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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Romney Blasts Obama on the Middle East; Nate Silver on Horserace; Romney's Surge with Women; George Zimmerman's Mother Speaks; Alabama Student Killed

Aired October 8, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, game on. The new Mitt Romney now in the lead. A confident candidate, a major speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East but hope is not a strategy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus, neck and neck. Sometimes it is about the horse race. I'll talk to the man who arguably knows more than anyone about what the numbers in this race mean, Nate Silver.

And "Battleground America." Is Romney gaining ground with female voters? Women on the left and right go toe-to-toe.

Also, a worldwide exclusive. What you haven't heard about the man who shot Trayvon Martin, the first television interview with George Zimmerman's mother. Plus his brother Robert. Why he says there's more to the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S SHOOTER: He said, you're going to die tomorrow, (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And I just grabbed my firearm and I shot him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. With just 29 days to go until the election, our "Big Story" tonight, Mitt Romney takes that post-debate bounce and boy, does he run with it. The latest Pew poll conducted after last week's debate puts Romney firmly in the lead of President Obama, 49- 45. To put that in context, back in September, in the same poll, the president had a 51-43 lead. And in a moment I'll ask polling guru Nate Silver what it all really means.

Meanwhile, a newly energized candidate Romney is wasting no time pressing his advantage, today hitting the president with some tough talk on foreign policy, including the deadly attack on Americans in Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: This latest assault can't be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration's attempts to convince us of that for so long. No, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially on women and girls who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Joining me now, a man who knows quite a lot about Mitt Romney's views on all this, Norm Coleman is an advisor to the Romney campaign on foreign policy and a former senator from Minnesota.

Welcome to you, Senator.

NORM COLEMAN (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Piers, great to be with you today.

MORGAN: Let's start with this extraordinary poll today. The Pew poll showing that your man, Mitt Romney, has sawed into the lead and quite comfortably. What do you make of that?

COLEMAN: Well, certainly the debate was a defining moment in this campaign, but I think it's pretty simple. Mitt Romney has a plan, has a plan to grow jobs, he articulated a plan today for strong American foreign policy and the president doesn't have a plan, doesn't have a record. And when you don't have a record, you don't have a plan, you go against somebody who has a -- who has a record of building jobs and has a plan, I think you're seeing what you're seeing in the Pew poll.

MORGAN: One of the most extraordinary parts of the Pew poll, if you look at sort of the detail, is the 18-point swing with women voters. He was 18 points behind, it's now level with Barack Obama.

I was actually watching Mitt Romney speaking in the rain earlier this afternoon and some of the women around me were sort of visibly going weak at the knees, calling him heroic. Calling him this guy -- suddenly they're seeing him in a totally different light. Do you think the debate performance has actually carried over weight with women generally?

COLEMAN: I think, you know, two observations on that, Piers. One, he was -- there was so much money spent defining him as this caricature, this unthinking, unfeeling caricature and then the American public, over 60 million people, got to see him at the debate, and see that this is a guy with a heart. This guy that really cares, cares about their families. And even on the campaign trail, I think the governor has kind of lightened up a little bit.

He's very shy about talking about himself but he now is talking about the things that he's done to touch people's lives, to impact people's lives. So he's had hundreds of millions of dollars spent, you know, tearing him apart, characterizing him in a way that isn't him and the American public got to see him in that debate. They got to see a man with heart and with soul and with a plan, with a vision, and with the ability to get things done. And I think that had a perceptible impact on what we're seeing in the polls today is a reflection of that.

MORGAN: Let's turn to your specialty, foreign policy. He made a big foreign policy speech today clearly trying to deal with the fact that most people assume he's a bit weak in that area. I guess my overview when I read the context of his speech was, where is he really that different to Barack Obama? I mean can you articulate for me exactly what the key difference would be, if he became president?

COLEMAN: A number of key differences. Key differences -- first of all, let me kind of start in big picture and then will narrow in. This campaign should be about big issues. It should be about the American economy. It should be about rebuilding that, rebuilding the American military. American values.

And what we're seeing with this president for four years is a weakening of the economy, a weakening of the military, and a weakening across the board in foreign policy.

Piers, tell me the place in the world where America today is more respected or safer and secure than we were four years ago. Certainly not in Syria, certainly not with Iran getting a nuclear weapon, it's certainly not the Middle East --

MORGAN: Actually, I would --

(CROSSTALK)

COLEMAN: The only --

MORGAN: Hang on. Hang on. Hang on. Let me just stop you in your tracks. Because, actually, I would say one of the things that Barack Obama has done incredibly successfully is restore a lot of America's very damaged reputation around the world since the eight years of George Bush and all the warfare that came with it.

So I would -- I would seriously question that. I've traveled a lot through Europe and so on.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: There's a lot of respect for America that certainly wasn't there six, seven years ago.

COLEMAN: The question is not whether you're better liked. It's always safe and secure. Is the situation in the Middle East today better than it was four years ago? Is it better in Iran? Today Iran --

MORGAN: Well, hang on. Again, again, let me question you.

(CROSSTALK)

COLEMAN: Piers, Piers --

MORGAN: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

COLEMAN: Latin America --

MORGAN: No, no, no. I'm not going to let you get away with that because let's be pragmatic and sensible about what you just said. The reality is bin Laden is dead. He was alive four years ago. Gadhafi was alive four years ago. Mubarak was ruling Egypt four years ago. Many people would argue however difficult the situation is in the Middle East right now, it is very complicated and very difficult, but actually, yes, America probably is better off knowing that those three are no longer ruling their countries, or in bin Laden's case, al Qaeda.

COLEMAN: And so American embassy is attacked on the anniversary of -- let me step back. We applaud that Osama bin Laden is dead. But strategic -- but tactical strikes taking out terrorist leaders does not overcome for a lack of strategy to provide greater stability.

The Middle -- Piers, I say respectfully, the Middle East is not -- it is not more secure today than it was four years ago. Egypt is not a better place than it was four years ago. Syria is a mess. Iraq --

MORGAN: So presumably you would like to see -- would you like to see Mubarak?

COLEMAN: Israel is not more secure and Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon.

MORGAN: Well, hang on. You can't just -- you can't just throw these things out, Senator. Presumably then in that case, would -- would you -- would you want Mubarak and Gadhafi, if they were still around, to go back and take over again? I mean where would you go with this threat?

COLEMAN: Well, what I would want -- well, let -- what I would want and what we didn't have and what we don't have is I'd like to have a strategy. And Mubarak in Egypt's place, what we did is we pulled back, substantially pulled back, Piers, from aid, from aid, you know, democracy forces. I serve on the board of National Endowment for Democracy, substantially cut back. We had no ears on the ground. We had an election process that then moved forward without the forces of democracy having a chance to mobilize so what were you left with?

You're left with the Muslim Brotherhood. So it's not about whether Mubarak should be there. It's what strategically -- you know, you cited, again, you know, tactical things that the president has done. God bless him, it's a wonderful thing, Osama bin Laden is dead. But there has not been a strategy and the result of it is that you've got a problem with what's happening in Egypt.

And when you ask, Piers, let me get back to the question you asked about differences. I articulated just a few. First of all, in Syria, we would have worked with and should be working with what I call the relevant forces of relevancy in that region, the Turks, the emirates, even by -- I would bring the Brits and bring the French and the German in.

This president hasn't done that. Great article in the "New York Times" yesterday. Take a look at it. And you have Syrian opposition leaders saying that they've been abandoned by the West, they say to us, but particularly by the United States, sitting on the sideline. And the result is that the Syrians are being radicalized.

The forces of extremism are taking over. It's the failure of America to lead, failure to bring folks together. Failure to be a player in that region that has caused us to be in a situation now where in Egypt, the leadership is one that is not clear they're going to enforce their treaties with Israel, they're going to be, you know, working to make sure that Israel isn't subjected to greater terrorist attacks from across the border.

In Syria, it's a mess. Iraq is a mess. And Iran is much closer to a nuclear weapon. So yes, let's take a look where we were, the lack of a strategy, the lack of a strategic approach has caused this president -- whatever his policies were in the Middle East, I can't tell you what the strategy was but it's certainly a mess.

MORGAN: Senator Coleman, thank you very much.

COLEMAN: OK.

MORGAN: Now for the other side, Congressman Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Now welcome to you.

REP. ADAM SMITH, RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Thank you for having me on. I appreciate the chance.

MORGAN: Well, you heard quite a lively exchange there. I mean there obviously -- you know, Mitt Romney is coming out today trying to position himself as the more presidential leader in terms of foreign policy than Barack Obama, saying that Obama has been weak.

This is obviously a very arguable point. What would you say to that?

SMITH: I think the most interesting thing about Governor Romney is not just this speech but his entire foreign policy approach is the complete absence of specifics and we even heard that from former Senator Coleman there, so he's upset about the situation in Syria. I didn't hear Governor Romney advocate that we intervene in Syria. I happen to think that would be a mistake. In Iran, all he called for was the exact sanctions that President Obama is implementing.

Look, the president has had a very strong record. You pointed out many of the aspects of that. Certainly the death of Osama bin Laden is the most important, but it's not just that. We've contained al Qaeda by being aggressive, but at the same time, we've worked with the rest of the world to enforce sanctions on Iran and yes, we are working with Turkey and all those other countries, trying to deal with the situation in Syria.

I think the mistake Governor Romney makes is to assume that there's some magic wand to fix all these problems. President Obama has had a clear strategy. Governor Romney has offered no specific ideas that I've heard that differ from Obama or in some instances, even any specific ideas at all. So on foreign policy the president clearly said --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Having said that, the criticism against -- the criticism against the president is this, is that by doing this kind of leading from behind strategy that he's adopted in places like Libya and so on, that it lends itself to a sense that America is no longer a truly dominant world power, that it's happy for others to take the lead.

SMITH: Correct.

MORGAN: And it creates a kind of vacuum which could be filled by undesirable people.

SMITH: Well, that entire argument is based on a myth and that myth is that at some point in the past, the U.S. was able to simply snap its fingers or flex its muscles and force the world to its will. That has never been the case. I think it's really dangerous to consider the prospects of having a president of the United States who imagines that it is the case.

We have to work with other countries to get forward and move forward. We can't just go into Libya or Syria or Egypt or any of these places, walk in there and say, you have to do exactly what we want. If Mitt Romney truly believes that, then I shudder to think how many places he's going to try to commit our U.S. military in the mistaken belief that they can force their will upon the rest of the world.

That's just not the way it works. Now let's take Afghanistan. What is Governor Romney's policy on Afghanistan? He hasn't said it except to state again that we need to show strength. Does that mean that we need more troops in Afghanistan for a longer period of time? I think that would be a horrible mistake.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Well, I agree that rather like his --

SMITH: Then President Obama has the right policy.

MORGAN: I agree. Rather like his tax policies, the devil in the detail has not emerged yet. And we look forward to hearing that.

SMITH: Right. MORGAN: What I want to play to you, though, is a clip from "Saturday Night Live" showing President Obama onstage in Denver. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Governor. Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, yes. Yes. What's up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, Governor Romney has just said that he killed Osama bin Laden. Would you care to respond?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you two go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It was a fairly dismal performance, wasn't it?

SMITH: Correct.

MORGAN: And As a result the polls are quite shocking today. I mean this Pew poll, there's been a swing from September 12th to 16th, it's gone from 51 percent to 43 percent in Obama's favor to 49 percent to 45 percent in Romney's favor. This is catastrophic, isn't it?

SMITH: Well, it's not catastrophic. It's a poll. But look, there's no secret, the president didn't have a good debate performance. And we have got to get out there, all Democrats, all people who support President Obama, and aggressively make the case because on the substance of economic policy, we have the better plan.

Look, all Mitt Romney wants to do is go back to the plan that got us into this economic catastrophe in the first place. And I do agree, the president should have been stronger, should have gone back on Mitt Romney when he said some of the things that he said, but one debate does not change the policies.

And the policies are, our economy faces a better future with President Obama than Mitt Romney. He wants to go back to the same tax cut, deregulation, top-down trickle-down economics that failed us so miserably in the past.

And on foreign policy, you know, either he has no plan or he simply wants to show strength which can lead to all kinds of calamities, again just like we have in the past. So I think President Obama has got the better message. He's got the better economic message, he's got the better foreign policy message, and yes, we need to deliver it a lot better than he did at that -- at that debate.

There's no question about that. But the substance, what's actually going to impact the American people, that's where President Obama has the advantage. We just need to make that case.

MORGAN: Congressman, thank you very much.

SMITH: Thank you, Piers. I appreciate the chance.

MORGAN: We've heard from politicians on both sides. And coming up, the one man who may really, really know what all this will mean for the election, the genius behind the FiveThirtyEight blog, Nate Silver.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When our U.S. diplomats were attacked in Libya, the "New York Times" said Romney's knee-jerk response showed an extraordinary lack of presidential character. And even Republican experts said Romney's remarks were the worst possible reaction to what happened. If this is how he handles the world now, just think what Mitt Romney might do as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama's new ad taking aim at Mitt Romney. But the latest Pew poll make the most important political development today. So how bad are these numbers really for the president? And how good are they really for Mitt Romney?

Joining me now, the man who surely knows all the answers, Nate Silver, the numbers guy behind the FiveThirtyEight blog and the author of "The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail But Some Don't."

Welcome back, Nate.

NATE SILVER, AUTHOR, "THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE": Yes, thank you.

MORGAN: So your last confident prediction was Obama is going to walk this 70 percent certainty. What happened?

SILVER: Well --

MORGAN: Looks like Mitt Romney is surging ahead. Pew poll, 49 percent to 45. Are you correcting your prediction?

SILVER: We are. We always update our numbers in real time and what happened was Denver, where I think you had the president behaving as though he had a 14-point lead and not a four-point lead and that tends to -- you know, you kind of create your own nightmare sometimes if you -- if you do act overconfident about where you stand in the race.

At the same time, I'm not sure I would look at this Pew poll alone without the broader context of data. We've seen some other polls today, for example the Gallup Tracking Polls actually move slightly toward Obama, so right now it's close enough that you're going to have some polls showing a lead for either candidate and that makes it more dramatic and makes for big headlines but we think the consensus of data shows what will probably settle into being a very narrow lead for President Obama, probably one or two points on average, that is an educated guess.

MORGAN: To me one of the most interesting aspects of this poll was the 18-point lead in the Pew survey that Obama had with women has evaporated. It's gone. And I think it's because women watched that debate, and actually thought, you know what, Mitt Romney has got a character. We rather like it. Obama by comparison who'd been so good joyously almost Messianic as a speaker was reduced to this kind of boring (INAUDIBLE) standing there.

SILVER: Well, and the nonverbal communication. I thought if you watched that debate with the sound off it looked almost like a more compelling win for Romney than if you read the transcript where Obama was looking away.

MORGAN: Yes.

SILVER: It looked like his heart wasn't in it. Now that also means that if he gives a more spirited performance in the next two debates, he could regain some ground. So there are really two questions.

MORGAN: If he can win round the women, how significant is that to his chances of win in the election?

SILVER: If Romney can?

MORGAN: Yes.

SILVER: Sure. I mean look, if -- look, if he gets a --

MORGAN: Eighteen-point swing in one poll is huge.

SILVER: If we were to see that number confirmed by other polls then, you know, Romney would be the favorite but it's not what we're seeing in the bulk of data. And sometimes there can be a tendency to take a big headline number, we treat as the most important poll of the day when we're getting 15 or 20 polls released. And look, if Romney is doing that well among women, we'll see the result confirmed by other polls quite soon. And it won't be --

MORGAN: His people also believe that he did well from the debate independents, men, the elderly in particular. That's what their own internal polling is showing. Would you agree with that?

SILVER: Well, in the debate he was able to reposition himself toward the center of the electorate. And when I was on last time we talked about, this is something very strange where Romney has been playing to the base, even to some extent at his convention, he was doing that. But he shifted toward the center and Obama was a little bit feeble in trying to -- in trying to rebut that. And that's a -- that's an important factor. Historically candidates who can appear to be in the middle of the electorate tend to win and those who are on the wings tend to lose. So that was a big strategic gain that Romney made.

He make it -- made a big gain among voters who now see him as more presidential and acceptable. That stuff will last. I think some of his immediate bounce will fade.

MORGAN: I know you're brilliant with these numbers but I don't think you're factoring in something that can't be quantified by numbers. It's called momentum.

SILVER: Yes.

MORGAN: I come at this as a journalist watching --

SILVER: Yes.

MORGAN: -- Mitt Romney surging in confidence and he's got momentum behind him. Barack Obama is the opposite. He's gone from being super maybe cocky, a bit complacent, he's now looking a bit deflated. He's got to come back, isn't it? I mean if Mitt Romney wins the last two debates --

SILVER: Sure it's close enough now that Obama cannot afford to have two more performances like he did in Denver. But, look, in general we've done pretty well with our forecast. Sometimes betting against momentum, where although there is such a thing, it can also be exaggerated based on the narrative people are telling about the race.

Remember how much -- a momentum Obama had before the debate after the 47 percent tape and the convention. You know, if anything, you want to bet on the race reverting back to the long-term average.

MORGAN: What the debate showed me, though, was just how important the television power can be for this selection because the 47 percent scandal, as it was really, should have brought him down, really, Mitt Romney. It was so awful. You could have thought in previous election campaigns that could have been the game-changer.

As it is, you could argue, looking at it all now in totality, Barack Obama's poor performance at the debate has been more damaging to him than the 47 percent was to Mitt Romney.

SILVER: Well, I think potentially. I mean, look, the debate was watched by 70 million people which is a lot more than the 47 percent tape. So a lot of good momentum that Obama had in September was undone in an hour and a half. That was a very damaging evening for the president.

At the same time, it's not likely we'll be talking about the Denver debate as a lead story one or two weeks from now. Something new will take its place. Maybe it's a good story for Obama, maybe not. But voters' memories will fade some. That's why we do look at the long term and also the economic numbers where Obama did get one good piece of news where with the unemployment rate falling below 8 percent. We now think that the economy's good enough where he's probably a narrow favorite on that basis. The numbers look similar to --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I mean Donald Trump and Jack Welch say those numbers are all a lot of monkey babble.

SILVER: Well, there's a tendency. And look, I saw some Democrats in my Twitter feed complaining about the Pew poll when they were lauding it, of course, when they had Obama up by seven. I think we have a tendency now in our culture to just get rid of data we don't like. But what I do try to do is look at what all the polls say and you see some where Romney has got a gigantic bounce, some where you haven't seen much of a bounce at all on average --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: You tweeted today, according to Twitter, Barack Obama went from a huge favorite at 1:00 p.m.

SILVER: Yes.

MORGAN: To a huge underdog at 4:00 p.m. Get a grip, people.

SILVER: Yes, so at 1:00, you had the Gallup Poll come out that against convention wisdom showed Obama improving, up to five-point lead from three before. And then you got the Pew poll coming out showing this huge shift toward Romney. And those are both -- those are both really good polls.

MORGAN: The key thing, I think, is what Mitt Romney did in Denver, was he didn't blow it. Had he done the performance that Barack Obama did, it could have been all over by now. And it isn't. It's game on.

Nate, good to see you again.

SILVER: Thank you.

MORGAN: Looking slightly less certain than last time.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Coming up, Mitt Romney's unexpected surge with female voters. Are women abandoning the president and turning to Mitt Romney? I'll ask top women on the right and the left.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East, allied with us. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We can't support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Mitt Romney taking aim at the president today on foreign policy. But the big news of the day may just be candidate Romney's surprising surge with female voters. Joining me now two women who are likely to be an odds on that. Maria Cardona who's a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, and Kristen Soltis, who's the Republican pollster and vice president of the Winston Group.

Welcome to you ladies.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Piers. Good to be here.

MORGAN: Let's start with you, Maria. Because I would imagine that although all the clear evidence points to women surging to Mitt Romney, you're not one of them.

(LAUGHTER)

CARDONA: I am not one of them, Piers. And look, I'll say this. I'll say the same thing tonight that I have said when the president was up by a considerable amount with women, and when he was up in -- with polls in general, and that is that a poll is just a snapshot of the moment. In this very close election, polls will be volatile, especially after last week's debate. But I think that what we need to take into consideration is what is going to happen from here on out.

I guarantee you, Piers, that Democrats are going to continue delivering the message about Mitt Romney and the GOP --

MORGAN: Yes, but here's the problem. Here's the problem, Maria.

CARDONA: -- and a party that is essentially not good for women.

MORGAN: Here is the problem, though. Because we all know what the message is. The problem is the guy you asked to deliver it on those stages for the debate, he blew it big time and the problem for him is that he had boxed in Mitt Romney to be this boring guy that was a CEO, all he was ever good at was business, no personality. That was the whole message banged on by you Democrats.

Suddenly we saw a guy who by comparison to ironically the boring guy in the president on stage, we saw a rather charismatic Mitt Romney seizing his moment, showing leadership. And whether you agree with what he was saying or not, and a lot of what he said is certainly open to conjecture.

CARDONA: Right.

MORGAN: He definitely showed personality. And that's why I think women have softened towards him. And that -- if that continues as a trend, is a problem for the president.

CARDONA: Yes. If that continues, Piers. But you're right, but it was just one night. It was a one-night impression. And the election is not tomorrow. And that's exactly my point. There are many days left, including two additional presidential debates, where the president can continue to deliver that message and to make the case, because I will continue to say what I said on your program last week.

It's going to take a lot more than a debate that lasted less than two hours to change the overall perception for good of something that Romney and the -- and the GOP have been basically ingrained in women's minds for two years.

MORGAN: OK. Let's go -- let's go to Kristen. I mean you must be, I would imagine, jubilant at some of these poll numbers today but in reality, can they hold and what is going on with women voters here, do you think?

KRISTEN SOLTIS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: So I don't think it's about personality as you said earlier. I think it's about something that's a little bit deeper than that. What you saw earlier this year is you did see Obama with the lead among women voters. But it wasn't solid. I think that women were really looking for someone to give them an answer to the question, who's going to fix this economy? Who's going to turn this around?

And even through the conventions, Obama was still sort of, you know, had a slight edge there. I think what Mitt Romney did in that debate was he showed that he's got an answer to that question. He's got a confident sort of strong answer to that question and I think he gave people who were watching reason to believe that he would be a good steward, a good captain of the ship to sort of navigate us out of -- out of the stormy world that we're in.

I think that is really why you're seeing this movement in all of these polls and why you've seen groups like women, you know, his numbers have improved with them.

MORGAN: OK. Let's just turn to foreign policy. I'll stick with you, Kristen, to start with, because Mitt Romney has come out today basically said look, everything Barack Obama is doing on the foreign stage is totally useless but it seemed to me that everything he was suggesting sounded very similar to what Barack Obama has been doing. Whether it's Syria or Iran or whatever.

I mean, what exactly is Mitt Romney suggesting he's going to do? Is he going to commit loads more American troops to these areas? Because if he's not, isn't he just talking a lot of hot air?

SOLTIS: I think it's less about the differences in what goals or ultimate vision the two men have, and it's a difference in how they would want to execute them. What Romney's position seemed to be is that Obama's, you know, talked a big game but hasn't really executed on it and so you've got -- you know, the Middle --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: But he has to, hasn't he? Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I had this argument earlier with a senator, Norm Coleman. And I said to him, he -- he literally has executed it. He executed Gadhafi, bin Laden. He hasn't stopped executing people. And you know whether you think the Middle East is --

SOLTIS: But do you really -- do you think that we're safer now? I mean --

MORGAN: Yes. I actually --

SOLTIS: It's true that Osama bin Laden was killed --

MORGAN: Do I think -- do I think America is safer without Osama bin Laden or Gadhafi or any of these despots, absolutely I do.

SOLTIS: But we're seeing that we've just had a situation where an ambassador was killed and we were told for about a week that it was because of a movie on YouTube? I mean that doesn't fill me with a lot of confidence. And I think that's about -- that's what a lot of this is about. It's about OK, we're going to be strong. We are going to put action behind our words instead of just saying, you know, I hope that we'll be nice and maybe they'll like us.

MORGAN: OK. Well, let's turn to Maria Cardona again. I mean, apparently we've got to be strong. What does that mean?

CARDONA: Look, I think Mitt Romney's foreign policy can be described like this. A whole lot of bluster, a whole lot of blunder, and not a whole lot of there-there. Because you're right, Piers, everything that he talked about today in terms of what he would do, we don't know what he would do differently than what President Obama has been doing quite successfully, I would add, in terms of foreign policy.

He goes abroad, he insults England, in the debate last week he insulted Spain, he talks about how he would throw in the white flag of surrender for a two-state solution to Israel, and he just doesn't know what he would do differently and has not been able to communicate that. He talks about Russia as being our number one political foe.

Let's ask al Qaeda if they think that Obama is leading from behind, which is one of the things that Romney loves to talk about the president on.

MORGAN: Well, to be fair -- to be fair --

CARDONA: I think that they will say --

SOLTIS: He's not leading from behind.

MORGAN: That's pretty much what Obama said about himself. So I think you can blame him for that.

Anyway, ladies, we're going to leave it there now. One thing is for sure, today it got very, very interesting. And I think we're going to be talking again before too long. Thank you both for joining me.

SOLTIS: Thanks.

CARDONA: Thank you so much, Piers.

MORGAN: Breaking news tonight on the Penn State scandal on the eve of Jerry Sandusky's sentencing. The convicted pedophile and former defensive coordinator is speaking out from jail. Sandusky was convicted in June for sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years and tomorrow he'll find out whether he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

But today, in an extraordinary move, Sandusky released a statement in his own words which aired on Penn State radio. He denies the abuse, blames the victims and proclaims his love for his wife. You've really got to hear this to even try and believe it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY SANDUSKY, FORMER PENN STATE FOOTBALL COACH: In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts. My wife has been my only sex partner and that was after marriage. Our love continues. 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. I've wondered what they really won. Attention, financial gain, prestige, will all be temporary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And on and on he whines in similar vein. But frankly, that's enough for me. I don't have the stomach for any more of this and I'm sure you haven't either. Sandusky was convicted of disgusting hideous crimes against young children. Tomorrow he'll be sentenced. And after that, I don't think any of us ever need to hear another word from Jerry Sandusky again.

Coming up, she's asked us to keep her in the shadows to protect her identity. The mother of the man who shot Trayvon Martin finally breaks the silence and talked to me exclusively. Gladys Zimmerman joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon and you know, I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Reaction to the Trayvon Martin case reached all the way to the White House. Tonight for the first time, George Zimmerman's mother tells me what she knows about her son and what may have happened the night Trayvon Martin was shot.

Gladys Zimmerman joins me now exclusively along with George's brother, Robert, who's been one of my guests before.

Welcome to you both. And Gladys, you've asked us to keep your face in shadows to protect your identity and we respect that. I'm aware that you haven't given any interviews before. Why do you want to talk out now?

GLADYS ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S MOTHER: I feel that it's about time, the time that all this commotion was happening, we were forced to leave our home. We were forced to just disappear and because of the death threats that we were getting, it was very dangerous for us to -- even to think about to come to defend our son.

MORGAN: Tell me, Gladys, when you think back to that night that Trayvon Martin was killed and you first discovered that George had fired the gun that killed him, how did you feel as his mother? What went through your mind in that moment?

G. ZIMMERMAN: At that moment it feel like I couldn't believe what had happened. I felt that -- that the world had turned upside down. To me it was like a nightmare. I just couldn't -- just couldn't believe what had happened. I mean to me it was unbelievable. I was very sad. I was very sad for my son and for the person who had departed. Very, very sad.

MORGAN: I mean, so many lives have been affected and ruined by what's happened here. Obviously George is facing a murder trial now if he's convicted, he may face 25, 30 years in prison. Have you come to grips with that possibility?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I'm sorry? I didn't understand your question?

MORGAN: Have you -- have you come to terms with the possibility that George may go to prison for 25 or 30 years if he's found guilty?

G. ZIMMERMAN: I believe in the judicial system. I believe from the beginning that, you know, he is innocent, and I mean, the media had played a big role against my son. They had portrayed him in a bad, bad picture. But there is justice in America, and I believe in justice.

MORGAN: Do you -- as his mother, do you wish that George had never gone out carrying a gun that evening?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Mr. Morgan, there are so many things that we, you know, can wish as parents, but I will not answer to that question because I don't want, you know, people to elaborate of what, you know, the mother has said.

MORGAN: If you had the chance, Gladys, to talk to Trayvon Martin's parents, what would you say to them?

G. ZIMMERMAN: It was already said by a statement that my son had made public.

MORGAN: But I mean, how do you -- how would you phrase it? What would you say as a mother to another mother who had lost her son?

G. ZIMMERMAN: That I'm deeply sorry for what had happened. It is a tremendous tragedy for both families. I'm very sorry for the loss of their son.

MORGAN: Let me just ask Robert quickly. Robert, you obviously as a family, it's been hellish for you as well and to say otherwise is to ignore the reality of your situation. You weren't there on the night, nor was your mother. How is George doing now, how is he coping with incarceration, how is he coping with the impending trial?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: Well, he's not incarcerated right now. He's released. The order requires that he stay in Seminole County so as you can imagine that's a little bit restrictive.

MORGAN: But isn't it a form of incarceration? I mean how free is he to go about?

R. ZIMMERMAN: That's right, that's exactly right, it is restrictive. He's free in one sense that he can meet with his attorneys. It's important that he participates in his defense and that he contributes any way that he can, but in a word, George would be recovering. He was diagnosed with PTSD. I told you that in March. Among other things that I told you, such as his injuries that appeared to you to not exist. Based on that videotape that ABC released, based on a lot of things people were releasing and saying that have now proven not to be true.

So he's recovering from the world turning against him, the media barrage that convicted him ahead of time, and he hasn't been convicted of any crime. And I think that's a very hard reality to face every day for him.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break. We're going to come back and talk more to you, Robert, and to your mother, Gladys. I want to talk really about what life is like for you as the family of one of the most notorious figures in America right now. The death threats you've had and so on and how you're dealing with it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: Hello. This is George Zimmerman. First and foremost, I want to thank you all for visiting the real GeorgeZimmerman.com. We re-launched this Web site to once again thank you, my supporters. My intention was and still is to personally and individually thank you all. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, the masses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: George Zimmerman thanking his supporters. Back with me now is his mother, Gladys, who's asked us to keep her face in shadow to protect her identity, and here with me in the studio, George Zimmerman's brother, Robert.

Welcome both to you again. Gladys, let me ask you a difficult question. If the situation had been reversed, if it had been George who was going back to visit a family relative, having gone to a store who was unarmed, and he got into an altercation with somebody, Trayvon Martin, for argument's sake, and Trayvon Martin had produced a gun and shot your son dead, do you think you would feel differently about what happened?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Mr. Morgan, I don't want to touch anything that has to do directly with the case. It's very important for me as a mother not to touch for the sanctity of the case, the prosecution and the defense, that I would rather not talk about anything that will affect the case. I rather would like to talk about my son.

MORGAN: Yes, tell me this --

(CROSSTALK)

G. ZIMMERMAN: And a human person that is on.

MORGAN: I understand, and I respect, I respect that you can't talk about the case. So let me ask you about George. What is the most annoying misconception that you keep having to hear or read about your son? Because some people see him as this brutal killer, a racist, somebody who -- you know, abused his ex-girlfriend and so on. A lot of this must be very hurtful to you as his mother. What are the things that have really upset you?

G. ZIMMERMAN: The most? That he was called racist. The most. That is something that , you know, people who don't know George and people who knew George they didn't bother to come up front and said, no, he's not racist.

Let me mention one case, the case of Mr. Sherman Weir. He -- he was a homeless African-American man who was beaten and hit left unconscious on the pavement by a young man. Now this Mr. Weir because he was homeless or because he was African-American, nobody defended him except my son. My son took the time to elaborate and to go and make flyers and go to churches, African-American churches, leave flyers on every car, stay there for every church session and pass flyers and get the community together to go to a council meeting back in 2011.

MORGAN: I mean, we have heard -- we have heard -- Gladys, we have heard stories like this about George. And certainly many members of his family and friends have rushed to say, he's not a racist. It doesn't mean --

G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

MORGAN: It doesn't mean necessarily he didn't in some way perhaps subliminally racially profile Trayvon Martin. He's sort of a young black boy in an area where there had been burglaries, and he didn't think the worst. It may have been that that was the case. We may never know the case to that.

Tell me this on a wider point. Do you think that regardless of what happens in this case, would you like to see tougher gun control laws in America?

G. ZIMMERMAN: It -- excuse me. It is hard to tell. I'm not into a study for that law, but I have to tell you that there's more people being killed -- excuse me. There's more people being killed by guns where the state had, you know, have a regulation for gun control. That's, you know, what I have learned. Right now, I'm not in the position to say, you know, oh, yes, let's do this, let's do that with gun control. I'm sorry, my head is some place else.

MORGAN: OK. Gladys, I understand, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much for joining me. I do appreciate it's taken a lot of courage on your part to do this and that you're concerned about your security and of your family. So I appreciate you joining me now and you, too, Robert, good to see you again.

R. ZIMMERMAN: Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: Coming up next, "Only in America."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tonight's "Only in America," another gun, another senseless loss of life. Gilbert Thomas Collar, in Alabama was an 18- year-old freshman at the University of South Alabama. At 1:23 a.m. on Saturday, for reasons as yet remain unknown, he appeared naked in the window of the campus police station and began banging loudly. According to university spokesman the officer on duty went outside, an altercation ensued.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEITH AYERS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA SPOKESMAN: The man repeatedly rushed toward the police officer and verbally challenged the officer in a fighting stance. The officer, with weapons drawn, ordered the individual to halt. The officer retreated numerous times and attempt to calm the situation. The individual continued to press toward the officer in a threatening manner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Gilbert Collar was 5'7" and weighed just 135 pounds. Because he was naked, it was obvious that he was unarmed. Yet the officer apparently concluded the only course of action available to him with this 18-year-old freshman student was to pull out his gun and shoot Gilbert Collar dead with a single bullet to his chest.

His family and friends are understandably angry and upset about the circumstances and what happened as are his classmates, one of whom said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLGAN MEANOR, WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH GIL COLLAR: He's not the kind of guy that people knew him and said he would do something like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: There are lots of unanswered questions to this case. I don't know if Gilbert Collar was intoxicated or on drugs or suffering some kind of mental breakdown. This information may not emerged in the investigation but I do know this. A naked 5'7", 135-pound, 18- year-old college freshman does not pose a sufficient risk to police officer to justify being shot dead.

The shooting won't get the attention of Trayvon Martin's killing, or the Aurora movie theater massacre. But it got my attention because my oldest son has just started as a 19-year-old freshman at a British university, and is I'm sure getting up to all the ridiculous kind of things that I did as a freshman. Gilbert Collar could have been my son. He could have been your son. He may have been a silly boy, a disturbed boy. We don't know. But he didn't deserve to die. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.