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More Than 400,000 Haitians Living In Tents; Diplomatic Vehicle Attacked; Mitt Romney's Joke; Nuclear Talks Stalled; Syrian Violence Continues; A Life-Changer

Aired August 24, 2012 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, the new forecast for tropical storm Isaac, about to strike Haiti where almost half a million people are exposed to the elements, many simply unaware of the danger.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, officials are well aware of Isaac's threat to the Republican convention, but now, they may have another threat on their hands as well.

Plus, Republican gathering in Tampa, President Obama will try to steal the spotlight with a campaign swing while sending Vice President Joe Biden practically to the convention doorstep. Anything wrong with that?

And a maybe full speed ahead for Iran's nuclear program. New signs that underground labs are turning out materials suitable for a bomb. Will Israel wait to find out?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Just in the latest forecast for tropical storm Isaac now bearing down on Haiti. Cuba is likely next, and then, it's open water and an open question as to the kind of risk the storm will pose to Florida and to Tampa, host of the Republican convention.

Let's go straight to our meteorologist, our severe weather expert, Chad Myers, at the CNN Weather Center. You just got the latest forecast, Chad. What does it show us?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Bumped up the wind speed to 65 miles per hour now, and that's a sustained wind. There's probably gusts higher than that. That's the center right there of Isaac, and we're seeing these outer bands come on shore for the Dominican Republic and also Haiti. You read of this.

I'm going to throw it down, make it a lot closer, and I'll show you where our reporters are. We have one reporter right there in Port-au-Prince. Gary Tuchman and then our Martin Savidge is right here along the coast, the south coast of Haiti. We're going to get some very large winds and waves here across parts of the Dominican Republic here in the next few hours with this band as it works its way in.

That wind and that rain will get into Haiti, Port-au-Prince at least at 60 miles per hour in these outer bands and then even closer to the center will be our Martin Savidge, and he may feel conditions even worse than that. Getting a little bit further out, the rainfall potential is tremendous. Over 10 inches into Dominican Republican and also Haiti.

Mountainous countries could cause quite a bit of flooding there. And the new track, here it is, the five o'clock track, making landfall at two o'clock on Tuesday in the North Gulf Coast, but have I to advise everybody here that we still only look at the cone and South Florida, Miami Dade, you are still in that cone. There are many computer models that do something like this, coming out of Cuba, over South Florida, back into the Gulf of Mexico and back around like that.

That's one potential. Another potential is coming over Cuba and then turning here to the right. Wolf, that right turn is a little bit too early, we're still talking about the left coast there of Florida being in the cone as well. Focus on the cone still, still days away, maybe a day or two before you have to really start prepping, but you have to start thinking about it now.

BLITZER: And you've been pointing out that this is now a tropical storm, but it's likely to be a Category 1 hurricane as it gets through the warm waters of the gulf after it leaves Cuba, if you will. But you've also suggested, and I just want to be precise on, Chad, that it could be bigger than a category 1. How would that play out?

MYERS: A couple different scenarios, because this can still go left or right. We've noticed a noticeable shift toward the northwest today, not just all west. If it gets into the Florida straits south of the Bahamas here, this is very warm water. If it stays off the coast of Cuba a little bit longer, then into the Gulf of Mexico and making a longer trip to, let's say, the left side of the cone, that's a long trip.

That longer trip would allow it to be in water for a longer time, therefore, it could get stronger. Hurricane center has been talking about this for days. Hey, don't be -- I know we're saying Cat 1, 85, but you might have to prepare for something bigger than that. That's one of the possibilities.

The other one is if it actually goes south of Cuba and stays out of the land mass and gets back into the water this way, only making a short trip over Cuba, then it doesn't get torn up very much and probably remains a Category 1 as it goes over Cuba because it wouldn't get torn up at all here.

Those are a couple of scenarios, and I know -- I hate to be vague, but you still have to be vague three days out. You have to let people know, hey, South Florida and Miami Dade, don't let your guard down yet. And hey, Louisiana, you're still in it, too. That is kind of where we are now.

BLITZER: All right. I want you to stand by, Chad and joined in this conversation, the director of the National Hurricane Center, Richard Knabb. He's joining us from Miami on the phone right now, and I know you have a question for him as well. But let me ask you about that possibility, Mr. Nabb. Is it likely, is it possible, this could be bigger than a Category 1?

VOICE OF RICHARD KNABB, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: It is certainly possible, Wolf, that it could be either stronger or weaker than what we are currently forecast, and it all has to do with how much time it spends over the land masses of first Haiti and then especially Cuba.

On the right side of our cone right now where some of the models have shifted at least for now, it would have a shorter trip toward Southern Florida and could end up being a little stronger than we're forecasting. If it spends a little more time over Cuba, it goes a little farther left than we're forecasting, it could be weaker than we're forecasting.

As Chad has mentioned, if it's way to the left of our current track, the extreme less side of our cone, it could spend time over water south of Cuba. So, the land interaction the next two days is going to be critical to determining how strong of a system gets near or over Florida and then ultimately into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

BLITZER: Mr. Knabb, Chad Meyers has a question for you. Go ahead, Chad.

MYERS: Hey, doctor (ph). We talked a lot this week about how this had many circulation centers and didn't really get its act together. Can you explain how those inner vortices kind of stopped it from being one big storm already?

KNABB: Yes. It was a large sprawling but not terribly strong or well-organized tropical storm yesterday and especially the day before with a lot of smaller spins going on about a mean center. But today, it has consolidated into more of one well defined circulation. That's a little tighter, and it has strengthened the convection.

The thunderstorm activity has increased around portions of that central circulation feature. So, it is well more -- it's better organized than it was yesterday, but it still doesn't have the core that a high-end tropical storm right near the threshold hurricane or hurricane itself would have. It isn't quite there yet, and it's going to run out of time this evening before it interacts with Haiti.

So, that's why we're not explicitly forecasting a hurricane, although a watch is still up for Haiti. And then, the stay over Cuba would disrupt whatever core it's trying to develop until it gets north of Cuba, somewhere north of Cuba, and then has the opportunity over warm waters to try to resuscitate itself in terms of its inner corp. A few years ago, Ernesto in 2006, had trouble ever getting back together on its way to Florida after leaving Northern Cuba. So, that's one possibility, but we'll have to see exactly what comes north of Cuba over the weekend.

BLITZER: It is too premature, Dr. Knabb, to ask for this question (ph) because like 50,000 other folks I'm heading towards Tampa tomorrow for the Republican National Convention. How worried should we be?

KNABB: Well, Tampa is just one of the many places that has the potential to receive tropical storm force winds, heavy rains, and maybe even flooding, and the potential for some storm surge at and near the coast. The risk of strong winds and other hazards due to the water are very similar all the way up the west coast of the Florida Peninsula and along the Florida panhandle.

So, it's not like we can pick out Tampa as having a greater risk or a lesser risk than really anybody else on the west coast of Florida, but it's something to watch out for and be prepared for if we have to issue tropical storm or hurricane warnings for that area.

So, it's probable a tropical storm watch, at least, will go up for the west coast of Florida during the weekend here. But whether or not we get a direct hit in Tampa from hurricane conditions it's still too early to tell. It could go farther offshore.

BLITZER: Chad, go ahead. I know you have another question.

MYERS: Well, Dr. Knabb, people always wonder, you know, how come this is such an inexact science, and it truly is. I try to tell people that we don't have instruments everywhere out there to -- like weather balloons like we have over land to give us an idea of what the atmosphere is truly like.

But you have the G-4 hurricane hunter high altitude plane out there today, and that is dropping these little -- almost like little lead balloons coming out of this thing, and it's sending them down. We're getting a better feel for the atmosphere. Tell us about the G-4 and how it works.

KNABB: Yes. That NOAA G-4 jet based out of MacDill Air Force Base coincidentally in Tampa, you just referenced, it flies not into the hurricane, through the eye or through the center of the tropical storm, but it circumnavigates, flies around the tropical cyclone in the environment and drops these parachute-born instruments we called (INAUDIBLE), and those data go into the computer forecast models to mainly to help improve the track forecast.

The first mission of that jet was yesterday evening. Another one is flying right now, and then, we're going to fly another one in the morning. Twice a day, this jet will fly. We fly this specifically for hurricanes to improve the track forecast when we're in that watch warning time frame, but we're throwing every aircraft resource we have at this from NOAA and the air force. And again, you mentioned at why is this such an exact science. It's because of the things you mentioned, not enough data to represent everything that's going on in the atmosphere, especially in the air core of the storm, but this is a particularly difficult situation because of the uncertainties on exactly what kind of land interaction we're going to have.

Small changes in the past. I mean, all of the difference in terms of how much time it spends over the water where it can drive energy or over land that can tear up the inter core.

MYERS: That's right.

BLITZER: Richard Knabb is the director of the National Hurricane Center. Dr. Knabb, we'll stay in close touch with you. We appreciate everything you're doing. Obviously, a huge, huge story. I appreciate it very much.

KNABB: Thank you.

BLITZER: Chad, I appreciate everything you're doing as well. Don't go too far away.

Meanwhile, in Haiti, hundreds of thousands of people have been living in tents since the island was hit by a devastating earthquake about two and a half years ago. They're completely at the mercy of the storm.

CNNs Gary Tuchman is joining us from the capital of Port-au- Prince. He's joining us right now. Gary, first of all, tell us what's going on right now. I assume that folks are bracing for the worst.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the winds are starting to pick up, Wolf. The rain is starting to come down, but we are in one of the larger tent camps that was set up here right after the earthquake of 2010. And, there's no special preparations taking place here whatever. And one of the big concerns here, you can see the shacks on the hilltop.

There's a lot of mudslides here in Haiti. When they get any kind of rainstorm, there's a lot of concern those shacks could collapse, and we don't know what's going to happen when tropical storm Isaac comes through Port-au-Prince Haiti. And that's one of the issues.

There are about 400,000 people still living in tents and shacks following the earthquake. That's literally four percent of the population of this nation in tents and shacks. Now, a short time ago, we talked with the president (ph), Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Lamothe, we talked to them, and they acknowledged they're doing their best to get people out of the camps into shelters.

There are hundreds of shelters set-up throughout this country, but they know they can't get everyone out. So, we talked to them about what they're doing with the people who are going to stay in the camps. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. JOSEPH PARTELLY, HAITI: The ones we are taking out of the camps. So, it's mainly young men, you know, and people who are tough who are remaining behind, and we're telling them if there's an emergency to go on the high grounds, if there is flooding, to have their stuff maybe packed up and their important papers and also to be ready to move to the shelters because the shelters cannot obviously -- cannot shelter like thousands of people.

But in case of emergency, they can -- we will have to put more people in these little room under this solid roof. So, the real answer to your question is that those who are very vulnerable, they are moved out of these camps. And the ones who are remaining behind are those who are stronger to fight the situation.


TUCHMAN: So, the president and his prime minister say they are going camp to camp and there are lots of camps here in Port-au-Prince trying to get as many people as they can out but fully acknowledging they're not going to get everyone out. They're both quite worried, as are we.

I mean, it's quite startling, Wolf, we cover so many hurricanes and tropical storms and we tell people, they say to evacuate, evacuate (INAUDIBLE) aren't listening to the people who tell you to evacuate, but for these people, a lot of them don't want to leave. They're really no where to go.

They don't have any means. They don't have a car. They have to walk everywhere. They don't have a lot of food. People here are very hungry. They're very nice people, and they're going to be here tonight when this tropical storm comes through -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Our heart goes out to all those folks in Haiti. Gary, be careful over there. We'll stay in very, very close touch. Let's hope it's not as bad as it could be. Appreciate it very much.

Meanwhile, clashes and chaos. Protest (INAUDIBLE) the last Republican convention. Now, security is stepped up in Tampa amid intelligence that extremists may be planning violence. That's coming up next.

And an American diplomatic vehicle comes under fire in Mexico. We're learning rather surprising new details at who pulled the trigger.

And Ann Romney talks about the moment she received a medical diagnosis that changed the lives of her family.


BLITZER: I want to update our viewers on a shooting incident in Mexico today. Jill Dougherty is here in the SITUATION ROOM. It seems a lot of confusion as to what happened. Update us on what we know. JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: OK, Wolf. Well, this happened at eight o'clock this morning, and apparently, there was a U.S. embassy vehicle that had two officials from the embassy --

BLITZER: In Mexico City?

DOUGHERTY: Someplace not too far away, I understand. That's a little unclear near the town of (INAUDIBLE). So, they are driving down the road, two embassy officials and one marine, Mexican marine. As they're driving down, they apparently come under fire from the Mexican federal police. And it appears that we are told that there was an operation that the police were carrying out. This car, they see going down the road, they show their weapons, they begin to follow it.

The embassy vehicle not realizing what is going on begins to flee. And so, the other car, which is the police, begin to fire at them. Luckily, at the end of it, nobody is seriously injured. We understand that there were no life threatening injuries. The Mexican marine did have a minor concussion, and they are now talking to the Mexican federal police officers to ask them what precisely happened and they might be prosecuted.

But the Mexican government is cooperating. They're in communication with their counterparts, and they are now supporting the personnel, as they need to.

BLITZER: As you can see those gunshot wounds in that vehicle. We're saying three people were wounded as a gunman shot near Mexico city, two Americans, one Mexican, is that right?

DOUGHERTY: Wounded or injured. One appears to have had a concussion. So, that's little unclear. He might have just been jostled. Unclear at this point.

BLITZER: So, Mexican federal police who shot at this U.S. diplomatic vehicle?

DOUGHERTY: Yes. They were carrying out an operation.

BLITZER: The Mexican police?


BLITZER: And they didn't understand it was a diplomatic vehicle with diplomatic licensed plate?

DOUGHERTY: Unclear that they had diplomatic license plates. That is still unclear. And, you know, Wolf, you and I have both been to embassies around the world. Often, they don't use -- it's not a marked vehicle. A lot of times, it's simply like a white van and we are not, at this point, sure precisely what the license plates are.

BLITZER: We got a close-up picture. I don't know if we can put it up on the screen of the license plate in the back where we saw those bullets in the rear window. Let's see if we can make out if that's a diplomatic -- maybe we can zoom in, see if that's a diplomatic license plate.

Michelle, you're looking at it very closely. Is that a diplomatic license plate based on what you see? No, you can't tell. All right. She can't tell.


BLITZER: Thank you.

DOUGHERTY: OK. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll stay on top of this story, though, right?

DOUGHERTY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Security has been tightened at key points in Tampa as authorities brace for a possibly assault by anarchists protesters aimed to disrupting the Republican convention. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security have warned that anti-government extremists may try to get close to area bridges and even set up explosive devices.

Our own Brian Todd is in Tampa, watching what's going on on this front. They've got have a potential hurricane they're worried about. They're worried about anarchists. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could be the convergence of a couple of storms down here, Wolf. They are worried about the anarchist threat here. As you mentioned, the specific things that they're concerned about, we're going to get to those in a second. But there is precedent for this. Anarchists and other protesters did cause trouble outside the Republican National Convention in 2008.

They battled with police on the streets. It was a big mess then. Now, according to an FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin that CNN obtained, officials are concerned anarchists may travel to Tampa, may try to shut down or disrupt traffic on a lot of the bridges. There are 15 bridges that go in and out of Tampa. So, they may target those bridges for disruptions.

They also may even used improvised explosive devices. Now, officials are quick to tell us they don't have any specific threat, but I did speak to the mayor, Bob Buckhorn, and he gave me an indication of just what the police and other authorities are doing to monitor these anarchist groups.


MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA, FLORIDA: We've seen indications that they are here. We know that their patterns are to send out advance teams and to sort of scout out the locations. You know, we are observing that. We're monitoring it. We're asking our citizens if they see suspicious activity to call us. That's exactly what happened last week when we found what clearly was an anarchist related stash of bricks and rocks. So, you know, we're on top of it.


TODD: And in addition, there have been videos posted on YouTube by groups affiliated with that hacker group Anonymous. That group also aligned with some of the protesters that show up at these events and some of the anarchist groups. Videos calling on their followers to converge on Tampa to cause problems.

So, that is another kind of factor that's playing into this whole intelligence buildup for these groups possibly converging on Tampa -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks, very much. We'll stay on top of this part of the story, too, the potential violence, anarchists may be emerging in Tampa, also the tropical storm Isaac.

New details also emerging right now about the suspected gunman in those Colorado theater shootings. Court documents say there were warnings of James Holmes' deadly plans.

And a sightseeing drive takes a dramatic turn. We're going to tell you what happened after a giant boulder crashed through the windshield.


BLITZER: There are new words coming into the SITUATION ROOM that the accused gunman in those Colorado theater shootings had made previous threats. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What are we learning?

SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, we are taking a look at new court documents that reveal James Holmes had conversations with a classmate back in March about wanting to kill people. The documents show Holmes failed his graduate school oral boards and was denied access to the University of Colorado after making threats to a professor.

The documents say Holmes then launched his plan to amass the arsenal that was used in the theater attack. He's accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

And the man who admitted killing 77 people in a bomb attack and shooting rampage in Norway last year, he has been sentenced to at least 21 years in prison. A Norwegian court ruled Anders Breivik was sane at the time of the attacks. Breivik has said he won't appeal. He says he acted out of necessity to prevent the Islamization of his country.

And the federal appeals court in Washington has thrown out a mandate, were firing cigarette companies to place graphic images on their products. The court today ruled that the requirements push the bounds of the First Amendment protecting free speech and are, therefore, unconstitutional. The court's vote was divided 2-1.

And amazingly, the people who were riding in this car weren't badly hurt. CNN affiliate, WPRI, reports two Massachusetts men, they were sightseeing in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona when a boulder -- see it there -- it crashed through their windshield. The 150-pound boulder landed between them, then rolled into the passenger's lap. Both men, they only suffered minor cuts, though. Look at that. You would not want to be driving along and suddenly that lands in your lap literally.

BLITZER: No. They're lucky to be OK.

SYLVESTER: Very lucky. You know, if you figure that it fell between them, if it had gone either way, either men, unfortunately, could have died --


SYLVESTER: So, good news for them.

BLITZER: Good news, indeed. Thank you.

Mitt Romney reviving the birth certificate controversy. Was it a joke, was it gaffe, what was going on? His comment, though, sparking an angry reaction from the Obama campaign and Democrats. James Carville and Ana Navarro, they're both standing by.

And a maybe full speed ahead for Iran's nuclear program. There are now new indications that underground labs are turning out material suitable for a bomb. So, here's the question, will Israel wait to find out?


BLITZER: It may have been an attempted jokes but it ended up as another political gaffe for Mitt Romney as he seems to have revived the birth certificate controversy about President Obama's heritage. Listen to this from the campaign trail in Michigan today.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born at Henry Ford hospital. I was born at Harper (ph) hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.



BLITZER: All right let's discuss what's going on with our CNN contributors. Joining us now the Democratic strategist James Carville and the Republican strategist Ana Navarro. He just gave an interview to CBS, Mitt Romney, James. I'll read to what you what he says about this -- about this birth certificate comment that he had made earlier in the day.

He said, "no, no, not a swipe. I've said throughout the campaign and before there's no question about where he was born. He was born in the United States. This was fun about us and coming home. And humor, you know. We've got to have a little humor in a campaign." You like humor all the time. Was that OK? Just to have a little humor about birth certificates? What do you think, James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know it made Rush Limbaugh awfully happy. It made Donald Trump awfully happy. There are seven birthers that are speaking at the Republican Convention. But he's not very good at humor. So we know that and I'm willing to chalk it up as just another flop joke on Mitt Romney's part but people will read into it whatever they want. Here's the man that always says we need to talk about the real issues in the campaign so I guess he can talk about that as well as he can talk about anything else.

BLITZER: The Obama campaign -- Ana, the Obama campaign wasted no time with a statement. They put out this statement, Ben Labolt (ph), campaign spokesman saying and I'll put it up on the screen "throughout this campaign Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, Kris Kobach (ph), but Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America." That's a pretty tough statement there.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know something Wolf, if there's something we've mastered in this election cycle is feigning outrage. And I think you see it from both sides. But politics is a game of hard ball. There's a lot of joking. There are a lot of tough things said. We've seen jokes in this campaign about Ann Romney's dancing horse that she uses for MS therapy. We've seen Obama make jokes about Mitt Romney and his dog. So we've seen some jokes, some come off better, some come off worse. I agree with James. I don't think Mitt Romney is that funny. I think he's a lot better when he's serious. I would say to him, Mitt, you know don't give up your day job, don't go look for a job at the Improv (ph). Stick to the serious issues because everything else is a distraction.

BLITZER: As far as our new CNN/ORC poll, James, is concerned -- this is likely voters, not registered voters, likely voters, you saw the numbers -- President Obama 49 percent, Romney 47 percent, that's certainly within the 3.5 percent sampling area. This is a fiercely tight contest, isn't it?

CARVILLE: Yes, it is. But if you look at the registered number and compare them to the last time as we pointed out in the press release, there's been no movement here. We've actually moved up two among registered, so it is a tight contest, two points seems like within the kind of range that it is. And it -- you know we're going to see how the conventions move this but I think we are in for a tight election, there's no doubt about that, and I think the poll reflects that.

BLITZER: Well what do you -- in your opinion, what's more accurate, likely voters or registered voters in these national polls, James?

CARVILLE: Well I mean obviously the likely voters are what you're going to poll at the end, the theory being is that more people come in to -- become likely voters that come closer. But I'll look at -- we poll (INAUDIBLE) we poll likely voters, we don't poll registered. So -- but the only thing that I have to compare to the CNN poll is the previous poll, which this poll shows about the same, as we said, a slight improvement of two points on President Obama's part. I think that the news out of this poll is, is not much is changing in this election. And I think that's what's really at work here is there's been very, very little change in the numbers across the board.

BLITZER: Very, very close race by all accounts. Ana, you've heard these rumors out there that they may move Mrs. Romney's speech from Monday night to later in the week, maybe because the broadcast networks weren't going to televise her speech, maybe because of threats of Isaac, of this tropical storm that could be a hurricane. It could come though at Marco Rubio's expense a little bit. What are you hearing?

NAVARRO: Look, Florida is Florida right now. The Cuban American radio stations are really buzzing with this rumor that there is a possibility that Marco Rubio will get bumped from the Thursday night speech where he was to introduce Mitt Romney, to accommodate Mrs. Romney, who would then be moved to Thursday. I understand then that Marco would possibly -- Rubio would possibly be moved to Tuesday night. I think it's a mistake. I think, you know the Cuban American community and other Hispanics, Nicaraguan Americans like me in Florida, see Marco Rubio as a hometown hero, as our guy, our political star.

It's a mistake to bump the one Hispanic they've scheduled for primetime on the biggest night of the convention. It's a mistake to bump the senator of Florida, the state where this convention is being held, the best orator, if not one of the best, in the Republican Party and I would tell you in politics today, he, you know I just think figure out a way where Marco Rubio gets to keep his slot because I think Mitt Romney needs Marco Rubio a lot more than Marco Rubio needs Mitt Romney.

We've seen lately the Hispanic numbers and it's going to be a very big disappointment for the Hispanic community and the Cuban Americans. They had great expectations for him on the VP thing. That didn't happen. And then you know we said look, this is a great consolation prize. He's going to get a great spot at the convention. It's not going to sell well in Miami and the one thing that Mitt Romney cannot afford to do in Florida is antagonize the Cuban Americans.


NAVARRO: If he doesn't win them big, he loses Florida.

BLITZER: You're not mincing any words, Ana. Thanks very much, Ana Navarro and James Carville. Guys thanks so much. We'll see you obviously in Tampa.

Meanwhile, defiant in the face of international pressure, diplomacy reportedly failing once again, coupled with new word on Iran's nuclear progress. We'll tell you what we know and a turning point for Mitt Romney's family. A pivotal moment that brought Ann Romney to tears.


BLITZER: The latest diplomatic effort to resolve the standoff with Iran on its nuclear program has failed. Reuters reporting talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran ended today. Our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is following all of these late-breaking developments. It looks at least on the surface based on the reports we're getting that Iran is stepping up its activity?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in fact a new report we're expecting next week from the IAEA and it's bad news at a very bad time, Wolf.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): In July Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that his country had 11,000 centrifuges to enrich nuclear fuel, about a thousand more than it reportedly had just two months before. Now the International Atomic Energy Agency's new report to be released next week is expected to confirm that Iran is accelerating its nuclear program, installing hundreds of new centrifuges that would enable Iran to increase production of 20 percent enriched uranium, putting it closer to the next level, what's needed for a nuclear bomb. What's more, the enrichment is happening deep underground at the Fordo (ph) enrichment facility near the city of Kahn (ph).

MASEH ZARIF, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: If they were to have a crash program where they used both of their enrichment facilities that we know of, that timeline decreases about two months and that would be for enough fuel for one nuclear weapon.

DOUGHERTY: The West has imposed tough sanctions. There also have been cyber attacks on Iran and several of its nuclear scientists have been killed in mysterious circumstances. But negotiations are at a standstill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the moment we have no plans (INAUDIBLE).

DOUGHERTY: The report is likely to be a red flag to Israel, which argues time is running out fast to launch a military strike to stop Iran's nuclear program.


DOUGHERTY: And an administration official that we spoke with said that they are concerned by Iran's ongoing nuclear activities and -- but the White House, Wolf, we talked to them and they said there still is time, they believe, for diplomacy and pressure and that in order to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and they add that the developments at the Fordo (ph) facility don't change that assessment.

BLITZER: Yes, I know that the U.S. timeline is a little bit more liberal than the Israeli timeline.


BLITZER: The next couple of months could be decisive. We'll watch together with you. Jill, thank you.

It's a desperate struggle to survive in a war zone. Syrian doctors are risking their lives to treat wounded civilians. We're going to have an exclusive look at what they're facing.

Also a tragic car crash solidified Mitt Romney's faith. We're going to have a preview of Gloria Borger's in-depth conversation with him. That's coming up in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour.


BLITZER: The fierce fighting in Syria is threatening to expand into a regional crisis. The opposition reports at least another 146 people were killed today. Violence is spilling into neighboring Lebanon at the same time. The United Nations says more than 200,000 refugees have fled Syria and thousands more have been displaced internally.

In this exclusive CNN report, CNN's Jim Clancy reports those who stay are at serious risk of getting caught in the violence. We must warn our viewers that firsthand scenes from this war are very disturbing.



JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Screams of pain, pleas for help and prayers inundate an emergency room in Aleppo, Syria.


CLANCY: A bomb exploded as these civilians waited in line to buy bread. Now sprawled on the floor, they wait for someone to treat their wounds, to save their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) because go to (INAUDIBLE) and there are many wounded people.


CLANCY: In the heart of this chaos, the doctors and staff are beacons of calm, take note of that as you watch these images. Because if any of them are arrested, they know they will be executed almost immediately by the regime. It's going to be another record day for the Al Sharia (ph) hospital. Men, women and children of every age suffering from every kind of wound imaginable come here for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred fifty.

CLANCY: They are keeping score here. Each patient treated is another small victory in a war where innocent civilians are the targets. Some will be quickly patched up and sent home. Others will undergo major surgery that will mean the difference between life and death. Spanish journalist Ricardo Garcia (ph) spent 20 days documenting the real-life drama as the medical staff fights to keep this hospital open. People are depending on them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Why all this? What's with this bad president? Aren't we his people?

CLANCY: On Aleppo's littered streets atop shattered homes Syrians denounce Bashar Al-Assad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where does he think he's bombing, Tel Aviv, Israel?

CLANCY: Residents say they sleep in shelters, wait for the next bombing, in this, their living nightmare. Others stand and fight but there are times when even Al Sharia (ph) hospital cannot save them.



CLANCY: Near the hospital entrance, free Syrian Army fighters bid farewell to a comrade in arms.


CLANCY: He's gone to paradise, the fighter shouts. He's gone to paradise.


CLANCY: There's nothing here. These doctors and their assistants face risks every bit as dangerous as fighting on the front lines. If captured, execution, and they know well the regime is out to get them. Doctors recount how military intelligence agents came to the hospital to kill them. The Free Syrian Army thwarted that assassination, but nothing stops falling bombs, a near miss with a 500-pounder shattered the windows. Jets later scored multiple rocket hits on the third and fourth floors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) "I'm afraid -- you don't would see me here."

CLANCY: But they are all here at work in Aleppo's Al Sharia (ph) hospital and grimly preparing to treat the next victims of Syria's bloody civil war.

Jim Clancy, CNN.


BLITZER: The story gets worse and worse and worse.

Also, other news we're following. It was an event that changed the lives of Mitt Romney's entire family. We're going to preview a portion of our in-depth profile Romney revealed with a close look at Ann Romney's medical diagnosis.


BLITZER: Sunday night CNN will air a major profile of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In "Romney Revealed", CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger explores how faith and family have shaped Romney's life and political career. Here's a preview of our in-depth conversation, Gloria's in-depth conversation with Mitt Romney, his wife and son about the medical diagnosis that changed their lives.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It was just before Thanksgiving, 1998.

ROMNEY: She began to see some numbness on her right side. It began spreading larger and larger. She was having more difficulty getting upstairs. We went to a neurologist.

BORGER: Romney's life was about to take an unexpected and unhappy turn.

ROMNEY: We went into his office and he performed an examination and it was very clear that she was flunking the examination. She couldn't stand on her right foot without falling over and so forth and he stepped out. And she began to cry and I welled up tears as well and we hugged each other and she said you know something is terribly wrong.

BORGER: At age 49, Ann Romney was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable disease that can shut down the central nervous system.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: You don't know how much it is going to chew me up and spit me out, where it is -- and when is it going to spit me out. How sick am I going to get? Is this going to be progressive? Am I going to be in a wheelchair? And it's a very, very frightening place to be.

ROMNEY: And I know Ann was really distraught and distressed with the diagnosis, particularly as time went on, because she was really ill for quite a while.

A. ROMNEY: I really just was having a very, very hard time and was very depressed and had kind of given up a little bit. TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: It was a tough moment for both of them. It was interesting to see the way he treated her as they went through that, very caring, very loving, very frustrating for him not to be able to step in and fix it. And -- but it was -- you know, they drew even closer.

A. ROMNEY: Even when I was as sick as that, he would curl up in the bed with me.


A. ROMNEY: So, you just knew that that's where he was. It was like he was going to do anything he could to just say I'm here, you're OK, just stay right there and we'll be OK.

BORGER: As the Romneys were struggling to get Ann's MS under control, they were about to be faced with a challenge of an entirely different sort.


BLITZER: And Gloria is joining me now. Gloria, for the campaign she is certainly a major, major key to bringing out a different side, shall we say, of Mitt Romney.

BORGER: Well, what I discovered in talking to Ann Romney at great length is that she's probably Mitt Romney's best character witness. And that's why they want her to be seen by millions of Americans and that's why they're talking about maybe changing the night that she speaks, because they understand that what she does is show another side of Mitt Romney. They understand that his likeability ratings are not anywhere near where they would want them to be.

And you just saw that clip from Mitt Romney talking about her husband and how he treated her with her MS and I think that's the kind of thing that they want Americans to see as they try to humanize Mitt Romney, if you will, and also they want women to see that, because the key to this election, Wolf, is going to be suburban women. And they understand that Mitt Romney -- that Ann Romney is their secret weapon when it comes to speaking to those voters.

BLITZER: I spent time with her and her husband. She is an amazing woman indeed.

BORGER: She is.

BLITZER: Her story is very, very inspiring. Gloria thanks so much. And to our viewers, you can see Gloria's special Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. "Romney Revealed, Family, Faith and the Road to Power". Afterward we'll have a special convention preview. Starting Monday night, by the way, I'll lead our coverage of the convention, all that begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern.