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THE SITUATION ROOM
Weather Forces Obama Speech Indoors; Democratic National Convention; Awkward Moment at the DNC; Interview with Former Governors Bill Richardson and John Sununu; Mitt Romney Speaks Out
Aired September 5, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It's looks like they're about to begin, this second day of the Democratic National Convention. You see the lights going down. Let's get a little flavor. Let's listen in.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, the chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES MAYOR: The second session of the 46th quadrennial national convention of the Democratic Party will now come to order.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
VILLARAIGOSA: I asked you last night if there was enthusiasm in the hall, and I can't hear you. Do that again.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
VILLARAIGOSA: Welcome delegates, alternates, standing committee, members, special guests, and other friends, members of the news media, guests from around the world, and our fellow Americans to our deliberations. The chair recognizes the delegate from Ohio, the chair of the platform drafting committee, former governor, Ted Strickland.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TED STRICKLAND, FMR. OHIO GOVERNOR: Mr. Chairman, I move that we suspend the rules to permit and amendment to the platform adopted by this convention last night.
VILLARAIGOSA: Governor Strickland has made a motion on the floor to suspend the rules. Is there a second? A motion to suspend the rules to permit the amendment to the platform has been moved and seconded. This is a non-debatable motion requiring a two-thirds vote. All those in favor suspending the rules say aye.
All those oppose say no. In the opinion of the chair, there's been a two-thirds affirmative vote to suspend the rules. Governor, would you like to make your motion?
STRICKLAND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This summer, I was proud to serve this party as the platform drafting committee chair. As the chair, I come before you today to discuss two important matters related to our party's national platform. As an ordained united Methodist minister, I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we've expressed in our party's platform.
In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and our party's platform should as well. Mr. Chairman, I have submitted my amendment in writing. And I believe it is being projected on the screen for the delegates to see. I move adoption of the amendment as submitted and shown to the delegates.
VILLARAIGOSA: A motion has been made. Is there a second? Is there any further discussion? Hearing none, the matter requires a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. All those delegates in favor say aye.
VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed say no. And the opinion of the -- let me do that again. All of those delegates in favor say aye.
VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed say no.
VILLARAIGOSA: I guess -- I'll do that one more time. All those delegates in favor say aye.
VILLARAIGOSA: All those delegates opposed say no.
VILLARAIGOSA: In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted and the platform has been amended as shown on the screen. Thank you very much. Thank you.
And Governor Strickland, thank you again for your service. Governor Strickland, thank you again for your service as chair of the platform drafting committee. Now, everyone, please rise for the invocation offered by Bishop Vashti McKenzie.
VASHTI MCKENZIE, BISHOP: This would be the time that you would take the hand of someone who is close to you. Let us bow our heads and close our eyes and center our thoughts on God. Merciful God who has been our dwelling place for many generations, we invoke your presence to ask you to quicken our hearts that we may be swift to hear the needs of others. Oh, God, let us not be weary in well-doing as we confront the ancient enemies again in justice, poverty, apathy, racism, and sexism, and an evil violence that stains the tapestry of the 21st century with the blood of the innocent and unsuspecting. Remind us again of the brave dreams that were born in the heart of our ancestors, the dreams they were willing to live and die for.
Grant us courage to continue to flesh out their dreams and grant us the wisdom to reshape the strategy for this present age. Empower us to work to save our children, because if we do not, no one else will. Guide us to make the sunset years of our seniors a season of dignity, without them having to choose between shelter, sustenance, and prescription drugs.
Do not allow women to be enslaved by prehistoric ideas about biological function. If we fall, help us to rise again and put within us a faith and a hope that cannot be quenched. Inspire all harassed souls of every race, nation, religion, and hue with the assurance that all the forces of good are moving them onto peace, health, and holiness.
Help us to use our freedom wisely and not to hide behind safe walls where it is so easy to be thankful around a table of blessing without reaching beyond ourselves to assail the walls of prejudice and fear. Lord, you know our work is not done. We have to improve life not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system, but those who don't.
Help us to rise above self-interests and selfish interests to seek a common good and a common future. Let us deliberate in such a way that closes the gap between policy and practice. Let us be determined to help move this nation forward not as a collection of interest groups but one nation under god indivisible.
Shine your light on us so that others can see that even though we are marred and broken vessels, you still use us as channels of your grace to bring mercy and joy and peace into the lives of all. Help us to use the tools of nation building. Our vote and our voice for our better future for all Americans and together we say amen.
MCKENZIE: Squeeze your neighbor's hand and say amen again.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for our colors presented by the West Charlotte High School junior ROTC color guard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forward march. Color guard hold.
ANNOUNCER: Delegates and guests, please welcome Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GABBY DOUGLAS, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DOUGLAS: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the national anthem performed by Branford Marsalis.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(CHANTING) USA! USA!
BLITZER: All right. So, day two of this Democratic National Convention has just reconvened with a rather dramatic development. You heard the chairman, the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, announced a change, two changes from yesterday's approved Democratic platform.
He asked for a voice vote, and it was ambiguous to put it mildly this auditorium here. The Time Warner Cable Arena is pretty much empty right now. But we're going to discuss what's going on because there are serious political ramifications as a result of what we just heard. Our coverage of day two of the Democratic convention will resume after this.
BLITZER: Let's go right to the floor. Jessica Yellin is standing by. She reported the news even before it was made that there would be amendments to the platform that have been approved yesterday when it comes to the issue of Jerusalem and "God."
Jessica, you just heard the former governor of Ohio, Gov. Strickland say that President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a flat statement like that, that will now be in the platform.
Also, they reinserted the word "God" in the platform. He asked for a voice vote, and it was ambiguous a few times. I think he had to ask for that voice vote three times before he said it was approved. But this is going to cause some angst out there, I suspect. What do you see? What's going on over there?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clear that they did not brief their delegates on what was going to happen before they made the announcement so that they had some yeses and some nos. But, there is a sense clearly that this was a self- inflicted wound that they could repair, they had time to repair. It's not inconsistent with the president's positions in the past to adopt the new language.
So, they just went ahead and made the change. One point I'd make is the God language is going back to 2008. So, it's now the same language in 2008. The Jerusalem language is going to be slightly different. As soon as I have that, Wolf, I will share it with you and our viewers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by. I want to go to Dana Bash. She's on the floor. What was it like on the floor when we heard those voice votes? Dana, you were there.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
BLITZER: Dana, hold on. Hold on a second. We're going to fix your -- we've got some technical problems with your feed that's coming in from the floor. Stand by. I want to get to you, but Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, John King, they're with me. John, this is not necessarily the way they wanted this to unfold. It was a little awkward out there.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing. Number one, the chairman of the convention, Mayor Villaraigosa, normally, you see in the House of Representatives, sometimes, they have a voice vote. And you know the nos have drown out the ayes, and the speaker just says (INAUDIBLE) and they move on. But here, it was supposed to be a two-thirds vote.
He announced that at the beginning. It took, what, three times. And even then, listening from up here, hard to say that was two- thirds, but he just decided enough was enough. Look, we still don't know the full story.
And they won't give us the full story about during the private meetings about this who decided to take that language out, the reference to God, which pretty casual reference to, you know, God given rights, and then the reference about Jerusalem as the capital, and also language about Israel being the United States strongest ally of the Middle East. It'd be interesting to see.
I haven't read the full amendment yet if that is back in there, especially the Israel language, knowing that Mitt Romney is trying to make this into an issue, trying to appeal, especially in the battleground state of Florida where a couple of thousand votes could make the difference. Why would they do that?
And then, they realized they had to fix it. After became an issue yesterday, normally, you count your ducks before -- if you're going to fix something in an open convention, you count your ducks first. That was embarrassing. BLITZER: Yes. That -- I mean, the acceptance speech in Tampa last week. As you well remember, Mitt Romney did say directly that President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus, and that was a very strong accusation.
I think we've repaired our connection with Dana. Dana, tell us what it was like. What did you hear on the floor when he asked for that two-thirds voice vote to be announced?
BASH: Well, at the beginning, it seemed pretty clear to me that the nos had it, that the two-thirds did not go through, and that is why they asked for it again. And then, at the end, when Mayor Villaraigosa still said that it was passed, you heard some boos. I'm not sure if you can hear it on the air, but you definitely heard some boos.
And that speaks to the reality inside the Democratic Party in particular, across the board, but inside the Democratic Party in particular. Even among the Jewish community that there are many who think that it is the wrong thing to do to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, because it interferes too much with the peace process.
So, it is definitely not a unified position. However, I will tell you, you all were talking about the fact that we're not really sure what happened. Members of Congress, in particular, for whom this is a big issue, many of them, they were blindsided.
I just got an e-mail from a senior Democratic lawmaker who said that the big reason why they made this change is because the party got pummeled with complaints, particularly, from members of Congress saying what this is all about?
I saw many of them just after this broke yesterday on the floor here, and they had no idea that this happened. So, very, very interesting. But one other thing I would say is that they did put the two amendments up on the screen here. One, about reinstating the word "God" and the other on Israel. That just was about Jerusalem.
I did not see anything that reinstated the idea that Israel is the United States' closest ally in the Middle East. That does not seem to be back in the platform, but we're going to have to look at it more carefully, but it wasn't up on the screen here on the floor.
BLITZER: It raises the question if Governor Strickland, the former governor of Ohio, says that President Obama now recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, does that mean he will actually move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital Jerusalem? Obviously very, very sensitive subject.
All right. I want everybody to standby. We're watching what's going on here at the Democratic convention in Charlotte. Also, a dramatic announcement today. They've changed the venue of the president's acceptance speech tomorrow night. We'll explain what's going on as our coverage continues.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The new platform here at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte isn't the only change happening here at this convention. Organizers have also decided that tomorrow's acceptance speech by President Obama will have to move inside, scrapping plans to hold it in a huge football stadium, the Bank of America Stadium here in Charlotte.
CNNs Kate Bolduan is watching this story. You foreshadowed the story yesterday, Kate. But today, they made the announcement.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They made the announcement, and the Obama campaign says they are all very disappointed with the decision that they had to make, but it is official the big outdoor program Thursday has now been moved inside.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): After much speculation, the Obama campaign pulls the plug on the president's much-anticipated outdoor speech Thursday.
BEN LABOLT, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We're disappointed. We couldn't make it work, but ultimately, public safety trumps everything else.
BOLDUAN: A very different official line from 24 hours earlier.
LABOLT: We plan to proceed with the event rain or shine just like it was a panthers game. In the event of severe weather, of course, we'll make contingency arrangements.
BOLDUAN: The program is now moving from the open air Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena, but this isn't just a change of venue. This last-minute scramble means some 65,000 supporters with tickets to Bank of America Stadium now can't get in, because Time Warner Cable Arena holds a fraction of the seats.
One of those out of luck, Zach Israel, who flew in from New Jersey only to hear the president.
ZACH ISRAEL, OBAMA SUPPORTER: The beast came out from all over the country, maybe even the world just to see him, and now, a lot of disappointed people.
BOLDUAN: Obama campaign officials blame severe weather in the forecast, though, CNN's forecast shows they may be in the clear.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: In my opinion, the forecast hasn't changed. Sure, there'll be showers. There are showers every afternoon. Four o'clock, there's a lot of showers, but by nightfall, those showers will be going away.
BOLDUAN: Republicans wasted no time blaming the move not on the weather but on concerns by the campaign they couldn't fill the seats.
WAYNE KING, VICE CHMN., M.C. REPUBLICAN PARTY: People have taken of work spent time, spent money, actually money they probably didn't have to be here and chose to cut and run and go behind into some very small venue.
BOLDUAN: Not true says senior Obama campaign adviser, Robert Gibbs.
ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISER: The Republicans can (INAUDIBLE), but I think the republicans most of all know what -- how weather effects the convention.
BOLDUAN (on-camera): Robert Gibbs right there, of course, alluding to the fact that Republicans had to change the schedule to their convention due to hurricane Isaac, the threat of hurricane Isaac coming their way. And Wolf, Democratic officials said that the program, while moving inside, it would remain the same.
But I'll tell you, there's at least one change that we have heard about. A representative for Earth, Wind and Fire, the very popular band, one of your favorites, tells CNN entertainment that they have been canceled. Their Thursday performance has been canceled because of the change of venue.
BLITZER: They wanted to perform outside as opposed to inside?
BOLDUAN: We're not entirely sure of the actual reason. It may have to do with the size of the stage. It may be much larger in the outdoor venue and maybe smaller on the indoor venue. Regardless, Earth, Wind and Fire is going to have to be on tape.
BLITZER: I'm so sad.
BOLDUAN: I can tell.
BLITZER: Oh, wait, wait.
BOLDUAN: I'm not saying they're going to be on tape, but if we want to hear Earth, Wind and Fire --
BLITZER: Oh, I see. I thought maybe they're going to have a videotape here. I love Earth, Wind and Fire.
BOLDUAN: So, at least one change to the program.
BLITZER: Bad change.
BOLDUAN: Bad change.
BLITZER: All right. Next time.
BLITZER: Thank you. So, can Bill Clinton come through tonight for the Democrats? Paul Begala has written some of Bill Clinton's biggest speeches over the years, and he's among our guests and he's standing by live.
BLITZER: All right, day two of this Democratic National Convention here in Charlotte opened up on an awkward note. Let's discuss what's going on with our CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist Paul Begala is here. The former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer is here, John King, our chief national correspondent is here as well. Gentlemen, it involves Jerusalem and God.
BLITZER: Who would have thought that the words Jerusalem and God would cause an awkward moment at the Democratic Convention? Let me play the clip. This is the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, announcing a change in the platform based on the omission of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Yesterday in the platform it was approved and the omission of the word God in the platform yesterday. Here's what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A motion has been made. Is there a second? Is there any further discussion? Hearing none, the matter requires a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. All those delegates in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those delegates opposed say no.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the opinion of the -- let me do that again. All of those delegates in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those delegates opposed say no.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I -- I guess --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) and then you've got to let them do what they're going to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll do that one more time. All those delegates in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Aye!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those delegates oppose say no.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the opinion of the chair two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted and the platform has been amended as shown on the screen. Thank you very much. Thank you. Governor Strickland (ph) --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Paul Begala, I don't know about you, but to me it didn't sound like a two-thirds majority --
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It sounded like three- fourths --
BLITZER: I don't know what it sounded like.
BEGALA: Ninety-nine, 100 --
BLITZER: I guess maybe it sounded even if you will, but what do you think?
BEGALA: Beyond awkward. It's embarrassing. It's stupid. It's an unforced error by my party. They don't need them. You know, look, the chief justice of the United States made a mistake with the Oath of Office. Everybody makes mistakes, even the smartest people and the smartest enterprises --
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's got a lifetime appointment.
BEGALA: That's right, King. But you know I can't defend that. First off, people need to know. The Democratic Party is the (INAUDIBLE) party. President Obama is a strong (INAUDIBLE) record and we are a party of people of faith and we respect and include people who have no faith at all. But we are a people of faith and we are a party that is strongly pro-Israel. I'm glad now that they fixed this mistake and that my party's platform reflects that.
BLITZER: Let me let Ari weigh in because I know you've been watching this very closely.
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, I wish it were that simple, Paul. You know many Democratic leaders in Congress are pro-Israel. But the problem the Democratic Party has as a grassroots has a fundamental significantly large bloc that wants to be neutral between Israel and Palestinians. A Gallup poll came out early this year and said are your sympathies more with Israel or the Palestinians? The numbers were 78 percent of Republicans said Israel, only 53 percent, a bare majority of Democrats said Israel, 53. That's what you heard on the floor. You heard basically a 50/50 split over the symbolic statement that's been in every platform, even Jimmy Carter's going back in both parties for 30 years saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will --
FLEISCHER: Fifty percent of the grassroots of your party opposes Jerusalem being symbolically called the capital of Israel. That's what we heard here. That's what Gallup shows.
BEGALA: First off -- well, two things -- first off, on the two parties, there is a Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party that is not --
FLEISCHER: Small compared to yours, very small.
BEGALA: -- pro-Israel. They have honorable views. That's fine. They're not my views and they're not the mainstream Republicans views. It's true. Nor are the few extremists in my party who are there. But second, some of this is just mechanical. You have a whip operation. They should have had their people there. The only people who are here and I don't know whenever the vote was 5:00 --
BLITZER: Exactly --
FLEISCHER: It's philosophical. It's not mechanical --
BEGALA: It is not philosophical.
FLEISCHER: That's the grassroots problem the Democrats have --
BEGALA: Get over yourself.
FLEISCHER: That's what Gallop shows.
BEGALA: My party is strongly pro-Israel.
FLEISCHER: Your leadership in the Congress --
BLITZER: Let me let John King weigh in. How awkward was that for the mayor of Los Angeles and former governor of Ohio? That was pretty -- I don't remember something like -- normally that just goes through automatically.
KING: You don't need us to explain how awkward it was. You just played the tape. You could see the look in his eyes. You know he's not a Parliamentarian. He's a mayor. He's a chief executive and that was a (INAUDIBLE). He's trying to figure out how do I get out of this mess. And Governor Strickland (ph), though there's more fundamental questions for Governor Strickland (ph). He's the co-chairman of the Platform Committee.
Mayor Booker of Newark, New Jersey is the co-chairman of the Platform Committee. How did this happen? You take the platform from the last four years ago, you bring it in the room and you say do we keep this or do we change this? Somebody had to change it. You had to take the language out. It's not like it mysteriously disappeared.
(CROSSTALK) KING: We can't get straight answers on how that happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John --
KING: And then the campaign has a responsibility. Often the candidates have nothing to do with their platform. They are the most liberal activists in your party. The most conservative activists in your party write the platforms. And then the nominees always say I agree with most of it, not all of it. However, the Democrats made such a big deal of the Republican platform just a week ago, how could they not have been more careful to say are we walking into a buzz saw here.
BEGALA: That's a great point. The difference is the Republicans did not change their platform because they do want to outlaw a woman's right to choose even in cases of rape, even in cases of incest. Democrats are the pro -- a pro-Israel party and they want their platform to reflect that we believe --
BEGALA: We know where the two parties stand.
FLEISCHER: The reason they didn't change it and the reason they won't give you a straight answer is because I think the exercise here was to make the platform match the president's positions as clearly as possible. And your members just a month ago, Jay Carney, the press secretary at the White House got asked what is the capital of Israel, he hemmed. He hawed. He ducked. He dodged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
FLEISCHER: That's the problem --
KING: And Wolf knows this from covering the White House, the official policy of the government is that Jerusalem is the capital and every president for years has issued the executive order saying we're going to wait because this is the subject --
FLEISCHER: -- where the embassy is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
FLEISCHER: This is not a question of where the embassy is. This is the symbolic question, what's the name of the capital? And for many Jews that's a profoundly symbolic and important real issue.
BLITZER: But as you remember our --
FLEISCHER: That's where (INAUDIBLE) the platform.
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: We've got to wrap this up. But you remember during the Bush administration President Bush routinely signed that waiver --
BLITZER: -- saying that the embassy would not be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
FLEISCHER: Separate issue --
BLITZER: Hold on.
BLITZER: President Obama continued exactly what President Bush was doing.
FLEISCHER: It's a separate issue --
BLITZER: Why is that a separate issue?
FLEISCHER: Because it's not a question where America picks its embassy. The issue on the platform is what is the name of Israel's capital --
BLITZER: The way they handled the platform --
FLEISCHER: -- and they won't call it Jerusalem.
BLITZER: I'm just saying that --
FLEISCHER: But that's what we're talking about here.
BLITZER: -- the president -- President Obama has done exactly on Jerusalem what President Bush --
FLEISCHER: But you're changing the topic from --
BLITZER: -- President Reagan, President Nixon going way back they've all done exactly the same thing.
FLEISCHER: No. Not on the platform --
BLITZER: No -- I'm not talking about the platform --
BLITZER: I'm talking about their policy.
FLEISCHER: That's what was on the floor --
BLITZER: The actual policy of the eight years of the Bush administration was exactly the policy of these first nearly four years of the Obama administration. There's no change.
KING: I would still like to find out who on the campaign had the responsibility of watching the platform committee because I suspect they are now the deputy press secretary in Guam or something.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, good discussion. We're going to continue our coverage. This is day two, it's now officially underway. We're at the Democratic National Convention. Just ahead, Democrat Bill Richardson versus Republican John Sununu, two former governors, neither known for mincing words. They're going to take up this question, are Americans better off now than they were four years ago?
BLITZER: While Democrats gather here, Republicans are still hammering away on the theme of their own convention arguing that Americans are not -- repeat, not better off than they were four years ago. Let's debate the question, joining us two guests, Democrat Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and Republican John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor -- Governors, thanks very much for coming in. Give us briefly the case, I assume you believe the country is better off today than it was four years ago, do you?
BILL RICHARDSON (D), FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Clearly. I think the country is better off. We've got job-producing private sector jobs happening. We've got unemployment in many states being reduced. We've got a president who wants to bring everybody together under an economic plan. And lastly, I think what you're seeing right now is a coalition of Democrats recognizing the importance of coming together and reelecting the president to continue four years of positive job growth. The objective is going to be a balanced budget down the line, spending cuts. Revenues are going to have to be dealt with. Also we're going to have to deal with entitlement. And you're also going to see a president outline his plan for the next four years.
BLITZER: He says the country is better off than it was four years ago. Governor Sununu, I assume you disagree.
JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Governor O'Malley (ph) -- Governor O'Malley (ph) of Maryland was right when they asked him the first time and he said no. We have 8.3 percent unemployment, 23 million Americans out of work or underemployed. We have 60 -- just crossed the $16 trillion debt with the added $5.5 trillion that came from this administration. But most importantly 70 percent of America when they're polled say they are personally not better off.
BLITZER: You want to respond to that?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think this president inherited a bad economy, 800,000 jobs lost every month. And since then an economic push that has been positive 4.2 million private sector jobs created. There's job growth that is happening. I think if we had a little help from Republicans in the Congress, we would have a jobs plan. We would have a green energy plan. We'd have technology jobs. We'd have a stronger effort to reduce the debt.
BLITZER: I want to move on to Bill Clinton.
BLITZER: What's wrong with that --
BLITZER: What's wrong with that?
SUNUNU: Still in the negative on net jobs created and this will be the first president in modern history who never passed a budget nor got a single vote from his own party for one of his budgets, 414-0 in the House, 97-0 in the Senate. Talk about lack of leadership, you can't get one of your party to support your budget.
BLITZER: What would you like to hear the former President Bill Clinton say tonight to help the president get reelected?
RICHARDSON: Well, I think there's a lot of metaphors and symbolism. You've got President Clinton, the president who balanced the budget, who gave us the surplus, who created millions of new jobs, and then he left office and that surplus was gone. What I am hearing, what I want to see is basically a statement that says continue the legacy that I started in economic issues with President Obama. He can get it done. He's a president that cares about the average person. And I want to see him reelected.
BLITZER: He appeals to a lot of moderate Democrats, Independent voters. Bill Clinton is a very popular guy.
SUNUNU: He is, because of two things. One, he had the benefit of the budget rules that George Herbert Walker (ph) forced through and helped balance the budget. But number two, because Bill Clinton adopted welfare reform that required working there. And number three, I think it will be interesting that Bill Clinton famous for his line the era of big government is over is now giving a speech tonight for the president that has created the biggest government by far that this country has ever seen.
BLITZER: -- Bill Clinton. You were in his administration.
RICHARDSON: Well, look, when we were in office we had jobs. We had a proud international economic posture. We had a balanced budget. We had a Democrat that was pro-growth that was a centrist. And I think President Obama has been a centrist. But when you don't get help from the other side, and I love Governor Sununu, we're governors. We have to balance budgets. But when you don't get any help or support, zero votes -- BLITZER: All right.
RICHARDSON: -- and the other side wants to like make sure you're not reelected it's hard to get anything done.
SUNUNU: He can't get votes from his own party --
BLITZER: We're out of time, so we've got to leave it on that note. But you're both smiling, which makes me happy at this convention. Thanks to both of you for coming in. Our live coverage from the Democratic National Convention continues. Next, Mitt Romney, he talks about the first lady, Michelle Obama. You'll hear what he has to say.
BLITZER: Republican nominee Mitt Romney has been hunkered down in a friend's mansion in Vermont. He's focusing in on getting ready for the next big moment in the campaign. That would be his debates against President Obama. But he took a break today and he spoke about the Democrats' Convention here in Charlotte. Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta is with Governor Romney right now. What happened, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you just said, Mitt Romney has been laying low over the last couple of days in debate prep with Ohio Senator Rob Portman playing the role of Barack Obama. The GOP nominee did come out of seclusion just briefly today for a campaign stop in nearby New Hampshire and that was where he was asked about first lady Michelle Obama's speech last night at the Democratic Convention. And while Romney had kind words for Mrs. Obama, he did work in a dig at the Democrats, Democratic officials who have struggled over the last couple of days answering the question whether the country is better off versus four years ago. Here is what Romney had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Did you watch the first lady's speech last night?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't see her speech but I certainly respect the first lady and I think she's done a fine job as our first lady, lovely person, and I respect her.
ACOSTA: One of the things she said was (INAUDIBLE) success in America is we don't slam the door behind us once we achieve success. That was clearly a shot (INAUDIBLE). Do you take it that way?
ROMNEY: No, I didn't see that and I'm certainly not going to making any comments about the first lady's speech other than I respect her, think she's a lovely person, and a fine mom. I do think that having looked at the text of the first day of the convention that it's interesting that a couple of things can't be said. One is you heard no one stand up and say that people are better off today than they were four years ago. They really can't say that. We can't say it in all honesty. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now the woman Mitt Romney would like to see as first lady, Ann Romney, she had an event in Ohio earlier today. She picked up on a line of attack that her husband has been using, accusing President Obama of being an 0-and-23 football coach. She actually said Wolf that voters out there should fire the coach in reference to President Obama and speaking of this issue of religion which has cropped up at the Democratic Convention, we should also point out that Romney's running mate Paul Ryan had an event earlier today in Utah. And at that event he was asked about the role of religion and public schools. And Paul Ryan said that prayers should be allowed in public schools and that it is a state issue in his view -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And I guess the next few days Romney stays there getting ready for the debate, is that right?
ACOSTA: That's right. We expect him to spend one more day of debate prep here in Vermont, but we do understand he is going to have an event in New Hampshire on Friday, essentially the same period of time that the president will be coming through this part of New England. And so it is interesting that we're going to see these two candidates going head to head almost in the same state on the same day when that jobs report comes out, Wolf. I would imagine that Mitt Romney is going to have something to say about that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, traveling with the Republican presidential nominee.
With about two months to go until the election, the former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel says he wants to level the playing field. I am going to talk with him about his new role in the effort to get President Obama reelected. That's coming up in our next hour.
BLITZER: There's been a dramatic rise in the number of cases of West Nile virus. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We're going to get back to the convention, Lisa, but what do you have?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports cases of the mosquito borne virus jumped 25 percent in a week. There have been 87 deaths in the worst outbreak since the virus was first discovered here in 1999. Texas remains the hardest hit state with almost 45 percent of all the cases occurring there.
And one person is dead and another injured after a gunman opened fire at the victory speech of Quebec's newly elected premier. Guards quickly tussled Pauline Bahwa (ph) off the stage. She was unharmed. The suspect shouted quote, "The English are waking up" as police dragged him away. Bahwa's (ph) party wants the French speaking province to secede from Canada and become a separate country.
And author Judy Blume is revealing her battle with breast cancer. In a blog entry today Blume wrote "she had a routine ultrasound in June and was diagnosed within a few days". She decided to have a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. A month after surgery Blume says she is feeling stronger every day and coming up THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer live from the Democratic National Convention continues right now.