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European Central Bank Will Not Step In Without Government Action; Russia, China Issue Joint Statement Against International Intervention In Syria

Aired June 6, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World: no knight in shining armor, the head of the European Central Bank tells politicians it's up to them to get the EuroZone back on track.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Tonight, from the U.S. to China, why millions of us depend on Europe's leaders to act now before it really is too late.

Also this hour, it was once a bustling shopping district, now it's the front line of a battle with Syria's rebels vowing to fight to the bitter end. And.


MARIA SHARAPOVA, TENNIS STAR: There is no reason why I can't win.


ANDERSON: Her hopes high for the French Open. Maria Sharapova on the only grand slam event that eludes her.

Well, first up tonight it's a mess and all indications are that it's set to get even worse. If ever Europe needed a white knight it is right now, but the European Central Bank isn't riding to the rescue. ECB governor Mario Draghi says it's not the central bank's job to fill the vacuum left by political dithering. And despite the deteriorating outlook, he's keeping interests rates on hold.


MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: I don't think there is a silver bullet for this. The ECB will continue to act to have its monetary policy oriented to price the medium term. We think this is our best contribution to growth for both the euro area and trading partners in our -- in the rest of the world.


ANDERSON: Reading between the lines of Draghi's comments a sense that stimulus could be on the way as the ECB says it is standing ready to act. Now have a look at these numbers, that's perhaps why we've got green arrows all around on the markets today. Certainly investors prepared to look to the upside.

But don't be fooled, these markets are cheap and ripe for the picking and volumes are thin at present. You'd be hard pressed, let me tell you, to find anyone we are prepared to say we are anything like out of the economic woods at present. The Dow up 2.3 percent nevertheless. The FTSE, Spain and the German markets all up over 2 percent.

CNN's Richard Quest joins me in the studio tonight live.

I could start in any one of a handful of EuroZone countries with a depressing drip feed of economic news. So where do you want to start?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we start with Spain. The economics minister says they don't need a bailout for the banks, not yet. Nobody believes him -- well, not personally, but I mean everybody says that there's at least 40 billion, possibly several hundred billion that needs to be put into Spanish banks to capitalize them. So we've got that one that's a festering sore.

You've got the downgrade of certain German banks by ratings agencies because of their exposure. You've got industrial production numbers from Germany that were weak -- I'm just ticking them off as we go through them.

Outside the EuroZone, you've got weak numbers on PMI, purchasing managers index in the UK.

It doesn't matter where you look, Becky, the numbers are weak, and worst of all there is no confidence or seemingly leadership.

ANDERSON: I wish we weren't talking about this three years into this crisis, but we are. All of which of course for the ECB then, the European Central Bank, firmly back in the spotlight today.

QUEST: Yes. And everybody privately says Draghi will rid to the rescue. The problem is he's not doing it just yet. And he says he's not going to do it any time soon. He says it's up to national governments.

If he playing a game of chicken, waiting to see who moves first, is this his great strategy? He will come in if -- to go -- you know -- an Armageddon, something is on his doorstep. But he will have to use liquidity, but for the rest of the world, from President Obama to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, they are saying today to Europe we want an action plan and we want it now.


STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: I don't want to sound too alarmist. We are kind of running out of runway here. And you know in terms of the structure of the EuroZone, in terms of addressing some of these problems, we do need to see the broader game plan. We just can't say let's wait until the Greek election. We cannot have a Greek election determine the future of the global economy, that's not fair to anybody.


ANDERSON: As you rightly pointed out, U.S. President Barack Obama also in this making his voice heard. He spoke to both his German and Italian counterparts that I just want to our viewers on that, once again reminding them of the need to strengthen the EuroZone.

If you're wondering why he cares, and why the rest of us should care about this whole mess, take a look at this. The EuroZone economy is critical to the United States. It's the third largest market for U.S. goods, purchasing over $49 billion worth in the first quarter of this year alone. And if you're watching form China tonight, the EU is your single biggest export destination. China send over $363 billion of goods to Europe in 2011.

It's an age old saying, but an important one, when Europe sneezes the U.S. and these days China catches a cold. If things don't improve in Europe, if people like you and me and Richard don't start spending, if small businesses can't get a line of credit, if governments don't start prime pumping these economies this cold could just become a global influenza. A chilling, chilling thought tonight.

Enter the Germans to the EuroZone. Richard, needs to act -- get its act together and many agreed Germany is critical here. Paula Newton for you tonight explaining why.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The next two weeks will be critical for the EU's future with Germany taking a pivotal role and here's why. Germany may be the EuroZone's economic powerhouse, its pockets are deep, but they're fraying. Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank is already on the hook for at least $800 billion of peripheral country debt. Now that's about a quarter of German GDP.

This can't just be about Germany's bankrolling bailouts. Everyone is saying they need a deeper, more integrated EU. Everyone, of course, except for European politicians.

Now the marriage analogy here might be cliche, but it so aptly describes the EU. Married in name only. They have yet to consummate this thing.

Now what would that take? Well first politically they would have to take a big step to smooth out the economic bumps in weaker countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal. They're nursing recessions, high unemployment, and some are now suggesting that austerity has actually been self-defeating and responsible for triggering those recessions.

Now that would mean committing to a more federal system, that in an orderly way makes transfer payments -- a lot of those transfer payments coming from countries like Germany -- those transfer payments going from strong countries to weaker ones whenever necessary.

This may seem like Germany is committing to footing the bill with absolutely no payback, but the risk of contagion is real and here's why, and this is just one measure, if Spanish banks fail, German banks remain the most exposed. I mean look at this, Germany taking on 10 percent.

The pressure for Germany and others to fully commit to Europe in every way is strong and blunt and many like hedge fund billionaire George Soros are saying, look, this is the warning, you have little time and little room for debate now.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, enter the gang of four as they're known who have been charged with drafting up plans for household change to be presented at the EU summit at the end of this month. So what is this plan, Richard?

QUEST: That's a very good question. No one really knows. I mean, the idea of the plan is to start to pull together the various strands. We've already got the fiscal compact. Today we got a 160 page document on banking reform. The gang of four, which is the commission, the counselor, and the like, they are once again charged with bringing together the necessary changes. But this is the call point, they've got to do two things at the same time. They are trying to put out the first whilst at the same time do the architecture for the new house. And if we've learned anything from three years of this crisis, five years if you add on since 2007, they're not going to do it very well, because they've got too many vested interests.

ANDERSON: Also the problem is this, they may not do it very well. And it will also take an awfully long time. We've talked about a single European act back in 1992. Then we talked about the euro in 1997. It was enacted and brought in in 2000. These things take years.

QUEST: What frustrates people is the way in which the Europeans talk about it. If you talk to them, they say it's the way we do things in Europe. So we've got the council. We've got the commission. You've got the ECB. You've got the national governments. You've now got the EBA. You've got the EFSF. You've got the ESM. And everybody is pulling the strings a little bit like marionettes of some, but not all. And what we are lacking overall, and they will tell you this quite openly -- so they'll tell you quite privately, they won't say it openly, is a single authority.

But to do that, all roads come back to the core question, when are the countries of the EuroZone going to agree integration.

ANDERSON: We have a Greek election on June 17.

QUEST: Very important.

ANDERSON: We have a G20 summit on the 18th and 19th in Mexico.

QUEST: Frankly, the G20 they may all stay at home.

ANDERSON: Right. Fine. Then you've got an EU summit at the end of June, this is right off the G20 for the time being.

My worry is this for these markets -- what we've seen today when you look at the green arrows, they may be red arrows by tomorrow. You and I know this. Nobody in the market, they're cheap at the moment. People are buying. And they may just sell off tomorrow. Nobody is convinced are they yet at this point? How much worse do you think...


ANDERSON: That's an understatement. How much worse do things get do you think?

QUEST: Much worse. We have got a festering...

ANDERSON: I'm getting up and going home.

QUEST: Think about it, we have got a festering sore with Greece, no disrespect to the Greek people in saying that. With an election on June 17th could turn turtle. We have got a ticking time bomb with Spain with the banks where they are about to repeat exactly the same mistake that they made in all the other legs of this crisis, not getting ahead of the curve, saying they don't need a bailout. And all of a sudden, woops, we need a bailout.

And then you're going to have a renegotiation of Portugal and Ireland's bailout terms, because they want more favorable terms as Greece has got.

So you ask me, how much worse could -- it could get a lot better, but it could also get a great deal worse.

ANDERSON: I regret will have to be this evening. Thank you very much indeed. It's always a pleasure to have you.

Some 300 odd million people then live in the EuroZone. And normal world each and every one of them would bank on Europe's thousands of elected officials to dig them out of this hole. Three years since this crisis, nothing is normal and those officials have failed miserably. Time is on no one's side. More than half, remember, of Spain's under 25-year- olds not only don't have a job, but have no prospects of getting one. It is clear that wholesale change in the way the European project works going forward is absolutely imperative to get on with it. As the Canadian prime minister reminded the world today, we are running out of runway.

Still to come tonight, as Europe wrestles with its future, one U.S. state bucks the anti-austerity trend, voting back in the Republican who took on the public sector unions. We look at why some believe that's not bode well for President Barack Obama.

Also ahead, united stand against military intervention in Syria escalated from a key meeting in Beijing for you.

And as Venus transits the sun, part of the world see a phenomenon that won't happen again for another century. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.

Now while western powers try to break the diplomatic stalemate over Syria, dozens more people are killed in the streets. Syrian opposition activists report 71 deaths across the country today. Fierce clashes are said to be taking place all around Damascus.

Now the leaders of Russia and China say they remain firmly opposed to any foreign military intervention in Syria as well as efforts to force regime change. United States says it's pursuing other strategies to pressure Bashar al-Assad.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Strong sanctions, effectively implemented, aggressively enforced, can help to drive the Syrian regime of the resources it needs to sustain itself and to continue its repression of the Syrian people. Strong sanctions make clear to the Syrian business community and other supporters of the regime that their future is bleak so long as the Assad regime remains in power.


ANDERSON: And much more on the Syrian crisis in about 15 minutes time, including some exclusive footage from the front lines in Homs. So if you stay with us for that.

A look now, though, at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight. And dozens of people have been killed in a number of violent incidents in Afghanistan in the last 24 hours. At least 22 people were killed in two suicide bomb attacks in Kandahar. Now it's believed the attackers were targeting oil tankers that supply NATO forces there.

Meanwhile, NATO has denied killing 18 civilians in an airstrike in Logar (ph). The airstrike was aimed at the Taliban leader, but an Afghan official say women and children were also among the dead.

And in another incident, militants shot down a U.S. helicopter, killing two crew members in Dalgli province (ph).

Well, the U.S. will continue to carry out drone attacks in Pakistan despite opposition from the country's leaders there. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the use of drones during a visit to India. He said the strikes target al Qaeda members. Pakistan says they violate its sovereignty. Panetta was speaking just a day after the U.S. announced it has killed al Qaeda's second in command in a drone attack.

Canadian police say a severed hand and foot sent to schools in Vancouver are linked to the grisly murder of a Chinese man. Former porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta was arrested in Germany, you may remember, on Monday. He's accused of killing and dismembering university student Jun Lin and mailing his body parts to politicians. DNA tests confirm the body parts found at the schools also belonged to that victim.

The North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has made his second public speech since coming to power on Wednesday. He appealed directly to the country's youth, addressing tens of thousands of children in Pyongyang.


KIM JUNG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): Korea's future belongs to the children and depends on you. The Korea you are in charge of will be a country full of laughter and happiness and also the strongest country in the world.


ANDERSON: Well, experts say the speech signals a departure from his late father to start of his leadership and is seen as an attempt to win over a new generation of North Koreans.

Prince Queen Elizabeth has visited her husband Prince Philip in hospital as the Duke of Edinburgh is being treated for a bladder infection after falling ill during the queen's diamond jubilee celebrations on Monday. A statement from Buckingham Palace says the duke's condition has improved considerably, but he's likely to remain in hospital for the next few days.

And last night star gazers were out in force to see an astronomical event that will not happen again for more than a century. So if you missed it, you've missed it. That little black dot you can see there is Venus with the sun behind it. Venus orbits the sun every 226 days compared with our 365 day orbit, which means it's very unusual for this alignment to occur.

We're going to take a very short break. When we come back here on CNN. We'll hear from golf past and present super stars: a chat with Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy.


ANDERSON: We are a week away from golf's second major of the year: the U.S. Open. Young Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy will be looking to defend his title, but is going to have some work to do as he has run into some poor form and missed his last three cuts, if I have to remind you. Rory may be on the down, but he's getting some golden advice.

Whose with us tonight out of CNN Center, Mr. Riddell in the house. What's this all about. He's getting some advice from Jack Nicklaus right?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, yeah, I tell you what, he needs a bit of help at the moment. I mean, we all know that Rory McIlroy, Becky, is arguably the brightest prospect in golf at the moment. He won his first major at the U.S. Open this time last year, but having missed three cuts he definitely needs a bit of pep talk. And who better to get it from than the 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus.

Now these golfers are always talking to each other behind the scenes. What you don't often see, though, is them talking to each other in front of the cameras. But that has happened in a CNN exclusive for Living Golf. Shane O'Donoghue was the fly on the wall.


JACK NICKLAUS, GOLF LEGEND: I'm a big fan. I want him to play well. I want him to, you know, just say get smart.

SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Has it been a bit of a shock. You've suddenly lost something.

RORY MCILROY, GOLFER: I mean, you're not going to play well all the time. You're going to have periods where you struggle and you find the game quite difficult and you're going to have periods where everything seems like it comes easy to you. And I think it's just, you know, the golfing gods whoever it is up there just reminding me that you know what this game isn't as easy as it seems sometimes.


RIDDELL: Certainly isn't, Becky.

That is an exclusive interview, a fantastic chance with those two great players. There's going to be more in World Sport in an hours time. And you can see the full interview, that exclusive interview on Living Golf on Thursday at the time shown there on your screen.

ANDERSON: Well, London 17:30. Work it out wherever you are in the world. I'm sure you can.

And Maria Sharapova looking to complete a career gland slam. I will find the French Open one of the best tournaments, I hate to say it because I love Wimbledon as well, but it always just comes out with some absolute crackers. And this year once again it's brilliant.

RIDDELL: Yeah. And particularly on the women's side, it's just impossible to predict who is going to win this. But it does now look as though Maria Sharapova is getting very, very close to winning her one grand slam that's eluded her in her career so far. She was a very comfortable winner in her semifinal today against Kaia Kanepi winning in two easy sets. She's on the brink of becoming the world number one again, but I don't think that's what really is what she's after at the moment. She desperately wants to win the French open.

If she's going to do so, though, she's going to have to avenge her crushing defeat in the Wimbledon final of last year. She's going to be meeting the Czech lefty Petra Kvitova next in the semis.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. Thank you sir. As Don suggests World Sport back with your man in the house in an hour from now. Thank you all.

Coming up later in this show.


SHARAPOVA: It's such an adrenaline rush which you don't get in many things in life.


ANDERSON: We've been talking tennis. World Sport's Pedro Pinto talking to tennis star Maria Sharapova as she attempts to slam her way to world number one.

Also coming up on Connect the World, from major commercial streets to sniper alley: we're going to bring you an exclusive report of the front lines in Syria.

And it's considered a Democratic safe state, but this man is a Republican. Take a look at what last night with confident vote might say about this year's U.S. presidential election. All that coming up after this.


ANDERSON: Very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

These are the latest world news headlines from CNN. The head of Europe's central bank has dashed hopes that the European Central Bank might step in to fix the financial crisis. Mario Draghi was adamant it's not up to the banks to fill the vacuum left by indecisive politicians. He did say he stands ready to act which some say helps boost European and U.S. stock markets.

While Syria's few remaining friends are taking a united stand against military intervention. The crisis -- Russian and China issued a joint statement in Beijing. They thwarted international efforts to force, quote, regime change.

It's been a deadly day in Afghanistan. At least 22 people died in a double suicide bombing in Kandahar, and in Logar province, at least 18 fatalities were reported from a NATO airstrike. NATO says it's checking into reports that most of those victims were civilians.

Police in Canada say they've found two more body parts that can be linked to a grisly murder in Montreal. The severed hand and foot were sent by mail to a school in Vancouver. Montreal police are taking over the investigation because of the link to suspected killer Luka Magnotta.

Opposition activists say at least 71 people have been killed across Syria today in clashes and in shelling attacks. Perhaps no town has borne the brunt of the ongoing violence more than Homs, north of Damascus.

CNN today has obtained exclusive footage from the front lines there. Arwa Damon shows us how a once busy commercial street has become Sniper Alley.



ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abu Al- Baraa peers out from his makeshift battle position and spots his target.

"Give me the radio! Give me the radio!" he calls out as a hail of bullets from Syrian government forces drowns out his orders.

Movement is spotted to the left. "There it is! There it is!" someone shouts.


DAMON: As the armored personnel carrier moves back into sight, a voice cries out, "Look, Kofi Annan!" he shouts, mocking the idea of a cease-fire.

These rebels say they are protecting residents of a Homs neighborhood called Khaldiye from an assault by regime forces. Cairo Street is now the front line, separating the rebel stronghold from the neighborhood of al- Bayada, held by the government.

Once a bustling middle class shopping area, the street is now in ruins. The local rebel commander, Abu Hadid, crawls through holes fighters smashed between buildings to take up position.

There are government forces on a balcony across the road. The 32- year-old peers down the scope.

"Is it where the red and blue towels are?" he asks.



DAMON: Khaldiye seems deserted, but the fighters of the Free Syrian Army say it's not just about defending residents still here, but the property of those that have fled. They say Assad loyalists would steal or destroy anything they can get their hands on.

At another position around the street, Hazem is on high alert. "There's movement. Be ready, at my signal," he says calmly.


DAMON: Syrian government forces are fanning out across the road. "There's movement in your direction," a call on the radio warns.

"I am ready," Hazem responds.

The 30-year-old machine gunner fires off two rounds, takes aim again, and his weapon jams. Cursing under his breath, he clears it and aims again.

"You can't just have a one-sided cease-fire," he says indignantly. "They can't expect us to come under fire and not respond."

Some of these men are army defectors, but a growing number of civilians are joining the armed struggle, like 26-year-old Abu Wasfi. He used to attend protests, but that all changed.

"My brother defected from the army because he refused orders to kill innocent civilians and demonstrators," he says. His brother was killed defending this very neighborhood last year.

"This is his gun," Abu Wasfi says, gesturing to his AK-47. But it's hardly a match for the heavy weapons that government forces have.

Abu Wasfi and many like him say they will fight until the bitter end. Even if it means the uprising becomes a civil war.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Beirut.


ANDERSON: Well, you all know just as we cover the violence in Syria, we want to remind our viewers of the death toll since the conflict began. That's the number on the right-hand side of your screen, of course.

TEXT: Syria Death Toll: 12,399

ANDERSON: These numbers we're reporting come from opposition groups, CNN unable to confirm the exact numbers because of severe restrictions on reporting in the country.

Coming up on CONNECT THE WORLD, a Republican avoids being ousted in an otherwise Democratic state. What it means -- or might mean -- for this year's race for the White House. That coming up.


ANDERSON: A part of the United States better known for its cheese than its politics is now at the heart of the austerity debate in America. The midwestern state of Wisconsin conjures up images of dairy farms. It's so tied to the state's identity that fans of its lone professional football team, the Green Bay Packers, are known affectionately as Cheese Heads.

And Wisconsin's seen as relatively safe Democratic territory. A Republican presidential candidate hasn't won the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

But in recent months, its Republican governor, Scott Walker, has been embroiled in a budget fight that will sound familiar to many Europeans. Faced with a multibillion-dollar budget hole, he went after public sector employees, requiring that they start paying more into their pensions and their health care plans.

Well, that fight culminated on Tuesday in an effort to bounce Walker out of office, a so-called recall vote. He won, and now, everyone is talking about what this could mean for Barack Obama in November in a presidential election where every state, every electoral vote matters.


GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: The issues in Wisconsin were largely the same issues that I think Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are talking about, and that is the $16 trillion national debt, almost $6 trillion of which has been created by this president, and an unemployment rate at 8.1 percent for 40 straight months.

Unacceptable, and Mitt Romney's got different ideas, so it's going to be Romney's ideas against Obama's record, similar to what the referendum was about in Wisconsin.

JON ERPENBACK (D), STATE SENATOR, WISCONSIN: The exit polling shows President Obama leading Governor Romney in Wisconsin by about the same percentage, so it's kind of a mixed message in the fact that last night Scott Walker won, and if the presidential election was last night in Wisconsin, President Obama would have won.


ANDERSON: So, what does this victory tell us about the state of the race for the White House, if anything? I'm joined now by CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein, who's in Washington for you tonight. Is incumbent President Obama wounded by this, and if so, why?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it does show one clear threat to him, but shouldn't be overstated beyond that. I think one of the things that make American politics unique compared to many countries in the world is that our working-class voters, white working class voters, are more conservative than our upper class voters.

And those voters moved very sharply toward the Republicans in the 2010 election, those white working-class voters, they were the key to the big gains that Republicans made two years ago.

Becky, one of the things we saw last night is those voters are staying with Republicans. Scott Walker won over three-fifths of white voters in Wisconsin who did not have a college education. That underscores polls showing Obama having trouble with those voters nationwide, and I think it's a clear warning sign for him for November.

On the other hand, other elements of the modern coalition the Democrats depend on, young people, minorities, college-educated voters, especially women, they stuck with Obama much better in Wisconsin.

ANDERSON: It was fascinating to see what happened last night. I want to have a look at how national polls compare with that Wisconsin result, Ron. Granted, these were taken and published just before the result came in.

It's quite a different picture, nationally, as you've been saying, compared with what happened in Wisconsin. A Gallup poll showed that those with a household income of less than $36,000 a year put Obama a massive 15 points ahead of Romney.

That changes with the middle income and higher earners, who both favor the Republican challenger by 4 percent. And that's the complete opposite of Wisconsin, where lower income households were far more likely to vote for the Republican.

So, if you were Obama's team tonight, would you be feeling like you were sort of on the run, as it were?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, by the way, the reason for that disparity is that in Wisconsin, the electorate is almost entirely white.


BROWNSTEIN: Those lower income voters, nationally, many of them are minorities, who are Democratic. And the lower-middle income whites, as I said, tend to be heavily Republicans.

Look, I think there is a message here for Obama, which is that in states like Wisconsin that are dominated by blue collar, white voters, he's facing a real challenge. A majority of the electorate last night was white voters without a college education, and as I said, they broke overwhelmingly toward the Republicans.

That's going to be an issue in places like Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, maybe even Michigan. What it does mean for the Obama campaign is it puts more pressure on them to win in the states that are shaped by the same forces that he embodies: growing diversity, higher education levels. It kind of pushes you toward a Sun Belt path --


BROWNSTEIN: -- rather than a Rust Belt path toward the 270 electoral college votes he needs to win.

ANDERSON: And is that very different from that which we've seen before? Because as viewers from the outside looking in, we're well aware that there are key states. Are these -- is the map of key states, then, changing?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, it is. Historically in American politics, these Rust Belt states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, kind of the behemoths of the midwest were the decisive tipping points in the battle for 270 electoral college votes.

Now, there is a new path, a new set of swing states in the Sun Belt: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida in the southeast, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, maybe Arizona in the southwest that used to be reliably Republican but have now become competitive for both states because they are growing in education levels, and Democrats are doing better with those better educated voters, and they are growing more diverse, and Democrats win about 80 percent of minority voters.

ANDERSON: Ron, always a pleasure, thanks --


BROWNSTEIN: They did, by the way, last night in Wisconsin, as well, there just weren't that many of them.

ANDERSON: All right. Good stuff. Thank you, mate.

BROWNSTEIN: They just -- yes, thank you.

ANDERSON: Go on, if you've got one more -- one more. You want one more chance? Go on.

BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say, if every -- if the voters in Wisconsin voted -- if the voters voted the same way they did in Wisconsin last night nationally in November, it would be good news for Obama. There just weren't enough of the kind of voters that he does well with to win in -- in Wisconsin for the Democrat Tom Barrett.

ANDERSON: Yes, this is getting good, isn't it? We've got four months or so to go, the race very much on. Ron Brownstein for you out of Washington this evening, a pleasure, sir.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, she's only two games away from a career Grand Slam. The tennis star who's determined to win the one title that has eluded her. That, coming up.


ANDERSON: Well, it's the only Grand Slam title that she hasn't won. Now, tennis star Maria Sharapova is trying to win her very first French Open. She reached the semifinal stages after beating Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-3.

With only two more games between her and the title, Sharapova is on course to become the world number one and join what is an exclusive Career Grand Slam club by winning all four tennis titles.

But there remains one major stumbling block. Pedro Pinto sat down -- not him. Obviously he sat down with the tennis star before the French Open got underway.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Maria Sharapova knows how to win a Slam: Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian Open, she's conquered them all. But clay has always been the stumbling block keeping her from completing a Sharapova Slam.

Now, after a strong season on the dirt, she enters Roland Garros with a new-found confidence on clay.

PINTO (on camera): I think you've said in the past that on clay, sometimes, you felt like you were a cow on ice. It hasn't --


PINTO: -- looked like that recently, so how are you conquering the surface?

SHARAPOVA: I occasionally still feel like that, and I'm sure I still look like it, too, once in a while. The first few days on clay are just brutal, especially the practices. You're just getting your footwork down and the movement and it's so frustrating. And I never crack racquets, but those first few days, I crack racquets all the time. Like, two, I'm like, "Get me extra racquets."

But over the years, I'm -- I think the most -- biggest key for me is just being physically stronger. So, yes. It's been nicer. Less racquets cracked.

PINTO: So, does that mean that you like your chances for the French Open, and how driven are you to achieve that this year, since you feel so comfortable?

SHARAPOVA: I am. But it's a long summer. We've got so many things going on this summer, we have the French Open, which is always been a big goal of mine because I've always said it's going to be the most challenging Grand Slam for me to win, whether it was when I called myself that cow on ice or whatever it was.

But I -- if I go there and I play well and physically I'm healthy and I feel great, there's no reason why I can't win it.

PINTO: For a long time, I'm sure, you got tired of hearing about it, it was about what's going on with the women's game?

SHARAPOVA: Yes, it was tough being compared to the men's game when you have such amazing rivalries. You have the top four, Roger and Rafa getting to the finals, then you add in Novak to the mix, just started dominating. And Andy Murray, who's kind of getting far in the tournaments, always looking for the first big win.

So, there's so many stories created there that it's -- it was very challenging to be compared to that. I said this, and I still believe it: the level of the game from the first round on that you play at a women's event is so much higher than you see five or ten years ago, where I kind of felt like I'd come to a tournament, take the first few matches, and see it as a warm-up in the way.

Everyone would be saying in the press, well, why is it always 6-1, 6- 0, 6-2? And what can you really say? You try to win the match in the best way possible.

PINTO: So, what is the one thing that gets you up in the morning? Is it the Career Slam? Is it the number one? What drives you right now?

SHARAPOVA: Oh, none of those things. I -- certainly not the first thing I think about in the morning, because I've played tennis since I was four years old.

And when you're -- when you're in a match situation and you can be losing or you're winning, there's so much -- so many emotions that go into that, there's just so many feelings that even when I was away from the game for nine months with the shoulder surgery and trying to get back, I never - - never, ever felt in so many things that I did off the court.

Just great experiences, met wonderful people, got to work on amazing project, but nothing gave me that feeling of being in those positions where I had to pull out a match and I was losing, had to close it out when I was -- when maybe I didn't expect myself to win.

There's just -- it's such an adrenaline rush, which you don't get in many things in life. Not that you wake up in the morning every day feeling like that. Because there are a lot of days where you're like, "I don't want to see anyone, not the coach, not the trainer, not the fitness coach, none of you guys." I just -- I want to so my pillow and that's it. Many days are -- I have those days for sure.


ANDERSON: All right, that's tennis. Let's do football, tonight, as well. Squads are in place, team sheets are being finalized, the ref lightly polishing his whistle for what is the first game for Euro 2012. Poland's playing Greece, of course. Kick-off on Friday.

We want to know -- well, we want to know what you think about the tournament, who you're supporting. We want to hear from you,, have your say. You can tweet me @BeckyCNN, your thoughts, please, @BeckyCNN.

We will be there, live from Poland, Friday, kicking off what will be a tournament watched by some 150 million people, the eyes of 150 million focused on Poland and Ukraine, of course, co-hosts for Euro 2012. Let us know who you're supporting and why.

Old tires end up in all sorts of places: junkyards, roadsides, even some people's front yards. You probably wouldn't expect to see a rogue tire inside a hotel room. Jeanne Moos has the story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We never tire of watching runaway tires, whether it be a bus tire on the loose or a car tire that almost takes out a guy preoccupied with his phone who belatedly runs for his life after the tire shattered a window and bounced around a computer repair shop.

But this truck driver's lost tire --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, they blow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Oh, it blew!


MOOS: Puts the "freak" in freak accident. William Harvey lost his tire on Interstate 75 in Ocala, Florida. The tire went off the overpass onto another highway below, smashing this car. The driver was badly shaken up but escaped major injuries.

Meanwhile, the escaped tire kept rolling to the nearby Ramada Inn, where it barged in a partially-opened door to a conference room, where Bob Hurst was just heading for the refreshment table for some cookies.

BOB HURST, HOTEL VISITOR: All of a sudden, one of the members said, "Look out!" And right at that point, something large and black came right by my side, scratched against my leg, messed up my pants.

MOOS: The refreshments were pretty much obliterated. In the immortal words of "Tire Review," "Runaway truck tire checks into hotel conference room."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): Good morning, thank you for calling Ramada Inn.

MOOS (on camera): Hi, can I make a reservation for a runaway truck tire?


MOOS (voice-over): It was a steamy stay for this truck tire.

HURST: The tire flipped over, smoking like crazy.

MOOS: But if you want to know what a smoking-hot tire looks like, check out the one that came bouncing into a car dealership and crashed into a parked car. This woman at an appliance store in Las Vegas had a close encounter with a tire gone wild.

MOOS (on camera): Now, imagine you're trying to change a tire when a runaway tire comes whizzing by.

MOOS (voice-over): That's what happened on this bridge in Baytown, Texas, as a motorist changed a flat, a 200-pound wheel almost took out the officer. It scuffed his gun, ripped his holster, but the sergeant was unharmed.

It's as if tires are out to get us. A serial killer tire in the cult comedy "Rubber."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what a killer looks like.

MOOS: It kills people with its psychic power. So tread carefully.

MOOS (on camera): Help!

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN.

MOOS (on camera): Some retread!

THEME TO "RAWHIDE": Rolling, rolling, rolling --

MOOS (voice-over): New York.


ANDERSON: You couldn't make it up, could you? Your Moos Moment tonight. And your Parting Shots, we're going to take you to the skies of London for one of the most spectacular scenes marking what was Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

Capping off four days of celebrations, of course, Tuesday saw these World War II-era Spitfire planes and this Lancaster bomber participate in a Royal Air Force flyover. The formation passed over the Mall and above Buckingham Palace, where the royal family watched from the balcony.

And if you squint, you can almost make out the crowds of thousands gathered to watch the spectacle. And if you really squint hard, you might be able to see me. Can you? I'm going to give you glasses if you can't. Isn't that tremendous?

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thanks for watching. The world news headlines up after this short break. Stay with us.