Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama Headlines Final Night of Democratic National Convention; Politics A Goolsbee Family Affair

Aired September 6, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: In minutes, this, the final night of the Democratic National Convention, kicks off right here in Charlotte.

What happens tonight could change the battle for the White House as we know it. And you're going to see it all unfold live.

I'm Wolf Blitzer on the floor of the convention here in Charlotte. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The excitement is already building here inside the Time Warner Cable Arena, where just hours from now President Obama will take the stage right behind me and deliver a speech Democrats are hoping will seal the deal for his reelection.

Let's go to CNN's Dana Bash. She's out there on the floor of the convention hall. She's getting new information about what the president will say tonight.

Dana, what are you hearing?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president's aides and other Democratic officials that we're talking to are insisting that he is going to go beyond what Mitt Romney did when it comes to specifics.

They say that at the end of his speech tonight, his acceptance speech tonight, that he is -- that people out there are going to know what a second Obama term would look like. They say that he will lay out concrete, achievable things, and many of the areas that he's been talking about with regard to energy and education. As you can imagine, Wolf, they are holding those details close to the vest.

But they're -- they're putting the bar pretty high on specifics. So we're definitely going to be looking for that. I was told by one source familiar with this that he is going to talk about the issue of Israel. Unclear how deep he is going to get on it, but you remember Mitt Romney accused him of throwing Israel under the bus last week.

And, of course, we have had a big controversy over the platform and whether Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. So, those are the things to look for. Big picture, what Obama officials say is that obviously this is the finale. They feel that Michelle Obama knocked it out of the park talking about her husband as a husband and as -- in terms of his character. President Clinton obviously framed the debate when it comes to the issues, they feel like. And he has got to be the one who talks about himself and what he will do if he gets a second chance, a chance at four more years, Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the other speeches tonight, Dana? I know the vice president's got a major speech. That will precede the president. But there will be other speeches as well.

BASH: That's right.

Let's start with the vice president's speech. I just talked to a source familiar with that speech who said it's going to be kind of a series of anecdotes talking about what it has been like to serve at the president's side. And their goal there is to, again, serve as a bit of a character witness, but more specific to President Obama's leadership style, how he makes decisions and things like that.

I was told that it is a "very generous speech" when it comes to the kind of person President Obama is. And, of course, Joe Biden is not going to give up a chance of being an attack dog of sorts, is going to talk about the contrasts between this president, this administration and Mitt Romney's.

Another speaker we're going to be looking for is John Kerry, who, of course, was the Democrats' nominee back in 2004. He is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. And his speech is going to focus on foreign relations, national security. And, again, I'm told he's going to hit Mitt Romney pretty hard on the issue of foreign policy.

And one last thing I want to mention, and that is Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who, of course, was shot through the head last year, she is going to be here tonight. We are told she is going to be right up there. And she is going to give the Pledge of Allegiance in what Obama officials say is going to be, of course, a pretty poignant moment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A very emotional moment indeed.

And the vice president will be introduced by his son, Beau Biden. Beau Biden will be joining me live before that introduction right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Dana, stay with us.

So what President Obama has to do tonight will be critically important, but by no means easy, especially coming on the heels of former President Bill Clinton who electrified this crowd and a television audience last night with his clearly magic touch, delivering what might go down as one of the greatest convention speeches in recent history.

Let's discuss what's going on.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here with more on this part of the story.

How big of a hurdle, Gloria, does the president face tonight?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Bill Clinton, as you pointed out, set the bar really high for President Obama. One thing we know about President Obama is that he knows how to give a good speech. Right?

BLITZER: He certainly does.

BORGER: But the bar is still set high both by administration officials themselves and by the Democrats here and the disaffected Democrats watching on television.

When you speak to Democrats, there's a sense, Wolf, that Mitt Romney left open the door for what the definition of the future is going to be. And the question is whether the president's going to walk through it and frame this election as a choice.

You know the Obama administration doesn't want this to be a referendum on the economy. They want to make this into a choice election. The task the president has tonight is to really outline what that choice would be. And that also entails talking about the future.

So he has to talk about the future. One thing I'm interested in hearing is whether he takes the baton that was passed to him by Bill Clinton about working in a bipartisan way.

We have got the circumstances of divided government, which will continue if -- you know, we will see what happens. But if there is divided government, Wolf, how will President Obama deal with Republicans differently in the second term?

BLITZER: A lot of people think there's been sort of an evolution of the message here at this Democratic Convention over day one and day two.

BORGER: Yes. Yes. I think it's been very carefully orchestrated, as conventions are.

First day was the humanizing day, as we saw in the Republican Convention, with Michelle Obama who by the way had to humanize someone that people see all the time, but still have a sense that they don't really know who he is.

Secondly, you had Bill Clinton doing a defense of the last four years and pleading for patience for this president. And now we're going to hear from the president himself talking about what a second Obama term would really look like.

BLITZER: A lot of people think the speech needs to be what they say transformational.

BORGER: I think we have heard a lot of transformational speeches from President Obama. And I think there's a sense among his advisers that the sort of President Obama the waters can part, the columns will part for him, enough of that. I think his burden is to prove that he can fix things, the opposite of the burden Mitt Romney has. Mitt Romney had to humanize himself. President Obama needs to let people know exactly how he will set us on a path towards a sustained recovery in the future.

BLITZER: And this convention hall is really now still about half-full, I would say, but it's beginning to get full. This will be jampacked within an hour or so. They're getting ready to pound that gavel very, very soon.

BORGER: They're going to close those doors when it is, I will tell you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Day three. We were supposed to be outside right now. But we're inside. And that's fine, too. We will see what happens.

BORGER: We just had a big storm out there.

BLITZER: I know. We will see what happens. We're watching it all unfold. Gloria's going to be with us obviously throughout the night as well.

We're standing by for this, the last night of the Democratic National Convention,the gavel to order about to happen.

Also, I can't wait, James Taylor, yes, he's going to be performing live right behind me in just a matter of minutes.


BLITZER: We're just minutes away from the official start of this, the third and final day of the Democratic National Convention.

Tonight, President Barack Obama makes his pitch for a second term and more time to finish what he started.


QUESTION: Your party says you inherited a bad situation. You have had three-and-a-half years to fix it. What grade would you give yourself so far for doing that?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I would say incomplete.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.

BASH: Obama campaign officials, particularly before President Clinton's speech last night, that was the crux of the message that they were desperate for him to get across. ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Bill Clinton has set him up, but ultimately I think you're right, Barack Obama has to carry the ball across the line himself.


BLITZER: All right, let's get straight to CNN contributor and SiriusXM radio host Pete Dominick. He's getting some unsolicited advice from our excellent panel about this very question.

Pete, go ahead.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. Thanks, Wolf Blitzer.

We got our panel assembled for the final time this week here in the arena, where I think it's still pouring outside, but we're going to have a great conversation as always.

Last night, Bill Clinton made a lot of claims, a lot of comments. And tonight President Obama has to follow him.

Carly, I know you want to come out of the box on this last night. Let's talk about Bill Clinton. Go ahead.

CARLY FIORINA, FORMER HEWLETT-PACKARD CEO: Well, first of all, you got very upset about Ryan for his rhetorical flourishes.

I'll tell you what. Bill Clinton had lots of rhetorical flourishes, that's the nice way of saying it. The not so nice way of saying it is he left out a lot of facts.

But specifically to the question, I think Bill Clinton is right that no president could have fixed all this in four years. The problem is that's not the question people are asking. It's not what voters are looking for.

The majority of voters think we're headed in the wrong direction. And sadly the facts back them up, poverty at a 50-year high, small business creation at a 40-year low. President Clinton talked a lot last night about global competitiveness.

What he didn't mention that was in Barack Obama's term, we went from being measured the number one most competitive economy in the world to number seven.


DOMINICK: I get exhausted with the blame game. President Clinton did it last night. It's exhausting. Democratic presidents created 42 million jobs. Republicans created 24 million jobs. Does anybody on this panel really think that these were exclusively Democratic or Republican policies?

FIORINA: Or government. DOMINICK: President Bill Clinton deregulated the financial industry. He repealed Glass-Steagall. He's as much to blame for the economy that President Obama got as anybody else. I'm sorry. Let's not blame one side or the other. There's tons to go around.


DOMINICK: All right.

SCHWEITZER: Look, it took from 1929 to 1945 to get that bus out of the ditch.

This bus was in the ditch four years ago. We know that. It was tipped upside down. It's back on the road and it's moving down the road. And you can't tell Americans that it's not getting better, because they know that.


But that's a heck of a sales pitch, though. You're saying it's not that bad...

SCHWEITZER: That's my job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... because it's not as bad as the Great Depression. That's not probably the message that Obama wants to run out there tonight.

SCHWEITZER: Well, wait. But let me finish that.

Without the actions, without the Recovery Act, without putting these dollars in the state capitals, without getting more highway dollars --

ROSS DOUTHAT, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: There we go. That's better, all right.

SCHWEITZER: Without that investment, we may well have been in the Great Depression.


SCHWEITZER: We had a great recession instead. The bus is back on the road. And we're on the move.


VAN JONES, AUTHOR, "REBUILD THE DREAM": First of all, no matter what we talk about, the big dog barked last night. I mean, let's just give credit where credit is due.

FIORINA: It was a great speech.

JONES: It was a great speech.

FIORINA: A story, but a speech.

JONES: First of all, you had Michelle Obama like Lady Gaga, then you had Bill Clinton kind of like Elvis. Tonight, you're going to have Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and Prince all rolled up together. And I'm going to tell you right now --

DOUTHAT: Justin Bieber?


JONES: But, listen, Barack Obama has been set up now to make the case. The reality is he has not been able to do everything he wants to do. To your point, I hope that he will actually take responsibility for his part of it. But the Republican Party is not taking responsibility for their part of it.

So we're in a situation right now where the Republican Party has been acting like Lucy holding the ball every time Barack Obama tries to kick the ball, they move it.

FIORINA: That's mythology. I'm sorry, it's mythology --


DOUTHAT: Hold on. My question for Van though is what exactly should he be saying? Because what I think Democrats miss in that narrative is, yes Republicans have been obstructionist and so on. But huge chunks of the remaining Obama agenda are deeply unpopular. Climate change --


DOUTHAT: Explain them they're not so unpopular.

FIORINA: Let's go back to the governor's analogy. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1945. You know why it lasted so long? Because we tried exactly the same policies that are failing right now. After the vaunted FDR --

SCHWEITZER: Oh, come on.

FIORINA: -- unemployment was at 18 percent. You know what got us out of the Great Depression?


FIORINA: You bet. War spending.


FIORINA: No, no. What we did in the Great Depression that made it even worse was become protectionist, not negotiate trade deals. There are such vast differences between --

JONES: The president is not opposed to trade deals.

DOUTHAT: That's not what Ted Strickland is telling us the other night.

FIORINA: There is such a vast difference between President Clinton, who was aggressively promoting trade, who aggressively worked with Republicans, who aggressively balanced the budget. And President Obama who has done less to negotiate free trade agreements than any president in modern history.


FIORINA: Do you know how long those --

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Guys, the worst part of this conversation is having to interrupt it. When we come back, we're going to give everybody our unsolicited advice. Stay right here.


DOMINICK: All right. We're back here in downtown Charlotte at the arena where the gavel is about to drop, just a few minutes away of the final night of the Democratic National Convention. President Obama is going to speak. We might have some other speakers. Anybody you know?

It's time to give our unsolicited advice for the final time. Let's start again with Van Jones. Van, take it away.

JONES: My advice is to President Obama. I think that in this speech he has a chance to deal with a credibility issue. Most of the time he's getting beat up because people don't believe he's credible. I think one way you gain credibility is you take responsibility for the mistakes you've made. If you don't do that, then people don't believe you on the next step.

Romney did not take responsibility for his own party's obstructionism or role in some of the dysfunction in D.C. I think he lost credibility. Bill Clinton didn't take responsibility for his own role in deregulation. To some people, he lost some credibility.

I think if Obama steps forward and takes some responsibility and explains what he has done and was wrong, I think he buys himself the opportunity to keep the country with him for another four years.

DOUTHAT: What's an example of something you think he should --

JONES: I mean, you're asking me. I would say the way he handled Wall Street. I think a lot of people felt Wall Street got bailed out and they get left out. I think it hurt the economy. I think it hurt his presidency.

DOUTHAT: I see him take credit for that one.

JONES: Other people have other views. But I'll tell you what, if he just gets up there and does a blanket defense and does not admit to any failure at all, I think he plays right into the hands he doesn't get it. And people then want to give him that message at the ballot box. He should give it tonight himself from the podium.

FIORINA: Well, my unsolicited advice is to the Democratic Party. And it comes under the rubric of careful what you pray for. No, I'm not talking about tomorrow's jobs report. Although I'm sure there are a bunch of political strategists trying to think through what they're going to say tomorrow morning when the jobs report is not stellar.

No, I'm thinking about it from the point of view of the Democrats narrative that Republicans have become so extreme. I've been shocked, actually, the last two nights. We had audiences here booing when God was being put back into the party platform. We have people who are clearly anti-free trade, something that President Clinton was always very pro.

This is a party that has become not just pro-choice, which I respect, but pro-abortion. Any abortion any time any time anywhere for any reason at taxpayer funding. Sandra Fluke, a very wonderful and smart young woman, she's talking about not just insurance programs covering contraception, I can support that, she's arguing for contraception that's free for every woman. That is at taxpayer funding.

I think this is a party that has become actually quite extreme. This is a party that didn't say one thing about $16 trillion worth of debt.

So careful what you pray for because I think there's an opportunity now for the Republican Party to turn around and say let's talk about who's extreme. Many of these views I think are totally out of touch. And last, but not least, how many people basically said over the last two days government is what holds us together. Not a mention of church or synagogue or charity or community. Government is what holds us together. That is an extreme view.

DOMINICK: My unsolicited advice is for voters, for the public, for viewers, for everybody, because this last two weeks I learned one of the most important lessons of my life that we all keep learning. And that's don't judge a book by its cover. I'll go down the line.

If you don't know who Van Jones is and if you just believe what you heard, you're wrong. Give him another shot. He's been a mentor, a friend and he's inspired me.

If you don't know Carly Fiorina, if you've only heard what she said on TV, and I don't agree anybody is pro-abortion, I disagree with Carly in almost everything, nobody's been a better friend to me throughout this process, and I know that I can call her, I know that I can talk to her and I can have this conversation.

Ross --

DOUTHAT: We actually really dislike each other. So he's just going to skip over me.


DOMINICK: Ross isn't a good person. But he's very, very smart.


DOMINICK: People don't know he's got one kid at home, another on the way. He's banging out these columns. And his blog, which I'm reading, which I retweeted, I'm following him on Twitter. I'm reading everything he writes.

I think he's a brilliant guy. I just don't like how much he challenges my narrative.

And finally, for the governor, this is a guy that if he chose to probably could become president if he got rid of those silly ties. But he's true. He's got higher approval rating than Justin Bieber. He's the real thing. Just maybe would hold him back because he's too honest.

But he's a good guy and I look forward to all of you joining me on the radio show. And I hope CNN my unsolicited advice to you, get this gang back together.

DOUTHAT: That's a really tough act to follow. I think you really don't like me.

My unsolicited advice is for Republican politicians. And it's -- don't be afraid to talk about policy. Don't be afraid to talk about policy detail, because if you don't, Bill Clinton will talk about policy for you and he will destroy you. This is where --

DOMINICK: Too much time. To the governor, I'm sorry.

SCHWEITZER: My unsolicited advice is for the delegates behind me. Strap yourself in. It's going to be a heck of a ride tonight. You've got Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Charlie Crist, well, Brian Schweitzer. Strap yourself in. It's going to be a hell of a ride.

In my speech, I will do what Carly is advising me to do, I will mention God, I will mention God -- guns, I will mention debt, and I will say the nicest things about Mitt Romney that is said about Mitt Romney in this entire convention.

DOMINICK: Have you written it yet?

FIORINA: The exception that proves the rule, Governor Schweitzer.

DOMINICK: Guys, it's been awesome. Thank you all very much. We're going back right now to Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Hey, guys, Pete, thank very much. Please thank the entire panel. Good work.

This -- this is the final night of the Democratic National Convention. And it was supposed to take place outside at the huge Bank of America Stadium. But instead it's indoors. And thousands of people won't get to watch the convention in person. You can see the best parts of course live right here on CNN.

Coming up, within a matter of moments, James Taylor performing. All that coming up.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're live here in Charlotte as we wait for the Democrats to gavel in this third and final night of the national convention.

Tonight, President Obama and Vice President Biden make their pitch for a second term, but it's not just politics tonight. We've also got musical star power.

Coming up in a few minutes, James Taylor, he will perform live and Marc Anthony, he will sing the national anthem. You'll see it, you'll hear it here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're not where we thought we'd be for tonight's festivities. The program was supposed to be held at the Bank of America Stadium, but was moved back here to the convention hall because of concerns about the weather.

President Obama expressed regret about the change on a conference call with a lot of supporters, but he said it was the safety issue. Let's bring back our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley.

The dynamics, Candy, of moving it would be 65,000 or 75,000 people at the huge Bank of America Football Stadium, about 20,000 or 25,000 here indoors. It's a change and a lot of us remember what happened in Denver four years ago.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. I mean, in television news what you know is when you have a close shot, that's the emotion. When you have a big, big shot that would have been as big as that outside stadium, that is energy.

So does it change the dynamic? It does, but I have to tell you, the acoustics in this hall as you well know are, you know, they come up to the ceiling and bounce back down. They're going to pack this place.

And it's been deafening at times. So I can't see it's going to make that much difference other than to those who obviously were looking forward to having it. The shot will be different, but they'll get the message across.

BLITZER: There will be about 40,000 or 50,000 people who won't have a chance to be there and they're going to be disappointed obviously.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And it would have differentiated the venue from President Clinton last night to President Obama shades of what happened in 2008 although I dare say they probably would have staged it differently without the columns this time.

BLITZER: No columns.

BORGER: No. I don't think so.

BLITZER: But what about the messaging here? Wherever you go you see signs about the middle class, middle class. They are listening to James Carville who says this time it's the middle class stupid and people here are paying attention to that.

CROWLEY: Yes, I mean, the signage is amazing. Usually, they have, you know, something written on the front and back. I haven't seen the sign yet. I think that doesn't include the middle class.

I haven't heard a speech yet more importantly that wasn't about, listen, we're all about the middle class. But I think what's been interesting especially I was listening to Elizabeth Warren last night.

And she was talking, you know, giving anecdotal stories about, you know, this person who don't have health care and this person doesn't have this and doesn't have that. I thought in a lot of ways, this is the kind of speech you give when you're the challenger.

Because, you know, the president has been in office for four years and these were stories of people suffering. So I thought what's interesting is they're trying to sort of do what Bill Clinton is say we couldn't fix everything in the first four years.

So I think just at sometimes you have to look at it and say, but people are going to look and say but they're responsible. And by them I mean Democrats as well for a system that is now being assailed on the stage as rigged.

Which was one of the big things from Elizabeth Warren was the system is rigged against the middle class. But there have been a lot of Democrats in power also responsible for that system.

BORGER: You know, I think what they're trying to do here is put a face on the middle class. Not only with everybody holding a sign about the middle class, but talking about workers who say they were fired as a result of the takeover of companies by Bain Capital.

For example just in the way that the Republicans tried to put a face, a warmer face, on who Mitt Romney really is and introducing him and talking about his Mormon faith and people that he served in his parish when he ran the parish.

Here, the challenge is to say when you're talking about the middle class, it's us. It's all of us. To sort of say it's you out there because you understand the problems of health care, you've all got elderly parents.

I mean, for Bill Clinton to talk about the Medicare issue in terms of seniors and nursing homes in particular is something that people can relate to because particularly women who end up taking care of their parents an awful lot. I think it's putting a face on the issue.

BLITZER: You know, the interesting thing is that the president tonight will have to do a balancing act. On the one hand differentiate himself from Mitt Romney. On the other hand, lay out a vision for the next four years and sort of take the high road at the same time.

CROWLEY: I think he can do it as long as he does policy. I mean, the hit job was very well-done last night by Bill Clinton. I mean, he did a lot of sort of comparisons. The president can do it with much less of the fire than Bill Clinton did.

Because I think, again, Bill Clinton set that table for him so leaving President Obama free to do the uplifting. And, yes, he has to recognize he's been in office for four years.

Yes, he has to talk about the other side or Mitt Romney if he chooses to call him by name. But he can spend most of that time looking into the future.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting. He's built and smashed Mitt Romney, but with a smile. He was nice about it.

BORGER: He said he's a nice guy. He didn't talk about his sterling business career.

BLITZER: No. Not this time.

BORGER: But what he did was he said this was a deeper ditch than I was in when I was president. And by the way, President Obama has done these things to get out of it.

And when they say this, they're not telling the truth because this is what really happened. This is what happened on student loans. This is what happened on welfare reform. This is what happened on health care. This is what happened on the auto bailout.

So he went through the entire litany for President Obama so President Obama doesn't really have to do that tonight and brag about himself. What he does is he says this is where I'm going to take you for the next four years.

BLITZER: I'm sure Joe Biden will be a little tougher, a little more assertive shall we say in his speech that will happen during the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour. The president will have the 10:00 p.m. eastern hour basically all to himself.

Ladies, don't go too far away. I want to check in with our own Kate Bolduan. She's on the convention floor. She's got a closer look at some of the big musical acts. I love these.

And what the delegates will have the best seats to watch the performances. Kate, what are you seeing?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. We're really in the thick of it right now. This arena is filling up earlier and filling up faster than the previous two days.

We're back in the best seats in the house center stage front and center to hear President Obama and Vice President biden when they take the stage this evening. We're talking about right where we are here.

These are the delegations of Illinois, delegations of Delaware right over there. No surprise the home states of the vice president and the president. And right over here where we're going to try to walk because there's quite a crowd, the delegation of North Carolina.

They not only have the best seats in the house for the big speeches that everyone -- that all of their supporters are waiting for this evening -- trying to manage traffic here -- but they're also going to have a front and center position for the opening acts to the vice president and the president.

The big name artist turning out to open up for the people that they support, that they want to see re-elected that includes James Taylor, who is likely to be taking the stage in just a few minutes. He grew up in North Carolina.

Other big acts will be taking the stage this evening include Marc Anthony. He's going to be performing the national anthem as well as Mary J. Blige and the Foo Fighters.

Wolf, I'll tell you the move from the outdoor open air Bank of America Stadium back indoors into the arena has forced some of the acts to adjust their performances and at least one performance was scrapped.

The performance by Earth, Wind and Fire, their performance was scrapped for this evening due to the scaled down nature. It's a smaller stage than what they were planning for at Bank of America Stadium.

Still you can see, the crowds are filling up. I've seen people dancing, dancing in the aisles. So people are getting very excited very early. And you can wait and see James Taylor, who I think you like very much, Wolf, will be taking the stage very soon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: James Taylor, because in my mind I'm going to Carolina. I think we're going to hear that song. I wouldn't be surprise first- degree we do. Love James Taylor. You got a great row. The music is such an important part of these conventions.


BLITZER: I felt last night by the way when former President Bill Clinton walked out on the stage and they started playing the theme song from his '92 campaign, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," I think he had the crowd in here at the inside at the words, "don't stop thinking."

As soon as that music started it was all over for the president of the United States. He had the crowd in the palm of his hands. I love the music at these conventions. Our viewers will as well.

All right, Kate, standby. Tonight, the president will make his case for a second term. But will the latest jobs numbers that come out in less than 16 hours overshadow him?

Up next, my interview with the former chief White House economic advisor, we'll talk about the numbers tomorrow morning and more.


BLITZER: Welcome back to the Democratic National Convention. We're inside. We're awaiting the gavel, the formal start. We're also awaiting James Taylor. He's going to warm up the crowd here at this convention.

All of this unfolding as the August job numbers are about to come out. They'll come out tomorrow morning. Unemployment certainly has been a constant thorn in the side of the president and a former top economic advisor over the White House says he doesn't expect that to change.


BLITZER: We're here with Austan Goolsbee, the former chief economist for President Obama at the White House and Linda Goolsbee, a member of the Texas delegation here at the Democratic National Convention, also happens to be Austan's mom.

Welcome. Welcome to Charlotte. How did you get here? I mean, I know how we got here. How did you get here? Took a little circuitous route shall we say.

LINDA GOOLSBEE, TEXAS DELEGATE: Well, I got elected to come here in Texas. You start locally and then you go to the state and then you're elected delegate from there. And so here I am.

BLITZER: How does it feel to have a son who is the chief economist to the president of the United States?

LINDA GOOLSBEE: Well, it was wonderful. It was wonderful and it was funny in Abilene, which is very Republican, that people think of him as their boy.

BLITZER: That's where you live in Abilene, Texas.

LINDA GOOLSBEE: I live in Abilene, Texas.

BLITZER: Not a whole lot of Democrats, but high quality Democrats.

LINDA GOOLSBEE: High quality Democrats.


BLITZER: Now, Austan, you're not necessarily from Texas, but we know you have a Texan first name.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Yes, that's true and misspelled, my dad who is probably watching.

BLITZER: Let's talk business for a moment.


BLITZER: This convention so far so good from the Democratic perspective. But Friday morning, as you well know, one of those Fridays, new jobs numbers comes out.


BLITZER: I don't know if it's going to be good or bad. What do you think?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: I think it's probably going to be middling. I mean, that's the expectation.

BLITZER: What does middling mean?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: You know, in the consensus estimate is that there'd be I think 100,000 jobs created.

BLITZER: So 8.3 percent basically would stay unchanged?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: The thing is the rest of the world is in a pretty tough spot. I mean, as much as our struggles have been, we're growing about the fastest in the advanced world. We're not getting any help from anywhere else demand for our products and any given month the numbers plus or minus 100,000. So, you know, could be a lot --

BLITZER: You're a professional economist, are you surprised it stayed above 8 percent for so, so long despite the initial stimulus package and everything that the fed has done? Have you been surprised at this high unemployment rate?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: At the very beginning of the Obama administration when the bottom was falling out of the thing unemployment deteriorated far worse than any economist expected.

But people don't remember at the end of 2009, the CEA made a forecast for the coming years what would the unemployment rate be. And they forecast then three years ago what it would be fourth quarter 2012 and they said 8.2 percent.

So I think, you know, we've been up and down, but this kind of slow slog we pretty much knew that's where it was going to be.

BLITZER: When I was at the Republican convention in Tampa last week, from Romney to Paul Ryan to everyone else, they kept saying you promised if you passed the stimulus package it wouldn't go above 8 percent. Christina Romer made that estimate, your predecessor. AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: But that was in the transition. I mean, the thing that so misleading about that is that was made before they even came into office. And before the first million dollars of stimulus money went out the door.

The unemployment rate was already higher than the level that they thought at that time would occur if there were no stimulus. So I mean, it's hard to blame I think policies for things that happen before they even were enacted.

BLITZER: As important as Friday's jobs numbers are going to be. The following month will be the Friday before November 6th -- and if this is a close election. You probably don't anticipate any great changes then either, right?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Thus far I haven't because we've been growing in this modest level. There has been job growth. There's definitely been improvement. The only analogy I can say is maybe it's like 2004.

Job growth has been a fair bit stronger than it was in the year run up to 2004 and it had that same feature. The job number came out right before. I don't think most people pay that close of attention to a particular number, but it's definitely nerve racking.

BLITZER: Let's get a review. How do you think he do?

LINDA GOOLSBEE: I give him an A plus.

BLITZER: A plus. No incompletes from you, right?

LINDA GOOLSBEE: Absolutely not.

BLITZER: A plus. Your mom loves you very much.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: That was for the president. I'm pretty proud of my mom.

BLITZER: You should be very proud. You should be proud of each other. And we're proud of both of you for coming here into the CNN Skybox.


AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Thanks for having us, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: And we're only moments away from the start of this the third and final day of the Democratic National Convention.

Up next, he knows firsthand what it's like to take the stage on this big night. Michael Dukakis live right after this.


BLITZER: All right, let's get back to the convention floor. Dana Bash has a very special guest, the former Massachusetts governor, the former Democratic presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I am standing here with somebody who is one of the few people in the world who knows what it's like to give the kind of speech that Barack Obama is going to give tonight.

Governor Dukakis, thank you. He's here with his wife, Kitty. Thank you very much. So, first of all, just for the most people who don't know what it's like to give a speech accepting the nomination for the Democratic Party, what is it like?

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's probably the most important speech you'll make at least up until the time you're nominated. Fortunately, I hit it pretty well in Atlanta.

I was also nominated by Bill Clinton, which was that famous long speech of his, which he gets kidded about all the time. And I thought he was terrific yesterday. But most of us who are nominated have made a lot of speeches, but this one is very special. And you really want to do very well at it.

BASH: What do you want to hear from the president tonight? What do you think is important for him to get across?

DUKAKIS: Well, I want to hear three things though we heard them very impressively from President Clinton. First, he's got to remind people how we got into this mess. Secondly, he's got to lay out his hopes and goals for the next four years.

And, thirdly, he's got to talk about Mitt Romney's economic record in Massachusetts because Romney had a disastrous economic record. I mean, we were 47th out of 50 in job creation under Romney, fourth from the bottom. And I don't think people know that. I think it's very important they do.

BASH: That was going to be another question I ask. You have a lot of connections here. And one is that you also are a former Massachusetts governor like Mitt Romney. You know him. You knew him from the state. What can you talk about? Obviously, you have a partisan point of view, but --

DUKAKIS: I'm not a fan. I'm a great fan of Massachusetts. Romney just turned out to be a bust and particularly when it came to the economy and job creation. He told us then what he's telling the American people now.

He's a business guy and understood the economy and we were fourth from the bottom in job creation in the country. I mean, only Michigan, Ohio and Louisiana after Katrina were worse and they had serious problems.

By contrast under Governor Patrick, I mean, we're flying. We're in the top ten. We're doing very well. So when Romney goes out and says to people I'm going to create 12 million jobs, for those of us in Massachusetts, this is kind of a laugh because he was really a disaster.

He did at least get the ball rolling on the health care thing, but even then before he even signed the bill he run away from his own creation, and that happened in Massachusetts. Not on the campaign trail.

So we're not great fans of Mitt Romney. Believe me and we shudder to think of this guy in the White House.

BASH: I want to ask your wife, Mrs. Dukakis, you were just telling me before we came on that before we came here you were worried about this election.

KITTY DUKAKIS, WIFE OF MICHAEL DUKAKIS: I'm feeling much better about things.

BASH: Why were you worried before?

KITTY DUKAKIS: Well, I think constant numbers that were down and not looking well. And I think people just -- I think this has been a real upper for most of us who are Democrats. It's just been great.

BASH: And you mention Bill Clinton, he did give that infamous rambling speech, which by the way we looked it up was actually 15 minutes shorter than the one he gave last night. But it had a different --

DUKAKIS: Remember, it was a different format.

BASH: Yes.

DUKAKIS: He was nominating me and I was then going to make my acceptance speech. There wasn't a break in a day.

BASH: Exactly. He pushed you out of primetime.

DUKAKIS: No, but in fantasy, we looked at the speech. It looked OK, it sounded fine, but it turned out to be just too long. When he announced in October 1991, he went on Johnny Carson and Carson said why are you running?

He said because I want to finish my speech for Dukakis, but I thought last night he was at his best. It was just extraordinary. And he does have this rare ability to capture what's going on out there. I thought it was just superb.

BASH: Michael Dukakis, Kitty Dukakis, Michael Dukakis, of course, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1988. Thank you very much for talking with us. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Dana. Thank Governor Dukakis for us as well.

We're standing by for the official start of this the final night of the Democratic National Convention right here in Charlotte. Pretty soon we're going to hear the national anthem with Marc Anthony at the mike.