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Weak Jobs Report; Romney Attacks

Aired September 7, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: A weak jobs report could put a damper on any convention bounce the president may get. He will speak live this hour.

The Romney camp is pouncing, hoping to undercut President Obama's big play for two Rust Belt battlegrounds.

Plus, they're moms and bloggers and they're telling both parties what women voters want.

I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Mitt Romney is describing the new jobs report as a hangover for Democrats after their big party in Charlotte. Hiring slowed significantly last month. The economy added 96,000 jobs. That's down from 141,000 jobs in July. The unemployment rate actually fell slightly to 8.1 percent. But that's mostly because more than 350,000 people stopped looking for work.

Let's bring in our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi.

He's been going through all the numbers for us.

Give us the bottom line, Ali. Ali, what's going on?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we don't know why people stopped looking for work, but you're absolutely right, 368,000 people stopped looking for work.

What it did, it brought down the overall pool of people that are considered in the work force. In America, you're considered in the work force if you're employed or actually looking for work. When that number was reduced, what it did is have the effect of lowering the unemployment rate because 8.1 percent is the new unemployment rate. That's why that's not good news because we're measuring a smaller pool.

We now have the smallest pool of available workers since 1981, the work force participation rate. Now, there are reasons people leave the work force, Wolf. People are retiring, people are returning to school, but in some cases, let's take the example of somebody that's unemployed in a place where their housing values are so much lower than they were when they paid for the house that they can't leave. That's part of the problem.

So this unemployment report is not good. You need about 150,000 jobs, new jobs a month, just to keep pace with the added number of people to the work force. So the fact is you see that on the right of the screen. We added 96,000. Much lower than expected. There were estimates for 120,000 to 145,000, let's say. Some people thought higher. Much lower than expected, much lower than needed. Even the drop in the unemployment rate, Wolf, does not actually signal good news.

BLITZER: The even worse news, they revised, what, the previous two months, saying actually 41,000 or so jobs were not created after all. Earlier they thought they were.

VELSHI: Often when we get, in fact, regularly when we get the jobs created number, remember, the jobs created number and the unemployment rate are two different surveys conducted by the government, and often they revise the last two months.

In this case, they did revise the last two months much lower, 41,000 jobs lower. What that does, that changes what I call the Obama administration's magic number. And that means for the next two job reports, there are two more left, the last one comes out just four days before the election, the Obama administration would like to see at least 261,000 more jobs created in September and October because that will allow Barack Obama to make the claim that he has replaced every job lost under his watch.

In the last thirty months, the private sector has added jobs for every month, that's the part the Obama administration and White House is trumpeting today, but that 96,000 is lower than expected and lower than needed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ali Velshi, thanks very much.

We are standing by for an event in Iowa. The president and the vice president, they will both be speaking there. Presumably they will also mention the jobs report. President Obama has been emphasizing the economy is still creating jobs, while Mitt Romney is focusing in on jobs lost.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took officer, business once again added jobs for the 30th month in a row, a total of more than 4.6 million jobs.


OBAMA: But that's not good enough.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president said by this time we'd be at 5.4 percent unemployment, 5.4 percent. Instead, we're at about 8 percent. And you know the difference that that makes and how many people would be working in America? Nine million people.

Had he been able to keep his promise, had his policies worked as he thought they would, there'd be nine million more Americans working. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Of course, unemployment is a huge issue in this election, especially in those key battleground states. The president made a play for two states in his convention speech last night.

Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King, and he is reviewing the numbers for us.

John, what do you see?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that speech you mention, the president was referring to Michigan and Ohio, trying to make the case the auto bailout saved those states.

Bill Clinton singled out Michigan and Ohio. You played last hour, Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan governor, saying Barack Obama saved the auto industry. Why is that important? It is especially important in the wake of these job numbers. Because it is a tough sell for the president.

Let's go to Michigan just to look at unemployment in the course of the Obama presidency. This is a very tough sell for a president trying to convince the American people things are getting better. One of the ways he will try to do this, you play the cards you're dealt, is say at one point unemployment was above 10 percent. Now that rate, Ali just pointed out it is not great news, but that rate is back down at 8.1 percent.

Now, at least the president can say from peak of the recession, things are getting a bit better. But it is a very tough sell. Let's look more closely at one of the dynamics that makes it hard for the president. If you look at this report, Ali was just talking about this, 360,000, almost 370,000 leaving the labor market, this is what hurts the president, Wolf.

You heard him talk at the convention about more and more things are being made in America. But as we get closer to the election, manufacturing lost 15,000 jobs last month. That's tough for the president, especially in these industrial Midwest battlegrounds. He won Ohio and Michigan last time. Question is, can he hold them this time?

One of the factors the president hopes help him, in Michigan the unemployment is down from beginning of the Obama presidency, so is it in Ohio, down to 7.2 percent now from 8.6 percent when the president took office. Some places battlegrounds like Colorado, it is up, in North Carolina, it is up, in Nevada, it is up, but in the key Midwestern battleground of Ohio, it is down.

Why does it matter? Wolf, you have to go back to 1960 -- 1960 was the last time Ohio got it wrong, if you will. It has voted for the winner in the presidential every election since. If you look at the electoral map and you start with the president here at 237 either strong or leaning Obama states, we include Michigan in that, if he can then keep Michigan and add Ohio, look what it does. It puts the president at 255.

You mention he is in Iowa. If a more conservative state like Ohio is voting for the president, it's a safe bet Iowa likely is as well. If he can get Ohio and Iowa, look where it puts the president, at 261. It takes 270 to win. Mitt Romney would have to run the board. He could afford to lose maybe one of these states, maybe New Hampshire or maybe Nevada, but he would essentially have to run the board.

Even in these tough economic times, the map is slightly in the president's favor if he can hold Ohio. That will be a big test. Keeping Ohio would make it almost impossible, not impossible, but almost impossible for Mitt Romney to win the White House.

BLITZER: Quickly, John, I notice the Romney campaign they have a lot of cash they can spend now that he is legally the official nominee of the party. They put ads up in eight state today, eight of those battleground states. But I didn't see Wisconsin, certainly not Michigan on that list. Wisconsin, the home state of Paul Ryan, Michigan where Romney was born. Are they just going to give up on these states?

KING: They say no. They say no. but we need to watch this very closely.

There was also some super PAC spending in Michigan, that's 16 electoral votes. There had been some GOP super PAC, pro-Romney super PAC spending in Michigan. That's stopped. They say they're not giving up. But we need to watch this very closely, because if they give up on Michigan, boy does that change the dynamic. Governor Romney wanted to take that state, and put it in play. If that one is safely in the Obama column, then we will watch Wisconsin.

They think Paul Ryan helps there. You are making a very key point, over the next several weeks, watch where the money goes on ad spending. That tells you where they think they have a chance.

BLITZER: We always say follow the money. And we will certainly will, John. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, we will have more on the way this new jobs report is playing out on the campaign trail.


BLITZER: A big joint campaign event soon in Iowa, the president, the vice president, the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, all together. Get ready. You're going to see it live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: CNN's learned that the commander of U.S. special operations forces has contacted key members of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden to reconfirm details of bin Laden's last moments.

The extraordinary step came because of the controversial book "No Easy Day" written by a former Navy SEAL.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is digging into all of this for us and she is joining us.

Barbara, what's going on here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Admiral William McRaven, a man you know very well from having interviewed him, has taken the extraordinary step, extraordinary, of going back to members of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden and asking them one more time more than a year after it happened, did it go down the way you told me?

And military sources are telling me that the SEALs came back to Admiral McRaven and said absolutely. Here is the key question. As you say, it is raised in this book "No Easy Day" by Matt Bissonnette, one of the Navy SEALs who was there, who says he is telling the real story.

Bissonnette says when they went up the stairs, when he got into the room, bin Laden was already lying on the floor essentially in his last moments of life. He had already been shot. He was twitching and gasping.

The SEALs say that's not the way it went down. They entered the room. Bin Laden was standing up, they perceived him to be a threat, and that's when they shot and killed him.

McRaven went back to the SEALs, including the point man, the first man into the room, because he wanted to make sure because this book is now so controversial. Admiral McRaven is a guy, as you know, Wolf, he wants his details straight. He went back to the SEALs. They told the admiral it went down the way we told you it went down -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Admiral McRaven is an excellent, excellent special operations guy and he knows what he is dealing with. I am sure he wants to get to the bottom of this 100 percent. I know all of us want to get to the bottom of this as well.

Barbara, thanks very, very much.

It is a big story. And we're watching it closely.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fascinating how much controversy this book has caused, but understandably so with the allegations in it.

Coming up, though, both presidential candidates are hitting the campaign trail today. We have been talking about that. In just a few minutes, we will go live to Iowa, the president, the vice president, the first lady, and Dr. Jill Biden all together. You will see it here live ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Less than 24 hours after the finale of the Democratic Convention, the Obamas and the Bidens, they are on the road together again.

We are standing by for their event in Iowa. Let's go out there.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, traveling with the president.

Jessica, what are you learning about when the president first saw the new jobs report and his immediate reaction?


Well, I understand the president saw the jobs numbers Thursday night, last night. I don't know if he saw them before or after his convention speech, but it is standard practice for the White House to receive the job numbers the night before the public sees them, so that the president's top economist can speak to the Fed chair or Treasury Department in case they think it is a market-moving event.

And that is exactly what happened last night. I am told that the president did review them. So perhaps he knew before he addressed the American public -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The president and the vice president and their wives they are in Iowa City, University of Iowa, where you are right now. I see the crowd getting excited. Give us a little preview. What do we expect, Iowa obviously being one of the key battleground states?

YELLIN: Well, this is a crowd that's been standing outside here, Wolf, for at least four or five hours. And it has been raining on and off.

They have been standing here waiting for him. They're excited to see him. He will be here with -- not just the president, but Joe Biden, as well, the vice president here. Both of them will be speaking. The topic will be the economy.

But they will be speaking to a very fired-up crowd that's been listening to music and getting quite drenched. The president has been hitting this topic, this joke line, but that's been somewhat biting, trying to draw a distinction with Mitt Romney on taxes, suggesting that the president if he is reelected will work for the middle class. If Mitt Romney is elected president, he will work for the wealthy, the millionaires, by trying just to cut taxes for millionaires.

And the joke line is every time he shows up, there's a new thing taxes will do, help you lose weight, cure a cold. When he shows up here, we will see what new joke he says it will do -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica, we're going to go there live once we see the president and the vice president. Thanks very much.

Mitt Romney is engaged in a long-distance debate with the president over the weak jobs report. Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is with Romney in New Hampshire -- Jim.


Mitt Romney will be here at this minor league baseball stadium in New Hampshire. In a little less than an hour from now, this is where he will be giving a pitch to voters on the economy.

And earlier in the day, he was served a major league softball in the form of the latest unemployment report.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney tried to offer sobering words on what he called the hangover after President Obama's convention party, yet another disappointing report on the nation's stagnant jobs market.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's been 43 straight months above 8 percent. It's a national tragedy.

ACOSTA: At a brief news conference, Romney had a new line for where the president is taking the country.

M. ROMNEY: The president's plan is four more years of the four last years. And I don't think the American people want four more years of the four last years.

ACOSTA: Romney also hit back at the president's charge that he has yet to offer many specifics, promising that his plan will create 12 million new jobs, with tax cuts, fewer regulations and more domestic energy. And listen to how he vowed to tackle the deficit.

M. ROMNEY: Balancing our budget. President Bush and President Obama, neither one made the kinds of steps on that front that I think needed to be made.

ACOSTA: And as for that jab from the president at Romney's gaffe on whether the British were ready to host the Olympics...

OBAMA: You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.

ACOSTA: ... the GOP nominee punched back.

M. ROMNEY: I'm very pleased that my Olympic experience allows me to talk about the Olympics in a straight-talk manner. And I think it would be appropriate if the president would talk to China in a straight-talk manner.

This president can tell us it was someone else's fault.

ACOSTA: As soon as the president's speech was finished, the Romney campaign announced an aggressive ad blitz aimed at eight battleground states all captured by Mr. Obama four years ago. ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT M. ROMNEY: I should tell you that I feel right at home because I'm in a barn.


ACOSTA: Ann Romney was in one of those targeted states, Virginia, urging voters to turn the reins on the economy over to her husband.

A. ROMNEY: So let's talk some horse sense. Barack Obama said four years ago, if I can't turn this economy around after three-and-a- half years, I'm looking at a one-term presidency.


A. ROMNEY; Well, it's our turn to turn the economy around. And I know Mitt can do it.


ACOSTA: You heard Mitt Romney in that piece talk about 43 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent. Paul Ryan also tweeted something to that effect earlier in the day.

There's a danger for Mitt Romney when it comes to that 8 percent figure. You saw the unemployment rate today ticking down to 8.1 percent. If it goes below 8 percent, it could take away that entire line of attack for Mitt Romney.

But as one Romney adviser told me earlier today, they see an opening on the economy, Wolf, that they're going to be drilling down into for the next 60 days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They're going to do their best on this issue, the economy.

All right, thanks very much, Jim.

And it's going to be a powerful issue, this whole debate.

BOLDUAN: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: I am anxious to see those three presidential debates in October and one vice presidential debate as well.

BOLDUAN: And, as you know, we have one jobs report coming out right before people head to the polls.

BLITZER: A few days before.

BOLDUAN: A few days before they head to the polls. So, it is going to be interesting right up to the end, something we're obviously watching.

So, President Obama and Mitt Romney, we have been talking about this hour, are putting very different spins on the August jobs report. So who is right? Our economic panel is weighing in next.


BLITZER: Happening now: the president, vice president and their wives all on the stump together. We will go there live.

Undecided voters rate President Obama's convention speech and whether his goals are clear or fuzzy.

And what's the secret to winning the women's vote? Mom pundits have some tips.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Dramatic highs and lows in the race for the White House now in full swing with the conventions over. And both campaigns laser focused on November. The spotlight had barely cooled for President Obama's big night when the latest unemployment report cast a shadow over the Democrats' post-convention glow.

Joining us, Neera Tanden. She's president of the Center for American Progress, and Steven Moore of "The Wall Street Journal."

Neera, I'll play a clip. This is what Mitt Romney said reacting to these latest numbers, and then we'll discuss.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is a tough time for middle class in America. There's almost nothing the president has done in the last three and a half, four years that gives the American people confidence he knows what he's doing when it comes to jobs and the economy.


NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I actually thought Mitt's statement -- Mitt Romney's statement, Governor Romney's statement was fascinating. Because if you see the whole statement, he actually -- he criticized the president. But he again didn't really lay out any ideas on what he would do.

The statement was really negative, and you know, I think the best question about this election is really who -- you know, who's going to deliver results and what are the ideas to actually improve the situation?

BLITZER: Were you satisfied with what the president said in his acceptance speech on what he would do? Because there were a lot of goals he laid out, but he didn't get into specifics how he would achieve those goals.

TANDEN: Well, I mean, he did talk about very specific ideas: hiring teachers. That's a great situation right there, which is a great example of what's happening in Washington. One of the problems we have in our economy is of 700 -- we've lost 700 public sector jobs, a big drag. We should actually be hiring teachers. That was a specific idea that the president laid out. And I just wanted to clarify one thing on manufacturing, because I do think this is an important point. Manufacturing is a critical, critical component of economic recovery. I don't think we should look at August necessarily as a stand-alone or some indication, because that's a time where every year plants tend to shut down. So that is, I think, more of a blip than something we should look at long term.

BLITZER: He has been criticized, including from the editorial writers of "The Wall Street Journal" -- we're talking about Mitt Romney -- that he really hasn't laid out a lot of the specifics on how he would turn this economy around.

STEVE MOORE, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I mean, this is a pretty lousy number. It's way, way below where we should be, and it fits a pattern of this recovery, which is it's been the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.

BLITZER: Having said that, 96,000 jobs, created new jobs is better than losing 700,000 jobs or 800,000 jobs...

MOORE: No question about it.

BLITZER: ... which was occurring at the tail end of the Bush administration.

MOORE: Sure. We have created -- you know, the president said last night, "We've created about 4 million jobs in this presidency." And the problem is, if you compare this with the average recovery -- we've had eight post-World War II recoveries -- if we'd even had the average growth rate that we've had, we'd have more.

BLITZER: Do you accept that this one, this collapse of the economy at the end of Bush administration was the worst since the Great Depression?

MOORE: No, I think, actually, that what Reagan inherited was worse. Yes, that's when we graduated. We had -- wait.

TANDEN: How do you figure? We had 800,000 jobs less a month. We didn't see that in 1979.

MOORE: Because we had 14 percent inflation. You're probably too young to remember this. We had 14 percent inflation. We had 20 percent mortgage interest rates, and the American economy was deindustrializing. And the stock market had been on a 12-year decline.

But that said, we should be doing a lot better. And it's not just me, Wolf, who's saying this.

BLITZER: What about Romney? Romney didn't really get into specifics in his -- in his acceptance speech.

MOORE: Yes, I thought that was a weakness of his speech. I think the American people do want more specifics.

But you know, you read his plan, I mean, he does talk about how he wants to cut taxes; Obama wants to raise them. He talks about how he wants deregulation; President Obama wants more regulation. He wants to cut spending; President Obama wants more stimulus spending. So I think there's a pretty big clash between what these two candidates are talking about.

TANDEN: And you know, unfortunately I don't think Mitt Romney has done anything beyond what you have just said. I mean, we're talking -- he's given a sentence on what he'd do around the gravest economic challenges we're facing. He's not actually providing significant new ideas or very much of a specificity.

MOORE: Well, he wants to -- he wants to lower the corporate tax rates 25 percent. He wants to overhaul the tax system, which is something that we've been trying to do for a long time.

TANDEN: And again, many of these major tax cuts, he didn't really talk about them last week.

BLITZER: He wants to overhaul the tax system, but he's not saying which deductions, which loopholes he would eliminate.

MOORE: If he said, you know, we've got to get rid of the mortgage deduction, or the charitable deduction or this deduction or that deduction, you know, you in the media would be, you know, picking that line apart. I mean, you've got to do this in the context of a broad reform where you're lowering rates and getting rid of as many of these deductions as you can.

BLITZER: Here's what the president said in his acceptance speech. I'll play this little clip.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've cut taxes for those who need it: middle-class families, small businesses. But I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit.


BLITZER: You believe another round of tax cuts for millionaires will...

MOORE: I think the fact that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world is a very significant depressant to the economy.

BLITZER: What about raising the highest income tax rate from 35 to 39?

MOORE: That's a really horrible idea. By the way, we're not talking about cutting tax rates. We're simply talking about getting them back to -- you know, to where they've been. If we do that, if you raise those tax rates, the people who get hit the hardest by those raising of taxes are small business owners.

TANDEN: We're actually -- just to be clear about where Mitt Romney stands, he wants to actually lower the individual rate, 20 percent across the board, which is lowering the individual rate.

MOORE: Through tax reform.

TANDEN: Through -- yes, but it's lowering taxes for the highest income Americans, OK? So it's not just the status quo.

And the fact is that, in 1993, we raised taxes, President Clinton raised taxes on highest-income Americans, and we had eight years of job growth, fantastic job growth. And actually, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So this idea that tax cuts is the -- is the solution -- there's no evidence to that.

MOORE: Obama's pursued the opposite policies of Bill Clinton.

TANDEN: That's not true.

MOORE: He's -- on welfare reform has just been the opposite. On spending. I mean, Bill Clinton...

TANDEN: Well, I'll take -- I'll take Bill Clinton's word from Wednesday night over -- over yours.

MOORE: That's the thing, that those policies are different. And that's the problem. Bill Clinton isn't on the ticket. Barack Obama is.

TANDEN: He said, on welfare reform, Medicare, on the budget, I agree with Barack Obama. And his policies are the ones to move us forward. So I think he is a fantastic validator, and we should listen to him.

BLITZER: We will continue this conversation, guys, down the road. We're only just beginning. We've got too much to go. Thanks to you both of you for coming in.

MOORE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Back on the road again after the convention, the president, the vice president, the first lady and Joe Biden, they are all on the stump in Iowa. You're looking at live pictures. We're going there next.


BLITZER: Romney and Obama campaigns are going to great lengths to try to win over women voters. But like any voting bloc, there's great diversity within the group.

BOLDUAN: CNN's Lisa Sylvester talked to two women who paid very close attention to the party conventions. Let's bring in Lisa right now.

Lisa, what are you finding out about women voters?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, if you look at the speaker lineups of both the Republican and Democratic national clearly conventions, women play prominent roles. Both parties are coveting the women's vote. And we talked to two popular women bloggers, one liberal, one more conservative, to find out how the two candidates measured up.


NICKI FELLENZER, MOTHER: Come on, big guy.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Arlington, Virginia, mom Nicki Fellenzer came to the United States when she was eight from the former Soviet Union. She says those early memories in the United States helped shape her current views.

She believes passionately in her rights and freedoms as an American. Fellenzer served in the U.S. military and now writes a blog called The Liberty Zone. If politicians want to know a few things about the so-called women's vote, well, they can stop by and ask her.

FELLENZER: We care about the same issues as men care about. We don't want to be targeted as some kind of special-interest group. We are not. We are people. We are Americans. We are people trying to make a living and trying to support our families. That's no different from any man.

SYLVESTER: Fellenzer has followed and blogged about both the Democratic and Republican conventions.

FELLENZER: What would it take to get my vote? It would take for them, for each of them to put forth a balanced budget that cuts spending, that reduces our debt, that reduces our deficit, and that puts our country on a secure economic footing. Without that, it's just more talk.

SYLVESTER: Women matter. They may be what puts President Obama over the top: 54 percent of women leaning towards the president, 42 percent to Mitt Romney. Republicans hope to close the gender gap as November approaches, Democrats to expand their lead. The convention speeches reflect that outreach.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: It's the moms who have always had to work a little harder to make everything right.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: At the end of the day, my most important title is still mom in chief.

SYLVESTER: In Chevy Chase, Maryland, Joanne Bamberger has a 12- year-old daughter. She writes the popular blog Pundit Mom. Yes, she says the economy is front and center on the minds of middle-class moms. But there's another issue that surfaced for her: access to birth control.

JOANNE BAMBERGER, MOTHER: There are certain fights that I thought women had fought and that we had certain rights that we just didn't have to worry about any more.

SYLVESTER: Bamberger says if there's one common thread among women bloggers, it's this.

BAMBERGER: I think what I'm seeing online is they truly want to know specifics from both sides. Like it's all well and good for you to get up on that stage at both conventions and tell us that you have policies that are going to address unemployment, and that are going to help our kids be better educated, and that will help clean air and clean water, but what specifically are you going to do?

SYLVESTER: Joanne Bamberger and Nicki Fellenzer, with different political views, but still looking for the same thing: more details from the men battling to lead the country for the next four years.


SYLVESTER: And we saw Republicans do a major pitch to try to win over women during the Republican National Convention, but you know what? Well, the numbers, they didn't change much. When it comes to women, President Obama's still maintaining his double-digit lead over Governor Romney -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We'll see what happens in the next two months. Both parties clearly trying to appeal to women voters in their conventions over the last two weeks. Lisa, thanks so much.

Going to take you back to live pictures you're looking at, live pictures from Iowa City, Iowa, where the president, the vice president are about to start speaking. They're making their way to the stage. Going to be going there next. Stay with us.


BLITZER: There he is, the vice president, Joe Biden. He's running a little bit late. So is the president. But they're finally there at the University of Iowa in Iowa City; got a rally going on on this, the day after the convention. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Jim Fawcett (ph), another great mayor. It's great to be with you. And thank you, Jim, for your service wherever you are, for your service in the Korean War. We appreciate it.

Wasn't the president incredible last night?

I tell you what, doesn't it make you proud to be an American?

Folks, the president and I have become friends. I know this guy. He has courage in his soul. He has compassion in his heart, and he has steel in his spine. Want to tell you, I've been with him almost every day for the last four years. And there's not a day that has gone by that I haven't been grateful that Barack is our president.

It's his courage. It's about his courage. He has the courage to make the tough calls on education, health care, Medicare, ending the war in Iraq, and bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Folks, this president is going to level the playing field again and bring the middle class back in the game for a change.

He knows how America was built. He knows it was built by the growing great middle class. And he knows and I know something our opponents either don't know or seem to have forgotten: America is not on the decline; America is on the rise!

Let me say again what I said last night to our opponents. Gentlemen, it's never, never a good bet to bet against the American people.

Folks, you know folks -- you folks in Iowa, you know, folks on campus know the president better than about anybody in any state. And you know he only has one gear: forward, forward, forward! And ladies and gentlemen, it's my honor to introduce you to my friend, President Barack Obama!

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Hawkeyes. It is good to be back at the University of Iowa.

A couple of people I want to mention. First of all, your outstanding congressman, Dave Loebsack, is here. Your mayor, Matt Hayek, is here. And somebody who's been with me since we started our first road trip here in Iowa back in 2007, your attorney general Tom Miller's in the house. And all of you are here.

It is wonderful to be here. And some of you guys know I've just come from Charlotte, North Carolina, where we had an outstanding convention. Folks down there could not have been more welcoming. Michelle, what can I say? She was amazing. President Clinton made the case the way only he can. Somebody -- somebody sent around a tweet saying, you need to appoint him Secretary of Explaining Stuff. Thought that was a pretty good idea. And then Joe Biden was all fired up. He was ready to go. And then last night I did my best to lay out the stakes in this election which could not be higher.

Now you've seen both sides make their argument. And you know now what a fundamental choice we have ahead of us. I honestly believe this is the clearest choice that we've had in my lifetime. Because it's not just a choice between two candidates. It's not just a choice between two parties. It's a choice between two fundamentally different visions of our future, where America goes.

Ours is a fight to build that basic bargain again that created the greatest, largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known. The basic bargain that says, if you work hard it will pay off. That responsibility will be rewarded. That everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody's doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules. From Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C.

And restoring that basic bargain is why I got into public service in the first place. I started my career working in the shadows of steel mills where folks had been laid off, as jobs were being shifted overseas. And for the last decade, we've seen too many families here in Iowa and all across the country struggling with costs that keep rising even when paychecks don't. People racking up more debt, using credit cards, home equity loans, just to make the mortgage or pay tuition or put gas in the car or put food on the table.

And all that collapsed in the Great Recession, where millions of innocent Americans lost their jobs and their homes and their life savings. And we have been fighting to recover ever since from that devastation.

Now, our friends at the Republican convention, they liked to talk about everything they think is wrong with America. But they didn't have much to say about what they'd do to make it right. They want your vote. They want your vote, but they don't want you to know their plan because they know you wouldn't buy it. Because we tried it.

All they've got to offer is the same prescription they've been offering for 30 years. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. Cut a few regulations here and there. Oh, then more tax cuts. Tax cuts when times are good. Tax cuts when times are bad. Tax cuts to help you lose a few pounds. Tax cuts to improve your love life. Whatever the issue, they've got one answer.

Now, Iowa, I...

BLITZER: We're going to continue to monitor the president at Iowa, University of Iowa. We'll have much more. We're watching what's going on. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: The world's fastest robot, if you're wondering what that was, has broken its own speed record. You're looking at Cheetah, developed by Pentagon researchers.

In a recent test, the robot hit 28.3 miles an hour. That's 10 miles an hour faster than its previous personal best. If robots can have personal bests of anything. It also went faster than Olympic phenom Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world.

Cheetah is part of the -- part of the effort to build the next generation of military robots, but they also pointed out it's got nothing on a real cheetah which can clock into -- up to 60 miles an hour.

BLITZER: Wow, that's amazing.

BOLDUAN: Can you run that fast on a treadmill?

BLITZER: No. Not 28.3 miles an hour.

BOLDUAN: On a good day, maybe?

BLITZER: I can drive in the car.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. BLITZER: That's it for us. Remember, you can always follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. Tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet Kate, @KateBolduan.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll be back tomorrow, 6 p.m. Eastern, for our Saturday SITUATION ROOM. Until then, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.