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Presidential Debate Fallout; Courting the Women's Vote; New York Terror Plot Inspired by al Qaeda Magazine; Illinois Town Losing Jobs to China
Aired October 17, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Fresh off their heated debate, President Obama and Mitt Romney take their arguments out there to the campaign trail. We're going to hear the president live this hour. We go inside their tense exchange over Libya and terrorism.
And an Illinois town is about to lose more than 100 jobs. Is Mitt Romney being unfairly blamed?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin the hour with breaking news. We're learning new details of an alleged terrorist plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City with a 1,000-pound bomb. An undercover FBI operation led to the arrest of this man, a 21-year-old man from Bangladesh who may have ties to al Qaeda.
CNN's national news correspondent Susan Candiotti is working the story for us in New York.
What's the latest you're picking up, Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that he appears to be a lone wolf at this time. While he might have been thinking he was going to be helping al Qaeda and/or eventually working with them, he appeared to be working by himself, according to my federal law enforcement sources.
This is a young man, only 21 years old, as you said, who thought that this very day, that he was about to blow up a 1,000-pound bomb blasting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York there again on New York. But it turned out to be a fake bomb and part of an elaborate FBI/NYPD sting operation.
He came here in January and in July evidently reached out according to prosecutors to try to recruit some people to help him in his effort to attack America, to target America, preferably economically. And they said that he wrote something down that said that he wanted to destroy America, even going so far as to make a suicide tape just before the attack was carried out this day.
According to federal prosecutors, as they reached the Federal Reserve Bank before they got there, they stopped at a hotel where he went inside and made a suicide tape saying -- quote -- "We will not stop until we attain victory of martyrdom." Then they drove on to the Federal Reserve, and that's when they attempted to blow up this bomb. It turns out it was inert. So no one was in any danger whatsoever. But that's when they arrested him. And then, Wolf, he made his first appearance in federal court this afternoon. He didn't say much at all. It was just an initial appearance. And he has yet to face a federal indictment.
BLITZER: How did he get in the United States, Susan?
CANDIOTTI: Wolf, he came here on a student visa. And at that time, prosecutors say, he tried to recruit other al Qaeda people to work with him, to try to find him. And he said that he was inspired.
Instead of meeting with an al Qaeda recruit, it turns out this was a source working for the FBI. And in fact, it turns out that he was inspired, he allegedly said, by a well-known magazine that is published in the Arabian Peninsula that is published by al Qaeda. It was an English-language magazine. And that's where he said he got the idea to come to the United States and try to wreck our economy.
BLITZER: What a story. Thanks very much for that, Susan Candiotti. Don't go too far away.
We're standing by for more information. The New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly, he's expected to hold a news conference momentarily. We will monitor it and bring you details as they come in. Stand by for that.
Other news, the latest face-to-face contest may be over, but the debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney is going full force out there on the campaign trail.
Kate Bolduan is watching what's going on and she has got some more -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Wolf.
Both men are picking up pretty much right where their heated exchange left off last night. We will go live to an Obama rally in Ohio in just a few minutes.
But first, CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is with the Romney campaign in Leesburg, Virginia, right back on the campaign trail, Jim. What's the latest?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate, Mitt Romney will be out here in about an hour from now, and he has a country music act warming up the crowd here in Leesburg, Virginia.
Not surprisingly, Kate, Mitt Romney is sounding like a candidate who believes he has gone two for two in these presidential debates. But it's also worth noting what made it and what did not make it into his first post-debate speech.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love these debates. You know, these things are great.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In Virginia, Mitt Romney was still in a New York state of mind, still talking about his debate rematch with President Obama.
ROMNEY: I think it's interesting that the president still doesn't have an agenda for a second term. He can't even explain what he's done in the last four years.
ACOSTA: But at his first event after the debate, Romney did not touch on the night's flash point that got as fiery as the body language between the candidates. Just as his campaign signaled he would do during the debate, Romney seized on the deaths at the U.S. Consulate in Libya. But when Romney thought he'd caught the president falsely portraying his comments at the White House the day after the attack, the GOP nominee inadvertently gave Mr. Obama an opening.
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.
ACOSTA: The Obama campaign is not only pointing to what the president said in the Rose Garden.
OBAMA: No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.
ACOSTA: The president's aides also notes his comments the following day.
OBAMA: No acts of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world.
No act of terror will go unpunished.
ACOSTA: In the post-debate spin room, top Romney surrogates were armed with a different view.
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: He used the words act of terror in a general sense. But, listen, for five days they said just the opposite.
ACOSTA: An argument echoed by Paul Ryan on the morning shows.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a passing comment about acts in terror in general. It was not a claim that this was the result of a terrorist attack. ACOSTA: The Romney campaign pointed to what Ambassador to the United Nations Susan rice Said five days after the attack, that it was in response to an anti-Islamic video that was blamed for the siege at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt.
SUSAN RICE, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It was a spontaneous, not a premeditated response to what had transpired in Cairo.
ACOSTA: Then there's White House Press Secretary Jay Carney eight days after Benghazi.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We do not have evidence that that it was premeditated.
ACOSTA: But it was Romney's remarks on his efforts to add more women to his gubernatorial staff could that could have a lasting effect on the race.
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.
ACOSTA: Perhaps sensing his campaign was suddenly in a bind, at his event in Virginia, Romney made a concerted appeal to women.
ROMNEY: This is a presidency that has not helped America's women.
ACOSTA: And he tweeted out this Web video featuring his former Cabinet members, all backing Romney's commitment to women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He totally gets working women.
ACOSTA: In a sign that the Romney campaign is eager to get back into debate prep, Wolf, the campaign has gone ahead and postponed a speech that they had billed as one on fiscal responsibility for Friday, no word yet on when that speech will be rescheduled. And between now and the last debate on Monday, Wolf, we only know of two Romney campaign speeches, one tomorrow night in New York at the Al Smith Dinner and then a joint event with Paul Ryan Friday evening in Florida -- Kate, back to you.
BOLDUAN: We will be watching for that. Jim Acosta in beautiful Leesburg, Virginia, with a big crowd behind you, Jim, thanks so much.
BLITZER: Sounds like some good music going on there as well.
Let's get some more on what's going on with Libya and that argument that unfolded at the debate.
Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is joining us from Beirut.
Arwa, unlike all the politicians here in Washington, you were actually there, you were in Benghazi in the days that followed the horrendous killing of the U.S. ambassador, three other Americans, including two Navy SEALs. You spoke to eyewitnesses. Did they appreciate right away or did it take time for them to realize this was a terror plot rather than some spontaneous demonstration resulting from that anti-Muslim video?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, all of the eyewitnesses that we spoke to on the scene at the consulate itself, some three days after the attack took place, all said that they heard a crowd whose chants were growing louder and louder as they approached the compound. And then, suddenly, the attack began from three different directions.
Most certainly they were all saying that this seemed like it was coordinated because it did come from three different directions. They said that they used both light and heavy weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and other forms of artillery as well. That's what we know. We also do know when it comes to this attack is that it was a location, the consulate, in and of itself that had been targeted in the past.
We do know that these extremist elements that do exist in Benghazi, elements that the U.S. itself had been monitoring, had the consulate, had U.S. interests and Western interests in their sights and had been systematically targeting them over the few months before the attack on the consulate itself, Wolf.
BLITZER: So it sounds like there was a plot there, they were anxious to go in there and do damage to the United States, kill American diplomats, but maybe they just used the excuse of the video to launch the attack? Is that what I'm hearing, Arwa?
DAMON: That is one theory that is out there, Wolf.
And we really don't know what the exact motive was for the timing of the particular attack that did take place. Was it in fact using the excuse of the video to go ahead and target this location? Was it the fact that it was 9/11, that of course greatly symbolic in and of itself? Or was it quite simply that they saw this the perfect window of opportunity to launch this sort of attack?
We do know however that these types of groups are always looking for weaknesses, for vulnerabilities and tragically, the U.S. Consulate, the way that security was set up there, did provide these extremist groups with something of a vulnerable target. The Libyan government very shortly after the attack, again when we spoke to the head of the General National Congress, on the scene, at the consulate itself, said that he believed that this was some sort of premeditated assault, that was carried out with the intent of wreaking maximum havoc on U.S. interests with the main intent of damaging relations between the U.S. and the Libyans.
The Libyans themselves, other military officials that we had been talking to also had been saying that they had been warning the Americans that quite simply, their position, their stance in Benghazi especially was increasingly vulnerable. So it seems as though unfortunately all of the factors were in place to allow this kind of an attack to take place.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, indeed. All right, Arwa, thanks very, very much, Arwa Damon, a courageous, courageous journalist.
As I said, a lot of blathering going on. She actually went there in the days that followed. Risked her own life, spoke to eyewitnesses.
BOLDUAN: One of the few reporters that has been able to get inside the consulate and see that first so shortly after it all happened, and she's done some amazing, amazing work. We're very lucky to have her.
Also, President Obama is also on the campaign trail today. I think we're taking a look at him live right now.
BLITZER: Speaking at Ohio University. He's getting ready to get into the speech. We're going to listen in and see what he's saying. Stand by. Much more on this coming up. Also, he's taking direct aim right now at Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Let's recap what we learned last night. His tax plan doesn't add up. His jobs plan doesn't create jobs. His deficit reduction plan adds to the deficit. So, Iowa, everybody here has heard of the New Deal. You have heard of the fair deal. You have heard of the square deal. Mitt Romney's trying to sell you a sketchy deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The final matchup between the two candidates is just days away, and be sure to join us Monday for the third and final presidential debate, this time in Boca Raton, Florida. You do not want to miss it, our special coverage starting soon.
But let's dip back into President Obama live in Ohio.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
OBAMA: A shout of the Mac Championship, maybe a BCS bid. I just want to point out that I was pushing for a playoff system. We got a playoff system, one more promise kept for those of you who are following college football.
But it is outstanding the Bobcats are doing so well, so I want to wish you guys luck in the upcoming season.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I also came here today, Ohio, because I want your vote. I want your vote. I am not too proud to beg. I want you to vote.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: And -- and the good news is, you can vote in Ohio right now. Find out where at vote.BarackObama.com. If you live nearby, you can vote just a few blocks away at 15 South Court Street, 15 South Court Street.
BLITZER: We're listening to hear what the president has to say, and he's obviously having a lot of fun with the students there in Athens, Ohio.
Stand by, more of the president coming up.
Also, Fareed Zakaria, he is standing by.
BLITZER: The New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly is speaking to reporters right now. He's saying New York remains a terror target. He says this individual, this alleged terrorist was inspired by what is called "Inspire" magazine, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Federal Reserve Bank remains -- he says has become an iconic target.
Let's listen in to Ray Kelly.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: If it wasn't a real bomb, should we be that concerned?
KELLY: Clearly, if you read the complaint, what it shows is this individual came here for the purpose of doing a terrorist act. He came here in January of this year.
He gets a student visa under the pretext of being a student at a college in Missouri. And he comes here with again the avowed purpose of committing some sort of jihad here in the United States. He goes to the New York Stock Exchange. He sees that -- the significant security there and he shifts his target to the Federal Reserve Bank.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about the jihad chat rooms?
KELLY: I'm not going to say anything that's not in the complaint.
KELLY: It did say in the complaint that Facebook was used here.
QUESTION: ... security in New York changing at all as a result of this?
KELLY: No. We always change our game plan a little bit. But as you know, we devoted an awful lot of resources to our counterterrorism efforts, and we have over 1,000 police officers every day devoted to counterterrorism here and we think we're doing the right things. We also believe that we're doing more than any other city in America.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the Internet again going back to that, how integral was that in this undercover investigation?
KELLY: It was significant. And again Facebook was used. There was a site. This will all come out in the criminal proceedings. It may in fact come out at the arraignment.
QUESTION: Where is the activity now? What's happening at his home?
KELLY: At his home? I mean, obviously, there will be a search done at his residence.
KELLY: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: Talk a little about the NYPD's role in this investigation.
KELLY: We have 120 investigators that have worked with the FBI, the joint terrorism task force, and there are other law enforcement agencies involved as well. But we're certainly working with them and we will work closely with them on this case.
KELLY: No, I can't.
QUESTION: The role of Anwar al-Awlaki?
KELLY: Well, Awlaki of course was eliminated last year.
But what we know is that Awlaki was a motivator for this person, Nafis. "Inspire" magazine, which Awlaki was the prime mover behind, was the magazine or this is the article that he read that justified to him the killing of children, killing of women.
QUESTION: Is it still published today?
KELLY: Well, it's available.
And if you recall the case of Jose Pimentel, which we had last year, Jose Pimentel used "Inspire" magazine, used the article how to build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom, which is named in the complaint in this case, to, in a very methodical manner, build three bombs that he wanted to use on the streets here in New York City.
QUESTION: This is our city again, yet again being attacked, focus of an attack. Can you tell us personally when this was unfolding, and now with this arrest, what it means to you?
KELLY: Well, as I said, I think it means that New York continues to be very much in the -- in the mind frame of terrorism. This individual -- or mind frame of terrorists, I should say.
This individual came here with the express purpose of committing a terrorist act. He was motivated by al Qaeda. So we see this threat as, you know, being with us for a long time to come.
QUESTION: This is just a 21-year-old. Do you think he's going to inspire other 21-year-olds? He wasn't very sophisticated in how he went about anything.
KELLY: We always see that. After something is thwarted or after there is an arrest, it's always somebody who was not sophisticated or can't do it. Unfortunately, if something does happen, then why weren't you on top of this case?
I don't know how you characterize unsophisticated. He was arrested, but he clearly had the intent of creating mayhem here.
QUESTION: The U.S. official on his target list, do you know who that is?
QUESTION: Is it President Obama?
KELLY: I'm not going to discuss that.
QUESTION: In terms of how -- would you say this guy was more aspirational? How would you describe him?
KELLY: I wouldn't call it aspirational when you go and pick up 50 20-pound bags of ammonium nitrate and you obtain a truck and you bring it to the site of a major federal facility, and you try to detonate it. That goes way past aspirational to me.
QUESTION: How much of catching him is based on hard work of law enforcement and how much is actually by chance that he approached...
KELLY: No, I think the FBI deserve as lot of credit in this case. This was the result of investigative efforts. They have the right people in the right places to pick up this sort of information, this sort of aspiration, if you will.
BLITZER: All right, Ray Kelly, the commissioner, the police commissioner in New York, making it clear this was a real threat. Fortunately, it has been thwarted.
A 21-year-old man from Bangladesh came to the United States, ostensibly to study. But Commissioner Kelly says his real purpose was to commit an act of terror inspired by al Qaeda.
And, Kate, I know you have done some work on this magazine, "Inspire" magazine. We will have some more details on what was going on. Stay with us. We will take a quick break.
BLITZER: We're going to get back to what's going on in New York City right now, a terror plot thwarted according to the New York City police commissioner. New information coming in.
That's a picture of the 21-year-old ostensible student from Bangladesh supposedly wanting to study in the United States, supposedly wanting to study in the United States at a college in Missouri, but actually planning an al Qaeda-related terror plot on the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate.
The damage, Kate, that could have been done to that, amazing when you think about it. But fortunately it was thwarted. It was inert.
The president of the United States we're told has now been briefed on what's going on, much more on the breaking news coming up.
But there's other important news we're following right now, including political news, women in the workplace for example, a major focus of last night's presidential debate.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right, from the number of jobs they have lost to the recession, to the flexible hours for working moms.
BLITZER: Let's talk about all of this with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
Jessica, first to you. You're reporting on campaign strategies, so what message will each candidate use to target these critically important voters out there?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the candidates will build on their own campaign playbooks to sharpen their appeal to undecided women voters. So President Obama, he is going to highlight social issues and his record in office, Governor Romney attacking the economy under President Obama.
YELLIN (voice-over): It's clear who these men are trying to court.
ROMNEY: This president has failed America's women. They have suffered in terms of getting jobs. They suffered in terms of falling into poverty.
OBAMA: We don't have to collect a bunch ever binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women.
YELLIN: The president was referring to Governor Romney's off- note attempt to show a softer side. When only men applied to join his Cabinet in Massachusetts, the governor said:
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.
YELLIN: Ouch. Working women are among the voters these men are vying to court. How will they do it? First, contraception.
ROMNEY: I don't believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not.
YELLIN: The Obama campaign plans to dispute that aggressively.
DAVID PLOUFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: He supported legislation that would have allowed employers to make those decisions for women. And we're going to make sure every voter in America and every women's voter knows that over the next 21 days.
YELLIN: Part of the argument, Governor Romney supported a bill allowing employers to offer insurance without contraception. Women would pay on their own. The Romney team says that was about limiting government regulation. Contraception would still be legal and available.
A second appeal to women? The economy.
ROMNEY: I mentioned three and a half million women, more now in poverty than four years ago. What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers are looking to find good employees.
YELLIN: On the numbers, he's right. When the president took office, 22 million women lived in poverty. Now it's more than 25.5 million women. Neither candidate talks about solutions for poverty.
Finally, equal pay. OBAMA: The first bill I signed was something called the Lilly Ledbetter Bill.
YELLIN: The bill helps women sue if they're paid less for the same work.
Now, the Romney campaign first wouldn't take a position on the measure, which some consider an undue burden on business. But the governor has since said, he would not work to overturn the law.
YELLIN: Now Wolf, Governor Romney's former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey, who's a woman, rushed to his defense after that binder story line caught on -- caught fire today. She said that the governor treated all employees, quote, "fairly and impartially."
But that did not stop Vice President Biden from escalating the attacks. He accused Governor Romney of living in a 1950s time warp when it comes to women. Meow.
BLITZER: The rhetoric is going to heat up, I think it's fair to say. Thanks very much for that, Jessica Yellin.
BOLDUAN: She's definitely right.
And last night when asked about pay equity, pay equality, Mitt Romney spoke about his career as governor of Massachusetts, saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort.
But No. 2, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible.
My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, "I can't be here until 7 or 8 p.m. at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 p.m. so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school."
So we said, "Fine, let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Gloria Borger right now to discuss what's going on. Gloria, when the governor was asked about all of this last night, I want to play this little clip.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's a clip that maybe we played?
BLITZER: We have that -- well, you know what? Play the clip of what you were told by Beth Myers.
BORGER: Right. Right.
So I spoke with Beth Myers over the summer when I was doing my Romney documentary. She's the woman that Mitt Romney was talking about in that clip that we showed. She was his chief of staff when he was governor. She also ran his 2008 campaign. She's the person who vetted the vice-presidential candidates for him. She's a senior adviser right now doing debate prep for him. You see her in that -- in that little clip in her office.
So when he approached her in 2002 about becoming his chief of staff, she said, "You know what? It's a problem for me, because I have children who are 10 and 12. I can't work those late hours." Here's what she told me this summer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH MYERS, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: That was a real conflict for me, because they were in school during the day. But my husband and I had decided that I would stay home and take care of the kids. My husband travels during the week. And so that that time between 5 and 8, which is the witching hour, was troublesome to me.
And Mitt thought about it and he said, "Look, I've got an idea. Would -- if I -- if I -- if we had an arrangement where you left every day at 5 p.m., and got home, got your kids dinner, started them with their homework, got them settled for the night and that was part -- that was the understanding, would that work for you?"
But I was always very cognizant that it would not have worked, if -- if he had ever -- if someone had ever said to him at 5:30, "Where's Beth?" and he had rolled his eyes and said, "I don't know. I guess she left." And he never, ever did that. And that was key, he always had my back on this. And he was always a partner in making this work. And that was -- that was why it did work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BORGER: The problem for Mitt Romney, of course, last night was that the question was about pay equity. And that President Obama could go right to the Lilly Ledbetter Act and say Republicans voted against that. So her explanation is very compelling, but that wasn't the question that he was asked.
BOLDUAN: Mitt Romney could have almost really used that sound bite you just played to help his argument last night. But you know, isn't part of Mitt Romney's problem in trying to win, you know, more female supporters, a larger Republican problem?
BORGER: Right. Because don't forget, this doesn't happen in a vacuum. We went through all of the Republican primaries. Rick Santorum had his 15 minutes of fame, and contraception became a major issue, of whether insurance companies should pay for contraception. And abortion became a major issue. You had the Republican platform, which has no exceptions for rape and incest. You have Republicans in Congress voting against pay equity. You have the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which Mitt Romney himself has spoken about. The repeal of Obama care, which women are worried about.
So none of this, in a presidential campaign, happens in a vacuum. And on this particular question, the president, that's why he's been in the lead with women in the double digits.
The one -- the argument that Mitt Romney is pursuing, which has resonance with women, is the argument about the economy. And how many women are in poverty. But if you look at the battleground states, women in those battleground states, according to Gallup, care an awful lot about the social issues.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. All right. Gloria, great work, thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: So we're going to have more on the al Qaeda magazine that inspired this latest terror plot in New York that we've been telling you about. That's coming up next. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news right now, a terror plot thwarted in New York City.
The New York City police commissioner says this man, a 21-year- old man from Bangladesh who came to the United States supposedly the study in a college in Missouri, really came to the United States, Kelly says, to try to exert al Qaeda influence and blow up an economic target in New York City.
Peter Bergen, our national security contributor, is joining us right now.
Peter, he says -- Ray Kelly, the commissioner -- that this individual was inspired, if you will by "Inspire" magazine, which is a glossy, online publication that promotes al Qaeda. Tell us a little bit about it.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): Well, "Inspire" magazine was edited by an American citizen, Samir Khan, who was actually killed in a U.S. -- in a CIA drone strike last year. And, you know, it's written in colloquial English. It's written to appeal to, you know, the English-speaking audience.
The magazine, you know, came out fairly regularly before Samir Khan was killed. And it was designed to appeal to, you know, kind of ordinary folks in the west and, in this case, it appears, in South Asia. It's not written, you know -- it's not written in a lot of arcane, religious language. It was really written to appeal to ordinary folks. And clearly, it's been an inspiration or seems to be an inspiration in this case.
One thing, Wolf, that's interesting to me is that this guy is a Bangladeshi. It always seems -- it's quite unusual, as far as I can recall, for a Bangladeshi to be involved in this kind of thing in the United States.
You know, Bangladesh is a very large country, one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. But we haven't seen, you know, Bengalis coming to the United States to get involved in acts of terrorism, or alleged acts of terrorism. We've certainly seen Pakistanis but not Bengalis, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also a U.S. citizen like Samir Khan, killed by the U.S., supposedly involved with the magazine, as well? Is that right?
BERGEN: Very much so. I mean Anwar al-Awlaki, initially people thought of him as really more of a sort of religious figure and a kind of inspiration. Over time the view was that he was becoming more operational, that he was kind of involved in a plot, the Christmas day 2009 plot in terms of what -- more of an operational role. And that's why President Obama authorized, for the first time in American history, the assassination of an American citizen. Because Awlaki was really regarded as being a threat.
BLITZER: Peter Bergen, as usual, we'll stay in close touch.
This is a breaking news story, Kate, that we're going to be all over with, because if -- if it had worked, it would have been a disaster.
BOLDUAN: So we'll continue to follow this breaking news of this foiled terror plot in New York. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: An Illinois town is about to lose nearly 200 jobs to China. Democrats are trying to place the blame on Mitt Romney, even though he left Bain Capital a decade-plus ago. CNN's Ted Rowlands explains the uproar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have an air mattress. I have three sleeping bags.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than a month, Tom Gallrap (ph) has been living across the street from the Sensata auto parts plant in Freeport, Illinois. He and a handful of other employees are living in tents, eating donated food and taking cold showers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can be a little bit nasty.
ROWLANDS: All this because the plant is shutting down and their jobs, a total of 170, are moving to China. Even though the company reported record profits last quarter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 5 is scheduled to be my last day after 33 years.
ROWLANDS: Sensata is owned by Bain Capital, a company, of course, started by Mitt Romney. Although Romney left Bain seven years before they even bought the Freeport plant, most of the anger in this tent city they're calling Bainport is directed towards Governor Romney.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Make no mistake about it. Sensata, Freeport, Illinois, is ground zero on the American fight to keep jobs here in the United States.
ROWLANDS: Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was here Tuesday. He and others argue that, because Romney still holds a stake in Bain, he holds some responsibility for the loss of jobs.
(on camera) Is that fair?
DURBIN: It represents a corporate philosophy, a Bain Capital philosophy: that you can ship jobs overseas, make money and ignore the consequences.
ROWLANDS: He's no longer associated with Bain in terms of decision-making.
DURBIN: He may not be involved in the major decision-making; he's a major shareholder. He made his fortune at Bain. That's -- that's a fact.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): A handful of people were in the main tent to watch the presidential debate, reacting to any mention about jobs going to China.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
ROWLANDS: Several workers have had to actually train their Chinese replacements. Mark Shrek went to China to do just that in 2010. Mark says he blames not only corporate greed, but politicians from both political parties.
MARK SHREK, WORKER LOSING JOB: This needs to be addressed. This isn't the Democrats versus the Republicans. This is an American issue. Americans, Democrats and Republicans, are getting laid off over there in the next few months.
ROWLANDS: There are Democrats that also profit off Bain. Jonathan Levine, a managing partner at a Bain affiliate, is a bundler for President Obama. And Steve Pagliuca, a managing partner of Bain and the co-owner of the Boston Celtics, ran as a Democrat for Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown's seat. He lost in the primary.
ROWLANDS: And Bain -- the Romney campaign did issue a statement to us, Wolf. It said, in part, "Bain invested in Sensata in 2006, seven years after Governor Romney left the firm. Only the president can level the playing field with China, and President Obama has failed to stand up to China's unfair competition."
Six arrests today at the factory behind me, Wolf. Organizers here say they plan more civil disobedience between now and when this plant closes at the end of the year.
BLITZER: All right, Ted, thanks very much. Ted Rowlands reporting.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, two service members arrested and accused of rape in Japan. That story next.
BLITZER: Outrage today from Japanese officials after two U.S. sailors were arrested and accused of raping a woman on the island of Okinawa. Kate's got more on this and some other top stories.
BOLDUAN: Another troubling story, Wolf. The suspects were identified as Christopher Daniel Browning and Skyler Dozier Walker. Both are 23 years old.
The attack allegedly took place Tuesday morning, and the woman reportedly has an injured neck. The U.S. military presence in Ginowan, Okinawa, which was captured during World War II, has generated long-simmering resentment among the Japanese.
Also, this video we're showing you was posted to YouTube. Syrian rebels saying it shows them shooting down a regime helicopter. You can see it losing control after being hit once, and then a few seconds later, you can see it's hit again and the obviously exploded. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of this video.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition groups reporting 155 people killed today in civil war violence. It keeps getting worse.
And back here in the U.S., new home construction hit a four-year high last month. The government reports it was up 15 percent from August, and permit filings were up more than 11 percent. Both numbers are the strongest since the summer of 2008 before the financial meltdown caused home lending and building to freeze up.
Still ahead, fresh off the political headlines, Jeanne Moos is ready to hand out some awards that are debatable.
BLITZER: It's hard to say how many minds were actually changed by last night's presidential debate, but it certainly encouraged our Jeanne Moos to hand out some post-debate awards.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This debate didn't just raise eyebrows. Our award for the Most Excited Viewer goes to the guy who tweeted out a naked photo of himself, hoisting the debate like the Hulk.
The two candidates were like gunslingers.
ROMNEY: I had a question, and the question was how much did you cut them by?
OBAMA: You want me to answer?
ROMNEY: How many did you cut them by?
MOOS (on camera): The Speak to the President Like You're His Daddy Award goes to...
ROMNEY: You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking.
OBAMA: Candy, hold on a second. The...
ROMNEY: Mr. President, I'm still speaking.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sorry.
MOOS (voice-over): And if the words won't come out, might as well resort to...
(on camera) ... true or false.
OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.
ROMNEY: So how much did you cut it by?
OBAMA: It's just not true. It's just not true.
ROMNEY: It's absolutely true.
MOOS (voice-over): As one joker on the Web put it, "Am not," "Are, too."
Our award for flagrant rule breaker goes to Michelle Obama. Not because she hugged her husband, but because during the debate, she defied the rules and clapped after a testy exchange about Libya.
ROMNEY: The administration indicated that this was a reaction.
MOOS: The tail end of her applause was caught on camera. blink and you'll miss it.
Fresh from the surprise celebrity endorsement he got from reality star Honey Boo-Boo...
ALANA THOMPSON, REALITY TV STAR: Marack [SIC] Obama.
MOOS: ... Marack [SIC] Obama got kudos for his debate performance. In what we're calling the Most Anatomical Tweet, Geraldo praised the president for his testicular fortitude. (on camera) But when it comes to making a point, nothing beats all the finger pointing.
OBAMA: Governor Romney, here's what we did.
ROMNEY: You said in your first year...
OBAMA: You said me, too.
ROMNEY: You also have investments to a Caymans trust.
OBAMA: That's not what we do.
MOOS (voice-over): They even pointed at the moderator.
CROWLEY: I've got to -- I've got to move you on. And the next question is for you.
ROMNEY: He actually got -- he actually got the first question.
MOOS: And of course, the candidates turned their pointer fingers on each other.
OBAMA: To get comprehensive immigration reform done. And we can't -- we can't...
MOOS: The debate reached a climax with a menage-a-trois point-a- thon. That's a big record three-pointer.
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
CROWLEY: If I could have you sit down, Governor Romney. Thank you.
MOOS: ... New York.
BLITZER: Two smart guys. Two Harvard Law School guys. They're pointing fingers.
BOLDUAN: Don't point your finger at me.
BLITZER: That's it. We have no more time. You can always follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. Tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet her, @KateBolduan.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much for joining us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.