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President Obama Leading in New Polls; Romney Praising Aspects of Obamacare?; Romney Shift On Obamacare; Horrifying New Tactic Against Civilians; Obama Gets Big Bear Hug From Avid Fan; Government: 50 Million Americans Short Of Food; HP Boosts Job Cuts To 29,000; Report: Pacino May Play Paterno; Bat Buzzes TV Newsroom

Aired September 10, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, we're releasing our brand- new poll on the presidential race. Did President Barack Obama get a convention bounce? You're about to find out.

Also, Mitt Romney's now saying some nice things about at least parts of Obamacare. Is he sensing a change in the campaign's momentum?

Plus, the story behind the bear hug that literally lifted the president of the United States off the ground. I will talk to the man who did it.

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

We begin with important news just in to THE SITUATION ROOM. Our brand-new poll shows President Obama receiving a significant bounce from the Democratic National Convention. He now leads Mitt Romney 52 percent to 46 percent. That's among likely voters nationwide, all this according to our brand-new CNN/ORC poll.

Let's get right to our chief national correspondent, John King. He's over at the magic wall.

A significant bounce indeed, John.


When you dig deeper and deeper into the data, you come away with an inescapable conclusion. The president benefited most from his convention. Let's look deeper at some of the other numbers. You mentioned the six-point national lead.

Let's look here. Here's one of the big reasons why. This is among men. The Republicans almost always have a big advantage among men. Look at this. The president -- this is a tie essentially. The president with a one-point lead among men. A statistical tie, but look at the difference.

Going into the Democratic Convention, it was Governor Romney who had a big lead, a 12-point lead among men. That's one of the reasons the president comes out of his convention in much stronger shape. Then you ask people who's best in touch with the middle class? This has been a huge battleground in this election. You look here, a 20-point lead for the president when you ask the question, which candidate is most in touch with the middle class? Again, Governor Romney's always trailed in this one. But he came out of the Republican Convention with a bit of a bounce. He was down only six. Now he's down by 20 points, a huge bounce.

Let me pull the map back out to show you this last one here. Again this can matter in a close election, which candidate most shares your values, the president now with a seven-point lead over Governor Romney. This is just before the convention season.

When we last asked this question, it was almost a tie essentially, a slight lead for the president going into both conventions and now a big lead for the president. You have the president leading in the horse race, the president leading on these value questions.

What about on the big issues that will settle the election? Look at this report card. As I pull it up, I will bring it up for you here. On the economy, the two candidates are tied. Governor Romney had a slight lead going into the Democratic Convention.

On foreign policy, on Medicare, on health care and on taxes, President Obama now has a significant lead or at least a decent lead heading into the stretch. Only on the deficit does Governor Romney now top the president. He was even on some of these other issues. He was ahead at one point on taxes. Without a doubt, coming out of the Democratic Convention in the national numbers, not only in the horse race, I would say even more significant, shares your values, in touch with the middle class, clearly the messaging of the convention, not just the president, President Clinton and others, clearly the Democrats have a big bounce. The question is, can they make it last?

BLITZER: Can they make it last? The debates will be critical obviously in October as well.

Gloria Borger is here and Ryan Lizza is here.

Gloria, as you look in these internal numbers, what's behind this bounce?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: One of the things that interested me -- and I don't know about you guys -- was this question of enthusiasm, because I think that's really behind this bounce that we have seen.

Because generally overall during the primary season and coming up to this point, you have seen that Republicans have had more enthusiasm. Now take a look at this. We asked, are you extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in November?

Democrats now 59 percent, last week, 56 percent. So you see up three points. Republicans are down five points. Now, if the enthusiasm gap shifts, that could be so important to President Obama because, don't forget, in 2008, it was the enthusiasm of the Democrats that actually pulled them over the finish line. So that's what they need because, this time, Republicans have been so enthusiastic. Now we seem to see a shift. But, again, as John was saying before, it's a big if. The question is, does it last? We don't know.

BLITZER: Everybody keeps saying and a lot of pundits keeps saying that conventions don't matter. At least they matter in the short term right now.

Ryan, these two conventions did matter. Look at these numbers. We will put them up for our viewers, favorability of President Obama and Governor Romney. Before the Republican Convention, about even, 50 percent or Romney, 52 percent for the president. After the Republican Convention, 53 percent for Romney, 51 percent for the president.

But look at this. After the Democratic Convention, Romney goes down to 48 percent. The president jumps up to 57 percent. That's a significant jump.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's huge because in a bad economy, the only thing that can lift an incumbent up and get him across the finish line is that people still approve of Obama, they like him.

He has an advantage on this simple personality test. If he's below 50 percent going into Election Day and less than 50 percent of the public are saying they don't approve of the president, you're not going to get 50 percent to vote for you.

That is a really, really important number. Just the fact that he got a four-point bounce in an era of polarization where these conventions have not produced bounces, the last five conventions, including Romney's two weeks ago, the bounce was two points or less. Getting four points is a big deal.

BORGER: And it means that people are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

And in a bad economy, that's exactly what you want because what they were talking about at the Democratic Convention was patience. That was Bill Clinton's speech, all about patience. If you like somebody, you're more likely to be patient with them.

BLITZER: I think Bill Clinton did a good job for the president, at least that's my assessment based on these polls. Obviously, the Democrats did a very good job overall at their convention.

But here's the question, John, because you study this very closely. As important as these national numbers are, and they're very important, Libya voters, do they automatically -- do we assume they translate into Florida, into Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, these battleground states? Can we assume that the bounce that occurred nationally is also taking place in the battleground states?

KING: "No, but" would be I think the best answer you give. No, you can't assume that. That's what the Romney campaign is saying. They say, when they look at their data, when they look at publicly available big state polls, we don't have any post-convention polls, that is the place to look over the next week. What are -- the polls out of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, other big battleground states.

No, they don't specifically transfer. If the president jumps nationally, it doesn't mean he's jumping in those states. But you can't move the numbers throughout the poll like these numbers have moved without you just mentioned Florida, Ohio, North Carolina. Those three states are in the top 10 states in terms of population.

Bigger states move the polls a little bit more. It's impossible for the president not to be improving in underlying shares your values. The Romney campaign insists all those battleground states are still within three or four points. They insist some of these will fade, that you had choir practice. The Democratic was second. They were preaching to the choir.

Democratic enthusiasm goes up. They insist it will fade some. But these numbers are alarming in you're in the Romney campaign, national numbers. The key test is when we see those state polls. And the key test is come back in a week or 10 days.

BLITZER: You heard some of Romney's pollsters suggest this was a sugar high for the Democrats and it really is not going to have any long-term impact.


LIZZA: He might be right, but Romney is running out of opportunities to put this away. He had a big opportunity with his vice presidential selection. He had a big opportunity when he wrapped up the nomination. He added an opportunity by taking his foreign trip and then his convention. He has one more big set of -- he's got the debates.


LIZZA: Very important.


BLITZER: October 3. That first debate, Gloria, is going to be huge.

BORGER: It's going to be hugely important because this is when the American public sees these two men together, not at their separate conventions when they're preaching to the choir, not when they have their set speeches. But they're thinking on their feet, answering questions the American public wants to hear the answers to.

KING: Remember all the volatility in the Republican primary season. We started this year thinking, wow, what a volatile year. People are swinging back and forth, swinging back and forth.

Then, since Romney settled on a nomination, it's been pretty static. The presidential race, national race has moved a point or two, point or two. The question now is, if we see a bounce like this, do we have a new -- now that people are past the conventions and entering the final stretch, are we going to see volatility? If the answer is yes, then the debates are the next big move. If not, then this is good for the president.

BORGER: Do we know that all of the public was tuning in during the conventions? Labor Day, end of August, lots of people watched. But how focused is the American public on this election? And I think they're going to grow more focused the closer we get. That's when the debates are so important.

LIZZA: Reading through the poll before I came on, it looks like specificity mattered to people. People wanted to hear about policy proposals. If you compare Obama's speech to Romney's, Obama's had a lot more specificity. And of course President Clinton's speech had a lot of policy...


BLITZER: It's not just our poll. It was the Gallup poll over the weekend showed a similar bounce as well.

LIZZA: Maybe that's what Romney will need in the debates is really tell people exactly what he's going to do.

BORGER: Although I would argue neither candidate has really told the American people exactly what they're going to do.


KING: As they celebrate, and they should, he is still the incumbent president. Forget his party label. He's the incumbent president. And the economic, if you run the economic numbers through any historical model, they still tell you he loses.



BORGER: But some of those battleground states, though, John, they are doing better than the rest of the country. That could be important to the president also.


BLITZER: They're pretty encouraged, the Democrats, by what they're seeing in Ohio right now. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.


BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks, very much.

Mitt Romney's just wrapped up a campaign event. He's now saying what he likes -- there are certain things he actually likes about President Obama's health care reform. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, more than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food at some point during the past year, stunning and pretty sad.

Government data shows children in nearly four million households didn't have enough to eat at some point during the last year. And almost 17 million Americans were at the borderline of not having enough food. That means they had to eat less because the food they bought didn't last or they didn't have enough money to buy more or both.

People suffering from this condition said they found themselves in this spot for a few days a month for seven months out of the year, a long time to go hungry.

The number of Americans in this category shot up by more than 800,000 from 2010. Those finding it hardest to buy the food they needed included women living alone, blacks and the poor.

With numbers like these, it should come as no surprise that food stamp use is now at record levels. According to the government, 46.7 million people used food stamps in June, up more than 3 percent from just a year ago.

In fact, food stamp use has stayed above 46 million all year long, just as unemployment has stayed above 8 percent. That's some economic recovery, isn't it? And it's costing all of us. Federal food stamp spending neared $76 billion last year. That's a record.

Nevertheless, President Obama's pushing to grow the program even more. The Department of Agriculture running radio ads encouraging more people who are eligible to enroll for food stamps. Republicans, on the other hand, want to cut back on food stamp spending.

Here's the question this hour: What does it mean if more than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food last year?

Go to, post a comment on the blog. Or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a shocking statistic indeed, Jack. It really is. Thank you.

Mitt Romney is going full speed ahead today in the must-win state of Ohio. He's mocking President Obama's campaign slogan and letting officials of his own campaign deal with the latest polls.

Here's our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The CNN/ORC numbers are just the latest in a string of polls showing Mitt Romney falling behind President Obama. But if the GOP contender is worried about that, he's not showing it.

(voice-over): Mitt Romney was all confidence as he returned to the battleground state of Ohio.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He went out with his campaign slogan. You know what it is. He says forward -- forward is his campaign slogan. I think forewarned is a better term.

ACOSTA: But recent polls, including new numbers from CNN/ORC showing the president pulling ahead by six points, prompted the Romney to issue this polling memo to donors and supporting. In it, Romney's chief pollster writes, "Don't get too worked up about the latest polling. While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed. Mitt Romney will win this race."

The Obama campaign came out with new fund-raising numbers for August, revealing it beat Romney in a monthly money haul for the first time since spring.

To blunt the momentum, Romney and running mate Paul Ryan hit the Sunday talk show circuit where the GOP nominee offered a more surgical take on health care.

ROMNEY: I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform, of course. There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place.

ACOSTA: Romney said he wants to make sure people with pre-existing conditions can obtain insurance. It's a nuance he's repeated before, but only on a few occasions. More typical is how he condemned the health care law, after it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

ROMNEY: Help us defeat Obamacare, help us defeat the liberal agenda that makes government too big, too intrusive and it's killing jobs across this country.

ACOSTA: Romney and Ryan also both declined to specific loopholes they would close to help pay for their proposed tax cuts.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Give me an example of a loophole that you would close.

ROMNEY: Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions.

ACOSTA: The responses were spun into a new Obama web video.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Don't voters have a right to know which loopholes you're going to go after?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans. ACOSTA: Republicans are pointing to a new Bob Woodward book, "The Price of Politics," which details the breakdown between the White House and Congress that nearly led to a debt default. In a section of the book adapted for "The Washington Post," Woodward writes, "It was increasingly clear that no one was running Washington. That was trouble for everyone, but especially for Obama."

(on camera): Despite the latest poll numbers, a top Romney adviser says the campaign is, quote, "in a great position." With less than 60 days to go, the campaign believes the race will come down to the economy. An issue top aides say gives Romney the age -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Jim, thank you.

Cuba suddenly thrown into darkness. Millions of Cubans suffer a major blackout, including the entire capital city of Havana.


BLITZER: Teachers are on strike in the country's third largest school district. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, this is a sad, sad story unfolding in Chicago.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly true. Negotiations are back on hours of teachers in Chicago walked off the job. The city's first teachers strike in 25 years was called Sunday, about 350,000 students are affected. And parents are now looking for alternatives. Almost 30,000 educators are on strike.

Union negotiators said they were close to a deal on pay with administrators but still far apart on teacher evaluations, benefits and other issues.

Eastman Kodak has announced plans to cut its workforce again this time by an additional 1,000 employees by the end of the year. In his statement, the once powerful camera and film manufacturer did not say where the latest round of cuts would happen. Kodak has struggled since the explosion of digital photography. The company has already trimmed 2,700 workers worldwide this year alone.

And power is beginning to come back to homes in Havana, Cuba, after a massive outage plunged more than 2 million there into the dark for hours. Much of western and central Cuba was affected. Hospitals and other facilities with generators remained in operation, though.

Short local electrical outages are not uncommon because of Cuba's aging power grid and outages on this scale though are rare, unless triggered by a large storm. State-run media says the incident is under investigation. The workers are now trying to restore power there.

I have to say, I really like our new digs here. Viewers have been tuning in and watching. But it's absolutely gorgeous. A lot of folks worked really hard on our studio.



BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Moments after former Bill Clinton's convention speech, our own contributor, Alex Castellanos predicted President Obama would get a boost in the polls. CNN's new poll suggests Alex was absolutely right.

Here's a question, can Mitt Romney still turn it around? Alex and Hilary Rosen -- they are both standing by live.


BLITZER: Let's get to our strategy session, joining us are two political contributors, the Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, and the Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos.

Let's talk about this brand-new CNN/ORC poll. Before the Democratic convention, after the Republican convention, it was tied, according to our same poll, 48 percent/48 percent for the president and for the governor. Now after the poll, look at this -- 52 percent for President Obama, 46 percent for Governor Romney. That's a six-point split there.

You predicted, Alex, and I was there with you, after the Bill Clinton speech at the Democratic convention, you predicted that there would be a significant bounce for the president as a result of that. But the Democrats did have a pretty good convention.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They had a better one than we did as Republicans, wolf. Wednesday night, bill Clinton said, President Obama is safe when it comes to money. He's not that big a spender. Remember me, trust me.

Thursday night, the president came on and reminded people of what they liked about him four years ago. And I think part of this bump is just people who were a little less enthused are now willing to tell the poll, you know what? I like that guy. I'm sticking with him.

But overall, the Democratic con convention just had more energy than the Republicans. People want somebody energetic who's going to solve their problems. And I think -- so, they night by night and overall, the Democrats beat the Republicans.

BLITZER: I thought the Republicans did have a pretty good convention, too. But they had some bad luck. Namely, hurricane Isaac which took away the first night and then part of the second night. There was a lot of coverage of Isaac. And that probably hurt the Republican convention to a certain degree.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But even the messages, I thought, in Tampa were a little disjointed. I mean, what I think you saw in Charlotte was sort of building up. We had each night for the first four or five hours, we had a lot of pushing back on their culture wars on the Republican side. We had a lot of focus on the middle class and some of the issues that really divide President Obama and Mitt Romney.

And then in primetime, you had a super narrow focus on, what are our accomplishments? What's the difference between the two? And what does it mean for sort of those centrist thinkers there?

I think the Republicans just did not plan very well in terms of their speeches. They couldn't decide whether they were angry or optimistic or wanted to show Mitt Romney's fuzzy side or wanted to show his handling of the economy. It felt very disjointed.

BLITZER: Yes. It was awkward moment, that Clint Eastwood thing was a total blunder, if you will.

CASTELLANOS: I think having people in shares works much better.

BLITZER: Yes, that's right, instead of empty chairs.

Listen to what Mitt Romney said yesterday on "Meet the Press" because it's generating some commotion out there. Alex, listen to this especially.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform, of course. There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place.

One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.


BLITZER: All right, that was this weekend. This was back in June after the Supreme Court said Obamacare was, in fact, constitutional. Here's Mitt Romney back then.


ROMNEY: What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare.


BLITZER: All right, Alex, obviously, quite a difference in what he said then, what he's saying now, although in fairness to Governor Romney, he said in the past he does like that notion of the pre- existing conditions to a certain degree, and allowing kids to stay in their parents' policies.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And that's more a conflict of language than of substance, Wolf. I think what the Romney folks would tell you is Governor Romney has always been for repeal and replace. There are some commonalities, some things that both Republicans and Democrats have had in common.

Republicans have been for catastrophic coverage, for pre-existing conditions, for letting kids stay on parents' insurance longer. Those things are commonalities. So if Romney is elected, you would see those things in Republican plans.

But it is a little bit of a conflict. We're going to get rid of it. No, we're not.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: This is Mitt Romney at war with himself again. And you know, notably what happened yesterday afternoon after that "Meet the Press" appearance was Governor Romney issued a clarifying statement saying, well, there's non-discrimination for pre-existing conditions if you maintain continuous coverage.

That means if you already have health insurance, we don't think you can get kicked off of it. Very big difference from what President Obama provided, which is people who don't currently have insurance can get it.

The reason Mitt Romney did that is because he doesn't have a plan to cover people without insurance. And that is a big hole in his promise to the American people and that's why I think everything he said yesterday is completely hollow.

CASTELLANOS: I think the president can do that is for a mandate. Mandate everybody's coverage and therefore, you can have -- cover everybody with pre-existing conditions.

ROSEN: A mandate the Republicans used to be for.

CASTELLANOS: The problem is that when you don't have that mandate and you don't want to commit to it, it's hard to embrace fully all pre- existing conditions.

BLITZER: Four years ago, you worked for Mitt Romney and tried to get him the republican presidential nomination, didn't exactly work out. What does he need to do now? We have two months basically until the election. Three presidential debates in October, one vice presidential debate in October, what does he need to do?

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think he still has a shot at winning this thing and a good shot because Gloria was right earlier when she was saying that America's about to see these two men toe to toe.

And we don't know what a president will face. We want to test them in these debates to see how they'll handle adversity in expected situations. What does Romney have to do? He has to lead. He has to say, the next four years are going to be different not only than the last four, but the last 12 and the last 20.

Washington is going to be a very different place. I'm taking money out of Washington's economy and grow your economy. The president is not going to grow your economy. He's going to keep growing Washington. There will be no change with Obama. There will be real change with me.

That's what -- there's a 70 percent wrong track in this country, Wolf. People think that 70 percent of voters think we're going the wrong way. Guess who's going to win? The guy who says, no, we're going in a different direction.

ROSEN: But Obama's favorabilities went up in this CNN poll. I think that was about leadership. You know, President Obama is leading the enthusiasm factor for Democrats here. And Mitt Romney is losing the enthusiasm factor on the Republican side. That's going in the wrong direction at a time when you want to --

BLITZER: But that could still change. I've spoken to a lot of Obama supporters, strategic advisers, fundraisers, they are not yet high- fiving themselves, saying to themselves it's over.

ROSEN: By the way, at the first debate, you know, once you see two guys side by side, all of a sudden, they both look fairly presidential.

CASTELLANOS: It's a leveller.

ROSEN: I would expect that first debate to be a leveller and for Mitt Romney to come out pretty well in that. It will be the first time there's a side by side. It's easy to challenge the incumbent, but ultimately I think President Obama moves --

CASTELLANOS: It's been so landlocked, Wolf, one side against the other nothing's moved. The pressure has built up. A debate like this could release the whole thing in one direction or the other.

BLITZER: And they're both solid debaters. I moderated four Democratic presidential debates four years ago with then candidate Barack Obama, solid in each one.

I've moderated four Republican presidential debates. Mitt Romney, solid in each one, they're both solid, strong debaters. And they don't easily make mistakes.

If one is looking for the other one to make a blunder out there or a gaffe, I wouldn't necessarily hold my breath waiting for that because they're both very, very strong.

ROSEN: Romney came back a couple of times in this Republican primary through a debate performance.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, guys, thanks very, very much.

One Florida Obama supporter is really enthusiastic. So much so that he just had to give the president of the United States a huge bear hug. Still to come, I'm going to talk to the pizza guy turned into a power lifter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The top human rights official for the United Nations today condemned the mass killings, the torture, the rape, which he says have become the norm in Syria's civil war.

Opposition groups report at least another 102 deaths today. They're also accusing the government of a horrifying new tactic. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is monitoring the crisis from Beirut in Lebanon. He is joining us now live. What's the latest, Mohammed?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, opposition activists have been telling us that the Syrian regime is resorting to using a new and crude type of improvised explosive device in this increasingly brutal civil war.

Activists are saying that the regime is using something they're calling barrel bombs. Now we've seen amateur videos posted online purporting to show some of this unexploded ordinance.

Activists are saying that the regime has been putting TNT, nails, sometimes skewers as well as fuel in barrels and then dropping these barrels from aircraft over different parts of Syria.

We've also seen amateur video we can't independently verify. But amateur video showing these barrels dropped from aircraft hovering over parts of Syria. And also yesterday, some video started emerging from a district of Aleppo.

This purports to show the aftermath of what activists call a barrel bomb having been dropped on a residential street in that district having flattened a residential building. You see men trying to find bodies or locate survivors in the aftermath of this shelling -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mohammed, do we know why these bombs are being used now?

JAMJOOM: Well, Wolf, the Syrian regime hasn't commented on this at all, hasn't responded to any of these reports, we must state that. But opposition activists are saying that these are much cheaper to make and also that they maximize the devastation.

They say that this has such an impact when it makes its impact that it's causing even more terror than the other types of shelling that have been going on these past several weeks in Aleppo as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mohammed Jamjoom monitoring the situation in Beirut for us, thank you. It's a horrible, horrible situation.

A Taliban threat against Britain's Prince Harry. We're going to have details on that.

But first, I'll ask the man who lifted Barack Obama, the president of the United States, off the ground and whether the president or the Secret Service knew what was coming.


BLITZER: It's the campaign stop everyone's talking about. The president of the United States got a lift, literally, from a super- enthusiastic supporter.

Watch what happened over the weekend when President Obama met Scott Van Duzer. He is the owner of the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Fort Pierce, Florida. Watch this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Come on, man. Look at this. Man, I'm so excited. Are you a power lifter or what? It's good to see you. How long have you had this place?


BLITZER: Never seen anything like that before. Scott Van Duzer is joining us now from Fort Pierce in Florida. He's the owner of the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Restaurant.

Scott, thanks very much for coming in. What made you hug the president and then lift him up like that in that bear hug?

SCOTT VAN DUZER, OWNER, BIG APPLE PIZZA AND PASTA: Hi, Wolf. Thanks for having me. I guess, I got caught up in the moment. I had a brief moment when I knew he was coming.

He opened up the door and he was like, where's Scott at? As soon as I saw him, he came right at me, shook my hand. And I was so excited I gave him a big hug and picked him up. It was crazy.

BLITZER: Did you have permission from the Secret Service to do that? I used to be a White House correspondent. Those guys are pretty sensitive when it comes to picking up the president of the United States.

VAN DUZER: Actually a lot of people think we did. I'm telling you, Wolf, it was just a spur of the moment. We didn't plan it. We didn't have -- no communication with the Secret Service about it or anything like that. It was just a genuine moment that I was taken aback by. It was an incredible experience.

BLITZER: What would have happened if you would have lifted him up and you would have dropped him or you would have fallen over? That could have been a big issue.

VAN DUZER: Yes, I think that would have been a tremendous issue, right? I felt comfortable being able to pick him up. Like I said, the way he came in, just his enthusiasm and he was genuinely excited to be here.

I didn't feel like it was just another stop on his bus tour and like I said, when he came in, seemed like I knew him for years and his enthusiasm was contagious. Like I said, I just picked him up and the rest is history.

BLITZER: How emotional was it that the president of the United States was actually in your pizza place over there? VAN DUZER: Like I said, we had no idea he was coming and what an honor. I keep saying it all day. Whether you're Republican or Democrat, he's our president. He's the United States president.

And it was just a tremendous honor. It's really bizarre. We were watching the convention last week and now here he is. It was, like I said, an amazing experience.

I think that's why -- I've never felt like I've been caught up in a moment. But that was definitely a time where I felt like I was truly caught up in the moment and it was just awe-inspiring.

BLITZER: How much advance notice that you get that the president would be coming over to your restaurant?

VAN DUZER: He'd come to my store, I wasn't here. I was out hitting some golf balls and my manager called me. I had roughly 18 minutes notice before the Secret Service started locking down the street and the block. I got here as quick as I could.

BLITZER: Scott, the president came and he also wanted to commend some of the charitable work you do. Tell us about that.

VAN DUZER: Well, roughly four years ago, we started a local 501 C3. It's called the Van Duzer Foundation where our goal is that my pizza shop was to help one family a month through financial tragedies, whether we've help kids with cancer, women with breast cancer, families that couldn't afford to bury their kids.

In the last four years, we raised over $600,000 to help our local people. The bigger thing of it is, in the last three years, we've created one of the largest blood drives in the country where the emphasis is on educating people and the importance of donating blood.

And it's one of the largest drives in the country. And when the president came, he talked about our foundation. He talked about the work that we do at the blood center. I was touched because before he left, he came with a huge media pool.

And he had me in the corner and he grabbed my hand. Put a hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes and truly said, I want to thank you for the job that you're doing because with a small business,

You know, things are hard as it is, but you take the time to give back to the community. I'm telling you it's a moment I'll never forget. I was extremely honored, touched and it was an incredible day.

BLITZER: I'm told, correct me if I'm wrong, Scott, you're a registered Republican, but you voted for the president four years ago. And I assume you're planning on voting for him again this time.

VAN DUZER: I am. That's the question of the hour besides the bear hug. I like his enthusiasm four years ago. I liked his message of trying to obviously get the youth involved, get out and vote.

Like I said, the biggest thing is his enthusiasm and wanting to make change in the country. Obviously, now we have problems here in our country. There's trouble worldwide.

But at that time, I really felt like he was the right guy at the right time and seeing him and the enthusiasm when he came in my store, I felt that the reason why I voted for him. I felt that when he came in here.

Like I said, this could have been just another stop on his tour, in and out. But it felt like he wanted to come here, he wanted to make a difference in our daily life here and he did. The people that were in the store and he made a difference to me.

BLITZER: You know, a lot of Republicans say the president's bad for small business. You've got a small business. Are you better off today than you were four years ago? How's your small business doing?

VAN DUZER: You know what, Wolf, I feel I control my destiny, I control my business. I work hard. I don't look for the government to come in and help me. If small businesses look to take care of themselves instead of leaning on help or support, we'd be a lot better off anyway.

I am better off than I was four years ago because I work hard, take care of my family and if other people had that mentality, I think the country would be a lot better also.

BLITZER: Scott Van Duzer, thanks very much for sharing a few moments with us. Congratulations. I love the bear hug. You know, I've never seen anyone do that to a president. You're a first.

VAN DUZER: Wolf, thank you for your time, sir.

BLITZER: Let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File." Jack, have you ever seen anyone lift a president like that before?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Never have. I bet the Secret Service guys, their hearts had to stop for a moment, right? What a great picture, though. There are some awfully good people in this country.


CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, what does it mean if more than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food last year, 50 million?

Gary in California, "It means the reported 8 percent unemployment rate is understated if 17 percent of our population can't afford food. Think about how broke you have to be in order to pass on the purchase of food. We need to get people back to work."

J.D. in New Hampshire, "Means wages are too low. People often lose their jobs or are willing to work for a pittance because somewhere in the world there's a child willing to do the same work for 50 cents a day.

We need significant tariffs on off-shored products brought back into this country. High enough to make a profitable to higher Americans and a little corporate patriotism wouldn't hurt either."

Kim in North Carolina writes, "It all goes back to the job market, Jack. We don't have jobs, we can't buy food. When working, I would grocery shop. Any time there was a sale, I'd stock up, give some to our local soup kitchen or church. I can't do that anymore. So my job loss affected not only my family, but those I donated to. It's a vicious cycle, a very vicious cycle."

Pete in Georgia writes, "First of all, I don't buy what you're selling. Those same people have plastered to their ear a $500 smartphone and their kids are running around wearing a pair of $150 Nike sneakers on their feet. Let's be real here, Jack."

Ken in Atlantic City writes, "It doesn't mean anything to the politicians who have bankrupted the country. There are no many good- paying jobs. There is no more money left in the budget because 50 percent of the population pays zero taxes, but gets 100 percent of the entitlements."

Matt writes, "It means the middle class is disappearing and the have/have not divide continues to grow. Here comes the new Roman Empire."

If you want to read more on this subject, go to the blog, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you. Chicago striking teachers, they went back to the negotiating table today. But how soon will they be back in the classrooms? That's coming up.

Also, see what some TV reporters are running for cover in their own newsroom are doing. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." Check them out. In Pakistan, youth gather in a flooded street. In Germany, a hedgehog scurries through a garden. In France, workers gather grapes on the first day of harvest.

And in Nepal, a CNN I-Reporter catches this shot of an avalanche roaring down a mountain. "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.

The world's largest personal computer maker is cutting more jobs. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top satires in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, not good news for Hewlett-Packard workers. HP now says it plans to lay off 29,000 employees worldwide, 2,000 more job cuts than originally planned.

HP says the majority of the cuts will be through a combination of involuntary layoffs and early retirement offers. HP employs more than 300,000 people around the world and the cuts are part of a multi-year restructuring.

Deadline Hollywood reports that a movie about the life of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is now in the works and Al Pacino has been tapped to play the man known as Joe Pa.

Paterno died in January after leaving Penn State during the sex abuse scandal surrounding former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. As far as the film goes, so far, there's no script, no deal and no director.

Bats in a TV newsroom that is just utter chaos. Take a look at these pictures. A bat had been hiding in the building housing CNN's affiliate KETV in Omaha, Nebraska, for weeks. So it finally spent an hour Saturday -- you see it swooping through the newsroom.

Eventually the Humane Society was called in and they eventually caught that guy. That bat is now in protective custody. And the newsroom apparently is quiet again.

But that's pretty hilarious video. As you could see that bat has totally taken over that newsroom. I think probably is going to be doing a newscast soon enough.

BLITZER: Stuff happens. Lisa, thank you.

And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, thousands of teachers fill the streets in Chicago refusing to work and hundreds of thousands of students suddenly have nowhere to go as Chicago's teachers go on strike.

A Taliban threat to kill Britain's Prince Harry now on the front lines as the pilot of an attack helicopter.

And an exclusive look inside an Air Force intelligence center where the torrent of video from surveillance drones is overwhelming. What the Air Force can learn from the Kardashians or from TV control rooms.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.