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Mitt Romney's About-Face on 47 Percent Remarks; Unemployment Rate Drops Sharply; Agent Killed In Friendly Fire?; Dissident Cuban Blogger Arrested; Deficit Tops $1 Trillion For Fourth Year; "Curiosity" To Scoop Up Martian Soil; Political Laughs

Aired October 5, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: important and surprising numbers about jobs forcing both the president and Mitt Romney to rewrite their pitch to voters.

GE's former boss calls the jobs numbers unbelievable. And wait until you hear the smackdown he gets from a one-time member of the Obama White House.

And Mitt Romney's complete about-face -- how he now calls his 47 percent remarks totally wrong.

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

We begin with President Obama out there on the campaign trail making the most of today's unexpected and potentially, potentially game- changing numbers about jobs.

With only 32 days to go before the election, the Labor Department announced employers created 114,000 jobs last month. Just as important, the numbers from July and August were revised upward to show the economy added 86,000 more jobs than we originally thought.

September's unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent down to 7.8 percent. It hasn't been this low since President Obama was inaugurated. And out there on the campaign trail today, he's taking full credit for the change.

Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's getting reaction from the White House, from the campaign.

The president's pretty happy about these numbers, isn't he?


But for the White House and the president, it's a balancing act. For the president, he's trying not to suggest that we're out of the woods yet, but he is using the numbers to support the case that he's been making on the trail, that his policies have been good for the economy and in the words of his campaign slogan, are helping move the nation forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After losing about 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, our businesses have now added 5.2 million new jobs over the past two-and-a-half years.

This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. Today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points.

It is a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.


YELLIN: And maybe the best news in the numbers is this.

While the unemployment rate fell, the number of people entering the work force was up only a tiny bit, .027 percent, but we will take that, because contrast that with other months when the unemployment rate fell only because people stopped looking for work.

This is good political new for the White House, but it's also good for the nation.

BLITZER: Because that magic number sort of being 8 percent, it's been there for a long time.

Tell our views why going below 8 percent is politically so significant.

YELLIN: So, this dates back to the days even before the president went into the White House, when his team was first crafting a stimulus plan. Back then, his top economists came out with a report, and it included this chart, which projected -- it did not promise -- it was a projection -- that unemployment would not rise above 8 percent if Congress passed the stimulus plan.

Well, of course, stimulus passed and unemployment has stayed above 8 percent and the president's critics have been hammering him on 8 percent, 8 percent. We have heard it on cable news, on the campaign trail, in TV ads.

The fact that it's now fallen below 8 percent is symbolically important in politics. Now, one note. The election will be won or lost in the battleground states. And here's a list of five battleground states where the unemployment rate was higher than the national average, at least in August. It's still a problem for the president.

And another thing to note, Wolf, he has one more jobs report before the election, just days before the election. That could matter a lot.

BLITZER: The Friday before November 6. We will see what that jobs report says.

YELLIN: People who make up their minds in the last days...


BLITZER: But there's a lot of early voting now this time, so a lot of people will have already voted by then.

YELLIN: Good point, yes.

BLITZER: OK, Jessica, thanks very much.

The upbeat news about jobs may have caught Mitt Romney and Republicans by surprise, but it certainly didn't take very long to adjust their basic message that things would be even better if their man gets into the White House.

We will be hearing live from Romney as he campaigns in Florida during our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour.

But our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is with Romney on this, the first stop of the day in Virginia.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the new unemployment report changed one thing for Mitt Romney today. One of his favorite lines of attack on the president is now out of a job.

(voice-over): Campaigning in Virginia coal country, Mitt Romney tried to dig through the latest jobs numbers to make the case President Obama has not hit pay dirt just yet.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There were fewer new jobs created this month than last month. And the unemployment rate as you noted this year has come down very, very slowly, but it's come down nonetheless.

The reason it's come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work.

ACOSTA: Still, one of Romney's key metrics on the president's handling of the economy went up in smoke when the nation's unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent.

ROMNEY: Eight percent unemployment for over, how many, 43 months? We still have unemployment above 8 percent. He told us he'd get us back to work and hold unemployment below 8 percent. Unemployment above 8 percent month after month after month.

ACOSTA: It's a political bar Romney has repeatedly accused the president of failing to clear for months, a threshold the GOP nominee repeated in his closing statement at the first presidential debate.

ROMNEY: We have had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent. If I'm president, I will create -- help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes.

ACOSTA: But Romney notes the president has fallen short of estimates set by the administration's own economic advisers, who once predicted the stimulus would lower the jobless rate to below 6 percent.

ROMNEY: What's happened is this has been the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. As a matter of fact, he said right now we would be at 5.4 percent unemployment.

NARRATOR: President Obama says he's creating jobs, but he's really creating debt.

ACOSTA: And Romney has a new ad out arguing that the president's job creation efforts have only added to the deficit.

ROMNEY: A couple nights ago, we had a debate. You may have gotten the chance to see that.


ACOSTA: Before the new jobs numbers, Romney had been riding a wave of momentum after this week's debate. He even got a pass from the president, who never mentioned Romney's comments on the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes.

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.

ACOSTA: With an Obama campaign ad still repeating those remarks, Romney tried to put an end to the controversy once and for all on FOX.

ROMNEY: Clearly in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong.

ACOSTA (on camera): Romney heads next to Florida, where his economic message will still resonate. That state's unemployment rate while it has gone down in recent months is still well above the national average -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Jim Acosta joining us, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, this unemployment number, the new number, how important is it to each of these two candidates?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, it's got to be a real boost for President Obama, as Jessica was talking about earlier, if not reality, then also a real psychological boost to get below that 8 percent figure, very important to them, because what it does, Wolf, is it plays into the poll numbers that we have already been seeing, which is that people believe that things are getting better.

The numbers are still not where the president wants them to be. But if it plays into a sense of optimism in this country, that's very good for the president. But overall you're going to hear the same refrain from both campaigns. The president's going to say that he's added more than five million jobs, and Mitt Romney's going to say there's still 23 million unemployed.

BLITZER: You have spent a lot of time covering Mitt Romney. You did that excellent documentary that all of our viewers will remember.

BORGER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Some folks are suggesting -- and no one's better to answer this than you -- that the so-called real Mitt Romney showed up at the debate this week.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: That the guy who was there, that's the man who really exists, as opposed to someone who is pretending to be someone else.

BORGER: Well, when you talk to a lot of people who know Mitt Romney well, they will tell you that he's really more of a pragmatist than ideologue.

What we saw at that debate was somebody I think who seemed more comfortable with his content and his tone than he seemed to be during the primaries many times when he was running to his right. Take a look at him during the primaries when he gave this little speech to a conservative group.


ROMNEY: I fought against long odds in a deep blue state. But I was a severely conservative Republican governor.


BORGER: There he is, severely conservative. Now take a look at him in the debate earlier this week.


ROMNEY: Regulation is essential. You can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation.

I don't have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. As president I will sit down on day one -- actually, the day after I get elected, I will sit down with leaders, the Democratic leaders, as well as Republican leaders, and continue as we did in my state -- we met every Monday for a couple hours, talked about the issues and the challenges in our state in that case.

We have to work on a collaborative basis, not because we're going to compromise our principle, but because there's common ground.


BORGER: So that doesn't sound as severely conservative as he did during the primaries.


BORGER: And, of course, it gives the Obama campaign the opportunity to remind people about Mitt Romney as the governor of Massachusetts and say, OK, this guy is a flip-flopper.

So they started out by calling Mitt Romney an extremist. Now he's a flip-flopper.

BLITZER: Yes. He certainly didn't sound severely conservative at that debate.

So, here's the question. Why aren't those who are really severely conservative going through the roof right now?

BORGER: Good question.

I called a couple of folks I would call severely conservative today and asked them about it. And they sort of started off by saying, you know, we were very happy that Mitt Romney was praising the free market system. That's very important to us.

But when you kind of dug beneath the surface a little bit and got them to talk, the answer was the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Right now, we're rooting for Mitt Romney.

Should Mitt Romney become president of the United States, watch out. Conservatives are watching him very closely. But for now, he's their only horse and they got to ride him.

BLITZER: Really, so many of them don't like -- they hate the president of the United States, so they're willing to stomach some of the more moderate positions, shall we say.

BORGER: Absolutely.

And don't forget, for many of them, Mitt Romney was not their first choice. But right now he's their only choice unless it's President Obama. And given that, they will take Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: Gloria Borger, thanks very much for joining us.

Jack Welch, a former head of General Electric, calls the new unemployment rate unbelievable, thinks the numbers were manipulated. You're going to want to hear what the former White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee is saying about that. By the way, here's just part of what he has to say.


AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Jack, look, I love you, but on this one, you have just flat out lost your mind.


BLITZER: It's not quite an October surprise, but certainly some welcome news for the Obama White House waging what has been an uphill battle against unemployment. This week, the Labor Department reported the jobless rate fell sharply in September to 7.8 percent. That's the same level it was when President Obama took office back in January 2009.

Actual growth last month was modest, only 114,000 jobs created. But the Labor Department also revised the July and August numbers to include an additional 86,000 new jobs.

Let's talk about it with the former White House chief economist Austan Goolsbee. He's now with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Austan, thanks very much for coming in.

What does this jobs report mean to you?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER WHITE CHIEF ECONOMIST: Well, I think it's a good sign. You know when I was in the White House, I used to say every month, good or bad, you never want to make too much out of any one month's numbers because it's plus or minus 100,000 jobs is the margin of error. So there's a lot of variability.

BLITZER: What does that mean, plus 100,000 --

GOOLSBEE: But taken as an average, this is a solid report.

BLITZER: When you say plus or minus margin of error of 100,000 jobs, in other words if 114,000 jobs were created last month, it really could have 214,000 or it could have been 14,000, is that what you're saying?

GOOLSBEE: Or 14,000, yes. And you see that in these revisions where they're going back to the previous months where there were 80,000 and then say, oh, actually, it was 46,000 more than they thought the first time around. You just keep that in mind. The three-month average is a lot more accurate statistic than one month's report.

But, look, this is a fairly solid -- fairly solid data coming in. And I think over a longer period, we've seen moderate progress that's consistent with modest growth in the U.S. and the modest growth in the U.S. is in excess of the growth rate in almost the entire advanced world.

It's very tough period in the world economy. But it's making some slow progress. I do think it's fairly interesting to compare if the unemployment rate today is the same as it was when the president took office. Just remember what that month was when the president took office, I mean, it was horrible. That was a rate of 7.8 percent but it was shooting upward by large amounts every month.

So I think it's pretty different -- BLITZER: Yes.

GOOLSBEE: -- comparing the past year to that year.

BLITZER: And 700,000 jobs or so were being lost every month in that period leading up to his inauguration. That was a really rough time as a lot of us will remember.

Now, you saw the statement that Mitt Romney released, reacting to these latest jobs numbers. "This is not what a real recovery looks like," he says. "We created fewer jobs in September and then in August, fewer jobs in August than in July. We've lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office."

Would you call this a real recovery? Or do you think he's onto something over here?

GOOLSBEE: I mean, we're clearly recovering. I mean, since the end of the recession the private sector's added more than 5 million jobs. Now, that said, I think he's right that we're still a long way from calling ourselves recovered. I mean, we went way, way down and we're coming back. And we want to be coming back faster.

I think picking the manufacturing employment numbers is somewhat deliberately trying to shade things because you are combining the losses in the recession with the recoveries in the -- after recession period. And actually if you look over the last one to two years, manufacturing's having its best two years in several decades during this recovery.

BLITZER: You know, Jack Welch, the former CEO of G.E., he tweeted this because he didn't believe these numbers. He tweeted, "Unbelievable jobs numbers. These Chicago guys will do anything. Can't debate, so change numbers."

Now, there are others who are suggesting there was political influence over the Bureau of Labor Statistics that are driving these numbers, trying to make the president look good only a few weeks before the election.

You're familiar with the economists, the statisticians who work there. What do you say to these folks who see some conspiratorial involvement out there.

GOOLSBEE: That's totally, totally insane. Look, I'm friend with Jack Welch and I tweeted him back. I said, Jack, I love you, but on this one you've just flat out lost your mind.

I mean, there's an ironclad firewall with criminal penalties for anybody at the BLS to have any kind of political interference or to release any of the numbers early. It's totally impossible to do that. You've seen all the reputable Republicans that have worked with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the past, past CEA chairs come out and say, look, come on, you've got to be kidding on this thing.

I kind of think they were kidding. I hope they were kidding. I mean, there's absolutely no evidence of political changing the numbers.

And if somebody were changing the numbers, why wouldn't -- why would you make the numbers last month worse than expected? Why would you make the payroll numbers at 114,000, not especially impressive? I mean, why -- it just doesn't make any sense.

BLITZER: All right. Austan, thanks very much for coming in.

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Wolf.

BLITZER: A check of the hour's top stories coming up next.

And then something that would change the headlines about the Obama/Romney debate. Mitt Romney is now calling his 47 percent remarks completely wrong, but the president never brought up the subject during the debate. What if he would have?


BLITZER: An American worker is killed after opening fire at a hotel in Israel.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, what happened?


Well, authorities say the American killed a worker at the hotel in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, then barricaded himself in the hotel. Israeli soldiers later shot and killed the gunman. Authorities say the man recently had been laid off from his job at that hotel.

Turkish state television says a Syrian mortar shell landed in Turkey today, drawing an immediate military response. No injuries were reported. On Wednesday turkey answered with artillery after a strike killed five civilians inside Turkey.

Meantime, this is video said to be in the Syrian city of Homs where opposition activists say Syrian war planes and artillery pounded the city again today in the worst bombardment in months.

And the British government has ordered Abu Hamza al-Masri to be extradited to the U.S. to face terrorism charges. The radical Muslim cleric and four other men lost their last ditch attempt to stay. The judge says they cannot appeal. Here you see new video said to show their convoy leaving a British prison. They may already be on their way out of the country.

Al-Masri is accused in connection with the kidnapping of Western tourists in Yemen and alleged terror training camp in Oregon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much.

Mitt Romney now says his 47 percent remarks were, quote, "completely wrong." Our "unsolicited advice" panel standing by. They are completely ready to weigh-in.


BLITZER: Mitt Romney's now repudiating his comments that 47 percent of Americans see themselves as victims and are dependent on government. Imagine what would have happened if -- if -- he had said that during the debate.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I said something that's just completely wrong. And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Is he simply trying to move to the middle with just 32 days before the election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is definitely a redirect on the part of the campaign and they're doing it at the right time.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt it's going to come up the next debate. And now, Romney has a chance to get ahead of that.


BLITZER: Let's get straight to CNN contributor and Sirius XM radio talk show host Pete Dominick.

Pete, you've got a good panel there.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you very much, Wolf Blitzer.

Yes, we have a brilliant panel assembled and the governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer.


DOMINICK: I kid. I kid. Maybe not.

Forty-seven percent, he repudiated it. A month later, doesn't matter. I mean, really, after one month the American people have to decide no matter how we all spin it which way or not.

The American people decide something he said in private not thinking anybody would hear it now something he says in public on Fox News last night, what are we suppose today believe?

GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: For the most part in politics you don't want to repeat their message. I'm not sure why he's decided to talk about this again. He ought to put it in the rear view mirror --

DOMINICK: Well, he was asked. He was asked about it.

SCHWEITZER: Put it in the rear view mirror and walk forward. I mean, to be in a position where he said I was completely wrong and it was not elegant, I guess, something like that last time.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER, OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN: Well, to borrow your line, it's not the only thing he's repudiated this week. He's repudiated his tax plan. I stole his joke.

The problem is it's already burnt in. That line's already burnt in. And the campaigns are using it and advertising around the country right now.

The only reason why he would do it is because his pollster's a smart pollster and looking at the numbers and say we have to pull this back and inoculate it a little bit.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: As a Republican I am elated he did it. I think when you said something and recognize it was wrongly said, it's a good thing. I think all of us can identify with that. We've all said something at one point we regret and shouldn't have said. I'm glad Mitt Romney did that. Now we can move on.

TOM DAVIS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: But the same thing, Obama's done the same kind of thing.

DOMINICK: But he didn't say that.

DAVIS: He said it and we've seen it over and over again. You can reinterpret it. He put the reset button on. This debate has given new life to his campaign. It's a new race. Put this behind him.

NAVARRO: I also like it because of what it indicates. It indicates that he now feels very secure with his base, and I think he should. And he's now going towards the independents and that's a very smart thing to do.

BELCHER: Thirty days out now he's secure with his base.

SCHWEITER: I don't know how he can be secured with his base. I saw the debate where he said I want to spend $716 billion more than Ryan, more than Obama. And what we're hearing from Romney is you're trying to cut $716 billion.

No, what he's saying is we're going to do the same thing Ryan has proposed, which we're going to not increase by $716 billion the Medicare, we're going to pay the same rates as the states, 45 states pay a Medicaid rate for reimbursement lower than Medicare.

So he said we're going to spend $716 billion more than your plan, Obama. And by the way, we're going to spend $2 trillion more on defense. So far Romney's saying we're going to spend more than Democrats.

BELCHER: And no revenue.

NAVARRO: Let me tell you how we know he's secure with his debate. Debate night he talked about Romneycare, the plan he passed in Massachusetts and the next day he went to sea pack and got a hero's welcome. Guys, the base is OK. DAVIS: The counties in this country with the highest percent of Medicare recipient are republican counties. Of the 47 percent he talks about, Romney will get half of them.

DOMINICK: But that 47 percent don't know they're in that 47 percent.

DAVIS: They don't identify themselves as victims.


BELCHER: Congressman, the problem is the margin Republicans ran with seniors in '08, that margin is shrinking right now. That's really problematic for states like Florida.

DOMINICK: Bottom line is politics is perception. People when they hear a politician say something in private like that, you can't really walk it back. You can't walk it back a month later.

There's another number though that came out today, we're talking 47 percent and that is 7.8 percent. Can we quickly all agree that any -- the new term is unemployment bertherism. This is not helping, is it? Mitt Romney, anybody denying saying the department labor infiltrated -- Jack Welch, put a fork in him. That guy is done. Not that it'd get through his old leathery skin.

DAVIS: For the record, 7.8 percent was the unemployment rate when he took office.

DOMINICK: No, it's never been, has it?

BELCHER: But here's the problem, Congressman, when he put his hand on that bible on that very cold day, we were losing 700,000, 800,000 jobs a month. Right now, for Republicans to talk down sort of what we've been doing --

DAVIS: Unemployment rate is the same. He has not brought it down.

BELCHER: We are in the midst of a great depression, Congressman. Can't pretend that didn't happen.

NAVARRO: Unemployment rates should not have a party label. As Americans, we should all be celebrating that the unemployment rate has gone down.

DAVIS: Good for you.

NAVARRO: If this is going to restore consumer confidence, going to lead us into a better quota next year, good for this country. You know, we can all deal with this past November 6th. But right now I'm celebrating period.

DAVIS: It isn't anywhere we want it to be.

NAVARRO: No. President -- candidate Barack Obama promised four years ago, no. But is it better than where we've been for 40 months, yes, as an American I'm celebrating. SCHWEITZER: If you're running for office, you want to be on the uptick. You don't want to be going the other way. As long as it's going in the right direction, people are feeling better about themselves. This is good news for Obama and it's good news for America.

DOMINICK: Just look at the narrative. Wednesday night, you know, liberals and Democrats were apocalyptic. And today Friday these job numbers come out and then you have Romney driving the day from what he said last night on Fox News repudiating the 47 percent.

And president Obama giving two big speeches today, rallies, and he's bouncing up on stage and he's got all kinds of new lines and so on.

BELCHER: But you guys, you know, as fools gold, you act like one debate is going to change the fundamental dynamics of this race. They were pretty set in beforehand and seldom if ever in history one debate is going to change the fundamental dynamics of a race.

NAVARRO: One may not, but two may.

DAVIS: But Romney needed a good debate.

DOMINICK: Absolutely.

SCHWEITZER: Romney needed it and the press need. A race is good for the press.

DOMINICK: That's true.

NAVARRO: And that's good for America.

DOMINICK: It's good for America.

NAVARRO: We should all be heavily courted. I'm happy we've got a race on our hands.

BELCHER: I bet you are heavily courted.

DOMINICK: We've heard so many boxing metaphors, which always are applicable when we're talking debates one-on-one of course. Barack Obama is a competitive guy. There's no way he can't come back and figure this out --

NAVARRO: I don't want to use shopping metaphors, I don't think sports metaphors. You lose me in all that.

DOMINICK: Because men are not supposed to like to shop, right, governor? Nice tie. You like my jacket?

SCHWEITZER: If Romney could pull one thing back which would be more than the 47 percent, he went the wrong direction in the auto industry. That's going to kill him in Ohio.

NAVARRO: There are also things I think President Obama would like to pull back. SCHWEITZER: All of us.

NAVARRO: Same with Latinos, he'd like to pull back having offered he was going to do immigration reform in the first year a promise that he's broken.

BELCHER: But, you know what, he's doing pretty good with -- he's pushing the dream act, a lot of things favorable to the Hispanic community. Guys, it's just math. Right now in the polling Obama's at 70 percent with Hispanics. You and I both know Republican Party long- term cannot be a sustainable party if they're losing Hispanic --

NAVARRO: What would the numbers be if Jeb Bush was the candidate?

DAVIS: You're absolutely right.

NAVARRO: Let us not forget that just one president removed. We had a Republican in the White House with 44 percent of Hispanic vote.

BELCHER: That was part of the Tea Party.

DAVIS: If the Dream Act was so important, where was he the first two years when he had super majority in Congress?

BELCHER: He was trying to get the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent.

DOMINICK: We can go back and look at that and who tried hard and what stood in what person's way and talk about it.

Right now, we have to take a quick break. And when we come back everybody on the panel will give some unsuspecting target some unsolicited advice right in a moment. Stay right here on CNN.


DOMINICK: All right, we're back here with our unsolicited advice segment in THE SITUATION ROOM and our brilliant panel. I got to tell you what happened during the break. The governor of Montana and Cornell Belcher just suggested that maybe you trade places with the wardrobe.

BELCHER: Yes. I want a tie.

SCHWEITZER: We're going to mix it up a little bit.

DOMINICK: You're going to wear that suit and he's going to wear your tie.

NAVARRO: And my unsolicited advice was, don't.

DOMINICK: All right, Cornell Belcher, you're unsolicited advice.

BELCHER: I'm going to pick up on something Ana was talking about earlier. Look, to Jack Welch and some of the other Republicans and even Romney says this is not a recovery, you know, 31 straight months of job growth, you know, 5.3 million jobs created, you know, when the president took office we were on the cusp of going over the deep end.

We're now pulling that back under the president's leadership. And the hard work of the American people. Don't talk down these numbers. Let's raise these numbers up and praise the hard work of the American people and the resilience of the American people. The American people have built this economic recovery. Don't tear that down. They built this.

DOMINICK: But it's one thing to talk --

BELCHER: You like that we built that thing?

DOMINICK: It's one thing -- hold on, it's one thing. Both sides do it. Both sides spin numbers. But what Jack Welch and Allen West and others have said that the books were being cooked.

And that -- there's no place for that kind of trutherism, and it also ruins the argument if you ever want to cite job numbers for or against, you can't. They come from the same place.

NAVARRO: Listen, the books are being cooked. The question is what took them so long.

DOMINICK: You should cook them a little better than that, 114,000 is not exactly a masterpiece.

SCHWEITZER: You're going to need more than a tinfoil hat to convince America.

DOMINICK: Congressman, that kind of conspiracy talk coming from people like Jack Welch and Congressman Allen that hurts Mitt Romney. That's not good to have in the news cycle.

DAVIS: Well, I don't know what it does.

DOMINICK: Can't be good.

DAVIS: There's no evidence for it except for suspicions at this point. And you have next month's report coming too, puts a lot of pressure on next month's reports.

NAVARRO: He himself his campaign has had nothing to do with these. And let me tell you, there are conspiracy theorists on both sides of the aisle.

DOMINICK: Congressman, what do you got for us?

DAVIS: First of all, jobs report was encouraging as Americans, but growth last quarter was 1.3 percent, which is anemic. But I'm going jobs. National Hockey League is still on strike.

We just had our nationals in the playoffs, going to go to the World Series this year. But when that's over, what are we going to do here? You've got the vendors, the ushers, the --

DOMINICK: The bars -- DAVIS: Exactly. This is an economic killer. These guys are all 1 percenters. They're going to lose more money arguing this than would be cutting some kind of deal.

DOMINICK: The owners or players?

DAVIS: Both of them.

DOMINICK: Bipartisan.

DAVIS: Think outside the bun here.

DOMINICK: All right, my unsolicited advice is simple. It is for the former president, Bill Clinton. It is simply this, get out there. Get on the trail, sir.

I think he's going to be out there next week. Bill Clinton should be out there every single day. I don't know what the dynamic is currently between him and the president --

BELCHER: It's wonderful. He's advertising for the Obama campaign.

NAVARRO: You know what? Maybe President Obama needs to change debate partners. Maybe he needs to go practice with Bill Clinton. John Kerry is not cutting it.

DOMINICK: He should have Bill Clinton in his ear the whole time the explainer in chief. I think if Bill Clinton, I think he should probably bring Big Bird with him.

BELCHER: Didn't Big Bird get fired?

NAVARRO: Big Bird, get a safe house. Do it now.

SCHWEITZER: The bromance lasts until November.

NAVARRO: All right, my unsolicited advice is for our Vice President Joe Biden. Joe, do not try to over compensate by going in there charging like the bulls of Pamplona in your debate. The only thing that may be worse than an overly passive Barack Obama is an overly aggressive Joe Biden.

SCHWEITZER: A bull in a China shop maybe.

NAVARRO: Maybe. Listen, if he's hard to control when he's on script, just imagine him unscripted in a debate.

SCHWEITZER: But the American people still like him.


SCHWEITZER: Still like him.

DOMINICK: He's a likable guy.

BELCHER: He's a regular Joe. NAVARRO: I think all Republicans should love him because he is the gift that keeps on giving.

DOMINICK: So is Paul Ryan to some extent. Go ahead, Governor.

SCHWEITZER: It's been exactly one year since Steve Jobs passing. And my unsolicited advice today is for all of the mavericks in America, all the people that walked against the crowd, all the people who disagree with everybody in the room.

Everybody in a classroom that says I don't agree with what's going on here today, the mavericks have made America great. If we lose our mavericks, we lose our edge. This is unsolicited advice for the mavericks, you keep it up.

DOMINICK: Are there mavericks out there today? Always hear about Steve Jobs.

NAVARRO: Are they in Montana?

SCHWEITZER: Actually more coming to Montana and we have our own to begin with.

DOMINICK: He's a maverick in and of himself. He really is.

SCHWEITZER: This is what is different about America. We actually revere the mavericks if you go everywhere else in the world, they don't. They wonder what's wrong with that person not conforming. We like the nonconformists.

NAVARRO: And we can start great businesses out of a garage.

BELCHER: And John McCain the maverick probably would have done better in the presidential race.

DOMINICK: Absolutely. I was just going to say that. You bring up mavericks. I'm not going to say it's easy. It's not easy to be a maverick. There's not that many.

Steve Jobs, we always cite him. But where are the mavericks in this town? There are very few people who go out and speak against the party line. That's got to change.

DAVIS: These parties are in boxes right now. You're a red shirt, blue shirt. You wear another shirt you're out in the primary.

DOMINICK: You were there.

DAVIS: Exactly. You got some disciplining factors now.

NAVARRO: The matters of politics are all on TV.

SCHWEITZER: If it keeps up, we will have a third party candidate as president of the United States. If these two parties keep going to their ring and won't talk to each other, we're going to have a third party president. BELCHER: But the American people have a role in this too. Look, if you're supporting a candidate who goes to Congress and says I'm going to vote against Republicans or whatever party is, you can have a member of Congress say I'm going to sign.

And I'm going to be locked into that, don't vote for that person for Congress because that person is part of the problem that makes you --

NAVARRO: Cornell, the problem is congress has a 13 percent approval rating. Everybody likes their congressman. Politics is local.

DAVIS: The problem is members now worry about primary elections.

DOMINICK: I think we are all to some extent at one point or another today mavericks on this panel. Thanks very much for joining us. Let's throw it back to Wolf Blitzer right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pete, thanks very much. We have new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM on the shooting that killed a U.S. border patrol agent in Arizona. Could it have been an accident? Standby, we're checking the top stories. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We're following new developments about the shooting that killed a U.S. border agent in Arizona. Lisa Sylvester is back. She's monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What are we learning?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, CNN has learned that the FBI is looking into the possibility that the shooting was a result of friendly fire.

One agent died and another was injured Tuesday when they came under fire after responding to a border sensor. A law enforcement official says investigators are waiting for the results of ballistic tests on shell casings, which may have been fired by border patrol agents.

And a well-known Cuban blogger has been arrested and two others reportedly detained in the eastern city covering a trial of a Spanish politician charged in the death of a prominent dissident. A pro- government blogger accuses of putting on a media trial.

The federal government posted more than a $1 trillion deficit in the last fiscal year according to new estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. That makes the fourth straight year of trillion dollar shortfalls. The total national debt now tops $16 trillion.

And the "Curiosity" rover is preparing to scoop up soil samples on the red planet. Beginning tomorrow, the "Curiosity" will use the robotic scoop to dig into the ground on Mars. Scientists will use the sandy soil to scrub the hardware clean.

And that should clear the way for future testing of sediment to see if life possibly once existed on Mars. I know a lot of people are fascinated by this. So we're going to see what comes of those soil samples -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm looking forward to it.

SYLVESTER: Yes, me too.

BLITZER: Coming up, some late-night comedy it's getting political.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama said the one thing about being president is learning to say no. Yes, especially when someone asks, do you feel ready for this debate?



BLITZER: The first presidential debate is now in the books and provided plenty of punch lines for the late night comedians as well. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say what you will about Mitt Romney. Last night, I thought he was energetic, he was crisp. He was dynamic. What have you done with the real Mitt Romney? Where is he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say close to 60 million people may have watched the debate. I think the only person who didn't tune in I think was President Obama. What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a coin toss to see which candidate would speak first. There was an awkward moment just before the coin toss when Romney asked, what's that shiny little disk you're holding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. Romney was the big winner last night. And in case you missed his performance, we boiled it down to just the best parts here. Take a look.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Big Bird grabbed my arm and said I'm coming for you, rich guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney won with the sound up.

ROMNEY: You're entitled as president to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney won with a sound up. Dude, he's yelling at you. Look up. Look up. What are you looking at? What are you writing that's so important? What are you doing -- that is impressive work. I didn't realize that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney talked last night about cutting funding to PBS, the home of Sesame Street and Big Bird was not happy. Did you see what Big Bird did to Romney's car right after the debate? Show what happened. Look at that. That's unbelievable. That is unbelievable. He is not happy. He is not happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, Obama and Romney differed on many subjects throughout the debate. There was one moment where they really came together in perfect harmony. Check it out.