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THE SITUATION ROOM
More Gaffes From Romney Campaign?; Olympic Winners; Romney's 'Great Success'?; Obama Battles to Keep Ohio
Aired July 31, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now: The Romney camp down plays another overseas gaffe. An aide curses out reporters.
We will tell you why officials in drought-stricken states may want to take a trip to Las Vegas.
And spoiler alert. Will show you some big Olympic moments before they air in prime time.
BOLDUAN: Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Kate Bolduan. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Mitt Romney is heading back to the United States from Poland right now, and his staff seems to be trying to ignore the critical reviews of the Republican's overseas tour. The Romney camp is calling the trip a great success, despite several widely publicized embarrassments, the most recent happening earlier today when a frustrated Romney aide cursed at reporters.
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, has been traveling with Romney and has more.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, in the eyes of the Romney campaign, there were no mistakes made by the GOP contender on this overseas trip. Instead, his advisers say the world got to know a candidate who speaks from the heart.
(voice-over): It's the image Mitt Romney has wanted voters to see for the last week, the GOP contender walking tall on the world stage, here visiting Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and later praising the former Soviet Bloc country for escaping the Iron Curtain.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I and my fellow Americans are inspired by the path of freedom tread by the people of Poland.
ACOSTA: But on every leg of his trip, he and his campaign faced one controversy after another, from Romney's comments questioning London's readiness to host the Olympics to his remarks at a fund-raiser in Israel hinting that cultural differences might explain Palestinian poverty.
QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?
ACOSTA: So it's no surprise while standing on a public plaza near the Tomb of the Unknown, reporters tried to ask Romney about some of the perceived gaffes on his trip. The candidate ignored the questions. His press aide, Rick Gorka, did not.
RICK GORKA, ROMNEY AIDE: Show some respect, Jim.
QUESTION: We haven't had another chance to ask him questions.
GORKA: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.
ACOSTA: After Romney's speech in Poland, senior campaign adviser Stuart Stevens was asked if anything had gone wrong with the trip.
(on camera): Could this trip have gone more smoothly, do you think, just in general?
STUART STEVENS, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I think it was a great success. The idea is that can people get a good sense of who he is? Can people listen and see that this is a person speaking from the heart about Israel, about Poland? And he is.
ACOSTA: During a weeklong trip to three countries, Romney took only three questions from his traveling press corps. The GOP contender did a series of sit-down interviews, including ones with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Piers Morgan.
Still, the Obama campaign slammed Romney as not ready for prime time, while the trip got a more sympathetic response from the White House.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: These are high-stakes enterprises, that pulling them off is a lot harder than it looks, that they can be very tense, especially if they're not going well.
ACOSTA: Signaling that it's turning the page, the Romney campaign unveiled a new smartphone app that will be used to announce the vice presidential pick in the coming weeks and a new ad on the economy.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know what it's like to hire people and to wonder whether you're going to be able to make ends meet down the road.
ACOSTA (on camera): Romney never openly criticized the president on this overseas trip, but all of that is about to change, as Romney arrives in the battleground state of Colorado later this week -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Jim Acosta, thanks so much.
Some members of team Obama are taking some harder jabs at Romney. Probably no surprise.
Senior adviser Robert Gibbs is calling the Republican's foreign tour an "embarrassing disaster." The president's aides are arguing he performed much better when he made his debut on the world stage back in 2008.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, for more on this.
Shocker, the Obama campaign is having a field day with this one, right, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, shocker. I guess not, right, Kate?
But, yes, the Obama campaign and the White House are more than happy to draw the comparison here as they try to raise questions about whether Mitt Romney is prepared to lead on the international stage.
KEILAR (voice-over): In July 2008, then Senator Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan, the start of a whirlwind eight-day tour that also included Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, France, Germany, and Great Britain.
It was a high-stakes visit for a first-term senator with little foreign policy experience who campaigned in part on winding down the war in Iraq.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My goal is to no longer have U.S. troops engaged in combat operations in Iraq.
KEILAR: The iconic image from that trip, a crowd in Berlin estimated at 300,000 people gathered to listen to Obama.
OBAMA: Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen, a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.
KEILAR: Quite a reception, though attracting an audience overseas isn't always helpful for a candidate trying to attract swing voters at home, and Republicans tried to capitalize on that.
NARRATOR: He is the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?
KEILAR: Overall, though, the trip was a success, which is to say Obama returned to the U.S. with no damage done.
Four years later, Mitt Romney can't say the same thing, and the Obama campaign is reveling in it, holding a conference call with reporters to highlight how Romney upset the British and the Palestinians on his trip.
ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: He both offended our closest ally and triggered a troubling reaction in the most sensitive region of the world. He certainly didn't prove to anyone that he passed the commander in chief test.
KEILAR: Even the White House, which often punts questions about the political race over to the Obama campaign in Chicago, weighed in multiple times.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And presidents, senators, congressmen, former governors need to be very mindful of the impact because of the diplomatic implications of what -- you know, what you say overseas.
KEILAR: Ultimately, however, voters might just overlook Romney's gaffes in an election that is all about the domestic economy.
MARTIN INDYK, DIRECTOR, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The voters this time are much more likely to make their decision based on who will be a better promoter of economic growth and job growth in this country than they are about foreign affairs.
KEILAR: The Obama campaign is also criticizing Romney for not visiting with troops as President Obama did on his 2008 trip when he went to war zones. The Romney camp responds that Governor Romney, as governor and as a private citizen, has met with troops and with military leaders.
Kate, I will tell you there was one misstep that President Obama had on his 2008 trip that his campaign is certainly not talking about, and that is that when he was in Germany, his campaign canceled a trip to Landstuhl Medical Center to meet with wounded troops. The campaign said they were afraid it would look like troops -- essentially that troops were being exploited for a campaign stop.
But Republicans pounced at the time, saying that it is never inappropriate to visit with troops.
BOLDUAN: Yes, so no one is immune to this criticism when they are on the campaign trail. That's for sure.
KEILAR: That's right.
BOLDUAN: Great report. Thank you, Brianna. Thanks so much.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress struck a deal today. No, I didn't misspeak. They did strike a deal today. And that should eliminate the threat of a government shutdown before the November election.
Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is on top of this.
Dana, they seemed to do it again. Another stop gap measure, huh?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's probably not a big surprise since it has happened so many times before.
But let me tell you two main reasons they did it. First, the fiscal year ends September 30. That's a little more than a month before Election Day. The politics of any government shut down is really a jump ball, and it's really unclear whether it would help Democrats or Republicans or neither.
Both sides figured, you know what, it is better to just pass this so- called continuing resolution, the stopgap measure, to make sure there's no question the government will not shut down. The second reason is everybody realizes there's going to be a lot of work that Congress has to do after the election between November and end of the year, and that's when the so-called fiscal cliff is coming. That of course is when the Bush era tax cuts run out and the spending cuts will go into effect.
BOLDUAN: Right there, you kind of hit it. This is a rare showing of bipartisanship. But on the big issues coming forward in the lame-duck session, there's no real indication this bipartisanship will reach into that, right?
BASH: No, definitely not. All of that -- the answer to that will really, really depend on what happens in the election. That will drive which side blinks, so to speak, and how the issue of tax cuts will really play out.
But, interestingly, I think it is important to note, Kate, as you well know, that this whole idea of making sure the government is funded is pretty fundamental to Congress' role in the Constitution. I just want to show you a graphic, because our producer Alan Silverleib found this information. I think it is fascinating.
The last time Congress actually didn't do this, pass a government spending measure, was 15 years ago, in 1997. Also, in the past 35 years, Congress and the president agreed to a long-term budget only three times, Kate, only three times in 35 years, 1989, 1995, and 1997.
So when Democrats have been in charge, Republicans have been in charge, both sides have fault for not doing, again, what is really a fundamental job, and that is passing those 12 or 13 appropriations or spending bills and sending them to the president to get funded.
BOLDUAN: Yes, excellent chance to remind them what their fundamental job is. We will continue to cover it. Dana Bash on the Hill, thanks so much.
With more than 60 percent of the country reeling from drought, local officials might want to get some tips from Las Vegas where water has been scarce more than a decade.
And more Olympic records are broken. Stand by for a little spoiler alert. You can see the key moments before they air in prime time.
BOLDUAN: One of the worst droughts in U.S. history is having huge ripple effects across the country. It is not only raising food prices. It's raising energy costs because modern oil production is dependent on water.
This devastating dry spell is all too of a familiar problem for people in Las Vegas. They have been plagued by drought for, get this, a dozen years.
CNN's Casey Wian is in Las Vegas looking at the drought problem in depth tonight.
Casey, that city it seems to have had a little bit of success here.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
I am actually in Los Angeles right now. But I did travel to Las Vegas, where there's been severe drought for more than a decade. They haven't run out of water yet, but it has taken some dramatic measures to make sure that that doesn't happen.
WIAN (voice-over): Why not build an oasis in the Mojave Desert? With water-gobbling hotel casinos, lush green golf courses, surrounded by a sea of thirsty homes, what could go wrong? Try a drought lasting a dozen years and counting.
PAT MULROY, GENERAL MANAGER, SOUTHERN NEVADA WATER AUTHORITY: We thought Mother Nature could never get us.
WIAN: The most visible example of the 12-year drought's impact on southern Nevada is Lake Mead, which supplies 90 percent of the region's water. It's down more than 100 feet. By volume, that is less than half full.
Southern Nevada water czar Pat Mulroy has by necessity become a fierce conservationist, presiding over dramatic reductions in water use.
MULROY: This community cut water use by one-third and added 400,000 people. They know they live in the driest spot in the United States. They know water will forever be one of their great challenges. And they have really made some changes.
WIAN: This is a Las Vegas housing development built before the drought, green grass all around. Here's a newer development, nothing but desert landscaping.
Water officials have spent nearly $200 million paying homeowners to remove existing lawns. For golf courses or residents, there are fines for wasting water. And the more you use, the more expensive it gets.
But with Lake Mead shrinking, conservation isn't enough.
(on camera): Before the drought, this construction site you see behind me would have been underwater. Lake Mead off in the distance has lost so much water that the two existing intake pipes that supply southern Nevada are in danger of being inoperable. So authorities have decided to build an $800 million third intake 600 feet below the ground.
(voice-over): Blasting into the bottom of the lake, and building a tunnel stretching three miles, is a massive project, scheduled to be complete in 2014.
(on camera): Who is paying for it?
MULROY: Citizens. We just went through a rather contentious rate increase, as you can well imagine in this economy.
WIAN (voice-over): The third intake is insurance against an even longer drought. And if it is not enough, there are controversial plans for a 300-mile pipeline to tap underground reservoirs from as far away as Utah.
(on camera): How secure is the future water supply for southern Nevada?
MULROY: It is very secure, because we have anticipated the worst. We have planned for the worst and hoped for the best.
WIAN (voice-over): Mulroy says, with climate change and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, communities elsewhere in the United States that are less accustomed to drought need to prepare.
MULROY: Don't ever think it can't happen to you.
WIAN: Southern Nevada also has signed deals with Arizona and Southern California to store and trade water for use during catastrophic droughts. They're even discussing that idea with Mexico -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: It's really -- that statistic just blew me away, that they have cut their water by one-third and added residents at the same time. I found that fascinating.
So what advice does Mulroy have for other communities facing drought?
WIAN: Well, she says what the rest of the country really needs to start thinking about is preparing 50 years in the future for their future water supplies.
And she also says we need to take as a country a closer look at storing water when we have floods, because we're not going to just face increased drought in the future with climate change. There's going to be more floods as well. And there should be a way she says to store more of that for dry years, Kate.
BALDWIN: Fascinating. Fascinating stuff. Casey Wian, great report. Thank you so much from Los Angeles tonight.
Imagine this, a blackout across the entire United States twice over. That's what people in India have been suffering through.
And at 40 past the hour, we will take a closer look at the one state and one issue that could decide if President Obama keeps his job.
BOLDUAN: Some new signs that the Romney campaign may be planning a big rollout for his vice presidential choice.
And if you missed it -- and you don't want to miss it again then -- stand by to see actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis put their spin on politics right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Happening now: Mitt Romney's overseas trip up for debate. Will voters remember the flubs?
There's hunger in Ohio. That could help determine if President Obama keeps his job.
And stay right here to learn some Olympic results before the Games air in prime time.
BOLDUAN: Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Kate Bolduan. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
First on CNN tonight: new clues about when Mitt Romney might announce his vice presidential nominee.
CNN's Peter Hamby has learned exclusively that Mitt Romney's campaign is laying the groundwork for a high-profile blitz of several key battleground states in the run-up to the Republican National Convention. Some GOP insiders who were briefed on the plans tell CNN it has all the trappings of a vice presidential rollout tour.
We are told Romney will kick off that campaign swing next week, and it will include stops in the battleground states of Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and the Ohio. The Romney campaign is hoping to gin up excitement for the Tampa convention and move beyond the gaffes during his -- that occurred during his overseas tour.
Today's embarrassing moment? A Romney aide today cursed at reporters who tried to shout questions at the candidate near Poland's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?
GORKA: This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect. Show some respect, Jim. QUESTION: We haven't had another chance to ask him questions.
GORKA: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So let's bring in CNN political contributor and Republican strategist Mary Matalin to discuss this more. Also with us this evening, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a domestic policy director for the Obama 2008 campaign.
We will get to the Romney aide's comments in just a moment. But, first, I want us to talk just a little bit more about this great reporting from Peter Hamby, Mary.
Is this a good way to roll out a vice-presidential pick, this swing through really key battleground states?
MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, the contest will be determined in those states. There's somewhere between 9 and 11. It will probably get down to 6, and those are the epicenter of the swing states, and whoever wins those is going to win the election. Of course it makes sense. And it will -- it's -- I think it's a brilliant way to unfold it.
BOLDUAN: And talking about the timing. I mean, obviously -- and Neera, you can pipe in on this -- the timing here, people were wondering would he announce before he left for the Olympics, while -- not obviously while he was away. But obviously, this is the clutch time here. He's got to announce it before the convention.
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes. I mean, I think the Romney campaign has actually been saying for a long time, you know, "We're just about to do it. We're just about to do it."
Obviously, this is the only time to do it. Kind of a traditional approach. It's a smart approach, but it's kind of a traditional approach. Obviously, people lay out who the vice-presidential candidate is, and then they campaign, and then they go into their convention. So after all of the hue and cry about doing this early, it turns out they're going to end up doing it at the same time everyone else has done it from time immemorial.
BOLDUAN: And we could spend another ten minutes talking about who we think the veep -- the veep will be, but we'll move on, because that obviously will be coming. We'll have many more conversations about it.
But Mary, let's get back to...
MATALIN: Kate, let me make one more...
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Mary.
MATALIN: ... point on this. BOLDUAN: Yes.
MATALIN: Because it goes to the segue to the gap. There are -- there's 100 days -- fewer than 100 days left until the election, and what we're all focused on now is the alleged gap. There are very few determinative moments, pivot moments. One is the vice-presidential selection. The next is the convention, and then the debates and then the larger debate. So people will start paying attention with this vice-presidential selection. And better to do it right and well than to have done -- made some sort of political timing decision.
BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, on this gap, alleged gap, I mean, this latest one coming from the Romney aide, I mean, it's kind of one in a string of things that has gotten relatively negative headlines during this overseas trip. I mean, Mary, do you think this trip backfired? Was this worth it? Could it have been time better spent going through these swing states?
MATALIN: You know, I've now seen that clip of the whoever that was screaming. I mean, maybe it was the juxtaposition of the mike, but I go back to the Reagan era, where the picture that was juxtaposed with that screaming reporter, whoever it was, is Mitt Romney looking very presidential.
The other pictures were -- were the candidate Romney at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or at the Western Wall, at the Wailing Wall. So in -- people look at pictures. The voters who matter will see the pictures, and they will see a very presidential-looking Mitt Romney. The voters who care about what these gaffes, so-called gaffes are have already made up their mind.
BOLDUAN: Neera, I want to ask you about -- bring you in on this specifically. Because our Joe Johns interview of the former candidate presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, earlier today. Listen to what Rick Santorum said about the Romney trip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the long-term take from this is one that we can go out and make the differentiation between what a world under Mitt Romney and a Republican administration would be, versus the tattered relationships that we have with some of our best and longest, strongest, strongest allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I mean, Democrats obviously are going to love making -- highlighting these gaffes, if you will. But does Mary have a point here, Neera? Is this more of a side show, kind of as Rick Santorum is saying, when the election will turn on a big issue like the economy?
TANDEN: You know, I guess Mary could make the argument that people don't care what Mitt Romney says, they only care what he looks like on TV. But I think actually voters are more sophisticated than that, and they care about whether a presidential candidate is ready to be president.
You know I think that Rick -- faux pas or blender, I'm actually sympathetic. I have been on campaigns that are winning. I've been on campaigns that are losing. I've been on campaigns where there's a lot of pressure. I know Mary, as well -- has been, as well.
And the thing is, you know, people on staff make those kinds of statements. They have gaffes like that. They attack reporters when their candidate is making mistake after mistake after mistake. So I'm sort of sympathetic to the reporter, because it's clear that the pressure of having to deal with one gaffe after another really just came through.
And I think voters -- voters care about whether a presidential candidate can go to other countries and represent the United States and have mistakes or not have mistakes.
And you know, President Obama four years ago demonstrated to the world that he was ready to be president, and the fact of the matter is that Mitt Romney has demonstrated to the world that he's not ready to be president. And we've heard it from allies. Conservative thinkers in Israel have criticized this candidate. And I think, you know, you can just say people care about the pictures, but I don't think that's -- I think...
TANDEN: ... for voters, I think.
MATALIN: You know what, I did not make the argument that people don't care what Mitt Romney says. If they -- if they care what he says, they're going to look at the speeches.
What do -- what do you call a gaffe, that he said the security issue at the London Olympics was disconcerting? This is headlines all over Europe. Or that Israel has the right to defend itself? What, these are gaffes?
MATALIN: Please, you went on; you filibustered forever. Just be quiet a second.
Do you think any voter is going to have an impact because a press aide said show some respect at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? The media is held in lower esteem than the Congress. So these are not gaffes. They're not gargantuan gaffes of the nature that President Obama just made, several in a row: "You didn't build it." That one has legs.
This has -- this has nothing. It's just part of the Obama campaign's trying to distract from his -- because he cannot talk about his own record. So he just wants to keep throwing up these smoke distractions.
TANDEN: With all due respect, the sign of the gaffe is when the presidential candidate himself corrects himself within a half an hour a day the next day. And that has happened two or three times on this campaign. So you might want to -- just in the last few days. So I just take my cues from Mitt Romney on what a gaffe is.
BOLDUAN: All right. Mary, Neera, we're going to have to leave it there this evening, but thank you both. Mary Matalin, Neera Tanden, thank you both. We'll talk to you soon.
President Obama is fighting to hold onto Ohio, the critical battleground state he won years ago. But voters there may be hungry for change.
Also, you don't have to watch the Olympics in prime time to get the highlights. Stay with us for some of the big moments from the London games.
BOLDUAN: Less than 100 days before the 2012 election, if I needed to remind you yet again, President Obama leads every poll in the battleground state of Ohio. But his campaign knows full well that does not mean he'll win.
Our chief national correspondent, John King, went to Ohio to talk to people about the issue driving the campaign: the economy.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the morning rush, and demand has never been higher. The work load at the Akron-Canton food bank tells you a lot about battleground Ohio.
DANIEL FLOWERS, CEO, AKRON-CANTON REGIONAL FOOD BANK: The process of coming to the realization you can't feed your family and that you need to go ask for help is really just a crippling emotional blow for a lot of people to suffer.
KING: Demand spiked dramatically in 2008 and 2009. CEO Daniel Flowers says it is still rising now.
FLOWERS: The demand is going up.
KING (on camera): But not at the rate.
FLOWERS: Not at the rate it was. Yes, that's right. Yes, not at the rate that it was a couple years ago. And so it's almost a sad fact that that feels like a win, it's been so bad.
KING (voice-over): Not so bad, but still the numbers are numbing. More than 2 million people in Ohio -- that's 18 percent of the state population -- go hungry or eat less than they should because they can't afford more food. Akron is in Summit County, a battleground within the battleground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there were an election for U.S. president today, would you vote for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? KING: Republicans acknowledge Mitt Romney is a few points behind in Ohio, and they acknowledge it is virtually impossible for him to win the White House without winning here.
Now Republicans don't expect to carry Summit County. John McCain barely cracked 40 percent here. Romney won't have a prayer statewide if he can't make it closer.
FRANK LAROSE: In '08, that enthusiasm wasn't there as much as it should have been. I get calls all the time from people that say, "What can I do to help Romney win?"
KING: The unemployment rate in Summit County was 9.3 percent when the president took office and is 7 percent now. In Hamilton County, another key to winning statewide, it is 7.2 percent now, down from 8.1 percent.
The Hamilton Democratic chairman, Tim Burke, says Republicans can't make the case Ohio is worse off.
TIM BURKEY, HAMILTON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN: Just take the automobile industry and how that has seen a resurgence in the state of Ohio. And we've got like three quarters of a million jobs that are automobile related here in Ohio. And we're seeing the benefits of that for President Obama.
KING: Some, though, have a different test than the unemployment rate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put this in the back.
KING: George Cameletti is at the Akron food bank four days a week for five years now, helping the Good Neighbors charity and along the way, watching the face of hunger change.
GEORGE CAMELETTI, AKRON FOOD BANK: I'd say we're going into the middle of the middle class now. We're reaching to the suburban people, to people who used to have a nice home, a nice car. It is worse than it was three years ago.
KING: Better or worse, the defining question in what could be the defining battleground.
John King, CNN, Akron, Ohio.
BOLDUAN: John King, thank you so much for that great report.
Let's get a quick check now from Erin Burnett in New York on what she's working on for the top of the hour. Hey there, Erin, what are you working on?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Kate, we're going to be talking about this -- the defense sequestration that has turned literally into a World War III in Washington over whether literally, Kate, people who are serving right now actively overseas could be handed pink slips. That was the accusation made by the chairman of the armed services committee, Buck McKeon. He's going to be our special guest tonight as we try to get to the bottom of whether these numbers add up.
And a change in the law that President Obama put forth added up, as well.
Plus, Chik-fil-A. As you know, we're getting ready for appreciation day, another highly controversial issue. We looked into exactly how wealthy the men at the top of that company are and where they're getting money. And there's some pretty interesting answers in that investigation.
So all that coming up, top of the hour.
BOLDUAN: Very, very interesting. Sequestration, another dirty word coming out of Washington that we all have to learn more and more about.
Erin, thanks so much. Looking forward to that.
BURNETT: All right.
BOLDUAN: See you later.
It's the talk of the Olympics. Viewers frustrated, waiting to see the big event. Well, wait no more. We have the most up-to-date results before you're going to see them on TV tonight.
BOLDUAN: It's almost midnight in London where it's been a day full of Olympic action in nearly two dozen sports, from archery to weightlifting and many, many.
I'm giving you fair warning here: spoiler alert. Spoiler alert. Spoiler alert. Tom Foreman is here with the results from the day's competitions.
Tom, I'll tell you, I have been debating it all day: do I want to know, do I not want to know?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BOLDUAN: I've been avoiding those Web sites. I'm giving in. I want to know. How did team USA do?
FOREMAN: Well, I'll tell you, if you don't want to hear, if you're home and you don't want to her, turn the sound down, turn away for about three minutes, and you'll be covered. Don't be mad later. Do it now. Turn away, turn down the sound if you don't want to hear it, because we're about to tell you.
Let's go ahead and bring it up here. Take a quick look at it. I've got to turn that one off there. Hold on one second.
Let's start with our timer over here, as we go through the fastest two minutes in Olympic coverage. There it goes.
We're going to start off with swimming because Michael Phelps, as you know, has been having -- struggling since this time. He got silver earlier today in the butterfly. And then later on in the day, he picked up a gold in a relay today to make him the all-time medal winningest Olympian. So that was a big step for him and a big improvement of what he'd been doing with so far. Look at gymnastics. This is a huge, huge thing. The American women out here seeking gold for the first time since 1996. They were in the hunt all day long, Raisman, Douglas, Ross, Maroney, and Wieber. And look at this. In the end, they edged out the Russians to grab the gold. Very, very happy. And look at this. Absolutely charming photograph. Riding in the car with the gold -- the gold necklace. The gold medal around. Really a huge accomplishment in women's gymnastics there.
And with 83 seconds left, skeet shooting. This is really interesting. Vincent Hancock, this is a guy in the U.S. Army. He's 23 years old, much younger than most of the other competitors in this. He's from Georgia. He won in Beijing. Didn't think he was going to come back but decided he would.
And look what happened with good solid shooting: bang. He grabbed the gold medal, as well.
There was also a win in the woman's side of this, so that was a sweep for the United States in skeet shooting, which is a very technical sport that requires an awful lot of tremendous effort there. More results coming around, obviously, Kate. But there we have -- look, we even broke the record here. We're well under -- under the limit.
BOLDUAN: I was wondering if that clock -- I think that clock was slowing down just to give you some extra time.
FOREMAN: This clock was too fast the last time, and now it's too slow. So I think we're going to have to...
BOLDUAN: I think that -- it's called magic.
FOREMAN: ... have a little investigation of the referee.
BOLDUAN: Exactly. OK. Real quick because, of course, I'm sure we're running out of time now. Where does the medal count stand for the countries?
FOREMAN: The medal count -- this is the thing, you know, if you want to get into this sort of thing, it's a good thing to look at. There you have it. China, 23. The U.S., 23. They've got an edge on us in gold medals right now, but this is going to be the big contest to watch. Because you look at Japan, France, South Korea, they're down here.
And interestingly enough, if I'm not mistaken, about half the teams at the Olympics have never won a medal. So you can just imagine what it's like if you're one of those teams competing against someone from the U.S. or China or Japan. Should be good. BOLDUAN: And we've got 23 or whatever we've got. Thirteen, six, five. I don't know. We'll keep watching it.
FOREMAN: You and I, my friend. We're competing in Rio.
BOLDUAN: You and me, that's it. Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
All right. Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, hey there, what do you have?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kate.
Well, if you were betting the U.S. government's lawsuit against online poker sites wouldn't go to trial, you win. The Justice Department today announced Poker Stars and Full-Tile Poker agreed to a $731 million settlement. The settlement is pending with a third company, Absolute Poker. The government says all three circumvented federal laws against Internet gambling. As part of the settlement, none of the companies admits wrongdoing.
Take a look at this. The danger with a proposal at a baseball game is that your girlfriend doesn't see the message. That happened to Greg. Take a look. There he is. Erica left her seat in the middle of the fifth inning to get some drinks. Just look at his face, though.
The Cubs helped distract Greg, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the inning. That was enough to keep her by his side when he opted to make the proposal in person. She didn't miss the message this time.
BOLDUAN: Happy ending after all. I love that.
SNOW: Happy ending.
BOLDUAN: That's wonderful.
SNOW: Story of the day.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Mary, thanks so much.
Stand by for a pop culture update that will help you keep up with your kids. And the artist formally known as Snoop Dogg has a new name. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BOLDUAN: Earlier in THE SITUATION ROOM the stars of the new movie "The Campaign," Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis, stopped by THE SITUATION ROOM. The co-stars -- they co-star with the one and only, Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There's stunning news coming out of the 14th District congressional race in North Carolina. Now, get this. Cam Brady, four-time congressman, punched a baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That is -- that is hilarious. The actors told our Joe Johns about the scene. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first thing we want to talk about is what Wolf talked about, which was the punch of the baby. I saw the movie, and it was a pretty good punch. You threw it.
WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Right, I threw it.
JOHNS: And Will, as I understand it, it was maybe your nephew?
ZACK GALIFIANAKIS, ACTOR: I may have said that in an interview, but it was probably a lie.
JOHNS: It wasn't your baby?
GALIFIANAKIS: No, it wasn't. I am not related to the baby.
JOHNS: No, not at all.
GALIFIANAKIS: It was a highly trained stunt baby.
JOHNS: Yes. Did the baby cry?
FERRELL: The baby was so tough that, no, he didn't even shed a tear. In fact, laughed in my face, and I believe its first words were "s that all you got?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: "Is that all you got?" They were hilarious. "The Campaign," starring Will, Zack, Wolf and Piers Morgan, is in theaters next weekend. Hilarious.
Finally, on the culture front, rap artist Snoop Dogg just announced that he's changing his name. Jeanne Moos reports.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After all these years of Dogg.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS'S "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Please welcome Snoop Dogg.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "THE JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW": Snoop Dogg.
REGIS PHILBIN, FORMER MORNING TALK SHOW HOST: ... is Snoop Dogg.
MOOS: Suddenly, we're faced with Lion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snoop Lion. Give it up for Snoop Lion.
SNOOP LION, RAP ARTIST: I could never become Snoop Lion if I was never Snoop Dogg.
MOOS (on camera): Did you guys hear the news? Snoop Dogg has changed his name to Snoop Lion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snoop Lion. I don't know. I like the old Snoop Dogg.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I think it's a dumb idea.
MOOS (voice-over): But Snoop has been reincarnated, which also happens to be the name of a film about his spiritual journey. He went to Jamaica. At a Rastafarian temple, Nigeria, went to a high priest who suggested he's a lion, not a dog. Now...
LION: I want to bury Snoop Dogg and become Snoop Lion.
MOOS: And instead of rap, he's doing reggae. But is the switch to Snoop Lion permanent? As the Web site Holy Moly put it, "Better not be lying to us."
LION: Snoop Lion is the elevation of Snoop Dogg.
MOOS: We haven't had to adjust to such a jarring name change since Puff Daddy switched to P. Diddy, then diddled with the "P."
DIDDY, RAP ARTIST/PRODUCER: Enough is enough with the "P" getting in the way. You know, just call me Diddy.
MOOS: Online posted called Snoop the Artist Formerly Known as Dogg. The nickname reportedly came from his mom, because he reminded her of Snoopy with his long, Snoopy-shaped face.
True, the name got a bad rap from former Senator Alan Simpson.
ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER SENATOR: Snoopy-Snoopy Poop Dogg.
MOOS: Somehow that insult wouldn't work as well with Lion, although Snoop still applies.
FERRELL: Come on Snoop, snoop-a-loop.
MOOS: And then there is this downside to the name change. Pity the poor fans stuck with merchandise, like the Snoop Dogg floor mat. Walking around in pajamas, wearing Snoop Dogg slippers.
Some may pretend to shrug off this earth-shaking change.
(on camera) He's changed his name to Snoop Lion, I kid you not.
LETTERMAN: Top things that sound cool when said by Snoop Dogg. Here we go. Number 10.
MOOS: But will "yo" still sound cool if said by Snoop Lion?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, anything with lions. I'm a Leo.
MOOS: In a lion kingdom, the news probably merits something between a yawn and a roar.
Jeanne Moos, CNN...
(ON CAMERA) What's your message to Snoop Lion?
MOOS (voice-over): ...New York.
BOLDUAN: Only Jeanne. Thanks for joining me this evening. I'm Kate Bolduan in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.