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Romney to Lay Out Foreign Policy Soon; Romney Speaks at VFW; Ghana's President Dies Suddenly; James Holmes' Apartment Death Trap; Massacre Renews Gun Control Debate; Olympic Moment of Silence Denied; First American Woman in Space Dies
Aired July 24, 2012 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Suzanne. Thank you so much.
Hello to all you have. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Here's a question floating around right now. It is, how would Mitt Romney represent America's interests around the world? He is expected any minute now here to be laying out those precise points when he gives a speech on foreign policy. These are live pictures, Reno, Nevada. The annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. We just heard from President Obama speaking there just yesterday. And we will be hearing from Mitt Romney any second.
That said, I do have our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She is standing by live. She is on the phone. I believe, Dana Bash, you are in this room, in this convention, awaiting, along with the rest of us, to hear Mitt Romney. So let me just toss you this question. And I've read a couple of these excerpts. I know the campaign has released a couple of, you know, quotes from Romney's speech ahead of time. Give me a little preview. What will we be hearing?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I guess what is most interesting, at least from what they've given us ahead of time, is that, you know, they realize that foreign policy is not on the front burning at all for voters. And so the issue that I really (ph) want to make the most news, the headlines, isn't so, so much about the president's foreign policy, it's about trust in the president and the White House's credibility. And what I'm talking about is, he is going to really take a whack at the president for these series of national security leaks that we've been reporting on for the past couple of months that are being investigated but the attorney general pointed to U.S. attorneys to do so. He's going to hang this on some comments by the Democratic Senate Intelligence Chairman Diane Feinstein, who spoke just yesterday, suggested that the White House has to look at its own ranks to see if that's where it's coming from.
The whole question initially had been whether or not this is politically motivated to try to make the president look good. So that is where the president -- excuse me, Mitt Romney is going to hit the president hardest on this issue of the fact that, you know, possibly these leaks came from the White House. And again, we've come full circle. The idea is that this really goes to the heart of trust and credibility, and in the words of Mitt Romney, stone walling.
BALDWIN: OK. And I know, you know, once he finishes here in Reno, Nevada, you and I were talking just yesterday, he's headed on this overseas trip heading to England and Israel and Poland. And I just want to let our viewers know as we await Mitt Romney speaking here, the annual convention and the VFW, we also -- and guys just tell me if we have him or not, Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon -- because I know -- OK, we do have him. So Chris -- Dana stand by for me because, Chris, I want to go to you because I want to talk also, you know, to Dana's point about how he's going to be hitting the president when it comes to trust and foreign policy and specifically accusing the White House of leaking classified intelligence. I also want to point out the fact that, you know, he's talking to veterans today. And President Obama, as we pointed out, did precisely the exact same thing just yesterday. And I hear applause, so forgive me as I look down. And, guys, just tell me if he's going to speak.
What's interesting here is that neither man was in the military. You have Mitt Romney. You have President Barack Obama. In fact, this marks the very first time in 68 years that neither major party presidential candidate has served. So on that note, Chris Lawrence, to you, I just want to talk to you a little bit about this. We haven't seen this sort of matchup since -- and we did the digging -- since 1944. Since Franklin Roosevelt versus Thomas Dewey.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A lot has changed. And when you think about the -- you know, even though jobs and the economy, as Dana mentioned, are obviously the number one issue out there right now, the fact that you've got this ongoing situation in Syria, a potential nuclear power in Iran over the next few years, lot of foreign policy issues still trying to get out of Afghanistan, that neither person has experience in the military is a choice that American voters haven't had in almost 70 years.
But I think what you're really going to see is something that Dana pointed out. It just doesn't seem to matter. And maybe, Brooke, in some ways we should have seen this coming when Bill Clinton took out two World War II war heroes, George Bush and Bob Doyle. When, you know, Senator John Kerry fell to George W. Bush.
LAWRENCE: When Barack Obama beat John McCain. Military service doesn't seem to translate to today's voters as being something that's essential to being the commander in chief.
BALDWIN: Well, here's what does translate, dollars and cents. And I know the president, just yesterday -- let me look down and just quote him, because he was talking about the sequestration basically in Congress as a result of the debt ceiling debacle. You know, if they can't reach a compromise, you know, in terms of the Pentagon, the number is $500 billion. The Pentagon will be forced to cut an additional $500 billion over the next 10 years.
Now, President Obama, he spoke yesterday telling -- you know, telling his audience it was the Republicans who were, and I'm quoting the president, "playing politics with our military" and that they have to, you know, get serious about cutting the deficit to bolster, you know, our U.S. men and women who are so valiantly serving. What do we expect? How will Mitt Romney hit back?
LAWRENCE: Well, I think he's going to definitely, you know, point out as something he said before, that he would try to act to stop sequestration. Some of those numbers are a little fudged, Brooke, in that, you know, people hear $500 billion, you know, and think it just gets chopped out of the budget. This is a $500 billion cut on what's estimated to be the budget over the next decade. So this isn't a one- time chop. It's trimming what's expected to be the budget over a 10 year period. But, again, a lot of people in the Pentagon will argue the Pentagon can't make those kind of cuts anymore. And you've got this real battle of chicken going on where both sides don't want to blink.
LAWRENCE: And you're getting closer and closer to the end of the year, where that sequestration could kick in.
BALDWIN: Well, Dana covers the blinking. It seems daily.
Dana, I want to go back to you and -- oh, do I see Mitt Romney walking toward the podium? Forgive me.
BASH: Yes, there he is.
BALDWIN: OK. Dana, let's just wait for the thank yous and then we'll take Mitt Romney live.
My question to you guys, let's throw up the poll. This is a CNN/ORC poll. Because the question we posed was, you know, who best can handle foreign? And you see the numbers. Obama, 53 percent, Romney, 41 percent. As you pointed, Dana, Romney's going to be throwing some elbows here. Throwing some punches against the president. How effective do you think it will be for the voting public?
BASH: Well, you know, I think we can (ph) be able to listen to him and to see -- to see how this goes off here in the audience. He's obviously got a (INAUDIBLE) the audience here. Stop me if you guys want to start to take this live, because he just began to speak. But I --
BALDWIN: Let's listen then. Let me cut you off. I know you want to listen. I know our viewers want to listen. So, here we go. Mitt Romney.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: General Allen, Gunner Kent (ph), Executive Director Bob Wallace (ph), distinguished guests and members of the VFW, thank you for your generous welcome.
Now, I want to start today with a few words about the unimaginable tragedy in Colorado last week. We have sense learned that among the victims were four people who had served or were serving our country in uniform. Today our hearts go out to the families of John Larimer of the United States Navy, Rebecca Wingo, an Air Force veteran, Jesse Childress, an Army veteran and member of the Air Force Reserve, and Jonathan Blunk, a Navy veteran who died shielding his girlfriend from the spray of bullets. The loss of four Americans who served our country only adds to the profound tragedy of that day. All Americans are grateful for their service and deeply saddened by their deaths. We mourn them and we will remember them.
Now the VFW, as you know, is now over two million strong. It has a special place in America's heart. Some of you fought recently in Iraq or Afghanistan. Others are old enough to have marched, flown or sailed by orders of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Whatever your age, whether you're Republican or Democrat, whenever you serve, there's one thing you have in common. You answered the call of your country in a time of war. From December 7th -- from December 7th 1941 to September 11, 2001, whenever America has been tested, you stepped forward. You come from our farms, our great cities, our small towns and quiet neighborhoods. Many of you have known violence so that your neighbors could know peace. You've done more than protect America. You're courage and service defines America. Your America at our best and it's an honor to address you today.
Our veterans are part of a proud tradition that stretches back to the battlefields at Lexington and Concord. And now to places like Fallujah and Kandahar. Year after year, our men and women in uniform have added proud achievements to their record of service and President Obama appropriately pointed to some of them yesterday in his speech. Any time our military accomplishes a vital mission, it's a proud moment for our nation.
But we owe our veterans and our military more than just an accounting of our successes. They deserve a fair and frank assessment of the whole picture, of where we are and where we want to be. And when it comes to national security and foreign policy, as with our economy, the last few years have been a time of declining influence and missed opportunity.
Just consider some of the challenges I discussed with you at your last national convention. Since then, has the American economy recovered? Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced or diminished? Have we gained greater confidence among our alleys and greater respect from our adversaries? And perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear armed Iran, become more likely or less likely?
These clear measures are the ultimate tests of American leadership. And by these standards we haven't seen much in the president's first term that inspires confidence in a second. The president's policies that made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in 70 years. Exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify. Compromised our national security secrets.
And in dealings with other nations, he has gives trust where it is not earned, insult where it was not deserved and apology where it is not due.
From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and his place among nations. I've come here today to share mine. I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of America.
I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more place on the map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known and that our influence is needed today as ever before.
And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion. This century must be an American century. In 1941, Henry Loose (ph) called on his countrymen, just then realizing their strength, to create the first great American century. And they did. Together with their allies, they won World War II. They rescued Europe. They defeated communism. And America took its place as leader of the free world. Across the globe they fought, they bled, they led. They showed the world the extraordinary courage of the American heart and the generosity of the American spirit.
That courage and generosity remains unchanged today. But sadly the president has diminished American leadership and we're reaping the consequences. The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic and the two men running to be your commander in chief must offer their answers to the challenges we face. Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post and keep guard of the freedom that defines us and ennobles us and our friends.
In an American century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American century, we secured peace through our strength. And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve. In an American century, we lead the free world and the free world leaves the entire world. If we don't have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place pulling history in a very different direction. A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. And I pledge to you that if I become commander in chief, the United States of America will fulfill its destiny and its duty.
Now our leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength. If any one of those falter, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate. And today, as you know, the strength of our economy is in jeopardy. A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power.
When growth is missing, government revenues fall, social spending rises and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as the easy way out. That includes our current president. Today we're just months away from an arbitrary, across the board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our fore structure and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.
Don't bother, by the way, trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of that unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving the president's massive defense cuts. In fact, his own secretary of defense warned that these reductions would be devastating. And he's right. And that devastation would start here at home. Mark my words, those cuts would only weaken an already stretched V.A. system and our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. If I am president of the United States, I will not let that happen.
This is no time for the president's radical cuts in our military. Look around the world. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities. Some with intentions very different than our own. The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever present and we're still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.
All this and more is going on in the world and yet the president has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation's military capacity. When the biggest announcement in the last State of the Union Address on improving our military was that the Pentagon will start using more clean energy, then you know it's time for a change.
Now, we're not the first people to observe this. It's reported that Bob Gates, the president's first secretary of defense, bluntly addressed another security problem within this administration. After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to shut up. And he added a colorful word for emphasis.
Lives of American service men and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top secret operations were leaked. Even some involving covert action going on in Iran. This isn't a partisan issue. It's a national security crisis. Just yesterday Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who's chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, and I quote, "I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks," end of quote.
This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field and it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special council with explanation and consequence. Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama's attorney general, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House. Whoever provided classified information to the media seeking political advantage for the administration must be exposed, dismissed and punished. The time for stone walling is over.
It's not enough to say the matter's being looked into and just leave it at that. When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive, national security information, it's unacceptable to say, we'll report our findings after the election. Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled know and they're entitled to know it now. If the president believes, as he said last week, that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts. And let me be very clear. These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I'll tell you right now, mine will not.
As you know, the harm that's done when national security secrets are betrayed extends to the trust that allies place in the United States. The operating principal of American foreign policy has been to work with our alleys so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into conflict. That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our values. Yet the president's moved in the opposite direction.
It began with the sudden abandonment of our friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. They courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile defense systems, only to be told at the last hour that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government. And if that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark. The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, aiming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people.
I can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election. And for that he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office. Then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn't know was on, where you heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him space. This is my election, he said. After my election, I'll have more flexibility. Why is it that flexibility with Russian leaders is more important to him than transparency for the American people?
Now, the president did have a moment of candor, however, just the other day. He said that the actions of Venezuela dictator, Hugo Chavez, have not had a serious national security impact on us. In my view, inviting Hezbollah into our hemisphere is severe, it's serious and it's a threat. And I'll recognize it as such.
But at least he was being consistent. After all, this is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the Ayatollahs. That public uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the president's policy of engagement, instead of a moral and strategic opportunity. That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated. When unarmed men and women in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.
I'm going to be leaving Reno this evening on a trip abroad. It will take me to England, Poland and Israel. And since I wouldn't venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I'll tell you right here, before I leave, what I think of this administration's shabby treatment of one our fondest friends.
President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel's leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He's undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel's enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem. The people of Israel deserve better than what they've received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations and threats and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the president of the United States.
There are values and causes and nations that depends on America's strength, on the clarity of our purpose and on the reliability of our commitments. There's work in this world that only America and our allies can do. Hostile powers that only we can deter and challenges that only we can overcome. For the past decade, among those challenges has been the war in Afghanistan. As commander in chief, I will have a solemn duty to our men and women in uniform. A president owes our troops, their families and the American people a clear explanation of our mission and a commitment not to play politics with the decisions of war.
I've been critical of the president's decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season against the advice of commanders on the ground. The president would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decision is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war and potentially to attacks here at home is a politically timed retreat. As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. And I'll evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation and the safety of our troops.
We face another challenge in a rising China. China is attentive to the interests of its government, but it too often disregards the rights of its people. It's selective in the freedoms it allows. And as with its one child policy, it can be ruthless in crushing the freedoms it denies. In conducting trade with America, it permits flagrant patent and copyright violations, forestalls American businesses from competing in its market and manipulates its currency to obtain unfair advantage. It's in our mutual interest, of course, for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world. And we welcome its participation in trade. But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop. The president hasn't done it and won't do it, and I will.
We will need that same clarify and purpose and resolve in the Middle East. America can't be neutral in the outcome there. We've got to clearly stand for the values of representative government, economic opportunity and human rights. And we must stand against the extension of Iranian or Jihadist influence.
Egypt's at the center of this drama. In many ways it has the power to tip the balance in the Arab world toward freedom and modernity. As president, I'll not only direct the billions in assistance we give to Egypt toward that goal, but I'll also work with partner nations to place conditions on their assistance as well. Unifying our collective influence behind a common purpose will foster the development of a government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel and promotes peace throughout the region. The United States is willing to help Egypt support peace and prosperity, but we will not be complicit in oppression and instability.
Now, there's no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of ayatollah's in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capacity. Yet for all the talks and conferences, all the extensions and assurances, can anyone really say we're further from this danger now than we were four years ago? The same ayatollah's who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of "death to America" are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons.
What's needed is all the firmness, clarity and moral courage that we and our alleys can gather. Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime sources of wealth. Negotiations must secure full and unhindered (ph) access for inspections. As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes. It's claim, of course, is discredited by years of deception. A clear line has to be drawn. There must be a full suspension of any enrichment whatsoever, period.
And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our alleys stand as one in these critical objectives. Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran represents to us and the world.
I pledge to you and all Americans that if I become commander in chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region and to prevent the worst from happening while there's still time.
It's a mistake and sometimes a tragic one to think that firmness in American foreign policy can only bring tension or conflict. The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision.
In the end, it's resolve that moves events in our direction and strength that keeps the peace. I will not surrender America's leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might.
This is very simple. If you don't want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I'm not your president. With his cuts to the military, you have that president today. The 21st Century can and must be an American century.
It began with terror, war, economic calamity. It's our duty to steer it into the path of freedom and peace and prosperity. Fewer members of the greatest generation are here today. They can't hold the torch as high as they have in the past.
They're getting older. It's our turn. We have to seize that torch they've carried and with such great sacrifice. It's an eternal torch of decency and freedom and hope. It's not America's torch alone.
It's America's duty and honor to hold it high enough so the whole world can see it. I love America. I love what America represents. I love the sacrifice America has made for freedom throughout the world. This is a critical time for our nation, a time of choice, a time to determine what America's going to be over this century. You know where I will lead it. We will have another American century with freedom blossoming and prosperity for all of our citizens.
I believe in America. I believe in you. I believe salute you and together we'll make sure we keep America the hope of the earth. Thank you so very much, and God bless the VFW and the United States of America.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Mitt Romney speaking for a half hour. His campaign billed this as a major foreign policy speech and there you have it. We saw the president. We took the president yesterday standing at that precise podium.
Today, Mitt Romney hit back. I just want to note two spots where I noticed a bit of applause to Mitt Romney clearly as he was undercutting -- trying to undercut the public trust when it came to President Obama.
And as you heard is very much so accusing the administration, the president of leaking classified information as Mitt Romney put it to seek political advantage for the White House. Got huge applauses there, huge applause when he talked about how the president is making it difficult in dealings with other nations.
The trust word is not earned. Insult where it's deserved and an apology where it's not due. Finally, the other part, of course, the audience at VFW, veterans and he made the point that possible cuts could affect the Pentagon when it comes to an additional $500 billion in the next 10 years.
If Congress can't come together, the president yesterday blaming Republicans and hear you heard Mitt Romney blaming the president. He said he will not let that happen.
By the way, Mitt Romney once he's now leaving Nevada, he is headed overseas. He's headed to, of course, headed to Olympics, London, also to Israel and also to Poland.
With that said, we have a lot more news for you on this Tuesday. Take a look at this.
Grenade, gun powder and gasoline, all found inside the apartment of the suspected shooter in Aurora, but that's not all. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.
CNN goes inside Syria and gets access to a street of death.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody who set foot on here was likely to be shot.
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BALDWIN: Plus the dramatic moment of a prisoner trying to escape caught on video.
As London adds more troops for security at the Olympics, a controversy involving one country and a denial of a moment of silence.
BALDWIN: Breaking today, the president of Ghana has died. We're told John Evans Atta Mills passed away inside a military hospital just a few hours after falling ill. It's not yet clear from what though.
Back in 2009, President Obama met with Mills. The very same year, Mills became president of the West African nation. President Obama recently praised Ghana as a model for democracy and stability. President Mills was 68 years old.
Thirty homemade grenades, 10 gallons of gasoline, all rigged to blow inside the apartment of Aurora movie massacre suspect, James Holmes. CNN has now learned those details exclusively from a law enforcement official who has seen video from inside.
That official adds that it was all rigged to a control box with wires like I'm quoting the source, "spaghetti." A former FBI agent says the setup was like something you'd find in Iraq or Afghanistan.
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RAY LOPEZ, RETIRED FBI AGENT: This would be one of the first times I think we've ever seen what we can describe as a house bomb in the United States. Some of these things do exist overseas.
We've seen them in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and also in Colombia, in South America. But this is the first one that I can actually recall ever reading or seeing about in the United States where it was set to destroy the home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: A house bomb, so crews spent more than 24 hours sizing up the threat inside that apartment. They took the materials out to this secure field and detonated in. This happened Saturday.
Now one theory is that Holmes booby-trapped his apartment and then blare loud music possibly to lure someone inside thus triggering the blast. His downstairs neighbor said she almost went inside to deal with that blaring music, but fortunately decided against doing that.
James Holmes allegedly had enough fire power to turn himself into a one man militia, the size, all those explosives in his apartment. Police say he had a portable arsenal for the assault on that Aurora movie theatre.
He had an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, a .40 caliber Glock, another Glock in his car plus a stockpile of 6,000 rounds. All of it purchased legally. None of it apparently raising any red flags for anyone. Few of our lawmakers have been willing to talk about gun control even before this massacre. But today, a group of congressional Democrats called for reforms.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Senator Frank Lautenberg renewed their call to ban these extended magazines like the 100-round drum recovered at the scene of that Aurora massacre.
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REPRESENTATIVE CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: This has nothing to do with second amendment rights. This was made for military, for police. This is meant to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time.
SENATOR FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: We cannot let the NRA stop us from common sense reforms anymore. We cannot let them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: For the GOP, there's never a right time to talk about gun control. Mitt Romney, his surrogate, Chris Christie, they says that the conversation must stay on the victims of Aurora. Here they are.
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ROMNEY: I still believe that the second amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don't believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy. There were, of course, very stringent laws, which existed in Aurora, Colorado.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This is not the appropriate time to be grand standing about gun laws. Can we at least get through the initial grief and tragedy for these families before we start making them political points? So I'm not going to get into that business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: House Speaker John Boehner says he's not going to push for a new gun safety laws. He told reporters on Capitol Hill. I'm quoting him, "The president has made clear that he's not going to use this horrific event to push for new gun laws. I agree," end quote.
Speaker Boehner though, he did make a point here. The nation watched as President Barack Obama visited Aurora to comfort the grieving city. He was there just on Sunday.
But at no point in the wake of this tragedy has he once called for new gun laws or reforms to those on the books. This is an issue that's become political poison for Democrats especially in an election year.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is an independent accused both President Obama and Mitt Romney of ignoring the country's gun problems.
He appeared with CNN's Piers Morgan last night and asked if now isn't the right time to talk about, when is?
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MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Maybe if you shot a president. When Ronald Reagan got shot doesn't trigger it. Maybe if you shot a congresswoman? No. Maybe if you shot a bunch of students in campus? No. Maybe if you shot a bunch of people in a movie theatre? I don't know what it is. We obviously haven't gotten there yet. We just -- this cannot continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Only time will tell if Aurora is a tipping point. But for now, it looks unlikely that gun control will become a major issue or an issue at all in this campaign.
As London is adding thousands more troops for security at the Olympics, a controversy involving one country and the denial of a moment of silence. We're talking 60 seconds here. We'll talk to the widow behind the movement.
BALDWIN: We have now learned today more military might is coming to the Olympic Games, which beings this Friday. The British government says it will deploy another 1,200 troops to make up for the failure of the private company being paid for security.
Now during this Friday's opening ceremony the world, of course, will be focusing on all the Olympians present, but there is a move to spend one minute, I'm talking 60 seconds to remember Olympians of the past.
They were the victims of what is arguably the darkest moment in Olympic history. The death of 11 of Israel's team members at the 1972 games in Munich, this is their pictures. This is from the web site munich11.org.
Palestinian terrorists were responsible for that. Since then the International Olympic Committee, the IOC, has repeatedly rejected requests from survivors, from prominent Israelis to have that moment of silence to honor those 11 lost.
But this year as it's the 40th anniversary of that tragedy, these families have this new ally. He's Bob Costas, the sports caster who's heading up NBC's coverage of the Olympics. He talked to the Hollywood reporter and said this.
That during the opening ceremonies when he will be commentating, he will be quote, "noting that the IOC denied that request," end quote.
Joining me now on the phone from London is Ankie Spitzer. She is the widow of Andrei Spitzer who was among those 11 Israelis killed. Ankie, welcome to you.
In fact, we're showing a photo here of you igniting this memorial flame. This was 1974 in Israel for your husband and his colleagues. So my question to you is, here we are 40 years later, 40 years you've been asking for this moment of silence. We've now heard from the head of the IOC saying no. What's your reaction?
ANKIE SPITZER, WIDOW OF MURDERED ISRAELI OLYMPIC COACH (via telephone): Well, you know, the 40 years long road was a very lonely one. We have been asking since the first Olympics after Munich for a moment of silence.
We've heard all the lame excuses in the world from the IOC, from the International Olympic Committee, saying that either we are bringing politics into the Olympic Games or there are 21 Arab delegations and they will get up and leave the Olympics if you will remember your husbands.
Two, it's not the time yet. Our hands are tied. It's not in the protocol of the opening ceremony. We are fed up. We came here. We fought for 40 years alone. This time it's a totally different story.
This time we got first of all the help of the JCC in Rockland, New York. They decided to put a petition on the internet and in no time we have more than 105,000 people from 155 countries supporting this minute of silence. Not only worldwide support, but also from many governments.
BALDWIN: I understand, Ankie. Forgive me for interrupting you. I hear the frustration in your voice and you talk about lame excuse excuses and we saw the change.org petition.
But despite all of your efforts, the IOC is saying no and we wondered why. So here's why, this is what we got from the president of the IOC, President Jacques Rouge quoting him.
"We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere is not fit to remember such a tragic event." You know, I know a lot of people they agree. We've had some very dark incidents in the very recent past and also, you know, 40 years ago. That they say this is a time to rejoice. Just this one sliver of an evening we should be happy, do you see that perspective at all?
SPITZER: Not at all because, first of all, our husbands, fathers and sons were part of the Olympic family. They were members of the Olympic family. They were not just tourists coming by, accidental tourists.
They were part of the family. They were murdered in the Olympic Village. That's where they should be honored. The refusal of the IOC, you can see they never denounce terror. You just mention of all the excess security troops, they created the monster.
If they would have denounced terror, 40 years ago and would have said not on our turf, this is not going to happen. We are not going to accept it. I don't think that the Olympics would look like they have to do in London, which is nothing that has to do with the Olympic ideas of brotherhood. BALDWIN: Ankie, final question for those who agree with you that there should be a moment of silence, how can we around the world honor your husband and the 10 others. We won't be doing it Friday night. How would you like for us to remember them?
SPITZER: Well, first of all, I would like to call on the people who will be in the stadium. At the moment that (inaudible) is going to put to make his opening speech without mentioning what happened in the darkest day of the Olympic history that people would spontaneously, those who support our goal would get up and stand in a minute of silence.
That would be for us the biggest victory yet. Tomorrow night we are going to present (inaudible) with the petition, enormous support from all over the world. We do hope that he has the moral responsibility to make the right decision.
BALDWIN: That opening ceremonies are still two days away perhaps that's time for minds to change, perhaps not. But Ankie Spitzer, we appreciate you coming on and again, your petition on change.org. Thank you.
SPITZER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: She really is one of my idols. Today, the first American woman in space, Sally Ride is no longer with us. She died from pancreatic cancer. You're about to hear fascinating stories about the legend from two astronauts who knew her very well.
BALDWIN: Her drive and ambition out of this world. Her fore hand not so much. Today, we are finally remembering Sally Ride, the very first American woman in space.
The 61-year-old courageously battled pancreatic cancer for 17 months and lost that fight Monday. She remembers how it felt like when she was chosen for that first challenger mission back in 1983 and her prominent role in our history books was never lost on her. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALLY RIDE: I thought at that moment, wow, I get to do this. But then after I got back and the enormity of it hit me, I realized that I was making history. That I had made history and that's made the whole thing very special for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Special for a lot of people including me. If you watch the show enough, you know I'm a total space geek. So Sally Ride was definitely a personal idol of mine as I was growing up.
She was, did you know this, she was going to be a tennis pro, but decided she wasn't so great, described herself as avid at best. Her whole life though changed as did the lives of generations of women when she picked up the school newspaper and thumbed through to page three one random Tuesday morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIDE: I was sitting in the Stanford student cafeteria on Tuesday morning, at 8 in the morning, reading the Stanford student newspaper and I saw in the lower right hand corner of page three, an ad that NASA had put into the Stanford student newspaper saying they were looking for astronauts. So I guess I got this job by applying through an ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Applying through an ad. How about that? Joining me live. Here is Charlie Bolden, NASA administrator. Welcome back, Charlie. It's nice to see you and also on the phone is Katie Coleman, a NASA astronaut.
So thank you so, so much. From a fellow space geek, this is a huge honor to have you on and help us remember this tremendous woman. Before we start though there was a great moment today on the Senate floor, it actually came from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: I will never forget that day that Sally Ride in 1983 boarded that shuttle, strapped herself in, put on her helmet and when the rockets roared and out she went. The whole world had signs, cheers, saying go Sally, go Sally. I'll never forget it. I was in the House of Representatives. I was down there. We were waiting. We were excited. There was nothing like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Charlie, where were you in 1983 when that happened?
CHARLIE BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, I was actually in the astronaut office. I've been working with Sally up until that time on something. I remember her very well because she was a very good softball player.
BALDWIN: Charlie, forgive me, I'm hearing your audio is not so hot. We're going to work on that audio because I want to hear you crystal clear.
Katie to you and Katie, I think the last time I saw you was last summer playing in an astronaut band. It's nice to have you back on.
From what I understand, so Sally Ride said her life changed because she basically applied through an ad in the paper. I understand your life changed when you shook her hand in 1982. Tell me about that.
CADY COLEMAN, ASTRONAUT (via telephone): Well, it's true. You know, I never thought about being an astronaut. When I think of what they look it's so -- you know, Mercury 7 standing -- suddenly, I meet Sally Ride.
It became clear to me that maybe this is something I can pursue. All of us would like to make a difference, but Sally changed the world. She did it by being herself and she did by being qualified and being ready.
And guess, I like to think of her legacy with her education work and the work she's done. She's making sure that future generations are ready as well.
BALDWIN: You know, when she accepted that spot on the Challenger in '83, apparently she accepted it with mixed emotions. She said, quote, "It's too bad this is such a big deal. It's too bad our society isn't further along." Where are we now in terms of space and women? Did she really -- how much strive like what did she do for other women to come along?
COLEMAN: Well, I'm smiling because we have come a long way, but it's never far enough. You know, I mean, the problems of this planet are so big that we can't afford not to have the whole team ready and playing. And the whole team means women and minorities.
All of us bring something to the table to solve big problems like the problems of exploration. And in space I think we have got a lot of women represented. I will say never enough. It depends who you are talking to.
But what's important I think is basically we're bringing astronauts, all of whom are ready qualified to the space station to do some research that can't be done here on the ground. And it's a really special time in our history of the planet.
BALDWIN: Cady, I just have to ask. And this is my final question before I let you go. know a lot of people saw the news yesterday and they thought pancreatic cancer? So many people had no idea. I know she was thrust in the public spotlight, very, very private person. Do you know why she didn't make her battle more public?
COLEMAN: I have no idea. We weren't that close.
BALDWIN: OK. Cady Coleman, I appreciate it.
Charlie Bolden, I apologize for the audio. But I want to just thank both you for coming on as we're all honoring a true hero. Thank you so, so much.