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Syrian Civil War?; Romney Retools Campaign; War Closes In On Damascus; Republican Strategy Shift; What Romney Should Do Next; Chicago To Judge: Make Teachers Work; Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan In Iowa; Occupy Movement Marks Anniversary; Retired Firefighter Missing From Train; Apple: iPhone 5 Sets New Record

Aired September 17, 2012 - 16:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Mitt Romney retools his campaign trying to stop his slide in the polls. During this hour, we will hear live from the three other men at the top of the tickets. President Obama's in Ohio. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are in Iowa.

And as their country falls apart and a civil war approaches their city, thousands of Syrians have nowhere to hide.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Joe Johns. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with Mitt Romney who's just unveiled a new campaign strategy just 50 days before the election. In a speech this afternoon, Romney refocused on the economy and got specific about how he would reduce the size of government.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is in Los Angeles, where Romney spoke to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Jim, today, it looks like Romney is reaching out to Latino voters.


He's doing just that. But he's also according to his campaign aides starting to unveil some of the details of his economic plan the campaign says just as voters are starting to pay attention to this election. But there are also some new distractions out there, Joe, namely a campaign blame game that does not go over well 50 days before an election.


ACOSTA (voice-over): After a week of GOP hand-wringing over his response to violence in the Middle East, Mitt Romney is rebooting his message, returning to the issue that has driven his campaign from the beginning, the economy.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for a president who's committed to cutting spending and balancing the budget. And I know how to do that. I have done it before. We balanced our budget in my business and at the Olympics and every year I was in my state.

ACOSTA: In a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Romney offered remedies to the deficit he rarely talks about, such as combining departments and agencies of the federal government. The retooled approach is backed up with plain language in new ads.

ROMNEY: Got to balance the budget. You have got to cut the deficit.

ACOSTA: But a new distraction for Romney emerged late Sunday when Politico reported finger-pointing inside the campaign. Much of the blame game is aimed at senior strategist Stuart Stevens, Romney's image guru, who is known as an eccentric in political circles and dubbed the most interesting man in the world by reporters.

Politico cites sources blaming Stevens in part for Clint Eastwood's rambling performance at the GOP Convention.

But a top Romney adviser dismissed the story as inside baseball, saying Stu is part of the team.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska!


ACOSTA: Still, the talk of a rift is a reminder of the infighting over Sarah Palin that threw John McCain off course four years ago. Romney would rather focus on China. So he slammed President Obama's announcement of a trade complaint against the communist country.

ROMNEY: If I had known that all it took to get him to take action was to run an ad citing his inaction on China's cheating, I would have run one a long time ago.

ACOSTA: The Obama campaign is firing back by pointing to this hidden camera video showing Romney at a fund-raiser talking about a trip he took to China to buy a factory during his days at Bain Capital.

ROMNEY: And around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And we said, gosh, I can't believe that you keep these girls in. They say, no, no, no, this is to keep other people from coming in, because people want so badly to come work in this factory that we have to keep them out.

ACOSTA: On a campaign conference call, advisers declined to discuss the video.

ED GILLESPIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: As for Bain, that video is old. You can call Bain and ask them what they did.

ACOSTA: A source familiar with Bain's investment history says the firm did not buy the factory referred to in the video. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, Mitt Romney also talked about the issue of immigration and he accused the president of playing politics with the lives of young children with that stopgap measure on the DREAM Act.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney also left out of his speech any talk of self-deportation. That was a phrase that he used during the primaries. That was not in his speech. It's an acknowledgment, Joe, that I think the Romney campaign knows it has to soften some of its rhetoric on immigration if it wants Latino voters.

JOHNS: Jim, and has Governor Romney at all addressed these reports of infighting in the campaign?

ACOSTA: As a matter of fact, after his speech here in Los Angeles, we tried to go up to the GOP nominee and ask him that question. He did not respond to our question.

But he did do an interview with Telemundo earlier this afternoon. And he told Telemundo he's happy with his campaign staff and that his top advisers are staying put.

JOHNS: Jim Acosta there in Los Angeles, thanks so much for that report.

Romney's retooling comes just after Politico published a detailed insider's account of his campaign's recent stumbles based on interviews with unnamed staffers.

Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei is one of the article's authors.

And, Jim, as we read through that report, I have actually read it a couple of times, it really paints quite a picture of the Romney campaign over the last several weeks. What's the takeaway?

JIM VANDEHEI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, POLITICO: Well, first off, thanks for having me on, Joe.

I think the takeaway is you have a campaign that's really sort of hit real turbulence. I think it really started after the convention, where you started to have a lot of conservatives, "The Wall Street Journal," "The Weekly Standard," Trent Lott, other Republican officials them followed them in criticizing Romney on the record and saying he's not being specific enough, he's not making an affirmative case for how he would govern more effectively than Barack Obama.

Internally, it's caused a lot of unease and a lot of finger- pointing. A lot of those fingers are pointed at Stuart Stevens, who is -- for those people who are not familiar with him, he's basically the Karl Rove of this campaign.

He runs the campaign, controls the message, probably has more authority than anyone else in the campaign right now. And he's really advocated this campaign of caution, one that would keep the emphasis on President Obama and not on the specificity of how Mitt Romney would govern.

And that's what's caused so much unease both internally and externally. And so the big question is, can they sort of calibrate it right? Can they come up with a new strategy that's specific enough to excite conservatives, but not so specific that it just gives more ammunition to Barack Obama to use in ads and to use in campaign speeches?

JOHNS: Now, correct me if I'm wrong, Jim. When I read through that article, I really get the sense, sort of feels like the type of article you would read after Election Day, that you're almost sort of writing, if you will, the epitaph of this campaign. Why write it now?

VANDEHEI: Well, I think you write it now because we had the goods, we had the reporting to be able to back up the piece.

I think that is what was a little unusual was that this many people were providing this level of detail about the internal operations of a campaign in real time. As you said, Joe, usually, that happens after the campaign.

I think what it reflects is just real unease with the direction of the campaign and a real desire to get it right. Listen, Republicans still believe -- and I think sort of the data backs it up -- they have a very winnable election here. They're running against an incumbent in a bad economy with high unemployment, with record numbers of people on food stamps, with the median family income at a 20-year low.

So they have an environment where they should be able to have some success. And I think that's the message you're hearing from conservatives. I hear it every day in e-mails and phone calls of conservatives who talk to Mitt Romney saying he's got to come up with specifics because Republicans, particularly intellectual conservatives, sort of the folks at "The Wall Street Journal," "The Weekly Standard," the people close to Paul Ryan, they believe you win elections when you have a war of ideas.

They think they can win the battle of ideas over Medicare, the size of government, tax reform and every one of those issues, trade, which was talked about a little bit today. That's why they're frustrated. They don't get the level of specificity they hoped for out of Mitt Romney.

JOHNS: There are a lot of stories within the story in this report, including the talk about the hastily written speech that was sort of rewritten in the last days leading up to that acceptance speech in Tampa, the fact that they left out the real mention of the troops there, also that Romney's chief strategist essentially has basically been wearing three different huge hats in this billion- dollar enterprise of a campaign.

What were some of the things that really surprised you in the reporting?

VANDEHEI: Well, I think what surprised us is, looking back at the convention, which leaving Tampa, I thought was a fine convention. I didn't think it was remarkable. I didn't think it was a bad convention. There were a lot of good speeches. I think they were able to highlight the next generation of Republican leaders.

But looking back now, there were clearly some pretty big tactical mistakes, one, not giving Ann Romney the prime-time slot instead of Chris Christie on day one. Clearly, giving Clint Eastwood that much time on stage without any direction whatsoever what to say was a huge mistake. And then the one that you mentioned, not mentioning the troops, not mentioning Afghanistan and not mentioning al Qaeda, in retrospect, a huge, huge oversight, especially for a Republican.

But anybody running in this environment, when you have troops overseas, when you have people dying, when you have a war with 77,000 troops still in the theater of combat, not to mention it, it just ticked off a lot of conservatives, and rightly so because they want to talk about these issues.

JOHNS: Let's talk a little bit about the relationship between Mitt Romney and his team.

There's this quote I would like to put up on the screen for you. "Mitt is a sticker. He stays with you. He had a reputation at Bain for sticking with people. They made a bad investment, he hung with them. None of this is going to be fixed. This is the organization and this is who Mitt is betting on to win. There aren't going to be any further changes."

It sort of raises the question of Mitt Romney and his ability to manage the country if he can't manage his own campaign.

VANDEHEI: Well, I don't know that there's always a direct correlation between the efficiency of a campaign and the effectiveness of governance. I think they're two different skill sets.

But when you're making the argument that you're Mr. Fix-It who can bring sort of business efficiency to the White House, it does raise some questions. You raised a good point in your question. A lot of the fingers are pointed at Stuart Stevens. I'm not here to defend him or not defend him.

I will say that a lot of Republicans for both this story and who have called today say, listen, the real culprit at the end of the day, it is always the boss. These campaigns always reflect the candidate. He set up this structure. He chose Stuart Stevens. He's sticking with Stuart Stevens.

This is a campaign that Romney wanted. It's a campaign that Romney wants and it's the one he's going to have for the final seven weeks of the campaign. Voters will decide whether that was impressive. Voters will decide whether or not he was persuasive. They have time. They have three debates. Those are the big moments in presidential politics.

And I think that's why a lot of the work right now inside the Romney camp is trying to clear away this intrigue to focus on the debates, get him prepared to go toe to toe with Barack Obama and use that forum to show that he's a different kind of leader than Barack Obama, and at the end of the day, not just different, a better one in the eyes of those 6 percent to 10 percent of people who have not made up their mind.

JOHNS: Jim VandeHei, thanks so much for that. Always good to see you.

VANDEHEI: Thank you, Joe. Thanks for having me.

JOHNS: In Ohio right now, President Obama is speaking at a campaign rally. We will take you there live.

Later, a look inside a city where a bloody civil war is getting closer and people have nowhere to run.


JOHNS: President Obama is campaigning in the swing state of Ohio. He was in Cincinnati earlier. Now he's in Columbus in Schiller Park German Village. Let's listen to the president of the United States as he speaks to the crowd.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Romney attacks (INAUDIBLE), he'll pay down our deficit. I don't believe that firing teachers or kicking students off of financial aid is somehow going to grow our economy. That's not going to help us compete against all the scientists and engineers coming out of China.

And after all we've been through, does anybody really think that somehow rolling back regulations on Wall Street that we put in place to make sure we don't have another taxpayer-funded bailout, that somehow that's going to be good for the small businesswoman here in Columbus or help the construction worker get back on the job?

Ohio, we have tried what they're selling. We tried it. We've been there. It didn't work. We don't like it. We're not going back.


We're not going back. We're not going back.

We don't -- see, we don't believe that the answer to our challenges is just to tell folks, you're on your own. We think we're all in this together.

You look at this crowd, people of every walk of life. That's what America is. And we don't believe this economy grows from the top down. We think it grows from the middle out, from the bottom up.

Think about it. You know, when I cut taxes on middle class families, why did I do that? Because when you guys have a little more money in your pocket, what happens? You spend it. Because you need to, because you've got expenses.

So then you decide you buy a new computer for your kid going off to college or you finally trade in that old beat-up car you've got.

And so, businesses then, they have more profits. They've got more customers. That means they're hiring more workers. That means those folks then have more money to spend. The whole economy does better.

If you give a tax break to a billionaire, you can only buy so many yachts. Right? I mean, at a certain point, you stop. So it doesn't do the same thing for the economy.

So not only is it the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do for us to grow to make sure that middle class families are strong and people who are poor and willing to work hard to get into the middle class, that they've got a chance.

That's our vision. That's why we're not going backwards. That's why we're going forward. That's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.



Now, hold on a second, hold on a second. I want you to know, though, because some of you may not have been paying attention at the convention because you were still thinking about Michelle and how good she was.


Or maybe you're still talking about President Clinton and how he broke it down.


Well, I want everybody to be clear. The path I'm offering isn't quick or easy. It's going to take more than a few years to deal with all the challenges that we face.

But let me tell you something, when I hear the other side talking about how the nation's in decline, I tell them, you must not be getting out much because this is America. And we've still got the best workers in the world and the best entrepreneurs in the world and the best scientists and researchers in the world, and the best colleges and universities in the world. And there's not a country on earth that wouldn't trade places with us right now.

So I'm confident our problems can be solved. Our challenges will be met. The path I offer is harder, but it leads to a better place, because it allows everybody to prosper. Anybody who's willing to work hard can get ahead. I'm asking you to choose that future. And I'm asking you to rally around a specific set of goals to create new manufacturing jobs and to strengthen our energy sector and improve education and bring down our deficit and turn the page on a decade of war.

That's what I intend to accomplish in the next four years. That's why I'm running for a second term. I need those four years to get all that done.

So let me just break down this plan very clearly. Part one, we are going to export more products and we're going to outsource fewer jobs. After a decade where manufacturing had been declining, this country has now created over the last 2 1/2 years over half a million new manufacturing jobs. A whole lot of them right here in Ohio.

When there were some who said, just let Detroit go bankrupt, when there were folks who were willing to walk away from all the jobs that are supported here in Ohio by the auto industry, I bet on American workers. And three years later --


JOHNS: That's President Obama in Columbus, Ohio. Schiller Park, in fact, which is part of German Village right off the downtown area there in that capital of the battleground state.

We've been listening to the president explain why he says he needs four more years to, among other things, fix the issues facing the country. The vice presidential contenders are in Iowa this hour. Republican nominee Paul Ryan will be speaking in Des Moines. And we will take you there.


JOHNS: A United Nations investigator says Islamic fundamentalist fighters with their own agenda is among the more alarming trends in Syria's civil war.

Senior CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson has managed to get back inside the Syrian capital and found that constant danger has become a way of life.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Driving back into Damascus after an absence of eight months -- clouds of black smoke signal conflict is closing in on Syria's capital. But first impressions are deceptive. At the city's heart, it's fabled mosque all appears tranquil. No one flinches when artillery fire explodes just a few miles away. Nearby, the ancient bazaar is teeming, stores are open, shelves well-stocked, supplies are plenty.

(on camera): We've tried talking to several storekeepers here. But they all tell us they're too afraid to talk on camera, worried about what the government might say, worried about what the rebels might do to them. They all tell us despite the abundance of people here, business is down.

When I ask them about the shelling that we can hear in the background, they tell me they're worried, afraid -- afraid because they think the war is getting closer.

(voice-over): And they are right. Ten minutes' drive away, destruction where government forces chase the Free Syrian Army. On many days, the death toll around the capital, far higher than for other cities.

But where they can, people are trying to hold on to their old lives. For Rama Hamdi, that's a few minutes at the beauty salon. It may look like normal life, but it's not.

RAMA HAMDI, BEAUTY SALON CLIENT: Every day we're hearing this boom, boom. And everything else -- there is a lot had been going on.

ROBERTSON (on camera): You don't worry about it?

HAMDI: I worry. I'm worried sick about it. But there's nothing we can do.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She tells me she hates the killing, supports neither government nor rebels, wants them to talk, feels stuck in the middle. So, too, the salon's owner.

RAUDA ALAITA, BEAUTY SALON OWNER: I cannot go to the countrysides without being worried somebody will stop me. Is it the real army or the other army stopping me? What answer I should answer if they ask me with whom I am? So it's really difficult now because you are really stuck in the middle.

ROBERTSON: At a news conference under the banner of unity, an array of anything but united opposition figures call for talks with the government. Reality is, none of the armed opposition, like the Free Syrian Army, are here. They'd be arrested.

The groups gathered here are the ones the government tolerates. They know they are powerless.

With nightfall, the city looks serene. But like daytime, it's deceptive. The shelling continues. The only talking now is with guns.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Damascus, Syria.


JOHNS: Mitt Romney retools his campaign trying to stop his slide in the polls. But is the problem with strategy or the candidate? Paul Begala and Mary Matalin are standing by.

And Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will be speaking live in Iowa and we will take you there.


JOHNS: Joining me now for today's "Strategy Session" are two of our political contributors, Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, here in Washington and from New Orleans, Republican strategist, Mary Matalin. So Mary, I want to start with you obviously. We've heard all this talk about a strategy change right now. Why on earth a strategy change at this point 50 days out?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we've heard three different accounts and they were all different and contradicted each other. And this campaign is not retooling. And contrary to what you said coming in, Joe, Romney is not sliding.

It's a dead heat in all the swing states and in states that Barack Obama won by double digits in the last go-round. He's barely keeping up with Mitt Romney or he's only one point ahead. What I heard in Park City from the campaign way back when was that there would be a sequencing.

The convention would be the opportunity to unify and enthuse the base and say, who is Mitt Romney? After Labor Day, they'd start laying out as he has today the specific, flesh out the specifics, which have always been there.

But will say them going to the final day, as opposed to the president who's been campaigning for three years and has a failed record for three years. We are where we always would be in the final home stretch.

I find these stories a little overwritten, but that also happens with the media in the last stretch of the campaign.

JOHNS: Paul Begala, take off your "Super PAC" hat, if you will, for just a minute here, and give me a sense of strategy. What do you think Mitt Romney ought to do?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, actually he ought to listen to Mary Matalin. I'm sure she's probably helping her party. The most important thing he could have done at his convention -- I think it's too late 50 days from the election, is to show us he'd be a different kind of Republican.

Not a Democrat. We understand he's in a different party. But the country really doesn't want to go back to the policies that caused the mess. One of the most effective speeches we saw this year was my old boss, President Clinton, who basically said the Romney agenda is to go back to massive tax cuts for the rich, massive deficits and deregulation of Wall Street.

That's what got us into this mess to begin with. He need to show not just he's different from President Obama, but frankly that he's different from President George W. Bush and the old failed Republican ideas. He has not come to us with any new ideas --

JOHNS: Let me ask you both simply, if he were to pick one or two specific that is he needs to address, what would those specifics be, Mary, starting with you?

MATALIN: I think he's fine. He needs to continue to make the contrast clear. Just because Bill Clinton says something, even if he says it well, doesn't make it so. Romney is not proposing going back to anything remotely like Paul just described.

They have to mischaracterize what he's been saying. What he'll continue to emphasize in the debate is a robust, pro-growth, limited agenda, increasing trade, which the Obama administration has none of.

Regulatory and tax reform, by tying education to the skills we need for 21st Century jobs, that's not going back. If anybody went back, it's back to the old Clinton era tactics of making up what the other side is proposing. That's not at all what Mitt Romney is proposing.

JOHNS: Paul, specifics, what should Mitt Romney do, especially considering the fact that the president himself has been hit for not being specific enough this time around?

BEGALA: Well, first off, Mary just gave us more specifics in 30 seconds than Mitt Romney did at his convention in 30 minutes. He should be listening to Mary and not to whoever it is he's listening to.

Let me isolate one, tax reform. Governor Romney has proposed massive tax cuts on the very rich, $250,000 a year if you make more than $3 million a year. He says he'll pay for it by closing loopholes. He won't tell us which loopholes.

He won't even show us what loopholes he himself benefits from. He needs to release his tax returns going back at least five years, maybe 10 or 12 like his father did. Show us the loopholes he's taken advantage of.

Nobody thinks he's done anything illegal. But he's probably been aggressive about using legal loopholes like his accounts in the Cayman Islands or Swiss banks or Luxembourg or other places.

He should show us the tax loopholes he has used and the tax loopholes he would close because a lot of people think he'll save and protect the tax loopholes that benefit wealthy people like him and raise taxes on the middle class that's what one independent study already said from the Tax Policy Center.

JOHNS: Mary, if you want to respond to that, go ahead, but also --

MATALIN: Yes, it was not an independent study. It was a study that was rebuked by its own author, one of the authors of it worked for Obama. What Romney has said specific is that the loopholes he would close is corporate welfare.

He would means tests those kinds of benefits that are in the tax code for rich people like Paul Begala, but people on lower incomes would be able to keep their mortgage deduction charitable. Most broad-based incentivizing loopholes would stay open.

But the big ones would be clothe. It's a growth agenda. That incentivizes investment. He would also do something this president has not only failed to do, which is impeding the economic growth, debt reform, deficit retirement.

This president has had four consecutive years of trillion- dollar deficits. He has a $16 trillion national debt, which exceeds our GDP. By putting Paul Ryan on the ticket, Romney said specifically and loudly and clearly, we need adult responsible reform starting with our debt retirement.

So we're not doing an intergenerational theft and immorally burdening our children with the debt we've accrued.

JOHNS: Mary, I think I heard you say there's really not a strategy problem here. So I want to ask you whether you think there's at least a bit of a problem with the candidate.

There's a CNN poll, I think we can put it up on the screen, that essentially says 48 percent of likely voters are voting for Mitt Romney while 47 percent of likely Romney voters want to vote against President Obama.

So does Mitt Romney really have to give people something to vote for or just keep giving people something to vote against?

MATALIN: They're not mutually exclusive. He doesn't even have to tell them what to vote against. They're living it day in and day out. Every time they go to the gas pump or the grocery store, they're living that.

And he can say here's how my policies would make it better. Here's how his policies have made it worse. Along the lines of what I just said, but they're not mutually exclusive. It doesn't matter if people are voting against or for.

They come to the same end, which is that we need new leadership, we need a new president, we need a new direction for the 21st Century or we're going to end up like our friends and our brethren across the ocean there.

JOHNS: All right then, Paul Begala and Mary Matalin, thanks so much. Good to see you today.

And Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will be speaking live in Iowa. We'll take you there when he shows up.


JOHNS: Chicago's teachers accuse Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel of bullying tactics today after the city went to court to end a week- long strike. Over the weekend, both sides thought they had a deal.

CNN's Ted Rowlands has more on what's gone wrong -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, it looked like it was a done deal. The negotiations were tough, lasted more than a week. They came to a deal.

But then yesterday when the teachers were supposed to vote on this deal and specifically vote to end the strike, they decided not to.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): Instead of voting on the tentative deal, teachers decided to wait.

MICHAEL BOCHNER, CHICAGO TEACHER: Contract was presented but there was some indecision.

ROWLANDS: The delay triggered an immediate and aggressive response from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who is now seeking an injunction to force teachers back to work.

In a statement, Emanuel said, I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union. The mayor and the school district want teachers back in the classroom while the union figures out if they want the contract.

JESSE RUIZ, V.P., CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL: The fact that they can't is extremely disappointing to me. They need to be in the classroom. We're losing ground every day they're not there.

ROWLANDS: This group of parents among tens of thousands in the second week of trying to figure out what to do with their kids each day say they, too, want teachers to hurry up and read the proposal and go back to work while details are hammered out.

RICH LENKOV, PARENT: Besides the day care issue, it's just they need to be in school. You know, their competitors at charter schools and at private schools are all in learning while our kids are not.

ROWLANDS: The teachers union is upset with Emanuel's decision to file for an injunction, calling him a bully. They're asking parents to be patient.

(on camera): Do you need this much time to make a decision?

JACKSON POTTER, TEACHERS UNION: Well, we have 26,000 members and they're all able to read this document and take some time to discuss its merits or its deficiencies.


ROWLANDS: And that, Joe, is exactly what's going on today. Everybody, all the teachers are reading this agreement. Tomorrow, we are expecting that this vote will take place at some point and the vote is to end the strike. So it's possible the kids could be back in school Wednesday morning.

JOHNS: Well, that's certainly good news if that works out. Thanks so much for that report, Ted Rowlands.

Republican nominee Paul Ryan is speaking in Des Moines. We'll take you there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Both vice presidential candidates are in Iowa this afternoon. GOP nominee Congressman Paul Ryan is speaking right now in the state capital of Des Moines. Let's listen to him.

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- what we want, what we deserve, what we need in this country is honest money. We want our money to be reliable. We want our money to be something we can count on.

And I've got to tell you, all this money-printing might help the big banks and Wall Street, but it doesn't help the rest of us. If you're saving, if you're living on savings, if you're living on a fixed income, if you're worried about what your energy big is going to cost.

What it costs to cool your house in the summer or heat it in the winter or what your gas price or food bill is going to be, if you're living on a fixed income like CDs or savings, this does not help you. This hurts you.

What we don't want are more bailouts, more printing, more regulating, more borrowing, more Washington knows best. What we want are pro-growth economic policies that are proven to work. We want people to go back to work by growing this economy, not by growing government.

The problem we have is not unlike the problem many other countries have. For decades, politicians from all political parties have made lots of empty promises to get votes and sooner or later, when the borrowing runs out or when we can't borrow like we have, those empty promises become broken promises.

That's what Europe's involved in right now. They're in a debt crisis. They're slashing benefits for retirees right now, cranking up tax rates. Young people have no opportunities. That's the future we will have if we don't get this situation under control.

President Obama, when he was running for president, said that a $10.6 trillion debt was unpatriotic. It's a $16 trillion debt now. I wonder what he would call that. He's presided over $5 trillion increase in our debt.

You know, Janna and I live over in Janesville, Wisconsin. Very similar to Iowa and by the time our three kids are my age, the size of the government we have today will be double in size what it is then.

We've taken about 20 cents out of every dollar just to pay the bills on average for the last 60 years for the federal government. When my kids are my age, we have to take 40 cents out of every single dollar to pay for this government at that time.

This is unsustainable. Our government right now borrows about 30 cents of every borrow we spend. And half of that comes from other countries like China. This isn't working. And President Obama has had four chances, four opportunities to do something about this.

What did he do? He gave us four budgets with trillion-dollar deficits every year. He went golfing and did a lot of other things. Your share, every Americans' share of this debt, every man, woman and child, on inauguration day, it was $35,000 per person.

Today it's $51,000 per person. The share of the debt for our households went up $46,000. We can't keep doing this. And if we don't get ahead of this problem, if we don't tackle these problems, they will tackle us.

This is not only a threat to our current economy to jobs right now, but it's guaranteeing that the next generation has a diminished future. We've never done that before in this country. Every generation has always fixed its problems so that the next generation is better off.

That's the American legacy. Look, Iowans, you understand this. Iowa, you have the lowest average credit card debt in the nation. People in Iowa live within their means. You elect governor who is balance the budget. You're frugal.

JOHNS: Republican vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, in a sweet spot there really talking about the budget, the budget deficit and the United States government responsibilities.

We'll listen in as some of the other candidates talk around the country including Vice President Biden who's also in Iowa.

A new report alleges sabotage at one of Iran's nuclear facilities. We'll tell you what happened and where.