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Interview with Robert Wexler; Rape Remark; Osama bin Laden Movie; Obama at Rally in Colorado; Big Change to CNN's Electoral Map; "It Will Probably Be Messy;" Israel Hits Back at Gaza Rocket Launchers

Aired October 24, 2012 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, a key battleground state may lo -- may no longer be a toss-up. We're making an important change to CNN's electoral map.

The scramble for electoral votes takes on new urgency. President Obama speaks this hour in another key battleground state. We're going live in a moment to Colorado.

And the federal government sues a major bank for a billion dollars -- yes with a B -- a billion dollars, saying it committed massive fraud by selling bad mortgages.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, President Obama is in Denver, the second stop of what he's calling a 48-hour fly around campaign marathon extravaganza.

I want to listen in.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean what I say. I do what I say I'm going to do. We haven't finished everything that we want to get done. That's why I'm running for a second term. But every single day that I set foot in the Oval Office, I'm fighting for your families. And with your help, I've kept many of the major commitments that we made.

I told you we'd end the war in Iraq. We ended it.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan. We are. I said we'd refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And now we've got a new tower rising above the New York skyline and Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat. Osama bin Laden is dead. Our heroes are coming home. I've kept those promises.

(APPLAUSE) OBAMA: I promised to cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses. And we have. I promised to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good. And we did. I promised to repeal "don't ask/don't tell.." And today, you can't be kicked out of the military because of who you are and who you love.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I bet on American workers and American ingenuity. And we saved a dying auto industry that's back on top of the world.

On issue after issue, we are moving forward. After losing nine million jobs in the Great Recession, our businesses have now added more than five million new jobs over the past two-and-a-half years. Manufacturing is coming back to our shores. The unemployment rate has fallen. Home values and home sales are rising.

Our assembly lines are humming. We've got a long way to go, Colorado, but we've come too far to turn back now. We cannot go back to the same policies that got us into this mess. We've got to keep moving forward with the policies that are getting us out. And that's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, you know, we -- we...

(chanting)

OBAMA: Now, the reason I want four more years is because I've got a plan that will actually create jobs, a plan that will actually create middle class security. And unlike Mitt Romney, I'm actually proud to talk about what's in my plan.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Because it actually adds up. And if you want to check it out, go to barackobama.com/plans. Share it with your friends. Share it with neighbors. Share it with co-workers. There's still people out there who are trying to make up their mind. Some of you may be trying to make up your mind. Maybe some are...

(BOOS)

OBAMA: No, no, no.

(BOOS)

OBAMA: Wait, no. Now, you know, somebody -- you know, may have dragged you here. You know, may -- may -- may -- maybe, you know, your grandma said, I'm sorry, you've got to come. Maybe your girlfriend is trying to knock some sense into you and said no, no, you've got to come to the rally.

So I want you to compare my plan to Governor Romney's. See which plan you think is better for you. See which plan is better for America's future.

I -- look, I want -- I want to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, but I also want to reward small businesses and manufacturers that are creating jobs right here in the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I want to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. And we're going to develop traditional sources of energy. And today, we are less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last two decades. But...

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: -- but it's not enough just to produce more oil and natural gas. We've also increased fuel standards on cars and trucks so your car will go farther on a gallon of gas.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I want to build on the progress we've made, doubling clean energy. I want fuel-efficient cars and long lasting batteries and wind turbines manufactured here in China -- I want them manu -- I don't -- I don't want them manufactured in China, I want them manufactured here in the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I want them manufactured right here in Colorado, right here in America.

And, by the way, it will be good for our environment. It will help -- it will help conserve the incredible natural beauty of this state. We can do that.

I want to make it a national mission to educate our kids and train our workers better than anyone else in the world.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I want to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers, train two million workers at community colleges to get the skills that businesses are hiring for right now. I want to work with our colleges and universities to keep tuition growth low, cut it in half over the next 10 years. We can do that.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right, the president, with his new stump speech. He says -- he's saying repeatedly now, all over the place yesterday and today, he says what he means, he means what he says. He's promising that things will be better over the next four years.

We'll continue to monitor what he's saying in Denver, Colorado, another one of those key battleground states. This election comes down to a handful of key states, the ones you see here in the yellow. And as the candidates cut back and forth across the map, across the country, they're looking for ways to get to that magic number, 270 electoral votes.

Our own electoral map, by the way, right now is changing.

For that, let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King.

A significant change, I should say.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a significant change. The first two changes perhaps not so significant, in the sense that we are going to move Missouri. We've had it leaning Romney.

We're going to move it solid Romney. There's no indication the Obama campaign is contesting that state. We're very comfortable saying that's a solid Romney state.

Also, Indiana, which the president carried four years ago. But there's no presidential Democratic activity in Indiana right now. So we move that over. That has no impact on our electoral map. We have 237 states strong or leaning for the president, 191 strong or leaning for Governor Romney.

But this is a significant change. We are now prepared at CNN to lean North Carolina -- we're now going to lean that red, meaning lean that for Governor Romney. And what that does, Wolf, is in the soft and -- soft and steady Romney states, it adds him up to 206. The president is 237. Governor Romney now, as we lean North Carolina red, gets to 206.

And so then the question is, when you look at the remaining toss-up states -- there are eight of them. The president is in one as we speak. Colorado has nine electoral votes. Nevada, out West, a battleground at six electoral votes.

When you look at this map, what is the key to get to 270?

For Governor Romney, I'll tell you this, it starts with this. Florida is a must-win state.

I'm just back from some reporting in Virginia. It's a dead heat in the polls. The Romney campaign very much needs Virginia.

They believe, like North Carolina, it's trending their way. The Obama campaign says, watch. We can win Virginia.

But even if you give that hype -- this hypothetical, if you give that to Governor Romney, that would get him to 248. This is where this becomes key. No Republican has ever won the White House without Ohio, which has 18 electoral votes in this cycle.

If Romney can win it, that would get him to 266, Wolf. And then if he won any one of the remaining toss-up states -- Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, those two out West that I just mentioned, that would get Governor Romney there.

However, as you know, the president has had a persistent lead in the state of Ohio, a small lead, but a stubborn lead. So we're going to keep that one back to toss-up.

The question is, if you look at the map, that's Governor Romney's math. But if you look at the president right there, if he could turn this blue, that would put him on the doorstep, as well, and the president would have a much more favorable map.

So I'll put this back to where we have it. Stop for now. By leaning North Carolina, it puts Governor Romney closer.

Let me fix these back to where they belong and we'll get you back to the true map.

But with heading into these last 13 days now, Wolf, that helps Governor Romney a little bit. But you look into these other states, the president still has an easier path.

BLITZER: As you know, an hour ago, we released -- "Time Magazine," I should say, our sister publication, released a new poll in Ohio -- 49 percent for President Obama, 44 percent for Mitt Romney, a 3 point sampling error. So it's, right now, with 13 days to go -- and 13 days is still a long time, John -- it's looking pretty good in Ohio for the president.

KING: It is. So let me show you, can Governor Romney win without Ohio?

I'll show you that scenario. I'll also say, the Romney campaign doesn't like that poll. They say Governor Romney is winning in that "Time" poll 24 points, he's winning among Independents.

They say how do you win that state, a bellwether swing state, by 24 points among Independents and still lose?

So they say there are too many Democrats. But there's a lot of comments about polls these days. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that that one stays blue. If the -- if the president wins Ohio, it would move him up, with nothing else changed, to 255, again, put him on the doorstep.

So how could Governor Romney get to 270?

Again, no Republican has ever done it without winning Ohio.

But can he do it?

It's mathematically possible.

The question is, is it feasible?

If you give him back Florida and Virginia, that would get him to 248. The Romney campaign is feeling more confident. The president is there right now. Again, for this hypothetical, we'll give Romney the sort of Colorado. That would give him parity, 2 points ahead of the president there, 257-255.

Now, how does Governor Romney get to 270 without Ohio?

That's where it gets dicey. Let's say he could win Nevada. That would get him to 263.

Then where are we here?

Let's say he could win New Hampshire. That would get him to 267. Then he would have to win one of these Midwestern states. And they do feel, the Romney campaign, that they could Iowa. That would get them there.

They also say they're competitive in Wisconsin, but that one has been stubbornly in the president's camp, as well.

So that would get them there, if they ran -- pretty much ran the map. That's drawing to an inside straight almost.

The problem is, the president's team sees this happening, too. They say no. And you'll see the president back out here. They say they can take that away. That would bring that down.

So can Governor Romney get there without Ohio, Wolf?

Yes.

Is it a likely scenario?

Probably not.

BLITZER: We'll know in 13 days what -- what it is.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: John, thanks very, very much.

John King reporting for us at the Magic Wall.

The federal government sues a major bank for, yes, a billion -- with a B -- a billion dollars, alleging it knowingly committed massive fraud by selling bad mortgages.

And a new TV movie highlights the president's role in getting Osama bin Laden. It airs two days before the election.

Will that matter?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then we need a backup plan, maybe two.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Some more questions surfacing today about the September 11th attack in Libya.

Jack Cafferty is following that.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An interesting development, Wolf. The truth about what happened in Benghazi and when President Obama knew it could have a big impact in these, the closing days of this presidential campaign.

It turns out the White House, the State Department and the FBI were all told two hours after the September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that an Islamic militant group had claimed responsibility. Two hours.

One government e-mail from the State Department shows a Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the attack on Facebook and Twitter. That group denied responsibility the next day.

This is big, I think. It suggests the president had reports that very day that the attacks that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were not because of some film clip. And yet we heard just the opposite for a long time. It took the administration nine days to refer to the attack as the work of terrorists.

Instead, top officials insisted there was no evidence suggesting that the attack was planned or imminent. They continued to suggest that it was that anti-Muslim video produced in the United States that fueled a spontaneous protest in Benghazi. This includes folks at the very top of the government -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice; and the State Department spokeswoman.

What did the president and his top lieutenants obfuscate and hem and haw for so long before telling us what really happened?

Try politics.

As for this latest report, the White House says that these e-mails were part of a public flow of information in the aftermath of the attack and that it's the job of the intelligence community to sort through all of this. They still refuse to accept any responsibility for misleading us, the American people.

However, the more information that comes out about the Benghazi attack, the more questions there are about how the administration handled this. And that's not good for Mr. Obama just 13 days before the election.

Here's the question -- why didn't President Obama tell us the truth about what happened in Benghazi?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You're going to get a lot of e-mail, Jack. CAFFERTY: I think so.

BLITZER: Yes. Thank you.

President Obama what's called as an "off the record" interview with "The Des Moines Register," an important newspaper into a key battleground state. But the Obama campaign then made it on the record following an unusual appeal from the newspaper's editors, who said the president had nothing to lose by making his comments public.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here -- Gloria, I read, as you did...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

BLITZER: -- the transcript of the interview the president "The Des Moines Register."..

BORGER: Right here.

BLITZER: -- that Des Moines newspaper.

Among other things, he said this -- and I'll put it up on the screen. He said, "It will probably be easy, it won't be pleasant, but I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of a grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time."

He's talking about an economic deal if he's reelected before the U.S. goes over that so-called fiscal cliff.

BORGER: Right. And, you know, I think the president sounds very confident here. I'm not sure he's a little overconfident, if he isn't a little overconfident.

Look, he's trying to be reassuring to the -- these editors in Des Moines.

The question was asked, how can you keep partisanship from continuing to grow and how can you break the gridlock in Washington, which is something people care about in Iowa and everywhere else?

And what he -- and what he seemed to be saying is, look, we can cut the deal that we couldn't cut last time.

The -- the truth, though, however, is that it's going to be messy, as he says, if they can get that deal, and that if he wins, it's more likely that the Congress remains pretty much the same. And that would make it more difficult for him.

So I think this was kind of a reassuring way of trying to answer that question, are you the guy to break gridlock, like you promised you would four years ago, when we didn't see that happen?

BLITZER: An endorsement from "The Des Moines Register" is important in a state like Iowa... BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Iowa very, very important right now. Originally, the newspaper agreed to what the White House wanted, the Obama campaign wanted, an off the record, on background kind of telephone briefing for the editorial writers. Then, apparently, the editors said we didn't get him on the record. And then the campaign said, you can have it on the record.

It's sort of unusual, isn't it?

BORGER: It was kind of unusual. As you -- as you read through the entire cran -- transcript, there's not a lot in there, except, you know, at one point, when the president puts on his political analyst hat and says that if he wins this election, it's because Republicans have alienated the fast and growest demographic -- fastest growing demographic, and that's Latinos.

But it's sort of interesting to me that the president was -- was off the record, or tried to be, saying things that he should be saying out on the campaign trail, which is he wants to get immigration reform, he wants to try and get a grand bargain, he wants to get tax reform. He is saying publicly that he wants to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. These are a second -- part of a second term agenda, which is exactly what people have been clamoring to hear from the president.

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed.

All right. At least he's on the record. We'll see which newspaper -- which candidate that newspaper endorses.

BORGER: We will. It will be important.

BLITZER: Gloria, thank you.

A Republican Senate candidate under serious fire right now for saying pregnancy resulting from rape is, quote, "God's will."

So what's the impact on the campaign trail?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, we are gathered here to talk...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: CNN has turned up some new information about a shooting case that's captured worldwide attention.

Lisa Sylvester is here.

She's monitoring that and some of the day's other top stories.

What -- what do you know? LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.

Well, CNN has exclusively learned authorities in Pakistan have identified a suspect and made nine arrests in the near fatal shooting of a teenage girl who spoke out against the Taliban. The suspect's mother, brother and fiancee are among those who have been arrested. The girl, Malala Yousufzai, now is in a British hospital, where she's being treated for a head wound.

And in another hopeful sign for the U.S. economy, sales of new homes hit a two year high in September. But there's still a long way to go before things are back to pre-recession levels. Until 2006, at the peak, builders were selling roughly a million new homes a year. If the current pace keeps up, the annual rate will be only about 389,000.

And another person has died and nine new cases of meningitis are reported as a result of contaminated drug injections. By the federal government's count, there are now 317 cases and 24 deaths nationwide. The Massachusetts governor says federal authorities, they have now launched a criminal investigation into the practices at the New England Compounding Center. That is the company that produced these drugs -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

Thanks very much.

At this week's presidential debate, Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for not visiting Israel as president of the United States. We're about to hear from a former U.S. Congressman who supports President Obama. He was at a private meeting a few years ago where the president explained why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Dozens of Palestinian rockets launched from Gaza continued to fall on Southern Israel today, causing injuries and damage.

Israel says it has retaliated with air strikes aimed at rocket launching squads. Four Palestinians have died, including at least two militants.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Sara Sidner, is joining us from Jerusalem right now -- so, Sara, what's going on?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we've been watching an escalation in attacks from Gaza, rocket attacks, and then subsequent air strikes from the Israeli military over the past couple of weeks, Wolf.

But in the past 24 hours, there has been a serious escalation and explosion, if you will, of activity. More than 70 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel, into Southern Israel from Gaza, in about a 14- hour period alone. Three workers from abroad who were working on a farm on the Gaza border in Southern Israel were injured, seriously enough they had to be taken to the hospital. And there are several areas, the Eshkelon area, in particular, and Eshkol Council region, they have told people not to go to school. They closed the schools and there were several houses there damaged. Those two areas well within reach of rocket fire from Gaza.

Hamas, the militant Gaza government, has basically spread out some of their leaflets to the people in Gaza telling them that the rocket attacks were in retaliation for the killing of two of its members of its military wing from air strikes by Israel. And it's an interesting point made because usually Hamas does not claim responsibility. They haven't been doing that.

They've sort of taken a backseat since the 2008 military action by Israel. And so this seems to be some sort of confidence that we're seeing from Hamas. The reasons for it may be many; one particular reason might be that this week on Tuesday the emir of Qatar made a visit to Gaza and he's the first Arab lead to go into Gaza since Hamas took over in 2007. Now, in retaliation for all of these rocket attacks, Israel has had more air strikes and tank fire. A total of four militants have been killed in Gaza due to air strikes and eight Palestinians injured -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara, could -- I guess the fear is that this could escalate into something a lot more serious indeed all-out war between Hamas and Gaza and Israel. How concerned are folks over where you are in Jerusalem?

SIDNER: You know there's always concern about that. It hasn't been declared. But I want you to hear the response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after these rockets came into Israel by the dozens. He said and I'm quoting here -- "We didn't choose this escalation and we didn't invite it, but if it continues we are prepared to undertake a much wider and deeper operation."

His defense minister, Ehud Barak talked on Israeli Army Radio this morning. He was less hawkish saying that at the moment there is no need for escalation. However, the government will of course evaluate the situation. Since he said that, there have been more rockets falling in Israel. And as for how the Palestinian Authority sees the situation, the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saab Erokat (ph), had this to say just a couple of hours ago. "Due to their illegal blockade, Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza. Therefore we hold Israel fully responsible for any harm to our people there." But of course they are not in charge in Gaza. Hamas is. Right now the rockets have stopped falling. There is calm. The question is for how long -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara Sidner reporting for us from Jerusalem. Sara, thanks very much.

The Middle East, as all of our viewers know, became a hot topic in the final presidential debate here in the United States. Let's dig a little bit deeper now with former Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler. He's the president of The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Studies and a strong supporter of President Obama.

Saw you sitting next to the first lady at that debate in Florida the other day in Boca Raton.

Now, let's talk a little about the Middle East fallout from the debate. Because what's happening now in Gaza, between Gaza and Israel, Hamas and Israel, it could have been related -- it could have political fallout here in the United States. Bob Schieffer, the moderator, asked the president of the United States specifically if an attack on Israel should be seen as an attack on the United States. And the president said U.S. has Israel's back. But he didn't go far enough some people suggest and saying, yes, an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States. What do you say?

ROBERT WEXLER (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well effectively, Wolf, the president did say yes. He said that in every which way an attack on Israel will be responded to by the United States of America. He could not have been more clear. Governor Romney essentially echoed President Obama's answer.

BLITZER: But he didn't flatly say yes. He just said the U.S. will have Israel's back. Bob Schieffer pointed out that the U.S. believes an attack on Japan is an attack on the United States. Attack on NATO allies is an attack on the United States. He didn't flatly say that an attack on Israel and rockets coming in to Israel from Gaza that's an attack on Israel.

WEXLER: Of course we have a treaty with NATO and we have different obligations, legal obligations with --

BLITZER: Should the U.S. have that same legal treaty obligation with Israel?

WEXLER: I personally think it should. I think it should be -- we should do everything we can to enhance Israel's security. And that's in fact what the president has done. As we speak, Wolf, 1,500 American military officers are in Israel participating in the largest joint American/Israeli exercise in the history of the state of Israel. That sends an incredibly strong message to those who wish to do Israel harm whether it be in Iran or Hamas and I think it's critically important like your report shows, those rockets are coming over. Many of them are being intercepted by the iron dome system which was funded largely by the United States with the initiation from President Obama. The United States and Israel have enjoyed the most significant degree of security cooperation in the history of our nations.

BLITZER: The other issue that came up in the debate and Mitt Romney keeps pointing it out, that as president of the United States, the president did not visit Israel. He went there as a candidate. He went to Egypt. He went to Saudi Arabia. He went to Turkey. But he didn't have time, didn't want to go to Israel for whatever reason. He turned the question around and he said this in the debate. I'll play the clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we're going to talk about trips that we've taken, when I was a candidate for office, the first trip I took was to visit our troops. And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors. I didn't attend fundraisers. I went to (INAUDIBLE), the Holocaust museum there to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So if he's in the neighborhood, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, he went to Iraq, why not visit Israel? Why didn't he go to Israel?

WEXLER: Well Wolf, again, as you know, the most important aspect of our relationship with Israel is security. What the president said is absolutely --

BLITZER: I know, but why didn't -- because at the time there was a lot of people asking serious questions. Why not visit Israel if he's in Egypt?

WEXLER: The president of the United States chooses his schedule. He went to Egypt to make a speech to the Muslim world. Of course there are some that argue we were at war with the Muslim world. We were in war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan. Thankfully, Wolf, we're not at war. In fact, we're at the strongest ally of the Jewish state, but let's put this in a historic context please.

BLITZER: But I just want to report --

WEXLER: Yes.

BLITZER: -- what I was told at the time because I asked people at the White House, people in the Obama administration, why isn't he visiting Israel? And you know what I was told? He wanted to offer some tough love to Israel. Repeatedly high officials were saying that to me because Israel -- he wanted to freeze -- he wanted Israel to freeze settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It was a big issue with Prime Minister Netanyahu and he wanted some space, as they say, and you were at some meetings with the president when he made that clear to you as well.

WEXLER: Well it wasn't -- that's just one side of the story, Wolf. What the president was seeking to do was extract from the Arab world, from the King of Saudi Arabia and others different kinds of incentives to Israel so that Israel would feel more confident to offer those kinds of concessions. Concessions being offered by the Arab world such as over-flight rights and --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Do you like the fact that he wanted to engage in what he described as tough love with the Israelis?

WEXLER: He never described it in that term to me.

BLITZER: Well and "The Washington Post" reported in that first meeting in July of 2009 with Jewish leaders at the White House, the president is quoted as saying, "Look at the past eight years during the Bush administration. During those eight years there was no space between us and Israel. And what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines. And that erodes our credibility with the Arab states."

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: George Mitchell (ph), who was the special Middle East negotiator, he said you had to have some settlement freeze. You had to have some tough love, if you will.

WEXLER: No. He said we needed to have a settlement freeze along with concessions by the Arab world and a complete cessation of violence on the Palestinian side. But back to the issue of trips, which I think is very important. It needs to be put in context. President Obama has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu more than any other leader in the world. They have constant phone calls, not five-minute calls or 10-minute calls, but one-hour long phone calls.

BLITZER: But you know what --

WEXLER: And --

BLITZER: This is the point I just want to make and I'll let you respond.

WEXLER: Yes.

BLITZER: If he had gone to Jerusalem, he would have gone to Ramallah (ph). He would have met with the Israelis. He would have met with the Palestinians. He could have shared his commitment to advancing the peace process which is so important. As a result of the failure over these past four years, there is no peace process right now.

WEXLER: Wolf, Governor Romney's criticism is hypocritical. Did Governor Romney criticize President Bush for not visiting Israel during his first term? Did Governor Romney criticize the first President Bush for never visiting Israel while he was president? Did Governor Romney criticize President Reagan?

BLITZER: But --

WEXLER: President Reagan didn't visit Israel in his two terms.

BLITZER: But a -- if he had a do-over, you think he should have gone?

WEXLER: I didn't say that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well do you?

WEXLER: Look, he visited Israel twice as a United States senator. I have no doubt if he's re-elected he will visit Israel when the time is appropriate to achieve something meaningful. That's the key to achieve something meaningful, to bring an end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on appropriate terms, to bring the Arab world to Israel in a way that is meaningful for Israel and its security and its economy.

BLITZER: All right. We got to leave it unfortunately right there.

WEXLER: OK.

BLITZER: But it's a serious discussion. And I think historians will look back and report on the peace process or the lack thereof will probably say he had an opportunity there to address the Palestinians directly, address the Israelis directly. Instead that whole tough love that came with some space he wanted with the Israelis, obviously it didn't exactly work out the way he would have liked, the way you would have liked and Israelis and Palestinians. Robert Wexler, unfortunately --

WEXLER: OK.

BLITZER: -- I've got to end it right there.

WEXLER: Thank you.

BLITZER: But you're not going too far away. Thank you.

WEXLER: All right.

BLITZER: We'll take a quick break -- much more news right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Another Republican candidate has touched off another political firestorm with a stunning comment about rape and abortion. The controversy directly impacts the Senate race in Indiana, but it's already becoming an issue in the presidential campaign as well. Here's CNN's senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, when Richard Mourdock ousted veteran Republican Senator Richard Lugar earlier this year in a GOP primary, the more conservative Mourdock immediately made the Indiana Senate race more competitive. But new controversial remarks about abortion and rape could have implications far beyond Indiana, namely the race for the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): The question in this Indiana Senate debate Tuesday evening was about abortion. Republican Richard Mourdock explained why he's opposed even in the case of rape.

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: I struggled with it myself for a long time. But I came to realize life is a gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.

BASH: National Democrats heard those words, something God intended to happen, and within 10 minutes they pounced. Hoping to make him a late-breaking example of what they call a GOP war on women. And they tied him to Mitt Romney highlighting the fact that Romney just cut an ad endorsing Mourdock.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope you'll join me in supporting Richard Mourdock.

BASH: Bad timing for Romney aggressively trying to lure undecided female voters. Romney does support allowing abortion in the case of rape. And a spokeswoman quickly announced Mourdock's views don't reflect Romney's. GOP Senator Kelly Ayotte abruptly canceled plans to campaign for Mourdock and he called a hastily arranged news conference to clarify he wasn't saying rape was something God intended to happen.

MOURDOCK: Life is precious and that I abhor violence and I'm confident God abhors violence and rape. If they came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it. I apologize.

BASH: It's a controversy reminiscent of one sparked by these comments by Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin.

REP. TODD AKIN (R), MISSOURI SENATE CANDIDATE: If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

BASH: National Republicans unsuccessfully tried to push Akin out of the race. They are standing behind Mourdock. GOP sources argue his comments, while not articulate, mirror a position by many Republicans especially in conservative Indiana that life should be preserved even in the horrific circumstance of rape.

MOURDOCK: I've taken a stance to say that I support life.

BASH: Mourdock who ousted GOP Senate veteran Richard Lugar in a primary this year was already in a dead heat with conservative Democrat Joe Donnelly, who is also opposed to abortion but makes an exception for rape. Democrats are hoping this helps Donnelly snatch the seat from the GOP making it harder for Republicans to take control of the Senate. Mourdock claims it will help him.

MOURDOCK: I think this issue certainly serves to energize those people who have supported me. Sometimes controversy can be a good thing in politics.

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BASH: Privately, top GOP sources admit this is the last thing Romney needs with fewer than two weeks left and a strategy to try to attract undecided female voters. But a Romney aide says he still supports Mourdock and Romney will not ask Mourdock to pull his TV ad endorsing him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana Bash, an important story, thanks very much, a comprehensive report. Polls show President Obama running far, far ahead among Latino and African-American voters. In our next hour we're taking a closer look at why he's not doing all that great with white voters.

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BLITZER: Jack is back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, Wolf, is "why didn't President Obama tell us the truth about what really happened in Benghazi?"

Richard writes "Politicians always think they can hide the truth from the American people. Obama thinks he is smarter than the average American. He is not. The administration did nothing to provide adequate security in Benghazi and then lied about what actually happened. Obama doesn't deserve reelection for a lot of reasons. This is just one of them."

G. writes "I think the official response makes an awful lot of sense. There were several possible explanations for what happened. It's not unusual for numerous radical groups to take credit for acts of terrorism soon after they occur. Who are you going to believe at a time like that and how do you verify a claim of that nature?"

D. in New York says "It was clearly not optimal for him to admit that maybe al Qaeda wasn't on the run after all. It wasn't also optimal to stay in D.C. rather than going to Nevada and Colorado for campaigning and fundraising. This man was elected to take the 3:00 a.m. call. He wouldn't even take the 4:05 p.m. call. We know where his priorities lie."

Lou writes "We've become so jaded about our government leaders we think everything is some great big government secret cover-up. This happened in a distant country already rocked with instability, so I doubt that every detail coming out of there was crystal clear. The family members of the victims have already come out and said they're satisfied with the way the government is handling the investigation, so let's wait for all of the facts before we go crying foul."

And Ted says "Jack, it's called politics. Know how to talk with style, have access to a lot of money, and be able to lie and make it sound like the truth. This is why you will never be elected president."

If you want to read more about this you find it on the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you. The Justice Department is suing Bank of America for $1 billion alleging it committed fraud by selling defective mortgages. The complaint filed today says those mortgages were purchased by the government-backed firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, leading to countless foreclosures and huge taxpayer losses. The government alleges that a program known within the bank as quote "The Hustle" was intentionally designed to process loans at high speed and without quality checks. Authorities say the program was started by mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, continuing after its purchase by Bank of America in 2008.

A new TV movie about the Osama bin Laden raid debuts the weekend before Election Day. We're taking a closer look into whether it's been changed in hopes of helping reelect President Obama.

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BLITZER: Mix Hollywood and politics and you're bound to get some controversy. If you get the "National Geographic" Channel you'll be able to watch the latest example before Election Day. CNN's Brian Todd has been taking a closer look into what's going on this time -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that example is a new movie about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It's a TV drama set to air on November 4th just two days before the election. That timing plus some clips in the movie, and the fact that it's backed by a well- known Democratic donor from Hollywood has drawn some political fire.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be the team that takes out Osama.

TODD (voice-over): It's got the real-life plot that can certainly draw viewers, the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden, but can it also draw voters and is it designed to? "SEAL Team Six", a new TV drama about the bin Laden mission is set to air on the "National Geographic" Channel just two nights before the election. It has got some real news clips of President Obama in it depicting the president in the days surrounding the raid and the film is backed by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a big-time Democratic donor. All of those factors have conservatives saying the movie is a political stunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down!

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Any time you've got a movie coming out two nights before the election and being made by Harvey Weinstein, who is a prominent Democrat and a huge supporter of President Obama's, of course it raises eyebrows.

TODD: Director John Stockwell said it was Weinstein who suggested adding more actual news footage including footage from the White House after he saw an early version of the movie. I asked Director John Stockwell about that.

(on camera) It was not done to I guess to play up the president's role or make him look particularly good?

JOHN STOCKWELL, DIRECTOR, "SEAL TEAM SIX": No, not at all. We don't pretend to sort of get inside the president's head. Harvey Weinstein came into the editing room very early on and his only questions to me were how did you know this? Are you sure this happened? He was really attempting to get to the voracity of the story.

TODD (voice-over): Stockwell also says there's less footage of the president in the finished cut than there was in an earlier version. Ken Robinson has been in both worlds. A former Special Forces officer, he was creator and writer of "E-Ring", an NBC drama about the inner workings of the Pentagon.

(on camera): In the production of movies like this, is there often pressure to maybe put in a political slant, subtle maybe? KEN ROBINSON, CREATOR/WRITER, NBC'S "E-RING": I've never seen that and I've been on the Fox lot, the Warner lot, the Paramount lot. I've not seen that. The creative process is pretty prized (ph).

TODD (voice-over): But the timing of the film's release on November 4th still rankles some conservatives like media critic Brent Bozell, who have this suggestion.

BRENT BOZELL, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: If it doesn't have a political agenda, as they say it doesn't, and if there aren't any political purposes behind this, as they say there aren't, then simply put it off by two days.

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TODD: A spokesperson for "National Geographic" says they have a deal with Netflix to have Netflix air the film on November 5th and 6th, and so to have the world premier of the movie "National Geographic" has to air it before November 5th. Both "National Geographic" and Director John Stockwell deny any political motivations in relating the film on November 4th. We couldn't get official comment from representatives for Harvey Weinstein in time for this airing of our story -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Brian, there's another pretty popular film out there right now just released a little while ago slamming President Obama, so even if this new movie did have a political slant this is not necessarily a one-sided phenomenon we're seeing right now.

TODD: Not at all, Wolf. And there have been few films out that go both ways. That film that you're talking about, "2016: Obama's America" it's titled, it purports to show the potential negative ramifications if the president is reelected, a very negative film on Obama. It was put out by conservative political commentator Dinesh D'Souza and it was very popular. It made millions at the box office, but the difference here is that that wasn't presented necessarily as a drama. It was not presented as a drama and it was released earlier this summer. Most observers, however, don't think either film is really going to sway voters at this point.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.