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Democratic National Convention Preview; Romney Will Hit the Campaign Trail Next Week; Housing Problems Raised in Charlotte

Aired September 1, 2012 - 18:00   ET



BEN DAVIS, FARMER: We hope that we'll get some fall re-growth, you know, that we'll get enough moisture that it will start growing again and we'll have a little bit of something to feed them this winter.


DAVIS: We'll have to sell a bunch more cows.

CANDIOTTI: Ben Davis isn't relying only on his livestock business to help him raise his two teenage sons. He does have a second job and for now, that's helping him get through these tough times.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Farmington, Missouri.



The SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer begins right now.


Happening now, the road to Charlotte. President Obama hits the campaign trail, working the crowds and working his way toward the site of this Democratic National Convention. He begins where he says it all started, more than four years ago. That would be in Iowa.

And the Republican running mate, the GOP running mate keeps up -- running mates keep up their attack on President Obama's economic policies. But Mitt Romney admits his own party let people down when it comes to the deficit.

And as visitors start moving into Charlotte, some people are forced to move out. We're taking a closer look at a little-known downside to the Democratic convention.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting live from Charlotte, the site of the Democratic National Convention and you're in the SITUATION ROOM.

And we're here in Charlotte where the Democrats are already gathering for their party's national convention. It starts on Tuesday, but this is now becoming the campaign's command center, as Democrats work to take back moment from the GOP after the Republicans grabbed the spotlight in Tampa.

President Obama is on the road today, as Democrats build up to their huge event in Charlotte this week.

Let's begin our coverage this hour with our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's here already in Charlotte together with me.

We're watching what's going on. He is really trying, as desperately as he can, and he needs to, to rally his base, Brianna, and make sure they turn up, turn out, and vote. Because the enthusiasm level, this time, is clearly not what it was in 2008.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He's even directing his supporters to a Web site where they can register to vote. He did this today in Iowa, on what his campaign is billing as the road to Charlotte.

Two campaign rallies today. One that already happened in Des Moines -- near Des Moines, I should say. And there were several thousand people in attendance. One of the biggest rallies we've seen this year for President Obama, smaller than some of the crowds he drew in 2008. And he'll be having a second Iowa rally next hour.

We should tell you that on his way to Iowa, he was accompanied by his chief speechwriter. He worked on his speech that he'll be giving here Thursday night, with his speechwriter on his way to Iowa. And he gave the crowd there just the tiniest peek about what he's going to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This Thursday night, I will offer you what I believe is a better path forward. A path that grows this economy, creates more good jobs, strengthens the middle class. And the good news is, you get to choose which path we take.


KEILAR: Now, he spent most of his time during this speech today rebutting some of the messages that we heard during the Republican convention in Tampa. He called it a quote, "rerun." He said, you might as well have listened to it on a black-and-white TV. And this plays into him accusing Mitt Romney of trying to pursue economic problems that he says created the recession.

BLITZER: Nothing new, he's saying, in the Romney economic agenda compared to what he has in store. Presumably he'll go into some specifics when he's here in Charlotte.

We know he speaks Thursday night, the vice president will be speaking. Who else are you hearing that is going to be a headliner, shall we say, here in Charlotte?

KEILAR: Well, we're really looking to, I think these are sort of the folks that are the big names that we will be seeing. Michelle Obama will be on Tuesday night. She's not actually the keynote speaker. That will be the mayor of San Antonio. But she's speaking Tuesday night. A lot of people will pay attention to that.

Bill Clinton, of course, Wednesday, and he will be the speaker who initially puts the president's nomination in.

Thursday, of course, vice president Joe Biden and President Obama. Those will be their acceptance speeches.

And it's kind of interesting. You know who won't be here? Hillary Clinton. She is traveling abroad as secretary of state. She's on a trip to the South Pacific and Russia. So she won't be here. She's often stayed above, as you know, the sort of political fray of domestic politics, as she's been secretary of state. But this is the first convention that she will have missed since 1968.

BLITZER: The tradition is, as secretary of state, secretary of defense, even a secretary of the treasury, they stay away from overt politics, if you will, and as a result, they stay away from conventions on the Democratic side, when there's a Democratic incumbent and on the Republican side, when there's a Republican convention. I'm sure if she were here and she spoke here, the crowd would obviously go crazy.

KEILAR: A very popular member of the president's cabinet.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. We'll see what she does in 2016, if he's in a convention. Could be.

KEILAR: Could be.

BLITZER: Yes. Thanks, Brianna.

The Republican running mates held what they call victory rallies in two key battleground states today. They're trying to keep up the momentum from their convention.

CNN's national political correspondent, Jim Acosta's in Jacksonville, Florida - Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, less than 48 hours after wrapping up their Republican convention in Florida, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan return to this battleground state with an appear to sports fans, to give the GOP team a chance to turn the country around.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Romney/Ryan! Romney/Ryan! Romney/Ryan!

ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a battleground state blitz, as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan teamed up once again in Florida.

ROMNEY: I don't like the way this game is going under this president. ACOSTA: The GOP ticket kicked off their day in Ohio. As the college football season got underway, Ryan tailgated with fans at a game between his alma mater Miami University of Ohio in Ohio state. And he touted the Republican economic game plan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ohio is the battleground state. It's a -- it's a state whose electoral votes will very well determine who the next president of the United States is and which of the two choices of the future we have.

ACOSTA: Meanwhile, down in Cincinnati, Romney made the case for a new play caller in the White House.

ROMNEY: Twenty three million people are out of work or stopped looking for work or are underemployed. Let me tell you, if you have a coach that's zero and 23 million, you say it's time to get a new coach.

ACOSTA: As part of his new appeal to voters who chose President Obama four years ago, the Republican nominee admitted his own party had fumbled the ball on the deficit.

ROMNEY: When we had the lead, we let people down. We need to make sure we don't let them down this time. I will cut the deficit and get us on track to a balanced budget!

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: Yes, they're good.

ACOSTA: On Romney's campaign plane, his wife, Ann, opted for a charm offensive, passing out her family recipe welsh cake to reporters.

ANN ROMNEY: You can't cook them too long, and you can't make them -- you can't roll them out too thin.

ACOSTA: As Democrats hold their convention in Charlotte, Romney will spend much of the week behind closed doors, doing debate prep with Ohio senator Rob Portman, playing the role of President Obama. But the GOP contender is expected to do some campaigning of his own, just as the president did during the Republican convention.

OBAMA: Governor Romney promised that sometime between taking the oath of office and going to the inaugural ball, he'd sit right down, grab a pen, and kick seven million young people of their parents' plan by repealing health reform. Maybe we should call his plan, "Romney doesn't care."


ACOSTA: Paul Ryan will be in North Carolina on Monday to deliver the Republican mention message during the Democratic convention. And if this campaign is any indication so far, it won't be a game of two-hand touch -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta in Jacksonville, thanks.

It's a crucial time for both campaigns. Republicans certainly got a boost from their convention this past week. Can Democrats do the same? Let's discuss.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger is here.

I guess it all boils down to, from this president, the Democratic president's perspective, can he really energize that base?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And that's what they're obviously trying to do, as Brianna was pointing out, back in the state of Iowa, where it all began for President Obama four years ago, when he won there. And they understand that they don't have an enthusiastic base right now or a base that is anywhere --

BLITZER: Because of the economy?

BORGER: And because lots of liberal Democrats do not believe or are disappointed in the president. And so, what they've got to try to do is get their base as enthusiastic as the Republican base is. Because Republicans are much more enthusiastic about coming out and voting.

So what he's doing, he's coming to college campuses. He is talking to college students. He's really making an effort on Hispanic voters. We saw his executive action a couple of months ago that Hispanics liked, you know, in making the dream act effectively operational for the children of illegal immigrants, so they can stay in this country.

So group by group by group, this campaign is going after the people they know they need to turn out if the president's going to win re- election.

BLITZER: How does he address the issue, though, of 8.3 percent unemployment when he comes here to Charlotte, and the millions of people who are either unemployed or underemployed?

BORGER: Well, that's right. You'll hear him say, of course, that he's created four million jobs. But what he's got to do -- it's interesting. He's got the opposite problem from Mitt Romney.

This is a president, people believe he's got empathy, he cares about their problems, but he's not a Mr. Fix-it. He's got to let them know, he is a Mr. Fix-it. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a Mr. Fix-it, he's got to let them know that he cares and understands their problems.

So, what we're going to hear from the president is a plan that says, here's what we've done. I was really hamstrung by a very bad economy. I was hamstrung by the Republicans in congress. But if you give me four more years, this is what we can do together and this is what we want to achieve. And I think they feel like, there are a lot of people out there who feel like they would like to hear from both of these candidates exactly what they intend to do.

BLITZER: When it comes to the undecided voters or the still- switchable voters, attentions are important. I don't want be little of. So, those three presidential debates in October will be even more important. The Romney campaign said that Mitt Romney this week is going to start preparing for those debates now that his convention is over with. I asked Ohio senator Rob Portman, who will play President Obama in the debate preparations, how this was working out earlier in the week. Watch this.


BLITZER: How do you prepare to play the president of the United States in these simulated debate preparations?

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R),OHIO: You get in their head, and figure out not just what they are going to say and subentry also how they are going to say it stylistically. And you try to be tougher than they will be, so that halfway through the debate, Mitt Romney will say, you know, this isn't really that bad. In fact, I'm glad Portman's not out here on stage.


BLITZER: So, how does Mitt Romney prepare to debate someone like the incumbent president?

BORGER: Well, in a way, he has a little bit of an advantage, Wolf, because you know better than anybody, he's done, what, 20 debates already during the primary season? So he's in practice.

What he's not in practice at doing is debating one on one with somebody. That's going to be a little different for him. What he's got to do is be able to go on the attack against the president without being arrogant or unlikable, because that's his deficit. People don't like him as much as they like the president. So it's not going to be easy.

BLITZER: Speaking of debates, let me play this clip. This was a clip of an earlier we did earlier in the week in Tampa with a Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. And I had this exchange on his debate. Listen to this.


BLITZER: How are you preparing for your debate with Joe Biden?

RYAN: By preparing.

BLITZER: What are you doing?

RYAN: Well, I'm studying, I'm reading Joe Biden's speeches, watching Joe Biden tape, and just studying on all the various issues.

BLITZER: He's pretty good.

RYAN: He's good. But I've been in Congress 14 years, and this is what we do, especially in the house. The Senate, they don't debate as often and as frequently. That's all we do in the house, is we debate. I love debating. That's one of the things I like about this job. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Really looking forward to that debate.


BLITZER: It's going to be exciting.

All right, Gloria. Thanks very, very much. Three presidential debates, one vice presidential debate.

BORGER: Can't wait.

BLITZER: All right.

And meanwhile, the vice president Joe Biden is counter attacking. He's lashing out at Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan about his remarks about closing of an auto plant, a GM auto plant, in Wisconsin.

Also, Obama revealed. Our own Jessica Yellin sits down with the president's closest advisers and friends. We're going to tell you what the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has to say about his former boss.

And how much trouble, how much trouble could Republican strategist Karl Rove face for his shocking comment that congressman Todd Akin of Missouri might be found, quote, "mysteriously murdered?" I'll ask our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He's been looking into this story for us as well.


BLITZER: The Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, went to a football game today between Ohio state and his alma mater, Miami of Ohio. Not good news for Paul Ryan. Miami of Ohio was crushed by Ohio state, 56-10. Not a happy day in the world of football for Miami of Ohio fans, or Paul Ryan.

Ryan later joined Mitt Romney in Jacksonville, Florida, another campaign stop. Indeed, at every stop, he's been hammering away at President Obama on the economy. And that was certainly a theme of Paul Ryan's very effective speech over at the Republican convention.

Certainly fired up the crowd, but did he play loose with the facts in blaming President Obama for America's red ink? I asked congressman Ryan about that and more. Listen to this.


BLITZER: The debt problem, the trillions and trillions of dollars, didn't just start with the Obama administration.

RYAN: Absolutely not.

BLITZER: There's plenty of blame to go around. RYAN: Plenty of blame to go around.

BLITZER: During the Bush administration, it doubled.

RYAN: Yes. So, I've been saying that for years. All I would say is, President Obama made it worse. The debt went up $5.5 trillion in the Obama years. More to the point, this crisis is coming closer. It's already hitting Europe. And President Obama has had four budgets and four times, he avoided tackling the problem. The Senate hasn't passed a budget for three years.

That's the opposite of leadership and Mitt Romney's going to provide the kind of leadership we need to get this kind of thing under control.

BLITZER: I know I have a limited amount of time. But couple of things from your speech last night, Erskine Bowles and the Bowles/Simpson commission. You were a member of that. You criticized the president for saying he rejected the recommendations, yet you rejected the recommendations as well.

RYAN: And in the next paragraph in my speech, I said, we offered alternatives. So if you don't like this idea, then offer your own. That's what we did in the house. And what I did was, I took what we thought were the best ideas from Bowles/Simpson and added other ideas to it is and passed it. President Obama did none of that. President Obama said, I don't like this plan, and then offered nothing in return.

BLITZER: Well, he did come close with the deal with John Boehner. They were negotiating --

RYAN: That wasn't even close to actually fixing the problem. It was a small or is medium-sized deal -- look, cutting a backroom deal that gives you plausible didn't is not leadership. Offering a plan, submitting a budget to Congress that fixes the problem, that's leadership. And we haven't seen it for four years from President Obama.

BLITZER: Now, the GM plant in Janesville, you're getting some grief on that. Do you want to revise or amend --

RYAN: No, I don't want to revise --

BLITZER: -- what you said. Just to remind our viewers, you said that the president came there, and he did come there, in February of 2008, and he said, you know, if the government takes action, you guys will have a plant here for a hundred years. But they Announced that plant was shutting down in June of 2008. That was during the Bush administration.

RYAN: Well, it's still idle. The point is, this is a story of the Obama economy. A man running for president in 2008, making all these grand promises, and then none of them occurring. He got elected, he put his policies in place, and the plant is still shut down. My friends who I went to high school with -- BLITZER: But that was a decision General Motors made.

RYAN: I'm not saying it was his decision, I'm saying he comes and makes these promises and makes these commitments, sells people on the notion that he's going to make all these great achievements and then none of them occur.

These are empty promises that become broken promises and that's the story of the Obama economy. He said he was going to cut the deficit in half in four years. We're nowhere close. He said unemployment if he passes stimulus would never go above eight percent. It's been above eight percent ever since.

So, what we have here is a man who ran for president with grandiose plans and promises, great rhetoric, none of the results.

BLITZER: But you were with him when he saved the auto industry, though. You supported that legislation.

RYAN: Yes, I voted for the bill in the house, which would have prevented TARP from being used for auto -- this is under the Bush administration.


RYAN: I didn't like the idea of TARP being used, so I voted for a bill which would have prevented TARP from being used, which is open- ended. We're now $25 billion and counting in lost taxpayer dollars. I voted for a bill, which would have far more minimized that. But President Obama and President Bush used TARP for it.


BLITZER: Paul Ryan speaking with me on Thursday, in Tampa. And while Ryan is sticking to his comments about the gm plant closure in Wisconsin, the vice president Joe Biden says Republicans aren't being honest about that plant and about the auto bailout.

Listen to this from a meeting with united auto workers in Ohio.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Much of what they did tell you wasn't on the level. You heard congressman Ryan on Wednesday night, in a stirring speech, blame the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville on the president of the United States.

Folks, let's look at the facts. The one thing the congressman was right about, and I know from my own community, of the two plants closed in Delaware, it was devastating for the people in this community. But what he didn't tell you is the plant in Janesville actually closed when President Bush was still in office!

He didn't tell you that. What they didn't say, but for the sacrifices you all made and the courage of the president of the United States, all those GM plants would be closed. Here, all across the country, 200,000 auto workers who have been added to the rolls since reorganization would not be working. We would have lost a million jobs.


BIDEN: GM wouldn't have been reorganized. It would have been liquidate d along with Chrysler. And as chairman of the board of ford motor company personally told me, and said publicly, without the reorganization plan we put forward, Ford would have been devastated as well because the supply chain would have dried up.

What they didn't say, what they didn't say at their convention is because the auto rescue, there are 4,500 of you working here and making a decent wage.


BLITZER: Vice president Biden, by the way, will be making campaign stops tomorrow in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He arrives here in Charlotte on Tuesday.

Much more of the news in Charlotte coming up here. We're standing by.

We're going to assess about what's to happen over the next few days as a lot of Democrats gear up for this convention. But there's other news we're following as well.

We'll update you on south Africa's president. He's given an ultimatum if murder charges aren't dropped by tomorrow for dozens of protesters.

And a stadium tragedy. What exactly was going on when a football fan fell to his death? What was that fan doing? We have the tragic details.


BLITZER: Much more on the Democratic convention here in Charlotte coming up. But let's check in with Lisa Sylvester. She's monitoring some of the other stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now.

What's going on, Lisa?


Well, South Africa's justice minister is demanding to know why 270 platinum miners are being charged with the murder of 34 colleagues, believed to have been shot by police during a strike. South African law allows the charges since the miners were involved in that clash. The miners' lawyers call the murder charges inconceivable and they are now demanding that south African president Jacob Zuma drop those charges.

And a 20-year-old man fell to his death at Atlanta's Georgia dome during the game between North Carolina state and Tennessee. Investigators say he plunged from the stadium's upper level, landing on top of another man. He suffered minor injuries. Witnesses say the victim was pumping his fists after a Tennessee touchdown when he went over the side.

And a new version of a children's TV's classic debuts tomorrow on PBS. "Daniel tiger's neighborhood," it's inspired by the "Mr. Rogers' neighborhood" and the iconic Fred Rogers who died almost a decade ago. The new series, it is animated and it features the offspring of puppy characters from the original series, including Daniel tiger, who you can see there, wears a red sweater just like Mr. Rogers did. A lot of us grew up with Mr. Rogers, the original, so this is for a new generation, Wolf.

BLITZER: Happy, happy for the new generation, Lisa. Thanks very much.

So here's a question. Why did the Democrats choose Charlotte, North Carolina for their national convention? We're going to update you on what's going on here.

And the practical joke that made Ann Romney declare her sons have not yet grown up.


BLITZER: President Obama is on the road, firing up Democrats. He's in Iowa right now. He's scheduled to speak in Sioux City in a little while.

CNN's Athena Jones is traveling with the president. She's joining us now live.

Set the scene for us a little bit, Athena. What's going on, on the road to Charlotte. He's coming here in a few days.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, he's about to speak in a few minutes, after secretary of agriculture, Vilsack, finishes speaking. But he started off today in Urbandale, just outside of Des Moines. As you mentioned, this is the road to Charlotte, where a series of events leading up to the Democratic National Convention.

And you know, earlier today, he got really fired up by what was a pretty sizable crowd. A fire department official said that the crowd there was about 10,000.

Let's listen in to what he had to say at that earlier event.


OBAMA: We got a lot more work to do. We got a lot more work to do. We've got more good jobs to create. We've got more homegrown energy to create. We've got more young people to send to college. We've got more good teachers to hire. We've got veterans we got to take care of. We got more doors of opportunity to open to every single Americas who is willing to work hard and we're through them. We've come too far to turn back now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: Now, I should mention, Wolf, this is the president's third trip to Iowa in three weeks. It's just a sign of how hard they're working to try to keep this state at a sixth electoral vote in the Democratic column in November. That number, six, is not a big number, but as you know in a close race, every little bit counts. And of course, Iowa has some real symbolic meaning for the president. It's what launched them, candidate Obama's successful bid for the White House back in 2007 and 2008.

One more point I should make is that, the president for the first time publicly rebutted a little bit of what Mitt Romney had to say in his speech on Thursday night. He criticized Romney, saying he was short on new ideas. He criticized him for failing to mention Afghanistan. And he gave a mini preview in what we can expect to hear from him in his own convention this coming Thursday, saying he is going to lay out a better plan forward that will strengthen the middle class.

And that emphasis on the middle class, as you know, is not new. We heard this same theme back in 2008. But from the White House' point of view, this is a message that worked for them and they're hoping it will work for them again. Wolf?

BLITZER: And as James Carville now says, it's the middle class, stupid. Used to say, it's the economy, stupid.

All right. Athena, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little deeper right now with our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He is the editorial director of the "National Journal."

He's heading from Iowa, will be in Ohio, Colorado, heading to Louisiana, to see what's going on as a result of hurricane Isaac. With the exception of Louisiana, these other states are really important.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And you know, it really wonderfully, embodies what is the new strategic dynamic in presidential politics. You know, there are now two sets of swing states that can bring you to 270 in the electoral college majority.

Historically, and both of us started covering politics, it really was those monsters of the midway in the Midwest. You've got Iowa and Ohio, and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that were kind of the tipping points of American politics.

But now there's a second group of swing states across the sun belt, states that by changing demography have been brought within reach of Democrats. North Carolina where we are. Virginia where he is going and Florida, on the one end, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado and the others. So the president's itinerary really reflects kind of the changing strategic dynamics and the two paths that they're simultaneously pursuing.

BLITZER: Louisiana is a critically important state, but not necessarily a swing state this time. That's pretty much in Republican hands. Why North Carolina? Why did they pick Charlotte? We're hearing Charlotte already. Why was Charlotte picked for this convention?

BROWNSTEIN: So on the one hand, conventions are often in a reach state, for the party that's holding them. You know, the Republicans go to Minnesota and Pennsylvania. The Democrats, last time, went to Colorado, Denver, a state that was a reach for them in that election.

But North Carolina is really embodies how the changing demography have brought some of these sun belt states. Obama, of course, the first Democrat to win it since '76, only the second since '64. And he won it largely because there are enough college-educated white voters, many transplants from the north, (INAUDIBLE), Mecklenburg County, only the second Democrat since world war II to carry Mecklenburg county.

That combined with the large minority voters far that within reached. And this is the kind of state they were hoping to put on the table, as well as influencing Virginia, which is also competitive, and Georgia, which is moving along the same continuum, but not quite there. Big minority vote, growing college-educated white-collar white vote, and that is what's bringing this state within reach for Democrats, even though this is still a difficult fight.

BLITZER: Let me turn to Karl Rove. This is causing some buzz out there. Karl Rove, the former Bush political strategist, he was at a meeting with some Republicans in Tampa.

A "Business Week" reporter overheard him saying, as far as Todd Akin, the Republican Missouri senatorial candidate is concerned, everybody in the Republican leadership wants him to drop out because of his remarks on rape and abortion. Rove was quoted as saying, "we should sink Todd Akin. If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts."


BLITZER: Now, he was clearly joking and he called Todd Akin to apologize. Todd Akin tweeted, I appreciate the call from Karl Rove, and accept the apology.

But (INAUDIBLE), as the modern conservatives, they are not accepting because they think that Karl Rove should be poisoned right now, should be dumped by FOX News. He shouldn't be allowed to be a political operative even if he was joking about the murder of this Republican conservative senatorial candidate, that's beyond the pale.

BROWNSTEIN: Karl Rove is sitting on $300 million for the crossroads budget --

BLITZER: That super PAC.

BROWNSTEIN: That super PAC. No one's putting him beyond the pale.

Look. There is a tradition, and we both know, political consultants kind a think of themselves a little bit like gunslingers. I mean, they have this very exaggerated language. There was that Ralph Reed quote in the 1990s, "I travel by night, I paint my face, you don't know I was there until you wake up in a body bag," and he was the Christian coalition guy.

So there is this kind of this, you know, tradition in both parties. Rove obviously was using excessive and colorful language. But it does reflects two things. I mean, it reflects the fact that the Republican establishment, of which Rove has become the embodiment of in some ways, thus want Akin out of the race. They see this is a winnable race but he is making it more difficult.

And second, you know, there's enormous power in these outside groups. I mean, If they really have that $30 million budget at that article who sat there, if the journal sat there, they said they do. It's really hard to tell Karl Rove to go anywhere he doesn't want to go.

BLITZER: I'm sure Karl Rove is not going anywhere.

BROWNSTEIN: Exactly right.

BLITZER: New issue of the "National Journal."


BLITZER: Excellent publication. You'll be with us here all week?


BLITZER: We'll be here in Charlotte.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney's son, Craig, had a parting gift for one of his brothers after the Republican convention. Josh Romney tweeted, and I'm quoting, now, "Craig give me a little shock by sticking this thing down the back of my pants while saying bye in Tampa." Brothers. Their mother, Ann, found out about it from reporters. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Have you seen the tarantula bug that Craig put in Josh's pants?


Josh tweeted --




ANN ROMNEY: My josh, my Craig? Sounds -- I've got to see that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: They were hugging, and as a prank.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Put it down josh's pants. And they were talking about it.



ANN ROMNEY: No, I -- they still haven't grown up yet which is really terrific. I'm still proud of them.


BLITZER: They still haven't grown up yet, you overheard. Hard to hear, but you heard what she said about her sons. Craig Romney, by the way, tweeted his brother was, what -- let me quote, "about two seconds away from dropping his pants when the bug finally wiggled out."

The downside of the Democratic convention. Why life is about to get harder for some people right here in Charlotte.


BLITZER: As thousands of people move into Charlotte, North Carolina, for this Democratic convention, affordable rooms are clearly at a premium. And that means others are being forced to move out. Joe Johns is working the story for us.

Joe, what have you found out?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it happened in Tampa and now it's also happened in Charlotte, North Carolina. At least, apparently.

Whenever you have one of these huge events where a lot of people are coming to town, people who are on the edge, absolutely are the ones to suffer.


JOHNS (voice-over): In a tough economy, cheap motels are a refuge for homeless families. Here in Charlotte, the Sunset Inn typically offers them rooms for $35 a night, but during the Democratic national convention, the rate could skyrocket to $250. Resident Rosalynn Curry says she can't afford it.

ROSALYN CURRY, MOTEL RESIDENT: Think it's kind of ridiculous. I mean, but, what can I do about it?

JOHNS: For the past two months, Curry has been living in one of these small rooms with six other people, including her three kids. Now she's forced to move out at a time when school is just starting. Are your kids' school-age? CURRY: One is.

JOHNS: How are you going to work that?

CURRY: I have no clue. I don't know. I'm just planning it day by day. I know it's not smart, but I got to do what I've got to do.

JOHNS: The manager at the Sunset Inn says he can't turn down the chance to cash in while prices are high.

RICKY PATEL, MANAGER, SUNSET INN: Everybody's raising the price up, so why not me, you know? And it's not about homeless or anything else, but it's just like, we give them reasonable price, reasonable rates. And if they could afford it, they could stay.

CARLA LEAF, COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: I do get frustrated, from a personal level, because I don't feel that people should have a life that doesn't have dignity.

JOHNS: During the DNC, Carla Leaf will help find beds for homeless families at places like the Covenant Presbyterian church. It's part of a network of charities that's been planning for this for weeks.

LEAF: We hope to have eight families here.

JOHNS: The charities within the network, including the Urban Ministry Center, try to work together, because it's so hard to predict how many beds they will need.

DALE MULLENNIX, URBAN MINISTRY CENTER: We don't know numbers, which is part of our challenge. So we're preparing, as if there might be hundreds. We're hoping there'll be very few, if any.

JOHNS: And it's made more difficult by the increase in the number of homeless families, which has exploded here recently. It went up 36 percent in 2010, another 21 percent in 2011. And moving from place to place takes a big toll on families with children.

MULLENNIX: It's more than just inconvenient. Most of these folks don't have their own transportation and in that room, they probably have everything they own in the world. Where are they going? How will they move that stuff? And where will that stuff be that it stays safe?

JOHNS: If the motels drop their prices right after the convention ends, families could move back in next week, but Darren Ash of Charlotte family housing says that still doesn't fix the real problem.

DARREN ASH, CHARLOTTE FAMILY HOUSING: This was just a small blip on the screen compared to the bigger issue we're facing here. So this Democratic national convention is not really a huge deal for us. We're preparing for the overflow, but the bigger issue is that our spike in family homelessness caught us off guard in this city.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHNS: So in case you're wondering what happened to Rosalynn Curry and her family, we gave her name to Charlotte Family Housing and they found beds for all seven of her family members. So, apparently, Wolf, they're not going to be out on the streets.

BLITZER: Let's hope they take care of all of these people.

Thanks very much, Joe Johns. Good report.

Behind the political partisanship, the Chicago mayor, the former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, tells CNN that Democrats are not to blame. Stand by.


BLITZER: CNN's Jessica Yellin interviewed the President for a documentary entitled "Obama Revealed, the man, the president." She also spoke with some of his closest aides -- Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in a documentary, pulled back and looked at some of the major events from the last three and half years, the president's time in office. And one of the recurring themes is the partisanship in Washington, especially meaningful because candidate Obama had campaigned on a promise to heal some partisan divides.

So, in an interview I asked former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel about this. He insist that he believes the Republicans organized to oppose the president from day one by opposing the stimulus bill or the so- called recovery act.


YELLIN: Do you think there was ever the possibility for it to be more bipartisan?

RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR, CHICAGO: Well, how much more time, we got left? Let me say it this way, Jessica. If someone walked in and said our number one goal is not to defeat the president but to create jobs, if your mode of operand your prioritization was jobs not defeat, sure.

YELLIN: But, you run the Democratic operations to elect more Democrats. You know what politics is. So, this is not surprising that they wanted to do that.

EMANUEL: No. But actually Jessica, two things. I understand that comes four years from now, you are going to have a competition.

YELLIN: Right.

EMANUEL: In the midst of recession, when some people are considering the greatest recession with two weeks left on the life blood of the auto industry, let me say it this way. Two months before a major election in 2008, did the Democrats told George Bush, well, this is your banking problem, not ours. I remember being in the room until 2:00 in the morning negotiating with Tim Paulson (ph). We didn't kind of dump it on him. We didn't say our number one goal was to win the White House, we said number one goal was to win the presidency. Directly different than four months later, which in four months later with a country in the midst of a recession, auto industry with two weeks left on it and banking system that was on its back, they said, this is your problem and we're not going to be part of the solution.


YELLIN: I also interviewed speaker Boehner who forcefully disagrees. He says Republicans were ready to work with President Obama, but disagreed on the stimulus on substance. And also took issue with the president's style in the beginning.

For the documentary we also interviewed many of the president's closest aides and confidant, including former personal aid Reggie Love and David Axelrod and Valarie Jarod, some of his closest advisors. I hope you'll watch - Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly will, Jessica. Thanks very much.

And you can see Jessica's full documentary, "Obama Revealed, the man, the president," this Monday night, on the eve of this convention, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Something else is being revealed by the White House. Beer recipes, the presidential chef Sam Kass gives detailed instructions for the White House honey ale and honey porter on-line, after pressure from home brewers. You can you find them on

Musical politics, we are going to hear some memorable campaign theme songs when we come back. Stay with us.


BLITZER: The party convention each have their owned soundtracks.


BLITZER: Republicans play the temptations "my girl" when Mitt Romney joined his wife, Ann, on the stage in Tampa. The campaigns themselves sometimes come up with memorable jingles.

We listened to some with presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin.



DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Love these old songs. They are so much fun. I mean, politics should be fun as well as serious business. And to the extent that we can share in part of that fun. I think we are better off with a chance for leadership to really do something.

(MUSIC PLAYING) GOODWIN: One of my favorite songs because it is such a crazy distance between the meaning of the song and to where it is, "get on the raft with Taft." Now, we empower Taft Wade at times 320 or 350 pound. If you got on a raft with "get on the raft with Taft," you wouldn't be on that raft for very long. What were they thinking?


GOODWIN: The song for Hoover, it's you know, if he is good enough, for Lindy, he is good enough for me. Meaning that Hoover was supported by Charles Lindberg who was such a figure, hero for having flown across the Atlanta. It's hard to imagine if there's anybody today, you know, if he is good enough for xx, he is good enough for me.


GOODWIN: Roosevelt and his supporters had such a sense of optimism about, if we can get into the leadership role, we will make things OK again, as tough as they seem. So how bizarre and yet perfect, happy days are here again, becoming the Roosevelt motto and Roosevelt song. Because it made people really believe, if this guy gets in, things will be better. And indeed, it turned out to be true.


GOODWIN: Nixon's slogan throughout the 60s was, Nixon's the one. It was a slogan, and then it also became a song, Nixon's the one. So the Democrats would like it tease him at times. So in rallies, Republican rallies, the Democrats dressed up a series of maybe 20, 30, nuns looking pregnant, and each carried a sign saying, Nixon's the one.

The idea of Nixon impregnating nuns is so hysterical that you can't be mad at it. It was something about the dirty tricks they played in the old days, that weren't mean-spirited. I mean, that's so absurd that you have to laugh. You can't be made even that.


BLITZER: The Democrats have announced, their musical line up, we are here in Charlotte, it includes among others, Mary J. Blige, Foo Fighters, Earth Wind and Fire, James Taylor and Marc Anthony. Marc Anthony will sing the national anthem.

That does it for me in this hour. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer from the site of a Democratic National Convention Charlotte, North Carolina.

The news continues next, on CNN.