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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview with Mitt Romney; Congress Investigates Libya Killings; Romney Changes Stump Speech; Romney Moving to the Middle?; USADA Posts Armstrong Doping "Proof"; Russian Court Releases Punk Rocker; Number of Meningitis Cases Rises; Who Stole the "Crying Elvis"?; Ryan Prepares for V.P. Debate
Aired October 10, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Mitt Romney forced to change his stump speech because of a military mother's plea.
Also this hour, two CNN exclusive interviews: my one-on-one with Mitt Romney. And his running mate, Paul Ryan, speaks to our own Dana Bash.
And a new round of bitter partisan bickering breaking out as Congress discloses new details about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
With just 27 days to go until the presidential election, we begin with Mitt Romney's bumpy day out there on the campaign trail. First, his campaign had to clarify something Romney said earlier about abortion. Later, they said Romney will stop telling a new story apparently designed to show his softer side.
CNN's national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is in Ohio right now on the road with the Romney campaign.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney's been trying to open up to voters in recent days, telling stories of friends who have died, even service members who have died in combat. But the mother of one fallen Navy SEALs says she's offended and her criticism comes as Democrats are trying to accuse Romney of hiding his true beliefs.
(voice-over): It's been a staple of Mitt Romney's recent stump speeches, the GOP nominee talking about the deaths of friends, even soldiers who have inspired him.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have met some wonderful people. One was a former Navy SEAL, Glen Doherty. And he -- we chatted for a while.
ACOSTA: At three events in the last two days, Romney has gotten choked up.
ROMNEY: It touched me, obviously, as I recognized this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life. ACOSTA: As he hailed the bravery of Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who died in last month's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
ROMNEY: When they heard that the consulate was under attack, they went to the attack. They didn't hunker down and hide themselves. No, they went there. That's what Americans do.
ACOSTA: But within an hour of Romney's last telling of the story, his aides confirmed to CNN the GOP nominee is dropping the anecdote after what the Navy SEAL's mother told Boston TV station WHDH.
Doherty's said: "I don't trust Romney. He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda. It's wrong to use these brave young men who wanted freedom for all to degrade Obama."
In a statement, Romney's campaign spokeswoman said, "Governor Romney was inspired by the memory of meeting Glen Doherty and shared his story in that memory. But we respect the wishes of Mrs. Doherty."
Romney started sharing his personal tales last Friday, when he talked about the widow of a soldier who died in Afghanistan.
ROMNEY: Chris died for them to be able to protest.
ACOSTA: Jane Horton told ABC News she was humbled by Romney's gestured, adding, "One of the last things my husband said to me before he was killed, when I would ask him, what do you need over there, he said, I need a new president."
The heart-wrenching stories have been a departure from Romney's focus on the economy.
ROMNEY: My whole passion is about helping the American people who are struggling right now.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought, wow, here's old moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy?
ACOSTA: But Democrats including Bill Clinton say Romney has been trying to shift back to the center ever since last week's debate. The Obama campaign is pointing to what Romney said to "The Des Moines Register" on the issue of abortion.
ROMNEY: There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda.
ACOSTA: Contrast that with what he said at a town hall last year.
ROMNEY: What I would like to see happen would be for the Supreme Court to say, look, we're going to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states the authority to decide whether they want to have abortion or not in their -- state by state.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: His severely conservative positions that got him through the GOP primary are still there. Now he's trying to cover them up.
ACOSTA: Asked about those comments on abortion, a Romney campaign spokeswoman released a statement to CNN saying, "The GOP nominee will be a pro-life president" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta in Ohio traveling with Romney.
In just a few minutes, we will have some of my interview with Mitt Romney.
Also, we had an exclusive interview, we at CNN, with the Republican running mate, Paul Ryan. He's getting ready for Thursday night's debate against the vice president, Joe Biden. You can watch, by the way, CNN's extensive coverage. It all starts 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.
Here in Washington this afternoon, investigation into the September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, turned sharply political, even as we learn new details about what happened before and after the deadly attack.
Let's go to CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. She's got the latest information.
How did it go, Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you it was extremely vitriolic.
In fact, just a few minutes ago, we heard this exchange really quite extraordinary between Dennis Ross, who is a congressman from Florida, Republican, directly asking the ambassador Patrick Kennedy whether or not there was any political pressure.
Ambassador Kennedy said, "On my honor, after 39 years of serving, I can guarantee you that there was no political pressure applied."
And then Ross countered that by saying, then it was professional protocol malpractice. That is the level of discussion that we heard this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Within minutes, the congressional hearing on the attack in Benghazi turned into a partisan firefight.
CHARLENE LAMB, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Sir, there were seven. And their job was also to hook up with the...
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Point of order. Point of order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will state his point of order.
CHAFFETZ: Again, I would renew my deep concern that we're getting into an area that is classified and should be classified.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This whole hearing is responding to allegations that there were not enough people on the ground at the Benghazi facility, those accusations that you made publicly, so that now I'm trying to get an answer to how many people were there and all of a sudden that's off the record? That's classified information? You got to be kidding me.
DOUGHERTY: Republicans on the committee accuse the Obama administration of ignoring the growing danger in Benghazi.
ISSA: To start off by saying you had the correct number and our ambassador and three other individuals are dead and people are in the hospital recovering because it only took moments to breach that facility somehow doesn't seem to ring true to the American people.
DOUGHERTY: Democrats accused Republicans of slashing funding for diplomatic security.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: The fact is that since 2011, the House has cut embassy security by hundreds of millions of dollars below the amounts requested by the president.
DOUGHERTY: At one point, a member of the committee even accused State Department officials of showing an aerial photograph of the Benghazi compound that he thought should be classified.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I'm concerned that we're getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in open forum such as this.
PATRICK KENNEDY, U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: This information is available, sir, for public dissemination, yes, sir.
DOUGHERTY: One of the witnesses continued to insist the State Department didn't do enough.
ERIC NORDSTROM, STATE DEPARTMENT REGIONAL SECURITY OFFICER: When I asked assets, instead of supporting those assets, I was criticized. And somehow it was my responsibility to come up with a plan on the ground and not the responsibility for D.S. I raised that specific point in a meeting with the D.S. director in March that, 60 days, there was no plan. And it was hope that everything would get better.
DOUGHERTY: So, did this hearing actually uncover any really new facts? It really doesn't appear so.
In fact, the top State Department official cautioned the committee that until those three investigations that are under way, State Department, FBI and the congressional investigation, conclude, that actually you're dealing with an incomplete picture, Wolf. BLITZER: And the State Department now believes, Jill, that the 14- minute anti-Muslim trailer out there on YouTube, that had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on the diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, despite what the administration was saying in the days that followed.
DOUGHERTY: It appears that way, Wolf, although I don't think I would put it quite as specifically and concretely as you are.
What they're saying is it doesn't appear. That evening they say at the Benghazi mission, it was quiet. And by implication, they're saying there was nothing going on that would lead them to think there was going to be an attack. Again, we're going to have to get the final investigation. But, yes, it appears that they're stepping back from that original explanation.
BLITZER: Jill, thanks very much, Jill Dougherty over at the State Department.
There's plenty of political bickering going on when it comes to taxes. Up next, you're going to hear what Mitt Romney has to say about his plan, what it could mean for you.
Also, Lance Armstrong is linked to what one group calls the most sophisticated doping program in cycling history.
BLITZER: So what's going to happen to your taxes almost certainly will be one of the topics that Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan debate Thursday night.
During my exclusive interview here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Mitt Romney went into more detail about his own plans for your taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Well, I've made it pretty clear that my principles are, number one, simplify the code; number two, create incentives for small businesses and large businesses to grow; number three, don't reduce the burden on high income taxpayers; and, number four, remove the burden somewhat from middle income people.
So I don't want to raise taxes on -- on any group of Americans. Those are the principles.
At the same time, how we carry them out would be lowering the rate, the tax rate, across the board and then making up for that both with additional growth and with putting a -- a limit on deductions and -- and exemptions, particularly for people at the high end.
Those are principles which form the basis of what I would do with our tax proposal.
I -- what I want to do is to make it simpler, fairer. I want to encourage the economy to grow again. It's pretty clear that the economy is not growing at the rate it should under the -- the president.
And I can tell you, with regards to the deductions you describe, home mortgage interest deduction and charitable contributions, there will, of course, continue to be preferences for those types of expenses.
BLITZER: So even wealthy people would -- would you put a cap on how much they could deduct, for example, as far as charitable contributions are concerned?
Because I've heard you mention the $17,000 cap, if you will, for some folks out there. And I'll -- I'd like you to elaborate, if you don't mind.
ROMNEY: Well, I'm not going to lay out a piece of legislation here, because I intend to work together with Republicans and Democrats in Congress. But there are a number of ways one could approach this.
One would be to have a total cap number. It could be $25,000, $50,000. And people could put whatever deduction in that total cap they'd like. Or, instead, you could take the posture that Bowles- Simpson did, which is going after specific deductions and limiting them in various ways.
There are a number of ways we can accomplish the principles which I have -- lowering rates for middle income people, making sure high income people don't pay a -- a smaller share and simplifying the code and then encouraging growth.
So as to how we approach the various deduction limits, what I do know is, we're going to have to reduce the deductions pretty substantially for people at the high end, because I don't want to make the code less progressive.
I want high income people to continue to pay the same share they do today.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And so they will pay exactly the same, even though you're going to lower the -- the income tax rates for people making, let's say, more than $250,000 a year, but you're going to eliminate some loopholes and deductions, exemptions, tax credits.
Is that what I'm hearing?
ROMNEY: That's right. I'll bring the rate down across the board but eliminate or limit, rather, deductions or credits and exemptions and so forth, particularly for people at the high end, because you have to do that to make sure that, distributionally, we continue to have the high income people still pay the same share, the high share, that they pay today.
BLITZER: Would that add up to the $4.8 or $5 trillion that's been estimated your tax -- or your -- your comprehensive tax reductions would cost?
ROMNEY: Well, actually, the president's charge of a $5 trillion tax cut is, obviously, inaccurate and wrong, because what he says is, all right, let's look at all the rates you're lowering and then he ignores the fact that I say, we're also going to limit deductions and credits and exemptions. He ignores that part.
Obviously, that was corrected by his deputy campaign manager, who said that she stipulated that, in fact, the $5 trillion number was wrong.
It's completely wrong. The combination of limiting deductions and credits and exemptions, as well as growth of our economy, will make up for the reduction in rate.
The reason for lowering the rate, by the way -- let's make it very clear -- the reason for lowering the rate, both for individuals, as well as for corporations -- and the president's plan also lowers the rate for corporations -- the reason for doing so is to make sure that America is a more attractive place for small business and for large business to invest and to add jobs. This is about economic growth. This is about getting more jobs.
We're not seeing the kind of job creation America ought to see following a recession. And we're not going to see that growth unless we have a tax policy which encourages businesses, small and large, to make investments and to hire people.
That's why I want to put in place the plan I described. And, by the way, it's been scored by people at Rice University as creating about 7 million new jobs. The president's plan, on the other hand, cuts 700,000 jobs.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney speaking with me. He made some news during that interview, including his mention of capping tax deductions, potentially a $25,000 or $50,000. Those are higher numbers than he's mentioned before.
Let's assess what's going on. Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He's under a lot of pressure to be more specific. But there's a potential downside politically if he gets a lot more specific in terms of how he wants to pay for those across the board tax cuts.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And you saw that he -- as you just mentioned -- he did change the numbers on the amount of deductions that he might allow, of course.
So, I think the president is clearly going to push Mitt Romney for more specifics. And the reason is he's talking about tax cuts and deficit reduction at the same time. And the Pew poll that came out earlier this week, Wolf, said six in 10 voters believe that Romney is promising more than he can deliver. One reason Bill Clinton's speech was so popular at the Democratic convention was he said the arithmetic doesn't add up.
So the more we hear Romney talk about the arithmethic, the more you can see the president pushing him on the question of -- is this just rhetoric during a campaign, or is this real? If you want to close tax loopholes? OK, fine. What loopholes would you close?
He's got to answer that. And so far hasn't done it.
BLITZER: His argument is I don't want to put al that out right now, because if he's president, he's going to have to negotiate all those issues with Democrats. And why put your own position out right now.
BLITZER: I don't know if his argument's going to necessarily hold. That's another matter.
A lot of folks have seen Romney over these past couple weeks at the debate, in the interview with me, moving more towards the center. Do you see that?
BORGER: I did. I saw that particularly in your interview when he talked about the wealthy and how his tax plan would affect the wealthy. Because of course the Obama team is saying, you know, Mitt Romney is for reducing taxes for the wealthy, doesn't care about the middle class. He wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
And what he said to you in that little clip you showed, let me just say this again, he said that wealthy would, quote, "continue to pay the same share of taxes they do today." So what he's saying is that even though you're going to reform the tax code and you may take away some of their deductions, he is saying the wealthiest final tax bill even if you lower their rates, their final tax bill is going to remain unchanged while the middle class will have a reduction in their taxes.
So now, he's on the record, Wolf, saying that. And I think one of the reasons is that the Obama campaign has made a lot of headway with voters who believe that Mitt Romney favors the wealthy. And among swing voters in this Pew poll, there was an absolute tie on who would be better on the issue of taxes. So that's clearly something that each campaign is going to be using in the future in trying to get some advantage on it.
BLITZER: I think it will be a huge issue at tomorrow night's debate among the vice presidential contenders.
BLITZER: And next week the second presidential debate. Gloria, thanks very much.
BLITZER: Much more on the political world coming up. Also other news we're following. Two men under arrest in a terror case involving Syria and one of the busiest airports in the world.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester's monitoring some of the other top stories here in THE SITUATION ROOM, including the arrest of two British citizens in a terror investigation involving Syria. What happened here?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. There are only a few details that we know about right now.
But here's what we do know: two 26-year-old suspects were arrested last night at London's Heathrow Airport after arriving on a flight from Egypt. It isn't clear if they were headed to Syria or if they had already been there. Police are now searching two homes in Britain as part of that investigation.
And affirmative actions days may be numbered after oral arguments today at the U.S. Supreme Court. The conservative majority questioned how race conscious admissions are administered and whether they're even effective.
The case begun back in 2008 when high school student Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas, claiming she wasn't admitted because she's white. A decision isn't expected before early next year.
And we've tamed the Dragon. Those are the words of an astronaut on the International Space Station after linking up with a capsule sent by the company SpaceX. The capsule is filled with 1,000 pounds of supplies for the space station. And SpaceX meantime is trying to figure out why one of nine engines on its rocket malfunctioned during takeoff.
And take a look at this. You've got to watch this cheerleader as she keeps going and going and going and going. And she keeps going until she sets a Guinness world record by doing 35 consecutive back flips.
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Ferguson is a cheerleader in Dallas. She broke the record by three flips. You know, she admitted she was tiring a little bit toward the end, but she had enough pep to set the new record.
BLITZER: Good for her.
SYLVESTER: Yes, that's amazing stuff. Somehow or another, you know --
BLITZER: I wonder how dizzy she gets doing that.
SYLVESTER: She might end up in some kind of commercial or some sort.
BLITZER: Can you do even one?
SYLVESTER: Not even one. Would not even try it, Wolf.
BLITZER: Wouldn't think about it. I get dizzy just looking at it.
SYLVESTER: Yes, that's right.
BLITZER: All right. Here's a question we've been pondering. Is Mitt Romney swaying to the middle right now? The former President Bill Clinton certainly thinks so. He's not alone. Our special panel is standing by, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. Here's a look at what's ahead in the next couple of hours.
We're learning new details on what the Vice President Joe Biden is doing to prepare for tomorrow night's debate.
Also, our John King is focusing in on a key group of Ohio voters who could decide the election.
And forget funding Big Bird. What about Joe Biden's favorite ride? We're talking Amtrak. We'll explain. Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
With just 27 days to go until the election, Democrats say Mitt Romney is running to the political center as fast as he can. Among other things, they're pointing to Romney's comments today about abortion. Here's a quick snapshot.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: 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 NOMINEE: The idea the federal government funding Planned Parenthood, they're going to say no, we're going to stop that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Obama campaign saying this represents a candidate trying to move to the center.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like we saw again sort of a shifting towards bipartisanship.
ROMNEY: I'm not going to lay out a piece of legislation here because I intend to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Wow. Here's old moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy? I missed you all these last two years.
BLITZER: All right, let's get straight to CNN contributor, the Sirius XM radio host, Pete Dominick. He's got a good panel there in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Pete.
PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Wolf Blitzer, for letting us squat here in THE SITUATION ROOM for a few minutes. We have a very important conversation about what we just saw. It's moderate Mitt.
By the way, I think Bill Clinton took my unsolicited advice last week, which was to get out there on the campaign trail. But, guys, what are we witnessing right now? Mitt Romney will say one thing in an interview or a speech and then his staff literally walks it back on Iran, on tax policy, on health policy and now on abortion.
My opinion is, yes, he may have great principles personally as a father, as a husband and as a Mormon, but his political principles, where are they, Margaret? Come on.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: So what you're referring to specifically, let's just be very clear is he said in Des Moines last week there's no specific legislation regarding abortion that he would champion when he's president.
And then his campaign said, well, he does want to do as an executive order repeal the policy that says nongovernmental organizations abroad shouldn't get federal tax dollars for abortions, not an extreme position by the way.
When President Obama overturned it, which also President Bush had overturned then Bill Clinton overturned, 58 percent of Americans agree with that policy. So it's not extreme.
DOMINICK: But they don't agree with defunding Planned Parenthood, which is the hit that Mitt Romney has been taking throughout this campaign.
I would, quote, "get rid of Planned Parenthood." That sounds like legislation to me. Planned Parenthood, by the way, if you don't like abortions, they prevent more abortions than any other organization in the country.
HOOVER: But he's saying what his position about Planned Parenthood is. But the president doesn't get elected -- we all know the president doesn't get elected and then just wipe Planned Parenthood off the map.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: When it comes to Mitt Romney, we'll call it moderation. When it comes to Barack Obama, I think the word of choice is evolution.
NAVARRO: Last I saw he evolved on gay marriage. He evolved on things like the Dream Act and giving that executive order. So, listen, these things happen in campaigns.
DOMINICK: Ana, this is exceptional.
DOMINICK: You're right. Obama is a politician. He evolved. He flipped, but Mitt Romney on everything --
NAVARRO: I don't know if you want to call him moderate Mitt, I like to call him in the lead. That works for me.
DOMINICK: You can look at the scoreboard.
ADRIAN FENTY (D), FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C. MAYOR: Romney's going to play a very fine line because he is trying to move to the middle. And what we need to do on the Democratic side is say he moves both ways. He's inconsistent.
He really has no backbone, no spine. You cannot have that type of personality when you're a president of the United States. In every position that he has ever held in the governor and now as a candidate he's flipped positions on any issue he's ever had to deal with.
DOMINICK: Not any. Wait. Come on.
GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: During the Republican debates, his opponents kept saying, wait a minute, when you were governor of Massachusetts you were for gay marriage, pro-abortion rights. He says I changed since then. So he changed during the Republican time and now he's changing back.
NAVARRO: We're not in Kansas anymore. Mitt, we're not in the Republican primary anymore. We're not running for a faction of the Republican Party. We're running to be government -- to lead the government of the entire United States.
FENTY: So say whatever he wants as long as he gets elected.
NAVARRO: I don't know where the moral high ground is for President Obama on this. Remember the guy who wasn't going to take money from "Super PACs?"
DOMINICK: Absolutely. Good point. Another one, you've noted too, those are both right and evolution on gay marriage is ridiculous. But that's not a flip. He tried to Guantanamo Bay so did Bush and McCain.
But this is unprecedented. And when I talk to my radio listeners and when you hear people, they don't care about substance and policy as much as I think they should, they care about principle and character.
NAVARRO: President Obama set the precedent and did it without even having a primary.
HOOVER: I actually want to take issue with the notion everything he said before is completely different than what he's saying now. I didn't say you are saying it.
But there's this narrative that somehow Mitt Romney has changed on everything. That is categorically untrue. He's principle keystone Romneycare, which he constantly refers to, he refused to run away from it, which conservatives would have been happy, were begging him to change his mind on. He never changed his views on his most important signature policy agenda item.
DOMINICK: He didn't run away from it, but he never brought it up. And it was the best thing he ever did.
HOOVER: I think what I'm getting at is frankly probably a flaw in the Republican primary system more than it is a problem with Mitt Romney being --
DOMINICK: What about this though --
HOOVER: -- consistent.
DOMINICK: When he says something -- and I'd love to hear an example, maybe there are. He'll go out on a limb and say something now, the moderate Mitt, and then his staff has to walk it back. You can fool some of the people some of the time and all the people all the time.
NAVARRO: We've spent the last two weeks walking back what the administration said on Benghazi. Let's put this in perspective.
SCHWEITZER: Wait a minute. Let's talk about mitt for just a little bit more. When he was a governor, he was a moderate Mitt. I know Mitt Romney. I know the moderate Mitt Romney.
But the last six years he's been running for president and he's been anything but moderate. He has been the one who can win the Republican nomination by being to the right of Newt Gingrich, to the right of Santorum.
And now once he has the nomination, he says, no, actually I'm going to spend more money than the current administration. I am going to blow the deficit up even larger.
And by the way, all Republicans, almost all Republicans nationwide said we want to repeal Row-Wade and now says actually if you elect me, no change.
FENTY: If we get too much caught up on him being moderate or being conservative, I'm not sure that the Democrats taking advantage. Where they've taken advantage is show him as someone without a consistent point of view willing to say anything because the president has to be someone who makes tough decisions even when they're unpopular. We'll see if that plays out.
NAVARRO: And the bottom line he is more conservative than President Obama.
SCHWEITZER: Are you sure?
NAVARRO: Absolutely. And conservatives know with a Mitt Romney in the White House they will get more conservative judges in federal positions. They will get -- they probably won't get, you know, the executive orders allowing international funding of abortion. That's the choice.
DOMINICK: Of course, that is true. Of course, that's true. But nobody has a problem with someone changing their mind given new information or a new experience. Nobody has a problem. That's fine to change your mind.
But you can't throw out a trial balloon and say something in a speech on national television and then quietly walk it back later on. You can't try to make everybody happy. It's unprincipled and voters including conservatives don't like that. That's why he had a hard time in the primary because they still don't trust him. FENTY: Independents like it even less. I think -- I'll grant it he's more conservative than Obama, but who's going to win the independents that's who is going to presidential race?
NAVARRO: He's narrowed the gap with women since last week. He's narrowed the gap with almost every demographic group.
FENTY: He's walking back the 47 percent statements. I think independents want somebody who's going to work with both sides.
DOMINICK: Unfortunately, it might come down to 13 people in the back of a pickup truck in Ohio. But we have to take a quick break and come back with our unsolicited advice.
I'm told the governor of Montana has a gift for me, very excited. We'll be right back here in Wolf Blitzer's THE SITUATION ROOM.
DOMINICK: All right, we're back here in Wolf Blitzer's THE SITUATION ROOM. It's time for our unsolicited advice with our brilliant panel and we're starting with the Montana governor who I'm also told has a gift for me. What do we have?
SCHWEITZER: We have to spruce you up a little bit. We need a new look. You have a face for radio. I know that.
SCHWEITZER: If we put this on, you can do TV.
NAVARRO: The question is just how tight can we get this --
DOMINICK: Wow. Wow. I think Wolf Blitzer may be getting jealous. You might have to bring one -- this is very cool. What an honor. I think I'm going to wear it well like a city slicker.
SCHWEITZER: I actually have some unsolicited advice for Mitt Romney. Mitt, get a $2 calculator because we heard Mitt Romney say that he was going to cut taxes by 20 percent, increase spending on the defense budget by $2 trillion, increase Medicare above Ryan's idea by $716 billion. You can't take in less and spend more and balance it. That's why Mitt Romney, buy a $2 calculator and you'll see your plan doesn't work.
DOMINICK: But you're forgetting, you know, we never hear where conservatives want to spend. He wants to spend on defense. He gave a speech to the Virginia Military Institute where he talked about if I'm president I'll buy 11 ships and including three submarines. That's a lot of money.
SCHWEITZER: The admirals don't even want the ships. Just the military industrial complex wants to make the ships.
DOMINICK: --cutting all those taxes and then spending on defense. Go ahead. HOOVER: Do you want to take this one?
NAVARRO: You got the line. We're going to rebuild spending on the homeland.
DOMINICK: My bad, yes.
HOOVER: In all seriousness though, I mean --
DOMINICK: Because al Qaeda's got the submarines threatening.
HOOVER: Governor, you're an elected official. You know when you run on a plan, you can't get -- there's a danger in getting so specific up front that you give away the house before you've even been elected into office.
So Mitt Romney has laid down the principles by which he's going to govern and also banking on economic growth that is factored into the numbers that the CBO uses when they project out the fact check.
SCHWEITZER: Just because Mitt Romney gets elected president doesn't mean we're going to grow like China. We might get back to 2.5 percent or 3 percent.
DOMINICK: The whole segment on this one. Go ahead, Margaret.
HOOVER: My unsolicited advice has to do with the millennial generation, the 30 and unders the ones who turned out two to one for President Obama, there could be 65 million of them eligible to vote make them 24 percent of the electorate if they turn out in the same numbers they did in 2008.
Everybody is thinking they are not going to turn out. Pew Research has new numbers suggesting that the enthusiasm is completely gone for the hope and change generation.
My advice is for Paul Ryan in the debate tomorrow night to make a generational appeal. He's the guy who said we can actually look out for the fiscal future of this next generation by reforming these entitlement programs.
And saving them for society's most vulnerable while looking out for the fiscal future of the millennial. Don't give away the youth vote. Don't just rely on suppression of the vote actually make an appeal that the next generation should vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket.
DOMINICK: It is interesting that Joe Biden, you know, Paul Ryan was 2 years old when Joe Biden got elected Senate, but Joe Biden is going to get the youth vote as of now.
HOOVER: Well, look, I think the visual of the old liberal lion who represents these old sort of archaic programs that have actually put us on the course of bankruptcy and a fresh thinking face who actually wants to reform the program, save them for society's most vulnerable is actually a great appeal to the millennial generation.
NAVARRO: I think if you check out the play list for the two of them.
DOMINICK: On their iPad?
NAVARRO: On their iPods, I think Paul Ryan might get ahead a little.
DOMINICK: I don't know. I'd like to see that.
SCHWEITZER: The problem is that Paul Ryan proposed to cut Pell Grants. And the problem is Mitt Romney when he was governor he raised tuition for those same college kids.
DOMINICK: My advice is we all know about the meningitis outbreak, which is terrible. I think seven are dead and 119 sick and thousands may have been infected. And the FDA right now has more regulatory authority over chemical plants, drug makers in China than these compound makers.
I'm just getting familiar with this, but these pharmacies that can create drugs and make them more affordable. We need the FDA to have more regulatory authority over these compound makers. And Congress has to step in and have oversight.
If the FDA has authority and they didn't enforce it, fine. Look into it. But if they don't have it, they need to get it. It's ridiculous. In 2012 we're not China, we're not Somalia. People shouldn't be dying when they get a steroid shot. We need regulations that prevent people in America from dying.
FENTY: But the pharmaceutical industry already bought Congress so good luck.
DOMINICK: Good point, campaign finance. Ana.
NAVARRO: Well, my unsolicited advice is for actress, Stacey Dash. She said she's going to vote for Mitt Romney and is taking a lot of flak for it. I'll tell you as a Latino on CNN talking about being pro-Romney and pro-Republican. I get a lot of hate myself.
Stacey, stick to your guns, speak your mind. Be true to yourself. People have died so we have the freedom to speak our mind and to vote our will.
It was Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and the reason John Lewis got beat up. Be yourself. Vote your conscience. And, folks, we are a nation of tolerance and we value diversity and different opinions.
DOMINICK: That's great advice. Now plug your Twitter so you can get more criticism. How can people reach you?
NAVARRO: At Pete Dominick. Mayor.
FENTY: I think Biden is way cooler and going to get the youth vote. I think where Biden differentiates himself tomorrow is showing how he's worked in a bipartisan way naming all the different times as a senator, a VP, that he's worked specifically with Republicans to get things done. I think that's where Obama differentiates himself also. I think Romney and Ryan are going too much partisanship. I think the one who wins the independent is a candidate. I'm really going to work with people and I've done it as VP, president and senator.
NAVARRO: I so hope we get to see Biden, tomorrow. Joe, if you're listening, be yourself. Give us some jokes. Give us some off color.
DOMINICK: I don't think he can.
NAVARRO: Give us some gaffes.
SCHWEITZER: People like Joe Biden.
DOMINICK: They do.
SCHWEITZER: America likes Joe Biden.
NAVARRO: I like Joe Biden.
SCHWEITZER: By the way, Joe six-pack white dudes who watch football like Joe Biden.
DOMINICK: Even my dad likes Joe Biden. All right, we're out of time. Thank you guys very much, another brilliant conversation. I want to thank Wolf Blitzer for letting us hang out in his SITUATION ROOM. But now back to Wolf.
BLITZER: Excellent unsolicited advice, Pete and company. Thanks very much.
The Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan sat down exclusively with CNN. Up next, how his hunting routine might help him in tomorrow night's debate. You want to hear this.
Plus, new allegations about Lance Armstrong's links to doping.
BLITZER: Lisa's back. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, including this Anti-Doping Agency report involving Lance Armstrong.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is pretty serious, Wolf. The agency says the evidence that cyclist Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs is simply, quote, "overwhelming."
The seven-time Tour De France winner is accused of running the most sophisticated doping program in the history of cycling. The USADA has posted more than a thousand pages of evidence to its web site. Armstrong has consistently denied those accusations.
And a Russian court has freed a member of a notorious punk band, but has upheld two-year prison terms for two other members. The freed member was stopped as she tried to enter a church to perform with the band, the musicians and supporters are vocal critics of President Vladimir Putin. Amnesty International says the ruling is, quote, "only a half measure in achieving justice."
And a meningitis outbreak traced to the New England Compounding Center shows no signs of slowing down. Twenty eight more cases have been reported in the past day. That's 137 total with a dozen deaths.
A pharmacist says she warned Congress a decade ago that lax oversight of so-called compound pharmacies left them vulnerable to a threat like this. Compound pharmacies make and distribute prescription drugs.
And it doesn't look like much, but this portrait was invaluable to the gallery it was stolen from. The so-called "Crying Elvis" was stolen from Boston's Museum of Bad Art. No one's sure when the theft took place and police have been contacted. But the curator is said to be all shook up.
Now, Wolf, I guess they're looking for a hound dog. I couldn't resist that one.
BLITZER: Who writes that material?
SYLVESTER: Good stuff there, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Lisa.
Up next, our own Dana Bash sat down with Republican vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan. They spoke a little bit about how his hunting routine could actually wind up helping him during tomorrow night's debate against Joe Biden.
Next hour, a look at the group of Ohio voters who could determine the next president of the United States.
BLITZER: There's no doubt Paul Ryan is meticulous and disciplined politician. Dana bash found out just how much when she sat down with the Republican vice presidential nominee for an exclusive interview.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm told that Paul Ryan has been preparing for this debate pretty much since the day he was picked.
I sat down with Ryan for an exclusive interview about how he's getting ready for tomorrow night's debate. And it became clear that the intense cramming and practicing he's doing is hardly new. It's who he is.
BASH: I want to start by telling you what a source who I spoke with said about you and how you prepare for hunting.
You wash your clothes in non-scented detergent. You shower in non- scented soap. You spray special non-scented stuff on your boots. Now I know that this is somewhat typical for hunting, but you take it to a whole other level. REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're into archery and bow hunting, that's the way to do it to be successful. I like the strategy of bow hunting. It takes a lot of preparation. And I do take it seriously because I'm much more successful if I do things properly and prepare the right way.
BASH: How does that speak to how meticulous you are in doing anything in your life?
RYAN: Yes. I mean, I've always just believed if you're going to do something, do it well. You're talking about the debate, I suppose. Joe Biden has been doing this for a long time. He ran for president twice. He's a sitting vice president.
He's been the stage many times before. So that's new for me. I'm doing my homework and studying the issues. I know how he'll come and attack us. The problem he has is he has Barack Obama's record he has to run on.
BASH: Are you intimidated at all based on the background?
RYAN: I'm not intimidated. I'm actually excited about it.
BASH: Ryan's sources insist that of the four candidates participating in these high profile debates, Ryan has the toughest job. Why do they say that?
Because they say he isn't just boning up on his own record over the years, he has to make sure what he says mirrors the positions at the guy at the top of the ticket, Mitt Romney.
That's not as hard for Biden they say since he's been part of the Obama administration for four years. Still, Ryan himself reminded me that he does have experience debating. After all, he has been a member of the House of Representatives for seven terms -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much. Dana's full interview by the way tomorrow night. You can watch tomorrow night's vice presidential debate, of course, right here on CNN. Our extensive live coverage starts 7 p.m. Eastern.