Return to Transcripts main page


Obama-Romney Race Tightens in Ohio; Lawmakers to Debate Libya Attack; High Court Hears University Race Case; Bigger Social Security Checks; Twelve Dead, 120 Sick from Rare Meningitis; Romney Sidesteps Abortion Issue; Sharing the Political Spotlight

Aired October 10, 2012 - 09:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're out of time. We'll see you back here tomorrow. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Don Lemon begins right now.

Hey, Don, good morning.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I hate to end that conversation about cheating but we must move on, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we must.

LEMON: Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM, the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. What did the White House know and when? Today, outraged lawmakers demand some answers.

Affirmative action. Back on the Supreme Court docket this morning. It is the biggest case of the session. Should race play a role in college admissions?

Dash of Controversy. Actress Stacey Dash talks about her tweet that set off an Internet firestorm.

And a new face on GMA. "Good Morning America." Ann Romney. Why one author says the candidates' wives are becoming even more important in their husband's campaigns.

CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

Good morning, everyone. And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Don Lemon. Carol is off today.

High stakes and a high noon showdown on Capitol Hill as we look at live pictures of the capital. A potentially heated hearing on the deadly attack at the U.S. Consulate in Libya. A Republican-led hearing is demanding to know how security failures led to the deaths of the U.S. ambassador there and three other Americans.

Were warnings -- were warning, excuse me, ignored or -- for political reasons? And did the White House have any motive in first denying it was terrorism?

Well, depending on which party you ask, today's hearing is either election year grandstanding or an effort to better protect American lives in the future. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Is that it's because they wanted the appearance of normalization. That's what they wanted. That fit the Obama narrative moving forward.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: You know it's one thing to make allegations that are backed by facts. It's another thing to make allegations and then search for the facts. And we've heard a lot of allegations flying around. And Erin, just today in depositions we've had -- we've heard things that are contradictory to some of the allegations that have already been made by Chairman Issa and Congressman Chaffetz.


LEMON: All right. Let's go if we can get some answers now straight to the State Department and CNN foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott.

Elise, is there a sense here foreboding that heads will roll when all these answers come out because there seems to be a drip, drip, drip of information that contradicts what the administration first said.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Don, I think you have to break it down to a couple of things. And certainly this is very politicized in this election season. First of all, the idea of whether it was preplanned or whether it was a spontaneous kind of protest that was hijacked by extremists as some administration officials were claiming.

Yesterday we had a conference call with senior officials from the State Department that says no, this was not our conclusion. Everything was quiet in front of this diplomatic post just an hour maybe before the deadly attack where 40 armed gunmen stormed the embassy. So, I mean, whether the administration had a political motive or whether the administration said this was our best intelligence at the time, I think that's a little bit politicized.

But the question is really that I think the committee wants to get at is, was the consulate, was this diplomatic post adequately protected? Some documents have been leaking out, some obtained by CNN over the last week or so that indicate that security officials in the country had asked the State Department for additional security to keep another security team that was already in country there and those requests whether either denied or not answered.

One of the people that will be hearing from today is Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lam. And it seems a lot of those requests went directly to her. What I've been told by senior officials is that that never went up the chain of command, if you will. And so I think they're going to nail down, were these requests heeded? And whether the State Department, whether the administration as a whole, really saw the threat as it -- as it turned out to be -- Don.

LEMON: And we're going to find out today. Thank you very much. At least they're going to start the process today. Thank you very much, Elise Labott.

The man accused of making the anti-Islam film that incited so much violence in the Middle East is due in court today. Mark Basseley Youssef has been in federal lockup since last month. Prosecutors say he violated his probation for a bank fraud conviction and the judge ruled he was a flight risk.

The Egyptian-born U.S. citizen does not face charges related to the "Innocence of Muslim" film or the protest that swept through more than a dozen countries in the Middle East and in Africa.

Getting closer and closer. Twenty-seven days until the election. And there is no doubt Mitt Romney's debate performance injected new life into his presidential campaign. Can his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, do the same thing in tomorrow night's vice presidential debate?

I want you to listen to what Romney told Wolf Blitzer on "THE SITUATION ROOM."


WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Are you confident, Governor, that Paul Ryan will take on Joe Biden Thursday night the way you took on the president?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, I don't know how Paul will deal with this debate. Obviously the vice president has done, I don't know, 15 or 20 debates during his lifetime, experienced debater. This is, I think, Paul's first debate. I may be wrong. He may have done something in high school. I don't know. But it'll -- you know, it'll be a new experience for Paul. But I'm sure he'll do fine.


LEMON: Well, Paul Ryan has actually done several debates during his congressional career but none were bigger than the stage he will be on tomorrow night.

Chief national correspondent, of course, here at CNN is John King.

Good morning to you, John, there in Ohio. Is it just the campaign trying to lower expectations here?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a word, Don, yes. Not only has Paul Ryan done some debates in his congressional career, he has stood up to the president of the United States, Barack Obama, at several big events where the president has Republicans in to talk about fiscal issues. He's been the leading advocate for the Ryan budget.

It's true Joe Biden has more experience on the national stage, doing national debates, but that's Governor Romney trying to say, hey, you know, cut my guy a little slack, this is, you know, his first time up in the big leagues, if you will. But look, that's part of a campaign's spin strategy. This will be a fascinating debate. Americans pick presidents, not vice presidents, but Romney has some momentum, a little bit of a breeze at his back right now and the biggest question going in to tomorrow night's matchup is, can Paul Ryan continue that building that momentum or could Joe Biden maybe be a little bit more passionate than the president in the first presidential debate stop it?

LEMON: All right. Let's talk about the numbers right now, John. Mitt Romney still getting post-debate bounce. I mean you can't say any more that debates don't matter. In the new CNN poll, Poll of Polls, Mitt Romney has a slight lead with likely voters, 48 to 47 percent. And as I said, you can't say it doesn't matter anymore. His performance certainly showed that.

There is probably no bigger swing state, however, than Ohio, where you are.

KING: It's the -- history tells you no Republican has ever been elected president without winning the state of Ohio. Can you do the math and have a Romney win scenario without this state? Yes. Is it likely, though? No. So he's encouraged here, too. You mentioned the national numbers. Before the debate he was down -- some polls had him down as many as nine points in Ohio. Our new CNN poll released just last night has him down four among likely voters, 51-47.

There's another group, the American Research Group, had a poll out, actually showed Romney up a point here in Ohio. So there's no question. Just like in the national polls, Don, a bit of a boost here. Romney is up in the suburbs, he's up among independents. The big challenge now is to stay in it, because while there are some signs of strength here for Romney, we can also, from our reporting here, tell you there's a few soft spots that he needs to work on.

LEMON: OK. John King in Ohio, and John is going to be covering the debates as well.

John, thank you very much.

You can watch the live coverage of the debate beginning tomorrow night, tomorrow night, 7:00 Eastern. You can watch it on CNN or you can watch it on

Happening this morning, should the color of a college applicant's skin be a factor in admissions policy? That is a question at the heart of a case going before the U.S. Supreme Court two hours from now.

CNN's Joe Johns has the background for you.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abigail Fisher dreamed of going to the University of Texas at Austin for more of her life. After applying, she didn't get in. Attending Louisiana State University instead. But the rejection from U.T. led Fisher to file a lawsuit against the school, claiming she was squeezed out, unfairly denied admission because of her race. She's white.

She said in a statement, "There were people in my class with lower grades who weren't in all the activities I was in, who were being accepted into U.T. and the only other difference between us was the color of our skin."

She declined an interview with CNN.

Whether race should be part of the application process at the University of Texas is the issue that will come before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Edward Blum recruited Abigail Fisher to file the lawsuit.

EDWARD BLUM, PROJECT ON FAIR REPRESENTATION: The most important question is, should a university judge a student by his or her skin color when it comes time for admission? And the answer is no.

JOHNS: Here's how the admissions process at U.T. works. The top 10 percent of each high school class statewide gets in automatically. For those below the top 10 percent, like Abigail Fisher, who was in the 11 percent, the university uses what it calls a holistic review where race is one of many factors considered, one that University President Bill Power says doesn't get much weight and didn't play a role in Fisher's rejection.

BILL POWERS, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN: We take ethnicity as one of many, many factors in a holistic review to make sure that the three quarters coming in under automatic admission, though we add to that with a quarter coming in where we can look for these other characteristics, including diversity.


JOHNS: Minority student leaders on campus like Bradley Poole agree with Powers that the process is fair, despite Fisher's claims.

POOLE: Saying it's racist is probably one of the least parts of the holistic review process. I feel like it's harping on the wrong -- on one of the things that -- on the easiest thing that she could have -- she could have went against.

JOHNS: Others take offense that the lawsuit implies some minority students are less deserving of admission than their white counterparts.

CATHERINE RODARTE, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN: To hear people saying that some of us Latinos got in here easily and the only reason we got in here is because of our race, that's really disappointing. We worked just as hard as anyone else did to get here to U.T.

JOHNS: The conservative groups siding with Fisher argue it's not just about getting in. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission says studies show that using racial preferences can hurt minorities by starting them out near the bottom of their classes. GAIL HERIOT, MEMBER, U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS: If they're towards the bottom of whatever class they go to, they are much more likely to give up on an ambition to major in science and engineering.


LEMON: Very interesting. There he is, Joe Johns, outside the Supreme Court.

Good morning to you, Joe. How do you see this case playing out among the justices?

JOHNS: Well, Don, we're going to find out in just about an hour. I can tell you it's a vastly different court from nine years ago when Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a majority opinion in a very similar case. She's, of course, no longer on the court.

There's also a possibility of a 4-4 tie because Justice Elena Kagan is recusing herself due to the fact that she sort of handled some of the issues surrounding this case back when she was solicitor general of the United States.

All eyes today will certainly be watching Justice Anthony Kennedy who a lot of people see as the swing vote in this very important issue -- Don.

LEMON: And Joe, this has a very real possibly of setting a precedent when -- if it -- whatever is decided, when it comes to affirmative action.

JOHNS: Yes. Absolutely. I mean this case could change the way students all over the United States get admitted to college. And it could change whether you -- race is used as just one factor, any factor at all in the admissions process. So that could be a big sea change for people who are trying to get into school all over the United States -- Don.

LEMON: Joe Johns is watching that for us today. Joe Johns, thank you very much.

If you get Social Security checks, this news is for you. A new report says you can expect a cost of living bump next year. Unfortunately, it will be less than half of what you saw this year.

Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange this morning.

How much of a boost will those checks get next year? What will it be? Good morning to you, by the way.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. So the Social Security benefit checks are expected to rise anywhere from 1.5 to 1.7 percent next year, that amounts to about $18 to $20 a check. Now this estimate is coming from the American Institute for Economic Research. The official announcement coming out next week from the government. All right, so let's face it, 1.5 to 1.7 percent, it ain't huge. But you know what? Look at the past few years. So this year was pretty good. Benefits increased 3.6 percent. That's because inflation was higher. But then again, what's coming next year is better than what happened in 2009 and 2010 when checks didn't go up at all.

And I know you want to blame Congress but you can't blame Congress for this minuscule increase coming next year. Because the cost of living adjustment is actually based on the Consumer Price Index. What the CPI does is it measures inflation, the price you pay for things like food and clothing and fuel.

So if prices are up over the past year, those Social Security checks go up. And if prices haven't moved or they fall, Social Security checks stay the same.

So I guess to sort of put the exclamation point on this, at least, at least the benefits are going up a little bit instead of remaining the same for next year -- Don.

LEMON: Alison Kosik, thank you very much.

More people around the country getting sick and dying from a rare meningitis outbreak. Our Dr. Gupta makes a startling discovery while digging into how this happened.


LEMON: Checking top stories right now.

Smoke grenade, knives and body bags just some of the items found in a man's suitcase after he was stopped by officials at Los Angeles International Airport. The man, a U.S. citizen of Chinese descent, will appear in court Friday for a rescheduled hearing. He has been charged with transporting hazardous materials and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Astronauts on the International Space Station welcome the SpaceX Dragon capsule this morning, which arrived with 1,000 pounds of supplies. It is the first commercial space cargo mission. The capsule will spend about 18 days at the station and return with experiments and equipment that need repair.

And Toyota announces it is recalling more than 7 million vehicles worldwide, including 2.5 million right here in the U.S. due to a problem with a power window switch that could pose a fire risk. The recall affects several models over multiple years. Toyota will fix the problem at no cost to customers.

Well, with Florida reporting its first meningitis fatality, the national death toll now stands at 12. Another 120 people nationwide are sick from the rare fungal meningitis. And those numbers are on the rise.

The source is contaminated steroid injections that may have been given to as many as 13,000 people. CNN's chief medical correspondent, of course, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he traveled to Massachusetts to find out how this happened. Take a look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So, we drove 25 miles to Framingham, Massachusetts. This is the NECC, the compounding facility at the heart of this outbreak. We just wanted some answers.

(on-camera): We're with CNN. We're trying to get hold of somebody to talk here about what's going on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I have to ask you guys to leave the property.

GUPTA: Over there, that's the NECC, the compounding facility. Back here, it's a recycling facility essentially looks like a dump.

Walking around here, people have told us that there has been this relationship between the recycling facility and NECC for some time. Doing a little bit of digging, we realize they're in fact owned by the same people.


LEMON: OK. There Sanjay is, live in Boston.

So, Sanjay, the facility produces mass quantities of human drugs, also shares a property with you showed us, a garbage dump.

That doesn't seem sanitary. What's going on here? Who made that decision?

GUPTA: I don't know, Don. It's amazing. Obviously, they didn't want to talk about it, as you could see there. I don't know if you've ever been thrown off a facility before. But that was quite interesting.

You know, sort of going behind -- this is sort of tucked away. You find that this -- they call it a recycling center but it was a garbage dump. There were people actually driving in, dumping off garbage even while we were there. So, this wasn't just the waste from the pharmaceutical part of this. This was all kinds of different waste.

I don't know who oversees this. What I can tell you is that it's not the FDA. The FDA doesn't oversee this, even though these are medications for human use. It is usually done at the state level. What happens is the organization applies for a license, they get a license and unless there's a problem again, Don, they may never get a visit again.

And so, you can see what sort of happens here. Again, that visual of that -- essentially, as you describe it, garbage dump right behind this compounding center.

LEMON: Well, this is certainly a problem and I think this deserves a visit.

You know, these compounding pharmacies, they aren't mom and pop shops like they used to be. In fact --

GUPTA: Right.

LEMON: -- 2003 government report found that 10 percent, I believe, of all drugs administered in the U.S. can come from them. So, how can it be that the FDA doesn't have authority over them until there's a problem? I mean, what's their response to all of this?

GUPTA: Right. They'd say they should have responsibility and authority over this. And they've been asking for that for 20 years.

It's quite a remarkable thing that a lot of people don't know about, but these compounding centers, they are originally set up to be, you know, pretty small things. You know, if you needed a slightly different dose of a medication, mix it with another medication or for a kid, for example, who didn't like the taste a medication, they could add some flavoring.

Those were some of the initial patterns sort of, you know, patterns and things that the compounding centers do. I don't think anyone ever sort of believed that they would turn into these centers that would give out 17,000 different doses of medications all over the country.

So, now, the FDA is saying, yes, we probably do need some authority over this.

LEMON: Yes. Goodness. Dr. Gupta, thank you. I know you'll get to the bottom of it. Appreciate your reporting.

Still ahead here on CNN -- sweet, gentle and marked for death. We'll tell why the Taliban tried to kill this 14-year-old school girl.


LEMON: This morning in Pakistan, this is the face of courage. It now looks like a 14-year-old girl will survive a brazen attack by Taliban gunman. They stopped her school bus and opened attack simply because she dared to defy them.

CNN's Reza Sayah is in Pakistan, in the capital of Islamabad.

Reza, what is the nationwide reaction to such a horrifying attack?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, I think initially the reaction was shock and disbelief. Then it switched over to a lot of anxiety and concern about her well-being. I can tell you at this hour, there's a large group of women, many of them mothers in the southern port city of Karachi, hold in holding a prayer vigil for Malala, praying that she recovers.

But you get the impression that people are starting to get more hopeful. A few hours ago, we spoke to her doctor and neurosurgeon and he told us after a three-hour surgery, they managed to get the bullet out that was lodged in her neck. Authorities are also telling us that they've managed to identify the two gunmen who shot her. It's not clear who they are. But they're going to be arrested soon, according to authorities.

Many in Pakistan know Malala. If you're outside the region, you don't.

Late last year, we got to sit down and talk to her, and the best way to understand why she inspired so many people is to sit down and listen to her speak. Here is a small excerpt from that interview.


MALALA YOUSUFZAI, EDUCATION ACTIVIST: So I thought I must stand up for my rights, the right of education, the right for speech. So, I did it.

SAYAH: Some people might say you're 14. You don't have any rights. You just have to listen to mom and dad.

YOUSUFZAI: No, I have rights. I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.


SAYAH: We can objectively report that this is an absolutely adorable young girl and she is also fiercely determined in confidence.

Don, we put a lot of tough questions to her back late last year and she stood up to us. This is a tough girl that many say she represents the best of Pakistan.

LEMON: All right. Reza Sayah, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Mitt Romney is accused of flip flopping during the debate. But former President Bill Clinton goes even further.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So just show up with a sunny face and say, "I didn't say all that stuff I said the last two years."


LEMON: Next, does Mitt Romney have a multiple personalities? Plus, what he told an Iowa newspaper that's making some people scratch their heads.


LEMON: Good morning, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, in for Carol Costello today.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM.

Opening bell, of course, New York Stock Exchange rang just about 30 seconds ago. U.S. stocks are poised for a lower open this morning. Investors are worried about China's slowing economic growth. They're also keeping an eye on economic data from the Census Bureau and Federal Reserve today. We'll watch that for you.

Former General Electric CEO John Welch not backing down from his controversial comment about the recent jobs report and the Labor Department. Welch says the new 7.8 percent unemployment numbers were manipulated. In today's "Wall Street Journal," he says criticism of his comments is something he'd expect in Soviet Russia or communist China.

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will be the focus of a congressional hearing that begins in about 2 1/2 hours. The attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The hearing comes as CNN obtains documents showing the State Department top security official in Libya had asked for more security in Benghazi, but received no response from his supporters.

Abortion rights have always been a hot button issue in political campaigns. And this one is no exception.

In an interview with the "Des Moines Register," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, quote, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

And that statement doesn't really gel with some of the things he said before.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My view of the right course for it, for those of us who are pro-life, is to fight to change hearts and minds and to see Roe v. Wade overturned. And that would allow states and the elected representatives of the people to be able to make their own decisions with regards to abortion.

Easy things I'm going to cut, Obamacare. I'm getting rid of that. All right? And --


And I will -- and the idea of the federal government funding Planned Parenthood, I'm going to say no. We're going to stop that. I'm going to stop things.


LEMON: The Romney campaign issued a statement yesterday to clarify, saying the candidate is proudly pro-life and still would support cutting federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

Joining me now, Republican strategist Ron Bonjean and Democratic strategist Kiki McLean.

So, good morning to both of you.



LEMON: Ron, is Mitt Romney trying to move more to the center? I mean, what does his statement mean?

BONJEAN: Well, first of all, Mitt Romney is going to be a pro-life president and his campaign is saying he will have a pro-life agenda. In that same interview with "The Des Moines Register," he said he would reinstitute the Mexico City policy, which would end federal funding for abortions overseas in other countries.

But what he's doing right now is he's talking about what voters care about, which is jobs, the economy, rising deficits.

LEMON: OK. I understand that.


LEMON: Hang on. Hang on. Hang on. Ron, we're not going to do talking points here. I'm asking you a very simple question.

BONJEAN: All right. I'm talking what he's talking about.

LEMON: What did he mean -- I didn't ask you about the economy. We can get to that. That's a different issue. What did he mean in his statement that seems to be contradictory statements? What did he mean there?

BONJEAN: I just told you what he meant. He said that his agenda is not going to be focused on abortion. It's going to be -- he did not say it was going to be focused on other issues, but obviously it's going to be. And that's why he talked about the economy, what voters care about in these last 27 days.

LEMON: OK. So, Kiki, in the presidential debate, Romney was criticized for changing positions on issues and former President Bill Clinton had something to say about it. Take a listen.


CLINTON: I had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did. I mean, I thought, wow! Here is old moderate Mitt. Where have you been, boy? I missed you all these last few years.

So, just show up with a sunny face and say, "I didn't say all that stuff I said the last two years. I don't have that tax plan I had for the last two years."

Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes here? Come on! What are you doing? And if I had been the president, I might have said, well, I hate to get in the way of this. I missed you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Boy, Bill Clinton there, like no other. So, listen, this has been a talking point from the left since the debate that Mitt Romney lied.


LEMON: But does Bill Clinton have a point here?

MCLEAN: Well, he has a point when he looks up and he says the voice that we've been hearing the last week hasn't been reflective of the voice of the last two years. So when you look at his comments yesterday about choice and abortion, it's one of those tricky questions that you've got to make sure you ask the right follow-up question or you might not get the real answer.

So it's almost fibbing by omission, if you will. Well, there's no legislation today that I would get behind and engage in versus -- what if somebody else wrote a bill you did get behind?


MCLEAN: Or what if you told your staff to go draft legislation that you got behind? You have to look at the record of what they've said and what they've done.

LEMON: And, Kiki --

MCLEAN: In this case, Mitt Romney has said I'm going to nominate people to the Supreme Court who support overturning Roe versus Wade.

I take Ron and his colleagues in the Republican Party at face value when they say this is an anti-choice president and kind of try to slip that you that needle will not do anything to change that.

LEMON: You made a good point. You said unless you ask the follow up question because the onus and I've heard Democrats saying, oh, the media should have called Romney out on his lies. On the debate stage, the onus was on the president to do that. Bill Clinton said I would have said oh, welcome, where have you been? I missed you. That's the kind of follow-up that people were looking for. It didn't happen.

MCLEAN: I'm not -- look, I'm not sure -- as somebody who's been through a lot of debates at staff level, I'm not sure that a whole lot of smart Alec gets you anywhere. Those are the kind of moments that make you feel better but don't necessarily advance your own argument.

And the president has his own argument and vision for the country that he needs to advance. Is it the right place for anybody to question him? Do we always want to see somebody who is not laying out the truth be challenged? We absolutely do.

We're talking about one day and 90 minutes. I suspect you will see more assertion and aggression in the coming days as you have already from the campaign. They've moved very quickly to respond to those elements.

But, you know, you got to be careful in that interaction, and the president has his own message to drive forward, not just to police Mitt Romney's. There are people like you, Don Lemon, who also engage in the role of policing what both candidates say.

LEMON: Right, and what people say on television --

MCLEAN: That's right.

LEMON: -- make sure they don't fall back on talking points.

MCLEAN: That's right.

LEMON: Ron, you also brought up a very good point, this election is about the economy.


LEMON: Understood.

Could this hurt Romney, though, in the sense that it moves him away from his pro-life base?

BONJEAN: As long as his campaign is saying he's going to be a pro- life president and, of course, he will appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices to the bench, the pro-life base will be OK with that. I think voters want to hear about the concerns of what's going on in the country right now with the economy, with risings debt and deficits. I think that's what the campaign is focused on.

And, you know, polls say far and away that that's what they want to hear. They want to hear what the candidates' plans are. And that's why Mitt Romney is focused on that and not turning this into a whole pro-life, pro-choice debate.

LEMON: But the question was again -- does this stand the chance of moving him away from his base?

BONJEAN: No, and I answered the question. The pro-life base is not going to be bothered by this they know he's going to be a pro-life president.


BONJEAN: They know he's going to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices to the bench and he's going to end the Mexico City -- he's going to reinstate the Mexico City policy.

LEMON: Ron Bonjean, Kiki Mclean, thank you very much.

BONJEAN: Thank you.

MCLEAN: Thanks so much, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. So Hollywood has long been known for its liberal leanings. President Obama held a fund-raiser in Los Angeles on Sunday, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, George Clooney all showing up in support.

But actress Stacey Dash, remember her? Remember her? She's from "The Clueless" movie.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dionne, you're up.

STACEY DASH, ACTRESS (as Dionne): No, Miss Stoger (ph), I have a note from my tennis instructor and he would prefer it if I didn't expose to any training that might derail his teachings.


LEMON: Well, she is learning the hard way. What happens when you side with the other team?

"Showbiz Tonight's" host A.J. Hammer is here now.

So, A.J., this all started over a tweet. This is more than just siding with the other team. I think it's more about she's African- American and she may not be in support of Barack Obama. That's causing a furor.

A.J. HAMMER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT HOST: Yes. And, Don, her detractors simply can't believe the candidate she is behind. Dash got on to Twitter on Sunday and she announced who she is supporting for president.

Here's how she tweeted it. "Simply vote for Romney, the only choice for your future."

Well, Samuel L. Jackson was among those who responded. Sam tweeted, "Wait, did Stacey Dash really endorse Romney today? Really? Is she cra..."

And that was just the beginning of what turned into a massive Twitter backlash against Dash. Some people who are criticizing her are quick to invoke the title of her big movie. Like one person who tweeted, "Simply still clueless." And, Don, others have gone over the line, saying, you know what, she sold out her race.

Obviously, that's reprehensible.

LEMON: Yes. That's not surprising to people in the media because any criticism from an African-American, a person of color about Barack Obama will get you a torrent of hateful messages on Twitter and all over social media. It's ridiculous. This is America. She can support who she wants.

But I didn't get to see it last night because I went to sleep for this show. She was on Piers Morgan last night, wasn't she?

HAMMER: Yes. Let me show you and everybody what she said. She told Piers last night pretty simply what her reason is for backing Romney. Let's watch that.


DASH: It is my right as an American citizen. It's my constitutional right to have my choice --


DASH: -- who I want to vote for, for president.

MORGAN: And you should be allowed to have it.

DASH: And I chose him not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.


HAMMER: And the actress has gotten a lot of pro-Romney supporters defending her. And also, one somewhat unexpected supporter chimed in. Do you remember Sandra Fluke? That was the Georgetown --


HAMMER: -- law student who was targeted by some conservative pundits? She, of course, is a well-known Obama supporter.

And while she obviously disagrees with Dash's choice for president, she is standing up for Dash's right to speak freely about her choice -- which we all should do, quite frankly.

LEMON: Absolutely.

HAMMER: And, Don, Paul Ryan even took a little break from his debate prep to call Dash and offer his support as well.

LEMON: This is America, as I said. You may not agree with her, but she has the right, and you don't have to be beat her up about it.

Thank you. Very well-put, A.J. Hammer.

A.J., will be back with us next hour with more showbiz headlines, including Ann Romney taking a break from campaigning for her husband to co-host "Good Morning America".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humans were made to make things. That's why we have thumbs. We've gotten away from making so much. There's that instinctive drive for people to create.

I like to think that the tech shop helps to rekindle that in people and get them back to being makers. There are so many things that become, they could be little tiny things, it could be big world- changing things. All the things that people do here just really light me up. You know, really excited me.


LEMON: In Moscow, a court upheld a two-year prison sentence for two members of a Russian punk band. A third member of the group is being released with a suspended sentence. The three women were arrested in February for performing a song that criticized President Vladimir Putin.

Two American scientist have a lot to celebrate about today Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka won the Nobel Peace Prize in chemistry. They prize winning work on protein receptors in the human body set the stage for drug companies to make medications with fewer side effects. They started their research back in 1968.

The head of a large resort company tells his 7,000 employees their jobs are at risk if President Obama is re-elected. Westgate Resort CEO David Siegel sent a message in an e-mail which does not mention Mitt Romney. Siegel said if he or his company has to pay any new taxes, he will have to cut jobs and benefits at his company.

And a North Carolina man says he is blessed to be alive, following this hit and run accident. It happened while Shaun Lewis was on his way to work and while he doesn't remember being hit he does remember what happened next.


SHAUN LEWIS, WALKED AWAY FROM HIT AND RUN: I remember waking up. I was bleeding. My hand was all messed up. My leg was messed up. I could have helped me out some way. I didn't have to leave. I know God had my back. That's all I know. God was looking out for me.


LEMON: Well, somebody was. Lewis, who amazingly walked away, is now temporarily out of work. No arrests have been made in the case.

We know her as a political wife and mom. But today, Ann Romney can add another title to her resume, morning show co-host. We'll preview her -- or review I should say her appearance on "Good Morning America" coming up.


LEMON: Let's talk more politics now. She traded the campaign trail for the bright lights of morning TV at least for just a few hours. I'm talking about Ann Romney who made her debut as a co-host on "Good Morning America."

Joining me now is Myra Gutin, she's a professor of communications at Rider University and she's also the author of "The President's Partner: The First Lady in the 20th Century." So Myra, this isn't the first time that the wife of a president or a presidential candidate has appeared on a morning show. Laura Bush did it four years ago with her daughter, Jenna.

And then one of her daughters ended up working for a morning show. What is the appeal of this particular format?

MYRA GUTIN, AUTHOR, "THE PRESIDENT'S PARTNER": Well, I think that it gives the first lady or the first lady aspirant an opportunity to be seen in a different way. And it's an opportunity for her to talk about her passions, as Ann Romney did this morning, and perhaps to give us the chance to see her away from the campaign trail in a more human setting.

LEMON: You know, she cooked -- Ann Romney did -- an old family recipe; also talked about her passion for horses.

GUTIN: That's right.

LEMON: How do you think she did as a host?

GUTIN: Well, I think she did just fine. I -- I wish that she had been on camera a little more. They really used her very sparingly. I was hoping perhaps that they would take a little time to sit down and have an interview with her.

LEMON: I'm wondering, though, if that's because of some of the criticism that it's not appropriate for her to be sitting there in that format rather than -- than being interviewed. Do you think that played any part into it?

GUTIN: Well, I'm not sure about the appropriateness of it. Certainly other first lady aspirants or first ladies have spoken a little bit more in informal settings. And I just feel that it was an opportunity missed.

LEMON: A recent "Washington Post"/ABC poll shows that the First Lady, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are more popular than their husbands. The First Lady is at 67 percent compared to 55 percent for the President; and Mrs. Romney is at 56 percent versus 47 percent for her husband.

And as we all know, it's a very tight race. This could influence voters, and I would imagine that's the reason they're out there.

GUTIN: Well, frequently the first lady or the first lady aspirant are more popular than their husbands, and it's easy to understand because they're not dealing with the more substantive issues of the campaign or of governing. So really, those numbers are not particularly surprising.

In terms of really tipping the election, I've always felt that the spouse provides us with a clue to character, and they certainly are not the tipping point as far as a decision for who you're going to vote for, but they do contribute to it. Yeah. And it's interesting that both these ladies are very well- accomplished, very highly-educated, but we don't really hear that much about it except they do cooking segments and on and on.

Thank you, Myra Gutin, we really appreciate it.

GUTIN: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Justices take another look at affirmative action on America's campuses. We're live from the Supreme Court for what could be this term's biggest case.


LEMON: Ah, the Bay Area teams stay alive in baseball's playoff. We're going to start with Oakland against Detroit. Ace center fielder Coco Crisp -- I like saying that name -- made the defensive play of the night when he jumped at the wall and caught Prince Fielder's blast.

Take another look at it. There it is. The A's used great fielding and pitching to shut out the Tigers, 2-0. The team will play game four of their series tonight. Detroit leads 2 games to 1.

The Giants and the reds went to extra innings in Cincinnati. Reds' third baseman Scott Rolen bobbled a grounder. There it is, allowing Buster Posey to score. The Giants took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the tenth and then held on to win the game. The Reds host the Giants this afternoon, leading the series 2-1.

Ben Balt plays sports like any other 11-year-old. He even competes in triathlon. Nothing seems to stop Ben even though he lost part of his right leg to cancer. But something did stop Ben in his last race in Florida. His prosthetic leg broke in half. A group of Marines was watching the triathlon.