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CNN NEWSROOM

Obama, Romney on the Attack in Second Debate; Attacking the Moderator?; Lance Armstrong Leaves Livestrong; Interview with Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey; Romney, "Binders Full of Women"; Choice of College Degree Could Cost You; Fact Check: Tackling the Deficit; Tigers are One Win from World Series

Aired October 17, 2012 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I was laughing. I do. I really do. Thank you, Soledad. Good morning.

Round two in the bag, in your face and personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't think anyone really believes that you're a person who's going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You'll get your chance in a moment, I'm still speaking.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Governor --

ROMNEY: And the answer is, I don't believe people believe that's the case because I --

OBAMA: If you're asking a question --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: That wasn't a question.

OBAMA: OK.

ROMNEY: That was a statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: But did the slander sway independent voters? NEWSROOM starts now.

And good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with us. The first presidential debate surprised us but this latest debate, it was a slugfest. For 90 minutes, the town hall meeting between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was intense. Each candidate using his time and, in many cases, going way over to stay on the attack.

In our CNN/ORC poll taken right after the debate, President Obama came out on top, 46 percent of debate watchers said the president won while 39 percent claimed Romney was the winner. Of course that's within the margin of error.

We have complete debate analysis, but we begin with our senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash with more on the fireworks from Hofstra.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You may think a debate in front of undeclared, persuadable voters would produce polite performances.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: And production is up.

O'BRIEN: Production is up. No, it isn't.

ROMNEY: Production --

BASH: Think again.

ROMNEY: In the last four years --

BASH: At times this town hall looked like a schoolyard brawl.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut them back?

OBAMA: Not true.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: I had a question and the question was, how much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer your question?

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

BASH: If memorable debates are about moments, one here was on Libya.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

BASH: It was the question conservatives were waiting for. A chance to slam the president for a lax security and changing stories on what prompted last month's deadly Benghazi attack.

ROMNEY: And there was no demonstration involved. It was a terrorist attack. But I think you have to ask yourself, why didn't we know five days later when the ambassador to the United Nations went on TV to say that this was a demonstration? How could we have not known?

BASH: The president threw down the commander-in-chief card.

OBAMA: And the suggestion that anybody in my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, Governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as commander-in-chief.

BASH: Romney's offensive on national security did not go as planned.

OBAMA: The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.

ROMNEY: On the day after the attack he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror?

OBAMA: That's what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror?

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CANDY CROWLEY, DEBATE MODERATOR: He did, in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror.

OBAMA: Could you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He did.

BASH: Throughout this debate the president tried to make up for the first one. This time he used that 47 percent attack line.

OBAMA: When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.

BASH: And Romney, who dominated the stage in the first debate, was going for a repeat performance.

ROMNEY: You'll get your chance in a moment, I'm still speaking.

OBAMA: Well, Governor --

ROMNEY: And the answer is, I don't believe people think that's the case because I -- that wasn't a question.

OBAMA: OK.

ROMNEY: That was a statement.

BASH: But an attempt to reach the critical female vote may have fallen flat. He answered a question about equal pay with a story about searching for women in his Massachusetts Cabinet.

ROMNEY: I went to a number of women's groups, and said, can you help us find folks, and they brought us whole binders full of women.

BASH: Within moments @RomneysBinders had its own Twitter handle.

The president went after Romney as a flip-flopper. OBAMA: Governor, when you were -- governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, this plant kills and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you're a big champion of coal.

BASH: Romney appeared determined to use his rehearsed lines even when they were off topic. The question was on immigration but Romney launched into a defense of his offshore investments with a practice pivot against the president.

ROMNEY: Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in Chinese companies.

Mr. President, if you look at your pension?

OBAMA: Candy --

ROMNEY: Have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: I've got to say.

ROMNEY: Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?

OBAMA: You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long.

ROMNEY: Well, let me -- let me give you -- let me give you some advice.

OBAMA: I don't check it that often.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Dana Bash joins us live from New York and chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin is outside the town hall forum in Hempstead, New York.

Welcome to you, both. Dana, I want to start with you, though. Mitt Romney, let's start with him. What three things in your mind did he do best?

BASH: Well, first of all, I think he did a really good job, what he had to do, on trying to -- as much as he could make the discussion, the narrative, about the past four years and about the economy in the past four years, saying over and over again. The 23 million jobs were lost, that the deficit was not cut in half as the president promised and so on.

So he really want -- wanted to and did try to keep it on the president's record. Also you remember there was that question to Mitt Romney about George W. Bush, how he would be different, which was a potentially prickly question. He actually handled it pretty well with regard to the answer he needed to give, talking about the fact that under the Bush years the deficits were racked up, there was too much spending, he wouldn't do that. And then lastly, just kind of broadly, you saw in that piece, and anybody who watched last night, he did hold his own on the stage with the president of the United States. Some might argue too much so, some might argue that maybe he went a little bit too far, he was too aggressive but he certainly did. And you bet today that is making the base of his party, which is so critical, very happy.

COSTELLO: I'm sure you're right about that.

OK. Now for you, Jessica. What three things did the president do the best?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, he corrected the biggest mistakes of his first debate. So he came to play. He was feisty. He was alive. He looked up and watched Mitt Romney the whole time. So he definitely looked like he was fighting to keep the job and wants the job.

He drove a narrative, is number two. The first time it didn't seem like he came with a specific message to deliver. This time the narrative was, whether it was talking about contraception, or oil production or taxes that Mitt Romney is dishonest, that he's changing positions, that he cannot be trusted. He drove that message home over and over on topic after topic. So you could see there was a theme the president was selling.

And then, finally, he hit the specific messages of the campaign wants to deliver. So it was the 47 percent. He talked about Romney's investments in China, which you heard in that piece. He talked about outsourcing. He was forceful in the Libya discussion. And so all of these things were key points that he needed to bring up, the campaign wanted him to bring up. He didn't in the first debate. Missed many of them. And he did last night -- Carol.

COSTELLO: OK. Back to you, Dana. Romney's biggest stumble, just one.

BASH: Well, you heard Jessica talk about the fact that the president was forceful on Libya. That was, for sure, one of the moments that conservatives are cringing about today, because they were really chomping a bit waiting for two weeks for Romney to be able to get after the president because of legitimate criticism of the administration, about their changing stories, about problematic security in Benghazi.

And he certainly did that at the beginning but it all kind of got swept under the rug and buried under his back and forth about whether the president in the Rose Garden said it was an act of terror or not. And then -- and so that was problematic.

One other quick thing I have to say, though, particularly three women here talking, the whole question about equal pay, he turned it into that bumper sticker Twitter line, "binders full of women," which I still don't really understand.

(LAUGHTER) And then lastly -- and then lastly, this is something that I got tweets about, texts about from Republican strategists, Carol. The fact that he kept battling with Candy, that that is just not a strategy that tends to work well and that tends to go over well with voters and viewers, when you battle with the moderator like that.

COSTELLO: And we're going to talk much more about that later in the NEWSROOM.

OK, Jessica, Obama stumbles.

YELLIN: Stumbles? Well, he had more attack than planned. He -- you know, he said that Mitt Romney had a one-point plan, not a five-point plan but it was more about what Romney was doing wrong than what the president is going to offer in a second term.

He didn't really play to the audience, the actually questionnaires, who are really stand-ins for undecided voters. There was the one moment when he talked to the woman on the equal pay question and he talked emotionally about his own family and his mom, and his kids, and his grandma.

That was the one moment. But there wasn't really a memorable "I feel your pain" connection from the president or from Mitt Romney. So it's sort of awash on that point. But you didn't have that. And then he -- the president missed a key opening. On the question when Mitt Romney, Governor Romney, was asked, how are you different from President Bush, the president's comeback there should have been, could have been -- even his campaign acknowledges privately -- let me talk about the ways Governor Romney would be just like President Bush, and he did not do that. He circled back to it in a much later answer on some social issues but that was a key opening to talk about his essential campaign message, which is that Governor Romney would, you know, employ economic policies just like President Bush's. And the president missed that opening -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Jessica Yellin, Dana Bash, thanks so much for your analysis. We appreciate it.

The moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, made some waves herself. She had to. She played referee to two men who were determined to take control. But the most talked about exchange came during an argument over Libya.

As you heard, Crowley said Obama was right and then she said Romney had a point. Conservatives pounced saying Crowley got it wrong. This is what Candy said on "STARTING POINT."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Listen, what I said on that stage is the same thing I said to you, actually, last night.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I was sitting next to you so I know what you said. CROWLEY: Which is that -- and what I was trying to do, by the way, it was not fact-check them, I was trying to move this along because we were -- the question was Benghazi. There is no question that the administration is quite vulnerable on this topic, that they did take weeks to go, well, actually there really wasn't a protest and actually didn't have anything to do with the tape. That took a long time. That's where he was going, that was his first answer, that was Romney's, and then we got hung up on this, yes, he said, no, I didn't, and I said, terror, you didn't say terror, and there was this point where they both kind of looked at me. You know?

And then -- you know, Mitt Romney was looking at me. The president was looking at me. And what I wanted to do was move this along. Can we get back to this, so I said he did -- you know, say acts of terror, called it an act of terror but, Governor Romney, you were perfectly right that it took weeks for them to get past the tape --

O'BRIEN: Two sets of applause.

CROWLEY: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: After terror, people on one side applaud, then you said, yes, it took two weeks, people on the other side applauded.

CROWLEY: Applauded. So --

O'BRIEN: Not a backtrack?

CROWLEY: No. I mean he -- I mean the question was when it got so stuck on that act of terror, it took him -- now did the president say this was an act of terror? The president did not say. He said the --

O'BRIEN: These acts of terror.

CROWLEY: These acts of terror. But he was in the Rose Garden to talk about Benghazi, so I don't think that's a leap. Sorry.

O'BRIEN: We actually had --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: All right. What is clear, last night's debate was fascinating to watch. "Washington Post" columnist George Will said, quote, "I have seen every presidential debate in American history since Nixon and Kennedy in 1960. This was immeasurably the best."

We have much more coverage of this fiery debate over the next two hours. I'll be talking with the working middle class citizens, voters to see what they thought about the candidates' performance.

Plus we'll hear from a woman who was at the debate. She asked the question. We'll her -- why the audience decided to erupt in cheers when it wasn't supposed to.

We'll also have a debate coach who can explain now what we can learn from the body language of each candidate.

In just a few minutes I'll also talk with Mitt Romney's campaign surrogate, Georgia Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey.

But there is other news this morning. So let's check some of the other stories that's out there. Lance Armstrong is stepping down as chairman of the Live Strong Foundation. The seven-time Tour de France winner created the cancer foundation after his own battle with cancer.

Also Nike is terminating its contract with the cyclist. In a statement, Nike says it's, quote, "due to seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade." End quote.

And in a statement just released a short time ago Armstrong himself says, quote, "To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of the controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship. My family and I have devoted our lives to the work of the foundation and that will not change. We plan to continue our service to the foundation and to the cancer community. We will remain active advocates for cancer survivors and engage supporters in the fight against cancer."

As you know it was just a week ago that U.S. Anti-Doping Agency made its case against Armstrong public. Armstrong has consistently denied the doping claims.

A newly appointed judge hears today from the attorneys of George Zimmerman. He faces second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has claimed he acted in self-defense. No trial date has been set but Zimmerman's attorneys say it probably won't start until next year.

Federal investigators are searching the pharmaceutical company blamed for making contaminated steroids. The medicine linked to an outbreak of fungal meningitis. At least 15 people have died, hundreds more have been infected. The New England Compounding Center recalled all of its drugs, saying it is cooperating with authorities.

And stay with us. More debate coverage next with a -- with Republican Representative Phil Gingrey. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: It is 17 minutes past the hour.

For those of you who thought the first presidential debate lacked sparks, you were definitely not disappointed if you watched last night. President Obama and Mitt Romney both delivered fiery performances to say the least.

At some points, talking over each other, pointing fingers, even circling each other like boxers in a ring. One topic they clashed fiercely over was Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I think it's interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That's what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: He did, in fact, sir. So, let me call it an act of terror --

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It did, as well, take -- it did, as well, take two weeks or so --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: OK. So joining me now is Republican congressman from Georgia, Phil Gingrey.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. PHIL GINGREY, (R) GEORGIA: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: It seemed that whole topic just evolved into an argument over semantics and it lacked substance. Do you agree?

GINGREY: No, I do not agree at all. The substance, of course, was the fact that Candy Crowley aided and abetted a misstatement made by the president in regard to saying on that morning in the Rose Garden on the 12th, one day after the attack, that it was not an act of terrorism. He was referring to terrorism in general in the 11th anniversary of 9/11 and he absolutely, as Candy Crowley walked it back after the debate, made no remark about Benghazi being an act of terrorism.

COSTELLO: Well, she would say -- and we just heard her in the last couple of minutes on CNN, defending when she had to say. She said in the Rose Garden -- this was a direct quote from the president. He said, "These acts of terror will never shake the resolve of this great nation." And then, of course, 14 days later the White House finally admitted that this was an orchestrated attack and that film had nothing to do with it.

Candy, in that debate clearly said that. So she was, indeed, accurate. I'm just saying that when you get right down to the substance, I think Governor Romney missed the chance to talk about the intelligence failures and why there was intelligence failures. I mean, why didn't he ask the president about those?

GINGREY: Well, I certainly hope that he will continue to pursue this. And I think he will in Florida next week with Bob Schieffer moderating, because this is all on foreign policy. So the buck stops on the president's desk.

I mean, he needs to remember the placard on Harry Truman's desk. And now it seems that the buck stops with Hillary Clinton? I know she wanted to have that 3:00 in the morning phone call, but now it looks like she's getting it. I almost feel sorry for her, for falling on the sword for the president. It's clearly the constitutional responsibility of the president as the commander-in-chief to protect American people, whether they're on domestic soil or foreign soil.

COSTELLO: And I think, sir -- I think, sir, that many would say those are really great points to bring up. So why are conservatives blaming the moderator? Why didn't Governor Romney come out and ask these very questions of the president?

GINGREY: I'm not picking on Candy Crowley.

COSTELLO: You did pick on Candy Crowley. You did.

GINGREY: I like Candy and I think she's fair. But I think the statement that she made when she chimed in and said that's right, Mr. President, you did say that, were misleading. That may have thrown Governor Romney off his game just for a second.

But, look, you talk about sparks flying. They were flying in the first debate, rolling in one direction, direct current if you will. I think in this debate, sparks went back and forth. So, we had had an alternating current. President Obama did better than the first time but he could hardly have done worse. But Mitt Romney did excellent in this debate. And I think he was the winner of both debates.

COSTELLO: OK. So just one last question about Candy Crowley. You did say she aided and abetted. So, do you take it back or do you still think that?

GINGREY: I don't take it back. I'm not saying she deliberately did that. I don't think Candy would do that. I do think she's fair and I watch her show every Sunday morning. Well, and I like her. I don't know her personally, but I like her. But I'm not taking back my statement. But she did, if inadvertently, she did aid and abet President Obama in that exchange.

COSTELLO: Well, as I said, what she said was accurate and she stands by it. Thank you, Congressman, for being with us this morning. We sure appreciate it.

GINGREY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Of course, our big story of the day is also our talk back question. What did you take away from last nigh night's presidential debate? Facebook.com/CarolCNN.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the biggest stories of today. The question for you this morning: what did you take away from last night's debate?

Have a debate hangover this morning? Don't blame yourself. It was hard to turn away. It was better than the Super Bowl. The Net exploded -- sometimes over the weirdest things like binders full of women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? And they brought us whole binders full of women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Romney was trying to make the case that women deserved equal pay. Instead, he spawned a whole Facebook page and lightning fast reaction on Twitter. "'Binders Full of Women' is my favorite Motley Crue album."

And this tweet, "'Binders full of women' is what they find in a serial killer's apartment."

And our personal favorite, a picture going around of Bill Clinton with a caption, "I want to hear more about this binder".

And when was the last time you heard a president say gangbangers?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If we're going to go after folks who are here illegally, we should do it smartly and go after folks who are criminals, gangbangers, folks who are hurting the community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: At times the candidates were so feisty, one guy tweeted, "We're about three seconds away from the knife fight from 'Beat it'."

But the audience loved it, especially the Libya argument. They broke the rules and applauded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: In fact, sir. So let me call it an act of terror --

OBAMA: Can you say that louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: And don't you know that sparked a conspiracy theory. Some conservatives floated a video they say prove Michelle Obama actually started the applause -- although I couldn't see it from the video.

Noise aside, though, we wondered, what did you take away from last night's debate? Facebook.com/CarolCNN, Facebook.com/CarolCNN. Your responses, later this hour.

We'll talk more about how binders became the latest catch phrase in the 2012 campaign. Maria Cardona and Ana Navarro, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: And good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM:

Wall Street opens for the day on strong economic news. Housing starts jumped 15 percent in September. That is the highest level in more than four years. And Bank of America reported third quarter earnings that topped expectations.

Ringing the opening bell today, the founder and CEO of Shutter Stock, a global marketplace for imagery.

We've been following the story of Malala, the Pakistani school girl shot by the Taliban, and now getting medical treatment at a British hospital. She wasn't the only one hit in the assassination attempt.

CNN's Reza Sayah got an exclusive interview from Malala's classmate from her hospital bed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you regret standing up against the Taliban now that you've been hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No, sir, I don't regret it. God willing, I will continue my education.

SAYAH: What do you want the world to know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Girls' education here is more important than boys, because boys can have any jobs they want to, but girls cannot. I want to tell all the girls to continue their mission to get an education.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Wow!

Name of the girl's school, by the way, is being changed to Malala Public High School.

No injuries or major damage being reported after a 4.0 earthquake struck near Hollis Center, Maine, but it was felt across much of New England. Some people said their home shook for nearly four seconds. One college student told the "Boston Globe", it was nothing in the movies, no books falling or anything.

Equal pay for equal work equals binders full of women. Probably not the headline team Romney wanted coming out of last night's debate. It started with this line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I said, gosh, can't we find some women that are also qualified? And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, can you help us find folks? They brought us whole binders full of women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: And that was all America need to set off a social media circus. On Twitter, this, where Romney's binder now has more than 6,000 followers to tweets like these, quote, "There are going to be binders full of women voted for Obama on November 6th."

And it's so good we have to show it again, a picture going around of Bill Clinton with the caption, "I want to hear more about this binder".

Joining me now are CNN contributor Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, and Maria Cardona, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist. Welcome to you both.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Carol. Good morning.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: So, Maria, I want to start with you because you're writing a CNN.com article on Romney's comments, and you say that his comment shows a lack of understanding. Why?

CARDONA: Well, it clearly focuses on not just Romney's lack of understanding of the question that was asked -- which, by the way, he never answered in terms of equality for women. But it also shows that he's uncomfortable in the discussion about diversity in general.

And what I explore in my piece is that first of all the story, as he told it, is actually not true. The binder full of women, as he talks about it, is actually a binder that was put together by a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts that they went and then handed to the governor, when he was elected.

It also shows, Carol, that he clearly had no indication in his 25 years of being a CEO of having run into any women, apparently, that were qualified. So I think all of those things really focus on a lack of understanding in terms of women as businesswomen, as leaders, what the needs of women are, and I think it underscores what one of his major failings is, is that he cannot connect to women as voters, as mothers, as working women, as business leaders and I think that's going to hurt him.

COSTELLO: And, Ana, it wasn't just the binder comment. Romney also talked about the need for flexible policies at work for women and he cited a story about how his chief of staff said she needed to be home to make dinner for her children. So, I mean, some women might say that's just so -- such an old-fashioned way of thinking.

NAVARRO: Look, it might be old-fashioned for some women and it may not be old-fashioned for other others. We shouldn't judge women on one measure. There's different priorities for different women.

I think what Maria just said, though, was somewhat inaccurate, because you just talked about his chief of staff, her name is Beth Myers, and she has worked for Governor Romney for something like 30 years, worked with him at Bain Capital, was his chief of staff at the governor's office, continues to be his right hand woman in this campaign.

So the closest staffer he has had for the longest time in his lifetime has been a woman. And I think, you know, we also see the effect and the influence of Ann Romney on him.

Now, was it a good, useable word? No. Let's admit it. You know, now, Mitt Romney's binder can compete for Twitter followers with Clint Eastwood's chair. It's something that came out awkward.

But I also tell you something, Carol. I had been in transition teams between one government to another and it is not an unusual thing to get binders full of applicants, whether they are labeled women, African-Americans, you know, people with -- you know, with a Southern drawl or whatever. That may not be it.

But it is a very common thing, because when you go into a government, you have to fill out, fill up thousands, literally thousands of vacant jobs.

COSTELLO: That is true. I just wanted to cite this recent Pew poll that showed Governor Romney erased an 18-point advantage that President Obama had with women.

I think, Maria, all you have to do is mention the lousy economy and it doesn't matter what Mitt Romney says about women. Women care about what's happening in the economy and it ain't good right now.

CARDONA: Well, I think one of the things President Obama did very well last night, is that he connected all of those things that Republicans like to derisively call women's issues to economics for women. For example, in terms s of health care, when a woman is about to lose health care because Obamacare is going to be repealed where she no longer will get preventive care, where she's no longer going to be able to have access to cancer screenings, where she's no longer going to be able to actually have access to birth control, those are all very much connected to women's economics.

And that question that spawned the binders full of women was all about pay equality for women. The fact that Mitt Romney, (a), did not ask the question and (b), when asked throughout his campaign whether he would support the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which President Obama signed, the first bill he signed as president, I think speaks volumes about what he actually thinks is appropriate for equality for women. And that is not a whole lot.

And I don't think that's going to help him for the next three weeks in the campaign.

COSTELLO: Ana, I also wanted to touch on Candy Crowley. Both men actually interrupted her. Some viewers thought that the candidates were kind of rude to Candy and that might had hurt their standing among women. Do you agree?

NAVARRO: You know, I don't. First of all, it kind of comes with the territory. I think Candy did a very good job. Will she get some criticism? Yes.

But, again, it comes with the job description. You know, I -- she said before this debate that she was not going to be a fly on the wall. And I think she proved last night that she was not going to be a fly on the wall. She inserted herself in ways that made a difference in the debate. I think she did some good follow-up.

You know, she kept these guys in check and, yes, it's a hard thing to do, particularly given the format. But no, I don't think -- frankly, I don't think either of them did anything vis-a-vis Candy, not that she would allow it -- that would be -- I pity the fool who tries to run ram shot over Candy Crowley. So, I think it was fine.

COSTELLO: OK. So we all agree on something. Ana Navarro, Maria Cardona, thanks so much.

We're not done with our discussion --

CARDONA: Thanks so much, Carol.

COSTELLO: You're welcome.

We're not done with our discussion of last night's debate. In the next hour, members of our middle class talk back. We'll see if the candidates changed their minds because two of those middle class voters are undecided.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: The decision you make in college in choosing your major could end up costing you millions of dollars over your lifetime. We have new stats on degrees that earned the most money and the least money.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. This should be interesting.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is really interesting.

So, if you're a typical college graduate over your 40-year career, you're probably going to take home about $2.4 million. At least that's what the Census Bureau says.

But listen to what major makes the most money -- engineering, which means you would make $3.5 million over that 40-year career. Guess which major makes the least, though. Education -- you'll pull in less than $2 million.

But, of course, it all depends on what you do with that major. So, let's say you're an engineering major, you're working in management. You'll earn more than the average person who majors in engineering. But, overall, majors in math and science-related fields, if you major in those, you'll probably make more money.

You'll probably make less if you major in psychology, education or the arts. You know what? It's just one more reason why, Carol, that we shouldn't, you know, take it lightly when we have to really decide our major. It may seem, you know, like a small decision at the time, but it has long-term implication.

But here's one of the downers from this Census Bureau study if you ask me. It found that in every major, women earned less than men. Sad.

COSTELLO: Oh, that is a bummer. They got to fix that.

KOSIK: I don't know how.

COSTELLO: Well, it's part of the debate. It might have been part of the next debate, too.

KOSIK: Yes.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

We're going to go back to the candidates threw out a lot of numbers for cutting the deficit and balancing the budget. We've got a fact check for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We heard President Obama and Governor Romney say the federal deficit is out of control. So it was no surprise when both men pitched their plans last night to tackle the deficit and control spending.

But unless you were watching the debate with a calculator, some of their plans just didn't add up. Good thing CNN's Tom Foreman did a little fact checking for us.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, as I know you know, the candidates have been talking about the deficit endlessly, the difference between how much money the government takes in, in taxes, and how much it spends every year. And so we weren't surprised when it came up in this debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I'll get us on track to a balanced budget and I'm going to reduce the tax burden on middle income families. And what's that going to do? It's going to help those families and it's going to create incentives to start growing jobs again in this country.

OBAMA: If we're serious about reducing the deficit, if this is genuinely a moral obligation to the next generation, then in addition to some tough spending cuts we've also got to make sure that the wealthy do a little bit more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: This is the deficit right now $1,090,000,000. If all want to pay it off every man, woman and child in the country would have to kick in about $3,500; that's a lot and yet each candidate says confidently "I can reduce the deficit." How would they do that?

Well first let's talk about they agree on. They all say that we're going to have to contain the spending of the government and control it. We're also going to have to rewrite the tax code and we have to get the economy moving again because that's what's going to produce money and revenue and really solve the problem.

But beyond that, they don't agree on much.

Let's look at the Romney plan first. If this were to represent everything he wants to spend money on and he needs this much to cover it, he knows he's not going to get it, because he has a deficit.

So how is he going to deal with that deficit? He says he's going to do it with tax cuts. Now tax cuts initially are going to make the deficit worse. So he needs to offset them. He says he's going to do that by looking at deductions and loopholes, things that people use to avoid paying taxes.

He says he won't go after things like the mortgage deductions or the healthcare deductions, things that many middle class people rely on at least he suggests he won't go after those but that's the problem.

Economists say if you grab up all the other deductions that you might put on wealthier people and you put them all back on this pile, it's not going to be enough. You're going to end up eventually having to tax the middle class or watching the deficit just get bigger at least based on the plan as they know it right now.

Barack Obama he has a different version of the same song. He's got all of the things he wants to pay for. He also will not have all the money he needs for it. He's going to have a deficit, too. And he says you can deal with it by taxing the wealthy. This is a popular plan with many voters but it also has a fundamental flaw, there just aren't that many wealthy people in the country.

If you define wealthy as being people who individually make more than $200,000 a year as he often does, for every one there is like that in the country, this is how many there are who don't make that much money. You would have to tax this person at a much higher rate than the White House is talking about to solve this problem and even then you probably wouldn't get enough money to really make up the deficit.

The simple truth is both of these plans are woefully short on important details to tell us if they would really reduce the deficit. We need to hear more from both candidates. In the meantime when they say I can reduce the deficit, all we can do is give that a grade of "I" for incomplete.

COSTELLO: Fascinating. If you missed any of the debate, you can see it in its entirety starting at noon Eastern right here on CNN. Of course that is our big story of the day.

And our "Talk Back" question: "What did you take away from last night's presidential debate?" Facebook.com/CarolCNN.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: OK, "Talk Back" question of the morning: What did you take back from last night's presidential debate?

This from Simmy: "Now that's the President I voted for. Welcome back, Mr. Obama."

This from Jim: "That being a good debater has nothing to do with being a good president.

This from Clarine: "I don't like either one of them. Obama has a bad record and Romney will say whatever it takes to get elected.

And this from Jim -- we like Jim this morning. He says, "That Romney is selling opportunity and Obama is selling government dependence."

And from Jonathan, "That early voting and November 6th cannot get here fast enough. Go vote." Amen, Jonathan.

Facebook.com/CarolCNN if you'd like to continue the conversation. Thanks for joining in.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Heaven is so very close. The Detroit Tigers one win away from reaching the World Series. Ace Justin Verlander, the Tigers put the New York Yankees in a 3-0 hole in the ALCS. Verlander had only three strikeouts. He was behind in the count a lot but it did keep the Yankees of the scoreboard until the ninth inning.

Detroit, by the way, scored on a fourth inning homerun to left by Yankee killer Delmon Young. Miguel Cabrera then hit an RBI double in the 5th to put the Tigers up by two. There it is. And then Phil Coke, he relieved Verlander and he got the save in the 2-1 win. New York puts their ace C.C. Sabathia on the mound tonight trying to avoid a sweep.

Hockey fans are feeling hopeful this morning. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a new offer from the League to end the lockout, the key point a 50-50 split in hockey related revenue. The League's offer would ensure a complete 82-game season beginning on November 2nd. To make that work both sides must agree on a deal by next week.

The players' union is studying the offer and expects to get back to the League very soon.

The NFL says Beyonce will perform in the Super Bowl halftime show. Check out Beyonce's Web site. You can already see she has her game face on. Written in eye black, the date of the Super Bowl -- the date of Super Bowl 47, February 3rd, 2013. The game will be played in the New Orleans Superdome. Awesome.

And that's a look at sports this morning.

The next hour of NEWSROOM begins now.