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Iran's President: The Statesman?; Is U.S. Losing The Espionage War?; NFL, Refs Work on Deal; Registering Voters; New Troops, Old Threats; Campaigning in Ohio

Aired September 26, 2012 - 17:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, Iran's controversial president takes the stage at the United Nations one last time, but spares the world his usual jabs and bombshell proclamations. Is it an attempt to try to go out as a statesman?

Plus, President Obama and Mitt Romney go head-to-head in a state neither one can afford to lose this November. You'll hear from both of them live in minutes.

And is the Pentagon getting too cozy with Hollywood? Why some say the latest military films reveal too many national secrets.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Joe Johns, and you're in the SITUATION ROOM.



JOHNS: There were empty seats and walkouts at the United Nations today ahead of what was expected to be a fiery offensive final speech from the provocative Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but while some of the usual rhetoric was there, this year's speech had a very different tone. CNN foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is in New York with the latest -- Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, it's not what some people expected. it was short on threats, but long on blame.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the lame duck president of Iran, delivered his swan song to the U.N. General Assembly.

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): The current world order is discriminatory and based on injustice.

DOUGHERTY: He did manage to work in some of his standard references to Israel.

AHMADINEJAD: Continued threats by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality. DOUGHERTY: But there were none of his usual bombshells.

AHMADINEJAD: I do not believe that Muslims, Christian, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others have any problems among themselves or are hostile against each other.

DOUGHERTY: Instead, the Iranian president dawned the mantle of statesman, protector of the world's suppressed.

AHMADINEJAD: Policies of the world's main centers of power are based on the principle of domination and the conquering of others. These centers only seek supremacy and not in favor of peace and definitely not at the service of their nations.

DOUGHERTY: Without naming names of countries or politicians, he even took a swipe at election campaign funding.

AHMADINEJAD: Despite what big political parties claim in the capitalist countries, the money that goes into election campaigns is usually nothing but an investment.

DOUGHERTY: In the cross hairs of the Israel for his country's nuclear program besieged by crippling economic sanctions, the target of protesters on the streets outside of the U.N., Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still grabbed the world's attention by not acting out. As Iran expert, Karim Sadjapour, told CNNs Suzanne Malveaux --

KARIM SADJAPOUR, CARNEGIE FOUNDATION: It's almost like a villainist (ph) figure from an international reality television show. He's almost kind of like Kim Kardashian type figure and that he makes these bombastic statements even though he doesn't really hold authority to do anything. But he loves the media. He loves attention.


DOUGHERTY (on-camera): Ahmadinejad's milder tone didn't convince the U.S. Its diplomats boycotted his speech citing his comments this week on Israel and adding that it's particularly unfortunate that he had the platform at the U.N. General Assembly on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which is they say why the U.S. decided not to attend -- Joe.

JOHNS: Jill, I'm hearing secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had a packed schedule at the U.N. today.

DOUGHERTY: Well, we got the list, and it's really quite astounding. There were about 38 meetings, one-on-one meetings with world leaders. Some of them scheduled. Some have already happened, but it's really quite astounding. And it's only Wednesday.

JOHNS: CNN foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. Thanks for that, Jill.

You may have heard warnings. An espionage war is potentially being waged against the United States. And according to top lawmakers, it's a battle the country is losing. The White House rolled out its top cyber chief to address those concerns today. CNN intelligence correspondent, Suzanne Kelly, was there -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Joe. The security coordinator to the White House, Michael Daniel gave a pretty candid assessment of the problem today, and this comes as there are rumblings that the president is getting ready to issue an executive order on cyber security in light of Congress failing to pass legislation on this issue.

Now, Daniel addressed an intelligence forum here in Washington and laid out the administration's concerns and their approach. Take a listen.


MICHAEL DANIEL, WHITE HOUSE CYBER SECURITY ADVISER: We're getting to the point where we're rapidly approaching $10 trillion being exchanged over wired and wireless networks each year. And that's just growing. In fact, we've reached the point where pretty much if you shut down the internet, you shut down the economy.


KELLY: Scary words there. And with the threat of hackers attacking banks, credit card companies, stealing research and development from U.S. businesses, and of course, what are they doing about it? Well, take a look at the top priorities for the administration for cyber security right now.

Securing the federal networks, making sure the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, things like that are safe. Protect critical infrastructure and a quicker response to attacks making sure that, number one, they know something is under attack and, number two, they're able to defend it quickly.

Now, an executive order which the president of Homeland Security Adviser, John Brennan, said was being considered would presumably trying to address some of the shortcomings right now between government and the private sector.

Particularly important, the government wants to make sure that those companies that own and operate critical infrastructure are taking appropriate measures to keep things like the water supply, the electric grid, the air traffic control system safe from a cyber attack.

JOHNS: Well, do we know what the hang-up is? This certainly does seem like the kind of thing Congress would know they have to do pretty quickly.

KELLY: It seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? Yes. Well, there is a bill that was passed by the house, but it did hit snags in the Senate. The sticking point really now is over the burden on business. Should they be required to share information with the government if the government is helping identify and ward off these attacks?

And if they share that information and the government sees something else that doesn't look right, would they have any liability protection from that being used against them? That's the big rub really, but according to Congressman Mike Rogers who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, the bill may not be dead just yet.


REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: It may be coffering, it may be sputtering, but it is not dead. I believe we can come to an agreement on the language in this narrow -- much narrower bill and then come back after the first of the year to do the other things that may be difficult to get done legislatively.


KELLY: Right. So, Joe, if an executive order is issued soon, it would really likely be a stopgap measure until Congress can get it back together and pass some legislation on this.

JOHNS: Suzanne Kelly, thanks so much.

KELLY: Pleasure.

JOHNS: In Syria, a stunning death toll. One opposition group says it now tops 30,000 people since the fighting began more than one year ago. Today, explosives and gunfire rocked Damascus in a rebel attack on the Syrian equivalent of the Pentagon. ITN's Bill Neilly is getting rare access inside the country.


BILL NEELY, ITV NEWS (voice-over): In one city, this would be bad enough. In three, it's a disaster. But this is now the reality in the three main cities of Syria. The regime's troops fighting rebels for control of whole districts. Aleppo is Syria's biggest city and business capital engulfed now in the business of war.

The damage is extraordinary. The death toll incalculable. Aleppo is being destroyed to make it safe. Syrian troops are on the offensive in the country's third city, Homs, recapturing many areas from what they say are foreign fighters and extremist Muslims. Rebels, they say, directly armed by Arab states.

In one district they took, they showed us what they said was an abandoned rebel headquarters. Bags with Saudi Arabian markings scattered around. A makeshift scaffold with ropes and a meat hook was there. They said rebels tortured and hanged people here. We have no way of proving this.

The U.N. mostly accuses the regime of mass torture but says rebels are guilty of human rights abuses, too. But it's clear this is a dirty war here in Homs and in every city. No one is safe. No faith is spared. Christian churches and Muslim mosques are battleground. But one man is an optimist, the new governor of Homs, Syria's third city. "These rebels," he says, "will be beaten and we'll win the war in Homs in one month."

One month, that seems very optimistic.

"One month," he insists. "But Britain and America should stop supporting terrorists". They are his masters' words. Throughout the interview, explosions echo across the city. Explosions, too, in Syria's capital city today, one at a military base. Bombs smuggled inside and detonated by rebels.

Here, too, troops crack down on rest of areas with brute force. Three cities, one war, tens of thousands dead. And at the United Nations complete failure to stop it.

Bill Neely, ITV News, Homs.


JOHNS: And we just got word from rebel groups that 298 people died today across Syria, Most of those in Damascus and its suburbs.

The battle is on in Ohio. President Obama and Mitt Romney both getting ready to speak live from a state they can't afford to lose. We'll bring you both rallies in minutes.

Plus, a terror suspect attempts to stop his extradition to the U.S. eight years after his arrest. Ahead, how his legal team has outmaneuvered prosecutors again and again?


JOHNS: There've been few terror suspects who have frustrated prosecutors like Abu Hamza. For eight years, the United States have been trying to extratide the radical cleric. CNN senior international correspondent, Dan Rivers, looks at why the U.S. wants to try him and how his legal team has outmaneuvered prosecutors again and again.

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe, he is one of the most instantly recognizable terrorist suspects in Britain. Abu Hamza is a veteran of Afghanistan, a preacher of jihad, and he's been an almost a constant thorn in the side of British authorities for more than a decade. Now though, his attempted extradition to the United States has faltered at the last minute.


RIVERS (voice-over): He brazenly boasted about his terrorist ideology on the streets of London. Abu Hamza used this road in Finsbury Park as a pulpit to spread hatred and insight violence. But now, eight years after his arrest, Abu Hamza is staging yet another last-minute legal attempt to thwart his extradition to the United States.

Abu Hamza's accused of running a terrorist training camp here in Oregon and orchestrating a kidnapping of western tourists in Yemen in 1998, which left four dead, including Laurence Whitehouse's wife, Margaret, shot as she helped another wounded hostage.

LAURENCE WHITEHOUSE, FORMER YEMENI HOSTAGE: It would have been good for him to stand trial in Britain, but I think the U.S. authorities have evidence relating to the phone calls that occurred in the Yemen between the 26th and the 29th of December 1998. And such evidence doesn't seem to be admissible in British courts.

RIVERS: Abu Hamza has already been convicted of other terrorist defenses in Britain, but four other men are also being extradited at the same time having never been convicted of anything. It's been almost a decade since Abu Hamza preached his fiery sermons outside this north London mosque.

(on-camera) Since then, he and other terrorist suspects have been fighting extradition to the U.S. without ever being able to answer the charges of which the Americans accuse them. Some have been detained longer than anyone in British legal history without facing a jury.

(voice-over) Babar Ahmad's case is especially controversial. He's never set foot in the U.S. He's accused of raising funds for terrorism via website hosted on a number of servers, including one temporarily in the U.S. Another man, Talha Ahsan, is also accused of helping him. His brother says Tala suffers from Asperger's syndrome and is not a terrorist.

HAMJA AHSAN, BROTHER OF TALHA AHSAN: he's extremely vulnerable. Half of prison suicides take place within solitary confinement regime, someone (ph) in a vulnerable person like that -- someone he's never been to the United States is terrible.

RIVERS: The family has an unlikely ally in David Bermingham, one of the so-called not west three accused of fraud related to the Enron scandal. He, too, was extradited under the controversial 2003 extradition act which requires no prima facie evidence to be presented in Britain before extradition to the U.S.

DAVID BERMINGHAM, EXTRADITED FROM UK TO U.S.: Why are they not being tried here? Why are we subcontracting our criminal justice system to the United States of America?

RIVERS: The British government run cram (ph) prosecution service says there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the men in the UK. It's still not clear if Abu Hamza's last ditch attempt to avoid extradition will be successful or if his trial with the others in the U.S. is now just a matter of time.


RIVERS (on-camera): If the extradition of these men does go ahead, it could see several high profile terrorist trial taking place in the United States even though in some of the cases, the links to America are tenuous at best -- Joe.

JOHNS: Protesters in Europe are fed up with austerity anger boiling over today as they send the politicians an unmistakable statement about agony.


JOHNS: Those protests against economic austerity measures in Spain and Greece turned violent. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring some of the other stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what do you have?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Joe. Well, first to Athens where authorities say demonstrators through Molotov cocktails on a square outside the country's parliament building. Police responded with teargas. There are no immediate reports of injuries.

This comes a day after police reportedly used clubs and rubber bullets to keep thousands of protesters away from the country's parliament building in Madrid. Twenty-eight people, including two police officers were reported injured in those clashes.

And two senators are demanding answers about security concerns at the U.S. diplomatic office in Benghazi, Libya, leading up to the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Senators Johny Isakson of Georgia and Bob Corker of Tennessee, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have sent a letter to secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

They cite CNN reports a lower than standard security levels at the consulate and concerns about threats there.

And a preliminary settlement requires the University of California to pay $30,000 to each of 21 protesters hit by pepper spray from university police during occupy demonstrations at UC Davis last November. A copy of the settlement puts aside additional funds for the plaintiff's attorneys and protesters who arrested during that incident.

And now, turning to a lighter moment on the campaign trail today. At a campaign stop in Ohio, Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was joined by Mike Rowe, the host of the Discovery Channel show "Dirty Jobs." And he spoke about his appreciation for jobs that most people don't want and his appreciation for meet (ph) most people don't want as well. Take a listen.


MIKE ROWE, HOST, DISCOVERY CHANNEL'S "DIRTY JOBS": You'll be pleased to know, Ohio, that you do in fact have a road kill cleanup division. And they are excellent at what they do. You'll also be pleased to know the road kill itself here in Ohio is second to none both in volume and variety.



SYLVESTER: OK. Obviously, having a little bit of fun. I do wonder a little how would he know that?

JOHNS: Well, you know, I'm from Ohio. And I can tell you, I've seen a lot of road kill in Ohio, but I think it's much better in Pennsylvania.

SYLVESTER: That road kill in Pennsylvania's better. Again, how would you know that, Joe?


SYLVESTER: You're not sampling the stuff.

JOHNS: Right. There's something about talking about road kill and presidential campaigns that doesn't work anyway.


JOHNS: But that's another story. All right. Thanks, Lisa.

The president and his rival are staging dueling events today in the most important battleground state on the map.

And the only thing nastier than the election may be the fight over football's replacement refs. Are the league and its referees ready to play nice?


JOHNS: I think we can say there's at least one thing both candidates agree on, the NFL's replacement refs aren't getting the job done. And it's high time the league and the referees union came to an agreement. CNN's Brian Todd is watching the negotiations closely and joins me now -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, there are conflicting reports right now over whether the referees and the NFL have reached a deal or not. ESPN citing a source familiar with the talks reports an agreement in principle is, quote, "at hand." But "Sports Illustrated" Peter King reports a deal is not imminent.

He says that comes from one official who got an e-mail from the referees union. Either way, if a deal doesn't get done soon, the players, themselves, may take action.


TODD (voice-over): If you think fans are mad about the NFL's replacement referees, try the players. The Green Bay Packers who lost on a wild call at the end of their game against Seattle apparently discussed drastic measures on the flight home. T.J. Lang, key (ph) of the F-bomb tweets, told radio station, WXYT, about a potential plan.

VOICE OF T.J. LANG, PACKERS GUARD: There was a conversation about, you know, is there anything we can do go on strike or just not play games, you know, just go out there and have an agreement to, you know, snap the ball and take a knee every play.

TODD: The head of the NFL Players Association says he doesn't think it's in the players or the fans interests to do that. No immediate response from the NFL itself. Former Washington Redskins Tight End, Rick "Doc" Walker, now a host for D.C. radio station, ESPN 980, says a players protest could backfire. RICK "DOC" WALKER, FORMER REDSKINS TIGHT END: I think you got to let it go or it's going to carry over into the next week. It's unfortunate what happened to Green Bay, but it happened. And it's over. And you can't reverse it.

TODD (on-camera): But there's no question that the NFL has now gotten to the point of a public relations nightmare with the replacement refs that few if any anticipated, and overriding concern now, the safety of the players.

(voice-over) Some believe outright chaos has broken out on the field, cheap shots, injuries, players and coaches trying to intimidate the replacement refs. Walker also works the sidelines during Redskins games.

WALKER: They have lost control of the game. It looks like the 1970s. When I got into the league, cornerbacks could beat a receiver up all the way down the field. I watched Philadelphia and Baltimore. And it looked like an episode of Oz, you know, out in the yard of a prison.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): But there's no question the NFL has gotten to a point of a public relations nightmare with the replacement refs that few if any anticipated and overriding concern now the safety of the players.

(voice-over): Some believe outright chaos has broken out on the field, cheap shots, injuries, players and coaches trying to intimidate the replacement refs. Walker also works the sidelines during Redskins games.

RICK "DOC" WALKER, FORMER REDSKINS TIGHT END: They have lost control of the game. It looks like the '70s. When I got into the league, cornerbacks could beat a receiver up all the way down the field. I watched Philadelphia and Baltimore and it looked like an episode of "Oz" you know out in the yard of a prison.

TODD: Former NFL referee Jerry Austin (ph), now a rules analyst for ESPN's "Monday Night Football" says the labor dispute has to be solved to get the focus back where it should be.

GERRY AUSTIN, ESPN MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL RULES ANALYST: What is everybody talking about? They're not talking about the game. They're talking about officiating.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: The fallout of the replacements may have given the locked-out referees some leverage in negotiations, but here's the NFL's leverage. The TV ratings are stratospheric. Today the NFL said its telecasts ranked one and two in viewership among all TV programs last week. That NFL games topped the ratings in all 30 local markets. That's the first time that has ever happened. The CBS game between the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos, Joe, I'm going to throw this out --


TODD: Guess -- guess what the number was?


TODD: Twenty-four million viewers.

JOHNS: Oh that's ridiculous.

TODD: It's ridiculous. People are watching. Now --


TODD: It may be kind of the train wreck effect. You know you want to watch for the referees' debacles.

JOHNS: Yes that's --

TODD: -- but they're watching --

JOHNS: For sure. The interesting thing too is we're starting to see perhaps the pendulum swinging back now, the coaches taking a little bit of heat for the way they're treating the replacements.

TODD: The coaches are really feeling it today. The NFL announced that Patriots coach Bill Belichick (ph) fined $50,000 for grabbing at an NFL ref right after that Baltimore-New England game on Sunday night. Kyle Shanahan (ph), the Redskins offensive coordinator, fined $25,000 for verbally abusing an official after the Redskins lost to Cincinnati. The coaches are feeling a lot of pressure as they always do. And this is just really coming to a boil every weekend now. I think they're very eager to get this done.

JOHNS: That's for sure. Brian Todd thanks so much for that.

TODD: Sure.

JOHNS: Brown residue in the water, roach traps in a food cabinet. Ahead, the appalling sanitary conditions that earned a popular cruise ship a rare failing grade, plus heated legal battles over voting rights gripping much of the country. What it could mean for early voting about to get underway in a number of key battleground states.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was saying things that I wish I could hear. Things I had never heard -- JOHNS: We're waiting for some live events here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Right now you're looking at a live picture at Kent State University in Ohio just north of Akron, Ohio. Expecting the president of the United States to appear there and speak. Earlier today he spoke at Boling Green State University (ph), which is not too far away. Mitt Romney meanwhile the Republican challenger attending a rally in Toledo, Ohio at Seagate Convention Center (ph); he is also expected to speak. And we'll bring that to you live as it happens.

Election Day is officially 41 days away. But with early voting kicking off tomorrow in the key battleground state of Iowa, some Americans are already making their voices heard. And for states that have been embroiled in heated legal battles over voting rights that means a frantic scramble to get people registered. Here's a clip from my upcoming documentary.


JOHNS (voice-over): It is a bill that makes 80 changes to Florida's election law. One change makes registering voters harder for community groups who typically reach out more to minorities. These groups now must turn in registration forms within 48 hours or face thousand-dollar fines. False registration can lead to even higher fines and up to five years in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accountability hurts. It's never comfortable.

JOHNS: Another change sharply reduces early voting days, which are more popular with minorities than with whites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just look at the rules and play by the rules.

JOHNS: And still another forces some people who move to vote provisional ballots, which more often affect minorities and students.

DENNIS BAXLEY (R), FLORIDA STATE HOUSE: One of the things that I think was really going wrong is the opportunity for local elections to be displaced or stolen by just people coming in and moving their address.

JOHNS: All of this in the name of preventing voter fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every single time this fraud is allowed to occur in Florida, your right to vote and my right to vote is degraded.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Bill 1355 is going to create an undo hardship on minority voters in the state of Florida in addition to the elderly, poor and rural voters who will also be disadvantaged by it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we have a razor thin election in Florida and Florida's votes are decisive for the Electoral College outcome, then these changes in the rules could determine who the next president is.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JOHNS: You can see my entire documentary called "Voters In America, Who Counts" on Sunday October 14th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

For years the letters IED have been part of our vocabulary of war. Now the bombs which have claimed so many American lives are a threat to a different group of soldiers in Afghanistan, but the threat is exactly the same.


JOHNS: As the war in Afghanistan winds down, the troops on the front lines are changing, but the threats remain much the same. Namely IEDs, the bombs that have been the bane of the U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. CNN's Anna Coren looks at the challenge for Afghan troops.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Joe, the alarming rise in green on blue (ph) or insider attacks as they are known on U.S. and coalition forces, the military here has decided to fast track the transfer of power to Afghan forces. Now, we visited a base in one of the most dangerous parts of the country and found that the Afghan forces were now in complete control of all operations.


COREN (voice-over): Above the dusty plains in southwestern Afghanistan, a U.S. military crew flies from Camp Leveneck (ph) to Delaram (ph). A trip once made by road now too dangerous because of all the IEDs planted daily by insurgents. Delaram (ph) used to be home to more than 1,000 U.S. Marines, but only 28 remain. The drawdown here is in full swing and the transfer of power virtually complete.

CAPT. CHARLES ARVISAIS, U.S. MARINES CORPS: We're concerned that with the drawdown that there would be a step back in progress, but the ANA have really taken a step forward.


COREN: The man now in charge is General Abdul Wasea Milad (ph) from the Afghan National Army or ANA. He controls 5,000 soldiers in some of the most dangerous territory in the country.


COREN: And he's just been briefed on a possible IED.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an IED out by the police station.


COREN: The Marines hand over a block of C-4, a military explosive.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was yours (ph).

COREN: There was a time when the Americans would have been leading this operation. Now the Afghans are in complete control.


COREN: The general takes us in his Humvee to the suspected IED three kilometers away.

(on camera): Who reported the IED?


COREN: The police?


COREN: How did they find it?


COREN (voice-over): Armed with a metal detector, a drag rope and detonators, a bomb disposal team leads us to the location. We walk in single file in case any other IEDs have been laid on the road. Recently the Taliban have been planting IEDs that are almost impossible to detect because they contain little if any metal. A sign the enemy is becoming much more sophisticated. Lieutenant John Mohamed (ph) is leading this operation. The 30-year-old who earns less than $300 a month tells me --


COREN: I do this because it's my job. I'm prepared to lose my own life, but I don't want other people to die.

(on camera): At the beginning of this year the Afghan National Army here in Delaram (ph) had no idea how to diffuse an IED other than to shoot it or set it on fire. Well now with the right training and equipment they have the skills to disable these deadly devices.

(voice-over): After 20 minutes, the soldiers determine the site is clear claiming the Taliban either removed it once it had been reported or a local took the IED to claim the $100 reward. In the last few months there have been alarming reports of the Taliban returning to Delaram (ph), even overrunning checkpoints. The general admits the Taliban are a resilient enemy and are constantly trying to infiltrate the ranks. And while there have been no insider attacks by the men under his watch, he says all commanders must be vigilant.


COREN: We are in a very dangerous war against terrorists, an enemy that doesn't hesitate using anything to harm us. (SOUNDS)

COREN: The true test for the Afghan soldiers is whether they can maintain security on their own once the U.S.-led coalition leaves. A mission General Wasea believes his men will live up to.


COREN: Now, Joe, as far as the U.S. Marines are concerned, they just want this war to be over so they can go home. That is really the general consensus of all U.S. and coalition forces. Now, joint operations and trading is still underway in certain parts of the country, but it really is being wound back. There is a feeling the Afghans need to stand on their own two feet and look after their own country's security -- Joe.

JOHNS: Let's get straight to President Obama speaking at a live event at Kent, Ohio. It's Kent State University, just started speaking.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But we do believe in something called opportunity. We believe in a country where hard work pays off. Where responsibility is rewarded, where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody's doing their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules. We believe in America where no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from or who you love you can make it if you try. That's what I believe. That's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States of America.


OBAMA: Now, I've said this before and I will say it again, the path I'm offering is not quick or easy. The truth is we've had problems that have been building up for decades. Jobs being shipped overseas. Paychecks shrinking even when the cost of everything is going up. So for the last four years we've been working to start restoring that basic bargain that says if you work hard you can get ahead. But we've got a lot more work to do.


OBAMA: I love you back --


OBAMA: But I want especially the young people to understand you should feel confident about our future because our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. We still got the world's best workers, the best businesses, the best scientists, the best researchers, the best colleges and universities.


OBAMA: So there's not a country on earth that wouldn't trade places with the United States. But we've got more work to do. And the path I'm offering even though it's harder, it's going to lead to a better place. And in case some of you missed the convention or only watched Michelle and didn't watch me, which I understand, let me repeat the plan that I put forward. Practical, specific five-point plan to grow our middle class, create strong jobs here in Ohio and around the country and lay a stronger foundation for our economy. First thing is I want to see us export more jobs -- export more products -- excuse me.


OBAMA: I was channeling my opponent there for a second.


OBAMA: I want to see us export more products and outsource fewer jobs. You know, my opponent several years ago said let's let Detroit go bankrupt. And when he said that he was talking about one in eight Ohio jobs, businesses in 82 out of 88 Ohio counties that count on the auto industry. And so we said, no, you know this may be hard and it may not be popular, but we're going to bet on American workers. We're going to bet on American manufacturing. And you know what? Today the American auto industry has come roaring back with nearly 250,000 new jobs.


OBAMA: And so now you've got a choice. We can give more tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. Don't boo. Vote. Or we can reward companies that are opening new plants here in Ohio, training new workers here in America. Creating new jobs here in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in you --

OBAMA: Because we've been working on it you believe me. We don't just talk the talk. You know, my opponent's been spending a lot of time in Ohio lately and he's been talking tough about China. He says he's going to take the fight to them. He's going to go after the cheaters, he says. Now, I've got to admit that the message he's delivering now is better than the one that he was delivering all those years he was profiting from investing in companies that were shipping jobs to China. When you hear his new found outrage, when you see those ads he's running promising to get tough on China, you know it's sort of like the fox --

JOHNS: A rare slip of the tongue there for the president of the United States, but a very quick recovery, saying, "I want to see us export more jobs." And he corrected himself, "I mean export more products -- excuse me -- in that quick recovery I was channeling my opponent" President Obama said. We're going to go now in just a moment to hear from Mitt Romney who is also campaigning in Ohio right after this break.


JOHNS: We just heard from President Obama in the "Buckeye State". Now Mitt Romney is speaking live at a campaign stop in Toledo, Ohio. Let's listen in. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in free people pursuing their dreams. I believe in freedom.


ROMNEY: Now, of course, government has a role. We have people that are hurting. We have people who are disabled and people who are poor. They need our help and they receive our help. We're a charitable people. No nation on earth is as charitable as the people of the United States of America. And so we're going to help those that need our help. We're a compassionate people. At the same time -- at the same time we're going to insist that these people have the opportunity for work if they can carry out work if they're able-bodied.


ROMNEY: Because we are not going to create a society of dependence on government.


ROMNEY: Look, this president has put us on a path to become like Europe.


ROMNEY: Europe doesn't work in Europe. I don't want it here. I don't want a government that gets larger and larger, that has huge debts like that. I don't want an America where we have chronic, high unemployment year after year after year, where there's no wage growth. Do you realize what's happened to the income of the median family in America? Their income has gone down every year for the past four years. It's come down some 8.2 percent. I believe the number is under the Obama years. Think about that. American families are having a hard time. Incomes are down. At the same time, the cost of food is up. The cost of electricity is up. The cost of health care is way up. The cost of gasoline has doubled. The American family, middle income families, are having a hard time. Look, I know the president cares about America and the people of this country. He just doesn't know how to help them. I do. I'll get this country going again.



ROMNEY: Now, I have confidence in our future. I recognize that America is going to come roaring back. Were we to re-elect President Obama there's no question in my mind we'd face four more difficult years. If instead I -- no, instead when I become president --


ROMNEY: -- we're going to get this economy growing again. We're going to do the things that ignite this economy. Those five things I describe will get America's economy going again, will help people find jobs that need those jobs. We'll get take-home pay to come up again. This is not a mystery. We know how to do it. America has faced challenges before. When we have strong leaders, when we have people who know how to lead and where to lead we can get it done. And I am and we will.



ROMNEY: You know --

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE) Chanting Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt --

ROMNEY: I believe in America and I believe in you. I believe you're going to help me win Ohio. I'll tell you that. All right.


ROMNEY: We love this country. We know what it stands for. We know the power of freedom. We take our inspiration from the founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution --

JOHNS: Mitt Romney appearing right now in Toledo, Ohio before an absolutely raucous crowd there, telling the crowd getting a big applause for the line "I know the president cares about the people of America. He just doesn't know how to help them and I do." Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in Ohio.

ROMNEY: Among those rights -- among those rights were life and --