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Vice Presidential Debate Victor?; Shuttle's Final Voyage; Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz

Aired October 12, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Both campaigns insist it's victory for their side. But one issue from the debate is forcing the White House to step in.

He is the presidential candidate you have probably never heard of, and he could sway the vote in a key swing state.

Plus, proof that sooner or later you will see everything on the streets of Los Angeles.

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

We begin this hour with the growing shadow on the Democrats' celebration of what they see as Vice President Joe Biden's victory in the debate. Last night, the vice president said "We weren't told that there was not enough security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi."

That's where the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died during an attack last month. And it's dominated the conversation for much of today.

Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is joining us now with the latest -- Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Republicans have really sensed an opportunity here in going after the president and vice president on foreign policy. Yes, the economy still remains the driving issue, but they're pushing a narrative that the administration dropped the ball in Benghazi and now more tough questions about who knew what here at the White House.



LOTHIAN: Campaigning in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Congressman Paul Ryan's backyard, Vice President Joe Biden was not the friendliest neighbor.

BIDEN: I hardly agree with anything he says.

LOTHIAN: Joined by Jill Biden, the vice president picked up where he left off in Thursday's debate, accusing the GOP ticket of misleading voters. But the White House is busy trying to clean up this debate exchange of what the administration knew about security needs in Libya.

MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: And they wanted more security there.

BIDEN: Well, we weren't told they wanted more security there.

LOTHIAN: Congressional testimony this week revealed the request was made and denied by the State Department which has launched its on internal review into all aspects of the deadly attack.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We do not have a complete picture. We do not have all the answers. No one in this administration has ever claimed otherwise.

LOTHIAN: But Republican criticism has only intensified. And campaigning in Richmond, Virginia, GOP nominee Mitt Romney seized on the vice president's response to level a new charge.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials. He is doubling down on denial.

LOTHIAN: Facing a political backlash, White House spokesman Jay Carney tried to school reporters on what the vice president meant by the word we.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The vice president was speaking about himself, the president, and the White House. He was not referring to the administration.

LOTHIAN: But to voters unaware of all the facts, the vice president's answer could have left the impression that no one in the administration was told of the security question.

(on camera): Should he have been more specific and said he personally was not aware, even though testimony shows the administration did know about it?

CARNEY: Again, the vice president certainly was aware of the testimony on the Hill. Everyone in this room, including people who pretend otherwise, were aware of testimony.


LOTHIAN: Now, in continuing to defend the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said in four-plus hours of testimony up on Capitol Hill, there was no mention at all of a question for more security being made to the White House or to the president himself.

BLITZER: Do but know how much time the president will be spending between now and Tuesday night practicing and getting ready for debate number two?

LOTHIAN: Wolf, as you know, he will be going to Williamsburg for three days departing tomorrow to do what we have called the debate boot camp. We don't know a lot about the specifics because the White House and the campaign rather has been very tight-lipped about how they would go through that boot camp. But we do know that the president, coming out on the other end, is expected to be much tougher than he was in the first round.

BLITZER: Jen Psaki, the press secretary for the Obama campaign, told me earlier that John Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts, will continue to play Mitt Romney in those boot camp debate rehearsals, as they say.

All right, Dan, thanks very much.

Let's get to the Republican ticket right now. You might say that Mitt Romney is riding Paul Ryan's coattails for a change. The two candidates are about to appear at a rally beginning any minute now in Ohio, a must-win swing state for the Republican ticket.

CNN's national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is on the scene for us -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be out here in the town square of Lancaster, Ohio, in just a few moments. They reunited about an hour ago at the Columbus Airport, and according to reporters that witnessed this, Romney and Ryan exchanged a bro hug, and Romney said to Ryan way to go about last night's debate.

Even though Paul Ryan says he didn't see it coming, I talked to a lot of strategists in that post-debate spin room last night who say they were not expecting Vice President Joe Biden's repeated interruptions and laugh out loud performance that he delivered at that debate, but the debate after the debate today has not just been about style. As Dan Lothian mentioned a few moments ago, it has been about substance, and most notably, the subject of Libya.



ACOSTA (voice-over): At breakfast after his fiery debate with Vice President Joe Biden, Paul Ryan still had his sunny side up.

RYAN: No. It's what I expected.

ACOSTA: Ryan offered no complaints about Biden's aggressive performance, which appeared to be designed to put some sorely needed points on the president's scoreboard, whether it was on Ryan's past request for stimulus money.


RYAN: On two occasions we -- we -- we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. That's what we do. ACOSTA: Or Ryan's attempt to compare the Mitt Romney tax plan to Jack Kennedy's.

RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan...

BIDEN: Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?

ACOSTA: Ryan was able to fire back with a few zingers of his own.

RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground.

I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way.


ACOSTA: Republicans in the post-debate spin room tried to make the case Biden failed, not only on style.

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Quite frankly, I was embarrassed for the vice president. I mean, the laughs. We counted 82 times that Joe Biden interrupted Paul Ryan.

ACOSTA: But also on substance, pointing to the vice president's response on whether there was adequate security before the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

MARTHA RADDATZ, MODERATOR: And they wanted more security there.

BIDEN: Well, we weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: We just had a major hearing on this. That was one of the heart -- the heart of the point was these requests went unheeded. And obviously the vice president's not paying any attention.

ACOSTA: Declaring victory for his running mate, Romney seized on what his campaign has dubbed Biden's Benghazi bungle.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because the vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials. He's doubling down on denial. And we need to understand exactly what happened.

ACOSTA: Back in the spin room, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said Biden proved it was Ryan who was unprepared.

JIM MESSINA, OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He got past Paul Ryan's index card talking points and got into the details. And that's exactly what the American voters wanted.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA: Now after their joint event this evening, Romney and Ryan will be splitting up and crisscrossing various part of the state of Ohio, as this is an important battleground state for the upcoming general election.

And then after that, as Dan Lothian noted about President Obama, Mitt Romney will be going into debate prep. Wolf, he has been campaigning side by side with Rob Portman almost continuously over the last several days. You can bet they were doing more than just doing rallies, Wolf, and I suspect they were probably doing a little debate prep on the side as well.

BLITZER: I'm sure they are.

Jim Acosta, thank very much.

I'm joined now by Ron Brownstein. He's a senior political analyst for CNN, also the editorial director of "The National Journal."

You heard Jim say both campaigns really don't expect a lot of bounce out of this vice presidential debate, but there is an issue of tone.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Historically, the vice presidential debates have not had a big impact on the race.

Even the most celebrated, where Lloyd Bentsen kind of decked Dan Quayle with that one-liner didn't really change the dynamics.

BLITZER: Lloyd Bentsen did not become vice president.

BROWNSTEIN: He did not become vice president.

So, but I think this debate was kind of interesting and potentially important for both sides. Certainly Democrats needed something to give them a sense of renewed momentum and more important energy after the president's very listless performance in Denver. And Paul Ryan I thought held his own. Although Biden did well, Ryan held his own as well.

He seemed much more confident to me than he did when he gave his acceptance speech in August at the convention and looked a little kind of shaky there at the beginning. I think it was a strong night for both sides.

It also had the impact, I think, of tabling some issues we may hear more about in the final weeks of the campaign.

BLITZER: They both energized their respective bases and turnout as you know will be very, very critical.

The polls have clearly shown a tightening since the first debate and they're still tight.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I think the first debate changed the race in a fundamental way.

BLITZER: Fair enough to call it a game changer?

BROWNSTEIN: It changed the trajectory. It doesn't necessarily mean that Romney is going to win the race. But it's a different race after that debate than before for I think a very specific reason.

President Obama had a kind of margin of comfort in this race based on voters who were somewhat dissatisfied or perhaps very dissatisfied with him over the first term, but simply did not view Mitt Romney as a viable alternative, particularly on the grounds that they doubted that he understood or cared about the lives of average people.

I think that fundamentally changed at the debate. For a significant portion of those voters, Romney is now a viable alternative, and I don't think Obama can put the genie back in the bottle. I think that has changed. And now we are kind of slugging it out in a race that is much more about the fundamentals with the country divided almost exactly in half over his performance and a real question about who can turn out their voters.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what Romney and Biden have been saying today addressing specific constituents.


ROMNEY: I know the president is pleased to see us reduce our military spending. I'm not pleased to see that. I want to make sure that we continue to spend for a military that is second to none in the world.

BIDEN: It was made clear last night that they don't believe in protecting a woman's access to health care. It was made very clear that they do not believe a woman has a right to control her on body.


BLITZER: What's going on here as far as demographics?

BROWNSTEIN: First of all, that was one of the important things that happened last night, Paul Ryan's unequivocal statement that the policy of the Romney administration will be to reduce abortion except in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother, was one of the most forthright declarations of that pro-life view that we have heard from a Republican on the national stage.

BLITZER: He didn't just say reduce, he said eliminate.


BROWNSTEIN: Exactly right.

And the Democrats are depending on a big gender gap in this race. Nationally, Democrats are running best among college -- white women with a college education, and they're holding a majority of them. And in the battleground states, they're also doing better than they are nationally among those blue-collar white women.

Certainly these issues -- maybe not so much the choice issue on the blue-collar side, but the access to contraception that came up also last night is an important part of their argument to those women, whereas Romney, obviously, is looking for that military spending appeals to more of a blue-collar older white audience, kind of a traditional Republican argument.

The irony in all of this is that the sequester was never intended to go into effect, the sequester that would drive those automatic spending cuts. The goal was to pressure both sides to reach an agreement, which they failed to do last year and we're now in the situation we're looking at those big automatic cuts.

BLITZER: So when you use sequester...


BROWNSTEIN: Big automatic spending cuts that were triggered last year by part of the debt ceiling deal as a way of trying to impel both sides to make a big broad budget agreement, which they failed to do despite having a super committee that was positioned to succeed.

And one of the big questions will be after 2013 after this election is whether either President Obama or Mitt Romney in what will be a very closely divided Congress is in position to reach an agreement.

BLITZER: You and I have a big night tonight, don't we?

BROWNSTEIN: We do, Nats game five. Go, Nats.

BLITZER: See my tie?

BROWNSTEIN: I see that. Rock the red.

BLITZER: Nationals red.

All right, thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan aren't the only people under the microscope following the vice presidential debate. There's a third person on the stage. How did Martha Raddatz do as a debate moderator? Stand by.

And you're looking at live pictures right now of the shuttle Endeavour It's on its last, very, very slow voyage.


BLITZER: People from all ends of the political spectrum were less than kind to Jim Lehrer after he moderated last week's first Obama-Romney presidential debate. Now the reviews are pouring in for last night's debate moderator, Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Here is a quick look at how she managed the candidates.


RADDATZ: Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: They're -- they're closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon.

RADDATZ: You are acting a little bit like they don't want one.

RYAN: Where are the 5 million green jobs that were being...

RADDATZ: I want to move on here to Medicare and entitlements. I think we've gone over this quite enough.

Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that's why you won't tell voters?

RYAN: We want to work with the Congress on how best to achieve this. That means successful. Look...

RADDATZ: No specifics, again.

BIDEN: I hope I will get equal time.

RADDATZ: You will get just a few minutes here. A few seconds, really.


BLITZER: Let's bring in CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" host Howard Kurtz, who writes for "Newsweek" and The Daily Beast, also Lauren Ashburn, the editor in chief of the

Guys, thank you very much for coming in.

Howie, what kind of reviews is Martha Raddatz getting for this?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Journalist and pundits are praising Martha Raddatz's performance because she kept tight control of the candidates and she asked good follow-ups. She's a correspondent who knows this material, especially on foreign affairs, and she followed up very knowledgeably and pressing again and again for specifics.

BLITZER: You thought she did a good job?

KURTZ: I thought she did an excellent job.

BLITZER: Did you agree?

LAUREN ASHBURN, DAILY-DOWNLOAD.COM: I agree. Especially as a woman moderator, I think that she was able to bring something to the debate that not a lot of other men, generic men, could.

BLITZER: What does a woman bring as a moderator that a man, for example, wouldn't bring?

ASHBURN: In the end, if you look at how she asked them to answer a question, and answer it personally, and all of a sudden you saw the decibel level go down like this.


KURTZ: Was it on the abortion question?

ASHBURN: On the abortion question. They were able to just talk personally.

I don't think we would have seen that had it been a male moderator.

BLITZER: She did it in a way by pointing out that both of these men are Catholic and they come at abortion rights for women very differently.

ASHBURN: They believe the same thing, but the way that they put them out into policy is completely different.

I think that that faith question, a lot of people criticized her for that. I think James Fallows said it was Oprah-esque. My response to James is, isn't Oprah the richest and most powerful broadcaster there is? That takes a woman to point that out.

KURTZ: Maybe. But I didn't think much of about Martha Raddatz being a woman when I watched this last night.

I thought about her being an experienced correspondent and not an anchor, so that when they talked about Afghanistan, she has been there dozens of times, as Paul Ryan pointed out. She was able to say I have talked to military officials about this and they question pulling out the surge troops in Afghanistan. So I just think having a reporter was an interesting choice, male or female, because of her experience in the field.

ASHBURN: Look, Howie, yes, she is a real kick-butt reporter, and we all know that and we all agree, and that's why all journalists are cheering for her.

But I also think she brings something to the table. In 2008, I think...


KURTZ: 2000.

ASHBURN: 2000, right, there were no female moderators, none, and now we only have one female moderator for the presidential debate. I think we have proven -- and she has certainly helped our cause -- that women can really do this. BLITZER: Not everyone though is praising her. Erick Erickson, conservative blogger, CNN contributor, he was on "STARTING POINT" here on CNN earlier today with Soledad O'Brien. Listen to this.


ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I did think it was interesting in how much Martha Raddatz pressured Paul Ryan on specific policies and specifics of his proposals, and she didn't do that so much with Joe Biden.

I think you're a journalists and journalists are going to give her cover. I thought she was horrible.


BLITZER: Horrible.

ASHBURN: Horrible.

A lot of people on my Facebook page and on Twitter have said the same thing to me, that she was debating not only -- that Paul Ryan was not only debating Joe Biden, but her. He had to put the two of them off.

I didn't see it that way. I can see how some people would have, because she didn't interrupt Joe Biden or Paul Ryan.


KURTZ: ... as I'm interrupting you.



BLITZER: Is this breaking down conservative-liberal lines? Conservative are upset with her, liberals are happy with her? Is that what's happening?

KURTZ: This is totally a case of some people on the right, not all, blaming the refs, working the refs, saying the reason that Vice President Biden was able to dominate that debate stylistically was because Martha Raddatz did not do enough to rein him in.

That's not her job. She gave the candidates roughly equal time. And I think this is a case where, just as after the Obama-Romney debate, some Democrats were unhappy with Jim Lehrer because their man didn't do so well.

ASHBURN: But to answer your question, yes. I think we're seeing a clear delineation here. We're blaming the moderator, as we blame the polls when we're not taking responsibility for the candidate and what the candidate is doing.

BLITZER: Howie is going to have a lot more Sunday morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES" 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Right?

KURTZ: Absolutely.

BLITZER: I'm not lying. You're going to have a lot more on this.

KURTZ: I can validate what you're saying.

BLITZER: Thank you so much.

A presidential candidate you have probably heard of could have a big impact in one All right, swing state. You're going to find out what is going on.



BLITZER: I want to go to Lancaster, Ohio, right now.

That is where Mitt Romney is addressing a rally. Let's watch.

ROMNEY: Metaphorically, he stood up and he went through all of the things he would do to get this economy going. It's our plan to get this economy with more jobs for the middle class and more take- home pay, and we're going to bring back this economy by putting in place that plan.

Now, I also had a debate about a week ago.


ROMNEY: And I enjoy that experience. We got to talk about differences between us.

I got to ask the president some questions a lot of people have wanted to ask him, like why, with 23 million Americans out of work when he took office, struggling to find work, why instead of focusing on getting them jobs, he focused on Obamacare?

I got to ask him questions like how come with gasoline so expensive, with it almost twice as much as when he took office, why it was that he cut in half the number of permits for drilling on federal lands and in federal waters?

I got to ask why it was when he called the massive deficit we have un-American, and I understand it -- look, the deficit spending has been just outrageous under Republicans and Democrats. But why, when that was the case, he spent $90 billion sending money to green energy companies, many of whom were owned by friends and contributors of his?

And we heard what he had to say or not say. I think we boil it down to this. He said -- more recently, he said, look, you can't change Washington from the inside, you have to change it from the outside. Well, we're going to give him that chance on November 6.


ROMNEY: Now, there were a couple places where we agreed.

We agreed, for instance, that we would take this country in very different directions. He points out that -- well, actually, it was the vice president that blurted out the truth that they're planning on raising taxes by a trillion. Actually, it's more like two trillion with the Obamacare taxes.

There's no question but that their spending and the interest on the debt that they amassed by virtue of their spending will do what one recent study showed and that is, it's going to cause them to raise taxes on the middle class.

And I make this commitment to you. Under no circumstances will I raise taxes on the middle class of America.


ROMNEY: Under his path, we're going to have Obamacare installed.

And let met tell you what that means. That means the bureaucrats get to tell you ultimately what kind of treatments you can have. It also means your health insurance premiums are going to be $2,500 more expensive. You listen to the president. He tells you all of these free things you're getting with Obamacare, but those free things come with a $2,500 extra charge.

What I'm going to do is repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that actually works for the American people.


ROMNEY: And I hope you listened carefully also in my debate and in Paul Ryan's debate, because the president, he is pointing out in fact they are cutting $716 billion from Medicare from current Medicare beneficiaries.

Under our team, we're putting that money back and we're going to honor the s made to our seniors.


ROMNEY: And one more thing that Senator Portman mentioned.

He has in his budget cutting our military by hundreds of billions -- that's the president has that, not Senator Portman.


ROMNEY: And then, in addition, there was that sequester idea the White House had to cut another several hundred billion. They will cut about a trillion dollars from our military. The secretary of defense has said that those cuts would be devastating to America, to our military, to our national security. I will not make those cuts. I will not cut our military. I'll keep it as second to none in the world.

And when it -- when it came to jobs, both last night with Vice President Biden and my debate with President Obama, they didn't have a plan for creating jobs for middle income Americans. They say they care about middle income Americans, and I believe they care. They just don't know what to do.

And so they say, well, they're going to have another stimulus. How did the last one work out? You know? And then they're planning on hiring more government workers. There's nothing wrong with government workers, but that's not going to get this economy going.

And then, of course, they've got plans to make investments, they say. A friend of mind said they don't want to pick winners and losers, they just pick losers. And then -- and then, of course, they want to raise taxes. I don't think anyone believes raising taxes creates more jobs. They just don't understand what it takes to get this economy going.

And we have a plan, five key elements, and Paul spoke about them last night. Let me mention, No. 1, we're taking full advantage of our oil, our coal, our natural gas, our nuclear, our renewables. We're going to take advantage of our energy. And that will -- that will protect and grow energy jobs and also manufacturing. There are a lot of manufacturing jobs, including in the glass industry that use a lot of energy. And when energy is less expensive, jobs come back here.

We keep -- under President Obama we lost 600,000 manufacturing jobs. We want to bring jobs back home to America. That's No. 1.

No. 2 -- No. 2, we're going to make trade work for us. And so we're going to open up new markets for our goods, but if people cheat like China has cheated, we're going to stop it.

BLITZER: All right, Mitt Romney delivering his five-point proposal that he often delivers -- delivers out there on the campaign trail. We'll continue to monitor what he's saying. He's out there in Ohio, a key battleground state, with Paul Ryan, who was part of that debate last night.

Up next, we're going to get a high-profile Mitt Romney supporter to weigh in. He's asking some of the sharpest questions about what the Obama administration knew about the Benghazi attack. Jason Chaffetz standing by.


BLITZER: All right, this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, another investigation of what happened on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Now senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins have announced that their homeland security and governmental affairs committee will conduct what they call a bipartisan inquiry into the circumstances before, during, and after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, the attack that killed the United States ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

Let's talk about what's going on right now with Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz. He's a member of the House Oversight Committee, which held its own hearing this week on the Benghazi security situation.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. You don't have a problem with the Senate now beginning its own inquiry, do you?

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: No, I think it's very warranted. I applaud it. I think it needs to be investigated, because there's more unanswered questions than -- than when we started.

BLITZER: The ranking Democrat, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, now says that you and your Republicans on your committee released sensitive classified information.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, he released a very strongly worded statement: "Sensitive and potentially classified information was passed around and discussed openly in the hearing room without the proper security review. It is of great concern when classified information is exposed. It puts Americans around the world at risk."

A very serious charge leveled against the chairman, Darrell Issa, of your committee, and you, one of the chairman of a sub-committee, what do you want to say to the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee?

CHAFFETZ: Hey, I'm happy to go through it document by document if he has something specific, but we were ultra-sensitive to this. We didn't want to reveal any sources or methods in these types of things.

The documents that we did enter into the congressional record, right at the very top in bold green letters, said "unclassified." So I think they were -- they're fair game. It's part of getting to the answers and part of what we should do. Absolutely not.

BLITZER: But you're open to an investigation of whether or not, inadvertently -- I'm sure it wasn't deliberate -- inadvertently, you released sensitive classified information to the world as a result of what you guys did. You're open to that investigation?

CHAFFETZ: Well, look, when there was a map put up, I'm the one that called the point of order. I thought the State Department was releasing stuff that I was told previously should not be revealed. I called that out. I asked for a point of order, and the chairman ruled in my favor. So I think we were very, very careful. We went through each and every one of those documents. It is very sensitive.

But if -- if the congressman has a specific concern, point to a specific. Just don't make a sweeping generalization. Make a specific request, make a case, and I'm happy to show him the documents.

BLITZER: And if you did screw up, the members of your committee, what should happen?

CHAFFETZ: I don't know. A, I don't think we did, but get to specifics and I'm happy to do that.

There's a bigger, broader problem here. That is the White House continues to fail to be candid with the American people about what happened: what did they know and when did they know it? And they're still bungling these answers, including Vice President Biden last night.

BLITZER: You saw Vice President Biden last night say it's hypocritical for you and other members of your committee, including for the Republican vice-presidential nominee, to be making these accusations since you voted to cut funding for U.S. diplomatic security. Listen to Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, today.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I find it rich that charges are made about concern over diplomatic security by those who routinely slash funding for diplomatic security in order to pay for tax cuts.


BLITZER: Did you vote to cut diplomatic security by $300 million?

CHAFFETZ: That is such a ridiculous assertion. Over the last five years, the State Department budget has grown by nearly 100 percent. Nearly 100 percent growth, and so if you look at this, no.

We asked directly of Charlene Lamb (ph) -- directly, was the denial for more security personnel in Libya a consequence of a lack of funding? And she said no, sir. So they're trying to get you off track, even just the fact that you're asking this question. It wasn't a funding issue.

President Obama has 6,000 private contractors involved in security in Iraq, and if you look at Libya, you've got a handful of them. It's about prioritizing.

BLITZER: The argument -- you heard it -- is that under across- the-board cuts that you supported there would have been a $300 billion cut in diplomatic security. It was restore, in part, by the Senate, but you voted in favor of that, as did Paul Ryan.

CHAFFETZ: And when the State Department official was asked, was that a factor in the case of Libya, she said no. So it's not an issue in this case. It is about prioritizing things.

And when you have Libya, 9/11, you have had two bombings at our consulate there in Benghazi, when you had an assassination attempt on the British ambassador, when you have over 230 security interests, and then you're grappling over whether to have two or three individuals there involved in security, you're missing the big point.

The point is that there was intelligence coming back to the White House, to the State Department on a regular basis over a long period of time. You had security experts on the ground, begging and asking for more security, and it was denied. Not only was it denied; it was reduced. And that's just flabbergasting. It has nothing to do with some vote in some committee a couple of years ago, and the State Department testified to that fact.

BLITZER: Jason Chaffetz is the Republican congressman for Utah and member of that committee. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: They fled bombs, bullets, and death. Now child refugees are finding safety, but they can't leave behind the trauma of a serious bloody civil war.


BLITZER: Thousands are attempting to flee the bloodshed in Syria, but for those who made it out, a hidden crisis is emerging. For the country's youngest victims, that often means coping with the latest lasting scars and the trauma of war. Here's CNN international correspondent Arwa Damon.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They play and scream like all children, but each has a harrowing tale of bombs, bullets, and death.

"I am drawing a tank and a gun," one little girl calls out. Others scrawl, "Free Syria." The violent turmoil in their homeland etched in their psyche.

This is one of many centers that UNICEF and its partners established as a child-friendly space.

SARAH CROWE, UNICEF: The concern right now is about coming up to winter. So it's about getting them into school, getting them to play and to learn, and to heal, which is really what they're doing here. And to create a sense of familiarity and routine. Because this will be the most powerful way in which they can learn and heal from the horrors that they've been through.

DAMON: At another center nearby, Maria Djelka (ph), a social worker, shows us these two drawings. This reflects an angry, distraught child. The same child, a 6-year-old, colored this in three months later.

In another room, parents are registering their children for school. Workers tell us that, in this part of the country, the Decca (ph) Valley, they anticipated close to 2,000 kids. They were shocked to have registered nearly three times that. Approximately 79,000 refugees are registered with the U.N. in Lebanon. In reality, the number is likely to be much higher. Many of them have been absorbed by the local population, creating a hidden crisis.

The majority live cramped in homes in areas known to be the poorest in the country. The worst off in camps like these. Historically home to Syrian Bedouins, now expanding and becoming more permanent structures.

The Abdullah family arrived a few days ago. The bombs were too close, too many people were dying around them, so they left, they say.

(on camera) This family's story is so similar to every single one that we have been hearing from all of these Syrian refugees. They were forced to flee their homes with absolutely nothing. They've been able to get together these bits of wood for the next tents that they plan on building, and the scraps of fabric they've been using so far, due to the charity of others. But they, too, like everyone here, are imploring people for more help.

(voice-over) And organizations who can help are struggling. UNICEF, for example, has only 25 percent of the funding it needs for its efforts in Lebanon alone. Having failed to stop the slaughter in Syria, the international community can at least try to ease the trauma of war.

Arwa Damon, CNN, in the Bekaa Valley.


BLITZER; And the slaughter continues. Activists say at least another 90 people were reportedly killed in Syria just today.

One presidential candidate has no chance of making it to the White House, but might hurt Mitt Romney's chances. Stand by.

And CNN's Casey Wian is the only reporter on the ground right now with the Space Shuttle Endeavour. That's coming up.


BLITZER: There's one candidate for president you almost certainly have never heard of, but he might just have an impact in a race in a crucial background state. Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Virgil Good works the crowd at a fair in Case City, Virginia. This six-term congressman has worn many political hats.

VIRGIL GOOD (CONSTITUTION PARTY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You've got to be willing to step up to the plate.

SYLVESTER: He's been a Democrat, an independent and a Republican. He lost his GOP congressional seat in 2008.

GOOD: Made in the USA?

SYLVESTER: Now, he's running for office again. This time, for president, this time under the banner of the Constitution Party.

GOOD: We're running a shoestring -- shoestring campaign. We won't have a lot of TV ads. We won't have a lot of mass mailings, but we will be grassroots campaigning.

SYLVESTER: Good believes in a no exceptions end to illegal immigration. He wants to reduce the number of legal immigrants in the country, as well. He also supports term limits for Congress and major federal budget cuts including cutting defense.

He's on the ballot in half of the states and is a write-in candidate in about a dozen more. Good is his own campaign manager, his own fund-raiser and his own press secretary. But he could still be a major game changer, says Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report.

STU ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: Virgil Good is a wild card, particularly in Virginia. The most recent polls showing a very tight race in Virginia. Virginia is an important race for Mitt Romney. So yes, Good could be a factor. And he could be a factor even if he wins only a handful of votes.

SYLVESTER: The latest polls show a neck-and-neck race between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Virgil Good is only a blip on the polls, but just his presence alone can upset the best-laid plans by the Romney campaign if he siphons off enough votes.

Good is asked about it just about everywhere he goes.


SYLVESTER: Good gives his answer. It comes down to convictions.

GOOD: I don't think we're going to be a spoiler. We are doing the right thing. It will help America if we can get a lot of votes. If we win, it will be a tremendous help. It would shake up Washington, and an average citizen would be president instead of someone that is backed by the super PACs.

SYLVESTER: Long shot, long odds, but they don't deter.


SYLVESTER: Now, there are other third-party candidates, notably Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Also, Green Party candidate Joel Stein. RNC chairman Reince Priebus on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," he was asked whether these outside candidates, if any of them might turn out to be spoilers, and he is dismissing them, saying they are nonfactors. That was the word that he used. Nonfactors.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lisa, for that. So, it used to hurdle through space. Now, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is moving slowly, very slowly, to its retirement home.


BLITZER: It's hard to tell. Maybe not so hard to tell. The Space Shuttle Endeavour actually moving through the streets of Los Angeles right now, very, very, very slowly. The retired shuttle is only going about 12 miles, but it's expected to take two days to get there. CNN's Casey Wian is walking alongside the Endeavour. He's joining us on the phone right now. What's going on, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the reasons it's going to take two days, and they have to be so careful, it's such an engineering feat to move this shuttle on the giant platform 12 miles through the streets of Los Angeles.

Just a couple of minutes ago, the platform and the shuttle actually came to a stop. They tell me that they noticed some pressure differentials on the platform, so they had to stop the shuttle and balance everything out. They expect it to resume its journey sometime in the next several minutes.

It's really been an incredible sight to watch this all day long. This platform is mounted on several wheels, dozens of wheels that move around almost like the wheels on a grocery cart, and it allows this platform to move backwards, forwards, right, left. They go through some very, very tight spaces, maneuvering around telephone poles, maneuvering around trees. They've had to take power lines down. It's really been quite a feat.

You look at the -- I can remember the shuttle and when we saw it in orbit, and everything looked so easy and so graceful. It almost seems as though moving it along the ground through the streets of Los Angeles is a much more difficult engineering feat than having it move around through space.

And just as we say that, the shuttle has actually started moving again and resuming its journey toward the California Science Center near the campus of the University of Southern California and near the Los Angeles Coliseum. It will arrive there tomorrow night sometime around 8:30 or 9 p.m., as long as there's no significant delays tomorrow night, Wolf.

BLITZER: Casey Wian walking along with the shuttle. What a picture that is. Casey, thanks very, very much. Lisa Sylvester is watching it along with me as well. Always exciting. Unfortunately, we're out of time.

SYLVESTER: Yes. It's such a treat, though. You saw the crowds out there, too, gathering. So something to see, Wolf.