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Ryan and Biden Prepare to Debate; New Presidential Polls; How a Town-Hall Debate is Different; Pressure On for Running Mates; Counting Down to the VP Debate; Ryan's Inspiration Then, Not Now; U.S. Names New Envoy to Libya; Hezbollah Claims Drone Downed By Israel; Diamond- Rich Planet Discovered

Aired October 11, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: countdown to tonight's vice presidential debate. We're covering the candidates like no other network.

But, first, a CNN exclusive interview. Paul Ryan tells us about his preparations to go head-to-head with Vice President Joe Biden. Stand by.

Also, behind-the-scenes photos and new details from Vice President Joe Biden's practice sessions.

And new polls from the swing states are coming in. They show why tonight's debate is more crucial than ever for both men at the top of the ticket.

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

We're down to only 26 days until the presidential election. And right now, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, they are getting ready for debate night in America. There's intense pressure as the polls show the two tickets are closer than ever.

CNN has full coverage of both candidates. We begin with Congressman Paul Ryan in an interview you will see only, only here on CNN.

CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, she sat down with Congressman Ryan. She's joining us now live from the debate site in Danville, Kentucky.

Dana, how's he preparing for tonight?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, he is doing what is now traditional for candidates who are running for president and vice president, which is having mock debates.

He has been doing that really all over the country as much as he can in hotel rooms from Oregon to Virginia to Florida. But another thing that I have learned about him, which is really fascinating, is that it's not just that. He is using every moment and has been in order to study.

He made sure to have his briefing papers with him. Take a look.


BASH: I know you have a pretty large briefcase there.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. You asked me to show you my briefcase.

BASH: Can you show us? I can barely lift it.


RYAN: It's a little heavy.



RYAN: What do you think? It's about 30 or 40 pounds.

BASH: At least.

RYAN: It's pretty heavy. I have got a lot of binders, different subjects.


BASH: Is this the keys to the kingdom right there?

RYAN: Yes. I'm not going to open my binder for you. I just like to study the issues.

BASH: But, in all seriousness, in there, is that where you keep the binders that are preparing you for the debate?


RYAN: Yes. Absolutely.

BASH: And without giving away the specifics, generally, how are you preparing? You're just -- you're doing a lot of reading.

RYAN: I do a lot of reading. That's what I have always done, briefings and reading.

BASH: You're not just doing it for yourself.

RYAN: That's right.

BASH: You're doing it for the guy at the top of the ticket who picked you.

RYAN: Yes. No, like I said, this is new for me. Joe has done this for decades, ran for president, had all those presidential debates, sitting vice president. So, he clearly goes into this with a whole lot more experience than I do. And this is the first time I'm on a stage like this.


BLITZER: And Dana is joining us once again.

Dana, Romney told me something similar earlier in the week when he suggested that Ryan has never really been in a big debate like this before. He certainly hasn't been in a big debate like this, but he has debated before.

BASH: Yes, they're both right in that, of course, he has not been the vice presidential candidate before with tens of millions of people watching.

But he -- Ryan himself reminded me he is a member of the House of Representatives, has been for seven terms. He's debated quite often on the floor of the House and committee and other venues. And he also has been a candidate for Congress where he has had to debate.

So on that note, I took him on a walk down memory lane.


BASH: I want to show you a picture that might be a blast from the past.

RYAN: Oh, yes. That is probably from -- that was my first campaign.


BASH: This is your first campaign against Lydia Spottswood. You beat her.


RYAN: That's my lucky Irish tie, too. I have worn that tie -- well, I don't know. I got to see if I can dig it up, but I have worn that tie in most of my election nights. I have had seven elections. And I think that's the tie.


BASH: Back in that race, she is quoted as saying that she was old enough to be your mother. Joe Biden is a generation-plus.


BASH: I mean, Joe Biden is 69. You're 42. He's a generation-plus older. How much does that play into your preparation?

RYAN: I'm used to that, actually. I came into Congress when I was 28 years old. I'm used to serving with people who are older. I'm used to debating people who are older.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Now, everybody probably is wondering will he wear that lucky tie tonight? I'm trying to find out. I'm told that he has several ties with him and he's trying to figure out exactly which one to wear. Unclear if the lucky tie will win out.

You, beyond that, you know, yes, he has been studying very, very hard. But, today, debate day, has been a down day for him. Primarily, he's been spending time with his wife and small children who are rarely with him on the campaign trail. They are here in Kentucky with him. In fact, Ryan tweeted a photograph with him and his young son.

And, you know, everybody who has prepared candidates and who have actually been involved in these debates, Wolf, will tell you that as much as you study, on the day of the debate, you have to be mentally prepared. And that means resting and relaxing and having people around you who make you comfortable and make you laugh.

BLITZER: Great work.

Dana, we're going to have a lot more of your exclusive interview with Congressman Ryan coming up in the next several hours leading up to tonight's debate.

Dana, she got the exclusive with Paul Ryan tonight. And we're very proud of her.

Thank you, Dana. Don't go too far away. More of this interview coming up.

BASH: Thank you.

BLITZER: Both presidential candidates are squeezing in campaign stops before their running mates square off tonight. We will see Mitt Romney a little bit later in North Carolina today.

Just minutes ago in Florida, the president accused Romney of changing his positions on tax cuts during last week's debate. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He stood up on the stage in one of his primary debates, proudly promised that his new tax cuts on top of the Bush tax cuts would include the top 1 percent.

Now, you wouldn't know this from listening to the new latest version of Mitt Romney.


OBAMA: He's trying to go through an extreme makeover. After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative, Mitt Romney's trying to convince you he was severely kidding.


BLITZER: Today, CNN was the first to show you pictures of Vice President Biden practicing for tonight's debate. A second-floor ballroom at a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, was turned into a replica of the debate hall complete with a semicircular table like the one he will sit at tonight.

Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen is playing the part of Paul Ryan. I will speak with Chris Van Hollen live later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Just moments ago, though, the campaign tweeted out another picture.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, has been working her sources about his debate preparations.

Jessica, what is Biden's primary goal tonight?


Well, according to top Democratic sources, for the vice president the number one goal is to make the compelling case for the president's plans and his vision on the economy. Yes, he will look for openings to bring up the 47 percent. Yes, he will look for openings to talk about Paul Ryan's budget.

The idea in general is to tie Governor Mitt Romney -- sorry -- tie Governor Romney to the Ryan budget. And as one top Democrat put it to me, the idea is to make the case that Romney/Ryan and electing that ticket means Americans would be electing the intellectual leader of the House Republicans, as one person put it, that Paul Ryan is the intellectual leader of the House Republicans and that he should not be able tonight to duck from any specifics.

So, again, we will hear that word, specifics. And look for the vice president to try to get Paul Ryan to talk about budget details in this debate tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, has the vice president done his tour of the actual debate hall yet?

YELLIN: He has. He did that tour a little earlier today before 2:00 p.m. He sat in the chair. He looked at the monitor where you get your time cues.

And I'm told all that went smoothly. He also -- before he boarded the plane today leaving from Delaware he talked to reporters and he was asked what is his strategy. Take a listen to what he said.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it. Nice of you guys to be here. Are you on the plane with us? All right.


BIDEN: Well, those guys (INAUDIBLE) you ever seen me rope-a-dope?



YELLIN: Rope-a-dope, obviously a reference to a Muhammad Ali line where you tire your opponent out before you finally make a winning punch.

I think that's an accurate way to describe it. And Muhammad Ali I'm told was born right here in Kentucky. So, maybe that's why he made the reference. The vice president is right now resting at a home not far out of town with his family and reviewing some notes and thoughts.

But, Wolf, I'm told we should also expect a wide variety of topics to come up. So he's been covering everything from Supreme Court cases to foreign policy, of course, as well as those domestic issues I mentioned -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, a 90-minute debate, supposedly half on domestic, economic, domestic issues, half on foreign policy issues. We will see how that unfolds.

Jessica, thanks very much.

New polls from the swing states show why tonight's debate is more crucial than ever. Our own John King has been going through the numbers at the magic wall. John is standing by. He will join us next.


BLITZER: Certainly, the political landscape for tonight's debate is dramatically different from what it was before last week's debate between President Obama and Governor Romney.

Our chief national correspondent, John King, is over at the magic wall to show us what has actually changed.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you have seen it in the national polls. And watch this. I'm going to show you, wow, a lot of evidence to think the Republican momentum is on the line tonight.

Governor Romney built on it in the first debate. We know this. A brand-new poll in the state of Nevada shows a two-point race. The president had been ahead a bit more there. Let's keep going through the battlegrounds. Let's look at Colorado, again a state that is on Romney's agenda.

He tends to have been doing better in the West. Nevada and Colorado have always been closer. There you see a brand-new Quinnipiac/"New York Times"/CBS poll, a dead heat, Romney 48, Obama 47 in the critical battleground of Colorado, so a little boost from the debate there.

Let's come over to a huge state. Romney probably needs to win Florida. I can give you a scenario where he wins the presidency without Florida, but it's a really hard one. He had been down pre- debate some pretty big numbers. They show a four-, five-, six-point lead for the president.

Look at this. "The Wall Street Journal"/Marist/NBC poll, 48 percent to 47 percent, a statistical tie in the battleground state of Florida.

Come up the coast, remember just pre-debate, there were polls in the state of Virginia showing the president opening up a big lead outside the margin of error. Here's an NBC/Marist/"Wall Street Journal" poll out just today, Romney 48, President Obama 47, so, again, a statistical tie in battleground Virginia.

So there's Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Virginia. And one, I'm just back, Wolf, from the state of Ohio. We had a CNN poll showing Romney making gains. The president still with a very narrow lead. Consistent with that, a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll out today, again, the president at 51, Governor Romney at 45 percent. But pre-debate in battleground Ohio, there are polls showing Romney down seven, eight, even nine points.

So, in all these battleground states and national polls Romney's coming up. That's the momentum the Republicans would hope to keep in tonight's debate.

BLITZER: John, is there any evidence right now that this debate -- that last week's debate has put some states in play that presumably weren't in play?

KING: There's some evidence. That's a fascinating question. There's some evidence. As you know, this is a key point in the campaign.

Where are we going to spend ad dollars? Where are we going to send the president and Governor Romney? Where are we going to send the vice president and Paul Ryan?

Governor Romney has been trying for a long time to put his birth state, Michigan, in play. We had a CNN poll several weeks ago that suggested that was unlikely to happen. Well, look at this, this is after the debate, Epic/MRA, a reputable polling firm from the state of Michigan, 48-45, a three-point race in the state of Michigan.

We'll watch and see if it lasts. Sometimes these bounces dissipate. But at the moment, the Democrats now might have to spend a little bit more time worrying about Michigan.

Another state Governor Romney has long wanted to put in play is battleground Pennsylvania. It's been out of reach in most polls. Here's just one snapshot from Siena College. Well, let me pop it up for you here, look at this one, Obama: 43, Romney: 40, undecided: 12, in the state of Pennsylvania.

Will it last? That's the big question. But heading into this debate and then into the second presidential debate next week, if you're the Democrats, you're not only looking at battlegrounds we've been focusing on for months, you're starting to think, wow, we're going to have to worry about Michigan, Pennsylvania, maybe others.

BLITZER: Historically, John, I've often heard pollsters say that undecideds at this stage usually tend to break in bigger numbers for the challenger as opposed to the incumbent. Is that your historical knowledge of what's going on?

KING: It's not always the case. People tend to think that. They think if you're undecided, then you're not going to vote for the incumbent. But if you look back through history and if you want to see this online, Nate Silver of "New York Times" and did a very nice analysis pulling together a bunch of elections, going back sometime in recent years. That's not always the case. So, you can't count on that to happen, breaking against the challenger.

There's actually some evidence in more recent elections, it hasn't gone that way. We also know this, Wolf, as we talk about it, both campaigns do this largely as a base election. Turn out your people because they think the very narrow slice of people still undecided.

BLITZER: About as close as it gets to these battleground states. John, thanks very much.

Next week's second Obama-Romney debate, by the way, will be moderated by our own Candy Crowley. She's standing by to tell us what she's watching for tonight. This is something you will see only here.


BLITZER: The moderator for tonight's vice presidential debate is ABC's Martha Raddatz. We certainly expect a huge audition to tune in.

But one person, CNN's own Candy Crowley will be watching with a very, very unique perspective. She's preparing to moderate next week's debate, the second one, between President Obama and Governor Romney. Candy's here to talk about it.

So, I guess the key question -- what are you going to be looking for in tonight's debate?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually, it's funny because I went to the Denver debate as well. And I was so focused on the candidates that I forgot about the whole moderator thing. And that's the absolute truth. I mean, obviously, I want to see Martha do well because then I think, you know, that means you get a good debate.

So, I think watching these two guys will be fascinating simply because I think that the general rule here in terms of vice presidents is don't do any harm. That's the first thing you want to do, is you don't want to mess with the top of the ticket and give him something heavier to carry into the next debate. So I think that's their first rule. Anything over that is gravy. I think both of them if they had a status quo coming out would be sort of fine with that and leave it up to the top of the tickets.

As far as Martha's concerns, I'm always interested in the questions because you don't want to -- in a debate, you don't want to go over plowed ground. Now, this is the vice presidential candidates as opposed to the presidential candidates. So, is there room there to come back to a presidential candidate and say, well, your vice presidential candidate said this? I'm always kind of looking for the next question.

BLITZER: Yes, Martha Raddatz is a world class journalist. I'm sure she will do an excellent, excellent job tonight.

Now, your debate next week you're moderating will be different because it's a town hall format. We got some examples of other town hall formats. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The candidates will be asked questions by these voters on a topic of their choosing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common people if you have no experience in what's ailing them?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't think it's fair to say you haven't had cancer therefore you don't know what it's like.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In my state, when people lose their jobs, it's a good chance I'll know them by their names.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is concerning you, Mr. Dole.

FMR. SEN. ROBERT DOLE (R), KANSAS: Well, I think age -- wisdom comes from age, experience, and intelligence. And if you have some of each -- I have some age, some experience, some intelligence, that adds up to wisdom.

CLINTON: I can only tell you that I don't think Senator Dole is too old to be president. It's the age of his ideas that I question.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My hero is a guy named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt use today say, walk softly, talk softly but carry a big stick. Senator Obama likes to talk loudly.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator McCain, this is the guy who sang bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, who called for the annihilation of North Korea.


BLITZER: All right. It's a delicate line these candidates will have to walk next week with a live studio audience right near them.

CROWLEY: Sure. It just changes the vibe completely because you know and I know that they don't have any problem kind of challenging you, challenging a reporter, somebody that they're familiar with. You know, they can be really tough on you and say, hey, that's not true. They don't have a problem shouting you down.

But if you have a bunch of undecided voters watching you, there's a couple things. First of all, you can't be too hot. You can't be too aggressive because that vibe is bad in the room. Second of all, there's all the theatrics of it for them, which is the let's -- you have to talk to them and you have to seem like you're relating to them. So I think it adds a whole other level of performance, if you will, to what they're saying.

It's also very hard to evade a question that comes from a town hall person. And the nice thing will be if the town hall person asks apples and they answer oranges, I go, wait a second. The question was about apples, let's talk about that. So there's opportunity for follow-up to kind of get them to drill down on the subjects that these folks want to learn about in the town hall.

BLITZER: And if the person says his or her name, you've got to remember that name and address that person directly.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: One of the techniques I'm sure they're practicing already.

CROWLEY: As we speak, yes.

BLITZER: Thanks, Candy. See you before next week, as well you got "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

BLITZER: See you there tonight as well.

Stay with CNN for the best coverage of tonight's vice presidential debate. We'll be hearing exclusively from Congressman Paul Ryan. We're fact checking both candidates' answers. We're getting a response -- a lot of responses from undecided voters as well. We'll be having a focus group in the swing state of Virginia.

Debate night in America, it starts right after THE SITUATION ROOM, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. And don't forget, please be sure to join us next Tuesday, also at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, as Candy moderates the town hall style debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, they're making their final preparations before tonight's debate. So what impact will tonight's head-to-head matchup have down the stretch? Our special panel is heating up. Get ready for their take.


BLITZER: We're just a few hours away from the one and only vice presidential debate. And with only 26 days to go before the election, the pressure is on. Or is it?


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: How important is this vice presidential debate really? MARK HALPERIN, TIME MAGAZINE: This debate is only going to matter in the race if one of them has a super strong debate and one of them has a weak debate.

KING: But if Joe Biden can turn in a really strong performance, maybe he can halt the Republican momentum. If Paul Ryan can surprise people and turn in a strong performance, the Republicans keep the momentum going into next week.

OBAMA: The difference between this and sports is that the stakes are so high.

RYAN: I'm not intimidated. I'm actually excited about it.

BIDEN: You ever seen me rope-a-dope?


BLITZER: All right, let's get straight to CNN contributor and Sirius XM radio host, Pete Dominick. He's got a special panel -- Pete.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you very much, Wolf Blitzer. Thank you for letting us hang out in your "SITUATION ROOM." Guys, let's get right -- look at this all-star panel, old roommates, Van Jones and Grover Norquist.

Listen, the big debate just a few hours away, right, I mean, Biden, Ryan, do these VP debates matter and can Biden stop the bleeding? Of course, the guy most likely to be president some day.

GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: There you go. Probably this debate doesn't matter unless someone says something crazy and that will be the cycle for about 72 hours.

But I think both of these folks are good articulators. They are not going to say anything crazy. People say that Biden says some crazy stuff. No, he just talks like a regular guy.

And Ryan actually talks like a regular guy. It's beneficial for both of them because at the top of the ticket they have a couple of really kind of cerebral guys. So these are the real guys and they're going to go at it.

DOMINICK: Well, Grover, I mean you've been watching these for years, obviously. The VP debate, this one is crucial because Biden's supposed to play the offense that the president didn't. Can anything change tonight?

GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Look, neither of them has to make the case that they could be president. Sarah Palin sort of had to make that case four years ago. I think both of them come in fairly strong on their own merits.

There had been hope, "Politico" had an article, front page, yesterday saying the Democrats thought the Ryan plan on Medicare was going to be their silver bullet to beat them, hasn't happened so far. My guess is that ends today because Ryan will be able to competently make his case for his budget, his economics. So whatever hopes there were that that would be a boat anchor on the Republican ticket, I think if it's not finished yet, it's done tonight.

DOMINICK: Game changer?

LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'm not sure I totally agree with that. Just to jump in.

DOMINICK: You're allowed.

MAIR: Thank you. I appreciate that. First of all, I think, yes, to those of us in Washington, D.C., Paul Ryan is definitely a known quantity, but I'm still not convinced that that's true nationwide.

I think that a lot of people who are tuning in what they saw in the last presidential debate is, I can kind of see Romney being president. Now what they need to see is if I can kind of see if Romney died that that guy could be president.

And I think that's why this matters. There's that. As far as the Ryan's plan is concerned, I think it's possible that what's going to happen there is if Biden really goes after him on the Ryan plan, then we're going to have the real test of that.

Because to date you haven't been in a position where Democrats can run ads actually featuring Paul Ryan saying things that might not sound that great and if he does mess up, that's a possibility. I don't think he will, but it's a possibility.

VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA SPECIAL ADVISER: I think this is going to be -- for most people who are into politics, this is going to be the best debate ever.

MAIR: I agree.

JONES: For us, you got two guys who actually I believe they believe what they say. Now, my big hope is that they both come out and say what they believe and believe what they say. Because if they do, I think Ryan hurts the ticket.

Because I think where Ryan actually is especially for women is so far outside the mainstream that if he just tells the truth about where he's coming from, I think it actually helps his ticket.

But this is not one of those situations where you have to worry about people saying stuff that is, you know, Biden believes what he says. He believes in the American dream. He believes in Democratic Party politics. I think it's going to be a great debate.

DOMINICK: You know that thing that I think is so much different that nobody pays attention to. All these with respect to people who have been covering politics for very long time, people disregard how much different it is. Like, you know, one very experienced pundit -- expert, I should say, said to me, Dan Quayle got crushed. Did that matter? It didn't matter. Bush still won.

The difference to me though, everything, it's all new. Forget conventional wisdom and it's because people don't watch these debates. They listen to him while looking at Twitter and then tweeting and facebooking.

And it's the social networking that I think changes the game especially this year this time around than any other time before. Those comments, those things will get picked up and spread out I really do think make a difference. Do I have any point here, Grover?

SCHWEITZER: About one out of five Americans will watch this debate, about one of five. But there will be a lot of opinion makers that watch this debate and tomorrow in the office or tomorrow evening at dinner or over the weekend watching football the one person who did watch it will be talking about this.

Or somebody will tune in to CNN and hear what we have to say about it. And then we the opinion makers and the opinion makers in every single community across America, they help those other people make those decisions.

DOMINICK: Yes. I mean, Andrew Sullivan, the biggest Obama supporter after the debate lost his mind. And I think when a guy, a blogger loses his mind, the rest of the progressive community said Andrew Sullivan said this is over.

MAIR: And so did conservatives by the way. I mean, everybody went, my God, Andrew Sullivan is in total meltdown, which is kind of true.

DOMINICK: To his credit --

MAIR: If you want to give credit -- I think if you want to look at somebody who may be worth giving credit to, I would take a look at what's going on with women on Facebook tomorrow morning.

JONES: That's what I believe.

MAIR: Women are highly active on Facebook in the mornings. It's a very female friendly forum. And if you look at that and you see that people have that very negative response to Ryan that you're predicting, that's going to be very interesting I think in terms of --

JONES: How do you deal with this from the conservative side? If I'm Biden, I'm going to say as many times as I can this guy is against Planned Parenthood, with Todd Akin on wants to redefine rape. I'm going to make sure everyone in America knows how far out there Paul Ryan is. How can Ryan defend himself?

DOMINICK: You know who's in the spin room by the way real quick for Biden tonight? Cecil Richardson who left Planned Parenthood for a moment -- NORQUIST: Look, they're both Roman Catholics and Biden has to endure the fact that his administration hasn't been there on the freedom of religion question and rough on the Catholic Church.

From pulpits around the country and every Catholic Church around the country, they've been explaining what Biden wants to do to Catholic hospitals and taking away their funding and damaging them.

JONES: Is that vote in play as much though as the woman vote? I think that women maybe were moving very strongly for the president. Now he's losing steam there. I think if I'm Biden, I put the women vote in play now.

DOMINICK: We put so much pressure on women being concerned about abortion and they should be, I'm a hard core feminist, two daughters and a beautiful wife. That's really important. But let's not discount what women care about, the economy and jobs as much.

MAIR: This is a very good point. Speaking as a small business owner myself, one of the things if you look at data over the last five, 10 years, you will notice that women are a very, very large chunk of the individuals who are starting small businesses in this country.

I think also when you look at the economic data. I know the Romney campaign has tried to argue that Obama has been bad for women. Actually, you know who's really suffered in this economy? Blue collar non-educated white males in places like Ohio.

Those guys are really in deep trouble. In some respects women have been doing better out of this I think than those guys have. So I do think that women are important constituency, but I do think there's a lot more depth and go into subtlety than what we've traditionally thought about.

Biden may go in that direction. I think if I were Ryan, honestly I think the way Ryan has to handle that is, I'm Catholic, this is what I believe and get away from the rape discussion.

NORQUIST: Women married to men who don't have jobs then you're talking about vote perhaps on those economic issues as well.

DOMINICK: We have to cut it off real quick. When we come back though we are all going to give our unsolicited advice to one unsuspecting target. Stay right here on CNN's THE SITUATION ROOM.


DOMINICK: Welcome back to unsolicited advice right here borrowing Wolf Blitzer's SITUATION ROOM. It's now time for us to give our unsolicited advice. Let's start right here with Van Jones. Go ahead, Van.

JONES: OK, my unsolicited advice is for Romney's online team. Ask for more staff support. You cannot have a campaign where the president is saying one thing and the web site says a totally opposite thing. The candidate is out there saying, I'm not going to cut taxes for people for rich people and the web site says he is. So if you're on the debate team -- if you're on the online team, ask for more staff.

You need 20 more people. It's not your fault. But if you're going to have a candidate change his mind this much, you need a bigger staff.

DOMINICK: Why not have the candidate read the web site?

JONES: Well, that would be helpful. That's my advice.

SCHWEITZER: Like Ted Kennedy said about him when he was running against him in the '90s, he is the multiple choice candidate.

DOMINICK: And you have to have a bigger web team to keep up for that. All right, Grover.

NORQUIST: For the people of Michigan and Washington State, they both have an opportunity this November after voting for president to vote for constitutional amendments to require two-thirds vote to raise taxes.

This has been very helpful in other states in slowing tax increases, preventing tax increases. It's Proposition 5 in Michigan, Initiative 1185 in Washington State.

DOMINICK: And look for those in Michigan and Washington State. That's from the most powerful man in Washington. Listen up to him.

MAIR: Which Washington though?

NORQUIST: I live in the bad Washington.

MAIR: It's my Washington, the one that's green with trees, not money.

DOMINICK: Liz Mair, go ahead.

MAIR: My advice is to voters. Please do your homework. Don't just listen to what these guys say. Actually go and look at what they did. Look at their records. It's not enough to rely on rhetoric. Go with the record.

DOMINICK: Fair enough. Don't just rely on a forwarded e-mail or Facebook post from your uncle?

MAIR: Well, that actually might be better than some of what you get out of the candidates.

DOMINICK: How about a 30-second ad? That convinces me.

MAIR: I still think you might want to go with your crazy uncle's e- mail instead of that. There's a reason Google exists. Wikipedia is out there. It's not always reliable. But please go and read it. Don't take their word for it. They say all kinds of things. Some of it's not true.

DOMINICK: Governor.

SCHWEITZER: My advice is for Joe Biden during the debate. I would suggest to Joe Biden, answer some of the questions, maybe all of the questions with yes or no. You did that during the Democratic debates and it brings the house down.

I've debated a lot of times. And if you can find a couple questions where you just say yes or no it means that you are a person either for something or against something.

But why this is such a good idea, it gives about 85 minutes for Ryan to explain the Romney/Ryan plan. He should give all the time he can to Ryan to talk about his plan.

DOMINICK: Are you saying that Vice President Joe Biden has a propensity for verbosity.

SCHWEITZER: I'm saying he sometimes can answer it with yes and no, and that what he should do so Ryan can talk more.

MAIR: Should he also bring a white board so Ryan can do the math?

SCHWEITZER: I don't think the math adds up. So give him a $2 calculator and let him play with it.

NORQUIST: Biden has to defend the Obama budget out 10, 20, 30 years where everything crashes and burns and disappears. He really hasn't put a measure on the ballot. The Democratic Senate hasn't put out a budget and they haven't put out any reforms for entitlements. They have been there for four years --

MAIR: Those guys don't want a white board.

JONES: The good thing about Obama is with him you get what you -- what he says. He's been very clear the whole time. He wants a balanced approach. He wants to cut here. He wants to raise taxes here. With the hat tricks from Romney, you don't know what you're going to get.

DOMINICK: I think Grover got into more and you did, Van, more substance than we might even see tonight. There's going to be all this substance and policy talk, but it's style. These debates are style, which is why my unsolicited advice is to use humor. Not zingers.

As a comedian, this word zinger offends me. It's so cheesy. And Romney's you're entitled to an airplane and a White House, but not your own set of facts. I cringed as did -- come on, Grover. You have a good sense of humor. That was a bad one.

These scripted zingers or jokes, we see them coming or packing their bags from a mile away. Use your sense of humor in the moment, react to something that just happened and make it look like that was your reaction in realtime and people will be impressed with that.

I'm not only talking to Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, I'm talking to Obama and Romney. These guys have sense of humors. I mean, maybe Ryan is about as funny as a rand novel, but nonetheless, you do stand up comedy, Grover. You've done it. You know it's important to get the message across.

NORQUIST: You've got to fake spontaneity.

JONES: Be smart.

DOMINICK: It would be great if you can fake it, but just trust yourself. In this moment, I'm going to trust my instincts and make a joke. And that might be the thing that gets picked up all the next week.

MAIR: I hope Romney never takes that advice because every time Romney tries to be funny it's like the least funny thing I've ever heard in my life. But for the other three I think that's totally sensible.

DOMINICK: Could be if you got no game, don't go there. I've seen Romney being funny when he's being real. When it's written for him, he can't deliver the line.

All right, we're out of time. Thank you very much to Wolf Blitzer for letting us borrow the room, but right back to him right now.

BLITZER: Pete, guys, thanks very, very much. Speaking of Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan once called the writer, and I'm quoting now, "The answer to problems we are having in this country."

Now he has something very different to say about the author, someone who wrote "Atlas Shrugged in the Virtue of Selfishness." Standby.


BLITZER: One of the major issues in this presidential campaign has been the role of government. The author Ayn Rand has already become a part of the debate especially since Paul Ryan joined the Romney ticket.

CNN's Poppy Harlow has a closer look now at this controversial figure and how she's showing up in the race.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They started cropping up three years ago after the financial crisis, signs about John Galt and Atlas Shrugged. For some Ayn Rand's famous novel and its hero offer a road map.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Atlas Shrugged" is the answer for the problems we're having in this country today.

HARLOW: Among those inspired by Rand's writing, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

RYAN: The reason I got involved in public service by and large if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. HARLOW: But who was she?

ANNE HELLER, AUTHOR, "AYN RAND AND THE WORLD SHE MADE": Ayn Rand was a Russian-born Jewish intellectual. She was the product of a totalitarian culture, who developed a fervid sense of individualism and individual rights.

HARLOW: Biographer, Anne Heller, says Rand was a teenager when the communist army seized her father's pharmacy.

HELLER: The red soldiers marched in, shuttered the doors, put a red banner across the door and her father never worked again. And she was there to see that humiliation.

HARLOW: She came to the U.S. in 1926 and soon became fearful of what she saw, the new deal, Social Security, big government getting bigger.

HELLER: She saw American communism begin to blossom or so she thought in the 1930s and was appalled and horrified.

HARLOW: Her most famous books, "The Fountain Head" and "Atlas Shrugged" paint an ugly picture of big government and celebrate the individual over the collective.

She called her philosophy objectivism which values selfishness, rejects altruism and advocates free market capitalism. She told Mike Wallace in a 1959 interview.

AYN RAND, AUTHOR: I'm challenging the moral code of altruism. Man's moral duty is to live for others. I say man is entitled to his own happiness and that he must achieve it himself.

HARLOW (on camera): In Ayn Rand's eyes, what was the role of government?

HELLER: Very, very, very small. No public schools. No public libraries. No public hospitals. No public roads.

HARLOW: What's the biggest misperception of Ayn Rand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the biggest misperception is that she's against things that she's against government.

HARLOW (voice-over): Dr. Onkar Ghate is the senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. He says her philosophy resonates in a particular way today.

ONKAR GHATE, AYN RAND INSTITUTE: Because she asked people to rethink what the purpose of government is, as a result of this financial crisis and what the government did in response.

HARLOW: So she would have hated the bailout of Wall Street, the bailout of the auto industry?

GHATE: Yes. She was opposed to handouts for anybody and everybody including businesses. HARLOW (voice-over): Author Gary Weiss thinks Rand's views can be seen most strongly in efforts by some conservatives to cut back on social programs.

GARY WEISS, AUTHOR: She made it sort of morally justifiable to be really harsh in your treatment of the poor.

HARLOW (on camera): So what would happen to people in her ideal society that cannot help themselves?

GHATE: Who would take care of them would be friends, families, they'll do it out of sense of benevolence, out of the sense of generosity.

HARLOW (voice-over): But not out of a sense of religious duty. Rand was an avowed Atheist.

HELLER: She thought Christianity and communism were two sides of the same coin.

HARLOW: Which may be why more recently Paul Ryan has stepped back from what he said in 2005.

RYAN: I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value system are and what her beliefs are.

Her philosophy is kind of a ridiculous in my opinion objectivism -- I'm a devout Catholic. How can you be, you know -- believed in that stuff.

HARLOW: And Rand may have been equally dismissive of today's politicians.

(on camera): Do you think she would like President Obama?


HARLOW: Would she like Mitt Romney?


HARLOW: Would she like Paul Ryan?



HELLER: Because none of them is a pure capitalist and none of them agrees wholeheartedly with her. And that was the price of admission with Ayn Rand.

HARLOW (voice-over): Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Just a few hours, we're going to see if Ayn Rand gets any mentions in tonight's debate coverage of the one and only vice presidential debate. It starts right after THE SITUATION ROOM, 7:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Scientists say they've discovered another planet. It's like earth, but it's made of diamonds. We have details.

And at the top of the hour, as his father gears up for tonight's presidential debate, Beau Biden sits down with our own Gloria Borger.


BLITZER: A new man on the ground in Libya in charge of the diplomacy. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. That man, Lawrence Pope, arrived in Tripoli today. He'll take over diplomatic duties in the wake of Ambassador Chris Steven's death. Pope comes out of retirement to take this job.

He speaks Arabic and French and spent more than three decades in the diplomatic ranks before retiring in 2000. He has served as ambassador to Chad and held other senior posts.

And Hezbollah is claiming responsibility for a drone that was shot down by Israel over the weekend. In a televised speech today the leader says his group sent the drone more than 125 miles down the Mediterranean deep into Israel.

He says it was Iranian-made. Israeli security experts had quickly blamed Hezbollah, a Shiite militia based in southern Lebanon.

And diamonds, the astronomer's best friend, well, U.S. and French research team has discovered a planet twice the size of earth made largely of sparkly rock, pretty amazing stuff. It's orbiting a sun- like star in the constellation of Cancer.

And it's moving so fast that a year there is just 18 hours. It's also really hot. Temperatures there can reach 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

And it is time to go buy some stamps because the U.S. Postal Service just announced that the cost of stamps is going up a penny in January. If the Postal Regulatory Commission okays the increase, sending a letter first class will cost you now 46 cents.

The postal service also plans to introduce a global forever stamp, letting you mail letters anywhere in the world for one dollar and ten cents.

The story, though, that, Wolf, I'm most fascinated is about that planet -- fascinating -- a planet made of diamonds, Wolf -- imagine that.

BLITZER: Imagine that. Thanks very much, Lisa.