Return to Transcripts main page


Unemployment Rate Drops; Secret Service Escort Speaks Out

Aired May 4, 2012 - 18:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Candy Crowley, in for John King.

Tonight: The unemployment rate drops to a three-year low but it is primarily, but it's primarily because so many people have stopped job hunting. We will look at how today's numbers affect the president's chances of keeping his job.

Also, the emerging outline of a deal that could get a Chinese dissident and his family out of harm's way and safely to the United States.

And the woman at the center of the Secret Service prostitution scandal goes public with lurid new details. And, by the way, she says the scandal has ruined her life too.

We begin with today's much-anticipated update on the economic recovery. The numbers say the recovery is still alive, but barely. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent, mostly because thousands of people left the labor force. Employers added 115,000 new jobs in April, tens of thousands fewer than most experts predicted.

Any way you or the presidential candidates look at it, the numbers could be better.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are still a lot of folks out of work, which means that we have got to do more. If we are going to recover all the jobs that were lost during the recession and if we are going to build a secure economy that strengthens the middle class, then we are going to have to do more.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anything over 8 percent, near 8 percent, anything over 4 percent is not cause for celebration. This is a sad time in America when people who want work can't find jobs.


CROWLEY: Our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, and chief political analyst Gloria Borger are here.

Ali, I want to start with you.

The Labor Department says 342,000 left the labor force. Who are these people? What does it mean? ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, this is the Labor Department's estimation of how this worked.

First of all, I have been saying for years, Candy, we have got to pay less attention to the unemployment percentage and pay more attention to jobs created. But 342,000 people left the labor force, which brought the number down. Those people, they say, are a combination of baby boomers, more aging baby boomers who are just leaving the work force, younger people who delayed leaving school.

This unemployment number counts everybody from the age of 16 up. A lot of people are staying in school because they know jobs are not available to them. The slowing pace of women entering the work force -- since the '60s, every year, we have seen an increasing proportion of women getting into the work force. That is actually evening out because women are now more than 50 percent of the work force in the United States.

And here is an interesting one. This comes from the Labor Department. I have not researched this as fully as I would like to. But they say more Hispanic women have entered the population, but they are taking care of three generations in their own homes and are not entering the work force, the formal work force as a result.

That's the Labor Department's explanation of this. The Republicans' explanation of this is that people are getting discouraged from work because they can't find it. And, as a result, they are leaving the work force. They are not counted in the proportion. And that's why the unemployment number has been reduced, Candy.

CROWLEY: So we know that -- how many jobs were added this month. Stack it up against the job gains during the entire term of President Obama. Is he in the black or in the red when it comes to jobs?

VELSHI: Well, it is very interesting you asked that, because if you go back to January of 2009, to when President Obama took office, since then, from then to now, in total, about 4.5 million jobs were lost. A little over about four million have been regained as of this morning. That is the April numbers.

That leaves 572,000 to be regained if you want to look at what was lost under President Obama. In order to get to a zero point, we need to create 95,000 jobs per month. Now, this may be a little math that doesn't make sense to most people. But if President Obama is facing the accusation that, under his presidency, there has been a net loss of jobs, which is that, as you know, something Republican candidates have levied against the president, he will probably by Election Day have the ability to say, no, in fact, under my presidency, all jobs lost have been created.

In fact, he is 30,000 private jobs away from saying that more private jobs have been created now than lost since he became president. So, politically, while this was not a great jobs report for the president, it edges him closer to being able to defeat one Republican accusation about more jobs being lost than created while he is president -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Ali.

I want to bring in our Gloria Borger.

Gloria, I remember so well when the first President George Bush was defeated in large part on the economy, which we found out later was actually beginning to improve at the time he was defeated. So the problem here is, it is all how the public perceives the economy is.


And what you want is a public that feels optimistic, that feels hopeful, that feels that things are headed in the right direction. And the Obama administration doesn't have that right now. They have a majority of people who believe that things are headed in the wrong direction. They don't feel optimistic about the future of the country.

And polls also show when you ask the question about who is better able to get us out of the economic ditch we have been in, that President Obama and Mitt Romney are at about parity. So, clearly, if you are part of the Romney campaign, you are taking a look at these numbers and you're saying, you know what? This could be helpful.

But you have to be pretty nuanced about that, Candy, because you can't seem to be rooting against an economic recovery.

CROWLEY: Right. Exactly.

And it also occurs to me that really what matters is we ought to take really close looks at the economy in some of these battleground states.

BORGER: Yes. Yes, we should, particularly -- the president is really doing the official, formal kickoff of his campaign in the state of Ohio this weekend, Candy.

And the unemployment rate in Ohio, you see it there, 7.5 percent, that's, of course, lower than the national average, Columbus unemployment, 6.8 percent, Cleveland, 7.1. So you see that he is starting out in a state where he actually has a very good story to tell. And, of course, as you point out, it happens to be one of the most important battleground states, which both campaigns would really like to win.

CROWLEY: And they would, indeed. Gloria Borger, Ali Velshi, let's do this again next month. Thank you guys so much.

Now to the slowly emerging outlines of a deal that could get human rights activist Chen Guangcheng and his family to safety. The Chinese government says Chen can study outside the country once he files the paperwork.

This afternoon, New York University confirmed it is inviting Chen to be a visiting scholar. In Beijing, Secretary of State Clinton announced even more good news over a bad sound system.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. Secretary of State: I am pleased that today our ambassador has spoken with him again. Our embassy staff and our doctor had a chance to meet with him. Over the course of the day, progress has been made to help him have the future that he wants. And we will be staying in touch with him.


CROWLEY: Secretary Clinton leaves China tomorrow.

CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is traveling with her and joins us from Beijing, along with our Stan Grant.

Stan, where are we now in the process? How quickly could Chen actually leave the country with his family?

STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think Secretary Clinton put it best when she also expressed a note of caution. There is still a way to go here.

The Chinese have opened the door and they said, yes, like other Chinese, Chen can apply for a passport and then seek a student visa to study in the United States; 300,000 or more students in China do that each year to go to the U.S. So there is a process there that is in place and they can follow.

But let's recall, Candy, there was already another deal in place when Chen walked out of the embassy a couple of days ago. He thought he was a safe and free man then. He thought the U.S. and China have worked it out. Within a matter of hours, he quickly backflipped on that when he discovered the extent of the threat that still existed against himself and his family.

That sparked this diplomatic firestorm. He has been lobbying ever since to try to get out of the country, to try to find a means to circumvent this process. He is close. But, right now, we have to remember he is in a Beijing hospital, still getting treatment and still surrounded by a heavy contingent of Chinese security -- Candy.

CROWLEY: So, Stan, explain to me why the U.S. Embassy staff was allowed to visit Chen in the hospital, because it seems to me yesterday they were not allowed in there to see him. Today, they were allowed to get in, at least our time today. His wife also spoke with U.S. Embassy staff outside the hospital as well, which wasn't allowed before.

What happened to -- it looks like an abrupt turnaround.

GRANT: Yes, I would characterize it I think as baby steps here, because while a doctor was able to get in and independently check Chen and see the health treatment that he is getting and see that he is getting the right sort of treatment, the ambassador still has not been able to. He has been able to reach Chen by phone and they have had a lengthy discussion. And you will recall there that his wife met with officials. But she had to come out of the hospital. And it is interesting as well, Candy, when you look at what's going on around the hospital itself. There is a very, very strong presence of security.

And they have been very vigorous in enforcing this no-go zone. Journalists and Chen supporters have been dragged away overnight here in Beijing. Dozens of journalists have been called in and have been issued a very stern warning by officials here: If you overstep the mark and go to the embassy, you could have your visas terminated.

One of the ways I have been characterizing this, Candy, is that the outcome of this process may be better than the actual process itself. Remember , the United States had this man in their care. They had him under their protection. And they turned him back to the Chinese, who see him as an enemy of the state.

For China's part, its human rights are still so bad, that they are continuing to lock people up. And Chen doesn't feel safe here. A good outcome potentially, but still a lot of problems to be resolved.

CROWLEY: Now, Jill, yesterday, Chen called into a congressional hearing here in Washington and said, I really want to meet with Secretary Clinton. I want to thank her face to face.

How important has her involvement and her being in China at this point been to Chen's fate?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Candy, if you look at it from the outside, she was very quiet.

In fact, it was -- there -- no comment for quite a long time. But, behind the scenes, she was doing a lot. There was a lot of the strategic work, what you have to do. She had to sign off on certain very major decisions in this process. And it was very fast-moving.

But I think you would have to say there was one thing that she did do very directly. And that was, in those meetings, top-level meetings at the big submit that they have been having about the economic and security strategic relationship, she talked to the top leadership, to the president, Hu Jintao, and to the premier, Wen Jiabao. And that is more significant, Wen Jiabao the person who is more likely to want to support something like this, the person who is, I guess you would have to use the word loosely, but kind of the reformist wing of the leadership.

And in those meetings, you are sure that she made some type of direct interventions and talked with them about this.

CROWLEY: And, Jill, quickly, as you could, Secretary Clinton takes off, leaves China. Chen is still there with his family. The government says, oh, put in the paperwork.

Forgive me for being a skeptic. But what are the chances that that paperwork for a passport and a way to get into the U.S., just get into the system and his leaving the country, is put on indefinite hold?

DOUGHERTY: Well, that's what we have been talking about all day, and certainly everybody else is.

Will China uphold its side of the bargain? And the U.S. officials have said that up to this point in that previous agreement that China did uphold its side of the deal and that indications are now, as you can see, that they -- that in the media in China, they are now openly reporting on this.

They are depicting it as Mr. Chen is going to be allowed to apply for a visa, just as other Chinese can. They depicted it in a kind of negative way. He goes to the United States. He is a traitor. We are back here, the good guys who allowed him to go.

That said, they are preparing their people obviously for this step. So one would have to surprise that it is likely to happen...

CROWLEY: That they will do it, yes.

DOUGHERTY: ... although nothing ever is guaranteed.

CROWLEY: Right. I know.

Stan, you know that very well.

Stan Grant, Jill Dougherty, thank you both so much.

A U.S. citizen imprisoned in Cuba since 2009 phoned CNN's Wolf Blitzer today. Wolf is here next with details of his conversation with Alan Gross.

Later, what happened during this morning's closed-door meeting between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick Santorum is somebody who takes that endorsement very seriously, and he felt that he had to have a one-on- one conversation with Governor Romney on some of the critical issues that he cares about.



CROWLEY: American Alan Gross says he is no spy, but he is being held in a Cuban prison 2.5 years into a 15-year sentence for smuggling communication equipment into the country. Even the pope has tried to get him released, with no success.

Gross isn't allowed to use the phone very often, but earlier today, he called CNN's Wolf Blitzer from behind bars. Here is some of that exclusive conversation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN GROSS, CUBAN PRISONER: Charged me with being a threat to the security and independence of the state, which -- is it was laughable. And if I weren't in this situation, I would be laughing about it, because I am about as much of a threat to the security in the state as my -- as the chair is that I am sitting on right now.


CROWLEY: Wolf Blitzer joins me now.

So if he is not there for that, why does he think they picked him up and threw him in prison?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I think he believes, and his lawyers believe, that the Cubans were looking for some sort of pawn, because there are five Cubans that the U.S. has convicted and are serving time in jail. One of them has actually been released, but four others still in jail.

So he suspects that they are trying to get some sort of swap, release these five Cubans in American prison for him, and everyone can go on. But the U.S. is not about to release these four other -- one of them has been released. But these four others, the U.S. is not about to release.

CROWLEY: Does he see any kind of sign that that kind of a deal might be in the offing?

BLITZER: I don't think he sees any such sign. And I don't think his lawyers -- and I have spoken to his lawyers -- see any such deal.

He is trying to get released at least on humanitarian grounds. He has got a 90-year-old mother who is very sick in Texas. He would like to see her -- she can't travel -- before she passes away. And the U.S. did let one of these Cubans get out of jail and go back to Cuba to see an ailing relative and then come back to the United States.

He says -- he told me in this interview he would come back to Cuba if they just let him go to Texas, see his mom. He would come back.

CROWLEY: And, in fact, that was one of the most emotional parts of your conversation with him when he spoke about his mother. I want our listeners to hear that.


GROSS: I have a 90-year-old mother who has inoperable lung cancer. And she is not getting any younger. And she is not getting any healthier.

And my lawyer and I have written on more than one occasion to the government of Cuba requesting permission for me to visit her. I would return to Cuba. You can quote me on that.


CROWLEY: The other thing that struck me out of this interview was that, at one point, he called Raul Castro courageous. Did you get the sense that you have to be nice to the folks who are holding you?

BLITZER: I got that impression, yes.

CROWLEY: Yes. Did you?


I mean, I got the -- he was praising him for some recent steps on the economy, on the Cuban economy, some liberalization of certain policies in Cuba. But, look, the guy is in jail. He is serving a 15- year sentence. He has been there for almost 2.5 years.

And so what he is saying, obviously, I think he is trying to say things that would help him maybe get released. You can't blame him.

CROWLEY: That's what -- no, no, we certainly get that.

And we also get why they are trying to stir up some publicity here so we know he is down there.



BLITZER: And I was pleased that the Cubans allowed him to make this phone call. And it was encouraging.

CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.

Wolf Blitzer, thanks so much.

BLITZER: Thanks.

CROWLEY: Fascinating conversation.

Some U.S. troops heading to Afghanistan got an unusual warning this afternoon. It was delivered in person by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. We will tell you what he said in a bit.

But next: the woman whose night with a Secret Service agent ended badly for everyone.


CROWLEY: Welcome back.


CROWLEY: Coming up: the most detailed account so far of this morning's closed-door meeting between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Plus, a live update as of -- as a week of dramatic testimony wraps up in the trial of John Edwards.


CROWLEY: This half-hour: A 101-year-old heiress who donated $100,000 to John Edwards says she hates the way the cash was spent, hiding the candidate's pregnant mistress. We will get a courtroom play-by-play.

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum finally sit down together. I want to be a fly on the wall while those former vials talk. So what does Santorum want? We will ask his senior adviser.

Plus, get ready to be moonstruck, or more like super-moonstruck -- when you will be able to gaze at the biggest, brightest moon of the year.

A Colombian prostitute at the center of the Secret Service sex scandal is finally telling her story. What a story it is, lots of alcohol, lots of flirting, all leading up to a now infamous fight over the bill.

Here is Drew Griffin with CNN's Special Investigations Unit.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Dania Suarez very casually recalled her now infamous night with Secret Service agents in Cartagena, Colombia, saying it began somewhat innocently. Her girlfriends and her at a bar, one of them was attracted to one of the agents. And though she says we had no idea at the time, they were, quote, unquote, "Obama's agents."

DANIA SUAREZ, PROSTITUTE (through translator): My friends nor I, we didn't know they were agents, Obama's agents. And then we left and we went to this place to buy condoms. Then, we went to the hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SUAREZ (through translator): Who went? Well, my friend. Well, wait, she is not really a friend. She is an acquaintance -- and the agent who was with me and the other one, the four of us. And then, my friend went with him, because she liked him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SUAREZ (through translator): No, I don't understand. Because she liked him. It wasn't the same thing I was doing.

GRIFFIN: Suarez says what she was doing was making money as an escort. She says she and the agent she was paired up with had an agreement. She would receive an $800 gift if she spent the night at the Hotel Carib with him. She went in at 1:30 in the morning, she spent five hours inside that hotel room. She would not give any details of what happened inside. But she will say how it ended. SUAREZ (through translator): I told him to wake up and give me my gift that I asked him for. And he says, no, just go -- just go (inaudible). I'm not going to pay you. And then, he just -- he put out 50,000 pesos for the taxi. And I was like -- I was in shock in that moment when he just said that.

GRIFFIN: Fifty thousand pesos is about $30. She was in shock and was demanding payment and said, for the next three hours, she tried to get that payment. She went to Colombian police, who came into the hotel, tried to negotiate some sort of settlement, was able to get together $250 pooled together by other Secret Service agents, and then she left.

At no time, she says, did she know or realize these were U.S. Secret Service agents. If she had known that, she says she would have never gone to the Colombian police -- Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CROWLEY: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is telling his troops to behave after a string of scandals in Afghanistan. Here's CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): After a series of high-profile incidents of troops misbehaving, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, went to Ft. Benning, Georgia, on Friday, to say, enough is enough.

LEON PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The few who lack judgment, lack professionalism, lack leadership, can hurt all of us.

STARR (voice-over): In Afghanistan alone, one scandal after another. In January, video of Marines urinating on dead insurgents; in February, Marine snipers posing with a flag with SS initials. The Nazi overtone sparked an investigation.

Then, riots broke out after U.S. troops inadvertently burned Korans; last month, soldiers posing with dead insurgents. Panetta's Ft. Benning's speech was broadcast to the entire U.S. military, warning bad behavior can lead to instant international headlines.

PANETTA: And those headlines can impact the mission that we are engaged in. They can put your fellow service members at risk. They can hurt morale. They can damage our standing in the world.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, USAF (RET.): Unfortunately, we are dealing in a situation where the image is everything. It's not all the good that we have done, which has been considerable in a lot of these places, but it also boils down to the fact that there are so many things that are perceived because of one bad image.

STARR (voice-over): The investigation of a dozen service members in potential misconduct involving alcohol and prostitutes during President Obama's trip to Colombia brought the issue an even higher profile.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We are embarrassed by what occurred in Colombia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, zero tolerance. Zero.

STARR (voice-over): Military broadcasts like this have warned troops for years about excessive drinking and soliciting prostitutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By patronizing prostitutes can lead to dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and imprisonment.

STARR (voice-over): But the strongest words came from Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos, who told his commanders, "Recent widely publicized incidents have brought discredit on the Marine Corps." He called for an end to "undisciplined and embarrassing conduct."

The chief of staff of the Army also went in, saying this has to end. The Navy has actually dismissed some 47 commanders from duty over the last 21/2 years for failing to meet standards. But, of course, Candy, the majority of the troops do serve very honorably.

CROWLEY: They do, indeed. What's next now in this? That's the message from above and it is done or is there another step?

STARR: Well, it is the Marine Corps really that I think is taking the hardest line on this at the moment. General Amos plans a series of visits to Marine Corps bases across the country and in Afghanistan. And he says he is going to keep on this message. It's time to behave.

CROWLEY: Barbara Starr, thanks so much.

The jury in the trial of former senator and presidential candidate, John Edwards, heard from one of the middlemen on the money trail today. Edwards is accused of illegally using campaign contributions to cover up a sexual affair.

CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns was in the courtroom and says the jury also heard from a lot of people Edwards deceived.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, the second week of the John Edwards trial saw a parade of former associates and staffers of John Edwards before the jury, talking about how he lied again and again about his relationship with his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Former adviser Peter Scher, recounting how he asked Edwards in New York in 2006 whether he was sleeping with Hunter, who had been traveling around the country with Edwards, shooting web videos. Scher said he warned Edwards that if he was having an affair, he should not run for president. Scher says Edwards denied it.

Weeks later after finding out Hunter was still traveling with Edwards, Scher recounted an angry conversation. Scher said Edwards told him to back off, that he did not need a babysitter. And Scher said Edwards told him to go "blank" himself.

Meanwhile, Brian Huffman, an interior designer and friend of wealthy Edwards benefactor Bunny Mellon, captivated the courtroom. Huffman was the middleman for huge under-the-table check from Ms. Mellon, which Huffman delivered to Edwards' fixers, Andrew and Sherry Young.

When asked what the 101-year-old Mellon thinks about the case now, Huffman said, she doesn't condemn affairs but thinks you should pay for your girlfriend yourself.

Huffman also said they did not know what the money was going for. "We knew nothing about a girlfriend or a baby. All she wanted to do was make a president."

That last statement could have helped the prosecution persuade the jury that Edwards illegally accepted campaign finance money. However, the jury didn't hear it because the judge had ordered the jury out of the courtroom. The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case by Thursday, Candy?

CROWLEY: It has been 24 days since Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. And that's how long it took for him to sit down face-to-face with his former rival, Mitt Romney. They met this morning in Pittsburgh for 90 minutes. And according to advisers, no one else was in the room.

Joining me now is the man who lent his office for the meeting, Santorum's senior adviser, John Brabender.

John, thanks for joining us. What happened in the meeting?

JOHN BRABENDER, SENIOR ADVISER TO RICK SANTORUM: I think it was, from what I could couch, a very friendly, yet certainly a very serious talk. I think both of them are very focused on how to defeat Barack Obama this fall. So I think much of the discussion, if you will, centered around that.

I do know there were some issue discussions. Senator Santorum particularly wanted to talk about his manufacturing plan, how to revitalize manufacturing in America and bring jobs back from overseas.

I think he also wanted to talk about some of the pro-family, economic ideas, certainly, that he has and about health care. But I got the sense from spending a little time with both of them that it was a very candid yet very friendly meeting and I think it would probably be couched by both of them as a very productive meeting.

CROWLEY: Yes, candid and productive is State Departmentese for there was some disagreement.


BRABENDER: Yes, I want to be careful. I don't know that. But when I say candid, I think that they both respect each other's opinions, and I think that they didn't want this just to be a simple 90 minutes of how are you doing? Let's relive the campaign trail. I think it was very important to both of them that there was something that came out of this meeting, information, ideas, those type of things.

CROWLEY: We know what's important to Senator Santorum. What I'm wondering is, did you get a chance to get a feel for whether he felt satisfied with the meeting? Everybody is now going to be beating you over the head about when is the endorsement? There is always this feeling that whatever went on in that meeting is certainly going to decide when and how he would endorse Mitt Romney.

BRABENDER: Well, I think you have to look at this a couple ways. First of all, Rick Santorum has been very clear that Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee.

CROWLEY: Well, that's different from an endorsement.

BRABENDER: Well, it isn't. That's where I am going with this. An endorsement is more than that. And Rick Santorum is somebody who takes that endorsement very seriously. And he felt he had to have a one-on-one conversation with Governor Romney on some of the critical issues that he cares about.

CROWLEY: So is he satisfied?

BRABENDER: I think he actually did leave there and feel that the questions that he asked were indeed addressed and addressed well by the governor. So I think at least, if nothing else, he feels like he was given every piece of information that he needs to now be able to figure out what the next step is.

But I do think that he feels it was very productive, very informative and that Governor Romney was very sincere in discussing these issues.

CROWLEY: So, as I understand, your feel for this meeting -- granted you weren't in it -- but your feel for it is that Senator Santorum came away satisfied, and that you do believe there will be an endorsement sooner rather than later. Do I sum that up correctly?

BRABENDER: I believe that the senator will take everything that happened today and give it considerable thought and decide what his next action is, based upon that, in the near future.

CROWLEY: And you don't think that it hurts Mitt Romney to have people sort of looking as though they are dragging their feet and really not being all that enthusiastic?


BRABENDER: I think it is the exact opposite. I think that people will then understand that if Rick Santorum endorses the governor, that it really means something. It is not just somebody throwing out an endorsement with no purpose just to get it out of the way. I think people respect Rick Santorum for being so serious about it. And I think that if an endorsement does come, it has more weight and will be more helpful to Mitt Romney, if, indeed, that happens.

CROWLEY: And finally, John, in the phrase, sooner rather than later, how would you define sooner?

BRABENDER: Well, I define that probably in the next week or so, not in the next two months.

CROWLEY: Terrific, John Brabender, thank you so much, senior adviser to Rick Santorum.

BRABENDER: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Coming up, what new numbers have Mitt Romney fired up and ready to go?

And the April jobs report, its big impact on the presidential race.



CROWLEY: April's job creation numbers far less than anyone predicted put President Obama on the defensive.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Next week, I am going to urge Congress as they start getting back to work to take some actions on some common sense ideas right now that can accelerate even more job growth. That's what we need. And my message to Congress is going to be just saying no to ideas that will create new jobs is not an option.


CROWLEY: Will his warning to Congress help jump-start the recovery or do the anemic numbers put Mitt Romney one step closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Joining us to discuss how the number one issue on most Americans' minds is shaping the race for the White House, Democratic strategist Penny Lee and Republican campaign strategist Terry Holt.

Thank you both. Let me give you Mitt Romney's take first on the unemployment numbers today.


FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1 percent. And normally, that would be cause for celebration. But, in fact, anything over 8 percent, anything near 8 percent, anything over 4 percent is not cause for celebration. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: That is called setting the bar high. I don't think we are going to see 4 percent employment between now and November. There are so many numbers out there. We clearly see that they can be turned in the direction of whichever campaign you want. If you look at one thing that you think turns this race when it comes to the economy, what is it?

PENNY LEE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is also the voter confidence. And I think that is something that is going to be watched throughout this race. And you are starting to see it as far as personal likeability. And that has always been to Barack Obama's favor. But it is also going to be in the confidence that they have.

You are starting to pick it up in some of the state polling, now that they actually do have the confidence that can bring this economy forward, because there's been 25 steady months of increased job growth, but it hasn't been at that rate.

And that's what you are going to hear the Republicans say, it is not the quite at the rate we wanted or that the American people wanted to see. But the administration can hang on the fact that it has increased and unemployment has gone down since the stimulus and other measures --


CROWLEY: -- stimulus --

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: (Inaudible) if you have been trying to find a job for years now and you are not even in these unemployment numbers, this is not a message. It sounded to me like Obama fell into his own trap of process, blaming Congress for not creating jobs. It is time now for him to get on with being accountable for this agenda.


LEE: But I think one number that is actually key there is that over 4 million jobs were lost in the private sector up until the stimulus and other measures took place. Now --


LEE: -- but 4 million have been recovered in the private sector now --


HOLT: But, Candy, the question Candy asked was whether or not the American -- what's it going to take for the American people to think that the next president has his finger on the trigger and knows what to do? And I think the personal attributes here, Newt Gingrich fell out. The Republicans are gathering now. Mitt Romney actually took the opportunity this week to emote a little bit, to talk about how (inaudible) --


HOLT: -- exactly, and here we have Barack Obama with an, I'm going to blame Congress, because you are not working. That ain't going to wash with the American people.

CROWLEY: And because the president is held responsible in a reelection bid -- and Terry is absolutely right -- but let me -- since you brought up the idea of the Republicans gathering around, I agree with you that they are gathering around, but, boy, there is an enthusiasm gap there.

When you see Newt Gingrich, when just talking to Brabender about when is Rick Santorum, I mean, does that hurt Mitt Romney?

HOLT: No, because this is the time when all that has to happen. He has sewn up the nomination. He is now reaching out to these people and checking all the boxes with these former candidates. They are organizing in the party. They're still on TV in a lot of these targeted states. Some of these targeted states like Ohio and Florida are close.

But this is a sitting president. This election is going to be decided in target states that were all in Obama's column last time. And that's why they have the momentum, even though this is a period of time where it is a little wishy-washy about who is in front.

CROWLEY: It is. I mean, just the imagery is sort of like, ugh. (Inaudible).


This isn't mano a mano yet.


HOLT: These two guys aren't in the focus --

LEE: Well, I do think it is telling -- you know, it's kind of like that book, "He's Just Not That Into You." There is something there that they just haven't -- they don't -- something about Mitt Romney that just hasn't been able to --

HOLT: I don't buy that. I see voters --

LEE: Then why haven't they come out -- how come they haven't come out?

HOLT: -- is still there to defeat Barack Obama because at the end of the day --

CROWLEY: And isn't that the great unifier-- HOLT: It is.

CROWLEY: -- for Republicans?

HOLT: This is going to be a referendum on the Obama presidency, and Mitt Romney has the personal attributes --

LEE: -- last 70 years --

HOLT: -- the strength, the clear determined leader, the economic background to be a good -- to be a good person to turn to when you want change.

LEE: Well, he -- and in some of these constituencies he has serious problems. Gender gaps, you want to talk about?

CROWLEY: Let me show you some poll numbers which I think are sort of -- this is Quinnipiac, and it's in three battleground, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Florida and Ohio, dead heat. Pennsylvania, the president is up by about -- what is that? Eight points. What does that tell you about the fall campaign?

HOLT: Well, it tells me we're going to have big races where is we usually have them, in Florida and Ohio. It's going to come down to the last few weeks of the campaign. But I look at this other targeted list of states that we're talking about, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina.

Others, Colorado. These are places where the president won last time, and if this race is fought on his turf, the Republicans have an opportunity. Remember, this is an incumbent president and a challenger. The incumbent president should have the advantage.

CROWLEY: He's got -- last 15 seconds -- he's got a fight on his hands, the president.

LEE: He does have a fight on his hands. We always knew it was going to be a tough election going forward. I mean, even with the landslide everyone says he won in 2008, it was only 53 points -- percentage of the votes. So he does have a tough road but he is battles strong.

I mean, just in that one battleground state of Virginia right now, 53 percent said they actually prefer Barack Obama's vision over Mitt Romney's. So fighting strong.

CROWLEY: Penny Lee, Terry Holt, we've got about five-plus months more to discuss it. Thank you so much.

There are full moons and then there are supermoons. When you can catch a glimpse of the spectacular sky show.

Plus, rocker Ted Nugent spews out a string of curse words during a TV interview. You will never believe the reporter question that set him off.


TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN: I thought I'd start with a little musical statement --


CROWLEY: Tomorrow's full moon will be so big and bright it's earned a name upgrade. Supermoon. Right now you're looking at pictures from last year's supermoon, but tomorrow's show is expected to be even more stunning. CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is in the Extreme Weather Center to explain the science behind it.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Candy, we're talking about the supermoon. It's going to appear 14 percent bigger, 30 percent brighter compared with how the moon normally appears to us. Give you other cool factoids about the supermoon. It's actually during the perigee -- that's what they call the particular orbit when it's actually closest to the Earth.

It comes within 221,000 miles of Earth. And as I mentioned, it's going to appear about 16 percent brighter than normal and very, very big, especially during the horizon, also when it's lower in the horizon, it's going to be filtered by some of the volcanic dust, all kinds of things that'll be in the atmosphere that sometimes give it an interesting hue.

In fact, last year it had almost like a reddish kind of hue, which is quite beautiful. Now the problem is, not everyone's going to have a great shot of the supermoon. Some places you'll be dealing with the cloud cover, especially up towards the Northern Plains, but if you happen to live in parts of the Eastern Great Lakes or even parts of the Southeast, got a pretty decent shot.

Some places going to be clear, partly cloudy across the Southeast. Some across the Central Plains, partly cloudy and clear out towards the West. Again, Northern Plains, looks like you might be waiting for another shot next year. Back to you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Our Reynolds Wolf.

Here's Mary Snow with the latest news you need to know right now.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Candy. We got an update today on the investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Philadelphia. The city's archbishop says three suspended priests will be considered suitable for ministry, but five others will not be reinstated. The findings on 17 others will be announced later.

More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, some of the main plotters face a military judge tomorrow. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is among five men who will be arraigned at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba. He tried to plead guilty in 2008. But the legal process stopped while the Obama administration reconfigured the trial process. Now this was a close one. A British warship narrowly maneuvered through the Thames today as part of an exercise testing anti-terror operations for this summer's London Olympics. With the help of three tugboats, H.M.S. Ocean was able to squeeze through the flood barrier with only feet to spare. It's the Navy's biggest warship and will act as a base for Royal Marine snipers during the Games.

And, yes, the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow and it's almost time get your $2 bets in. Twenty horses will compete in front of a crowd filled with wide-brimmed hats and mint juleps. It seems most of the 3-year-old colts will have a fair shot at winning but all eyes will be on the white colt, Hansen. A lot of eyes on those hats, too, Candy.

CROWLEY: I guess. Mary, stick around for our tonight's final moment that you may have missed. And it's a doozy, courtesy of rocker slash Republican activist Ted Nugent. He exploded a CBS reporter who said that Nugent was not a moderate.

Now talking about a man who had to sit down with the Secret Service because he said he'd be dead or in jail if President Obama is elected. So without further ado, here's Nugent's bleep-filled response to a reporter's suggestion that he is a moderate.


NUGENT: Call me when you sit down across from someone who has more families with dying little boys and girls, who get a call to take them on their last fishing trip in life. Call me when you reach someone who does that more than I do, because that's really moderate. In fact, you know what that is? That's extreme.

I'm an extremely loving, passionate man and people who investigate me honestly, without the baggage of political correctness, ascertain the conclusion that I'm a damn nice guy, and if you can find a screening process more powerful than that (inaudible).



CROWLEY: The reporter also asked about the Secret Service meeting. Nugent called it quote, "adorable."

You know, Mary, we have only limited time. So I was going to just let you go ahead and give us your reaction to that.

SNOW: I don't even know what to say to that. And this is all because the reporter said that he's not a moderate. Right?

CROWLEY: Yes, yes. I mean and I think he took that as, you're not a compassionate man. I think that's how that translated. That's all I can figure. Not that I want to try to get inside the mind of him.

SNOW: We better just leave it at that.

CROWLEY: Exactly. Mary Snow, good to see you tonight.

And that is all from us tonight. Erin Burnett "OUTFRONT" starts right now.