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CONNECT THE WORLD

Republicans See Little Bounce From Convention; Victoria Azarenka Reaches U.S. Open Semis, Retains World Number One

Aired September 4, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MONITA RAJPAL, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, the desperate race to save an innocent little girl.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Quick. Quick.

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Go to the hospital, he says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: The story of one family caught up in Syria's horror.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

RAJPAL: As the new UN envoy to Syria gets ready to address the general assembly, a CNN exclusive report inside Aleppo highlights the need for urgent action.

Also tonight, news this hour of Mitt Romney fails to seal a convincing lead after his party's convention, that's according to a CNN poll.

And a winning streak like no other, the Paralympian who has just won her, get this, her 468th match in a row.

They have no home and little hope, forced to flee their towns and villages just to keep their loved ones alive. Last month alone, more than 100,000 Syrians crossed their country's borders, almost doubling the number who have fled in fear since the violence began.

For those left behind, their desperate plight was top of the agenda as the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross met with Syria's president. Peter Maurer appealed directly to Bashar al-Assad for better access to the sick and wounded.

Well, the Red Cross described the meeting as positive. But what many Syrians need is help, not words. In just a moment we're going to show you an exclusive report that contains some shocking images which you could find disturbing and you may want to turn away. It shows the frenzied, frantic efforts to save the life of a little girl, yet another innocent victim of a civil war that has already claimed the lives of so many just like her.

Here's CNN's Nick Paton-Walsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On Aleppo's streets, a truck races through traffic. We follow them, because we've seen a man leap inside carrying a limp little girl in his arms. But, perhaps because our car is new, he now rushes towards us for help.

Renault is full.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Quick, quick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

PATON-WALSH: "Go to the hospital," he says, "guys, she's choking."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happened.

PATON-WALSH: "She was on the balcony at home when a bullet struck from nowhere," he explains. She's struggling to breathe. A bullet has hit her cheek.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, here, here, here. Here, here.

PATON-WALSH: At the hospital, the doctors move to clear her airway. They think she'll live. But this under equipped rebel hospital can't treat her fully.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

PATON-WALSH: So they make a tough decision, to send her across the front lines to a better equipped government hospital where we can't go.

This is where the bullet entered her home. Across the street is a cemetery and tall buildings, all inside rebel territory. But snipers work everywhere. This wall has left no one safe.

The grandmother saw it all.

"She was in her mother's lap when it entered here. We saw blood. Then she grimaced, screamed for mother, and then went silent," she says.

Given the trajectory of the bullet, it's likely it was fired from the other side of the cemetery from one of those tall buildings over there. It's unlikely the gunman would have seen his target. But it is an example of what many say here is the horror visited upon normal civilians every day.

The children know what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

PATON-WALSH: They find the knocked out tooth, but not the bullet that hit Rena (ph).

They to go visit her, believing the worst is behind them. It is hard to understand why a sniper would fire into a residential home unless to terrify civilians in rebel areas.

Yet the next morning we learned she was taken to two government hospitals. None of the doctors were able to remove the bullet, relatives tell us, which was stuck in her throat. Rena (ph) died. Her body brought home and buried in the cemetery that sat between where the gunman probably fired from and her home.

Nick Paton-Walsh, CNN, Aleppo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: Well, tomorrow, Nick will once again report from inside Aleppo on the randomness of government shelling on civilian areas and how innocent men, women and children are being killed and injured.

Well, it is a desperate situation inside Syria, but outside the country the international community remains deadlocked over just how to solve it, forging a lasting peace proved too hard for former UN secretary- general Kofi Annan. Now that task falls to Algerian diplomat Lakhtar Brahimi. The United Nation's new special envoy to Syria will address the general assembly later this hour.

CNN's Richard Roth joins us now from there with more on that -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Monita, the UN general assembly is filing in now to the hall to listen to the secretary-general of the UN, the president of the general assembly and Lakhtar Brahimi, the experienced Algerian diplomat who even himself concedes, just like Kofi Annan, it's mission impossible for trying to solve this Syrian crisis. Brahimi used to work for Annan and certainly has been briefed by him on the road ahead.

He's not going to make very lengthy remarks. Brahimi, who has been inside the security council hall last week to listen to the dramatic humanitarian stark picture, thousands of refugees flowing over borders, the UN saying 2.5 million people are still affected during this crisis.

Brahimi will be heading to Cairo and probably Damascus within the week. At this security council meeting you see Brahimi sitting behind the council president as the session ends.

Following this meeting last week, some very dramatic words also from the security council president. The president was the ambassador from France.

Brahimi is stressing that he needs unity among the council members. Well, there have been multiple vetoes since that -- the crisis has broken out, and the French ambassador says is just like a Cold War situation. And the impossible even on humanitarian grounds for the council powers to agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERARD ARAUD, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Even on humanitarian issues, it was impossible to get an outcome the members of the council, really it was impossible to find a common ground. But we hope that with the limitations of the council, of the strong limitations of the council, we hope that at least to have really tried to mobilize the international community about the situation in -- the humanitarian situation in Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROTH: Secretary-General Ban and others today again saying very worried, increasingly concerned about the refugee, humanitarian deteriorating situation. Brahimi is described as in listening mode, that he has a toolbox ready to use for diplomatic maneuvering, but that's going to have to be a pretty inventive box I think, Monita, to bring any change on the diplomatic front on the Syrian situation -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Yeah, pretty inventive indeed.

Richard, thank you for that. Richard Roth there at the UN.

Well, my next guest believes that Lakhtar Brahimi is by far the best man for the job. Oliver Miles is a former British ambassador to Libya and he joins us tonight from the English city of Oxford.

Mr. Miles, thank you very much for being with us.

Kofi Annan called it a mission impossible. Lakhtar Brahimi has been saying it's nearly impossible. So what kind of a job does Mr. Brahimi have ahead of him?

OLIVER MILES, FRM. BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO LIBYA: It's going to be a long one, I think. What he's got to do is to -- he's described himself as standing in front of a wall, a brick wall. He says he can't see any cracks in it. He's got to look for those cracks or he's got to find a way around it. It's going to take a long time.

RAJPAL: Is the solution more of a long-term goal as opposed to something that we're looking for immediately?

MILES: Absolutely, yes. At the moment, you've got a situation where there are various parties in Syria, in the government and other various elements in what you can call the rebels who are fighting and they're not going to stop. And there's no way of making them stop. Nobody from outside can force them to stop. They will stop in time. And somebody has got to look for a way of persuading them that that time has come.

RAJPAL: Some are saying, as we just heard there from Richard Roth, some are saying that he needs to have an inventive solution, or inventive tools within that box of magic tricks that he hopefully will have with him. But what -- how inventive could Mr. Brahimi be in a situation like this?

MILES: Well, as I said, if the Syrian parties to the -- this battle continue to fight and want to continue to fight, there's no way that Brahimi or anybody else is going to be able to stop them. In the end, they will stop because they will see that they have to reach some kind of settlement or they're not going to all drown in each other's blood.

Now, there are some signs already that that might be happening. There have been some very, very small signs from the Syrian government side and from the rebel side that they're beginning to realize that they can't achieve a quick military victory and they may have to look for a political solution instead. And that's where he comes in.

RAJPAL: There are roadblocks obviously within Syria in itself to any sort of solution, but also roadblocks outside of Syria. Let's talk about the kind of, I guess the hindrance within the UN security council when we're talking about the sides that have been taken. There is Russia and China on one side, and then the western countries on the other side. How much of a hindrance has that been and will continue to be?

MILES: It's an important hindrance. I think Kofi Annan was quite right when he said, rather criticizing all the members of the security council that they'd gone in for finger pointing and blaming each other rather than trying to work together.

What they should be trying to do is to try to defuse the crisis, try to persuade their friends in the crisis, whether it's the government side or the other side to draw back, to exercise restraint, try to deny them weapons.

But instead, I'm afraid we've had something like a cold war situation where the western powers and the Russian and Chinese have more or less gone for each other rather than going for a solution.

RAJPAL: What about the fact that he's been a career diplomat, and Algerian career diplomat. What kind of a unique role does that place him in?

MILES: Well, he's not just an Algerian career diplomat, he's a very experienced UN and international operator as well, specifically he was the man responsible more, I think, than anyone else for bringing to an end the Lebanon civil war, which let's remind ourselves, that civil war ran on for 15 years and nobody could find a solution to it. And in the end it was solved and it was solved more than anyone else, I think who gets the credit is Lakhtar Brahimi.

He's also worked in a lot of other high level crisis situations in Haiti and Afghanistan and Iraq. If anyone can do it, he can do it. But as he said himself, he's in front of a brick wall at the moment.

RAJPAL: All right. Oliver Miles, former British ambassador to Libya, thank you so much for your time, sir, we appreciate that.

You're watching Connect the World live from London. Our top story tonight, as the fighting intensifies inside Syria, a record number of refugees are fleeing for their lives. The new UN envoy to Syria is due to speak to the general assembly soon. Of course, we're bring you that feed live from New York when it happens.

But still to come, as U.S. first lady Michelle Obama prepares for her prime time speech at the Democratic National Convention, a new poll on the U.S. presidential race has some interesting numbers.

A diplomatic dance in Europe as leaders who crisis talks before Thursday's all important meeting. We'll have more on who is talking and what they're saying.

Plus, the U.S. captain names the final four players that will tee off at the Ryder Cup later this month. Find out who is in and who is out. All that and much more when Connect the World continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World. Welcome back. I'm Monita Rajpal.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is getting set to speak at the Democratic National Convention where, no doubt, she will address some of the issues voters are thinking about as expressed in a just released CNN poll. CNN's Isha Sesay joins us now live from the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina with more on that. Hello there, Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's not helping...

RAJPAL: All right, we will try to reestablish communications there with Isha. And we'll connect back with her momentarily.

First, let's bring you up to date on some of the other headlines we're following here on Connect the World, at least 25 people have been killed and 50 injured in a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan. The blast occurred during the funeral of a local elder and the district chief of Dur Baba (ph) was among the wounded. Dur Baba (ph) is in Nangahar Province bordering Pakistan. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Moroccan state media are reporting 42 people killed after a bus plunged into a ravine in the southern part of the country. Authorities are trying to identified the bodies. At least 24 people were injured and taken to emergency rooms in Marrakech. It is unclear what caused the accident.

Well, adding insult to injury in Europe, Moodys rating agency warned that the EuroZone is at risk of losing its AAA credit rating. It revised the EU's outlook to negative from stable due to its ongoing debt problems. Meanwhile, leaders are holding last minute talks ahead of the European Central Bank's crucial meeting on Thursday.

The European council president Herman Van Rompuy stopped in Berlin to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel. And in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monte and French President Francois Hollande discussed new measures aimed at safeguarding the single currency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Our will is to put together the pact of growth as fast as possible so the funds of 120 billion euros can be mobilized everywhere and the projects that are needed for growth and employment.

We have to make sure that Europe is regarded as a stable zone where the confidence can return.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Well, that's the look of the economy in Europe. And of course economy being issue number one in this presidential election in the United States.

Isha Sesay joins us now live again from the Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

And there's some interesting numbers that have just been released in a CNN poll there, Isha.

SESAY: Hi there, Monita. Yes, apologies for that technical problem a short time ago. You know, the big question we were waiting to have answered after the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida was would that convention change the way the American public viewed Mitt Romney and by extension give him a boost in this electoral race. Well, according to new CNN/ORC poll, the answer is not really.

The Republican Convention had, at best, a mild affect on this race. And when you look at the statistics, no affect at all.

I want to break down the main question that a lot of people are closely looking at, at this hour. Just before the convention, Romney was the choice of 47 percent of likely voters. That was a virtual tie with the president on 49 percent. And no post convention, Romney wins 48 percent, a gain, or a bounce as it's called, of 1 percentage point. And that basically turns this race into a virtual tie.

It is important to note, Monita, that this bounce, or this number is pretty common, it's pretty normal for the modern political era.

Also questions asked of likely voters about the economy and who would handle the economy better. No change, really, for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama post convention among likely voters when they asked them that question.

And the slight change as we saw in those numbers was within the margin of era. We're going to bring those numbers to our viewers a short time from now with Paul Steinhauser to break them down further, get some analysis, and try and understand what's going on here and see if there's been any reaction from the Romney camp, Monita.

RAJPAL: It'll be interesting to see what kind of a bounce Barack Obama will get after this convention this week.

Isha, we'll check in with you a little bit later on here on Connect the World.

We're taking a short break right now, but when we come back, this veteran American golfer makes yet another Ryder Cup team. We'll unveil them all after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: Well, the teams are now set for golf's Ryder Cup, the biannual battle between Europe and the United States. On Tuesday, the USA captain named his four wild card picks for the competition which begins later this month.

Let's bring in our Patrick Snell at CNN Center to unveil the newest members of Team USA -- Patrick.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORREPSONDENT: Hi there, Monita. Yes, interesting stuff from Davis Love III, the U.S. skipper.

Let me run through his picks starting off with the very experienced campaign, a Jim Furyk, the '03 U.S. Open champion gets a nod. He's going to be playing in his eighth Ryder Cup. So Jim Furyk will be very pleasantly surprised with that. He's a current world number 30. You may recall he almost won this year's U.S. Open at San Francisco. So Furyk certainly has the game and can never be underestimated.

Stevie Stricker, this is going to be his third Ryder Cup for the U.S. Winner already this year in Hawaii very early on this year. Tied for seventh at the PGA Championship recently.

Dustin Johnson, the big hitting powerful striker of the ball off the tee, especially, second Ryder Cup. He won in Memphis. Tied for ninth at the British Open at Royal St. Annes.

And then a rookie thrown in there, Brandt Snedeker. Basically, a good prospect, a guy who did so well, as well, at the British Open. He was tied for third there. And he won at Torrey Pines in California earlier in the season.

So, plenty of interesting talking points. The U.S. skipper David Love III saying, look, I'm confident. I believe in my team. And I believe that this is a good nucleus of players moving forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LOVE III, RYDER CUP CAPTAIN: Building a team and camaraderie are what the Ryder Cup is all about. I think our team will tell you we pull together a lot better than people think we do and then the only thing we do is we try too hard because we're so together. We get in our own way a little bit and that's going to be our goal. We've talked about it a lot. Fred's talked about it a lot, about what he's done to have our guys loosen up, have fun and go play golf. And these guys know how to do it, we've just got to go do it for three days in Medina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNELL: And they're going to be a tough act to beat on home soil. Monita, remember what happened four years ago at Valhalla in Kentucky, the Americans coming on strongly beating the European team on that occasion -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Well, staying in the United States, let's talk a little bit about tennis. They've managed to play a little bit between the raindrops in New York. What's the latest from the U.S. Open.

SNELL: They have, yeah. Frustrations, pretty much, on and off all right through this Tuesday so far. It means a delay. You've got a backlog of play there at Flushing Meadows. But I can tell you the women's defending champion from Australia Sam Stosur is out. Disappointment to her, losing to the top seeded Victoria Azarenka who is through to the semis, by the way, at the U.S. Open for the first time. It was a close fought one 6-1, 4-6, 7-6. So it went to three sets before Stosur would be eliminated.

Azarenka maintaining her world number one spot as well as she's next going to play either the '06 champion from Russia, Maria Sharapova, or Marion Bartolli of France for a place in Saturday's final. You can see she's rather delighted with her progress there.

Also a little later on -- much later on probably -- this Tuesday, it could be Andy Roddick's last ever professional match. I say could be, it all depends on the result against the former champion Juan Martin del Potro from Argentina, the '09 champ. Roddick, of course, if he wins. He stays alive. His career stays alive. But at the age of 30 now, Roddick has confirmed he's calling it quits and this will be his last ever pro tournament.

And talk about huge popularity, the fans really getting behind their American idol, if you like. And Roddick smiling. He's been smiling all week. We'll be smiling later Tuesday into Wednesday, we shall see. Monita, back to you.

RAJPAL: I'm wondering if they're smiles of relief at some point that a decision has been made.

Patrick, thank you very much for that, of course. Patrick will be up there with more on the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cup in about an hour on World Sport.

Well, still to come here on Connect the World, the Obama camp is hoping he'll get a bounce from the Democratic National Convention. Well, the numbers are just in from the Republican Convention. We'll bring them to you.

Plus, the wheelchair tennis star with a remarkable nine year winning streak. We speak to Esther Vergeer later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

The United Nations and Arab League's new special envoy to Syria is soon to address the UN's General Assembly. Algerian diplomat Lakhtar Brahimi was appointed to the role last month following the resignation of Kofi Annan.

A record number of Syrians have fled the fighting. More than 100,000 refugees crossed the country's borders in August, almost doubling the number of Syrians seeking shelter in neighboring countries.

A suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan has killed at least 25 people and wounded 50 more. The blast occurred during the funeral of a local elder. A district chief was among the wounded. No one has claimed responsibility.

A fresh perspective on the US presidential race. A new CNN/ORC poll says Mitt Romney only got a slight bounce after the Republican National Convention last week. The one percent boost puts him in a dead heat with President Barack Obama, both pulling 48 percent of the voters.

Well, let's break down the numbers in that poll -- in that new poll. Isha Sesay joins us again live from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Monita. Yes, thank you. And I'm pleased to say I'm joined by Paul Steinhauser, CNN's Political Editor, to take a closer look at this CNN/ORC poll. Always good to have you with us, Paul.

I want to start with the main talking point out of all of this, this issue of the bounce or the lack thereof that Romney got after their convention. Give me some perspective on the numbers.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, let's take a look at them right away. And remember, our poll, CNN/ORC National Poll, was conducted Friday through Monday, through yesterday, entirely after the Republican Convention.

Take a look at the numbers among likely voters. It was 49 percent President Obama, 47 percent Mitt Romney last week before the convention started. Now it is an actual tie, 48 percent, 48 percent. Did Mitt Romney get a bounce? Not really, just one point, there, really is not a bounce.

But you know what? You look back over the last couple of cycles in the last 10, 12 years, there has not been much bounces. Those bounces of yesterday, of many years ago, really don't happen anymore.

SESAY: Why is that?

STEINHAUSER: There's so many reasons, including these conventions are now back-to-back and they're kind of just right on top of each other.

SESAY: All right. I want to move onto another question posed to likely voters. Did the Republican Convention change perceptions of Romney? Give us your take on those numbers as they came out.

STEINHAUSER: And this is maybe the more interesting number, because Republican officials told us last week they didn't the horse race numbers would change, but they wanted Mitt Romney's favorable rating among Americans to go up. Did it?

Our poll indicates it did go up a little bit. Back last week, Mitt Romney's favorable rating was 50 percent, his unfavorable was 46 percent. Now, it's 53 favorable, 43 unfavorable. So, he's a little more likeable, it seems, in the eyes or the minds of Americans. And I guess for the Romney campaign, they will say that's a victory.

SESAY: Yes, but it's such a -- again, within the margin of error --

STEINHAUSER: Exactly.

SESAY: -- when you look at those numbers. And the goal of the convention, one of them was to make him connect with American viewers. So, the fact that you get such a statistic -- statistician, to get the word out, would say paltry increase, was it really a failure?

STEINHAUSER: I think the Romney campaign would say no, it's not a failure. In fact, they will point to some numbers on leadership and on how he relates to women and middle class, and those numbers did see a bump. He still trails women and middle class to President Obama, but they're happy with it.

But one other number, I guess would say it is a failure, and that is, did the Republican Convention make people more or less likely to vote for Mitt Romney? 36 percent saying more likely, 46 percent saying less likely, and 13 percent said made no difference. That's not a great number for Mitt Romney.

SESAY: And just before I let you go, any official statements coming out of the Romney campaign since we got these numbers?

STEINHAUSER: Not yet. These numbers are so fresh, they probably haven't even seen them yet.

SESAY: They will. I'm sure they will. Paul, thank you for joining us.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you.

SESAY: Monita, some important perspective on this CNN/ORC poll. As Paul said, they are hot off the press. Back to you.

RAJPAL: All right. Isha, thank you very much for that. You talked about connecting. At these conventions, the role of the conventions is to connect with the electorate, and a lot of the time that falls on the shoulders of the first lady.

And the first lady Michelle Obama headlines a list of tonight's speakers at the Democratic Party National Convention, and she'll take on the same roll played by Ann Romney at the Republican Convention last week, seeking to humanize her husband. Here's a reminder of part of her speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: It's true that Mitt's been successful at each new challenge he's taken on. You know what? It actually amazes me to see his history of success being attacked. Are those really the values that made our country great?

CROWD: No!

ROMNEY: I can only stand here tonight as a wife and a mother and a grandmother, an American, and make you this solemn commitment. This man will not fail.

(CROWD CHEERS)

ROMNEY: We're the mothers. We're the wives. We're the grandmothers. We're the big sisters. We're the little sisters, and we are the daughters. You know it's true, don't you?

(CROWD CHEERS)

ROMNEY: I love you women!

(CROWD CHEERS)

ROMNEY: I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a storybook marriage. Well, let me tell you something. In the storybooks I read, there never were long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: And those storybooks never seem to have chapters called "MS" or "Breast Cancer." A storybook marriage? No. Not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: Ann Romney, there, speaking at the Republican National Convention last week, and of course, Michelle Obama will be taking the stage a little bit later on tonight or today in the -- in Charlotte, North Carolina.

So, the question is, what's the life of a political life -- political wife really like, and how do the two candidates' wives each see their roles? I'm now joined by "Newsweek's" senior writer Allison Samuels, author of "What Would Michelle Do?" and Anita McBride, former chief-of- staff to first lady Laura Bush.

I'm going to start with you, Anita, thank you very much, again, for being with us. We heard there in Ann Romney's speech, she talked a lot about -- she used the words "mothers," "wives," "sisters," "grandmothers."

In fact, at the inauguration speech for Barack Obama last -- in 2008, we heard Michelle Obama use the same kind of terms of "wife," "mother," the roles that they play. What is it about the role of a devoted mother and wife that appeals to the American electorate?

ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO LAURA BUSH: Well, I think it is such a unique vantage point, of course, for the first lady, which will be Mrs. Obama tonight, making this speech.

And then, of course, for Mrs. Romney last week, it's a unique vantage point to talk about this very personal side of life together with the person who's running for the most important position in the land if not the world. So, they -- they really have an opportunity to share with us from their unique vantage point, really, the character of the person.

And it is hard when this is the person you love most in the world, and you know there's a lot of criticism for them out there. You have to persevere, and you have to be positive and connect with people all across the country and let them see this person from -- through your eyes.

RAJPAL: Allison, some have described the Michelle Obama that we see on the campaign trail as a highly-edited version of this Harvard-educated lawyer. How different is the Michelle Obama we see today from the one we saw just prior to the 2008 election?

ALLISON SAMUELS, SENIOR WRITER, "NEWSWEEK": I think Michelle Obama today, she pulls back a little bit. She holds back a little bit, and I think that is intentional. I think she wanted to make sure that she did not overshadow in any way or distract from her husband's presidency, and I think that was probably a smart move on her part.

Many people will tell you, she's smarter than he is in many ways. And that's something that she had to sort of make sure that that didn't, again, become the topic. That didn't need to become the conversation. And she's savvy enough to have been able to do that without it looking forced.

She looks still very natural, very genuine on camera. She's been able to really become, I guess, a great supporter of him without, again, becoming a distraction. And that's something, I think, that took a lot of savvy and smarts on her part to do.

RAJPAL: How could -- how much could she contribute to this potential bounce that Barack Obama could see after this week's convention?

SAMUELS: I think she has a great chance of getting people revved up again. She is such a personable person. She's so genuine, she's so sincere when she's on stage, when she's talking to people. All of that comes through, that authentic love that she has for him, the passion that she has for him and her family.

And I think that will resonate with people. She'll be able to say, look, I have this passion, I believe in my husband. You should believe in him as well. And even though he's had four years, he needs for more to compete what he started.

RAJPAL: Anita, how -- how would Ann Romney appeal to the female electorate through -- who are looking for a strong role model? Remember, it is the female electorate that Barack Obama really connects with.

MCBRIDE: Well, first, I want to comment to something Allison just said. I absolutely agree on Mrs. Obama. Any of the unease or missteps from 2008 are gone. She has had a solid platform as a first lady. She's quite comfortable in the role.

As far as Mrs. Romney, she has to tell the American people a lot more about herself. And I think if you listen very carefully, there's this -- quite a list of challenges that she has faced in her life, too, and a life that they built together. The health challenges are something, raising a big family and raising them mostly alone without help. That's a strong example as well.

And remember what she said when, back in April, when she was criticized for not having had a quote-unquote "real job," she did remind people, this is about women making choices. This was her choice and also it was hard work. So, I think she has to try and paint her life and have people try and connect with that.

RAJPAL: And what do you think about this? Is the American public voting for the individual? And right now in America, it is a man? Or are they voting for the couple?

MCBRIDE: That is such a great question, and actually gives an opportunity to really remind people this role of first lady is an unofficial role. It has no position description and has no salary. It's what you make it.

More and more, we expect a lot out of the first ladies, and we do get it. But we don't elect them, and that is really important for us to remember.

RAJPAL: Allison, your thoughts on that?

SAMUELS: Well, I agree with that. But I also wanted to add, what I like about what Michelle will probably have to say today -- Ann Romney, obviously a mother of five boys, great role model. But Michelle has a different reality, which is she had to go back to work after each child.

And I think -- so you'll hear a different -- because she needed the money. The family needed the money. So, that becomes a different narrative that she will tell that I think will resonate with a different group of women and a different group of people.

So, I love that you have the stories of these two women that are very different. Both women, both very real stories, very relatable stories. But I think Michelle's story tonight will be slightly different, and it'll be interesting to see how the audience responds.

RAJPAL: All right, Allison Samuels and Anita McBride, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it.

Well, CNN has extensive coverage and expert analysis for you from the Democratic National Convention. We'll be back live in Charlotte, North Carolina in around 20 minutes for the official opening of the convention.

That's 10:00 PM here in London, 11:00 PM in Berlin, as Wolf Blitzer hosts "The Situation Room." All of it part of our America's Choice coverage of the 2012 US presidential election.

Still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, she has overcome race and gender boundaries to get to the top. We introduce you to this month's Leading Woman after the break.

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RAJPAL: Welcome back. It's time now for CNN's Leading Women series, and tonight Felicia Taylor introduces us to the top doc at the world's largest drug company.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A giant. An industry leader. A behemoth. All superlatives that can be used to describe Pfizer, the world's largest drug company. Maker of Viagra and Lipitor, the best-selling drug of all time.

It's at Pfizer headquarters in New York that we find an executive who also seems larger than life.

FREDA LEWIS-HALL, DOCTOR, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, PFIZER: Becky, what's happening darling? Here you go.

TAYLOR: Though with a softer side.

LEWIS-HALL: All right, come on in. Let's rock and roll.

TAYLOR: Whether it's discussing a website redesign --

LEWIS-HALL: So, I'm really excited about the prospect of this. People will come in, they'll search.

TAYLOR: -- a clinical trial --

LEWIS-HALL: People who participate in clinical trial so often say the reason that they're doing is to help.

TAYLOR: -- or her schedule.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then from DC, you head out to LA.

LEWIS-HALL: So, I'm on the road quite a bit, which is, for Pfizer, almost every country that has a flag and a seat at the UN.

TAYLOR: Such is the life of Pfizer's executive vice president and chief medical officer, where she leads the company's medical and regulatory policy and patient safety around the world, a position she's held since 2009.

The top doc at Pfizer is Freda Lewis-Hall.

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall is not an overly guarded executive. She laughs easily.

(LAUGHTER)

TAYLOR: She's forthcoming.

LEWIS-HALL: Never take a job you already know how to do.

TAYLOR: A confessed geek who studied brain biology and psychiatry.

TAYLOR (on camera): You don't seem to have airs or walls around you at all, but yet you handle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business. How do you balance that?

LEWIS-HALL: I learned in medical school the words for it: equanimity under duress. Which is the calm to make the right decisions and the confidence to inspire other people to get things done.

TAYLOR (voice-over): Awareness of tough times came early for Lewis- Hall. It's also what led her to medicine.

LEWIS-HALL: I've wanted to be a doctor since I was six years old. I had an uncle who lived with us who was a paraplegic as a result of being stricken by polio, and just watching the medical care that he received and the people that gave it inspired me, and I knew right away that was what I wanted to do.

TAYLOR: And she hasn't looked back, defying race, gender, humble beginnings, and naysayers along the way.

TAYLOR (on camera): Chief medical officer --

LEWIS-HALL: Chief medical officer --

TAYLOR: -- of Pfizer.

LEWIS-HALL: -- of Pfizer. Chief medical officer of Pfizer. It's a great job. I have to say, it is an amazing job with a wonderful company.

TAYLOR: A huge responsibility.

LEWIS-HALL: Part of my responsibility is the safe, the effective, and appropriate use of our products from the first time they touch someone in a clinical trial to the last time someone touches one of our medicines anywhere in the world.

TAYLOR (voice-over): A lofty goal, but not always easy for the industry to do. Pfizer, like some of its competitors, has taken some hits over the years. Drug recalls, even a lawsuit, accusing the company of delaying a less-expensive generic version of its blockbuster cholesterol drug, Lipitor, from entering the market, claims Pfizer vehemently denies and is vowing a vigorous defense.

TAYLOR (on camera): Let's go to Lipitor, which was -- obviously, enormous.

LEWIS-HALL: Yes.

TAYLOR: Enormous drug. Now, it has to go into generic form. What does that mean to a company. Obviously, a tremendous reduction in profit.

LEWIS-HALL: Yes. We support generics. In fact, we make generics, and we understand that, at a point, the patent will expire, it will become generic and, hopefully, we will have brought new innovative medicine into the hands of patients.

TAYLOR: In a male-dominated industry, what's it like to be the chief medical officer? You must have men around you that probably question your authority. That's not easy.

LEWIS-HALL: I actually feel empowered as a woman in this position, and I as a woman feel like I have some very special attributes to bring to the table.

TAYLOR: In the coming weeks, find out more about Lewis-Hall, how visits to the science museum with her father influenced her career.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJPAL: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, just hours ago, she won her 458th match in a row, and her winning streak seems unbreakable. CNN speaks to wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJPAL: The new UN envoy to Syria, Lakhtar Brahimi, has just given a speech to the UN General Assembly. Here's a look at what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, UN-ARAB LEAGUE ENVOY TO SYRIA: It has been deteriorating steadily. The death toll is staggering. The destruction is reaching catastrophic proportions. And the suffering of the people is immense.

Mr. President, I am looking forward to my visit to Damascus in a few days' time, and also, when convenient and possible, to all the countries who are in a position to help the Syrian-led political process become a reality, leading to a transition that respects the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: That was the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhtar Brahimi, addressing the UN General Assembly just moments ago, speaking there in New York. He has called his mission nearly impossible, but of course, we of course will wait to see what he has up his sleeve in order to try and solve this almost 18-month civil war in Syria.

In tonight's Parting Shots, London was the stage for the star-studded premier of "Anna Karenina." CNN caught up with the film's leading lady, Keira Knightley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, ACTRESS: We were all struggling with whether we liked her or not. I think as much as she's the heroine of the piece, she is also the anti-heroine. And that was incredibly exciting, to try and balance that out and to try and create a character who is sympathetic, but who is also somebody who is culpable, who is guilty, who is incredibly manipulative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJPAL: I'm Monita Rajpal and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching. "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer is next right after this short break.

END