware of between President Obama and Netanyahu. KAHL: Look, you know, I traveled to Israel 13 times in the last three years as an Obama official. There's no daylight between us and the Israelis when it comes to their core national security interests. This president, President Obama, has provided more security assistance to Israel than any president in history. We've stood up for them consistently at the U.N. He has a good working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, a guy he talks to on the phone and visits with more than any other foreign leader in the world.
We've put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. We've put on the table a credible military option to include every single element that Mitt Romney advocated in his speech today.
For example, you know, Governor Romney said we need to make sure there are aircraft carrier task forces in the Gulf. Well, guess what? We put those in the Gulf in 2010. In fact, there's been two there ever since, as well as naval assets in the eastern Mediterranean to make sure that any missiles coming Israel's way could be shot out of the sky. So look, there's no daylight between us and the Israelis on the Iranian question, and nobody in history has done more for Israel's security than Barack Obama.
BLITZER: On that point, Ambassador Williamson, I think that there have at times been some tension between these two leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president. But I went to Jerusalem last July, and I interviewed Mitt Romney there, but the next day I interviewed other leaders in Israel, including the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the defense minister of Israel, Ehud Barak. This is what they told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: But they should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: When I look at the record of President Obama concerning the major issue of security, I think it's a highly satisfactory record from Israeli point of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So does Colin Kahl have a good point when he's defending this U.S.-Israeli relationship, despite some tensions from time to time between the prime minister and the president?
WILLIAMSON: Well, again, there's a fundamentally different approach between President Obama and Governor Romney.
The fact is, yes, we have given more military assistance, and that's good. But there's not political cooperation; there's not a diplomatic united front. And of course, elected officials in Israel are going to say publicly, "We have a good relationship with the United States." But Wolf, you used to be a correspondent there. You know the region. We've never had a situation before where the United States is more intent on saying no to Israel to protect itself from an existential threat than no to Iran for nuclear breakout.
And the fact is, irrefutably, under President Obama, Iran has gotten closer to nuclear breakout. Thousands of more centrifuges. Enriched uranium, not only 3 and 5 percent but 20 percent. Great advances on their missile programs. They can hit Israel as well as others of our friends further on.
And look, it's all symbolized and put in a nutshell. This is the first president in decades, Republican or Democrat, who went to the U.N. and didn't seize the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with heads of state that are important to us to face serious problems. And there's no more serious problem than Iran's nuclear breakout.
BOLDUAN: Now, Governor...
WILLIAMSON: And this president met with Whoopi Goldberg on "The View" instead of meeting Netanyahu. That's just wrongheaded, and we have a different approach.
BOLDUAN: I want to bring in Colin to respond to this. I mean, again, some very strong criticism. You two are -- almost like you're talking about two different campaigns -- obviously, to different campaigns, but two different presidential races right now.
Colin, I want you to respond to the ambassador. He is saying very clearly that under President Obama Iran has gained strength and the Middle East is more dangerous.
KAHL: It's just not true. I mean, we're really talking about two different realities, and I'm not sure what reality the Romney campaign is in.
This president has put harsher sanctions on Iran than just about any other country in history. He's put a credible military option on the table. He said his policy is prevention, not containment, that a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.
And frankly, there is not a single aspect of Mitt Romney's position on Iran that is anything other than a description of our current policy.
BLITZER: Let me...
KAHL: Hold on, hold on one second, Wolf. The only possible difference is when Mitt Romney talks about a nuclear capability...
BLITZER: That's correct.
KAHL: All right. But the challenge is, and I would ask Ambassador Williamson, what does that mean? Because if it means the technical know-how to, at some point in the future, develop a nuclear weapon, then our intelligence officials have said for a long time Iran already has that. So expect a war on day one of the Romney administration.
If it's not what it means; if it means what Governor Romney said on "60 Minutes," which is all the components for a weapon, then that's weaponization, which is the same red line as President Obama.
So again, we're back to tough talk, but really no "there" there when it comes to a difference with the president.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Ambassador.
WILLIAMSON: Colin has a different view of reality. The International Atomic Energy Agency, everyone understands that they've enriched uranium to 20 percent. That the amount of enriched uranium has gone up substantially under President Obama. Those are the facts. Not an opinion. And that they've developed more missile capability. Those are the facts.
Now, have they moved closer to nuclear weapons? Based on the fact the answer is yes. And Colin knows that. Instead he wants to move the debate elsewhere. But the fact is, the Obama policies have failed.
Secondly, the sanctions they wrap themselves around, and we're glad they're tough sanctions, were introduced by Democratic Senator Menendez and Republican Senator Kirk, and the Obama White House opposed those sanctions when they were introduced in Congress.
BLITZER: All right.
WILLIAMSON: And only put them in when Congress passed it.
BLITZER: Gentlemen, unfortunately, we're going to have to continue this debate on another day. Maybe later this week. There will be a lot more to talk about. We also know there will be a major foreign policy presidential debate. That's the third and final debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama. Unfortunately, we've got to leave it right there.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: But thanks to both of you for joining us.
BOLDUAN: All right. We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: This is what a sky dive -- we're going to show you some video -- a sky dive from the edge of space looks like, but this was just a practice jump. It's one of the last leaps Felix Baumgartner took before tomorrow's epic attempt to break a record.
BLITZER: And he could become the first person ever to break the sound barrier by skydiving.
CNN's Brian Todd is over at mission control in New Mexico, where he got a behind-the-scenes look at what's going on in this operation -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the hour is almost at hand. Tomorrow morning, Felix Baumgartner will try to set the record for the longest ever free fall and for the speed record traveling outside a vehicle.
The command center is right behind me. We got access to it just a short time ago.
(voice-over) Inside mission control, anticipation, raw nerves, intense focus. We get special access as Art Thompson, technical project director for the Red Bull Stratus Project, does his final preparations for a historic jump.
ART THOMPSON, TECHNICAL PROJECT DIRECTOR: And so they're thinking it's because it's going to find one out, but it's pretty exciting. Everybody's in place. We tested all the equipment. Capsule is ready.
TODD (on camera): It's here where some of the top minds in aerospace will guide Felix Baumgartner during his record-setting jump from the edge of space. The lead members of the mission control team sit in the front row. They include Joel Kittinger, the man whose record Felix Baumgartner is going to try to break. He'll be in this row, talking to Felix Baumgartner from this spot.
Everything is going to be on display on these monitors. All the different camera angles of the mission. Even Felix Baumgartner's vital signs, on display up here.
(voice-over) After five years of preparation, two test jumps and various delays, go time on Tuesday morning is at hand. Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, will attempt the longest ever free fall from 120,000 feet above the Earth's surface. Free fall itself will be for about 115,000 feet. Then his parachute will deploy about 5,000 feet up.
But during those crucial first moments, Baumgartner will also try to break the speed of sound, going more than 690 miles an hour, wearing just his pressure suit, a helmet and a parachute. No one's ever done that outside a vehicle, and we've been covering this mission for more than two years.
When I spoke to Baumgartner earlier this year, he discussed how focused he'll have to be at all times on his bearings and his instruments.
(on camera) Is that something you'll regret, though? Not necessarily having a philosophical moment?
FELIX BAUMGARTNER, DAREDEVIL: Yes.
TODD: While you're doing it?
BAUMGARTNER: Yes, that's so bad. It almost makes me feel sad, because you want to enjoy that moment, you know?
BAUMGARTNER: But you just have so many things going on. You have to remember all the procedures. You know, Joel Kittinger's down in mission control talking to you. You know you're in a really hostile environment, and you cannot think about anything else. You have to be focused; otherwise, you're going to die.
TODD (voice-over): I asked Kittinger, whose record of jumping from 102,000 feet, has stood for 52 years, if he might have a tinge of jealousy.
COL. JOE KITTINGER (RET.), RECORD HOLDER: I'm glad he's going to do it. He's advancing science, and he'll do a great job.
TODD (on camera): And that's key here. The records mean a lot, but what this team really wants to get out of this mission is the aerospace advancement. They want to see if that suit that Felix Baumgartner is going to wear can be the next generation of space suits, to see if a human can survive outside a vehicle in the event of a malfunction -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very, very much.
BOLDUAN: Something you don't want to miss coming up: Mila Kunis, the sexiest woman alive, talking about our very own Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Wow. What did she say?
BOLDUAN: I'll tell you in a second.
BLITZER: For all the men out there, if your spouse or significant other feels abandoned during the baseball playoffs or the football season weekends, Jeanne Moos just found a sport you can share.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In case of emergency, would you carry your spouse? How about carrying her over a log, and up a hill, through a mud hole? And over a sand hill?
It's the North American Wife-Carrying Championship held at the Sunday river ski resort in Maine. Although there are a couple of newlyweds, you don't even have to be married. You can pretty much carry or drop anyone.
Though there's always a piggy-backer or two, almost everyone uses what's called the Estonian carry. The woman wraps her legs around the guy's neck.
(on camera) Apart from hanging on upside down, a woman being carried doesn't really do much of anything.
(voice-over) With the world championships in Finland the water obstacle is deeper, and the women sometimes have to hold their breath.
Here at the North American competition, it's the mud that's the enemy. They call the mud pond, the widow maker.
Wife carrying originated in Finland. Look how gracefully this finish pair beats the widow maker. Surprise, surprise. The Finns have the fastest time to the finish, just under 53 seconds to complete the almost three-football-field-long course.
TAISTO MIETTINEN, WINNER: Yes, we have won, but it was very tough.
MOOS: Taisto Miettinen and Kristina Haapanen were already the four-time world champs of wife carrying, and no, she's not his wife. He's a lawyer. She's a nanny.
First place prize: five times the female's weight in beer and five times her weight in cash. Which means Christina weighs in at 106 pounds.
But the one who got squished was the second place finisher. "The Portland Press-Herald's" camera caught this victory snuggle. These wife carriers sure now how to carry on.
Jeanne Moos, CNN...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can see the love with these competitors out here. They're so excited.
MOOS: ... New York.
BOLDUAN: So, the most talked about story today, one of the most talked about articles today is about Mila Kunis. "Esquire" magazine named her the sexiest woman alive, and with all the picture, you may not have read the article that goes along with the spread.
She talks about our own Wolf Blitzer. First, some background for you: Wolf invited Mila to be his guest at the White House correspondents' dinner. We heard him talk about it for weeks. And now, for the first time, we know what Mila thought about hanging out with the Blitz or Gray-Z, as Anderson likes to call him, or Wolf-man, as I like to call him.
In the "Esquire" article, she said, "I had the most incredible experience." She goes on to say, "Ever. I watch CNN, MSNBC, all day long, every day. So I meet with Wolf and I was like, 'Oh, my God, there's Wolf Blitzer. Like, two drinks in, I just started talking: 'So, about Ahmadinejad's nephew...' Wolf was surprised I followed politics."
BLITZER: She was really a great date, you know. If you have to go to a White House Correspondents Association Dinner, to walk in on the red carpet with Mila Kunis...
BOLDUAN: She's not a bad date, you think?
BLITZER: We have the video? Can we show the...
BOLDUAN: We have pictures of you two.
BLITZER: There are some pictures.
BOLDUAN: There are plenty. And I know you have them in your office.
BLITZER: Yes, she's gorgeous. She's very intelligent. She's lovely. I had a great time. And I'm happy she was just named by "Esquire" magazine the sexiest woman alive.
BOLDUAN: I know. Here's hoping for you next year.
BLITZER: See if I can do that.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.