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Presidential Debate Tonight; Remembering Cuban Missile Crisis

Aired October 16, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



STUDENTS: This is Mr. Pinkerton`s classroom (inaudible) high school, and you are watching CNN STUDENT NEWS. Go Huskies!


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: That`s right, go Huskies. Thanks to Mrs. Pinkerton`s class for getting things started today. We`re fortunate that you sent that in. I`m Carl Azuz. Your Tuesday edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS is here.

The U.S. presidential election is exactly three weeks away. Some Americans know whom they are voting for, others might not have made up their minds just yet. Now, it might help some people if they could directly ask the presidential candidates questions themselves, and that`s exactly what some people are going to be able to do tonight. It is the second U.S. presidential debate. President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will face off at Hofstra University in New York. CNN is part of this, too. Candy Crowley, our chief political correspondent, is moderating tonight`s event.

You might wonder why there aren`t any third party candidates, why there aren`t any other candidates in this debates. The group that organizes them has rules for who can participate based on how much support a candidate has. President Obama and Governor Romney are the only candidates who meet all of the requirements. Tonight`s debate will be different from the one two weeks ago. It`s a town hall format, that`s why audience members will get to ask the candidates questions directly.

Athena Jones looks at what makes this format unique.

Round Two. President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney face off in their second debate Tuesday, a town hall moderated by CNN`s Candy Crowley who says the format presents unique challenges for the candidates.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, the challenge is that they`ve got to connect, not just with the people that are looking into the television, and watching them, but to the people that are on the stage with them, some 80 or so undecided voters as chosen by Gallup. So they have to keep those folks in mind, it`s a much more intimate and up close adventure with voters.

JONES: President Obama is under pressure. After his last turn on the debate stage, he got bad reviews.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: One bad debate is losing a battle. Two bad debates could very well mean he loses the war.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And I think you`re going to see a very different President Obama this time around. He`s got to be seen as being aggressive, but yet he can`t be seen as being overly aggressive.

JONES: Romney has enjoyed a post debate bounce in national polls, and a boost of confidence on the campaign trail.

MITT ROMNEY, ( R ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is more energy and passion people are getting behind this campaign.

JONES: At a town hall without a podium and with audience interaction, the candidates` style and body language can take on added weight. At the first town hall style presidential debate in 1992, President George W.H. Bush repeatedly checked his watch, a sign some thought that he didn`t want to be there.

Commentators said Bill Clinton walking towards the audience to answer a question about the recession highlighted his ability to connect with voters. One thing that can make it hard for a candidate to be aggressive is a question like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we focus on the issues and not the personalities and the mud?

JONES: Analysts say the format could be good for the president.

CARDONA: He will absolutely be able to draw from that energy, from the energy of the public and the crowd.

JONES: As for Romney ...

NAVARRO: One of his big challenges during this entire campaign, has been not being able to connect with the common man and woman and child. He`s got to be able to come across as connecting, he`s got to come across as genuine, as caring as likable.

CROWLEY: The candidate that makes the connection with the person asking the question is also I think making a better connection with the folks back home.


AZUZ: On this day in history, in 1793, Marie-Antoinette was sent to the guillotine and beheaded during the height of the French Revolution. In 1859, John Brown led a raid against an armory in Harpers Ferry, attempting to start a revolt that would end slavery. It was a major event leading up to the U.S. Civil War. And in 1995, the Million Man March took place in Washington, D.C. The goal is to promote unity and values among African Americans. It was one of the largest gatherings of its kind in U.S. history.


JOHN F. KENNEDY: Good evening, my fellow citizens. This government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of this bases can be non other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.

In U.S. it`s called the Cuban missile crisis. In the Soviet Union it was knows as the Caribbean crisis, and in Cuba it was the October crisis. Whatever it was called, the 13 day standoff in 1962 brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union right to the edge of a nuclear war. And it all started 50 years ago this week. That`s when U.S. spy planes took pictures of Soviet missiles at launch sites in Cuba. This missiles could carry nuclear warheads and if they were launched, they could hit the U.S. East Coast in just minutes. President Kennedy`s response was to launch a naval blockade against Cuba. It was designed to stop additional Soviet missiles from getting to the island. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev negotiated a solution and the Soviet missiles were eventually returned from Cuba. Omar Lopez had a front row seat to the Cuban missile crisis. Those secret Soviet launch sites, one of them was built on Omar`s family farm. And 50 years later, he took Patrick Oppmann out to see the remains of the moment in history.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Omar takes us out to see what`s left of this Soviet camp by mule.

OMAR LOPEZ, CUBAN FARMER: There were a lot of them, I can`t remember, if it was five or six barracks of soldiers.

OPPMANN: Now, nature has retaken the once sprawling missile base.

So, here in the middle of the jungle of some of the last visible remnants of the huge Soviet base that was once here, and we don`t know what this building was, but it looks like it was one of the huge hangars that they actually stored the missiles in, and here are some of the farmers in the area, have repurposed this enormous concrete supports and have actually used them to create a pen to keep their pigs in.

From here, we continue on foot and find the missile launch pad with a faded plaque marking how close the world came to nuclear war.

It was over this area 50 years ago that U.S. spy planes caught the first glimpse of Soviet nuclear missiles. The photos they took within just a few days would catapult much of the world into a panic.

Omar said a news blackout meant he had no idea that the missiles like the ones on the old farm nearly caused the U.S. to invade Cuba.

LOPEZ (through translator): We were lucky that wasn`t war, after the atomic bombs and the sickness that would have come, there wouldn`t have been a single Cuban left and there would not have been many of you left either.

OPPMANN: To avoid war, the Soviets removed the missiles and troops. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, near San Cristobal, Cuba.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today "Shoutout" goes out to Mrs. Driggers` class at Spectrum Jr. - Sr. High School in Stuart, Florida.

Which U.S. state is home to college football teams named the Bulls, Knights, Seminoles and Hurricanes?

Here we go. Is it California, Texas, Florida or Georgia. You`ve got three seconds. Go!

Mrs. Driggers` students probably knew this one, because it`s their home state of Florida. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: So, those were all college teams. Florida is also home to South Plantation High School`s Paladins. The team played its homecoming game last week. And the Paladins third string quarterback had to pull double duty. That`s because she -- yes, she -- was also crowned homecoming queen. Erin Damiglio (ph) didn`t get any playing time in her team`s win, but she has been on the field this season, and it`s believed that when that happened, Erin became the first female quarterback to play high school football in Florida. When she was crowned homecoming queen, she had a teammate by her side, one of the team`s receivers who said it was an honor to be there with her, was crowned king.

We`re going to stay on the football field for our last story, which is from CBS News. It`s a world record attempt that just might leave your head spinning. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: Thirty one! Thirty two! Thirty three! Thirty four! Thirty five!


AZUZ: Get dizzy just watching that. 35 backhand springs in a row, that`s enough to make anyone flip out. It`s time for us to spring out of here. We`ll hit the field again tomorrow with more CNN STUDENT NEWS. We`ll see you then.