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The Situation Room
Condoleezza Rice for Vice President?; President Obama in Virginia; JPMorgan's Bad Trades Cost $5.8 Billion; Romney Confronts A Media Firestorm; Live This Hour: Obama In Virginia; Solar Storm To Reach Earth Saturday; Heavy Rain Brings Flooding In Houston; Soccer Star Cleared Of Racial Abuse; Jennifer Lopez Leaves "American Idol"; A Simple Test To Save Your Baby's Life; Washington's Waste Of A Week
Aired July 13, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Mitt Romney is preparing to sit down for a one-on-one interview right here on CNN. We're going to ask him to tell us exactly when he left Bain Capital, why he won't release more of his tax returns -- his interview with our own Jim Acosta, that is coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Also, President Obama barnstorms across a battleground state he desperately needs to hold.
And the chilling video diary recorded by a man plotting to kill his own family.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
As we await Jim Acosta's interview with Mitt Romney, there are important new developments in his search for a running mate. We're seeing reports that there is now a short list of possibilities and the biggest name on that so-called short list is the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She's working this story for us.
Condoleezza Rice, the name has been floated out there for a while. But, all of a sudden, it's getting a little bit more impetus.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Interesting you used the term floated, because there's no question this is a trial balloon.
It's also a clever way as you know for the Romney campaign to try to change the subject from a whole bunch of things they would probably rather not talk about today. But since we do know that there are just a few people, the Romneys and one or two other staffers, who really know what's going on with regard to him choosing a vice presidential running mate, we figured we'd bite.
BASH (voice-over): Condoleezza Rice for veep? Before we go A to Z with pros and cons, let's start with why, why team Romney may have floated the Condi trial balloon now.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That includes Obamacare. And I'm going to work to reform and save...
BASH: Romney getting booed at the NAACP was running on a virtual loop. Then suddenly an exclusive about a black woman being considered for Romney's running mate pops on The Drudge Report, according to GOP sources, the go-to blog for a top Romney aide when he wants to change the narrative.
Still, it's worth exploring, Rice the running mate. First, the Condi pros. There are many., beginning with aforementioned obvious. She is a black Republican woman, a political twofer, and having a female on the ticket would make the influential Ann Romney happy.
QUESTION: Do you think he should nominate a woman?
ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: We have been looking at that. And I would love that option as well.
BASH: Rice has never run for office, but she's no stranger to presidential politics, by George W. Bush's side during his campaigns.
She's an intellectual with a good personal story and a concert pianist. The former secretary of state and national security adviser would bring some needed foreign policy chops to Romney's ticket, which brings us to the Condi cons. She was a central Bush administration player making the case for the Iraq war, warning about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
BASH: Some GOP sources tell CNN they can't imagine Romney would want to reopen wounds from the Bush years.
Last, but hardly least, Rice's stance on abortion. She calls herself "mildly pro-choice."
RICE: I worry about the government being involved in, but I'm like most Americans. I think abortion is a terrible thing.
BASH: One anti-abortion group already e-mailed around this clip of Romney last year saying the running mates he would consider would be anti-abortion.
ROMNEY: I would expect they would all be pro-life and pro-traditional marriage.
BASH: Several prominent conservative leaders tell CNN Rice's abortion stance disqualifies her because there's so much distrust of Romney on the issue. TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: He needs to have a running mate who is without question pro-life, but rather who has a portfolio of leading out on that issue and being a voice for the unborn.
BASH: Now, it's important to note that Rice herself has said multiple times, including to our own Piers Morgan, that she doesn't want the job.
And her statements appear to be more airtight and a little bit more genuine that others who have said the same thing. Though the timing of this trial balloon may be suspect, GOP sources tell CNN some of Romney's advisers are and have been pushing for her, so much so, Wolf, that I spoke with a prominent evangelical leader today who said he had heard this through the grapevine last week and called the Romney campaign and said please tell me this is not true because Republicans and certainly the base would not be happy about it. And it would hurt the base, as oppose to excite it, which obviously...
BLITZER: You have to weigh the pros and cons. As you point out, there are pros and there are cons if you are the Republican presidential candidate. Dana, thanks very, very much.
BASH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Once again, Mitt Romney is in THE SITUATION ROOM today.
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is getting ready to ask him some of the questions. Maybe he will ask about Condoleezza Rice in his interview. That interview will air in its entirety at exactly 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama's campaigning in Virginia this hour, trying to hold a longtime red state he became the first Democrat to carry since Lyndon Johnson in the '60s.
Our White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us now. She's keeping tabs on the president's travels.
Jessica, he's doing a lot of traveling.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is increasingly, Wolf.
And the most recent polling shows that the president in Virginia is ahead of Romney in the state by five points, but that doesn't necessarily mean all that much for the Obama campaign, because the same poll shows that 6 percent of voters there are still undecided.
That means that state is up for grabs. And, today, the president went after that state's military vote. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
YELLIN (voice-over): Last time, President Obama won Virginia by six points.
OBAMA: When we win Virginia, we're going to have won the election.
BASH: This time, he will have to fight just as hard.
OBAMA: I am going to need you more than ever in 2012.
YELLIN: At least 12 percent of Virginians have ties to the military, and the president is targeting their vote.
OBAMA: We have gone after al Qaeda, decimated their leadership ranks, taken out Osama bin Laden.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: So, now I think it's a good time for us to take half of those savings that we have gotten from winding down these wars, use half of it to pay for the deficit. Use the other half to do some nation- building here at home.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: The Romney campaign is vying for this group as well. In a letter printed in the "Virginian Pilot" newspaper, the Republican candidate said of the president, "The defense cuts you signed into law will hit Virginians hard and potentially shutter Virginia's military bases."
He's referring in part to the threat of almost $500 billion in defense cuts that will kick in, along with cuts to Medicare and other programs if Congress can't agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan by next year.
Virginia as a battleground is a new political reality.
STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Virginia has changed. It's no longer that Deep South state that is very red, very Republican.
It is now more of a swing state because of the D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia. But it also says that this race is going to be so close nationally that a handful of states matter. And the swingiest of the swing states at the moment looks to be Virginia.
YELLIN: And, Wolf, with so much government work in Virginia, unemployment there is at 5.6 percent. That's well below the national rate. That's a fact the president hopes will play well in his favor -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He's really going to have to energize the African-American vote in Virginia to make sure they show up like they did four years ago in the northern part of the state, elsewhere, if he's going to be able to carry Virginia. I assume they're working on that.
YELLIN: That's right, 20 percent of that state's population is African-American.
And they are aggressively targeting those voters as well. As you point out, the goal there -- they are already ardent supporters of the president. The goal is to keep the turnout rate just as high as it was in 2008. And, yes, they are working on it aggressively.
BLITZER: That's a major, major challenge. Thanks so much, Jessica Yellin.
We're expecting President Obama to deliver another speech in Virginia this hour. You're looking at live pictures right there. We're going to show you some of the highlights and maybe carry some of it live as well. The president of the United States getting ready to speak to another group in Virginia.
Our political director, Mark Preston, is joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Mark, as you know, our own Jim Acosta getting ready to do an interview, an important interview, sensitive subjects with Mitt Romney. What does Romney need to do on this day to get some of these other controversial issues behind him, so he can move on and talk about the economy?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Two things. He needs to change the subject, clearly.
There's been a lot of questions about whether -- what time did he leave Bain Capital, but he really needs to focus on not only getting past that, but to focus on the economy. That's where he really shines his best. He needs to talk about how, Wolf, he can be a job-creator, how him as a businessman should be the CEO that leads the country at this time.
And what's interesting is, I think this could be the beginning of the message war that we're seeing in the presidential campaign. We saw President Obama do an interview with CBS which will run in length on Sunday.
And now we see these interviews that Mitt Romney's conducting today, hastily put together, very quickly put together. He's talking to everybody. And I think we're starting to see Mitt Romney come a little bit out of his shell that we haven't seen in the past.
BLITZER: How vulnerable is he on the refusal so far to release more than one year, maybe two years, assuming he releases the 2011 income tax returns? He's filed an extension for that. How vulnerable is he if he doesn't release several years past?
PRESTON: Well, it feeds into a narrative that he's being very secretive about what his holdings are, how wealthy he is, and really to a larger picture, what is he going to be like a president if he was president? Is he going to be as secretive? Is he going to be as open?
And that's why we're seeing the Obama campaign hit very hard on him on this. And it's interesting to hear President Clinton this morning come out in only a way that President Clinton could, not to necessarily to attack Mitt Romney, but what he did was to say he was perplexed and surprised.
BLITZER: He is so smooth, isn't he?
PRESTON: He was so smooth, surprised that he wouldn't release this information.
BLITZER: On the whole issue of Bain Capital, what's the difference? Why is it such a big deal if he left in 1999, as opposed to 2002? We know in 2000, 2001, 2002, he was effectively running the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Why is it such a big deal, a sensitive subject?
PRESTON: Sure, and again two reasons, one, the secretive issue is the fact, did Mitt Romney lie to us? Did he lie to the voters and say that in fact he had left Bain Capital, when he had not?
BLITZER: He said he left in 1999, but some documents show, including one with the SEC, that he was still there in 2000 and 2001.
PRESTON: Still very much in control, according to these documents, back in 2000 and 2001. So it really comes to a credibility issue. Is he being credible, is he being honest?
But at the same time also, it goes to the issue -- and John King has his piece on CNN.com now which talks about one of the Bain Capital investments. And one of the investments was in a firm that discarded fetuses. It was a medical company. And that could hurt Mitt Romney when it really comes down to social conservative voters in the final week. And actually John really details that very well.
BLITZER: Yes. He's got a great piece on CNN.com, our own John King.
The other sensitive issue is the outsourcing, because the allegations were that, after 1999, Bain Capital was dealing with some companies that were outsourcing American jobs overseas and not necessarily before. He says he wasn't involved in Bain Capital when they were doing it. But if he was involved, that would be another sensitive matter.
PRESTON: It would be another sensitive matter.
And, interestingly enough, you hear the Obama campaign and certainly President Obama from his own lips call himself the in-sourcer in chief, while Mitt Romney would be the outsourcer in chief. And of course that is going to play very well or play very poorly in states such as Ohio and along the Rust Belt.
BLITZER: Mark Preston, thanks very much. Mark Preston is our political director.
Once again, we're standing by. We're going to hear from Mitt Romney here in THE SITUATION ROOM today. He's going one-on-one with our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim will join us live later this hour. The full interview with Mitt Romney will air at 6:00 p.m. Eastern in our brand-new 6:00 p.m. Eastern SITUATION ROOM hour.
Up next: J.P. Morgan Chase finally discloses how much they lost on this year's rather disastrous trades. The number's a lot, a lot bigger than officials first led us to believe.
And researchers say a chemical in perfumes, cosmetics and plastic packaging may -- repeat -- may be linked to diabetes.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: President-elect of the United States of America.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There's excitement in Hampton, Virginia, right now. You're looking at live pictures. They're getting ready to introduce the president of the United States. President Obama will be speaking at a campaign event there. We're going to take some of that live. You'll see it here in THE SITUATION ROOM this hour. Virginia, obviously, a key, key battleground state.
Other news we're following right now including JPMorgan Chase. It now says the disastrous investments officials first disclosed back in May were much, much more costly than anyone guessed, $5.8 billion, billion dollars, so far this year. Originally, they thought it was about $2 billion. But get this -- the bank's stock still went up today.
CNN's Alison Kosik is joining us from New York right now.
All right. Alison, a massive loss, more than $5 billion. That's what we know. We were originally told it was about $2 billion.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
BLITZER: But the company stock goes up. Go ahead and explain what's going on.
KOSIK: Yes. And you know, just so owe now, that trading loss is expected to go even higher. Anyway, Wall Street is still pretty darn happy about it. JPMorgan shares rallied today, up almost 6 percent. Because, Wolf, the way investors see it, they feel the worst is behind JPMorgan. They knew these big losses were coming. And guess what? They didn't think they were that bad after all.
Even with the controversy, JPMorgan has still made $5 billion for the April through June quarter, the second quarter. And it's made $9.9 billion so far this year.
Plus, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said they actually may make money on these risky trades that they made that they're unwinding. Also, outside of this trading disaster, business is good at JPMorgan, its investment, retail banking and loan units. That is also why you're seeing the stock up 6 percent today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Explain this to our viewers -- a lot of them have 401(k)s -- they're wondering how does this huge loss $5 billion or so for JPMorgan affect their 401(k)s. This after all, Chase -- JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States.
KOSIK: Right, exactly. And most people probably don't realize it's in a lot of their everyday investments. You look at the total dollar value of JPMorgan shares held by mutual funds, it's actually more than $50 million.
One person that we talked with tells us that it's really tough to quantify at this point, but the trading loss isn't really likely to have a huge impact on your investments. You know, even with JPMorgan shares sliding 16 percent since this trading loss was revealed in May, shares of JPMorgan Chase, they're still up 4.5 percent for the year. So at least some investors may be making some money on JPMorgan shares despite this huge controversy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Huge controversy indeed. All right. Thanks very much. Good reporting, Alison Kosik.
Mitt Romney takes a break from fundraising to talk to us. We're going to have a one-on-one interview with the Republican presidential candidate. Our own Jim Acosta will ask him about his tax returns, his departure from Bain Capital among other subjects. The interview will air here on THE SITUATION ROOM exactly at 6:00 p.m. Eastern-- 6:00 p.m. Eastern, in our new hour.
Also, another staggering death toll coming out of Syria. Protesters are demanding international intervention.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Got anybody here even from --
BLITZER: Mark Warner, there he is. He's pumping up the crowd. They're getting ready in Hampton, Virginia, to hear the president of the United States. As I've been pointing out, Virginia being a key battleground state. They're all excited in Virginia about some of the president's remarks live. We'll see what he has to say especially about his opponent Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney -- by the way, Mitt Romney is sitting down with our own Jim Acosta for an interview. That will air at 6:00 p.m. Eastern here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But there's other news we're following as well, including word of a massacre, another massacre in Syria, and demands for an international envoy's removal.
Lisa Sylvester's here. She's monitoring that, some other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. So what's going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, the opposition reports Syrian regime forces targeted a village and killed over 200 people late last night. In all, opposition says yesterday's death toll was 287 making it the bloodiest day since the uprising began 16 months ago. Syrian protesters say special envoy Kofi Annan is ineffective and should be removed. And we will be hearing from two experts on Syria within the next hour.
Rick Santorum will make his first official campaign appearance for Mitt Romney tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Just a few days ago, Santorum said he hadn't been in contact with the campaign. The former senator has clashed with Romney over immigration and health care issues. Even after Santorum suspended his own presidential bid, it took him nearly a month to endorse Mitt Romney.
And researchers say a commonly used chemical in perfumes, plastics, packaging and cosmetics may be linked to diabetes in women. A new study finds women with the highest level of phthalates were twice the risk of having diabetes. Companies aren't required to disclose phthalates and products.
One doctor says even if products say they're phthalate-free, the packaging still contains.
And now, there's a chance to own a part of the arsenal of a couple of legendary gangsters. Auction officials expect two guns recovered from the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde to go for more than $100,000 each. The colt 45 was said Clyde Barrow's favorites. The 38 caliber colt was strapped to one of Bonnie Parker's legs. The auction will be held September 30th.
So, each one of those guns, Wolf, expected to fetch about $100,000. Not bad at all.
BLITZER: Might even get more. People like that stuff. Thank you.
The questions are mounting. We're going to get some answers in our one-on-one interview with Mitt Romney with his career at Bain Capital, among other subjects. The interview will air at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
And charges in a conspiracy to supply Iran with the ingredients to make nuclear weapons. We have details of that case. That's coming up in our 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour.
BLITZER: A huge story is developing right now. Mitt Romney's sitting down for a one-on-one interview today. You're going to se him here in THE SITUATION ROOM, as I've been pointing out, in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour.
Romney's decision comes just one day after "The Boston Globe" started a firestorm by raising serious questions about when he left Bain Capital.
Joining us, two guests, Howard Kurtz , the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," and "Newsweek's" Washington bureau chief.
Also joining us, Lauren Ashburn, the editor and chief of "The Daily- Download".
Thanks to both of you for coming in.
Howie, let me start with you. He's doing what they call a round-robin series of interviews. All five of the television networks, news organizations, speaking deciding suddenly to give all these interviews. Our Jim Acosta is going to be interviewing him as well.
What do you think is behind this strategy? Not the first time a candidate or another senior official has done what we call a round- robin series of interviews.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, it's about time because Romney has been getting hammered, not just by the Obama campaign and Democrats, but by the media, which we can talk about, over not just when he left Bain Capital but offshore bank accounts, when he's going to release his tax returns. Romney is very reluctant to talk to the press, individual networks. Now he's doing five at once. They've decided they have to push back hard.
BLITZER: Why do you think he's doing it?
LAUREN ASHBURN, DAILY-DOWNLOAD.COM: I think he's doing it because he has to. Any unanswered question doesn't bring silence, it brings more questions. If you don't come out and answer these questions, you're raw meat.
BLITZER: So you don't think someone like Eric Fehrnstrom or Ed Gillespie, some of the senior advisers, if they had done a round-robin series of interviews, answering all these questions, don't you think that would have worked?
ASHBURN: Too late, it's too late -- especially when you have Stephanie Cutter from the Obama campaign coming out and saying, hey, this could be a felony. They're playing hardball. He's got to come out swinging.
BLITZER: This was after the Romney campaign said the president of the United States -- the sitting president of the United States is a liar.
KURTZ: Eric Fehrnstrom is a very important aide in the Romney campaign. He's not going to get several minutes on evening newscast, Mitt Romney can.
BLITZER: So you think this is smart on their part. Well, obviously, they've got something to say. He's got to answer these questions. Why aren't you releasing all of your income tax returns? When exactly did you leave Bain Capital? Why did you appear on these SEC documents in 2000/2001 saying you were still there when you were running the Olympic Games in Utah? KURTZ: All legitimate questions, Wolf. But I think this may be overkill on the part of the Obama campaign. All the tonnage it's dropped on Mitt Romney's head over the many events that happened 14 or 15 years ago. I've been increasingly worried about whether the media that have been pushing a lot of these stories, "Boston Globe", "Washington Post" on outsourcing, "Vanity Fair" on Cayman Island accounts, seem to some people to be echoing the message of the Obama campaign by raising so many questions about Romney's business background.
ASHBURN: I don't agree with you. I think that, you know, when it comes to this kind of stuff, the more questions, the better. This is a man that's running for president of the United States of America. Ask the questions. Answer the questions if you want to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Because if you want to be president -- you know this, surprised to hear what you're saying because no more secrets. Everything basically becomes an open book if you want to be the president of the United States.
KURTZ: I am not saying, Wolf, that journalists shouldn't be asking these questions, probing Romney's business background. It is after all his principle credential for running and saying he's going to fix the economy.
What I am saying is that when you combine all the stories, airtime, all column inches, it looks to many people -- I'll say it bluntly, like the press is giving much more aggressive scrutiny to Romney and his background than it ever gave to Barack Obama.
BLITZER: So what I hear you saying and correct me if I'm wrong, that the so-called mainstream media or liberal media or whatever doing the work of the Obama campaign.
Just like four years ago the conservative media doing the work of the McCain campaign going after, you know, Barack Obama and the Reverend Wright issues and other issues that were out there.
KURTZ: I don't think journalists are intending to do that, but I think that may be the perception of many folks because of the 24/7 nature of these questions about Romney. There hasn't been basically another story that's broken through in the last 10 days.
ASHBURN: No, and that is who's fault? If they had come out earlier, if they had come out and answered questions all along about this, this would not be happening. Mitt Romney would not have to be doing a five-network blitz at 5:00 on a Friday night.
HURTZ: I would agree the Romney campaign is very coarse and doesn't help itself by keeping arm's length relationship with the press. Maybe this is a turning point. We'll see if this is a turning point.
BLITZER: Well, there have been some other stories over the past including Romney's decision, which I think was the right decision to go address the NAACP Convention in Houston. I said the other day. I don't think the president made the right decision. I think he should have gone as well, but for whatever reason he decided to pass once again on that convention.
That has nothing to do with Bain Capital, IRS. He wanted to speak to the African-American community.
ASHBURN: And he was booed. And that story did have legs for quite some time and actually I think it looked worse for the NAACP than it did for Mitt Romney in that case.
KURTZ: I agree with that. And I think the way in which some liberal commentators said that Romney went their deliberately to get booed -- too much conspiracy mongering I think on that one. But you're right that did provide a break in the otherwise endless barrage about Romney's --
BLITZER: When all the dust settles, we have almost four months to go, do you think anyone will really care about Bain Capital or IRS returns.
BLITZER: Or will they care about jobs and the economy?
ASHBURN: They care about jobs and economy. But they want to know the person in the office is someone they can trust. If this person turns out to be lying in any way, shape or form, they can't trust him.
HURTZ: If it goes to credibility, it's a serious problem for Mitt Romney. But some of these stories are so complicated, I think a lot of swing voters are more interested what he's going to do for their jobs than the job he had 15 years ago.
BLITZER: I suspect you will have a lot more on Sunday morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES" 11 a.m. Eastern only here on CNN. Am I right or wrong?
KURTZ: Excellent perception.
BLITZER: Howie, thanks very much. Laurie, thanks for coming in as well.
The president's on a two-day campaign swing through Virginia. We're standing by for what's being called a grass roots event. Standby for that.
And a decision in a high profile trial. We'll have the verdict on a racial abuse charge against an English soccer star.
BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures from Hampton, Virginia. This is the second of three events, campaign events, that President Obama's doing today. Earlier in the day, he was at Virginia Beach, Virginia. Now Hampton. Later he'll be in Roanoke. He's going across the state. Virginia, a key battleground state in this race for the White House.
The president of the United States won Virginia four years ago, a very important win at the time. He said earlier today, by the way, if he manages to carry Virginia once again this time, he will stay in the White House for a second, a second, a second term.
So we're going to hear what the president has to say. He's going to be speaking out. I assume he's going to be going after Mitt Romney in this campaign event.
And later, we're going to be hearing from Mitt Romney himself. He's sitting down speaking with our own Jim Acosta.
In the meantime, there's some other important news we're watching right now. Kate Bolduan is standing by. She's got some of the headlines. Kate, what's going on?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. Lots of stuff going on this hour. A burst of magnetic energy from the sun could light up night skies in Northern Europe and along the border between the U.S. and Canada tomorrow night.
The solar storm -- just look at that image, is expected to generate waving colorful lights in the sky. It also could cause problems for power systems and high frequency radios at high altitudes.
Also another round of heavy rainfall put Houston under a flash flood warning this afternoon. There were reports of three inches of rain falling in just three hours in the downtown area. Some people had to be rescued from their homes. Scattered showers are expected through the weekend unfortunately.
Also, one of England's biggest soccer stars is cleared of charges he racially abused a fellow player. The case against John Terry was a highly unusual criminal trial over the language used on soccer fields.
The week-long proceeding was filled with foul terminology. Terry's Chelsea football club backed him throughout the trial and welcomed the verdict.
And then there was one apparently. Jennifer Lopez has announced she's leaving "American Idol." Lopez told "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest that as her twins get older, something had to give.
And that something was "American Idol." Her announcement comes a day after Steven Tyler announced his departure. The last judge left, Randy Jackson, is rumored to be on his way out as well. Wolf, they might be calling for you.
BLITZER: I was just going to say, Kate, you know, you got the demos. You're ready for that kind of moving up from THE SITUATION ROOM to "American Idol," what do you think?
BOLDUAN: I would be hard pressed to critique them, but I'd be the supportive judge, I guess.
BLITZER: You did tell all of our viewers in the United States accurately quoting you that you did personally sing the star spangled banner at George Washington University once, is that right?
BOLDUAN: I did. I sang for George W. Bush once and I'm regretting that I ever told you that factoid. You're going to hold it against me.
BLITZER: We're looking for the videotape especially if you had to read some of those words.
BOLDUAN: There's no cheating.
BLITZER: You knew it all by heart.
BOLDUAN: I did.
BLITZER: We're going to get that videotape. All right, thanks. Don't go too far away.
Documenting the details of a family murder. A video diary gives us a frightening look inside the mind of a killer.
And it's far from over at Penn State University. We're going to update you on the investigations of the sexual abuse scandal that are still underway.
And a young Iranian's postings on Facebook lands his father back in Iran in prison. How satire turned very, very serious.
BLITZER: There's still warming up the crowd over there. You can see Tim Kaine in Virginia. The president will be sneaking there shortly. We'll catch some of that speech. What he has to say about Mitt Romney. That's in Hampton, Virginia. Virginia being a key battleground state.
In the meantime, there's other news we're following including one family's medical tragedy. How a simple, a very simple test could have saved a life. Here's CNN's Lisa Sylvester.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments of childhood that are fleeting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing to indicate anything was wrong.
SYLVESTER: Moments Olivia Easley never takes for granted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important to focus on what you have and not on what you don't have.
SYLVESTER: Olivia has found a place of happiness after living through the terror every parent fears.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Veronica Jane Easley. She was born yesterday, April 29th.
SYLVESTER: Her daughter, Veronica, died when she was only 7 weeks old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I have her little -- these are the pajamas that she died in. I save it. I can still smell her. I save it in plastic so it kind of retains her scent.
It's amazing someone's life fits in this little bag on the shelf. I gave birth to my third child, a girl. Her name was Veronica, in April of 2009.
I'd had 20-week ultrasound, good prenatal care. We were under the assumption she was perfectly healthy. I put her down to bed and that was the last time I saw her alive.
SYLVESTER: Olivia didn't know her new baby had a congenital heart defect. There was nothing that indicated a problem. No shortness of breath, no blueness, nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's your worst nightmare times 100.
SYLVESTER: Olivia later found out about a simple test that likely would have saved her daughter's life. It's called a pulse oximetry test.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a painless, effective, accurate way of measuring the oxygen in the blood.
SYLVESTER: An inexpensive test that looks like a band-aid and is over in about 5 minutes. Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, began screening all newborns three years ago.
Since then, New Jersey, Indiana, West Virginia and Maryland have all adopted new pulse oximetry laws.
(on camera): New Jersey was the first state to pass a law requiring mandatory screening at all birthing facilities. And on that very first day a baby was found with critical congenital heart disease.
(voice-over): When a heart defect is detected, with early treatment a child can live a healthy normal life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think there are about 200 babies each year that die undetected with critical congenital heart defects in the United States, 200 babies. We need to get those 200 babies. This is a loss that just can't keep happening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it could happen to me, it really could happen to any parent. And that's why I think pulse screening is so important.
SYLVESTER: This story has a happy ending. Six months after Veronica's death, Olivia was pregnant again. This is her little boy, Ryan.
SYLVESTER: And the thing is, Olivia Easley is herself a medical doctor. And even she could not tell just by looking that her daughter had a congenital defect at birth.
This is the pulse oximetry test. This is a disposable one. Wolf, you could see that it looks just like a band-aid. It's something you can wrap around your finger.
This only costs about a dollar and it can and has been proven to save lives.
BLITZER: If there are no negative side effects, why isn't this done in every hospital at every place around the country?
SYLVESTER: You know, it's one of those things simply awareness. I mean, doctors have always been taught that you look for very specific things. You look at a child turning blue for instance or if a child is having breathing problems.
But there are many children out there like we saw with the baby in our piece, Olivia's baby, who simply don't show any outward signs. And that is where this pulse oximetry test is so important.
And it's about getting out the word. There are a number of states. Health Secretary Kathleen Sybilius has now come out. She has said that hospitals should start screening these tests. Hopefully, we will see more of this and we will prevent the 200 deaths we heard about.
BLITZER: Save the lives of some young kids. We're going to post this story on our cnn.com/situationroom web site to make sure we get some exposure for it. Thanks for the good work. Lisa Sylvester, maybe you're helping to save some lives.
SYLVESTER: I hope so.
BLITZER: Other news we're following here especially on this Friday in Washington it means two important things, the House and the Senate, they are in recess. They rarely work on Fridays. Rarely work on Mondays for that matter as well.
The president of the United States at the same time he's out of town campaigning. We're standing by to hear what he has to say in Virginia.
CNN's newest correspondent, the "EARLY START" anchor, John Berman is joining us now to run down what our elected officials accomplished during the rest of the week.
I don't know if we have enough time, John, to go through everything, everything they accomplished because it was obviously a critically important week in Washington.
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": It takes exactly zero s econds to run over the important things they accomplished this week. You know what this week reminds me of, Wolf? That season of "Dallas" before Bobby got out of the shower.
In the show it was a season that never actually happened. It was imaginary. In Washington this week, well, thankfully there was no shower scene. It had about the same impact.
BERMAN (voice-over): Pop quiz, what high profile Washington event will do more to make America a better place, change your situation and improve life on earth?
A, President Obama's big White House pitch to extend tax cuts for the middle class but let taxes go up for the rich?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is about helping job creators.
BERMAN: Or, B, the great big House vote to repeal the president's health care plan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying to end the era of Washington- controlled health care.
BERMAN: So which mattered more? The answer is, C, Courtney Kardashian having a baby. E ven if you don't know exactly who Courtney Kardashian is, it can't possibly matter less than what happened in Washington this week.
It's not that the issues of deficits and taxes aren't important. It's that the president has been pitching this plan for years and has exactly zero percent chance of getting through Congress now.
So the impact of his White House announcement as Bill Murray would say in the immortal film, "Meat Balls".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just doesn't matter.
BERMAN: And on health care it's not the debt issue isn't important. It's that this 33rd vote to repeal or weaken the president's plan has the same chance of actually repealing the law as the previous 32 votes. In other words, exactly zero. As "Meatballs" would say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just doesn't matter.
BERMAN: So with anemic job growth, world economic turmoil and unrest in the Middle East, how could we assess the net contribution from our nation's leaders this week?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!
BERMAN: Even the all-star game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz.
BERMAN: A mere shell of its illustrious past mattered more than the game of political charades this week. At least the all star game determines home field advantage for the World Series.
This and this determined nothing, which is why home field advantage goes to Courtney Kardashian.
BERMAN: Obviously, there is a purpose to what Democrats and Republicans are doing. It's politics and positioning for the election. It's just on our time and our dime. Let the record show Courtney Kardashian never imposes like that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Excellent points, John, very good points. You also posted a preview video about your new job here at CNN. There's one part that made a huge impression on the entire THE SITUATION ROOM staff. Let me play a little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: One thing about CNN that's really terrific is the very inclusive policy when it comes to facial hair. I've experimented with different types of beards over the years. There in 2000 I grew an old beard during the recount there. Some thought I looked like Tom Hanks in "Cast Away".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I like the beard. Obviously, I'm a little prejudice on that. Now that you're at CNN, I've been here, this is my 23rd year, are you thinking of something up there?
BERMAN: Anything I can do to look more like you, Wolf. I mean, you are the patron saint of news, beards and it's an honor to be here. And it's an honor to get to work with you.
BLITZER: We are thrilled that John Berman is the newest addition to CNN. You're going to be getting up very early joining Zoraida at 5:00 a.m. Eastern until 7:00 a.m.
But every Friday, I hope, John, you're going to do something for us in THE SITUATION ROOM. Is that a good hope?
BERMAN: Absolutely. It's great to be here, Wolf. Thanks.
BLITZER: Thanks so much. Welcome to CNN John Berman, our newest addition and very happy he's here. We'll take a quick break.
When we come back, the president of the United States, President Obama. He's in Virginia. He's speaking to a crowd just thanking a lot of folks there. When we come back we'll hear what he has to say.
BLITZER: The president of the United States is speaking in Hampton, Virginia, right now. I want to listen a little bit.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: -- everywhere I went what was interesting was that for all the differences, there was something everybody had in common. And in people's lives I'd see my own life.
I would meet an older vet and I'd think about my grandfather and my grandmother. Part of that World War II generation. My grandfather fighting in World War II and then coming home and my grandmother who had been working on a bomber assembly line.
They were able to go to college on the G.I. bill and how they were able to buy their first home with an FHA mortgage. And I thought about my mom because if I'd see a single mom, I'd think about, you know, how challenging it was for her to raise me without a dad and raise my sister without a dad, but how she was able to put herself through school and work at the same time and give her child the best education this country had to offer.
And I'd think about Michelle's family. I meet a family and it didn't matter whether it was some rural area or small town. You'd meet folks who reminded me of Michelle's dad who had multiple sclerosis, but never missed a day of work, worked a blue collar job.
Michelle's mom stayed at home until the kids got old enough and then became a secretary at a bank. And she worked as a secretary all her life and they never had a lot. But they had a lot of love.
And they had strong values. And they had discipline. And that's why Michelle and her brother could go on and achieve things their parents couldn't even imagine.
And what I'd realize during that first campaign and all the campaigns after that was that our lives all are a testament to that fundamental American idea. The idea that no matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, you can make it if you try.
This country's never been -- this country's never been full of folks looking for handouts. We're a nation of workers and doers and dreamers. We work hard for what we get and all we ask for is that our hard work pays off, that our responsibility is rewarded.'
That if we're willing to put in the effort, we can find a job that supports a family. And be able to get a home we can call our own. We won't go bankrupt when we get sick. Take a little vacation once in a while. Send our kids to college.
And let them do things so much bigger than what we did. And then retire with some dignity and some respect and be part of a community and a neighborhood and a nation that looks after its own.
BLITZER: The president of the United States in Virginia. He's just getting started. We're going to continue to monitor what he's saying. Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us. Jessica, one of three speeches today in Virginia. This is a key battleground state. He carried Virginia 56 percent, 46 percent four years, but this time it's going to be a lot closer.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. For the president right now he's speaking in an area, Hampton, which is 50 percent African-American, also largely military community.
Two groups he's targeting to win in Virginia together with the northern Virginia suburban vote, more affluent vote. Together he's hoping to put together that coalition plus Latinos to try to carry the state, which could be the most decisive battleground state of them all in this election. Expect them both to be in Virginia a ton, Wolf.
BLITZER: We do expect that and we will continue to monitor his speech. Jessica, thanks very much.