Return to Transcripts main page


Republican National Convention Coverage; Interviews with Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Jan Brewer

Aired August 30, 2012 - 23:00   ET


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America has been patient. Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page. Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us. To put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations. To forget about what might have been and to look ahead to what can be. Now is a time to restore the promise of America.


Many Americans have given up on this president, but they haven't ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves, not on each other, and not on America. What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs.

What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs.


In the richest country in the history of the world, this Obama economy has crushed the middle class. Family income has fallen by $4,000, but health insurance premiums are higher. Food prices are higher. Utility bills are higher. And gasoline prices, they've doubled.

Today more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before. Nearly 1 out of 6 Americans is living in poverty.

Look around you. These aren't strangers. These are our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans. His policies have not helped create jobs, they've depressed them. And this I can tell you about -- where President Obama would take America. His plan to raise taxes on small business won't add jobs, it would eliminate them.


His assault on coal and gas and oil will send energy and manufacturing jobs to China. His trillion-dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs and also put our security at greater risk.


His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today's seniors and depressed innovation and jobs in medicine. (CROWD BOOING)

And his trillion-dollar deficits, they slow our economy, restrain employment, and cause wages to stall. To the majority of Americans who now believe that the future will not be better than the past, I can guarantee you this. If Barack Obama is re-elected, you'll be right.


I'm running for president to help create a better future, a future where everyone who wants a job can find a job. Where no senior feels for the -- fears for the security of their retirement. An America where every parent knows that their child will get an education that leads them to a good job and a bright horizon. And unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs.


Paul Ryan and I have five steps. First by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear and our renewables.


Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice and every child should have a chance.


Third, we'll make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements and when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.


And fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece. We will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.


And fifth, we will champion small businesses. America's engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business. Not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small businesses the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare.


Today women are more likely than men to start a business. They need a president who respects and understands what they do. And let me make this very clear. Unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

As president, I'll protect the sanctity of life. I'll honor the institution of marriage.


And I will guarantee America's first liberty, the freedom of religion.


President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans.


And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.


I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began his presidency with an apology tour.


America, he said, had dictated to other nations.

No, Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators.


Every American --


Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order and SEAL Team 6 took out Osama bin Laden.


On another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran's nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president he said we should talk to Iran. We are still talking, and Iran's centrifuges are still spinning.

President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro's Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments.


But he is eager to give Russia's President Putin the flexibility he desires after the election.


Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.


We will honor America's democratic ideals, because a free world is a more peaceful world. This is the bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan. And under my presidency, we will return to it once again.


You might have asked yourself if these last years are really the America we want. The America that was won for us by the greatest generation.

Does the America we want borrow $1 trillion from China?


Does it failed to find the jobs that are needed for 23 million people and for half of the kids graduating from college?


Are those schools lagging behind the rest of the developed world?


And does the America that we want succumb to resentment and division among Americans?


The America we all know has been a story of the many becoming one, uniting to preserve liberty, uniting to build the greatest economy in the world. Uniting to save the world from unspeakable darkness. Everywhere I go in America, there are monuments that list those who have given their lives for America. There's no mention of their race, their party affiliation or what they did for a living.


They lived and died under a single flag fighting for a single purpose. They pledged allegiance to the United States of America. That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work. That will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity and will restore every father and mother's confidence that their children's future is brighter even than the past.

That America, that united America, will preserve a military that's so strong no nation would ever dare to test it.


That America, that America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were codified in the constitution. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, will give a helping hand to those in need. That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children. If I'm elected president of these United States, I will work with all of my energy and soul to restore that America. To lift our eyes to a better future.

That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it. Our nation depends on it. The peace and the freedom of the world require it, and with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future for America tonight.


Thank you so very much. May God bless you. May God bless the American people, and may God bless the United States of America.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The balloons are coming down, thousands of balloons. The confetti is coming down, we are here on the convention floor, really a perfectly choreographed acceptance speech by Mitt Romney. Some problems, but certainly he delivered what he wanted to deliver, introducing himself to a lot of folks who really didn't know much about him.

He managed to get into all of the emotional background that he brings to this race for the White House. He didn't dodge any of the sensitive issues. He spoke about his Mormon faith, spoke about his role at Bain Capital and directly went after the president of the United States, comparing him to Jimmy Carter who was an incumbent president, who in 1980 lost to a Republican, a Republican named Ronald Reagan.

And this presidential candidate said at one point, referring to President Obama, this president cannot tell you you're better off than you were when he took office. Reminiscent of what Ronald Reagan said back in 1980 when he asked the question, are you better off today than you were four years ago?

A powerful speech, well done by Mitt Romney. It now sets the stage for next week's Democratic convention in Charlotte.

Let's go up to the sky booth.

Anderson, I'm about to get pummeled here by balloons and confetti, but go ahead, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk to our panelists. There have been a lot of talk about what Mitt Romney needed to do all week, and especially tonight.

Alex Castellanos, did he do it?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought that speech was good enough. I thought he --

COOPER: Good enough.

CASTELLANOS: -- got the job done. A couple of great things about it. Before this week, we're worried about who is Mitt Romney. Have we seen any passion, what he cares about. Tonight, this was his "mad as hell" speech and not going to take it anymore. You deserve better, your family deserves better, your children deserve better. We saw some of that. We of course have learned a lot about his emotional side.

He's also been attacked -- we don't know where he -- how he'd lead the country. His economic plan. The five-point plan came out tonight. But a couple of other good things happened for Republicans tonight, Anderson. One of them was Clint Eastwood. Now he proved that he cannot do improve. Now we know that. But he did something that is rare in politics. He made it socially acceptable to laugh at Barack Obama. He prick the balloon. The emperor has no clothes. Sometimes when that happens in the campaign, that's when the slide starts.

COOPER: James Carville?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, unlike events leading up to it, I thought that the Clint Eastwood thing -- I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was a little different and I thought Marco Rubio was awful. I thought he just stand up there and talked about himself. He running for president in 2016. He was not trying to help Mitt Romney.

Romney delivered a well -- he confidently delivered a well-written speech that was utterly predictable.

COOPER: Utterly predictable. David --


CARVILLE: And I don't know if that surprised me at all but it was well delivered, it was well-written.

COOPER: David Gergen?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is one we're going to have to wait for the American people to speak. I think it's a hard one to judge.

From my perspective, I thought it was a solid speech. I thought it humanized him very well. I think it introduced him on a personal level well. It was an extremely quiet speech. With a man who seems to be living in a Norman Rockwell America and he has that vision of sort of how we should all live together. And I think the country is pretty far away from that right now.

What I thought it lacked (INAUDIBLE). I thought this speech had lots of heart, it needed more soul. It needed more poetry. And I thought it also needed more fight. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Guys, the language is striking in showing the generational contrast between these two candidates. It's a huge ideological contrast as well. I think the governor spent some time and if you're a Obama supporter, you won't accept it, but if you're undecided you might listen to the case he made against the president, essentially saying here was a man who had great gifts, he made great promises, he promised to lower the oceans and heal the planet.

And he said, to the point that he's not -- he's not Ronald Reagan as a communicator, tonight I want to help you and your family. That was essentially I'm not the world's greatest orator.


KING: But I will get directly to your problem.

COOPER: Gloria?

BORGER: I think -- I think the speech really shows you who's there -- who they're worried about in this campaign and who they are talking to. They are talking to that small slice of persuadable voters. I mean there was a line in the speech. I wish President Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed.

So they are talking to the voters who are voted for President Obama in 2008, and who are disappointed with him now which is why you didn't see a lot of hard edges at the beginning of the speech.

COSTELLO: And a lot of focus on women as well.

BORGER: And a lot of focus -- a lot of women role models, I have noticed at this -- in this convention.

COOPER: Wolf Blitzer is standing by -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go back to Jim Acosta. He's on the floor. He's got a special guest, Marco Rubio, who introduced Mitt Romney -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, that is right, Wolf. I'm joined now by the senator from Florida, the man who introduced Mitt Romney here at this convention, Marco Rubio.

Senator Rubio, your reaction to Mitt Romney's speech?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Fantastic. I think he hit all the right points. Glad he went into the detail on policy so the American people can see the clear differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, so it's on now.

ACOSTA: And it is on, because you heard Mitt Romney during this speech accuse President Obama of throwing Israel under the bus. Do you think that was over the top?

RUBIO: No. Listen, I think that today the relationship that Israel feels towards the United States, whether they can publicly admit it or not, is insecure compared to what it's been in the past. And I think you're seeing it manifests in several ways. So at the end of the day, this -- look, the alliance with Israel is a bipartisan position. It's something that unifies us in Congress. We need a chief executive to feel just as strongly about it. We're going to have one here soon.

ACOSTA: And do you think that what Mitt Romney had to say up there about the economy? He talked about how the president -- you know, how he was rooting for the president to succeed because he wanted America to succeed. I mean, were the Republicans really rooting for Barack Obama to succeed?

RUBIO: Listen, I -- well, I can tell you about me. I love the United States of America a lot more than I love the Republican Party. I'm proud to be a Republican but I'm even --

ACOSTA: We are getting hit with some balloons right now.


RUBIO: But I'm much prouder to be an American, and at the end of the day, we'll always have philosophical differences with the president. But I don't want America to do poorly economically. I don't want unemployment to be that high, and yet it has stubbornly been so under this president.

ACOSTA: All right. Senator Marco Rubio, thanks very much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Congratulations on your speech today.

RUBIO: Watch out with those balloons.

ACOSTA: We will. We'll be careful. You, too.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go to Dana Bash. She's on the floor. She's got the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I'm going try to keep the balloons away so you can actually see us. We are literally waist-deep in balloons here.

Governor Christie, thank you very much. What did you think?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, you know, listen. I think he did a great job tonight. America got to see the real Mitt Romney tonight. I thought he was emotional. I thought he was connecting with the American people. Telling them about his life and what his dreams are for their life. And that's the kind of leader we need in the White House now.

BASH: You are one of the few people who has his ear. You talk to him a lot. You have -- you communicate with him in a way that only you can. In a very blunt way.


BASH: Did he do what you have been asking him to do?

CHRISTIE: Yes, he showed America some real emotions tonight. He showed -- and spoke about the things that he cares deeply about in his life, in his upbringing, and why that means -- why it means -- it's so important to him and why it's going to mean something to the American people when he becomes president.

BASH: What does he need to do next? Now that he has introduced himself like this to the American people, how does he need to harness that?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think what he needs to do now is get out there and work as hard as he can the next 67 days. He's got 67 days to win this thing. No one is going to lose it, someone is going to win it. And I believe Mitt Romney tonight started the path to victory.

BASH: OK. Governor, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: I'm not sure how we're going to get out of here with these balloons.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: No one is in any rush to leave.

Let's go to Candy Crowley. She's up on the podium. She had a very, very close look at what was going on -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you miss -- I think as these balloons began to fall, all those kids on the stage. I think in the end what you saw was Mitt Romney delivering a very solid, and dare I say, business-like speech. There were -- there were moments when you saw him perhaps more of him that you see on a normal day on the stump.

But in the end, this was Mitt Romney being Mitt Romney. It was a solid performance. It was a solid speech, and as one adviser said to me, you know, look, this is a very important speech, and -- but it is not the end. It is the kickoff for the fall. So what they want is a springboard here. They are hoping that this gives them a bounce and he wasn't really talking about polls, but obviously they'd love that, but that this gives them a way to move into the fall, to go into those debates and to continue, obviously, and to put all those ads up on the air.

They were looking here for a way to spring into the fall. And this was Mitt Romney being Mitt Romney. They are down here praying and that's always my queue to send it back to you all -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Candy, stand by. I want to get back to you shortly, but let me go back up to Anderson Cooper -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, let's check in. We haven't heard from Ari Fleisher and Roland Martin.

Ari, what did you think?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, he -- he did everything he had to do tonight. And I think that's because of two levels. One, I talked to a senior Romney aide immediately before the speech, one of the most senior aides. He said the issue that he's focused on was not likability. The issue is whether people could see that Mitt Romney connected with them and understand their concerns, and their issues in their lives. I think he's very effective in the first half of the speech about that.

The second part of the speech, I thought, was tremendously successful for Mitt Romney was the substance of it. When he said that -- talked about a election night in 2008 in Chicago, he said if you felt the excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel the same way now that he is President Obama?

That encapsulated the disappointment that the American people have in where this country is under President Obama. That was a powerful indictment of a line and delivered in a soft spoken manner that was a very effective manner.

COOPER: Roland Martin?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I'll tell you what. In terms of giving the red meat, that's exactly what he gave. To that particular point Ari made, I'll tell you what. I'm very happy today we're not losing 750,000 jobs a month like we lost under President George W. Bush. That's a fact.

Also I thought it was very interesting that Mitt Romney evoked the genius of a Steve Jobs at Apple and how he rescued the company. Then the next sentence he talked about a President Obama gets his way when it comes to all those jobs that are going to be shipped over to China. Guess what, Apple makes most of their products in China. So you praise Steve Jobs, you praise Chinese manufacturing.

One thing that's very interesting, housing never came up in this particular speech at all. If you go the, you're not going to see anything about housing or foreclosure and lots of Americans out there, that's one of the very concerns out there, he didn't even touch that particular issue.


MARTIN: So again, I think -- I think that you're going to see people say, hey, he touched on the jobs issue, he did show some emotion, he showed some passion, but the bottom line is game on.

COOPER: John King?

KING: I do think it's surprising that he didn't mention housing in the speech in the sense that one of the big competitive swing states, Nevada, has the worst housing crisis in the country. This state, Florida, that we're in right now, has a severe housing crisis. Surprising that he didn't mention it specifically. He didn't more broadly mention -- he talked about, he did mention at one point that someone who had a mortgage and they could not sell their house, they're underwater, but he wasn't specific about a policy.

But to disagree with Roland, if you go to the Romney Web site, somebody who goes there might not agree with the policies, but it's actually very specific. His Web site is one of the more specific Web sites when it comes to campaign policy as is the Obama.


MARTIN: On housing.

KING: These two campaigns use the Web on all these issues.

MARTIN: No, no. Actually, I was in the Web site, and so please let me know where it is because I wrote a specific piece on housing and again I think the fundamental issue, not just Florida, not just Nevada, but even some of the states that are trying to go on rebound we're still dealing with people --


COOPER: We'll double check what's on the Web site. David?


MARTIN: I have.

GERGEN: Look, I want to go back to this question of substance. I did not think there was much substance to the speech in terms of where he's going. We heard a long speech last night from Paul Ryan which I thought was extremely effective, talking about tough choices.

If there are any tough choices laid out here tonight, I didn't here it.

BORGER: That's right.

GERGEN: I think they skirted that. And, you know, it all sounds like it's pretty straightforward. These are tough deals.

BORGER: Got to it very late in the speech like page seven of nine pages.

CASTELLANOS: But there's a reason --


CASTELLANOS: There's a reason for that. When Moses wants you to go to the promised land he doesn't say let's go through the desert. He says, let's go to the promised land, by the way, we have to go through the desert to get there. This is a political convention. Romney had not laid out a vision for the future and frankly, that's -- you know, Republicans have this horrible tendency to ask people to drink their medicine because it tastes bad, not because it's good for them.


CASTELLANOS: That kind of optimism I thought was very strong tonight.

COOPER: James?

CARVILLE: If I was to give a Democratic critique, it is this. There's not a word he said about economic policy that George W. Bush couldn't say. There's not a word he said about foreign policy that Dick Cheney couldn't say. There's not a word he said about social policy that Rick Santorum couldn't say.

This was nothing new in the speech. This is all warmed over Republican stuff that we've all heard before.

COOPER: John -- CNN's John Berman is down on the floor. He's with Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona -- John.


So Governor, you supported Mitt Romney for a while now. He's come to your state to campaign. You were sitting right here in the front row. What did you see tonight that you haven't seen before?

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: This is absolutely fabulous. It was so exciting. I saw Mitt Romney come forward and present to us a new vision for America. And that we didn't have to accept the president's failures. It was so very much -- it was so accepting. Something that our country needs that I'm just totally excited.

BERMAN: He talked a lot about his mother, a story I haven't heard a lot, and I've covered him for years. He also talked a lot about the women leadership in this country right now. What do you think he's trying to do? Did he try to connect with female voters here?

BREWER: I think that he has to reintroduce himself to America, to Republicans, to Democrats and independents. They need to know what Mitt Romney is. They didn't know what he stands for and he believes -- he believes in America. And he believes in the people of America.

BERMAN: I also have to ask you before I let you go here, you were right here in the front row. You were probably closer to Clint Eastwood than anyone else in this entire building. What were you thinking when he was doing his act up there?

BREWER: I thought that it was just absolutely terrific to talk to somebody that really wasn't there, that wasn't paying attention, and we were -- kept talking to him and talking to him, and taking to him, and he doesn't listen. He doesn't listen.

BERMAN: Thank you, Governor Brewer. BREWER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Anderson?

COOPER: All right. You know, one of the things that the speeches, the pre-speeches did do was pushing Mitt Romney's speech out of prime time to some degree which is --


CARVILLE: Yes. But I checked and the network was supposed to go 10:00 to 11:00 and CNN checked and they actually went through the whole speech.

COOPER: Sure. They weren't going to cut it off.

CARVILLE: They couldn't cut it off, but the voters may have cut it off at 11:00. Now that I don't know how many carries through.

COOPER: It's interesting, Alex, when you -- I mean, you were obviously a supporter of Mitt Romney but you were describing it, you were saying he did what needed to do. I didn't hear a huge amount of enthusiasm or, you know, excitement.


COOPER: Maybe you're just not very excitable.

CASTELLANOS: You know, Marco Rubio is an excited speaker. Mitt Romney gave the impression tonight, I thought, he's ready to go to work. Sometimes that's not the most exciting thing in the world, but I think it's who he is. And right now that may be good enough to elect the next president of the United States.

BORGER: You know, Anderson --

CASTELLANOS: And by the way, one of the problems we talk about is he wasn't specific enough in the litany of policy in the speech, but that's been his problem this whole campaign. He's had a 56-point economic plan but no vision, follow me, let's go to the future. But he did that tonight.

BORGER: Well, he said he's going to create, what, 12 million new jobs. We didn't hear how, but this may not be the place to do that honestly. I mean --

COOPER: Although that steel company he did talk about also received a large amount of subsidies from the United States government.

BORGER: Right, right. But what they are trying to do tonight is not necessarily move the ballot. I was talking to a senior Romney adviser earlier, he said we're looking to move the underlying attributes of this candidate which means they want people to think he cares about them.

CASTELLANOS: And lowering the expectations. (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I think your critique is not it wasn't specific enough, there was nothing different in it. There was nothing creative.

CASTELLANOS: I think that's a fair critique.

CARVILLE: But -- right. But yes.


GERGEN: He says, I'm going to get 12 million jobs.


GERGEN: Excuse me, how are you doing do that? Most economists think you can't get there. By just reciting five points? That's just not -- is not compelling.


GERGEN: Alex, on this point, I have to tell you something. The country is in tough shape. If Republicans are going to come forward and say, we have a bracing program to get us through some hard times, I think they have to square with us and tell us, this is going to be tough, there is a desert ahead, and we're going to have to get -- we're in this together and that's why you need new and different leadership.

BORGER: But he didn't want to get the spinach tonight.

GERGEN: Well, I'm just telling you --

BORGER: He didn't want to get the spinach, right?


GERGEN: We're just fine.

KING: But that's what every --


KING: This is a very, very close race. And this speech will hold his place, it might improve his place a little bit. But what it tells you, James is right, there was nothing new. There was no here's how I'm a new Republican, here's a new proposal, there's something you haven't heard, and the specificity on how do you create these jobs, it tells you that the presidential debates are going to be pivotal to this race.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: Candy Crowley is also standing by. Candy, where are you at?

CROWLEY: I am down here on the podium sort of watching the remnants of the party, if you will. I talked to two folks via the e-mail here tonight, and after Romney finished that are in the Romney campaign and I said, you know, it seems solid, but it didn't really seem wow, exciting and really changing things. And he wrote back, and he said, listen, find me more than a handful of convention speeches that move mountains? We didn't need to move a mountain. We needed to move forward and we did that.

So they feel that this was a good night for him for a lot of reasons and not, by the way, just for his speech, but some of the speeches that preceded it, particularly those from the Mormon Church. Things like that. That sort of did what Mitt Romney still has a hard time doing which is sort of, you know, as one adviser called it, tooting his own horn.

So they really feel as though this is something that can move them forward, that in -- that just as John was saying in a race this close. What you want is some kind of forward movement. What you're not going to get is to be able to move some sort of mountain.

COOPER: James Carville, though, earlier you were making the point that this is a speech unlike any other, and what you're saying is the speech we heard tonight was a speech like any other.

CARVILLE: Well, yes, it wasn't, but understand, not like the inaugural speech, it got people standing behind you, the weather can be bad, anything can happen. The State of the Union, half of the people in the audience don't like you.

Here, everything is scripted, I mean from the place in the back, until you come out, to the balloon drop to everybody in the place, you know, 50 Democrats in here all love you, and want you to succeed. You know, I think he did. I don't want to be -- I think he gave a competent speech. It was competently written. I don't think it was very creative, and if the aspiration was to nudge the ball a little bit forward, OK, they nudged the ball a little bit forward.

CASTELLANOS: I don't -- by the way, I don't believe that was their aspirations.


CASTELLANOS: I think that's how they're lowering expectations. But James is right about one thing. He didn't answer the question that's on everybody's minds, he didn't offer anything new. You just want to go back to Bush, and at some point Candy Crowley is going to be moderating a debate where Barack Obama is going to turn to Mitt Romney and say, you just want to go back the Bush, you've said nothing new tonight. How he answers that question will probably pick the next president of the United States.

COOPER: Ari Fleischer?

FLEISCHER: Anderson, the standards that the speech is being judged by, in 2008, Barack Obama gave a speech, hope, change, yes, we can, and everybody in the press roared what a great speech it was. And then the standard is being set to judge this speech? MARTIN: No, Ari --

FLEISCHER: To be given the specifics, was there enough policy? This was exactly what a convention speech should be and one of the lines that's going to be the most memorable of this speech and these are the kinds of things the American people remember after the speech is done, when he said that President Obama promised to begin the -- to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.

Those are the messages and the impressions that linger just like hope and change lingered.


FLEISCHER: That's the standard that nobody speaks tonight.

MARTIN: Ari, nobody out there thinks President Obama is an astronomer. Come on. Look. Here's the other thing.


FLEISCHER: No, but they do think he's out to lunch.

MARTIN: Please no.

FLEISCHER: And the economy is the problem that bring him down.

MARTIN: Here's the other -- the point is. Romney is out here talking about education in terms of people getting education for a job, the only thing he mentioned was choice. I support choice. That's not going to fly. Last point, go to, and click issues, you will not find a button that says housing. I just checked.

BORGER: You know, this is so different from the Mitt Romney we saw in the primaries. This is not a red meat convention. You had a couple of the speeches like Chris Christie, et cetera, but this was a convention for those persuadables, so we didn't hear as much red meat and cheering at the convention that could be also that Mitt Romney was a lot of people here is second choice who voted in those -- in those primaries and eventually came to Mitt Romney.

COOPER: Can we just talk for a second about the Clint Eastwood event?

BORGER: Oh my --

COOPER: Because I know there's more important things, but is that -- I mean, I haven't been to many of these things --


COOPER: So was that -- was that the most surreal --

BORGER: Embarrassing (ph).

COOPER: -- moment certainly of this convention if not any convention in a long time?

GERGEN: I'm a big Eastwood fan, just like James. And it was painful. I thought it was something that somebody didn't talk to somebody to help that -- that wasn't fair to him. He is much better than that.

COOPER: I thought maybe the teleprompter wasn't rolling or he was having trouble reading it.

GERGEN: It was -- you know, what's really, really the strange thing to me was that in the 9:00 to 10:00 hour they had one of the finest hours of convention television you could have. The testimonials to Mitt Romney the person were wonderful, especially that couple that lost their child. I thought it was a wonderful build-up. The film was terrific. And then they move from one of the best hours of television to one of the worst opening of primetime on final night that I have ever seen.

CASTELLANOS: It didn't help Clint Eastwood, but I'm not sure it didn't do a great deal of good for Mitt Romney. There's Joe Lunch Bucket somewhere in Ohio right now who's laughing at Barack Obama, because Clint Eastwood got off a couple of funny lines tonight. And he's a guy who solves problems by shooting them. You know? Culturally, this was a homerun, I think, for working class guys, but if you thought Republicans had a gender gap yesterday, wait until tomorrow.

COOPER: Right. You think he did damage --


BORGER: Clint Eastwood was terrible for that. I don't think -- I don't think he would appeal to women and I think it's one of these things where somebody had a great idea. Let's get Clint Eastwood. And he'll be terrific. People will love him, and I don't know they vetted this, or I don't know if you say, Mr. Eastwood, I don't think you should do that or maybe you should deliver it differently.

CASTELLANOS: You're not going to bet Clint Eastwood to make his day?

BORGER: Exactly. Exactly. Right.


COOPER: We've got to take a quick break. We got a lot more ahead. Mitt Romney's speech, a lot to consider. In a minute we'll look at whether he humanizes the images to the stories he shared, the personal testimonies by friends, succeed in making him appear more human and compassionate.

We'd like to hear from you on Twitter as well. We consider Mitt Romney, the man, next.


ROMNEY: When my mom ran for the Senate my dad was there for her every step of the way. I can still see her saying in her beautiful voice, "Why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation?"




ROMNEY: And I knew that her job as a mom was harder than mine, and I knew without question that her job as a mom was a lot more important than mine.


And as America saw Tuesday night, Ann would have succeeded at anything she wanted to do.



BLITZER: You could clearly see he was getting emotional, Anderson, the -- he didn't exactly started crying, but the eyes were beginning to well up for a little bit.

COOPER: A tightness in his voice a couple of times.

BLITZER: Yes. And that was very human. It was a nice touch, a perfect touch when he spoke about his wife, Ann, he spoke about his sons, spoke about the grandchildren, spoke about his mom and dad, grandparents. It showed a real human touch, I think, and I think it was a powerful moment in the speech. He let it -- he let it go. And a lot of people have been telling him for a long time, you know, be yourself.


BLITZER: Don't try to be so stiff and wooden, just be Mitt. Let Mitt be Mitt, and at least in that moment I could see he was -- he was opening up a little bit.

COOPER: And certainly a lot of outreach to women which we've been talking about.

And Ari Fleisher, I was talking to you during the break. You -- this speech excites you?


FLEISCHER: It really did because he gave an impassioned defense of success in America and then the life story supported what he was saying and I think that's the type of thing people say. That's what we want in America, we want more of it. And he did it in an effective way. I just thought that he spoke about it in the softest style, direct to the point, I'm going to help you, I'm going to help your family, but it was again that substantive gap that he opened up against President Obama here where he really made the case that the president had done didn't work. And I just thought it was a big hit.

BLITZER: David, you know when we were listening to him, when he moved on from the personal, and introducing himself, you know, a lot of us who are political news junkies and seen him, and covered him over these many months, over these many years. We know what he's about but he was really speaking, and I think it's been pointed out to that group that really -- hasn't been paying much attention.

And maybe tonight for the first time in that video tribute that they saw of him and what Marco Rubio was saying, those personal tributes from friends who've known him all these years, I think that kind of stuff has an impact especially with those people who are just now beginning to pay attention.

GERGEN: You may well be right. And I think you maybe especially be right about women. I thought the greatest success of the convention was to humanize Mitt Romney. I think they did very, very well with that starting with the Ann Romney speech the first night through those testimonials tonight as well as the film and then his own speech.

You know the quietness of that and the sincerity of it, I think the decency of the man has come through. And so on that -- on that front, I think they've made a lot of progress tonight and may well see a numbers change on the gender gap.

I just felt in terms of facing the country's problems, and the huge issues that are ahead, I thought he would try to march across the goal line instead of sort of trying to inch across the goal line.

COOPER: Well, certainly a lot of talk about the economy and not necessarily a lot of specifics, but to Ari's point, that's not necessarily what this speech needed to do or would have been appropriate to do.

FLEISCHER: It's a convention speech. It's a night for broad brushes.

COOPER: Let's talk --


BLITZER: And not the State of the Union.

COOPER: Right. Let's check in with Erin Burnett who's been looking at the economic focus of speech -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It's interesting, Anderson, just going through some of these. You know, the 12 million jobs promised obviously when he says, I'm not talking about something complicated or profound, America needs more jobs. Obviously that's true. And that's what he really wants to do.

The 12 million jobs number, though, is actually a pretty aggressive number. A lot of people out there have been saying that's sort of what we're on the track for now. Not true at all, Anderson. That would be about 250,000 jobs a month for every month Mitt Romney was in office for his first term, and that's never been done before in American history, so what he's talking about accomplishing would indeed be incredibly ambitious if he could even get there. And, you know, some economists I spoke to said that's possible, but most of them are a little bit more cautious.

Another big promise in there that he's spoken about was that, we're going to be energy independent in America by 2020, and Anderson, I know you know that obviously so many presidents in American history have made that promise, sometimes we put all those sound bites together and sort of chuckle at the massive failure.

But, you know, right now the forecast, with the current trajectory for energy in this country, it's for energy independence by 2020. Right now without a new energy plan from Mitt Romney, which I think is another actually interesting thing. A lot of people say wow, 2020, energy independence, that's a big deal. Actually no, not so much.

COOPER: It's an interesting point that we're -- that Ari want to talk about. Alex?

CASTELLANOS: Ari made an important point that we did hear a full- throated defense of success in America and one thing this election may be turning into is a contest between takers versus makers. The productive people, the people in the private sector who think that's the way you grow the economy, versus a sector of the economy that thinks the way you grow the economy is by organizing it through government.

COOPER: You think that really works -- do you think that -- do you think that message really -- that there are a lot of people who really don't believe in success?

CASTELLANOS: I'm not -- I'm not even -- well, it depends -- the difference is how you get it. Do you get it top-down from Washington by -- Washington using it --

COOPER: Trickle down?

CASTELLANOS: Trickle down government from Washington. That wasn't the case we heard here all week, I think. Or do you get it bottom-up from the private sector, from the economy by getting that -- a dollar can't be in two places. Should it be in Washington or in someone's pocket?


COOPER: Is that a false --

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, by every economic indicator, you can. In the last 60 years Democrats have outperformed Republicans and not just by a little bit.

FLEISCHER: Not the last three years.

CARVILLE: From jobs to economic growth to the stock market, they have outperformed Republicans.

CASTELLANOS: Happy days are here again.


CARVILLE: Let me be very clear, this president has created more private sector jobs than President Bush did in eight years, period, end of argument.

COOPER: We've got to go Candy Crowley who's standing by -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Anderson, again, I told you a little earlier talking to the Romney campaign, this will not be a big surprise, they think this particular speech was the essence of Mitt Romney. It's what I got from a second source there. And they do believe, and you all were talking about this a little earlier, that they at least opened the door for a second look by some of those persuadables and they believe a lot of that has to do with the references, not just tonight, but throughout this --, throughout this convention.

It has to do with women, and they believe that that is still a group that they can persuade over to the Republican ticket -- Anderson.


BLITZER: All right. Candy, stand by. We want to all of our viewers if they want to take part in CNN's coverage of this Republican convention. Here's what you have to do. Log on to, tell us after Mitt Romney's speech, what do you think of him?

COOPER: Also, CNN assembled a focus group of undecided Florida voters as they watched Mitt Romney's acceptance speech tonight. The women in the group had some very strong reactions to what they heard especially when he talked about his mom and to his attacks on President Obama, that's next.


BLITZER: We are back in Tampa at the Republican National Convention. Most of the folks are leaving if they haven't left already.

CNN has assembled a focus group of undecided Florida voters. They have watched Mitt Romney's acceptance speech and their reactions are very important and very interesting.

Our own Tom Foreman watched the speech with them over at the "CNN Grill."

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was fascinating to watch the reaction here from our 28 undecided voters from around here, a group that leans a little bit Republican, but they are Democrats in the crowd a little bit, too. And mainly independents, and watch in particular how they responded to the highest point of the night for this group when Mitt Romney talked about his dad and mom, and how they related to his mom's aspirations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: When my mom ran for the Senate, my dad was there for her every step of the way. I could still see her saying in her beautiful voice, "Why should women have any less say than men about the great decisions facing our nation?"



FOREMAN: A massive cheer from the crowd there and a big reaction from the women here also when he said about his mom running for Senate and dad supporting her.

Why did that make you feel good?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just kind of humanized him that he has parents and he has a warm loving family that he's come from. And he understands what we're going through as parents and bringing up our own children.

FOREMAN: Even if that makes you feel that way, does that move you closer to wanting to vote for him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still undecided.

FOREMAN: Even after hearing that? It made a difference, but not a big difference?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not a big difference.

FOREMAN: One of the other thing that was interesting in this was the reaction from all of you to the attacks. When the attacks began, interestingly enough, the women here liked them much more than the men did. Watch what happened on this. The women are the pink line, the men are the blue, watch how they respond during this attack on the Obama record.


ROMNEY: But tonight I'd ask a simple question, if you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he is President Obama?


ROMNEY: You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.


FOREMAN: Why do you think that men here did not seem to like the attacks as much as women?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean for me personally, it doesn't do anything for me. It's not informative so I mean it really doesn't kind of cater to my decision-making at all.

FOREMAN: You just don't really care about that. Let me see -- who's a woman here who generally thought the attacks were effective and a good thing, because you had to be here because you're all registering that way. Who liked some of the attacks? A little bit? What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I thought it was a very fair question to ask, are we better off than we were four years ago.

FOREMAN: That's all it came down to, a fair, decent question to ask at that time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's fair to take a look at the record, what has Obama done in the past four years. I think we had -- he had a right to ask that.

FOREMAN: Let me move to the back here and just ask a couple other questions. Did anything happen tonight that really changed your mind? Because the overall impact seemed not particularly strong throughout the speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually it did not change my opinion at all. I wish there was something that would have shocked me or persuaded me to, you know, vote that way, but it just, I was kind of still even keeled.

FOREMAN: Rooting for it but just didn't get it. And one other quickly over here. What about you? What did you think? Anything that moved you at all in this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I liked everything that was said, but I wish it was a better alternative. He sounds much better than Obama, but I still don't give up the hope.

FOREMAN: Well, this is a group, as I said from the beginning, that is undecided voters. They all tend a little bit more Republican, but mainly they're independents, and when you watched the dials tonight, I'm telling you there just wasn't a tremendous amount of movement. So that's the thing that Mitt Romney probably most has to worry about, because these are the voters that he has to get all over the country, the undecideds, the independents. They'll decide it.

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

A little bit ago we invited you to go to our Facebook page and tell us what you thought of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech. Thirty-three percent of you said it made you feel more supportive of him, 39 percent said less supportive, 27 percent say there's no change.

I'm just curious, Wolf, what you thought of Clint Eastwood's speech?

BLITZER: I thought it was embarrassing. I love Clint Eastwood. I loved all of his films. But it took all the energy out after that terrific video they had. It really got the mood moving. The crowd was there. And all -- I didn't understand, does he support Gitmo? Does he support the wars? He was confusing, he was rambling, it was just a big mistake.

COOPER: Do you think he just threw out his speech? I mean what do you think was going on ?


COOPER: He did.

CASTELLANOS: Sometimes --

FLEISCHER: He had a speech. He had a script. He discarded it.

COOPER: Really?

FLEISCHER: But I am not going to mess with Clint Eastwood.


FLEISCHER: Wolf, you did.

BLITZER: I'm just saying --

COOPER: But you've heard --


BLITZER: That was a horrible blunder. I mean the organizer -- everything else was choreographed --


BLITZER: Everything else was choreographed nearly perfectly from 9:00 o'clock --


COOPER: -- don't want a lawyer -- didn't Mitt Romney go to Harvard law school?



BLITZER: And the other thing --


BLITZER: Alex --

CARVILLE: Abraham Lincoln was a very good lawyer, as I recall.



BLITZER: -- Clint Eastwood interlude -- it should have been maybe a minute or two minutes or -- it went on 12, 13, 14 minutes or whatever, and I didn't understand what he was doing. And I could -- I was on the floor and I was looking at the folks, and they were embarrassed. These were Republicans. They didn't know what this was all -- was he joking? It was very, very--

CASTELLANOS: I think that's true, Wolf. But I -- Clint Eastwood isn't going to be the one on the ballot. He didn't help himself tonight, unfortunately. I think he did not give his best performance. Let's say that. But he did make it socially acceptable to laugh at Barack Obama, and one of Barack Obama's weaknesses --

BLITZER: I don't know why you say that --

CASTELLANOS: -- is that -- because of his pretension.

BLITZER: But you know, he's the president of the United States.


BLITZER: -- certain level of respect.

CASTELLANOS: I think he pricked a balloon tonight.


CASTELLANOS: You can laugh at anybody (INAUDIBLE)

BLITZER: You can do that -- you can do that, Alex, but not at a presidential convention. When you want to show that Mitt Romney is up to that, you don't go over -- you know what? Let's -- let's play -- let's play that little clip, and then we'll continue this conversation. Watch this.


CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. He can't do that to himself.


EASTWOOD: You're crazy. You're absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden.



BLITZER: You know, what is he, doing stand-up at a presidential convention? Is he in a club? I mean, it was awkward. We'll continue this conversation --


BLITZER: You and I will continue it, as well.

COOPER: All right. Maybe over some wine or beer or something, a couple of beers.

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" is next -- Piers.