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Edwards Not Guilty On Count #3; Surprise Backdrop For Attack On Obama; Live Feed: Edwards Gives Statement on Trial; George W. Bush's Official Portrait; Obama Campaign Romney on Record as Governor; Banning Super-Sized Sodas

Aired May 31, 2012 - 17:00   ET


GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: A verdict in the corruption trial of former Senator John Edwards. He is acquitted on one count and the five other counts have been declared a mistrial. A very good day for John Edwards in this verdict. He faced 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. That is not going to occur.

This was a risk John Edwards took. He rejected a plea agreement, decided instead to go to trial on what was a very sordid case and a complex campaign finance case. Again, John Edwards acquitted on one count, five counts mistrial.

Let me go to Joe Johns in Greensboro to kind of reset the scene for us. Joe, you watched those jurors day in and day out struggle with this. In the end, they could only come up with a verdict on one count. What happened here to the prosecution's case?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Tough case, tough law, tough facts, and politics probably played a role in it, too. Gloria, I just wanted to show you this. This is the verdict sheet that the judge always gives to the jury. They work off of this sheet as they go through the counts to try to determine the guilt or the innocence of the individual who's on trial.

And as you can see, the way it's put here, no unanimous decision, and it goes all the way through. No unanimous decision on five of the counts. The only one that has an "X" here next to guilty or not guilty is count three. That is a count from 2008 involving alleged illegal contributions from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in Virginia to John Edwards.

So, the jury just didn't buy it, at the end of the day, as that seemed to be the case, and the rest of it was just too difficult to decide. It was clear from the body language of these jurors, now, looking in hindsight, that they really were torn on many of the issues that were put before them. And while John Edwards took a gamble in some ways, his attorneys took a gamble, too.

Abbe Lowell deciding to keep their defense lean and mean after something like 14 days of testimony from the prosecution, the defense only took three days to put on its case and kept it very tight and focused on the issue of whether campaign finance laws have been broken. Again and again they said, he may have committed a lot of sins by cheating on his wife and having an affair with a mistress, having a child with a mistress, but he committed no crimes. And from this, it looks as though the jury agreed with him, Gloria.

BORGER: Let me bring in David Frum, a former Republican presidential speechwriter. David, as you well know, the decision was made not to have John Edwards testify. That his attorney, Abbe Lowell, did not want him to testify. So, that turn out to be a smart move?

DAVID FRUM, CONTRIBUTING ED., NEWSWEEK & DAILY BEAST: Look, I am -- I have no appetite to see John Edwards go to prison, and to the extent this case is about John Edwards, I think we can have some human sympathy. But to the extent, this case is about what is about to happen to the American campaign finance system, I think we should be very, very afraid.

Supposing John Edwards had been elected president and supposing this story had been kept secret, as you say, we don't know very much about these campaigns anymore and we know a lot less than we used to these days. Wouldn't he have owed a colossal favor to Fred Baron (ph)? Wouldn't he have been in a position where he could not have refused anything Fred Baron (ph) ask? And if this verdict stands --

BORGER: Or his aide, Andrew Young, I might add.

FRUM: Exactly. We are in a situation where vast, undisclosed amounts of money can be raised outside the campaign finance system, for a presidential candidate, to use for any purpose, including buying the silence of people with damaging information about them. That is a very scary outcome.

I think with this and combined with Citizens United, we have a lot of annoying paperwork requirements, but there's no campaign finance system in the United States at all anymore. We have gone back, essentially, of a system of unlimited, secret donations for any purpose.

BORGER: Right. Jeff Toobin and I were talking about that earlier, and he called it wild, wild west. And let me just bring in Mike Duffy for a moment, who covers politics, Washington bureau chief for "Time" magazine. Do you agree that, now, this kind of is sort of anything can happen when it comes to campaign finance at this point?

MIKE DUFFY, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME": We've known for a long time that these are really hard cases to prosecute, but I think the Edwards team had a special wild card, and that was John Edwards. This is a man, who before he was a vice presidential candidate or a presidential candidate or even a defendant, was one of the best courtroom readers North Carolina had ever seen.

He knew how to read a jury, he knew how to read a judge. He was really good at that. And his defense team had him as a consultant in his own case. And you could see, that's why they did --

BORGER: Not as a witness.

DUFFY: Not as a witness, and they had made that decision not to. So, I think that was just another "X" factor in this outcome. I think both sides had been expecting for days that it would end with him walking.

BORGER: So Jeff Toobin, talk a little bit about what this means about money in politics now?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It means that this is really something that is being deregulated. The message of Citizens United, the message of this trial is that the legal system is less and less involved in American politics, at least, the financing of it. And we are simply leaving it to the private market.

You know, I thought David Frum made a very good point about how dependent John Edwards would have been on Fred Baron (ph). How about if Newt Gingrich were elected president, how dependent would he have been on Mr. Adelson, who essentially single handedly funded his campaign.

BORGER: Or what about being dependent on unknown donors that the candidate may know about, but maybe we don't?

TOOBIN: Right. At least at the moment, disclosure requirements are still OK with the Supreme Court. They still uphold the requirement that donations to Super PACs have to be identified by who gave the money. But, as a result of Citizens United and the cases that followed, there are no limits on how much anyone can give.

So, we have situations now where single people underwrite entire political campaigns as it was with Mr. Adelson and the Gingrich presidential campaign. Here you have a situation where a great deal of money changed hands between Bunny Mellon, Fred Baron (ph), and people associated with John Edwards, and that is not something that is part -- you know, we now know, a jury has found as criminal.

Now, my mentor in journalism was Michael Kinsley, and he likes to say, the scandal isn't what's illegal, the scandal is what's legal, because it's what society chooses not to punish that tells you sort of where you are as a society. And I think all this money sloshing around with nobody being prosecuted, nobody stopping it, that tells you much more in a way than any criminal prosecution will tell you.

BORGER: Mike Duffy?

DUFFY: We were also seeing both parties say nothing about this. They're both going to be at this trough for this entire political cycle. Neither party is really saying, hey, let's fix this. I don't think John Edwards is going to start a fourth career and become ever campaign finance performer. So, over and over, I think what we're going to see is just a period where there are no rules, and this is --

BORGER: Well, let me bring in Paul Begala. Are you still with us? PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I am, Gloria. I've agreed to Mike Duffy's (ph) but that's not true. I'm part of the Super PAC that's supporting a president, yet, I want to see the system reformed. The president, I'm pretty sure about this, has even called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

So, it's not true that both sides like the current system. It is true that both sides are participating in the current system. But let me put a little finer point on it. Even before Citizens United, individuals could give unlimited amounts to independent groups. That's how we got the swift boat attacks on John Kerry or various liberal billionaires who help fund progressive independent organizations.

Citizens United was about corporate money. And so to take David Frum's analogy further, what if the next time there's some scandal like this, instead of wealthy friends, and I knew Fred Baron, he was a dear friend of John Edwards, instead of wealthy friends, what if it is corporations? And that need never be disclosed, because it could be done through various groups.

A corporation could give money to some other group, the group could then support your mistress, in the case of Mr. Edwards, Senator Edwards, and you would not just even owe your friend, Fred Baron, you would owe X, Y, Z corporation. And that's the new wrinkle of really pernicious and worrisome wrinkle --

BORGER: Paul --

BEGALA: -- corporate money.

BORGER: Paul, let me interrupt you for a moment, if I might. We're just about to get a statement from John Edwards. You see him there with his mother and his father and his daughter, Cate. We're told he's not going to take questions, but will speak.


JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we wanted to say first thank you for the jurors and their incredibly hard work and their diligence. They took their job very, very seriously, as we saw both during the trial, the attention they paid to the evidence during the trial, the presentations of the lawyers, and the fact that they've now spent nine, almost nine full days deliberating, trying to reach a fair and just result under the evidence in the law.

And all I can say is, thank goodness, we live in a country that has the kind of system that we have. And I think those jurors were an exemplar for what juries are supposed to do in this country. They were very, very impressive. The second thing I want to say just a word about is responsibility. And this is about me.

I want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice that while I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. And there is no one else responsible for my sins. None of the people who came to court and testified are responsible. Nobody working for the government is responsible. I am responsible.

And if I want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly, I don't have to go any further than the mirror. It's me. It is me and me alone. The next thing I want to say a word about is for the people that I love, because it's been an incredible experience for me to watch my parents, my dad just turned 80, my mom, who's 78, tromp up here from Robin to North Carolina every day to be with me and to support me.

And I love them so much, and they did such a wonderful job raising me and my brother, Blake, and my sister, Cathy, who I also love dearly. I also want to say a word about my own children. Cate, who most all of you have seen, has been here every single day. She has been here no matter what, no matter how awful and painful a lot of the evidence was for her.

Evidence about her dad, evidence about her mom, who she loves so, so dearly, but she never once flinched. She said, dad, I love you, I'll be there for you, no matter what. And I'm so proud to have had her with me through all this process. And then, finally, Emma, who turned 14 recently, Emma Claire and Jack, who just turned 12, who I take care of every day.

And, I've not been able to see them quite as much, but I see them in the morning, I get their breakfast ready, get them off to school, and then, we get home at night and we all eat supper together, and I love them both so dearly. And they're such an important part of every day of my life. And then, finally, my precious Quinn, who I love more than any of you could ever imagine.

And I am so close to and so, so grateful for, so grateful for Quinn. I'm grateful for all my children, including my son, Wade, who we lost years ago. But you know, this is the last thing I'm going to say. I don't think God's through with me. I really believe he thinks there's still some good things I can do.

And whatever happens with this legal stuff going forward, what I'm hopeful about is all those kids that I've seen, you know, in the poorest parts of this country and in some of the poorest places in the world, that I can help them, in whatever way I'm still capable of helping them.

And I want to dedicate my life to being the best dad I can be and to helping those kids who I think deserve the help and who I hope I can help. Thank you all very much.


BORGER: That was an amazing statement from senator, former senator, John Edwards, who spoke about the legal case, but really spent most of his time taking responsibility for his personal actions. And he said, if I want to find a person responsible for my sins, it's me and me alone.

And then named all of his children whom he loved, including Quinn, the child he had out of wedlock with Rielle Hunter, and his son Wade, who died in a car crash at the age of 16. And then, he made a statement saying, I don't think God is through with me. I'm hopeful there are things I can do and I want to dedicate my life to helping people.

Let me go right to Joe Johns who's there on the scene to get your reaction -- Joe.

JOHNS: Yes. The first thing, I think, you have to say is, that's the kind of statement that you would have expected him to say to a jury if he could have said to a jury and was not subject to cross-examination, which he would have been if he testified.

Clearly, he's remorseful for all that he did. I was going to say, all that happened, but all that he did, and clearly, he's now trying to look forward, even though he sort of pointed out in that statement, he doesn't know what's going to happen going forward on retrial or no retrial of these charges, which the prosecution, the United States government, has the option of doing if they want to.

Now, the other thing that was very interesting in there, Gloria, I mean, you pretty much covered everything, but very interesting that he referenced all those kids I've seen in the poorest places of the world.

John Edwards had suggested that one of the reasons he fought very hard and actually took this case to trial was because he wanted to retain his freedom and his law license, because he wanted to start some type of poverty law practice to help some of the poorest people in the world as you know, for years and years, back during the time when he was running for president, he talked about poverty, the two Americas, the least among us.

It's been a continuing theme in his life, and it's pretty clear that he wants to continue with that theme, presuming he doesn't have anymore legal exposure here. But that, of course, is still an open question. A lot of speculation that the government wouldn't try to bring a case like this again.

There's been some other speculation that the government just might want to bring a case like this again simply because during an election year, the Obama administration might think twice about playing favorites for a Democrat in a state like North Carolina. Be that as it may, it's down the road and who knows what's going to happen next.

A big day for John Edwards, one of the biggest of his life, not to mention for his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, who took this case against a lot of people's recommendations, perhaps, and went ahead and won it for him.

BORGER: OK, Paul Begala, David Frum, I want to get your reactions quickly to what we just saw from John Edwards -- Paul.

BEGALA: Well, you know, what you saw there was a terribly emotional man. I think you'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel at least something for the guy, particularly, when he talked about that baby who he had disavowed on national television when she was born. And you could clearly see that he knows the pain that he's caused.

I think that's a good thing. You know, the only dumb thing as Scott Fitzgerald (ph) ever wrote was that there are no second acts in American life. There are second and third and fourth acts, as we have seen. But Senator Edwards has got a long way to go. I think he probably did himself some good.

I do -- I was -- the one omission, Joe Johns already pointed out, he needs to thank that lawyer of his, Abbe Lowell, who did a remarkable job.

BORGER: Right -- David.

FRUM: Well, I have no appetite to see John Edwards punished further. He's been dragged through the limelight in a way that that has to be pretty horrible for him and for his family. But I think we will rue this day. If this is a legal precedent, we have just ripped off the last limits on what people who might be president can do with the money they ask for from powerful friends.

BORGER: OK. And let me just go to Mike Duffy, quickly, about you've covered John Edwards, you've watched him a lot.

DUFFY: I'm aware of how good a speaker he can be. Even having said that, that was one of the most, I think, unprecedented moments of self-contrition I've seen in a while. Who knows of you, you know, genuine it is. I can't speak to that. You can't imagine that he's going away. I think he's -- I see a charitable foundation in his future somewhere.

BORGER: Here is John Edwards leaving the courthouse now, heading into his car. There is his daughter, Cate.

DUFFY: The pick-up truck.

BORGER: The pick-up truck. Let me ask you, Mike, you know, I heard a little bit in the end of his speech, the two Americas that we used to hear so often on the campaign trail when John Edwards ran, and also when he ran as vice president on the ticket with John Kerry.

DUFFY: You just can't make any predictions anymore about what becomes of someone like this. He's just -- it's in his blood. We'll see what he does. But he is not done.

BORGER: No, I don't think so. Jeff Toobin, I want to bring you in on this. He did thank the jurors for their hard work and their diligence. And he thanked God he lived in this country, because -- and thanked the legal system, because in a way, more than anyone else, John Edwards seemed to have faith in this legal system and decided not to cut any kind of a deal before going to court.

TOOBIN: He knows his business. And he was a trial lawyer long before he was a politician, and he was apparently one of the best in the country. He was famous for not taking many cases. He was not one of these plaintiff lawyers who took a high volume of cases.

He would investigate cases very carefully and decide these are the ones that I think can generate a tremendous amount of money in damage awards, and he had an extraordinarily high batting average. He decided to roll the dice with this jury, and he won. I mean, you know --

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: Frankly, I mean, you know, I'm not sitting there in Washington with you. I thought it would have been better if he simply stopped after he said, this is all my fault. It sounded a little bit like a campaign speech to me after that.


TOOBIN: You know, helping young people and all that. You know, like, why don't you just go off and do something privately. I mean, I just think, you know, what he did was wrong. He, I think, was prosecuted in a case that shouldn't have been brought. But, I mean, I think that's it.

BORGER: And he did take responsibility, which is something we don't hear a lot in political speeches.

TOOBIN: I thought that was the best part of his statement. Hse said, this was just my fault. He repeated the refrain that Abbe Lowell, his lawyer, did so effectively, which is that I'm a sinner, but I'm not a criminal. But I thought that was enough.

BORGER: OK, Jeff Toobin, thanks so much. All of these fine folks will be with us. Stay with us. We're going have much more on the John Edwards verdict and other news, so stay with us for the next hour.


EDWARDS: And this is about me. I want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice that while I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong.



BORGER: And now, on to the presidential race. Mitt Romney went to California today to a place where he could hit President Obama in a vulnerable spot. He made a surprise appearance at the failed energy company, Solyndra. Here's our senior political correspondent, Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mitt Romney showed up across the street from the failed solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, to hand out a stinging indictment. The president used taxpayer money to reward his campaign contributors in a scheme that never helped the economy.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Free enterprise to the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends. Heads and his cronies win and tails and the taxpayers lose.

ACOSTA: It was two years ago this week that President Obama visited Solyndra to highlight the results of a half billion dollars in federal loan guarantees, complements of the stimulus program.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.

ACOSTA: But Solyndra has been a disaster for the president. Not only has the company filed for bankruptcy, its offices were raided by federal agents after an energy department inspector general found DOE officials did not provide sufficient transparency and accountability in awarding loans to energy companies.

The Romney campaign notes a DOE official connected to the deal, Steve Spinner (ph), was also a big Obama contributor in 2008.

ROMNEY: The decision to put money in this enterprise represents a serious conflict of interest.

ACOSTA: For days, Romney's Solyndra event was a closely guarded campaign secret. Even in the hours before the San Francisco area visit, reporters covering his campaign were kept in the dark.

We don't know where we're going. We don't have to confirm where we're going (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could just be dropping us off at Alcatraz for good.

ACOSTA: A one-way ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A one-way ticket to Alcatraz. There's no telling where we're going.

ACOSTA: About a half hour after reporters boarded the campaign press bus --

ROMNEY: Good morning, how you doing?

ACOSTA: Romney got on as well, and staff members revealed the final destination, they said the secrecy was a must, because they feared President Obama would somehow try to shut down the Solyndra event. But Romney would not go that far on camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is there so much secrecy surrounding this event? One of your advisers said that it was because that you were afraid that President Obama would try to shut it down?

ROMNEY: I think that there are people who don't want to see this event occur.

ACOSTA: Still, the messaged discipline stood in stark contrast with the circus surrounding Obama campaign strategist, David Axelrod's, news conference across the country in Boston, as Romney's staff members and supporters tried to disrupt the Boston event, Axelrod pointed to the former Massachusetts governor's 47th in the nation job creation record.

ROMNEY: You can't handle the truth, my friends!

ACOSTA: Romney defended his team's efforts to make mischief, saying Obama supporters do the same thing.

ROMNEY: What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.


ACOSTA (on-camera): And all of that secrecy surrounding the Solyndra event may have gone to waste as Mitt Romney was stepping off his bus here earlier this afternoon. All of the news networks were switching over to the White House where President Obama was honoring former president, George w. Bush, with a portrait hanging there.

And Gloria, truth be told, we all sort of guessed it was Solyndra earlier in the day, and so did much of the news media. They had satellite trucks here. There was even a news chopper over our heads when we all arrived -- Gloria.

BORGER: No surprise there, right, Jim?


ACOSTA: We can guess, that's right.

BORGER: That's right.

ACOSTA: It took a little bit of guessing, but the parlor game eventually turned to Solyndra.

BORGER: Thanks a lot.

OK. Up next, a rare moment. Three presidents at the White House, and it made for a lot of laugh, thanks to former president, George W. Bush.

Plus, New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg's, latest move to make the city healthy, but it's making a lot of people angry.


BORGER: At the White House today, some laughs, a few tears, and not much politics. The Bush clan returned for the unveiling of George W. Bush's official portrait. And the former president stole the show. Watch this.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From time to time, those of us who have had the privilege to hold this office find ourselves turning to the only people on earth who know the feeling. We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences. We all love this country. We all want America to succeed. The months before I took the oath of office were a chaotic time. We knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow Americans were in pain, but we wouldn't know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been and still, over those 2.5 months, in the midst of that crisis, President Bush, his cabinet, his staff, many of you who are here today, went out of your ways.

George, you went out of your way to make sure that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible. President Bush understood that rescuing our economy was not just a Democratic or a Republican issue, it was an American priority. I'll always be grateful for that. The same is true for our national security. None of us will ever forget where we were on that terrible September day when our country was attacked. All of us will always remember the image of President Bush standing on that pile of rubble, bull horn in hand, conveying extraordinary strength and resolve to the American people, but also representing the strength and resolve of the American people.

And last year when we delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, I made it clear that our success was due to many people in many organizations working together over many years, across two administrations. That's why my first call once American forces were safely out of harm's way was to President Bush. Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I are grateful to the entire Bush family for their guidance and their example during our own transition. George, I will always remember the gathering you hosted for all the living former presidents before I took office, your kind words of encouragement, plus you also left me a really good TV sports package.


OBAMA: I use it.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, thank you for your warm hospitality, and Madame first lady, thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging. Laura and I are honored to be here. Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming. We are overwhelmed by your hospitality. I am pleased that my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection. It now starts and ends with a George W.


G.W. BUSH: When the British burned the White House, as Fred mentioned, in 1814, Dolly Madison famously saved this portrait of the first George W.


G.W. BUSH: Now, Michelle, if anything happens, there's your man.


G.W. BUSH: I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you'll now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do? I am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible, unconditional love, and that would be number 41.



BORGER: The portraits by John Howard Sandon (ph) show Bush standing in the Oval Office, while Mrs. Bush is in the Green Room that she helped refurnish.

And New York City wants to ban super sized soft drinks. It may be a move for our health, but should government be making the decisions about our diet? A debate on that next, plus arrested for DUI on a lawn mower. Jeanne Moos is next with a week of vehicles ending up in places they should not.


BORGER: After pounding away at Mitt Romney's record as a business leader, the Obama campaign is now targeting his term as governor of Massachusetts. The Democrats took their attack to Romney's backyard today, but they ran into some Republican resistance. CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin is here with us. Yes, they did run into some resistance.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They did, Gloria. You might call it a noisy rollout, complete with dueling news conferences and rowdy protesters. When the Obama campaign turned up in Boston and they took aim at Romney's record as governor and a job creator.


YELLIN (voice-over): Next time the opposition visits the Romney campaign's home turf they might want to rally at an indoor location.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repeated, it was great to be in the city of Springfield.

YELLIN: Those are Romney supporters blowing bubbles on the sidelines and trying to drown out the Obama campaign's message.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER: You can shout down speakers, my friends, but it's hard to etch a sketch the truth away. YELLIN: That's the Obama campaign's top strategist, David Axelrod, opening a second front in the war on Romney's economic record. First, the argument that Romney's time at Bain does not make him an economic guru.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It brought the orientation of a financial engineer, whose career has not been about generating jobs, it's been about generating short-term profit.

YELLIN: Now he's making the case that Romney's record in Massachusetts proves it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it wasn't happenstance, folks that Massachusetts stumbled under Governor Romney.

YELLIN: This Obama campaign video argues Romney's message hasn't changed from 2002 --

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 2002: I know how jobs are created and how jobs are lost.

YELLIN: To now.

ROMNEY 2011: I know why jobs come and why they go.

YELLIN: And it insists the former governor did not deliver in Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: By the time that Romney left office, we were 47th in the nation in terms of job growth.

YELLIN: The fact checking organization, PolitiFact, says the claim is accurate, but Massachusetts' sluggish growth was not all Romney's fault.

AARON SHAROCKMAN, POLITIFACT: Massachusetts made a gamble on high-tech, and those jobs went away in the late '90s, early 2000's, and Mitt Romney had to kind of -- and the others in the legislature and the state had to kind of find jobs to fill that vacuum.

YELLIN: At a dueling press conference, Romney supporters defended his record.

DAN WINSLOW, MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE: That under Governor Romney, Massachusetts created more net new jobs in the state than President Obama has created in the last four years, in the last four years of the United States.

YELLIN: Polling in Massachusetts shows the former governor trailing the president by 25 points.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also promised to --

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Broken record! YELLIN: A point the campaign made over the din.


AXELROD: These may be the only voters, right here, for Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.


YELLIN: It was a rowdy scene. Now, the point of the Obama campaign showing up there was try to convince voters that Romney's record at Bain and at private equity does not prepare -- did not prepare him to be governor and similarly does not prepare him to turn around the nation's economy. And Gloria, you can also expect them to take on Mitt Romney's record at the Olympics as well and to keep up attacks on all three fronts through the elections.

BORGER: It seems to be kind of a rollout. First they start with Bain, then they go to Massachusetts, then they'll go to the Olympics and --

YELLIN: They'll keep it all up. It's all part of a package and a piece.

BORGER: Romney economics, as they call it.


BORGER: Thanks a lot, Jessica.

And banning super sized sodas in the "Big Apple"? Is that a good idea or is it just too much government? Mayor Michael Bloomberg fires back at critics in three minutes.

Plus, you probably heard a lot of stories that start with some guy sitting in a bar, but not like this one.


BORGER: New Yorkers could soon see limits in how much soda they're allowed to drink when they go out. It's all part of a new ban the city is proposing on super sized sugary beverages as part of its controversial war on obesity. Let's bring in our Mary Snow with details. Gulp.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gloria, you know, this proposed ban would be far reaching, even affecting street vendors like the kind you see behind me. Some are blasting this plan. Others are applauding it. And because other cities have adopted health initiatives that have been taken on by New York, this is getting a lot of attention.


(SOUNDS) SNOW (voice-over): Super sized drinks like this are the target of a first-of-its-kind ban that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to impose. His proposal, prohibit sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. He canceled an appearance at a news conference with his health commissioner and instead went on MSNBC to answer to critics, who say he's running a nanny state that's gone too far.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: We're not taking away anybody's right to do anything. All we're trying to do is to remind you that this is something that could be -- should be -- is -- not should be, is detrimental to your health, and to do something about this national epidemic. It's not perfect.

SNOW: This is Bloomberg's latest health initiative to make waves. He's banned smoking in public places, cut out transfat in restaurants, and has restaurants post calories. In Harlem, which has some of the highest obesity and diabetes rates in the city, there's mixed opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that's not a bad idea. But if you raise the price or if you ban it, then our children have a better chance of, you know a healthy life. Because the sugary drinks to me are really detrimental to our children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another step in trying to control what people are doing, and I think it's unnecessary.

SNOW (on camera): Right now at McDonald's, this is a large. It's 32 ounces, but if this ban on large sugary drinks sugary drinks goes through this small would be the new large.

(voice-over): McDonald's for one calls it "a narrowly-focused and misguided ban". A trade group for the city's restaurants say they'd be hit with burdensome restrictions. Movie theaters are calling it a "nanny approach". Vendors are also among the groups that would be affected since they rely on a health grade from the Board of Health. Supermarkets and convenience stores would not be impacted.

(on camera): Do you think this will make any difference?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do think it will make a difference.

SNOW (voice-over): Dr. Ileana Vargas, a pediatric endocrinologist says the city's obesity rate among children is particularly high in poor neighborhoods and she thinks sugar is a big problem.

DR. ILEANA VARGAS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well basically it's about 13-14 teaspoons of sugar in this bottle.

SNOW: But the American Beverage Association says soda isn't driving the obesity rates and it's not the first battle it's had with Mayor Bloomberg since he's tried but failed in the past to slap a tax on soda. SUSAN NEELY, PRES. & CEO, AMERICAN BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION: Yes, soft drinks (INAUDIBLE) calories. We consume lots of other calories. Let's try to do serious things to fight obesity and just picking on one source of food or beverage is not going to be the solution.


SNOW: Now the board of health is going to start considering this proposal next month. If it is approved, it wouldn't go into effect until next year and then restaurants would have nine months before they face $200 fines -- Gloria.

BLITZER: I can see a lot of free refills coming up, Mary, right?

SNOW: Absolutely and if there are refills, they won't be able to have 16-ounce. They will only have 16-ounce cups.

BORGER: OK, thanks a lot, Mary Snow, thanks.


BORGER: And two American tourists kidnapped in Egypt are now free. Our Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. Lisa what do you have?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Gloria. The State Department confirms the two men have just been released unharmed. CNN spoke with one of them while still in custody and he denied a report from an Egyptian official that they were already free. Gunmen kidnapped the tourists today in Egypt's Sinai region demanding the release of a man arrested for drug possession.

And authorities are launching an international manhunt for a Canadian man suspected of dismembering an acquaintance and mailing the body parts to a political party headquarters. Canadian police suspect the man, a porn star, who uses different names, has fled the country prompting Interpol to add him to its "most wanted" list. They say they found an online video of him committing the crime and they think that he recorded it.

A boost for gay rights supporters and the Obama administration today, a U.S. appeals court striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law defining marriage for government purposes as unions exclusively between a man and a woman. The three- judge panel ruled federal benefits cannot be denied in marriages that are legal under state law. The law is defended by congressional Republicans, but not the White House -- Gloria.

BORGER: Thanks a lot, Lisa.

And arrested for a DUI on a lawn mower, got to hear about that, Jeanne Moos is next.


BORGER: And here is a look at this hour's "Hotshots". In India, police officers stand in formation during a ceremony for their outgoing chief.

And in London, a new echo friendly lighting system illuminates the tower bridge with special lights for the queen's Diamond Jubilee.

In southern German, 15 Chinese couples celebrate on the shores of a pristine (ph) lake after renewing their vows. And also in Germany, a 7-year-old cougar balances on the shoulders of its keeper at a zoo in Berlin. I should have said a seven-week-old cougar.

And a lawn mower in the middle of traffic, a truck busting into a bar, a car driving through a restaurant, it sounds like something made for fiction but it all actually happened. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He sure wasn't mowing a lawn, but at least he didn't mow down any pedestrians as he waved at the officer in not so hot pursuit behind him.

KYLE HENNING, POLICE OFFICER: I hit my siren a few times to try to get his attention and he just kept saying, go around, go around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) traffic with a lawn mower.


MOOS: The officer pulled him over into a parking lot in Jackson, Wisconsin, where a curb stopped him.

OFFICER: Charles, how much did you have to drink tonight?

DRIVER: One beer.

OFFICER: Just one beer?

DRIVER: One beer.

MOOS: Sixty-nine-year-old Charles Gray (ph) wasn't happy about having to take sobriety tests. Turns out, he had three previous drunk driving arrests in cars. When he took the breathalyzer --

OFFICER: And blow.

MOOS: -- it resulted in his first arrest for DUI on a lawn mower.

OFFICER: You had more than one beer. You have 219.

DRIVER: No, I had one beer.

OFFICER: You're over double.

MOOS (on camera): It has been a weird week for vehicles ending up in places they shouldn't be.

(voice-over): In a place called Little Canada, Minnesota customers at this bar were shooting the breeze; watch the woman on the end take a last sip and then boom. Police say the 51-year-old woman who drove her truck into the bar likely had a diabetic condition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened like that. You didn't have time to react.

MOOS: Pat Sazinsky (ph) was the bartender. He just barely got out of the way in time. Three people were pinned. A total of six went to the hospital.


MOOS: But no one died. The impact left this customer dazed and watch the woman who had been beside him get up and lift debris out of the way.

In Huntington (ph), Long Island this week, a 21-year-old accused of being drunk drove a red Mercedes through a house ending up in the backyard. The homeowners weren't hurt. The New York "Daily News" dubbed it a drive-thru.

(on camera): And speaking of drive-thrus (ph), how about the guy who police say went loco over a taco after a beef about too little beef or maybe it was chicken.

(voice-over): Twenty-three-year-old Michael Smith (ph) picked up his food at the Taco Bell drive-through in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, but police say he came back to the restaurant saying he was short a taco. Words were exchanged --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he was just very sarcastic and rude.

MOOS: He then drove through the front entrance. Police followed a trail of fluid from his truck and arrested him at home. When they say take out they don't mean take out the entrance.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BORGER: And thanks for joining us. I'm Gloria Borger in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM and the news continues next on CNN.