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President Obama Touts Jobs Bill; Apple's Future?; Interview With Republican Presidential Candidate and Texas Representative Ron Paul; Playing Leapfrog with GOP Primaries; Palin Out of the Picture; Protests a Sign of "American Spring"; World Mourning Steve Jobs; A Legacy for Apple

Aired October 6, 2011 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now: President Obama says his jobs bill will help Americans who are hurting and he warns lawmakers to vote for it or else.

As Republicans rip up their primary and caucus calendar, I will ask presidential candidate Ron Paul if he will support the front-runners. You might be surprised by his answer.

And the man behind the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad has passed. Steve Jobs was visionary genius who gave us new ways of using technology. So what will his death mean to Apple?

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

President Obama stepping up the pressure for passage of his $447 billion jobs bill. He says it will make a huge difference to Americans who are suffering and will cut taxes for almost everybody except millionaires and he's warning lawmakers who oppose it that they will have to answer to him and to the voters.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: the question then is: Will Congress do something?

If Congress does something, then I can't run against a do-nothing Congress. If Congress does nothing, then it's not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town.


BLITZER: Let's go straight to our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.

Brianna, the president acknowledged that Americans are very frustrated right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did over and over, Wolf, but he also deflected any suggestion that they are frustrated with him, instead pointing the finger at Congress and specifically House Republicans.

He's been going out on the road trying to channel that frustration and he made that clear. And he was pressed a lot by reporters who sort of questioned this campaign style method that he's been taking rather than negotiating on areas of agreement with House Republicans. And, Wolf, he said that all he can do is make the best arguments and mobilize the American people.


OBAMA: the election is 13, 14 months away. I would love nothing more than to not have to be out there campaigning because we were seeing constructive action here in Congress. That's my goal. That's what I'm looking for.

But I'm also dealing with a Republican majority leader who said that his number one goal was to beat me; not put Americans back to work, not grow the economy, not help small businesses expand, but to defeat me.


KEILAR: He meant the Republican minority leader. He did misspeak. He was referring to Mitch McConnell. But as you could tell listening to this press conference, he wasn't exactly extending an olive branch.

He did say that his door is open, but we haven't really seen President Obama in the compromising mood that we saw him in this summer during the debt ceiling negotiations. There has been in place from the president a new strategy now for weeks, basically saying to the House Republicans and Republicans in general if you're not on board with my entire jobs plan, then I consider you standing in the way. And I will run against you in that way.

This reflects the belief, Wolf, of top advisers that, yes, while the president does have almost all time or near an all time low for his approval ratings, Congress has significantly lower ones and his advisers and President Obama are banking that they could pay for their obstinacy as White House officials might put it at the polls, and they're also looking to poll numbers that say a lot of the provisions in this jobs plan are very popular, Wolf.

BLITZER: As far as the so-called millionaire's surtax that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and a few other senators, Democrats, are supporting, the president sort of endorsed it, but I didn't hear a really full-throated endorsement, Brianna. Did you?

KEILAR: No, that's right, Wolf. He said he's fine with it. He said he's comfortable with it.

It's not the strongest of language, no doubt. I have talked with Democrats, I have talked with White House officials. They insist it is an endorsement of this millionaire's surtax, but remember the initial proposal from President Obama, Wolf, was to increase taxes on American individuals making $200,000 or more per year, couples making $250,000 or more per year. The jump from that to a million dollars in earnings, pretty significant and what you're hearing from Republicans on the Hill is they're jumping on this, saying that when it comes to future discussions of tax increases, this moves the mark for that and they are sort of I guess sort of jumping on that and making a promise of capitalizing on that in future fights, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Brianna. Brianna Keilar is over at the White House.

The House Speaker John Boehner agrees the economy is in a dangerous situation right now, but he's certainly not impressed by President Obama's recent get tough approach. Listen to the speaker.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Nothing has disappointed me more than what's happened over the last five weeks, to watch the president of the United States give up on governing, give up on leading, and spend full time campaigning.

We're on the Hill legislating. We have moved dozens of bills over to the United States Senate that are just sitting there that would help create jobs in America. No leadership from the president.


BLITZER: Boehner says this has been a year full of disappointments and he suggests there's blame on both sides, but he accuses the president of throwing in the towel.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has now taken its protests to more than a dozen cities across the country, including the nation's capital. Here in Washington, they have rallied today near government buildings, including not that far from the White House.

CNN's Jim Acosta is keeping track of the protesters.

Jim, this Occupy Wall Street, some suggesting sort of a new version of the Tea Party. What's going on out there? What is part of this anger?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this new political movement has a message for the Tea Party. Hold on to your Tripoli- corner hats. Now it's the American left that is mad as hell.


ACOSTA (voice-over): America, meet the recession-raging left. And if the calls for revolution echoing from Wall Street to Washington and coast to coast sound familiar, that's because they are. Hold up a mirror and it all starts to look a lot like the Tea Party rallies that started more than two years ago. Tea Partiers were mad about the national debt and government was the problem.


ACOSTA (on camera): And you're saying shut the government down?

OLTESVIG: I don't want to shut the government down. I'm making a point.

ACOSTA: Now, tell me again your name.

KAY DEAMER, PROTESTER: I am crazy Kay from Kansas.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Occupy protesters like Kay Deamer are fired up about the economy, but see government as the solution.

(on camera): Is it time to get crazy out here?

DEAMER: It's time to get crazy, sweetie. As a matter of fact, our nation is getting too crazy in a way that's unhealthy for the ordinary American people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Both sides are angry, but their remedies are different.

Eric Lotke rejects the notion that this is Woodstock on Wall Street or Washington.

ERIC LOTKE, PROTESTER: I am a middle-aged guy with two kids and I'm a member of my PTA. There's something wrong in this country.

ACOSTA: Yes, some Occupy Wall Street protests have turned violent.

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "GODLESS: THE CHURCH OF LIBERALISM": It is a classic mob uprising. It's utterly incoherent. They're always left- wing.


ACOSTA: But Tea Party rallies also got out of hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If ballots don't work, bullets will.


ACOSTA: And just as politicians latched on to the Tea Party, liberal operatives are seizing an opportunity of their own. One prominent new ally of the movement, former White House green czar Van Jones, wants to challenge this anger into winning elections, just like the Tea Party did.

(on camera): Doesn't this movement need to focus a little?

VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER FOR GREEN JOBS, ENTERPRISE AND INNOVATION, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: Well, here's the deal. When you talk about the people what are on Wall Street, I think those young people and the people who are struggling are doing a great service. They may not have message clarity, but they have moral clarity.

ACOSTA (voice-over): No wonder the president is all but saying I feel your rage.

OBAMA: But the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.

ACOSTA: But the trick, as it was with the Tea Party, is to keep things from boiling over.


ACOSTA: Now, some of the activists in this movement are talking about running candidates in the coming-up elections in 2012, Wolf, very much like the Tea Party did with Republican contenders back in the 2010 midterms, but then there are others inside the Occupy Wall Street movement who are talking about a brand-new political party.

But you have to remember that didn't work out so well back in 2000 when similar roles went for Ralph Nader. Didn't work out so well for Al Gore, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, some think that that Ralph Nader candidacy obviously hurt Al Gore in Florida specifically.

Well, let's talk about what you're seeing on the streets of Washington, D.C., right now. Big crowd, little crowd? What's going on?

ACOSTA: Well, right now, you know, the protesters who are here on Freedom Plaza, just down the street from the White House, they have moved to other parts of the city right now, but they are, many of them are still behind me and they say they're not going to be leaving once this day is over.

They're going to be staying here well into the weekend, so just like that situation up in Manhattan, Wolf, there is no timetable as to when this protest will end here in Washington, D.C. You're hearing and seeing the same thing at events all over the country. The question becomes how long can this go on? How long will it go on, Wolf?

BLITZER: Jim Acosta on the streets of Washington for us, thanks very much.

The U.S. kills an American-born terror leader and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is outraged. He's here to talk about that and more.


REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I consider this one of the most dangerous things that we have done and this president has done it in the open.


BLITZER: Plus, a country music star's comment comparing President Obama to Hitler has now formally and completely ended a 20-year "Monday Night Football" tradition. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Today is the 20th day of protests down on Wall Street here in New York and the movement is suddenly picking up steam all across the country.

The demonstrators are critical of the growing economic gap in the United States. They say they take their inspiration from the Arab spring, those protests that overthrew governments and dictators and continue to cause massive chaos in the Middle East and Africa.

But in the beginning, here in New York, barely anybody even noticed. There were a few hundred people with signs peacefully walking around Manhattan's financial district talking about corporate greed and inequality.

And when they were finally noticed, they weren't taken very seriously. Reporters made fun of them, saying they didn't even know what they were protesting about.

Well, now the unions are joining in and supporting them and the crowds are suddenly starting to look like this. There were thousands of protesters in Lower Manhattan yesterday. There have been hundreds of arrests.

And it's not just New York. Protests are beginning to take root nationwide, including Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, Spokane, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Tampa, St. Louis, Nashville, Tennessee, Savannah, Georgia, Hartford, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

This isn't a joke and the media would be well-advised to take these folks seriously. Their grievances are real, their numbers are growing, and the rest of us would be well-advised to start paying attention.

So far, these protests have been peaceful for the most part -- so far. But the more they spread and grow, the bigger the problem becomes for the federal government in Washington.

Our government ought to take note -- protests over economic conditions and government cutbacks have turned violent everywhere in the world. People will only take so much, you know?

Here's the question -- are the protests spreading across the United States the sign of an American spring?

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

BLITZER: I'm going to be speaking about this very subject, Jack, with Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate, this hour, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the next hour. They have different perspectives. We'll see where they agree, where they disagree. Much more on this story coming up Jack.

Thanks very much.

Millions of customers impacted and frustrated. Now a major U.S. bank is finally explaining what's been wrong with its Web site.

Plus, the terror trial of the so-called underwear bomber reaching a critical new phase.


BLITZER: Bank of America is finally explaining its Web site problems.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's going on -- Lisa?


Well, the Web site has been down sporadically for almost a week And how, Bank of America says the problem was a combination of technical difficulties and heavy traffic. The problem started one day after the bank announced a $5 monthly debit card fee. That led to speculation that the Web site had been hacked. But the bank has denied that all along.

An historic low for mortgage rates -- for the first time ever, the interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan is under 4 percent. It is now at 3.94 percent, while the 15 year mortgage rate has fallen to a record low 3.26 percent. But the low rates, they aren't spurring home sales. The Mortgage Bankers Association says applications were down 4 percent in their weekly survey.

And a 20 year "Monday Night Football" tradition is now over. Fan wills no longer be hearing Hank Williams, Jr. singing "All My Rowdy Friends." He and ESPN are cutting ties over Williams' controversial comparison of President Obama to Hitler. Well, while the network says it severed the relationship, Williams has a different story. He says it was his decision and that he is now accusing ESPN of stepping on the First Amendment.

And a jury has been seated in the trial of the so-called underwear bomber. The nine women and three men will decide the fate of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is accused of trying to down a Northwest Airlines plane with explosives hidden in his underwear as it approached Detroit in 2009. Abdulmutallab is pleading not guilty and he says he will act as his own lawyer when that trial begins next week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's almost always a mistake to act as your own lawyer, just as it's almost always a mistake to act as your own doctor.

SYLVESTER: Yes, I saw that and I was kind of surprised by that, too. You know, it usually does not go well when they're acting as their own lawyer, especially when they could have a court-appointed one, so. BLITZER: All right.

Thanks very much.

An extra tax on millionaires -- I'll ask Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, what he thinks about that. My interview with Congressman Paul, that's just ahead.

Also, now that Sarah Palin says she won't be running for president of the United States, which candidate is likely to grab her supporters?

Stay with us.



BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer.

Here are some stories that we're working on for our next hour.

Government officials and family members entrusted with your money -- prosecutors say they defrauded taxpayers for about $20 million.

Also, the GOP race for the White House post- Sarah Palin -- now that she's officially out, who will her supporters back instead?

And decades of standard medical advice for men may soon be drastically changed. We have details of the new thinking on prostate exams.

Stand by.


As anger grows in America over the faltering economy, President Obama is pushing for passage of a nearly half trillion dollar jobs bill. Democrats are pushing for an extra tax, at the same time, on the wealthiest Americans.

Would any of that help?

And joining us now from Capitol Hill, Congressman Ron Paul, the Republican presidential candidate.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: What do you think about the president's support today for a proposal in the Senate for a 5.6 percent millionaires' surcharge -- income over a million dollars paying an additional 5.6 percent, in other words, on that second million. It would be $56,000 going to the U.S. Treasury.

A good idea?


PAUL: It's a magic cure. Everything will be OK as soon as we pass it. Of course, I'm being cynical. No, it's not going to do any good at all. It's not a lack of taxation that's going on. There is just too much spending and this doesn't solve the problem. So I -- I see no advantage to doing what he's doing.

BLITZER: You know that all the polls show that the majority, in some cases, an overwhelming majority of the American people want higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires, as the president likes to say.

Why are the American people wrong when answering that question?

PAUL: Well, because pure democracy sometimes leads to these ill- advised positions. You know, when there's a war propaganda going on and they drum -- and beat the war drums and everybody says 75 percent of the people want us to go to war and then after 10 years, they're sick and tired of it, it doesn't mean it was right when 75 percent said something.

This is the danger of pure democracy, when you demagogue and you attack somebody and say that we have to attack the wealthy.

I don't mind criticizing, you know, the wealthy, at times. And I criticized the bankers and the bailouts and the corporate people who got all the benefits, both when the financial bubble was being built, but then when it burst. They got bailed out and then the people suffered.

So -- but this doesn't mean we should attack wealth for the sake of wealth. We should stop all the subsidies to the wealth. If anybody's getting wealthy because they get contracts from the government or because they're on the inside of a -- of the program where they get the bailouts, that's quite a bit different. We should stop that, but not blanketly penalize people who make wealth and who have created wealth and provided great services for the consumer.

BLITZER: That seems to be a line that you hear from a lot of those demonstrators, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in Lower Manhattan right now.

What do you make of those demonstrations?

PAUL: Well, it's hard to tell because we don't know where they're coming from. And I think it is going to be a mixed bag. And this is something I've predicted for many years, because I said that what would happen is eventually, we would destroy our economy. Jobs would go overseas. We would have inflation.

And we've encouraged people to be very dependent, both the wealthy and the entitlement system means that people believe they have rights to certain things from their neighbor or from their government.

But when the pie shrinks, there's going to be a lot of anger.

So my guess would be that there's a lot of people out there, some complaining about paying the bills and some who are scared to death they're not going to get it. But this is, you know, a symptomatic thing that we're seeing and it doesn't address the problem, why do we have business booms and why do we have recessions and depressions and why do we have inflation?

So unfortunately, this doesn't give us the answers. But I think it tells you something about the depth of the concern about the people in this country, something that I've tried to talk about for quite a few decades.

BLITZER: I asked -- I -- I spoke with a whole bunch of people about this issue, this Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

But I want you to listen to what one of your presidential rivals, Herman Cain, told "The Wall Street Journal" about what's going on with these demonstrators in New York.

Listen to this.


HERMAN CAIN, REPUBLICAN 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.


BLITZER: Blame yourself, he said.

What do you think about that?

PAUL: Well, I imagine that applies to a few people in the country, but, no, I don't quite come at it that way, because the system has been biased against the middle class and the poor. When you destroy a currency, you transfer wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, because they have access to the capital and they have a lot of benefits and they get the bailouts.

So the poor and the people losing their jobs, it wasn't their fault that we have followed a very deeply . And this means economic system. So I am not so anxious to say, yes, it's all your fault. If you want to be rich, you can be rich.

People are begging and pleading for jobs. But there are no jobs as a consequence of bad economic policy. It's the fact that we have still accepted the notion that central economic planning and central banking, under the Keynesian model, can provide prosperity.

That's where the flaw is.

But to blame that on the average person who wants a job, I don't agree with that.

BLITZER: Rick Perry, the governor of your home state of Texas, if he were to get the Republican presidential nomination, could you support him?

PAUL: Well, I don't know, because his policies have changed.. And maybe if he came a little bit closer to what I'm talking about and would agree the troops ought to come home and look into the Fed, I'd certainly give it consideration.

BLITZER: What about Mitt Romney?

If he were to get the Republican nomination, could you support him?

PAUL: Well, the same -- the same answer. None of them are advocating my positions. But they're starting to talk a little bit like what I am, because I think Governor Romney has actually said we should bring some troops home from Afghanistan.

So I would have to find out exactly what their positions are and -- and what the platform is that they would be running on.

BLITZER: Who's better, from your perspective, right now?

PAUL: I don't choose to pick on those, because I see the -- I see all the other candidates sort of in one group that is -- that -- and they're all different than what I'm talking about, because the foreign policy I advocate, neither one of them do. And a Federal Reserve with tremendous emphasis on that. And I have a tremendous emphasis on personal liberty, the right to life and liberty and civil liberties.

So I put -- if I put all the candidates in another category and I think, in many ways, we are competing with all of them as one group.

BLITZER: So if the Republican nominee, if turns out not to be you, Congressman, didn't change his or her positions and didn't come around to where you stand, would you consider running as a third party, perhaps libertarian candidate for -- for the presidency?

PAUL: I haven't thought about it and I have to plans to do that. So, no, that wouldn't be in the cards for me.

BLITZER: Now in the cards for you.

All right, let me -- let me move on and ask you about Newt Gingrich.

He's running for the Republican nomination, as well.

He was here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. And he strongly disagrees with you when it comes to President Obama's decision to order the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

Listen to what the former speaker told me.


FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, Congressman Paul is wrong about the -- the law. He's wrong about the constitution. And the president was exactly right legally and he was exactly right morally in killing somebody who was a threat to everybody.


BLITZER: All right. So go ahead and respond to Newt Gingrich.

PAUL: I'd -- I'd ask him to read the Fifth Amendment. It's pretty clear that you can't take a life without due process of law, especially of an American citizen. So I would say that he's way off base.

This is historic. We've never had a policy that said that we can put somebody on a -- and on a -- on an assassination list by a secret tribunal, so to speak. We don't even know what the qualification is or the -- or -- or the criteria to put somebody on this list.

I think this is a most dangerous precedent and respect for the constitution the rule of law needs to be looked at, because I think we have lost a lot of it. I consider this one of the most dangerous things that we have done. And this president has done it in the open -- opening. He announced this policy in February of last year. I gave a speech on the House floor shortly thereafter advising how dangerous this was. And this -- this means that we have very much violated the whole concept of the rule of law.

BLITZER: Because Newt Gingrich, in defending the president's decision, says al-Awlaki was an enemy combatant of the United States. And over all the news of warfare, the U.S. has been able to kill so- called enemy combatants.

So what do you think of that argument?

PAUL: Well, I -- I would ask him and the president to produce some evidence of exactly what he did and why -- why is he an enemy?

What are the charges?

And, you know, if we can try Adolph Eichmann -- the Israelis tried him in 1961 -- don't you think we could try somebody like al-Awlaki or at least, you know, recognize that individuals should be captured when possible and tried?

But this enemy combatant, anybody can -- you know, one of the -- and the word, I think, has already been used, is that he was a threat. I think Gingrich used that word.

A threat?

Well, I'm antiwar. And I might go to an anti-war rally.

And what if the administration said Ron Paul is a threat?

Somebody in the media says he's a threat. He's preaching that the government is doing wrong with the foreign policy. This, to me, is a very, very dangerous precedent.

BLITZER: So would you support articles of impeachment against President Obama for his -- for this decision?

PAUL: I haven't introduced them, but I think it's an impeachable offense, if the mood of the country was such that they wanted to do it. Yes, I could support that.

BLITZER: Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate.

As usual, thanks very much for coming in.

PAUL: OK, Wolf.

BLITZER: And I write about this whole debate over the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki on my blog, Check it out.

Impeach Obama? Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich disagree. Check it out.

Our next debate, by the way, is the CNN Western Republican debate in Las Vegas. It airs live Tuesday night, October 18th, 8:00 p.m. eastern. And you'll see it only here on CNN.

New upheaval on the presidential Republican primary calendar now. The first vote -- get this -- the first votes of next year's election could come this year.

Plus, the one thing Steve Jobs did which could define the future of Apple without him.


BLITZER: Get ready, it's time to change your political calendars once again. Nevada's GOP is the latest state to play leapfrog, moving its presidential caucuses from mid-February to January 14th. The mad scramble began last week when Florida moved up its primary. South Carolina quickly followed.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here -- Tom, could the Iowa caucuses now actually take place this year, in December?


Isn't that amazing?

If you're updating your political calendar, you'd better do it in pencil, because things keep moving.

Imagine running a race where you don't know, where the finish line is. You don't know if you started too soon or too late or what you're going to do. That's what's facing all of these campaigners to there right now on the Republican side. Because the simple truth is, what they've got is a calendar that's on the move.

This is where it was at one point. And then we had this big move up, where Florida said they're going to go over here. Then South Carolina went. Nevada jumped in.

Now, this is January. They've moved up here. And it looks like Iowa and New Hampshire are going to come over here and join the party. We don't know exactly where. But all these states have their own individual rules about where they have to be in relation to other states. So they have to certain separations between them. It's probably going to force New Hampshire up here somewhere, Iowa over here near the start of January, unless the Iowans think they actually have to go into December.

And all of this brings up a whole different ball of wax in terms of different problems they might face. For example, look at these calendars here. Think about this. If they move up into the beginning of January or late December, you're now talking about less than three months between now and the actual election. And in that time, you've got to get in Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and don't forget the college football season.

You may not think that has anything to do with politics, but listen, when people are hugely occupied with all these Bowl games and everything else, it's harder to get their attention and make them pay attention to what you're doing.

So who benefits?

If you're a frontrunner like Mitt Romney, where you already have pretty good numbers and you have a lot of money, that helps you. It might help if you're someone like Herman Cain, because you've got a bump going right now. You might have a better chance of sustaining it for three months than four months. But still, that's a lot of real estate between now and then. So, as a practical matter, it's believed to help frontrunners like Romney.

It -- what it all would mean to voters, I don't know. It could be plus or minus depending on how you feel about it.

But this probably does a lot to encourage people who keep saying we should have a national primary, because this happened in the last presidential election cycle. It's happening again this time. Those folks are going to start beating the drum and saying enough already with this madness, let's have a national primary where we decide who the candidates are going to be -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Don't hold your breath for that. I've been hearing about that for a long time.

FOREMAN: Any time soon, yes.

BLITZER: Tom, thanks very, very much.

Let's follow up a little bit with our CNN contributors.

Joining us, Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, and Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos.

Does this help Romney if -- if the Iowa caucuses are late December, early January?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Probably a little bit. But, you know, campaigns are like hangings, Wolf.

If -- if you're the one getting hung, you'd like for the process to stretch out a while.

If you're behind, you'd like it to -- to go a long way.

But if you're a frontrunner, like, perhaps, a Mitt Romney, the quicker the better. But the Republican field may be settled, but the electorate isn't. We don't really know how strong a frontrunner Mitt Romney is. So he's going to get tested in these next couple of weeks. I think that the focus is going to be on him. Other candidates are going to start attacking him. So we'll find out in the next couple of weeks if shorter or longer is good for him.

BLITZER: And you speak as someone who's -- who helped mitt Romney...

CASTELLANOS: I worked for him the last time.

BLITZER: -- four years ago, although you're not helping him now.

CASTELLANOS: I'm not working it this time, no.

BLITZER: You remember the Democrats last time...


BLITZER: They had the same craziness.

BEGALA: Right.

BLITZER: If you remember, the Iowa caucuses were January 3rd. And you remember who won the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, 2008?

BEGALA: Right.

BLITZER: You remember...

BEGALA: Senator Obama.

BLITZER: That's correct.

BEGALA: And he cleaned up.

BLITZER: So it...


BLITZER: -- it helped him to move...

BEGALA: He did an extraordinary...

BLITZER: -- move up all of that at that time, for whatever reason, even though Hillary Clinton was the -- you know, going into a lot of that, she was a favorite.

BEGALA: Right. And all of that movement didn't hurt the Democrats a bit, right?

The Democratic nominee wound up becoming the president of the United States.

I don't think this hurts the Republicans to move it around.

Foreman's point is right, the most important thing is college football this Saturday. (INAUDIBLE) going to beat Oklahoma. We'll see...

BLITZER: Beyond college football, though.

BEGALA: Beyond college -- there's not much for me beyond college football. But -- but it is going to be, I think, a challenge for Romney. Alex makes a good point. Romney has the money. God knows he has the looks. He's just beautiful. He's got everything except the voters. Seriously.

Now, I advise a Super PAC that supports Obama, right?

So you know my bias.

But my colleague at that PAC, Bill Burton, wrote a memo that I love, the headline of which was, voters to -- "hey, Mitt, the voters are just not that into you."

You know, he's been running for five years and he's spent $100 million...

BLITZER: But he's still atop...

BEGALA: -- and he got 23 percent?

BLITZER: -- in the national polls.

BEGALA: Yes, but he's like 23...

BLITZER: He's still number one.

BEGALA: -- 25.

Where is he in the national polls after all this?

CASTELLANOS: Well, sometimes, though, you have to beat someone to become someone. And this is going to be Mitt Romney's window to do that, to seize the nomination. We'll see if he can do it. He's a much better and much stronger and much more mature candidate than he was.

One way this will also affect the candidates, though, Wolf, it's hard to kill people at Christmas. Santa doesn't usually come in and -- and do a lot of bloodletting. And right in the middle of Christmas, negative ads and all this.

So what it does is it breaks up the campaign and it takes away some of that.

BLITZER: Your fellow taxation, Rick Perry, can he come back?

BEGALA: A big haul of cash. Yes. He's performed so badly. And -- and this is not just my liberal bias, OK?

I thought he was a really talented politician. I still think he is. He performed very badly in the early debates. But he's got a lot of money -- $17 million, $18 million. You know, Napoleon once said God favors the side with the big battalions, right?


BEGALA: Well, the campaign gods favor those who have the most money...

BLITZER: Not always, though.

BEGALA: And that's...

BLITZER: You remember Phil Graham?

BEGALA: Well -- I do remember Phil Gramm.

BLITZER: How did he do?

BEGALA: He got zero delegates (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Yes. And how many -- but he had a lot of money...


BEGALA: That's a good point. No, that's a good one.



CASTELLANOS: -- Rick Perry has strength. Mitt Romney has smarts. It's a lot easier for Mitt Romney to get stronger than it is for Rick Perry to get smarter. So I don't think the money -- what he's going to do with that money, though, is he's going to go negative. That's how he wins campaigns.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Sarah Palin for a moment.

David Frum, some of us -- all of us, a former speechwriter for President Bush. He's a CNN contributor...

BEGALA: A colleague, yes.

BLITZER: Yes, he's our colleague here.

BEGALA: He's a good get, by the way.

BLITZER: He writes on about Sarah Palin, her decision yesterday. She's not running for president: "Sarah Palin's political voice has dwindled -- had dwindled well before she announced her decision not to run. Now it will sink altogether into inaudibility. She had -- she will be no kind of force in future national discussions. Her political career was brief, bizarre and sordid. But now, at least, it is definitively finished."

What do you think about that?

CASTELLANOS: I think that means he wouldn't have supported her.

BLITZER: That comes from a Republican, too.

CASTELLANOS: However, I've been tough on Palin in the past, but I'll say this, if she's irrelevant then why is everyone going to be looking for her endorsement over the next few months?

It's going to be incredibly valuable in Iowa, in South Carolina, in this Republican nomination process and beyond. She can raise money.

Very few people do what she does, which is actually put their personal ambition behind what they think is good for their country. She's a real believer, a real conservative.

BLITZER: Do you think she was ever really serious about running or is it just publicity and name recognition if you will? Making some money?

BEGALA: I've never met her, so I've got to take her at her word. I think she was telling the truth. Forgiving me for thinking - I think she was telling truth. I hope Alex is right that she'll have a big public endorsement of someone because we'll be running that videotape.

You'll be seeing that a lot I hope in Democratic ads because she said she prayed on this. I did, too. I prayed to God that she would run and God has let me down. Lord, I beg you. I asked you this -- good point.

God often tells me no, but I think she just told the truth, but I do hope she plays a visible role. I hope in that sense David Frum is incorrect because Democrats want her to be a leading voice of the Republican Party.

CASTELLANOS: Smart lady who knows she can't beat Barack Obama and she put beating Obama ahead of her own ambitions.

BLITZER: It's good for her. She's still young, 2016, 2020.

CASTELLANOS: I would never write her off. Honestly, I mean --

BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Jack Cafferty's asking this question: Are the protests spreading across the United States the sign of an American spring?

Also government officials entrusted with your money, lots of it. Prosecutors say the defrauded taxpayers of about $20 million. Wait until you find out how. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Live pictures of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations spreading outside of New York City. These are live pictures coming in from Los Angeles right now.

You see a crowd getting ready over there and we also have some live pictures from here in Washington, D.C. in the nation's capitol. You see the U.S. Capitol in the background right there. These demonstrations nearly are spreading.

Let's go to Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: Are the protests that are spreading across the U.S. the sign of an American spring?

Matt in Illinois, "Let's hope so. If we don't become concern with social justice, we'll become a third world country very soon. It's time to take the keys back and focus on what we need to do together to restore our standard of living and civility."

Larry in Denver, "Not even close. Without unity of purpose, it gets cold and it's over. This is great press. Too bad there's no message. Think back to the '60s and Vietnam. What's the message here? When Americans get cold, they take shelter. Think this will be happening when the wind chill's 15 degrees on a cold November day?"

Rosalie on Facebook, "Yes, Jack, they are. People are becoming aware that they have sat on their bottoms for too long."

Pat in Michigan, I believe it's the everyday worker saying enough is enough. When we were in school, we feared the playground bullies until one of us stood up to them and found out they were cowards. It's no different now except the bullies have stolen our retirement money and our politicians have helped them.

Sherry in Indiana, "Hell, no, Jack. It's not a sign of American spring, it's a sign of George Soros. Plus a lot of grossly ignorant people who appear to believe that we can spin straw into gold."

Summer in California writes, "Call it what you will, the fact remains that everyday Americans are tired of being put last on the list. We ultimately pay for everything, yet in reality, we have little or no say in how the country is being run or how the money is spent.

The reason you see process in the street is because the government has either grown deaf to our pleas or has been rendered so ineffectual that we need to rethink the three branches of government. Come what may, I'm glad our voices are finally being heard and the American people are finally doing something about this."

And Olga in Texas says, "I wish. I'm 70 years old and I wish I had the mobility to go out there with them and walk the streets with them. All of them."

If you want to read more on this, got a lot of e-mail, go to my blog or through our posts on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you. We're also monitoring developments right now over at the White House where President Obama is pushing his jobs bill and is due to meet with Senate Democrats very soon. We're going there live.

And Steve Jobs' legacy for Apple. How the seeds he planted will shape the company's future and ours?


BLITZER: People around the world are mourning the death of Apple founder, Steve Jobs. In Beijing, crowds gathered outside an Apple store where a makeshift memorial has sprung up. In London, a man used his iPhone to photograph a similar tribute.

Flowers are also piling up outside the Apple flag ship store on New York City's Fifth Avenue and outside Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, a group of Chinese exchange students used candles to spell out Steve Jobs' name and depict the Apple logo.

CNN's Lisa Sylvester is joining us now with more - an in depth look at Apple future without Steve Jobs. Lisa, what can we expect?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first off, you know, the world is mourning his loss. Steve Jobs, he was in many ways, a cult hero and his name was synonymous with Apple.

So the big question is, will we still see the same kind of revolutionary creations coming out of Apple going forward. Well, the people I spoke to say Steve Jobs was such a unique figure.

He was such a visionary, but that he did something very well and that is that he spread that mind set to others around him.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): We're here to put a dent in the universe. It's one of Steve Jobs' memorable quotes and a dent he did make, the Apple computer, the MacBook, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad.

Around the world outside of Apple stores, people are leaving flowers, tokens and thank you notes. He was a guy rooted in counterculture, but yet, able to connect with the masses.

JOBS: The coolest thing about iPod is that whole your entire music library fits in your pocket.

SYLVESTER: His name is attached to more than 300 patents. He's been likened to a modern day Thomas Edison, a Walt Disney of our time. At the age of 13, Jobs called up the head of Hewlett-Packard and convinced them to give him free computer chips. At the age of 21, he had cofounded Apple in his parent's garage.

STEVEN LEVY, WIRED MAGAZINE: Steve was unique in combining that degree of confidence, taste and style, you know, intuitive sense of what people would want and a good grasp of what technology could do.

What opportunities it presented there. I don't think we're ever going to see that mix again. Steve really was unique, but in a way, he helped us turn the corner. He helped us go forward into what really is an amazing explosion of technology.

SYLVESTER: But with his death, how does the world fill this gap? Techies and non-techies alike had always waited with baby breath to see what Apple and really, Steve Jobs, had up its sleeves next. Now what?

Jay Elliot, a former senior VP at Apple says Jobs left behind not just a vision, but an ecosystem of likeminded people who will continue to give the world those creations that make us go wow.

JAY ELLIOT, FORMER APPLE SENIOR V.P.: Steve is a master of finding really good people and he's put together an amazing team at Apple and when you're working for Steve like I did, he rubs off on you. So you start thinking like he does.

You want to be your own self, but you start understanding the intensity for building great products and you start being more creative yourself. It was a turning point in my own life just working for Steve.

SYLVESTER: Steve Jobs at a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 spoke of death being an agent of change, making way for new ideas. He leaves behind these words for the world.

JOBS: Your time is limited. So don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


BLITZER: Lisa, I think it's fair to say everyone agrees that the legacy he left will continue for a long, long time.

SYLVESTER: Yes, I mean, this guy was such an inspiration. I mean, people are using words like spiritual and Zen like. You know, another one of his favorite quote is, remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking that you have something to lose.

So he really was about passing this on, this idea of creating something and doing something bigger than yourself, and I think that mind set is what Apple wants to take forward and to keep and to maintain, Wolf.

BLITZER: Steve Jobs, only 56 years old. An amazing man. Our deepest condolences to his family.