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Rick Perry Falling in Polls; Super Committee Secrecy; Bank Sues Foreclosed Home Owner; Amanda Knox's First Day Home; Interview With Amanda Knox's U.S. Attorney Theodore Simon; Obama, Romney Getting Tougher?; Super Committee Co-Chair Reacts to Critics; Will U.S. Elect Another Black President?; Does He Sound Different to You?

Aired October 5, 2011 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Brooke, thanks very much.

Happening now, Their urgent mission, keep the red ink from rising above America's neck by finding ways to cut more than $1 trillion deficit dollars. The congressional super committee is supposed to be open -- open about it, but they're keeping the public in the dark. Stand by.

And Rick Perry is plunging in the polls, but he's piling up lots of cash. Can a surge in contributions put his presidential campaign back on track?

And President Obama is being compared to a chameleon for his ability to change the style and tone of his speeches depending on the audience. Does he sound different to you?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The clock is ticking on the urgent mission of the so-called super committee. A dozen lawmakers from both sides of the aisle they are supposed to save more than a trillion dollars from the deficit and help to save America from even more serious economic problems.

They said they'd be open about their work and give the public a chance to be heard. But they have been staying very much behind closed doors and keeping the public very much in the dark.

Our congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan is up on Capitol Hill and she is looking into this story here.

Kate, what's going only here? This was not supposed to be like this.


I'm standing out front right now as people are passing by. Right behind me is this nondescript room. This is where the super committee has been meeting all this week and will be meeting again this evening behind closed doors which has some government watchers with this committee -- since this committee has such a huge job before them, some government watchers are calling this approach troubling.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The so-called super committee began its work with a promise of transparency.

MURRAY: I believe the American people deserve to have full access to committee business the way they do with every committee here in Congress.

REP. JEB HENSARLING (R), TEXAS: There will be ample opportunities for the public to have their opinions heard.

BOLDUAN: But with just seven weeks before their Thanksgiving deadline, the committee has met in public only three times. The 12 members meeting more often in private and offering almost no detail on any progress they're making.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have decided to let our co-chair speak for us.

MURRAY: Make progress.

BOLDUAN: The closed-door meetings have government watchdog groups up in arms, accusing the powerful committee of inappropriate secrecy.

JOHN WONDERLICH, SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION: Transparency is especially important for the super committee because they are basically replacing the rest of Congress. They have far more power than any other committee has.

BOLDUAN: John Wonderlich is with the Sunlight Foundation, one of more than a dozen groups calling on the super committee to open up, saying members should also disclose campaign contributions and any contact with lobbyists.

WONDERLICH: We think that the amount of power that the super committee has been given should come with some disclosure and transparency that's at least equal to that, especially if they're going to be fund-raising and meeting with lobbyists at the same time.

BOLDUAN: But Jim Manley, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, says getting behind closed doors may be the only way to get anything done. Look no further than this summer's debt ceiling fiasco.

JIM MANLEY, FORMER HARRY REID AIDE: Aides immediately ran out and gave a blow-by-blow description almost in real time to reporters. I don't think that was helpful for the process.

BOLDUAN: Manley suggests that less talk from the committee could actually be a sign of good progress.

MANLEY: After all, every vote they take is going to be in public under the klieg lights of C-SPAN and CNN. And if that's not real accountability, I don't know what is.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BOLDUAN: Now, Wolf, I will tell you just a short time ago as actually we were speaking, members of the super committee began to walk beside us. None of them decided to stop to speak to CNN about this committee meeting.

But I will tell you, to the point that Jim Manley was making in that piece, in our piece, an aide to a super committee member assures me that the committee will continue to have public hearings and public meetings, as well as public votes, but that members feel very strongly that the best way, the only way really that they think that they will be able to reach bipartisan agreement in this hyper-partisan environment in this short period of time is getting away from the spotlight and being able to have private conversations about how to reach this very difficult compromise -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that's the dilemma, because they always promise that C- SPAN cameras will be in all of these hearings, the American public will have full access, whether on this, whether energy, whether health care, whether energy in earlier administrations. And then something happens and they go behind closed doors and people complain. But that's the nature of Washington. Things haven't changed all that much.

Kate, thanks very much.

Jack Cafferty is joining us right now. He has got some news in "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The lobbyists have access to the super committee, though, don't they?

BLITZER: Money talks, as they say, Jack, and you and I know that.

CAFFERTY: Absolutely disgraceful.

"Black walnut isn't a flavor of the week." That is the best quote of the campaign so far. And it comes from Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. The businessman and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City is talking about his own surge in the polls.

As Cain sees it, he might just be the second black president of these United States.

Several new national polls show Cain closing the gap with front-runner Mitt Romney, while Texas Governor Rick Perry goes right off a cliff.

In one poll, Cain is even tied for first place with Romney.

Just this hour, CNN is out with our first poll of polls on the 2012 Republican horse race.

It shows Romney at the top of the pack with 20 percent. He's followed closely by Cain, 17 percent. Rick Perry, who was briefly the GOP front-runner, is now third at 15 percent.

And the rest of the candidates are all in single digits.

Cain, who's picked up steam since his surprise victory in the Florida straw poll, is laying out his path to victory.

He told ABC News his goal is to finish in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then win in South Carolina and Florida. It might happen.

Meanwhile, as Cain gets stronger, President Obama is getting weaker.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows four in 10 Americans strongly disapprove of how Mr. Obama is handling his job. That's a record high.

The poll also shows 43 percent of independents and 47 percent of seniors strongly disapprove of President Obama's handling of his job. You cannot win reelection with numbers like that.

Even many Democrats aren't supporting the president. Look at Congress. Harry Reid just blocked a vote on the president's job bill in the Senate, because the Democrats don't have the votes to pass it.

So here's the question: How likely do you think it is that the United States would elect two black presidents in a row?

Go to CNN come/Caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog or go to our THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a great question, Jack. And we will see what our viewers think about it.

Newt Gingrich, by the way, is going to join us live in our next hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM. So, we will have a lot more politics coming up.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry may be plunging in the polls, but he's certainly piling up the campaign cash. Can all that fund-raising raise his standing once again among fellow Republicans?

Let's bring in our own Jim Acosta. He's covering this part of the story for us.

So, what are you learning, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, as Jack just mentioned, the horse race turned into a three-way battle between Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.

And while Rick Perry's poll numbers have softened a bit since the last GOP debate in Orlando, his fund-raising abilities have not. Take a look at this. The Perry campaign released its third-quarter fund- raising numbers today. The Texas governor raised $17 million according to his campaign. You may be wondering if the money dried up after Perry's shaky performance at the Orlando debate. Apparently not. When asked to elaborate on its third-quarter numbers and specifically provide a breakdown of what was raised before and after the debate, here is what the campaign told us. In the 41 days before that debate, Perry raised $323,000. In the nine days after the debate, look at that, $478,000. That may explain why the Perry campaign is not really worried right now. They don't think they're going off a cliff right now.

BLITZER: What about Mitt Romney and Herman Cain? How are they doing?

ACOSTA: Well, they have made some provocative statements out on the campaign trail today. And if there's a theme that is emerging for the 2012 campaign, Wolf, it may be class warfare.

Listen to what Herman Cain said to "The Wall Street Journal" about the Occupy Wall Street protesters. He all but told them to get a life.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself.


ACOSTA: Now, Mitt Romney also knows that voters are angry about the economy right now. So heated rhetoric is still playing on the campaign trail.

Listen what Romney said to about the president to a crowd in Tallahassee earlier today.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This week, the president, he said to the American people that he's a warrior for the middle class. If that's the case, I think there's been a severe case of friendly- fire--


ROMNEY: -- because he has not done what the middle class of America needs to have a prosperous and bright future.


ACOSTA: So, there you go, accusing the president of friendly-fire on the middle class. Wolf, that is just a taste of what's to come. All of these candidates are just getting warmed up for their next face- off, another GOP debate set for New Hampshire on Tuesday.

It could be a chance for Rick Perry to redeem himself after that shaky performance in Orlando.

BLITZER: Then we will all be heading out to Vegas October 18 for the next CNN Republican presidential debate.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: October 18.

ACOSTA: Then it will start all over again.

BLITZER: Mark your calendar.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: These debates are going to be coming fast and furious.

Thanks very much, Jim, for that.

ACOSTA: You bet.

BLITZER: Even worse than losing your home to foreclosure is having the bank sue you afterward. Guess what? It's happening to a growing number of people all across the country. We will meet one of them. Stand by. Information you need to know.

Plus, a manhunt after a deadly workplace shooting in California. We're learning new details right now.


BLITZER: You saw the numbers, Dow Jones industrials up 131 points. Right now, the market is just closing.

Banks, meanwhile, are fighting back against reform efforts by imposing new fees on customers. You have heard about Bank of America charging $5 a month to use a debit card, Citibank charging $15 a month for balances under $6,000. Last night on our new show, Erin Burnett, her new show called "OUTFRONT," she asked the treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, about all of this.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: The banks are blaming the reforms and the government for everything --


GEITHNER: -- including lots of problems that they themselves were central to causing and the people are terribly -- most people are terribly angry and frustrated with that --


GEITHNER: And they want to see things change.


BLITZER: All right, so, speaking of frustrated, get this, you can't pay your mortgage. The bank takes your home and then the bank sues you for the balance. It's happening a lot right now out across the country.

Lisa Sylvester is looking into this part of the story for us.

What are you seeing here, Lisa?


Well, here are the 10 states with the highest foreclosure states. They are states that you might expect, Arizona, Nevada, California and Georgia. And most of the states allow the banks to sue the borrowers even after the lender has foreclosed on the home.

And that is exactly what happened to one Florida man who bought his house in 2005, near the peak of the housing bubble.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): There's been a lot of upheaval in Ray Falero's life in the last few years. He and his wife divorced. He couldn't make the payments on their Orlando home on his income alone. And the bank foreclosed on him. Now he's being sued by his former mortgage company.

RAY FALERO, HOME FORECLOSED: What more do they want from me, is my question. I don't know. They have already taken the home. They have resold it. Now they're getting less money on the side and now they want to recoup on me?

SYLVESTER: A growing number of troubled homeowners are not only losing their homes, but facing lawsuits. It's something called a deficiency judgment.

Take Ray Falero's case. The bank loaned him $188,000 but only got $110,000 from the sale of the foreclosed home. Falero is now being sued for the difference, $78,000.

More than 30 states allow banks to sue the home owner when the lender recoups less on a foreclosure or short sale. For years, banks didn't pursue home owners in such cases, but that's changing, says lawyer Matt Englett, because of the sheer volume of foreclosures.

MATT ENGLETT, ATTORNEY: But most likely, the bank's not going to be the one doing it. What they're going to do is sell it to a third party debt collector who's in the business of collecting debt. And they're going to try to collect as much as they can.

SYLVESTER: Jim Saccacio, CEO of Realtytrac, says banks are more likely to go after people who borrowed for a second home, a vacation home or an investment property.

JIM SACCACIO, CEO, REALTYTRAC: Where people who may have other assets are just saying, You know what? Take the property back. I'm going to go on with my life, and you keep the obligation. In that instance, I believe that, you know, the banks have a right to receive some money, if the borrower has it. SYLVESTER: But in Ray Falero's case, this was his primary home. He says he tried working with his lender to save it but still couldn't make the payments. Walking away from the house he thought would be the end of it, but it didn't work out that way.


Ray Falero has now hired a lawyer to help fight this lawsuit.

Now, a key thing for home owners who may be in a foreclosure or short sale situation, it is very important, very important to get a release from the bank, clearing the borrower of any obligations to pay under the promissory note. If not, then the bank or debt collector can come back and pursue the difference even after the house is long gone -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a growing phenomenon right now all across the country. If you see your house foreclosed, make sure you get that statement--

SYLVESTER: Yes, got to the (INAUDIBLE)

BLITZER: -- that they're not going to sue you down the road.

SYLVESTER: Very important, Wolf. Cannot emphasize it enough. They have to get the release from that promissory note.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.

While anger is certainly simmering in this country, it's boiling over once again right now in Greece. At least 10,000 marchers shut down the center of Athens today protesting the latest wave of government belt-tightening. There was also a general strike by public workers closing government ministries, schools and the Athens airport, as well. Public sector workers say they've already suffered cuts amounting to 40 percent of their take-home pay.

Let's get back to our lead story. We just got a response from the co- chair of the super-committee about why they are meeting behind closed doors. We're going to play that for you.

Plus: She's in seclusion after her dramatic homecoming. What's Amanda Knox doing now that her Italian murder conviction has been overturned? Her American attorney is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We have new details of her newly found freedom, how she's enjoying her first full day back in the United States.


BLITZER: The world watched her emotional homecoming to Seattle after her murder conviction was overturned in Italy. Now Amanda Knox is basically in seclusion with her family and friends. This is the last we heard from here. We're about to hear from her attorney, as well. We're going to find out what she's doing right now. But this is her last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTION OVERTURNED: They're reminding me to speak in English because I'm having problems with that. I'm really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane, and it seemed like everything wasn't real. What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who's believed in me, who's defended me, who's supported my family. I just want my -- my family is the most important thing to me right now, and I just want to go and be with them. So thank you for being there for me.



BLITZER: And joining us now from Seattle, Theodore Simon. He's the American attorney representing Amanda Knox. Ted, thanks very much for coming in. All of our viewers in United States and around the world want to know, first of all, how is Amanda doing?

THEODORE SIMON, KNOX'S U.S. ATTORNEY: She is doing -- I'm happy to say, she is doing remarkably well. We were fortunate enough to make arrangements to be able to see her in private as she deplaned. We had an opportunity to speak with her. It was a very warm embrace that she gave me. She hugged her father. Even though her father traveled with her, he was not sitting with her, and they had a real emotional moment.

And then we provided her the opportunity whether or not she wanted to speak to the masses and throngs of photographers and cameramen outside. And you know, on her own, of her own volition, her own choice, she -- despite the fact that she was very tired and certainly worn (ph), wanted to express her thanks and her appreciation and her gratefulness for all those people in Seattle and around the world that supported her, recognized her innocence and supported her family. So she came out and delivered a beautiful, beautiful statement.

BLITZER: Now that she's a free woman in Seattle, back in the United States, what is she really doing? I know she's had some quality time with her family and friends, but what's going through her mind?

SIMON: Well, that's exactly what happened. She expressed in her statement that the most important thing was to spend meaningful time with her family, and that's exactly what happened after the press conference. We all left. We were able to arrive at a location that was filled with friends and family members, and it was just a beautiful evening to watch them interact.

It was very clear in watching her interact with her family what a kind and sweet and generous person she really is. I mean, she's joyful. She's youthful. But she's also very thoughtful. And it was more about other people, rather than about Amanda. She was much more interested in hearing how everyone else was and interacting with everyone.

It was almost as if she had not lost a step. She played with her younger cousins. And you can just see how sweet she is to everyone. And once you start realizing the type of person she is, it becomes even more apparent how ridiculous, how fanciful these charges were.

We already know there was no physical evidence. That's already been proven. We already understand what a wrongful conviction this was. But once America starts seeing -- and hopefully, at some point, they will -- the type of person that this -- that this -- that Amanda is, it's going to be so obvious that this was a total impossibility.

BLITZER: How's her family doing?

SIMON: Her family is doing quite well. I mean, they have devoted themselves in an unparalleled way. That's probably one of the most important things in this case as to why she presents as seeming as healthy as she is.

Let's keep in mind she was able to call her family once a week on a weekend and she was able to communicate and remain up to date on what was going on in everyone's life. And even more importantly, this family, in an incredible amount of devotion, always had a family member present for the entire four years in Italy that would visit as they were permitted to visit.

So she was always in touch. She was never abandoned. And I think this was very important for her. I think it was extremely important for her. Of course, she took care of herself in prison. She read, and the like. But I would say that I think that continuous contact from family members and that worldwide support was very critical not only to the result in the case, but really critical to her mental health and welfare.

BLITZER: Do you know if she wants to have a relationship with Meredith Kercher's family, the victim -- the murder victim in this case, her roommate? Has she reached out to the Kercher family, as far as you know?

SIMON: Well, you know, let's keep in mind, and as we expressed in the press conference -- it's very important to keep in mind that Meredith was Amanda's friend. And it was very important for Amanda, as well Amanda's family, for everyone, the rest of the world to continue to remember Meredith and to keep the Kercher family in their prayers. This is very important to them.

It was always hard to express while the case was going on, although when asked, they did. But let's be clear, that is very important to them.

BLITZER: You're the American attorney representing Amanda Knox. How worried are you that, potentially, the prosecution in Italy could win, if they take this, as they say they will, before the supreme court in Italy?

SIMON: Yes. We're certainly expecting them to take an appeal to the highest court, but we're not that concerned, although we don't want to prejudge the outcome. Let's be clear. In Italy, in the first stage of the appellate process, it is unlike United States procedure. The appellate court in Italy and the one that she was in front of, which is an appellate jury, has the power to evaluate whether or not there were errors of law, as well as to reopen and redetermine facts. That is what happened in this case. They reopened and redetermined facts and found them in favor of Amanda, and that's why this wrongful conviction was overturned.

However, as to the further appeal, the appeal to the highest court in Italy, that court has a much narrower scope of review. And what that means is the only question will be whether or not there were errors of law. And we don't believe there were any errors of law. The supreme court does not reopen, reevaluate or redetermine facts as has just happened. So it's because of that legal difference that we feel fairly confident. However, we would never prejudge a matter. But legally speaking, we're generally feeling good about it.

BLITZER: And under the very unlikely scenario that they would overturn the decision and actually seek her extradition from the United States, is it at all possible the U.S. would comply with an extradition order from Italy along those lines?

SIMON: I think that's a classic putting the cart before the horse. Extradition proceedings are complicated. We've had long experience with them. But I don't think we necessarily even have to start discussing these complicated issues at this time.

And that's not to avoid the question or avoid answering it. It really is based upon reality. And the reality is there has been a stunning reversal of the critical facts in this case. There's a patent absence of any fact that supports a conviction for murder. This appellate jury determined that. They correctly, they boldly, they courageously overturned this wrongful conviction, and I think that aspect is final. We certainly hope so.

We think we're on good legal ground. And if it should ever change, we'll deal with those issues at that time.

BLITZER: Ted Simon, thanks very much for joining us. Please pass along our best wishes to Amanda, her entire family. We appreciate your joining us.

SIMON: You're welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're going to speak in the next hour with Drew Griffin. He's in Seattle. He's getting new information on what's going on this, the first full day of Amanda Knox's freedom in the United States. Stand by for that.

Meanwhile, a manhunt is under way after a workplace shooting near San Francisco followed by an attempted carjacking. And there's also new information coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM about the person killed in that helicopter crash in New York's East River. You watched the story unfold live here 24 hours ago.


BLITZER: A manhunt is under way in San Francisco, in the Bay area, for the suspect in a deadly workplace shooting. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on out there?

SYLVESTER: Well, police say Sharif Alman (ph) opened fire during a shift change meeting at the quarry where he worked in Cupertino. Local news media are reporting three people dead and five injured. Alman is also suspected of shooting and injuring a woman in an attempted carjacking shortly afterward.

And we want to update you now on the breaking news we were following yesterday at this time, that crash of the helicopter in New York's East River. The woman who died has been identified as Sonia Marra (ph), a tourist from Australian. She was traveling with her mother, her stepfather and a friend, all of whom survived. Authorities say Marra was celebrating her 40th birthday.

And a key leader of the Civil Rights movement is dead. Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth was instrumental in the fight against segregation in Alabama and he helped Martin Luther King, Jr., found the influential Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In fact, King once called him the most courageous Civil Rights fighter in the South. Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth was 89 years old.

And for the first time, U.S. scientists have been able to clone human stem cells. The achievement is raising hope that patients could one day have custom stem cells made to replace their own damaged cells without risk of rejection by their immune systems. But cloning remains controversial, and the new milestone is likely to reheat that debate. Details appear in the new issue of the journal "Nature." So more debate now over the whole issue of cloning now, Wolf.

BLITZER: The debate continues, obviously. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.

He came out swinging at the House Republican leader with some tough talk and an open challenge. Is this the beginning of a tougher, newer President Obama? And what does Mitt Romney have to do to boost his campaign? Is it a crucial moment for him right now? All that and a lot more. We're getting ready for our "Strategy Session" right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's go right to our "Strategy Session." Joining us now, the Democratic strategist Jonathan Prince and CNN contributor David Frum of the Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

I want you to listen, first of all, to the president yesterday. He really showed a new, more assertive side in going after the house majority leader, Eric Cantor, on this jobs bill.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in? What exactly -- what exactly is he opposed to?


BLITZER: Jonathan, is this a new, tougher, more assertive style that we're seeing now from the president?

JONATHAN PRINCE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think what you're seeing is the natural transition from governing to the beginning of the campaign. And you know, people like to say -- there are a lot of truisms in politics. The problem with some of them is they're not really true. People like to say elections with incumbents are always referenda. It's not really true. Elections with incumbents, just like every other election in the United States, are about choices.

And as the campaign approaches and the choices join (ph), you're going to hear the president out there articulating his vision for the country and defining the vision that the Republicans are offering. It's not just going to be them, you know, their constant campaign that they've had the privilege and pleasure to wage for the last year or so.

BLITZER: Still more than--

PRINCE: So I think it's a natural inclination.

BLITZER: But it's still more than a year until November 2012, David. Is it too early for the president to become campaigner-in-chief and get off the high road, if you will?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And what is happening here is really discouraging and disappointing. That was a very aptly chosen clip you had because, of course, there is an answer to the president's question and he counts on it being embarrassing. What Eric Cantor and the Republicans object to is not so much the way the jobs bill spends its money, but the way the jobs bill raises its money. It's the financing mechanism.

And the financing -- they object to it because it was designed that way. The president isn't trying to get to yes, he's trying to get to no. And as Jonathan said, the object is about framing a choice. He wants to frame a choice in the most disadvantageous way possible, and the unemployed can just wait until he's reelected.

BLITZER: So Jonathan, is everyone here in Washington -- and this is really worrisome, if you ask me -- simply going to get into politics, and no real serious business is going to be done for the American people until after November 2012?

PRINCE: Look Wolf, serious business could be done. There are a lot of things in the president's jobs plan that we know Republicans historically have agreed with and have been able to support. There's no reason for them not to get behind things (INAUDIBLE)

There are some signs of small progress. We've got some trade bills the president recently sent up that there are Republicans seeming to indicate some willingness to move forward on quickly.

But at the end of the day, the president's responsibility is to define a choice for the American people. You know, I lived through this with President Clinton, and really roughly the same exact period of time, kind of late fall of the year as the primaries were getting going on the other side. And the battle really became joined over again a government shutdown at that time.

And that framed a choice for the American people, and ultimately, the people were able to make their decision. But the president's responsibility is ultimately, at the end of the day, to do his best to govern for as long as he possibly can and then to continue governing, but to begin to shape the choice for the American people as you approach the election. If he doesn't shape that choice, he kind of, you know, advocated--


FRUM: -- Republican president introduced a bill for universal preschool. And embedded in that bill, a total ban on abortion and then expressed puzzlement as to why Democrats did not rally to his universal preschool bill. That wouldn't be very honest. He would know perfectly well why they didn't rally to his universal preschool bill--

PRINCE: But that's not the case here.

FRUM: -- because it contained a poison pill.

PRINCE: But there's no poison pill in this jobs bill.

FRUM: And this jobs bill--


FRUM: Just a minute. This jobs bill contains a poison pill, the tax mechanism. The president could have said, We will discuss the financing--

PRINCE: David, just today--

FRUM: -- of it after the election.

PRINCE: Just today--


FRUM: He made a choice. He made a choice about putting things into this that he knew Republicans would say no because no is the answer he needs.

PRINCE: But David, just today -- just today, the president -- I'm sorry, Senator Reid went out there and suggested changing the funding mechanism to a tax on millionaires only. And I believe the White House has already signaled some interest in agreement with that. I don't think anyone could--


FRUM: Is that supposed to be a refutation of my thesis?

PRINCE: -- tax increase on millionaires only is a poison pill. I mean, there's no way to compare--

FRUM: Jonathan--

PRINCE: -- a ban on abortion, an issue on which the country's--

FRUM: Jonathan--

PRINCE: -- deeply, deeply divided, and tax increases on people making more than a million dollars a year.

FRUM: Jonathan, sorry, that's supposed to refute my point? That confirms my point! That's exactly the problem! That is -- they want to make this -- they want to make this an election about tax increases for millionaires to pay for bridges and tunnels.

PRINCE: If the Republicans want to make--


PRINCE: -- tax increase for millionaires, I think that's fine.

FRUM: That's -- but there you go. That's exactly what -- you just took--

PRINCE: There's a choice.


FRUM: -- and it's an abandonment and a breach of faith with the country's unemployed--


BLITZER: Let me move on to a little Republican presidential politics. I want both of you to listen to Mitt Romney really going after Rick Perry in Florida on a sensitive issue, very sensitive issue not only in Florida but all across the country, Social Security.


MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), FMR. GOV., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think the major problem is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, I think the problem is keeping it from becoming a Perry scheme because Governor--


ROMNEY: -- Governor Perry -- Governor Perry says that it's unconstitutional and we should end it as a federal program and give it back to the states.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right, how big of a problem is this for Rick Perry, this latest line of attack, David, from Mitt Romney?

FRUM: It is the vulnerability that Perry opened on himself entirely unnecessarily, kind of flabbergasting that he did it, and having done it in his book some months ago, he then repeated it on national TV. Republicans need to have this conversation now because if Perry is the nominee, that's exactly what President Obama will be saying in a few months.

BLITZER: What do you think about this whole issue of Social Security, Jonathan, coming up on the Republican side right now?

PRINCE: I'm in violent agreement with David on the subject. It is a self-imposed, self-inflicted problem. It is not one that's going to go away for Governor Perry. And you know, it's a kind of remarkable thing that the Perry position is so extreme that it has opened him up in a Republican primary to an attack from the left that is effective.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, guys, stand by because we're going to continue this conversation down the road. I want our viewers to remember October 18th, Las Vegas -- that's when the next CNN Republican presidential debate takes place, October 18th.

Just moments ago, the co-chair of the so-called super-committee up on Capitol Hill, Senator Patty Murray, reacted to our story right at the top of the hour about the committee's decision to meet behind closed doors and not allow the American people to see what's going on about their financial future. We're going to show you what she just had to say. Stand by.

After a decade of war in Afghanistan and nearly nine years in Iraq, Americans are now weighing in on the cost and the loss of lives.


BLITZER: We're getting some immediate reaction to our lead story this hour about the crucial deficit's so-called super committee, keeping the American people in the dark about its meetings.

Let's go back to our congressional correspondent, Kate Bolduan.

What's the reaction you're getting, Kate?


Right after you and I finished speaking just a short time ago, Senator Patty Murray, one of the co-chairs of the super committee as she was walking into the committee meeting right in this room right behind me.

She actually stopped by to speak with us briefly, which has really not happened in much length. They really have not spoken to reporters really at all since this committee really started in these meetings,. And among other things, she answered to the criticism that this committee meeting behind closed doors so often is not being open and transparent enough in their negotiations. Listen here to what she said.


BOLDUAN: What do you say to the criticism though from many that are watching this process who say this is not open enough, this is -- compared to the responsibility you have?

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: Everybody said if they would just get in a room by themselves, they would figure this out. We are very clear that whatever we -- however we get to this, lit be a very public process.

It has to be. No votes can be taken. We have to make our decisions, our final decisions in front of the public and we'll do that. But I think it is important for us to be able to be open and honest with each other.

I remember well one time when I was very little and I was fighting with my brother every other minute, my mother put us in a back room and said don't come out until you get it figured out. We stared at each other for a while, but we came out friends.

BOLDUAN: Are you confident you'll reach that $1.2 trillion?

MURRAY: I am confident that the public is watching us very closely to see if we can show this country that this democracy can work. I carry that weight on my shoulders and so thus every member.

QUESTION: Have Republicans indicated everything is on the table on their side as well?

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Senator.


BOLDUAN: To that point you heard Patty Murray say right there that she -- they want to show Americans that Democracy can work.

An aide to one of the committee members has told me that really what's going on here is a very strong feeling, Wolf, among committee members. That in order -- the best way to increase chances to reach a bipartisan agreement with this very tough job that they're facing in this hyperpartisan environment is getting away from the spotlight to have these kind of discussions.

They're meeting behind closed doors still today; we're outside -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They got seven weeks to do their job. Let's see if they can do it.

All right, thanks very much, Kate, for that.

Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: How likely do you think it is that the United States would elect two black presidents in a row?

Ted in Pennsylvania writes, "Not probable, maybe about 30 percent. Cain would make a good vice president though. Herman Cain has some pretty good ideas and he has management experience."

Ken in Connecticut writes, "I'd love to see Herman Cain get elected. He's by far the most impressive resume of the Republican candidates, and I like his 999 plan for rewriting the tax code. He also has the will to get things done in Washington. I hope people will listen to what he's saying."

W.D. writes, "When hell freezes over. I'm black and the country has lost its mind. The Republicans are pretending this isn't racism. Please."

John in North Carolina writes, "Not very likely because liberals are threatened by female or minority conservatives and will do everything possible to destroy them. Think Sarah Palin or Clarence Thomas."

Floyd in Georgia writes, "Very easy, Obama and Obama. Larry in Ohio writes, Jack, it really is too bad that we even ask to ask this question. It's not likely and that's too bad. Herman Cain would be such a big improvement over the present occupant of the White House."

Darrell in Arkansas writes on Facebook, "I don't know, but I'd giggle myself silly watching Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi go to the polls with two black men on the ballot."

Renee in Georgia writes, "Hi, Jack. About as likely as President Obama's jobs bill is to pass the House. Thomas in Forstills, Pennsylvania, it's about as likely as me hitting the lottery. But if I hit it, Jack, I'll cut you in."

There you go. If you want to read more on this, go to my blog or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Love that Facebook page. Jack, thanks very much.

Controversy and intrigue swirling around an upcoming presidential debate. We have details of drug charges, ethics allegations and more. Stand by, new information coming in.

And Wall Street protesters, they are on the move right now in New York City. We're going there live.


BLITZER: He campaigned on change although some critics question whether President Obama has actually delivered. But when he delivers a speech, there can be a distinct change in his style.

Our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar taking a closer look for us.

Brianna, what are people noticing about the president and his speaking right now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you've probably noticed it. If you've paid close attention to President Obama, you'll probably register with you it changes how he talks, his inflection, sometimes his accent, sometimes he drops the Gs on verbs, and he's very informal.

But why does he do it? That's really the question and we put that to an expert who told us some people simply can't help themselves. Even when they can, it's very smart to tell your tailor how you speak to an audience.


KEILAR (voice-over): Fiery and informal when addressing the Congressional Black Caucus --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We've got work to do, CBS. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

KEILAR: -- or buttoned up before the United Nations.

OBAMA: True peace depends on creating the opportunity that makes life worth living.

KEILAR: Depending on where President Obama is and to whom he's speaking, you'll likely hear something a little different.

Even Jay Leno has poked fun at Obama's chameleon-like oratory skills.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": When he speaks to a group, he becomes one of them. Listen to him in Mexico.

KEILAR: All kidding aside, it's an approach that serves an important person says Dr. Deborah Tannen, an expert on how language affects relationships.

DR. DEBORAH TANNEN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Any good communicator is going to try to talk in a way that's appropriate to the audience that he's addressing at the moment. Sometimes you have to change to be authentic.

KEILAR (on camera): How is that -- isn't that sort of fakery to be authentic?

TANNEN: Isn't it fakery to be human? I mean, we're all aware of how we're coming across and trying to do it in a way that will be effective.

KEILAR (voice-over): Perhaps that's why it was a former actor, President Reagan.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. KEILAR: Who was lauded as the great communicator. Another rhetorical device President Obama uses, saying a phrase in a foreign language. This was at a dinner before a Hispanic group.

OBAMA: Their platform apparently is (INAUDIBLE) is that a bumper sticker you want on your car?

KEILAR: Last year he peppered his remarks in Jakarta with some Indonesian bahasa.

OBAMA: (INAUDIBLE) unity in reverse.

KEILAR: It's a tried and true approach. President Bush often threw in a little Spanish when he spoke in Hispanic voters.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because of the good hearts of our citizens (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: And President Kennedy's visit to Germany in 1963 is remembered for this iconic phrase.

TANNEN: You could see metaphorically, I speak your language. From that flows, we're on the same wave length, I understand what you're going through. I'm one of you in a way.


KEILAR: Now with the president's campaign coming up and you could argue it's already upon us, he'll be speaking with a lot of different groups whose votes he's courting.

Dr. Tannen -- Wolf, it's interesting -- she says you have to be careful because sometimes how you communicate with the group can backfire. There's a very fine line between mimicry and mockery.

As you know, Wolf, we've already seen the president get into some hot water with some members of the Congressional Black Caucus for how he spoke to them recently.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, good report. Thanks very much.