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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Obama Slides in Latest Poll; Jerry Sandusky Speaks Out; Romney: Arm Syrian Rebels

Aired October 8, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the three minute tape reportedly from Jerry Sandusky and played on the Penn State student radio station tonight. This news is breaking and we're working to confirm the authenticity of this and bring you that tape just as soon as we can, but blockbuster, especially on the eve of sentencing. Also making news tonight, Obama taking a dive. Big one. A brand new poll it's out tonight. Is it just one poll or is it a sign of things to come? We're going to dig into that. And also an investigation into that attack that killed an American ambassador in Libya. Why on earth was a request for extra security in that country denied in the first place? We're going to take you OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone, I'm Ashleigh Banfield sitting in for Erin Burnett. Tonight on OUTFRONT the Obama slide you might call it. A brand new Pew poll of likely voters showing Mitt Romney out ahead and leading the president 49 to 45 percent. And look at this. Since last month, the president is down six percentage points in that same poll. Now it is just one poll, but take a closer look at the numbers and there may be some pretty red flags out there for the incumbent. Voters say that Romney did a better job at the debate on Wednesday night, 66 to 20 percent and that has helped change some voters' views of Governor Romney.

He's now polled even with Obama among voters who see him as a quote "strong leader". Just last month, Romney was trailing in that category, trailing, not just by a little, by 13 points, in fact. Another contributing factor to Obama's slide, women. This might be a surprise, but women are now also evenly divided in their support of the two candidates. Take a look at your screen. Just last month, Obama led Romney by 18 points among women, so that is big. And keep in mind Obama won this voting block by 13 points back in 2008, so it's getting even bigger. Another contributing factor to Romney's big gains, voters say they think that he's the candidate who may have the answers to move this country forward. And they think so by 47 to 40.

The voters say that Romney is the candidate with what they say are new ideas. But just as the Republicans complained of the pollsters and their methods when they were trailing in the polls, the Obama campaign is pushing back, too. Noting that more Republicans were surveyed this time around tipping the scales perhaps in their favor. They're pointing to the party identification numbers on the survey, which show that more Republicans than Democrats were polled compared to the same survey last month. But we did check this out, folks. We spoke tonight with the Pew director of survey research -- his name is Scott Keeter (ph) and he toll us this. And let me read directly so I don't get it wrong. Stuff is important.

"We use the same methods, he said, every time we do an election poll. We have a standard method for determining likely voters and we're transparent about our methods. We get what we get." That's what I tell my kids. You get what you get. You don't get upset. Like CNN's own polling, Pew does not know the party ID of the voters ahead of time. The jump in party ID can perhaps be attributed to another bright spot for Romney, too in this poll. His backers are now really, really backing him. They're not just a little excited. They're a lot.

Sixty-seven percent of Romney voters now strongly support their candidate. And that, my friends, is an 11-point gain for Mitt Romney since last month alone. So, what's in a number, you say? Joining us now, Gloria Borger, CNN analyst, as well as Hogan Gidley, who served as national communications director for Rick Santorum's presidential campaign and Cornell Belcher, Democratic strategist and pollster for Obama 2012. All right, Gloria, let me start with you. It sounded like sour grapes a few weeks ago when the Romney campaign didn't like the numbers.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

BANFIELD: And it's sounding a lot like similar sour grapes when the Obama campaign doesn't like the numbers, but this ain't the first time we've been at this rodeo. They do this all the time --

BORGER: No and you -- you know if you look at different polls, the waiting as it's called is different in different snapshots and what we can say about this is that it is a snapshot in time. I mean, I look at the numbers where the gender gap is completely even and I'm scratching my head about that because that number seems very high to me for Romney to be tied with President Obama on gender because generally Democrats do better with women than Republicans. So you know you have to look at these numbers, say President Obama did not have a good night in that debate. That what everything Mitt Romney could have wanted to get out of that debate he got out of this debate and if he has gotten his potential supporters more enthusiastic about going out to the polls and that's what this reflects, that's very good for Mitt Romney.

BANFIELD: So Cornell, jump in with the difference between likely voters compared to registered voters because there is a difference in the wording. He's leading over -- Romney's leading overall in this survey among the likely voters. Gallup also out today though with a poll among registered voters and that's different. That has a poll where we see Obama leading by five points, so walk me through it. Is there such a big difference, when I get that phone call, I'm probably hearing my kid screaming in the background. I won't even hear the difference between it, but what is the difference?

CORNELL BELCHER, POLLSTER FOR THE OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN: Well I love that we're getting new leads on polling now. I mean there are a couple of things. Each polling sort of public polling house has sort of their own sort of art and science to likely voting and it is just as much an art as it is a science. A lot of people had the art wrong in -- going into the late primaries. That's why you saw a lot of sort of the early polls in the primaries just being way off because you're likely voter didn't look like the electorate had actually turned out. We had 11 percent of a new electorate in the general electorate in '08, so a lot of people's likely voter screen was completely off.

And typically you're under -- you know you're going to under- sample minorities and young people and all these polls. That said, you know a big difference between a registered voter and a likely voter is a likely voter is someone who says they're very likely to vote high on their propensity up front and say on the phone call that they're going to vote and/or they have some past performance in their background where they voted in at least one of the two or two of the three general elections. So there's an art to this and there are a lot of pollsters get back and forth on. But I got to say on this point, you know I don't play the polling game back and forth, but a seven-point swing in party identification towards Republicans I think goes a long way to explain this. I know this is a story that the media wants to drive, but at the same time there you have a political out with a poll that has a president ahead and you have Gallup with a poll with the president ahead. You have Reuters out last week, at the end of last week with polling the president ahead. But it's not about the polls quite frankly. This is going to be a tight race and Democrats --

BANFIELD: But 60 million plus people watched that debate and even the Democrats next day, James Carville saying that Mitt Romney brought a chain saw. That's a strong effect and those jobs numbers may not have mitigated that two days later. Hogan, I want you to jump --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: No, no, hold on one second. I want to get Hogan in on this because while it looks great and the numbers look great and I'm sure that the Romney camp is thrilled with this, they still have some problems. They've got some deficits that they need to overcome. I want to throw up a couple other of the numbers in the Pew Research Poll. It's all about the honesty and the truthfulness and then the consistency. Let's start with the honest and truthful aspect. There you have Obama leading Romney 44 to 39 when it comes to just how honest and truthful you think these candidates are. And then when it comes to consistency, which the Obama campaign has been hammering away on what they perceive as flip-flops on Romney's position -- there you have it -- 47 to 37. That is what some people, Hogan Gidley, my dear friend, my former intern which I always like to disclose, would say is a trust deficit. Is it a trust deficit, Hogan?

HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DIR. FOR RICK SANTORUM'S PRES. CAMPAIGN: Well, I mean so much of American politics is based on do I know you, do I trust you and do I like you. And those are some damaging numbers for Governor Romney for sure. But look, the fact of the matter is he crushed President Obama in that debate and these numbers reflecting what a lot of people saw and that was a stereotype that had been lined out about Governor Romney that he was some cold, heartless business man. He turned that on its ear in that debate. Conversely, one of the stereotypes that's out there for Barack Obama is he's a great guy. He's just in over his head. And that debate actually kind of under girded (ph) that stereotype instead of turning it on its head, so Governor Romney, clearly the winner here. The only thing in that poll actually to me that's a little bit worrisome is that 20 percent of the people said that Barack Obama won that debate. I don't know who that 20 percent is. That's the sample I'd be most concerned about because everybody I've talked to Democrats and Republicans alike all said Romney won that debate.

BANFIELD: Oh, I heard a few people out on the street saying they're die-hard supporters and look I know. I get you. But listen, I could go on and on you guys, but we've got some breaking news as well, so I'm going to have to say thank you to my guests, Hogan Gidley and Cornell Belcher and Gloria Borger. Thank you for your insight and thank you for being here, 7:00 Eastern tonight.

Here's the breaking news I was talking about. Jerry Sandusky, he speaks. And he doesn't just speak to himself in his prison cell. He recorded it and he released it for all of us to hear and by my watch, he's just hours away from a very serious sentencing. We're going to have that statement and you're going to hear it in its entirety next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Breaking news for you right now. Jerry Sandusky has been speaking out loud and publicly from his jail cell tonight. In fact his attorney is confirming to CNN right now that the voice on the tape that we received is actually that of Jerry Sandusky. All of this happening just moments ago. We're still processing this tape in fact for you. Penn State radio, the college radio station, released an audio statement from the former Penn State assistant coach in which the coach proclaims that he is innocent. You will remember that Mr. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse. I want to play for you part of Sandusky's statement. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY SANDUSKY: "Over and over, I asked why. Why didn't we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial? Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations? They can take away my life. They can make me out as a monster. They can treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: This statement being made public comes just one day before he is set to hear his sentence for those crimes and joining me now right now is CNN's legal contributor Paul Callan on OUTFRONT. Paul, when we got this, you and I were going to have a very different conversation tonight. We did not know this was coming and I dare say there's still more of it to come. We're still processing some of that tape as I mentioned. Right away, the first thing that Jerry Sandusky says, he's blaming the system. He's blaming the time that he did not have to prepare for trial. There is a judge tomorrow that has to weigh how many years, up to 422 he should get. Is this kind of message a judge is not going to like to hear in which he's doing his math?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Oh I think it's another horrible mistake. You remember, his attorneys were criticized at the beginning of this case for putting him on national television with Bob Costas where he virtually confessed to improper activities with children and now, he's not on network TV anymore. He's on a college radio station from jail telling a story in which he blames the victims, in which he blames the judge for not giving him enough time to prepare for trial in which he makes a number of other bizarre statements about how he can be a candle for the world or a candle for others as a result of his martyrdom I guess in this case. It's just a ridiculous statement.

BANFIELD: Listen, as we do this breaking news, I just want to let you know that we've had a phone call into CNN from one of the attorneys for one of the victims in this case, I believe Tom Kline, can you hear me? If you can hear me, Tom Kline, you're the attorney for victim number five, am I correct?

TOM KLINE, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIM FIVE (via phone): Yes, I am. I'm right here.

BANFIELD: Mr. Kline you must be surprised by this as we were. We were extraordinarily surprised by the release of this audio recording in which the system is blamed by Jerry Sandusky for the condition he finds himself in, in a sense he's about to face. And he goes on to blame the victims. I believe at one point he calls one of the victims a monster for getting the ball rolling. Can I get your reaction?

KLINE: Well, the statement is preposterous. He -- indeed, if you were to believe Mr. Sandusky, then we have the grand conspiracy, which his lawyers attempted to play out in the court which involved 10 young men, a janitor, Mr. McQueary, the press, the lawyers, and everyone else who's involved. I mean this just didn't happen that way --

BANFIELD: So, Tom, stand by -- stand by if you would. I want to play another piece of the tape that speaks directly to the claim that Jerry Sandusky makes about at least one of the victims and their complicity, he says, in what he thinks are alleged crimes. Clearly are now he is a convicted child molester. There are crimes on the record for which he will spend time. Listen to this next part of the tape from his prison cell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDUSKY: "The young man who is dramatic, a veteran accuser and always sought attention started everything. He was joined by a well orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Mr. Kline, you see the accusation there. He's suggesting it is one of these victims that is the perpetrator of what he calls the ball rolling and starting all of it. Can I just ask you outright did you ever at any point work in some collusion with the attorneys for the other accusers, who are now -- not accusers anymore -- they are victims -- did you work in collusion with them to foment testimony? To align your story so that when you went into court, everyone had the same story and the same (INAUDIBLE) for Jerry Sandusky?

KLINE: I can tell you categorically not. The fact of the matter is that there was no collusion whatsoever. My client came forward only after there was a knock on the door by the police which led him to a grand jury room. He never had spoken to anyone --

BANFIELD: Did your client move with trepidation? Did he take a lot of convincing to get to a phase in his life where he would be willing to go in front of strangers in a courtroom on the record and tell these terrible tragedies and lay them out bare for everyone to hear in all their filth?

KLINE: My client was brought to a grand jury under a subpoena. He testified -- when he was asked questions he testified under oath. There was no collusion, no conspiracy, nothing of the sort. The fact of the matter is that he came to the courthouse to tell what happened to him when he was requested to do so and subpoenaed to do so --

BANFIELD: And in case anybody --

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Yes -- lest anyone know what that means to be brought before a grand jury under subpoena, it means you are being told you must come. You are not necessarily coming willingly. Mr. Kline, does your client know about these comments that have just come into the public's purview?

KLINE: I sent the text of it to him by e-mail just a few minutes ago, after this broke. I have yet to hear back from him. He is prepared to come to court tomorrow and in fact (INAUDIBLE) to come to court to tell the judge the great harm that Mr. Sandusky did to him in his victim impact statement. He intends to be in court and he intends to tell the court and he intends to by definition, tell Mr. Sandusky how badly he hurt him. My client knows the truth and he knows what happened here. He is one of 10 victims upon which the evidence convicted Mr. Sandusky of 45 different counts and he is now facing what appears to be life in jail.

BANFIELD: I have another --

KLINE: He's lashing out -- he's lashing out here tonight.

BANFIELD: I think it sounds pretty clear that this convicted child molester is lashing out at everybody and clearly not taking any responsibility nor has he ever suggesting for a moment that he is anything but innocent. I want to play another piece of this tape, Mr. Kline, if you can stand by. Don't go away. I want to ask you about it on the other side, but this is a piece of this statement that Jerry Sandusky recorded in his jail cell that directly pertains to the potential of appealing the case that he lost. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDUSKY: "We'll continue to fight. We didn't lose to proven facts, evidence, accurate locations and times. Anything can be said. We lost to speculation and stories that were influenced by people who wanted to convict me. We must fight unfairness, inconsistency and dishonesty."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Well, our system certainly allows for appeals when there is some kind of problem in procedure during the trial. I don't know what grounds his appeal will be on. I have not heard from Mr. Andola (ph) though we have sent many phone calls his way. Mr. Andola (ph), if you're watching we'd love if you would call in, trust me, we've tried many times to get comment from you about this. My Kline, you alluded to your client's preparing to give a victim's impact statement tomorrow. He's aware, I'm assuming, that Jerry Sandusky has been preparing remarks for court as well tomorrow, correct?

KLINE: Well, that was known publicly and widely reported, so yes, we were aware of that fact.

BANFIELD: Is he going to stay in the courtroom for this?

KLINE: Well, my client intends to be in the courtroom, present his victim impact statement and I'm quite sure stay until sentencing. He has come to see Mr. Sandusky have his day in court and have his sentence applied to him --

BANFIELD: Now at the same time --

KLINE: (INAUDIBLE) to do that.

BANFIELD: Mr. Kline at the same time, Jerry Sandusky says that the motivation for many if not all of the 10 victims in this case was money, and that there would be civil action that would roll out right after trial. Where does your client stand in that accusation?

KLINE: My client is here tomorrow for one purpose only and that is to come before the court to have the judge hear the impact that Mr. Sandusky has had on his life and to close this chapter hopefully on Mr. Sandusky --

BANFIELD: Close it -- close it or close this part of it and move on with a civil claim against either the university or any other body that he might be able to file action against.

KLINE: The claims against Penn State are separate and the stakes (ph) from the civil are from the criminal process that Mr. Sandusky is involved in here tomorrow. It's a totally separate matter.

BANFIELD: Let me bring in Paul Callan just quickly about this notion of an appeal. Look I haven't looked through trial record completely. There is usually something that you can find that can be brought before a judge in order to request an appeal. It's not always fate accompli (ph) that you're going to get an appeal. From your recollection of this extraordinary case, is there something on which Mr. Sandusky might be able to hinge an appeal --

CALLAN: Well in criminal cases, you always have the right to appeal. It's a question of whether the appeal has merit and clearly he'll be able to appeal. It will go all the way to the top court in the state probably, but yes, he's got some arguments to make and there are really three arguments. The first argument has to do with the fact that the prosecutor made reference to the fact that Sandusky in the interview with Costas didn't really present his case. He said he had an opportunity to present his side and he didn't present it adequately. So the defense is saying well, they're commenting on the fact that he didn't testify at trial.

BANFIELD: Right.

CALLAN: That's a big no-no. I don't think they went on that because they voluntarily submitted him to this interview, so now they're going to come in front of a jury and say well, it was wrong for the prosecutor to refer to an interview that we orchestrated? I don't think they're going to win on that. The second big point is the case went so fast. Remember he was arrested --

BANFIELD: It did. It was weeks, not months.

CALLAN: Well he was only arrested last November of 2011.

BANFIELD: Yes.

CALLAN: The case was over in less than nine months with huge numbers of alleged victims, so it went to trial very quickly --

BANFIELD: Even the trial itself -- the trial itself was very speedy.

CALLAN: But you know in looking at the law, Ashleigh, you have a right to a speedy trial in America. I never heard of a right to a slow trial --

BANFIELD: Yes.

CALLAN: Have you? So that's what they're saying. We had a right to a slow trial and they pushed us into it and we couldn't prepare. That's the second big thing.

BANFIELD: Any good litigator will tell his client don't go in there tomorrow. Don't apologize necessarily. I cannot have you on the record admitting to this if we're going to appeal. You will close your appeal on the record at that very moment. So many of these people don't come in and apologize right away.

CALLAN: No, they don't.

BANFIELD: That said, a judge sentences and a big part of sentencing the way I see it is whether somebody is contrite, whether they are apologetic, whether they seek forgiveness, whether they seek mercy. So you have a huge decision to make when you're going into that courtroom on the eve of sentencing.

CALLAN: And we've have already seen what the decision is. Either he decided to do this or his attorneys decided to do this. They said let's make a tape and send it to the college radio station in which we attack the judge for making the case move too quickly, in which we attack the victims for conspiring with each other and lawyers to make money.

BANFIELD: But what on earth --

CALLAN: Why would you do this?

BANFIELD: This just angers a judge. You can assert your rights in a courtroom. You can give your statement in a courtroom. You can say I still believe I'm innocent of these charges, sir, but to do this in advance, the judge is going to know full well what's happened. In fact Mr. Kline, I'd like to know if your client is going to bring up this tape -- do we still have Mr. Kline on the phone? I think we --

CALLAN: You know I wanted to add one other thing, too --

BANFIELD: Yes.

CALLAN: -- because this is important. If Sandusky wanted to give a press interview and tell his side of the story after sentencing, believe me --

BANFIELD: Whole different kettle of fish --

CALLAN: -- everybody's looking to talk to him. So why wouldn't you wait, do this in a dignified way, hope for the lowest possible sentence and then take your case to the public. Instead, we got a college radio station broadcasting the first news of his sentencing statement. It's -- I've never seen anything like this.

BANFIELD: Once again, just to wrap up what's transpired tonight, if you're just joining us, Jerry Sandusky recording a statement from his jail cell on the eve of a sentence that could be oh as high as 422 years tomorrow, blaming the system, blaming the trial judge, blaming the victims at one point, calling a victim a monster. Blaming everybody but himself, asserting his innocence and before we even knew about this tape, we knew that he would come into court tomorrow. He would not apologize. He would not ask for mercy. He would not for a moment suggest that he was anything but innocent of the many, many -- dozens and dozens of charges against him, 45 convictions in this case. That's the news, folks and it continues tomorrow.

We're going to wrap up this story because we have other big news from today as well. Mitt Romney on the offense, very aggressive with regard to the conflict in Syria. So does he want the United States to get involved? Does he actually want us to be sending weapons or someone else on behalf of us? We're going to get in to what exactly he meant when he said weapons in Syria. Also, a State Department memo just obtained by CNN shows a request for essential security, an essential security team, please keep them in Libya, request denied. Why? Why? Try to find out in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Our third story OUTFRONT tonight: Mitt Romney laying out a very aggressive new position on Syria, saying that as president -- if he were to be -- he would want to see that the Syrian rebels, the ones that America somehow identify as friendly to us, would be armed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In Syria, I'll work with our partners to organize and identify those members of the opposition who share our values, and then assure they have the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks and helicopters and fighter jets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Are armed, but by whom? That takes some talking.

Retired General Wesley Clark, who is the former NATO supreme allied commander, is supporting the Obama campaign. And to the right of him, Kristen Silverberg, is the former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney.

Ambassador, let me start with you. Before today, Mitt Romney had not specifically called for arming the rebels and this country is really not too keen on it, and nor are they too opposed, it seems. Someone split down the middle, if you look at it, 48 percent favor doing so, 47 percent oppose doing so, but this is really new from Mitt Romney.

But how are we supposed to know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, and is he suggesting for a moment that America send the guns?

KRISTEN SILVERBERG, ROMNEY FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR: No, what Governor Romney outlined today was a plan to work with our partners in the region, so countries like Turkey, Qatar, the Saudis, to work with groups to make sure they have the resources and the weapons they need.

The two things we consistently hear from the region is first, from these opposition -- from these opposition groups themselves, that they don't have the weapons they need to overthrow Assad.

And, second, from our partners in the region, that they feel constrained by U.S. policy from doing things to support the rebels. And that's really a disaster for us. One, because we're allowing a slaughter to continue. Thirty thousand civilians have been killed. And, second, because we're handing a victory to Iran. The Iranian are very actively engaged in Syria because they see the strategic -- BANFIELD: But, you know, Ambassador, back in the '80s and '90s, we thought the mujahidin were our friends and Afghanistan as well. That didn't turn out well, arming them.

SILVERBERG: We have to be thoughtful about it. We have to work with our European allies, who are already, they are engaged in understanding conditions on the ground. But the U.S. has experienced on these issues --

BANFIELD: Surely you're not saying -- surely you're not saying turn over the decision-making as to who gets what kind of ordnance to the Europeans.

SILVERBERG: No, absolutely not. But we need to work with the Europeans. Right now, we're sitting on the sidelines. It's allowing a slaughter to continue. And again, it's handing a victory to Iran.

BANFIELD: General Clark --

SILVERBERG: This is something that's going to be a major --

BANFIELD: She makes a very good point. General Clark, she makes a very good point. Whatever we're doing right now, which is sitting on the sidelines somewhat, as many critics of President Obama said, it's not working and people are dying in record numbers every day.

Does President Obama need to step it up a notch?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, I think that Mitt Romney at the start of the excerpt there, he has a huge caveat on this, which is that we would work to identify and organize the leaders of the Syrian opposition and make sure they share our values. Well, that's precisely what the administration is doing.

So, with the headline grabbing phrase here is arm the Syrian rebels, that's not what this -- our administration is doing right now. And it's actually not what Mitt Romney said he would do in the speech. What he said he'd do is exactly what this administration is doing. We're working with the people in the region. We're trying to identify and organize the Syrian political opposition.

BANFIELD: We're working, General Clark. But we're providing communications and some non-lethal assistance. And like clearly, the action gets worse, not better.

So what we're providing hasn't mitigated this horrible prosecution by Assad and his henchmen. What else can we do other than a couple of phones?

CLARK: Well, Ashleigh, the work that we're doing is not just providing communications. That's the start of this. What we're actually doing is trying to help build leadership, because somebody has to be politically in charge of the people who are using the weapons. Otherwise, you may as well just pull the ship up to the port, unload the weapons and hand them out on the street. So, these groups and the so-called free Syrian army, they don't all work together and cooperate and we don't know under whose authority they're operating. Some of them are al Qaeda. We do know that.

And we certainly don't want to be arming al Qaeda. We do know some of our allies are putting weapons in there. No doubt they constrained. They are constrained by the very fundamental forces that are constraining us. Namely, there is no organized political opposition to Assad.

BANFIELD: Yes.

CLARK: So as bad as this is right now, we could make it a whole lot worse --

BANFIELD: It could get a whole lot worse.

CLARK: -- by dumping a lot of weapons in and then having a collapse, and then having al Qaeda there taking over another base that we'll have to fight.

So as painful as it is, there's a right way to do this if we want to help those who seek freedom and that is work the political opposition, first, before you start shoveling your weapons in.

BANFIELD: All right. General Clark and Ambassador Silverberg, you both made great points. Thanks so much for being OUTFRONT with us tonight.

And we have to move on our to fourth story OUTFRONT: Mitt Romney speaking at length about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, and what he would do about the situation there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In Libya, I'll support the Libyan people's efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them. And I'll vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed our fellow Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Eli Lake with "The Daily Beast" has been OUTFRONT on the Libya story since the very beginning, and breaking news on what the U.S. knew, when the U.S. knew it. He joins us once again on this story with increasing information on this.

So, Eli, I want you to clear up something that I've been trying to sort of make sense of. You've been reporting today about the militia and some leaders of that militia in Benghazi, who were and correct me if I'm wrong, at one point, we're allied with our consular mission there, but at point said to them, you know, we're done with you because you don't like who you support for our new leadership, our new prime minister. Is that -- is that accurate? Were they threatening to pull their work away and leave us less protected?

ELI LAKE, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: That's based on the notes of September 11th, 2012 cable that was approved by Ambassador Chris Stevens on sort of the Benghazi situation overall. It was one of the -- I think most interesting bullet points in the three-page cable back to Washington, and I think it shows that, you know, in Libya right now, there is an effort to try to build serious national security institutions. But those are very early, the early stages of that right now and that means that the Libyan government and also the United States government for the security of its own diplomatic missions has to rely on the Libyan militias that helped oust Gadhafi.

BANFIELD: All right. Let's move over to Tripoli, and I know that's not where the attack happened, but it was clearly, you know, an embassy and it needed protection. And I'm surprised to see that the U.S. -- particularly the embassy staff in Tripoli -- had requested from our government, an extension for 16-member Special Ops security support team to stay in the country past a deadline. There was a departure date in August. And they needed them to stay for a chunk of time. And they got stamped denial.

Why if there's a request for security would there be denial in the first place?

LAKE: Well, I'm still trying to report out that the answer to that question. But there is one line I've heard one I put this to a State Department official, is that when you set up a new mission in a country like Libya, you start off and you're always using U.S. officials for diplomatic security and other sorts of routine embassy functions. Over time, you rely more and more on local nationals to do a lot of that work and that's what they say was going on in Libya.

BANFIELD: All right, Eli Lake, I appreciate your time tonight. I appreciate the time you've spent on trying to dig out these details. As arcane as they are, devil's in the details. Eli, thank you.

We're going to have to latest for you from the Turkish-Syrian border. Man, this just won't stop. The artillery fire from both sides lobbing over the border.

Could this escalate? Could it get worse? We'll talk about it in a moment.

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BANFIELD: And we're back with tonight's "Outer Circle," where we reach out to our sources around the world and here is where we begin in Caracas, where Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pledged to continue forward with his socialist agenda after winning yet another six-year term.

Paula Newton is on the ground following the story and I asked her how the people there are reacting to his re-election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, this was a decisive victory for Hugo Chavez. But even at a margin of about 10 percent, the opposition is still saying this was a good showing. Why? Hugo Chavez had the disposal of the entire government. All that money from oil profits at his disposal. He threw everything including literally the kitchen sink at this election campaign, giving out free homes, cars, cell phones, refrigerators, doing anything he can.

And what is that going to do? That's now, economists say, going to leave Venezuela in a bind. Venezuelans here are sitting on the largest proven oil reserves in the world and yet a default could happen, a devaluation of the currency is likely at this point.

What does that mean? Any kind of destabilization of this country considering the United States is almost 10 percent of its gas from here, it could lead to some shocks at the gas station. We'll have to continue to watch it -- Ashleigh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: All right. Paula Newton, thank you. It will be exciting at the U.N. went in there, you know that.

I want to take you now to the Syrian-Turkish border. This has been a mess lately. Artillery fire has been going back and forth, flying over the border and it started concerns that the cross border dispute could end up being a big, large regional battle.

Ivan Watson's on the ground there and I ask him how this conflict is escalating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, Turkish and Syrian artillery have now exchanged fire across the border for a sixth straight day. That's a dramatic escalation in hostilities between these two neighbors. The Turks are making it very clear that any time any gunfire or cannons or mortars fire into Turkish territory from Syria, they will respond immediately in kind.

As far as the military alliance goes, last week, they held emergency talks declaring support for Turkey when it first came under fire and also condemning Syria for shooting into Turkish territory. But up until now, no one has invoked Article V of the NATO charter. That considers attacks on one member of the alliance to be an attack on all of them and requires the entire alliance to come to the defense of the attacked party -- Ashleigh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: All right. Ivan, thank you very much.

Coming up next, have you ever worn a bulletproof vest to work? You're going to meet a bishop who had to and he'll tell you why in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Time now to check in with Anderson Cooper with a look ahead at what's coming up on "A.C. 360."

Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Ashleigh.

We got breaking news on the program tonight. The first polls taken out of the first presidential debate released late this afternoon show just how big of a punch the Obama campaign took. The swing state of Michigan is very much in play. Mitt Romney is now in the lead in a national poll. We'll talk it over with Ari Fleischer and Cornell Belcher, David Gergen as well.

Also, a second breaking news story I know you have been covering. The jailhouse recording from convicted child rapist and ex-Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

This is stunning stuff. You're going to hear in his own words how Sandusky denied ever participating in what he terms alleged, disgusting acts -- all angles on that story ahead. Jason Carroll has been covering this from the very beginning. He's live from the courthouse, where Sandusky could be sentenced to life in jail tomorrow.

You'll also hear from Michael Boni, the lawyer for victim number one, and Sandusky defense attorney, Karl Rominger.

Those stories, also tonight's "Ridiculist" -- a lot ahead at the top of the hour, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Such a bombshell, wasn't it, Anderson? Just shocking.

COOPER: It really is, yes.

BANFIELD: To listen to his voice and just how clear and convicted he is in what he says. I'll look forward to it. Thank you, Anderson. Nice to see you.

COOPER: Thanks.

BANFIELD: I want to go to our fifth story OUTFRONT tonight: Love free or die. Not live free or die -- love free or die.

This Thursday is national coming-out day. It's a day, if you don't know, that encourages lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to come out to their family, to their friends, to their loved ones. And that is exactly what Bishop Gene Robinson did more than 25 years ago. He has since become the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopalian Church and now he's taking his message on the road in a new critically acclaimed documentary film that follows his personal journey to gain acceptance in the church.

And OUTFRONT tonight, Bishop Gene Robinson joins me.

Bishop, it's good to see you again. We meet again.

BISHOP GENE ROBINSON, EPISCOPALIAN CHURCH: I know. I'm so glad to see you again.

BANFIELD: What a treat. Now, I want to talk -- the time that we met before, we talked about your new book. It's called "God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage."

Now I want to talk to you about this election and Mitt Romney and President Obama and where they stand and what their stands mean as we move into a very important vote. Just give me your lay of the land quickly, if you would, at the top.

ROBINSON: Sure. You know, both candidates are saying that there's a real choice in this election, and I would have to agree with them. We have this time around not Tweedledee and Tweedledum but a real choice. And especially for gay and lesbian and transgender people, we have one party whose president has affirmed marriage equality and has stood behind us in our fight to make liberty and justice for all really mean all. And we have the Republican Party, which in fact wants to take us backwards. And I don't think the American people and certainly religious people want to do that.

BANFIELD: And I should mention to our viewers, you're endorsing President Obama.

And I want to ask you now -- we want to flip from the election to the Supreme Court. There's a very important season ahead. There are two critical cases that the Supreme Court justices could take up. That's the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act and also the challenge to Proposition 8 in California.

Without doing a huge legal lesson, safe to say that Proposition 8, if it is adjudicated by the high court, could have a sweeping effect across the nation. Clearly, you would support that. But do you expect that the Supreme Court is going to take up Proposition 8, given the controversy in the election year?

ROBINSON: My guess is that the Supreme Court will be a little more cautious and if they take up this case or even let the ninth circuit Court of Appeals case stand, that it will apply more narrowly than to be this kind of sweeping, across the nation change.

I think the Defense of Marriage Act, so-called, is much more likely to be taken up and much more likely to be successful in the sense that we have this situation in which I'm married to my husband, Mark, legally in the state of New Hampshire, because we have marriage equality, and yet the federal government is prohibited from recognizing my marriage, my legal marriage to my partner. And therefore, the various responsibilities and benefits and so on that accrue to married couples across this country cannot apply to me and my husband.

BANFIELD: And, actually, just to go ahead on that, the DOMA challenge, the Defense of Marriage challenge, coming out of Massachusetts is exactly that. A woman who wanted to be I believe it was tax-free bequeathment of her assets, this wouldn't be recognized by the IRS. Therefore, this Defense of Marriage challenge actually would only affect those states that recognize marriage. That's why I said it was such a sweeping change of Proposition 8 we're taking up.

I'm flat out of time because we had breaking news with Jerry Sandusky. But I could talk to you until the cows come home. Thanks so much, Gene, Bishop Robinson, for talking to us again. And good luck with the documentary.

ROBINSON: Wonderful. I see you next time.

BANFIELD: I hope so. I'd like to be in one of your sermons one day. You'll have to get me out there. Gene Robinson joining us live from California.

The economy is starting to turn around. Did you know that four- legged friends may have something to do with it? I kid you not. I'll explain it in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Holiday spending is a great way to gauge the economy, and if the latest predictions are any indication, things are getting better. The next holiday's Halloween and it's going to be the biggest one in history. I kid you not.

According to the National Retail Federation, 170 million Americans are expected to spend a total of -- are you sitting down? -- $8 billion on Halloween this year. That's a billion dollars more than last year.

And the numbers are actually up right across the board, too. We are set to spend more on costumes, decorations and candy.

There is, however, one category that is up way more than all the others. I cannot believe I'm about to tell you this. It does bring me to tonight's number: $370 million. That's how much Americans are expected to spend on Halloween costumes for their pets.

You heard me right. Over the past few years, more and more Americans have been dressing up their pets for Halloween. They have been taking them to trick or treating, and to parades. And this year, costumes are expected -- people are expected to spend almost $70 million for these things, for their pets -- $70 million more than they did last year. That is a 40 percent increase from 2010, folks.

Now, I have a dog. He's adorable. His name is Atlas. There he is, who's a good boy. Who's your boy?

He will not be dressing up. I will not be giving him candy. I will not be giving him a costume. He will greet the trick or treaters, as most dogs should, but you know what? Spend. It's good for the economy. If you love it, that's all that matters.

Thank you for joining, everyone -- everybody. "A.C. 360" starts now.