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Day Two of the Democratic National Convention; Barack Obama Woos Blue-Collar Voters; John McCain's V.P. Pick?

Aired August 26, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: One of the top contenders, the former rival Mitt Romney. He's standing by to join us live this hour.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.

We're live in Denver.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

BLITZER: It's day two of the Democratic National Convention. It's about to officially be called to order. The call to order only a few moments away, with some highly anticipated speeches tonight, including the keynote speech by the former Virginia governor, Mark Warner, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and what will certainly be one of the closely watched speeches of this entire convention. That would be Hillary Clinton's speech tonight.

The best political team on television is here in Denver with me.

We're covering all the angles of this historic gathering, including our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley; our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

She's here on the floor with me.

We want to go to CNN's Jessica Yellin, though, first.

She's down there with the delegates on the convention floor.

Actually, before we go to Jessica, let's go to Candy Crowley.

She's on the podium watching what's going on -- Candy, set the stage for us right now as to what we can expect on this important night.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, generally at about this time, we would be talking to you about the keynote speech, which will be given this year by Virginia governor -- I'm sorry, former Virginia governor, Mark Warner, who is now running for the U.S. Senate. He will, indeed, be giving that speech tonight.

But really, all of the juice -- all of the excitement is toward Hillary Clinton's speech. And it's being watched not just for itself, but will also be seen in conjunction with whatever Barack Obama has to say on Thursday night -- the idea being is the totality of the two of them together enough to show party unity and move on out of this convention for what they hope will be a victory.

Hillary Clinton, the people around her tell me, will be, of course, acknowledging those people and those delegates in this hall who are here to vote for her. But she will also outline what they call the stakes here in this election. It seems to be code for hitting John McCain, saying, look, you can either have this or you can have that. You can move the country this way or you can move the country that way -- real contrasts, they say.

So you will hear some of that -- John McCain -- going after John McCain here from Hillary Clinton.

We did see them come and check out the podium here. Her daughter Chelsea was with Hillary Clinton at this point. We do believe Chelsea may be introducing her. She was holding the mike at one point. It's not on the program, but it seemed to be a pretty good indication that she'd be doing that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And I think she'd do an excellent job introducing her mom to this audience tonight.

Stand by, Candy.

We're going to be coming back to you.

Jessica Yellin is on the floor, also taking a look at what's going on -- Jessica, what are you seeing?

What are you hearing?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm with a woman named Dr. Luchy Secaira, a delegate-at-large from Naples, Florida, and a passionate Hillary Clinton supporter.

Dr. Secaira, let me first ask you, you feel like there is too much criticism of Senator Clinton and the way that she has conducted herself since the primaries ended.

LUCHY SECAIRA, FLORIDA DELEGATE AT LARGE: Yes, I do, because what she did is unprecedented. I mean the primary was over on a Tuesday. On Saturday she held a rally with all of her supporters and gave a very passionate speech, telling us to unite and telling us that she was throwing her full support behind Barack Obama. I mean and since then, she's campaigned for him. She's raised money for him and she keeps telling us to unite behind him.

And I am going to unite behind him on Thursday. We will come out of here united.

YELLIN: Right. But you're saying you're going to unite behind him on Thursday, but you want to vote for her on Wednesday, because she's very meaningful to you.

What does her candidacy represent to you?

SECAIRA: Her candidacy represents a lot. As a matter of fact, today that she's speaking, it's the anniversary of the women's suffrage, OK?

And Hillary Clinton was the first viable candidate -- true viable candidate to be the first female president of the United States. And I am going to vote for her on roll call. And I am going to vote for her because she deserves it. I mean, you're not -- the campaign and the DNC act like they're giving her a gift. According to the rules, she's entitled to have a roll call.

YELLIN: Great. And you also believe you won't see another candidate like her for another hundred years.



Wolf, another thing I've heard here tonight is that they feel like the Barack Obama campaign should do more to reach out to a lot of these Clinton supporters. A lot of frustration there.

The Obama campaign, of course, feel that they've done that. But the two aren't quite meeting yet, so perhaps that will evolve.

Right now, still some divisions, even among people who say they plan to unite eventually -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica's going to be with us all night, as well.

Suzanne Malveaux is over at the New York delegation on the floor, the home state of Senator Clinton -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's certainly not surprising that you can have a lot of Clinton supporters here. Obviously, there were some bitter feelings before. But I'm talking to a lot of people and they seem to at least be trying to work through that.

And I'm here with Lillian Roberts.

I want to get a sense from you, you're a Clinton supporter. You have been for many years.

What do you hope Hillary Clinton says to you?

What do you need for her to say in order for her to convince you that now is the time to move on?

LILLIAN ROBERTS, NEW YORK DELEGATE: I'm convinced when she was convinced. You know, I think she just has to give the message very loud and clear as to why she's moving on. And we all should join her in that venture.

MALVEAUX: Are you convinced that Barack Obama is a strong candidate?

ROBERTS: Yes, I am. I think we're very fortunate that we had two very strong, very good candidates. And that was Hillary and Barack.

MALVEAUX: If she says this is the time, this is the moment to let go to delegates, it's now your time to vote for who you wish, she says she's going to vote for Barack Obama, are you going to go ahead and vote for Hillary Clinton, a symbolic gesture to acknowledge all the support that she got here in New York, including your own?

ROBERTS: Well, I think it's been acknowledged. I'm going to vote for Barack because I feel that she she's voting for him. She wants us to support him and I want to show that support.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you very much.

Lillian Roberts.

Again, Wolf, there are people who want to hear a very clear message from Hillary Clinton tonight, but they seem to be willing to make that next step to vote for Barack Obama. They say they're following their leader, Hillary Clinton, and that's what she wants to do -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect we're going to be hearing a lot more of that as this day and all these days continue.

But we'll see.

Thanks, Suzanne.

The nominee-to-be is aggressively courting one of the voting blocs he consistently lost to Hillary Clinton back in the primary contest. That would be blue collar Democrats.

CNN's Jim Acosta is in Kansas City, Missouri right now, where Senator Obama held a town hall meeting -- Jim, who was there at that meeting?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, if Barack Obama has any hopes of winning in November, he's going to have to win over working class Democrats. And he had a room full of them today inside this American Airlines hangar that's on the verge of handing out pink slips.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: This economy is not working for ordinary Americans.

ACOSTA (voice-over): At an airline hangar where 400 mechanics are to be laid off by the end of the year, Barack Obama got out his hammer to nail President Bush and John McCain on the economy.

OBAMA: Now, it would be nice if people just looked at the track records and just said boy, these guys have really screwed things up. We're going to have to go ahead and vote for the Democrats. But you know that U.S. politics doesn't work that way.

ACOSTA: Far from subtle, but neither is this new Obama TV ad that portrays the president and McCain as fiscally clueless bosom buddies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if I could be just like you, what a wonderful world this would be.


OBAMA: He is out of touch. I don't think he realizes what ordinary American families are going through. I don't think the Bush administration understands what ordinary Americans are going through. But I do. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.

ACOSTA: The message is clicking for airline mechanic Don Greenwood, who has been at this hangar for 38 years and seen the workforce slashed from 7,000 employees to just 600. (on camera): Do you think these workers who are getting laid off will find jobs out there paying as much as they're making now?

DON GREENWOOD, AIRLINE MECHANIC: No. There's not any jobs out there in the Kansas City area that pays anything like what we make here.

ACOSTA (voice-over): During the primaries, Obama got tagged with the label "elitist" after a series of gaffes that suggested a lack of empathy for blue collar voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

OBAMA: We've got a little more work to do.

ACOSTA: The senator knows this slice of the electorate is a good place to start.


ACOSTA: And one politician who has connected with working class Democrats, Hillary Clinton, did not get a mention from Barack Obama today, even though she has one of the major addresses at that convention tonight. It's a sign there is still tension between these two camps -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

Thanks very much.

Jim Acosta covering Senator Obama's campaign on this day.

Let's go back to Jack.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack. CAFFERTY: Hillary Clinton is expected to be a cheerleader for party unity when she takes the stage tonight in Denver. You know, she'll come with a cute little outfit and turn a few cartwheels. Well, maybe not.

But there may be less there than meets the eye. Reports continue that tensions run high between the Clinton and Obama camps. "The Washington Post" reports some of Clinton's advisers are going to leave town before Barack Obama accepts the party's nomination on Thursday night. And that includes Terry McAuliffe, who was Clinton's campaign manager.

One Clinton supporter who is staying on for Obama's speech says it would be unrealistic to expect that there wouldn't be tension between these two groups and that the convention is a good place for the two groups to bond.

Of course, that's hard if you're leaving down.

Two longtime Clinton backers who are leaving early have excuses. One says it's for his daughter's weekend wedding, the other for an overseas business trip.

Nevertheless, the Democratic Party is probably not as unified as Barack Obama and many others are hoping it would be at this point.

Obama was also forced to address reports that Hillary Clinton was never vetted to be his running mate. He said he did, in fact, consider her at one point.

Meanwhile, John McCain is out with a fourth attack ad now, using Hillary Clinton's own words from the primaries against Barack Obama. It's that infamous 3:00 a.m. ad. It's back. And the announcer this time intones "Hillary was right."

That's not the way the Democrats drew this up.

Here's the question -- what message does it send when some of Hillary Clinton's top advisers plan to skip Barack Obama's acceptance speech?

Go to and you can post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack.

Thank you.

John McCain's vice presidential pick -- the announcement should be coming very, very soon. We're talking about it with one of the leading contenders, the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. He's standing by live.

Also, Hurricane Gustav on the move and gaining strength. Landfall in the United States right now a definite possibility.

Plus, Hillary Clinton's speech tonight -- what can she do to help unite Democrats once and for all?

There she is with daughter Chelsea. They were rehearsing, earlier today up on the podium.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: One thing the Democrats do really well here, they have great music on the floor of the Democratic Convention, pumping everybody up. Good rock and roll -- classic rock and roll.

With the Republican convention only less than a week away from now, there's growing buzz about who John McCain will choose as his running mate. That announcement is expected soon.

We're going to go to Dana Bash on that in a moment.

But Gloria Borger is here with us, as well -- Gloria, as we take a look at the gavel, which is about to come down on day two, this is a very important night for the Democrats. Some of the critics, like James Carville, think they didn't really do what they needed to do last night in going after and hammering away at John McCain.

Are we going to see more of that tonight?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we're going to see the start of it tonight. And I think you're going to see Hillary Clinton being the one to do it. Hillary Clinton is going to start drawing the distinction between what Barack Obama represents and what John McCain represents. Remember, John McCain's been running all these ads, Wolf, using Hillary Clinton's own words against Barack Obama. I think she'll take a great deal of her speech tonight to try and iron that out a little bit. And I was told by one of her top advisers she will be very clear about where she stands in this race after we hear from her.

BLITZER: We're going to be speaking with Mitt Romney in a little while, Dana. And we're waiting. Within a minute or so, they're about to begin this process.

But what are you hearing about John McCain?

We expect Friday -- this Friday, the day after the convention ends, he'll make his announcement about his running mate.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It could be earlier, you know...

BLITZER: Really?

BASH: As we're talking about the drama here, there's so much drama going inside the McCain campaign about this. Knowledgeable sources say that there have been, obviously, as you can imagine, been deliberating about this. The campaign manager for John McCain, Rick Davis, went out to Arizona when he was home this weekend. This very, very, very small circle of advisers who were talking about this, deliberated on it.

The man you're going to talk to very soon, Mitt Romney, we're told, is still very much at the top of the list. In fact, I just came from a press conference he just had -- a McCain-sponsored press conference. It almost sounded like an audition -- a Romney running mate audition. And he clearly is practicing for it.

But there's one other interesting thing, Wolf, and that is we are told that there are discussions going on still about Joe Lieberman, pros and cons sort of deliberating back and forth about the pros and cons about picking him. Pro, obviously, is that John McCain adores him and he thinks it would really send a bipartisan message. The con, clearly, is that there would likely be a conservative revolt.

BLITZER: They're about to bring this second day of this convention to order.

Let's watch and listen a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have an important job.

MAYOR SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, ATLANTA: The second session of the 45th Quadrennial National Convention of the Democratic Party will now come to order. Delegates, alternates, standing committee members, guests and fellow Americans, welcome to the 2008 Democratic National Convention deliberations.

Please rise for the invocation, offered by the Reverend Cynthia Hale from Georgia.

REV. CYNTHIA HALE: Good afternoon.

It is my privilege to lead us in prayer.

Great and awesome God, as we gather in this place from all across the length and breadth of this nation, we pause to acknowledge you as the one in whom we live and move and have our being. You, oh, God, created us in your image and likeness and invited us to partner with you in the stewardship of your world.

We are called to be faithful over the Earth, its people and its resources. On this day, as we gather to renew America's promise, we are keenly aware of the challenges American families are facing. People are being hit hard by the economic downturn, the energy crisis and rising food costs. Their spirits are being crushed by the mortgage mayhem, as well as the absence of affordable housing and health care.

Parents desire and deserve to be able to give their children quality and affordable education, from preschool through college. Times are tough. People are struggling. Some have lost hope.

We know, oh, God that this is not your perfect will for any of your people. It is your will that all people have their basic human needs met. It is your desire that all would prosper and be in good health, even as our souls prosper. It is your desire that everyone would be treated with dignity and respect.

As a nation and as a party, we are at a crucial time. We have an opportunity to not only make history, but to bring about change we can all believe in and restore hope to the hearts of women and men.

Unite us as a party, oh God. Let us be one in this common purpose -- to renew our promise so that we might live out our creed to be one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.

In your strong and mighty name we pray.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing as our colors are presented by the American G.I. Forum.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Delegates and guests, please welcome Kobe Langley to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the national anthem, sung by the Rocky Mountain Children's Choir.


COSTELLO: And we'll get back to Wolf in Denver in just a minute.

Day two of the Democratic National Convention. The keynote speech and Hillary Clinton's speech just hours away. The best political team to television on top of all the developing news in Denver.

Plus, trapped in her wrecked car for five days before anyone found her -- one mother's amazing story of survival.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: We'll get back to Wolf Blitzer and the convention in just a moment.

But first, other news incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM. Hurricane Gustav gathering strength in the Caribbean.

Let's get right to CNN's severe weather expert, Chad Myers.

He's in Atlanta -- Chad, bring us up to date.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Carol, do not turn your back on this storm. A category one, 75-mile per hour storm over Haiti right now. The numbers went down for speed because it hit land. But when it's getting into the Gulf of Mexico, by Saturday and Sunday, it is forecast to be a 120-mile per hour storm.

Once this gets into the Gulf, it's going to hit something. It's going to hit Texas, Mexico, Florida or somewhere along the Gulf Coast.

You need to pay attention to this storm. It could be a category three or a category four. Whatever, it is a major hurricane. It's going to make big time damage across parts of the Gulf Coast sometime late in the weekend, early next week -- Carol.

COSTELLO: We'll keep our eye on it.

Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Some dangerous convicts on the run after breaking out of a New Mexico jail. They escaped on Sunday after shimmying up pipes and cutting a hole in the roof with handmade instruments. Three of the eight who escaped have been caught, but five remain on the loose. Among them, a convicted murder, a man charged with murder and others charged with assault.

A missing North Carolina mother has been found alive. She disappeared five days ago after buying groceries. Unknown to her family, she lost control of her truck and crashed down a hill into a ravine covered in kudzu vines. She was pinned inside her truck for five days before being found suffering from hypothermia and other serious injuries. She remains in the hospital this afternoon.

Back in Denver, hardly any mention so far of John McCain and President Bush. But that could all change tonight. Our political contributors James Carville and Bill Bennett are here to talk about that and much more.

Also, the vice presidential running mate, Joe Biden, in a very emotional moment with delegates from his home state.

What got him so choked up?

Plus, new developments of what some feared was a plot in Denver against Obama Barack Obama.

We'll send it back to Denver after this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a critical night here at the Democratic National Convention. Hillary Clinton takes the podium for a speech that could unite the party after a bruising primary. Our CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, he's standing by to join us live.

Cindy McCain heads off to a global hot spot, bucking a political traditional to lie low during the opposing party's convention.

And a disturbing development outside of Denver, three suspects are arrested, rifles, fake IDs and a bullet-proof vest all seized. Was this a plot to assassinate Senator Barack Obama?

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

All that -- all that coming up. But let's go Suzanne Malveaux. She's on the floor of the Democratic convention here. She's watching what is going on.

What are you picking up, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have a delegate from Florida, Allen Clendon (ph), he's a very big Hillary Clinton supporter as we can tell from the t-shirt you're wearing. You are a delegate as well. You've been giving out buttons and Hillary stickers. Why are you still wearing the t-shirt Hillary Clinton for president? Do you think this is going to undermine somehow the unity that people are talking about between the Obama and Clinton supporters?

ALLEN CLENDON (ph), FLORIDA DELEGATE: No, absolutely not. I'm wearing the t-shirt. Tonight is Hillary Clinton. At 8:30 tonight she's going to be on TV and she's going to talk to everybody in this arena. And she'll talk to people all over this nation and all over the world about the message of the Democratic Party and how she feels in her heart and what she believes that we need to do to move the country forward. I believe that she is going to talk about unity because I believe that she supports unity. I am a pledged Hillary Clinton delegate. I was elected to be a delegate. I'm going to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. But in the end, I'm going to support the Democratic nominee.

MALVEAUX: You know that she's releasing her delegates. She's going to say that basically you do as you wish. She will vote for Obama. But you say you're going to vote for her.

CLENDON (ph): I'm going to support Hillary Clinton because there's people back home in Tampa that supported me to become a delegate to this convention and they did that because I pledged I was going to support Hillary Clinton. So, I have a -- I think a responsibility to those people to do what I told them that I was going to do. So, I will cast my vote tomorrow morning for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States.


CLENDON (ph): I fully expect that Barack Obama will become the nominee and on Friday we're all going to go home and we're going to elect Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.

MALVEAUX: All right, Allen, thank you very much. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Suzanne.

So far very little mention at the Democratic convention of John McCain or George Bush for that matter. But will that all change tonight? Let's talk about that and more with our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist James Carville and our CNN political contributor, Bill Bennett. He is the host of the conservative national radio show "Good Morning in America" and a fellow of the Claremont Institute.

James, you really shook up this party last night when you said you were thunder struck in effect that there wasn't more of an attack on the first night against John McCain and George Bush.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think what I said was that there was a message, they were hiding it pretty well. I thought we lacked a little coherence the first night. I think we're going to get it tonight.

BLITZER: Who is going to do it tonight?

CARVILLE: I think you'll see everybody do it tonight. I think that we're in for a real treat for the rest of this convention. I fully expected to leave here unified, but I wasn't that impressed with what I heard last night. So, I said so.

BLITZER: Well, you were impressed by the tribute to Ted Kennedy and what he said and you were impressed by Michelle Obama.

CARVILLE: The lead-up to that.

BLITZER: But you thought it was a waste -- there wasn't enough of an assault, if you will, on the Republicans.

CARVILLE: Or even -- even that they weren't a coherent message that we weren't trying to get a single thing out. Everybody hit a kind of different opinion. I would have liked to have said something more coherent. Obviously as it progresses I'd like to see sort of a coherent contrast with the current administration and how McCain represents that. But we'll see.

BLITZER: Bill, will the Republicans at their convention in St. Paul next week sort of take the high road on the first night and just talk about all the positive things out there, or can we expect a full frontal attack against the Democrats and Barack Obama?

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know that those are the options. I think those are insufficient options. You can take the high road and go on offense. But you got to go on offense. I agree with James. This is like football; you are on offense or you're on defense. If you are not on offence, you're being scored on. We're actually getting a Biden bounce. The Gallup daily tracking has McCain up two points since this convention started and they really haven't turned the ball -- or handed it off --

BLITZER: Why are you blaming Biden for that?

BENNETT: Well, maybe he certainly didn't, you know, get the points up. There's nothing else going on. The only news that's come out has been the selection of Biden as vice president. He's a friend of mine and I'm sorry to see that. But there's no bounce yet, because they haven't tried to move the ball. So, one assumes tonight, but everything I'm hearing about Mark Warner it's going to be an assault of blandness. We shall see. But Hillary, you know, she's the one who can lay it out hard on John McCain. Of course, everybody will be watching her body language. But this is a contact sport and they haven't made contact yet.

BLITZER: Give us a preview of Hillary's speech tonight.

CARVILLE: Oh, I think it will be -- I think Chelsea Clinton of which actually some people were attacking her for having her daughter introduce her.

BLITZER: Will Chelsea introduce her mom?

CARVILLE: I think so. I think but I'm not sure. There's going to be a film introducing her and I think it's going to be very good and supporting the unity in the party and Senator Obama. I think she will give very good remarks, supportive of the ticket and we're going to put a lot of things to rest here tonight. I suspect that she's going to give a very good speech. We're going to have a very good night tonight.

Secretary Bennett is right, we haven't received a bounce yet. But that generally doesn't happen until the end of the convention. It was true in '92 and it was certainly true in 2000. Everything I've heard about Senator Obama's speech impresses me so far what they are saying it's going to be like.

BLITZER: Senator Obama's speech Thursday night at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium. What are you looking for, Bill, tonight in Hillary Clinton's speech?

BENNETT: Well obviously, we'll see if the rift is healed. We'll be seeing how strongly she speaks out for Obama. People will be interpreting the body language. We'll see if she does more in the end.

But let me come back, change sports, not football but boxing. Yes, Thursday night is the big night. If Obama doesn't get five, six, eight points out of that, Invesco Field, the anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech, he's the nominee. I mean that should be a tremendous night. But round one, I think round one went to John McCain. You have been having very fair coverage, Wolf, and I think there's been as much coverage of the McCain ads and the 527 ads coming out. The offense, again, of the McCain effort, much more so than the Democrats. So, round one goes to McCain. But this is round two. It's a new night.

BLITZER: You know, there's a very strong ad that McCain just released --


BLITZER: -- and I'm going to play a little bit of it for you James, because I want you to respond. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uncertainty. Dangerous aggression. Rogue nations. Radicalism.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the white house. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.


BLITZER: All right, there it is.

CARVILLE: I would say -- let's see. We got a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. We have a resurgent Iran. We have a collapse in currency. We have an overstretched military. We have a $3 trillion war. We're sending all of our money to China. We have no energy policy. I don't know if there's ever been an eight years that the United States' economic and diplomatic prestige has fallen as low. If you like the last eight in foreign policy, you like our diplomacy for the last eight, you like our relationships with the world, you like the way our veterans are treated, vote John McCain, he'll give you more of the same. That would be my answer.

BLITZER: What would be your answer, Bill?

BENNETT: Well James just answered Hillary Clinton. Bit it was Hillary Clinton who said he brings a lifetime of experience and Joe Biden has said you know he'd be very good for the nation in that position. This is told trial lawyer's technique using the witnesses' words, the hostile witness to make your case and there he's using Hillary Clinton's words very effectively. It's not the only time he'll use them. He'll use them again. It's one tough ad and I think it's one effective ad. It's won at the polls that's where people have confidence in John McCain over Barack Obama.

BLITZER: We've counted it's the fourth ad that the McCain campaign has used, using Hillary Clinton's own words.

BENNETT: Just getting started.

CARVILLE: Hopefully Senator McCain saying I agree with President Bush on every big issue. I would play all the time him campaigning to put social security money in sub prime mortgages. I would drive that home as hard as I could.

BLITZER: James and Bill are going to be with us throughout the night as this coverage of the convention continues.

Also, John McCain's wife taking an unexpected trip to a global hot spot, the former soviet republic of Georgia. Cindy McCain's pointed words about the conflict there and Russia's role in it all. And there's new tension. Could there be another cold war? Back in Denver, Senator Hillary Clinton getting ready for one of the biggest speeches of her political career. We're behind the scenes at the Democratic National Convention. There she is earlier today, getting ready with daughter Chelsea.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're here on the floor of the Democratic National Convention. We're the only cable news organization anchoring from the floor of the convention.

There's some unusual developments going on. But we want to get to that a little bit later. Right now, we want to talk to one of those who's on the short list for the Republican vice presidential slot, the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney. He's actually here in Denver.

Governor, did you ever think you'd be at a Democratic National Convention?

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, here I am at the convention hall, in your studios. It's a bit like being in the Massachusetts statehouse as a Republican. So -- but people are very friendly. It's good to be here.

BLITZER: And next week there will be Obama supporters at the Republican convention, so that makes it all nice.

Let's talk a little bit about what's going on. We expect your candidate, John McCain, to select his vice presidential running mate Friday in an address in Dayton, Ohio, the day after this convention wraps up. I'll ask a blunt question. Are you, Governor Romney, ready to debate Joe Biden?

ROMNEY: You know, Joe Biden is an impendigible (ph) thicket of words. I can't imagine anybody who's ready to debate Joe Biden but I don't have anything for you on the VP front. I'm not sure when John McCain will make his announcement and who it will be but you know I have confidence in his instincts. He's proven time and time again that those instincts serve him well. And I think he'll make a wise choice.

BLITZER: The Obama campaign seems to think you're really, really high on the list, if not already the list. David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager, said this, referring to you, and I'll quote him. He says, "This is someone who was a job-killing machine in business. He's someone who has been proficient in using tax havens in places like the Cayman Islands that Americans have become increasingly tired of." He's referring to some of your business practices when you were out in the business world. You want to respond to this Obama suggestion that you would be bad for American workers?

ROMNEY: Well, I'm probably best to respond by talking about what I did in Massachusetts, which is I worked very hard to help people. And I'm very proud of the fact that together with people on both sides of the aisle we put in place a health plan that's got now 440,000 more people insured with health insurance, and with regards to the charges that are coming from the Obama campaign towards me, all I can say is that I guess the truth is the first casualty of a -- the new politics presented by the Obama campaign.

BLITZER: We know that the -- the McCain campaign's using Hillary Clinton's words against Barack Obama, in these campaign commercials. They're using Joe Biden, the vice presidential candidate, his words to try to undermine Barack Obama. You know the Democrats, if you get this nod as the Republican vice presidential candidate, they're going to use your own words going after John McCain during a long primary process.

Here's some of -- we put together a little -- a little snippet from that debate over in California, that CNN debate, that you and Senator -- you and Senator McCain were really going at it. Listen to this.


ROMNEY: There are a number of pieces of the legislation where his views are out of the mainstream, at least in my view, of conservative Republican thoughts. He's opposed to drilling in Anwar. He is a co-author of m McCain/Feingold and he was one of the authors of m McCain/Kennedy. I guess I'd also note that if you get endorsed by "The New York Times," you're probably not a conservative.


BLITZER: All right. Are you worried that the Democrats will do to you what the Republicans are now doing to Biden?

ROMNEY: Well, I think that the McCain campaign would be happy if they played that ad with my comments, because it just points out something that, well, I think everybody in America knows, and that is that John McCain is his own man. That he's not a carbon copy of any other Republican, including President Bush and this whole line of attack that he's a continuation of Bush just isn't going to fly.

You know, in a debate we talk about why we're the right person to win and the other guy isn't. But one thing I never said about John McCain so far as I can recall, I never said he wasn't qualified. I always said he's a man who I respected, who is an American hero. And I think with regards to Barack Obama, the reason these ads are so powerful is you have Joe Biden saying he didn't have the qualifications or the experience to be president. I agree with Joe Biden on that.

And I -- I think the American people are asking themselves, Barack Obama, he's a charming guy, he's a celebrity, but does he have the judgment and experience that comes from a lifelong service in one sector or another?

BLITZER: We'll leave it right there. Good luck, Governor. Governor Romney, we'll see you in St. Paul next week. Thanks for joining us here in Denver.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: And Joe Biden, he got a little choked up today. We're going to have more on that story when we come back from the Democratic -- to the Democratic convention here.

But, first, Jeanne Moos has another unconventional moment.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, there's the cheesehead and there's a corn on the cob. But sometimes you've got to ask.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mackinaw bridge is on my hat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A toilet, a sink and a bathtub.

MOOS: We have finally solved the riddle of why people wear silly hats to conventions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were told by other people who came to conventions that you will have the best time if you wear a hat.

MOOS: Especially if you like having your picture taken. Maxine Goldstein's hat represents money being flushed down the drain.

MAXINE GOLDSTEIN: My biggest problem is coming through security when you have to take your bathroom off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My kids said that if they actually saw me on television with this hat, they would leave home and wouldn't be there when I got back from the convention.

MOOS: But there are hats that can save kids from the humiliation of parental identification.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we put it on like that -- waa!

MOOS: With an unconventional moment, I'm Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



BLITZER: Welcome back. Let's go right to Jack. He's got the Cafferty File.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is what message does is send when some of Hillary Clinton's top advisers plan to skip Barack Obama's acceptance speech?

James says, "Nobody will ever accuse the Clintons and their inner circle of having any class. The supporters leaving town are consistent with their track record over the years." Yvonne says, "I'm not sure what it means but I know what it means to me. If Hillary's supporters can't support Barack Obama now, I will never support Hillary later."

Suzie in Washington, "Sends a very appropriate message. This should have been Hillary's year. Obama is an inexperienced interloper, supported by a bunch of people with stars in their eyes."

Peter in North Carolina, "They realized they won't get any high profile jobs in a Clinton white house."

Rob in Denver says, "Are they going to walk out? It's an interesting rumor but so much of the rift between Obama and Clinton seems to be blown out of proportion by the news media and talk radio, simply trying to fill up air time with something controversial. Until Obama's speech on Thursday your question is moot."

Alex in Sacramento says, "It's sad. It's like children not staying for the cake at a birthday party. Sad."

And Dylan writes, "Jack, the question is not so much what message does it send but more if Hillary was the one making the acceptance speech, would a family wedding or a business trip pre-empt it?"

If you didn't see your e-mail to g to my blog at and look for yours there among hundreds of others.


BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you.

Barack Obama's running mate choking up in a meeting with his home state delegates. What got Joe Biden so emotional?

Also, tonight's keynote speech by the former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, we'll have a preview of that and much more. You're watching the Democratic National Convention. The governor of New York State, David Paterson, he's speaking right now. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: In our political ticker, the Obama children stole just a bit of the spotlight when they graced the stage after their mother speech last night. They talked to their dad via satellite but for a few moments there the girls thought someone else was going to pop up on the satellite feed. Listen to this.


MICHELLE OBAMA: Let me let you on a secret, because I did a bunch of surprises. Last night when Barack showed up on the screen, the girls didn't know he was going to be there. So when we walked out, I whispered down, I said I've got a surprise for you, when they walked out. Malia, our oldest said, "Is it the Jonas Brothers?"


BLITZER: Tomorrow Senator Joe Biden will take center stage at the convention for a highly-anticipated speech. CNN's Mary Snow joins us now.

Mary the senator got pretty choked up today.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf. He did get emotional earlier in the day and it came as Joe Biden thanked supporters from his home state. But as he gears up to address the convention, some say he may need to show something else, his feisty side.


SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a great honor being nominated vice president of the United States.

SNOW: Senator Joe Biden choked up as he addressed the delegation from Delaware for the first time since getting the VP nod.

BIDEN: But it pales in comparison the honor that I've had representing you. I apologize for getting a little emotional.

SNOW: He thanked supporters from his home state as he pressed for his prime time moment. He got some help from Michelle Obama who made the rounds with him playing up his hard scrabble roots as the Obama camp hopes Biden will draw blue collar workers.

OBAMA: Both Barack and Joe grew up in families that struggled at times to make ends meet.

SNOW: CNN political analyst David Gergen says Biden may be needed to use his scrappiness in another way.

BIDEN: You better love me.

SNOW: The brawler that goes after Republicans.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It may be up to Joe Biden to deliver the roundhouse set of punches that have not yet come.

SNOW: Gergen cautions Biden's willingness to speak out could also be his drawback if he speaks out too much. Biden's other asset, foreign policy credentials and senate experience. Gergen also points out, added pressure on Biden.

GERGEN: He's not Hillary Clinton and there's no candidate who can be Hillary Clinton if it's not Hillary.


SNOW: And that adds an extra pressure to build bridges with Clinton supporters. A spokesman for Biden says the senator is still working on his speech and Wolf, he has cleared his schedule to prep for tomorrow night.

BLITZER: All right, he'll need a lot of preparations for a big speech. Mary, thank you.

Decorum and political drama, day two at the Democrats' convention.