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An Exclusive Interview with Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney; Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan's Old Photo while Working Out Released

Aired October 13, 2012 - 18:00   ET



The gloves came off in the vice presidential debate. There was plenty of passion. And now, the flesh is building on President Obama head up. The next showdown with Mitt Romney.

My wide ranging interview with Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee talks about his tax plan, his 47 percent comment and what he would do about Iran's nuclear program.

And Paul Ryan pumps iron. Jeannie moos takes a look at those controversial workout photos.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with a dramatically changed political landscape as we head into Tuesday's second debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. Poll after poll shows momentum building behind the Romney/Ryan ticket and there's intense pressure on the president right now to wrap up his game for the three-week sprint to Election Day.

Let's bring in our White house correspondent Dan Lothian. He is looking ahead. We are getting reaction to the vice presidential debate, more comments coming in. But the president really has his mission cut out for him right now - Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He really does, Wolf. And you know, we just have to look back to right after the debate where the president turned up his volume, really strongly aggressively going after his GOP opponents.

But what we saw this week at the University of Miami on Thursday at a big rally there was the president even turning up the volume a bit more, attacking Mitt Romney for what the president says was his changing position on a whole host of issues, including taxes. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 is trying to convince you that he was severely kidding. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: I was talking to a senior campaign official about the tone of the president's rally and this official telling me it's like the president with his back against the wall, the president showing that, quote, "I'm going to win this."

Now, we saw at the vice presidential debate, the vice president come out swinging, very forceful. Some would say aggressive. That perhaps is what we'll see from the president as he prepares for his second debate, Wolf. We're hearing from advisers that he's studying very hard and will come out with a much more stronger tone than we saw in debate number one.

BLITZER: He's learned from some of the lessons that he says he was what, too polite during the first debate? So, we are going to see a less polite president? Is that what we are hearing?

LOTHIAN: Well, yes. He did say he was too polite. We tried to push the White House on what it meant, then. Was he going to come out and be less polite? They're not giving details about exactly what the strategy will be other than to say we're going to see a much more different president. He will go after the Romney that they say showed up, which was not the Romney they expected to see. So we expect the president will be very forceful, passionate as they like to call it here at the White House.

BLITZER: And we will see what Mitt Romney comes with to this second presidential debate.

Dan, thanks very much.

And let's dig deeper now. I'm joined by our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and Ron Brownstein who is a senior political analyst of course, CNN. Also, the editorial director over "the National Journal."

Ron, I'll start with you this time. Ryan and Biden's best moments and worst moments?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought for Biden, the best movement was the first extended riff on the 47 percent comment that he made early in the debate. He did a better job in that one long sequence of framing, reframing the argument Democrats have tried to press against the Republican ticket since the spring than Obama did in the entire 90 minutes in the debate in Denver where he really kind of the defense. Anything, I think that was a very strong moment for him.

I think the strongest moment for Paul Ryan was pretty simple when he said this is not a recovery. This is not what recovery looks like. You deserve better. And you see the contrasting strength of the two sides. Biden best moment was framing this as a choice. Who is on your side? Whose side are you on and Ryan's best moment was basically saying referendum. Do the past four years justify another four years. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I also think Biden's question when he said who do you trust, because of course that's what the election is about. Who do you trust was particularly on Medicare. Are you going to trust us or are you going to trust these guys who by the way have never really liked Medicare ever since its inception. So, I thought that was, you know, talking right to the audience and asking that question was good.

I think for Ryan, though, sort of a best moment was just saying these guys, it's been too slow. We can do it, and they haven't. And then when he turned to Biden and said, do you know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is, and Biden's hometown and Biden goes yes, well, it's over 10 percent now it was eight percent something when you guys took office until now.

BROWNSTEIN: And that way I really felt that the debate showed us why we are heading toward what could be the third photo finish in the last four presidential election. Because we both think similar kind of moments here Biden framed it as a choice, Ryan framed it as a referendum. Each of those arguments have a lot of appeal to that last sliver of undecided voters and you could see why people are going to -- .

BLITZER: What would be their worst scratches?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think Biden has the most trouble with the questions about Libya at the beginning. And for Ryan, I think that -- I thought the most interesting moment, the highest risk moment was him really underscoring their opposition to abortion in a way I have rarely heard in a Republican ticket in a national format. There was the Romney campaign will be opposed to abortion except in the cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. You know, the one segment of the white population that Obama still holding majority support from are college educated white women. And I'm sure there are a lot of Democratic strategies who are envisioning how they are going to use that line which from Ryan in advertising aimed at those voters.

BORGER: I think for Ryan the abortion question was difficult. You could see the dial test I believe of women sort of trending down. That is their problem. I also think that Biden kind of got him on the stimulus request.

BROWNSTEIN: Oh, yes. That was tough, too.

BORGER: Where, OK, you hate the stimulus program, you know, you say it was terrible. Why did you write me two letters.

BLITZER: Asking you for money?


BORGER: Yes, asking for money for your district.

BLITZER: Let me play a little clip, a montage of some of the style we saw in the debate.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And whether he we -- our adversaries are much willing to test us than more bracing their tax and our analysts are less --

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With you with all due respect that's a bunch of malarkey. I don't know what world these guys are living.

RYAN: We have these in place. In spite of their opposition.

BIDEN: Oh, God.

RYAN: The jack Kennedy lower tax rates increase growth.

BIDEN: Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy?

RYAN: Ronald Reagan.


BLITZER: Obviously, very different styles.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, generational. You know, you have a candidate from before the baby boom in Joe Biden and a candidate from after the baby boom in Paul Ryan.

Ryan struck me like the NBA who was so smart that he didn't need the PowerPoint because he had mastered all the slides by memory in span of like. And whereas Biden was kind of the corner bar keep or the opinionated uncle at the thanksgiving table.

I personally thought he didn't go too far. I thought Biden was actually more on message, more disciplined and very systematic in raising virtually every issue the Democrats wanted to hear raise. Now, the 47 percent, even he was like Ryan's previous support for Social Security, I think there was sub-privatization. There were some, I think, who thought that Biden was a little on the what, harrumphing side.

BORGER: Yes, I do. I think that there were times he walked up to the line and didn't cross it. He was smiling, and he - but, there were times when he did cross the line and when he would seem to be dismissive of Paul Ryan and I think that's a hard line. And particularly when you're in that split screen and I think Biden smiled a little too much when he shouldn't have, and just seemed, you know, seemed a little dismissive.

BLITZER: All right, we are going to continue this. I want to look ahead, the lessons learned from this first and only vice presidential debate to the second presidential debate that's coming up Tuesday night. Don't go too far away. We will have that also.

Up next, my interview with Mitt Romney. I spoke with him and he speaks expensively about his tax plan. Those leaked comments he made about the so-called 47 percent. Those comments have caused him so much grieve.


BLITZER: Mitt Romney joined me this week for an exclusive SITUATION ROOM interview. We covered a lot of ground, but this election revolves around one main topic and I asked the Republican nominee about that. Watch this.


BLITZER: Let's move to issue number one here in the United States. The economy. The Obama campaign flatly says you're lying. Lying about the cost of your tax plan, you're proposed tax reforms. So far you haven't released a lot of specifics about eliminating various loopholes or whatever you have said that your tax cuts would be revenue neutral you wouldn't add to the deficit.

So, let's go through how you would do that specifically home mortgage deductions, charitable mortgage contributions. Are you ready to remove those? What's going on?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I've made pretty clear that my principles are number one simplify the code. Number two, create incentives for small businesses and large businesses to grow. Number three, don't reduce the burden on high income taxpayers. And number four, remove the burden somewhat for middle income people. So, I don't want to raise taxes on any group of Americans. Those are the principles.

At the same time how we carry them out would be lowering the rate, the tax rate across the board and then making up for that, both with additional growth and with putting a limit on deductions and exemptions, particularly for people at the high end. Those are principles which form the bases of what I would do with our tax proposal. What I want to do is to make it simpler, fairer. I want to encourage the economy to grow again. It's pretty clear that the economy is not growing at the rate it should under the president. And I can tell you with regards to the deductions you describe, home mortgage, interest deduction and charitable contributions, there will of course continue to be preferences for those type of competences.

BLITZER: So, even wealthy people? Would you put a cap how much they could deduct as far at charitable contributions are concerned? Because I've heard you mention the $17,000 cap, if you will, for some folks out there and I'd like you to elaborate if you don't mind.

ROMNEY: Well, I'm not going to layout a piece of legislation here because I intend to work together with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, but there are a number of ways one could approach this.

One would be to have a total cap number. It could be $25,000, $50,000. And people could put whatever deduction in that total cap they would like. Or instead you could take the posture that Bowles- Simpson did which is going after that specific deduction and limiting them various ways. There are number of ways we can accomplish the principles which I have. Lowering rates for middle income people, making sure high income people don't pay a smaller share and simplifying the code and then encouraging growth.

So as to how we approach the various deduction limits and what I do know is, we are going to have to reduce the deductions pretty substantially for people at the high end. Because I don't want to make the code let progressive. I want high income people to continue to pay the same share they do today.

BLITZER: And so, they will pay exactly the same even though you are going to lower the income tax rates for people making let's say more than $250,000 a year, but you're going to eliminate some loopholes, deductions, exemptions, tax credits? Is that what I'm hearing?

ROMNEY: That's right. I will bring the rate down across the board but eliminate or limit rather deductions or credits and exemptions and so forth, particularly for people at the high end. Because have you to do that to make sure that distributionally (ph), we continue to have the high income people still pay the same share, the high share they pay today.

BLITZER: Would that add up to the 4.8 or $5 trillion that's been estimated your tax or your comprehensive tax deductions would cost?

ROMNEY: Well, actually, the president's charge of the $5 trillion is obviously inaccurate and wrong because what he says is let's look at all the rates you're lowering and then he ignores the fact that I say we're also going to limit deductions, credits and exemptions. He ignores that part.

Obviously that was corrected by his deputy campaign manager who stipulated that in fact the $5 trillion number was wrong. It's completely wrong. The combination of limiting deductions and credits and exemptions, as well as growth of our economy, will make up for the reduction in rate.

The reason for lowering the rate, by the way, let's make it very clear. The reason for lowering the rate, both for individuals, as well as for corporations, and the president's plan also lowers the rate for corporations. The reason for doing so is to make sure that America is a more attractive place for small business and for large business to invest and to add jobs. This is about economic growth. This is about getting more jobs. We're not seeing the kind of job creation America ought to see following a recession. And we're not going to see that growth unless we have a tax policy which encourages businesses, small and large, to make investments and to hire people. That's why I want to put in place the plan I've described. It's been scored by people at Rice University as creating about seven million new jobs. The president's plan, on the other hand, cuts 700,000 jobs.

BLITZER: That 47 percent comment that you've made has caused you a lot of grief as you know. There's been a change in your position over these past few weeks. It went from when you initially saying once that tape came out, that you weren't exactly elegantly stating your position. Later, and more recently, you said you were completely wrong.

I'm curious, governor, how did that evolution in your thinking go on from the initial reaction once that tape came out to what you said the other day that you were completely wrong?

ROMNEY: Well, what I'm saying is that words were that came out were not what I meant. And what I mean I think people understand, is that if I'm president, I'll be president of 100 percent of the people. My whole campaign is about helping the middle class have rising incomes and more jobs. And helping get people out of poverty into the middle class. That's what this whole campaign is about. The wealthy are doing fine right now. And they'll do fine most likely regardless of who's elected president. It's the middle class that's having a hard time under President Obama and my campaign is about 100 percent of the American people.

And so that's, that describes why what was stated in the tape was not referring to what kind of president I would be or who I would be fighting for. Instead it was talking about politics and it just didn't come out the way I meant it.

BLITZER: If you had a do-over governor and you mention 47 percent, what should you have said about that 47 percent?

ROMNEY: Well, Wolf as you know, I was talking about how do you get to 50.1 percent of the vote. I'd like to get 100 percent of the vote but I figure that's not going to happen so I was trying to tell contributors how I get to 50.1 percent. I think it's always a perilous course for a candidate to start talking about the mathematics of an election. My campaign is talking about how to get 100 percent of the Americans to have a more bright and prosperous future.

BLITZER: A quick question on big bird. Was that a mistake to bring it up in the debate?

ROMNEY: You know, I think I've been watching this last several days and you know, a lot of Americans are really hurting. We have got 223 million Americans out of work or struggling to get a full-time job. And we have got one out of six Americans now in poverty, 47 million on food stamps and the president is spending his time talking about saving big bird. I will spend my time talking about saving jobs, creating jobs, helping people get back on their feet, getting rising incomes again. So I think people understand that we can't keep on spending like there's no tomorrow. We can't keep on borrowing and spending massively more than we take in every year.

And big bird is going to be just fine. "Sesame Street" is a very successful enterprise. I don't believe CNN gets government funding but somehow you all stay on the air and I just think that PBS will be able to make it on its own just like every one of the other stations and does not require us to go to China to borrow money to keep PBS on the air.


BLITZER: So how much more specific will Mitt Romney need to get over the next two presidential debates when it comes to his economic plan. Our political panel Gloria Borger and Ron Brownstein, they are both standing by with answers.

You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: All right, back now with our political analyst Gloria Borger and Ron Brownstein.

Ron, you just heard the Republican presidential nominee and at least everything I sense, move towards the center when it comes to tax cuts.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, he has tried to frame this as something that's going to be revenue neutral and also distributionally neutral.

BLITZER: But rich people are not going to get tax cuts.

BROWNSTEIN: No. And that is -- it's a very different tone than the emphasis during the debate. Although to be fair, on the day they announced it, they said they were going to do those two things. They were not going to increase the deficit. They were not going to reduce the share taxes paid by the top, people at the top. The problem is they continue to face the mathematical challenges.

BLITZER: Do the numbers add up?

BROWNSTEIN: They do not add up without growth, right? I mean, they do not add up on a static basis.

BLITZER: When you say growth, you mean that if the economy explodes instead of one percent growth, it's four or five percent growth?


BLITZER: Then, will the numbers add up?

BROWNSTEIN: The core question if you take all the tax credits that are available to people at the top and the top, and you eliminate all of them, it does not equal the cost of cutting their tax rates 20 percent, by 20 marginal tax is 35 to 28 percent as Mitt Romney wants to do. That's the conclusion of the tax policy center. So you need the growth. Or the argument is otherwise you have to reach down further and eliminate deductions for people in the middle and the upper middle class.

BORGER: And of course, that's the big question. Because President Obama faces that question. Romney faces that question, which is, if you say you want to reform the tax code, what cherished deductions are you going to eliminate or reduce. And every time the president has walked up to that, talking about eliminating or reducing charitable deductions, talking about eliminating some kind of mortgage deductions, it doesn't go anywhere in congress, because they wanted to get re-elected.

BROWNSTEIN: Now in fairness, both Romney and Obama in different are talking about alternative ways of doing this which is limiting the amount of deductions that any individual can take without eliminating the actual deductions saying if you are in the top --.

BLITZER: Romney told me $25,000 --

BROWNSTEIN: And the president has proposed to reduce the rate at which you can itemized so you don't get the 35 percent.

BORGER: Right. But Romney started out at 17,000 and then to you he start of raised the cap a little bit.

BROWNSTEIN: And Chuck Schumer threw a ball into this debate this week by saying look, we are going to be eliminating deductions. We have a trillion dollar deficit. Why are we reducing tax rates at all. If we are going to be eliminating deductions, let's use that to our deficit reduction rather than lowering rates at the top which is going to be a very --.

BLITZER: You know this as I did. I'm sure you probably did. When Biden kept talking about raising taxes for people making a million dollars or more as opposed to $250,000.

BORGER: That's a Chuck Schumer idea. You know, that's a Chuck Schumer idea as well coming from New York.

BLITZER: And that half of the million dollar --


BORGER: But all this should tell us is that before people go to the voting booths, they're not going to know the answers to these questions. We would like to know -- everyone would like to know the answers to these questions, but you have professional groups disagreeing about the economic impact of these things, figuring out whether it would grow the economy, whether it wouldn't grow the economy. So we don't really know.

BROWNSTEIN: We have more clarity on the spending side where Romney has said he wants to limit federal spending, the 20 per cent of GDP with four points of that going to defense which would mean significant reductions in what the federal government does on a whole variety of fronts. Even Romney has said $500 billion a year in cuts by 2016. So that is a major difference that's out there.

BORGER: But, that is also easier said than done as we know from covering Congress for many years.

BLITZER: And big bird is obviously part of that reduction.

BROWNSTEIN: He's a little feather in that reduction.


BLITZER: The fact that this next presidential debate, the second one, is a town hall style meeting as opposed to three people sitting around a table, one moderator, two of the candidates, what kind of added pressure does that put on these two candidates?

RYAN: Well, I think you would have to say that President Obama is pretty good at town halls. He's good at speaking before these groups. We have seen Mitt Romney, you covered him, I covered him during the primaries when he did a bunch of town halls. He kind of warms up in town halls, but it's not his natural habitat because he self edits so much. He is so nervous about making a mistake.

So, I think you would have to say that the natural advantage goes to President Obama. But Obama is also on the spot here because he did so badly.

BROWNSTEIN: The challenge of the president, it's hard to deliver a concentrated message, especially a negative message, in a town hall. I mean, you know, his challenge here is to do what Biden did which is to resurface the case they have so laboriously built since the spring against the Republicans in effect that they would enrich the few of the expense of many in the 47 percent thing. All of that kind of, you know, dissipated in that first debate where Romney was able to above all kind of say look, I'm a reasonable guy and I'm looking out for the middle class.

Obama's top priority has to be to put him back in the box that they have spent months building. And that's not easy to do at a town hall where you have to respond to people and you have the risk of if you seem overly negative there will be titers in the crowd. And you know, it's just not the best place for what he needs to do.

BORGER: And remember, you know, there will be a split screen. But, you remember in the last town hall in 2008 where McCain seemed to be wondering and it became a "Saturday Night Live" skit. So, I'm not quite sure what that is going to look like on television.

BLITZER: I remember when Al Gore walked into the George W. Bush's space over there. That was one of those irritating moment.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, one thing Obama still has to do that Biden did not do, the one thing Biden did do, what is the second term going to be? There was almost nothing on that first debate from the president. There was much from the vice president last night. That's still the big hole in the doughnut in these re-election campaign.

BLITZER: Ron Brownstein, thanks very much. Gloria Borger, thanks to you as well.

Mitt Romney tells us how he would handle some dangerous situations in the Middle East.

Up next, he talks about Syria's civil war, Iran's nuclear program. My interview SITUATION ROOM interview with the Republican presidential nominee continues right after this.


BLITZER: More now from my interview with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. I asked him about the very dangerous developments taking place in the Middle East right now.


BLITZER: In Syria you said you would identify members of the opposition and ensure they obtain arms to defeat al Assad's tanks. How do you make sure those weapons don't get into the hands of terrorists or al-Qaeda?

ROMNEY: Well, Wolf, this is part of making sure that we're shaping events, as opposed to just being at the mercy of events. It means that we would have intelligence resources. We would also be working with our friends in the region, particularly the Saudis as well as the Turks that are very closely involved in Syria. We work together with them to identify voices within Syria that are reasonable voices that are moderate voices, that's not al-Qaeda or any Jihadist type group. We would try and coalesce those groups together, provide them perhaps them with funding. Some other supports would include as you indicate weapons so they'll be able to defend themselves. Those weapons could come from the Turks or from the Saudis. But the key thing is not to just sit back and hope things work out well. But to recognize Iran as playing a major role in Syria. And we, through our friends in the region, must also be playing a role to help shape what's happening there and make sure that we rid ourselves of Mr. Assad and don't have in his place chaos or some kind of organization which is as bad as he is or even worse take his place.

BLITZER: Speaking of Iran, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as you know, he as at the United Nations recently. Now, he literally drew a red line as far as Iran and its nuclear program is concerned.

Here is the question. Is there any daylight between you and the prime minister?

ROMNEY: There's no daylight between the United States and Israel. We have coincident interests. We share values and we're both absolutely committed to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

My own test is that Iran should not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. I think that's the same test that Benjamin Netanyahu who also apply. I can't speak for the president in this regard, but I think there has to be recognition that there are boundaries that the Iranians may not cross.

Let's also recognize we have a long way to go before military action may be necessary. And hopefully it's never necessary. Hopefully through extremely tight sanctions as well as diplomatic action we can prevent Iran from taking a course which would lead to them crossing that line.

BLITZER: Does Prime Minister Netanyahu at the U.N. spoke of the spring or summer as some sort of deadline if Israel were to launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and you were president of the United States, would you back up Israel?

ROMNEY: We have Israel's back both at the U.N. but also militarily. I would anticipate that if I'm president, the actions of Israel would not come as a surprise to me. But I would meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I would speak with him. I've indicated that my first trip as president would be to Israel. So what would happen there would not be something that would be a shock to me.

But I can tell you this. That the crippling sanctions do have an impact. They're having an impact on Iran's economy right now. They will have an impact on the public there in Iran. And there's great hope and real prospects for dissuading Iran from taking a path that leads into a nuclear setting.

But this going to require real strength on the part of America, and it's also going to require us showing no day light between ourselves and Israel. We're going to have to have Iran realize they can't play one off against the other. But we're both absolutely committed to a world which does not include a nuclear capable Iran.


BLITZER: More on my interview with Mitt Romney coming up.

Just ahead, we also talk about whether he was surprised by President Obama's poor performance at that first presidential debate. You're going to want to see how he responds.


BLITZER: This week's fiery vice presidential debate sets the stage for round two between President Obama and Governor Romney. But it's round one that still has a lot of people talking and could give Mitt Romney an advantage Tuesday night.


BLITZER: Everyone now agrees at least, I think almost everyone agrees that your debate performance in Denver last week was very strong. The president's performance was weak.

Here's a question that I'm curious about, because you prepared obviously a lot. Senator Rob Portman, was he a tougher debater in those practice sessions than President Obama turned out to be?

ROMNEY: Senator Portman is very effective. The I think President Obama and I both had a good chance to describe our respective views as to how we would do a better job. And I frankly think I benefitted from the fact that rather than having people learn about me by ads prepared by my opposition, they got to actually hear what I would do for myself. And I think that helped me.

I think the president also got to layout his plans and people were able to make a comparison. But, as for Rob Portman, he's a pretty effective guy.

BLITZER: Were you surprised by the president's performance?

ROMNEY: I actually thought he described pretty appropriately and pretty effectively his policies. I just happen to disagree with those policies. When we talked about the economy, he really is not proposing anything he hasn't talked about for the last four years, which is another stimulus, hiring more government workers, picking winners and losers in industries that he favors, raising taxes. These are ideas he's had for some time, and frankly we've tested those ideas over the last four years and they have not led to the kind of job growth Americans want.

But, you know, I think the challenge that he has is that his ideas are just not demonstrating the kind of results he would hope for and people recognize that.

BLITZER: I've got one final question and I know you've got to go, governor. Your wife, Ann Romney. She had a moving story she told our own Gloria Borger in a recent interview about your ritual as you go into a debate.

Let me play this clip for you because I want to see your reaction and I want to get your reaction on the other side.

ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: You know, it's a cute thing that he does. Almost after every answer he finds me in the audience. As soon as he got on stage, the first thing he does, he takes off his watch and puts it on the podium. But then I writes "dad" on a piece of paper. And that's amazing, because he loves his dad, respects his dad. Doesn't want to do anything that would not make his father proud.

BLITZER: All of us who have lost a father can relate. But give us a little addition. What do you think about that?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, every debate, she's right. I write my dad's name at the top of a piece of paper to remind myself of all that he sacrificed to give me the opportunities I now have. I think about his passion, his passion for the country. Dad was devoted to ideals that motivated him. I mean, the guy was born in Mexico with nothing when he came to this country, rose to be head of a car company, a governor. I mean, my dad was the real deal and his life and his memory inspires me.

So yes, I write his name there and of course I look at Ann every chance I get. She's usually looking down. She's little nervous during the debates. But I look to her to see if she feels like I've done a good job.

BLITZER: Governor we appreciate you taking the time to joins here in the SITUATION ROOM.

ROMNEY: Thanks Wolf. Good to be with you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.


BLITZER: On this note, our Candy Crowley is going to be moderating the second presidential debate that is coming up Tuesday night. Up next, you'll find out what she will be looking for during this presidential debate and how her debate will be different from the others.



OBAMA: Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts so that's another trillion. And $2 trillion in addition to the military spending that the military hasn't asked for. That's $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit and make the investments that we need to make without dumping those costs on the middle class Americans I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.

ROMNEY: First of all, I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don't have a tax cut of the scale that you are talking about. My view is we have to provide tax relief to the people in the middle class. But I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people. High income people are doing just fine in this economy. They will do fine whether you are president or I am.

The people who are having a hard time right now are middle income Americans. Under the president's policies, middle income Americans have been buried. They were being crushed. Middle income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a tax in and of itself. I will call it the economy tax.


BLITZER: CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley had a unique perspective as she watched the encounters between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama as well Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. She is moderating the n ext presidential debate Tuesday night. We spoke about what she's looking for and how her debate is different from all the others that I cited some earlier town hall format debates.


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 PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think it's fair to say you haven't had cancer, you don't know what it's like.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In my state, there's a good chance I'll know them by their names.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is concerning -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think wisdom comes from age, experience, and intelligence. And if you have some of each and 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 used to say walk softly, talk softly, but carry a big stick. Senator Obama likes to talk loudly.

OBAMA: 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 you've got to -- these candidates will have to walk next week with a live studio audience right near them.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: 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.

When you have a bunch of undecided voters watching you, there is a couple of 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 kind of the, you have to talk to them and you have to seem you're relating to them. So, I think it adds a whole other level of performance, if you will, to what they're saying.

And 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, you know, opportunity for follow-up to kind a get them to drill down on the subject if these folks want to learn about them in the town hall.

BLITZER: Yes. The person said his or her name, you got to remember that name and address that person directly, one of the techniques. I'm sure they're practicing already.

CROWLEY: As we speak.

BLITZER: Thanks, Candy, we'll see you before next week, as well. You've got state of the union this Sunday.


BLITZER: And remember, our coverage of the second presidential debate begins Tuesday night, 7:00 p.m. eastern only here on CNN. Paul Ryan flexed his political muscles in more ways than one this week, but not without some controversy. Up next, the workout photos that the congressman wasn't very happy that were being released.


BLITZER: Here's a look in this week's hotshots.

In Switzerland, a crowd observes a jet pass overhead at an air show.

In Nepal, a vendor waits for customers in a town square.

In France, a grape harvester inspects his crop.

And in Germany, look at this, an sits in the outdoor enclosure over at a zoo.

Hotshots. Pictures coming in from around the world.

Paul Ryan spent part of the day of the debate doing something that's always part of his routine, working out. We know he's an avid follower of the P90X exercise plan, but new photos from our sister publication "Time" magazine show us his workout like never before.

And here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does this picture say Mr. Vice president to you?

This is Paul Ryan, the Republican -



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, see that's worse. That's like, oh, no.

MOOS: Oh, yes. And the photos of Paul Ryan working out that came out in "Time" magazine have plenty of fans tweeting too. And just like that, panties drop and the internet melts.



MOOS: Quoted one poster, big bird called, he wants his legs back.

Paul Ryan is the bro-est bro ever to run for VP.

Paul Ryan is definitely channeling his inner Marky Mark.

Just as Marky Mark pumped iron. So did Paul Ryan at a photo shoot almost a year ago when the fitness buff congressman was a runner up for "Times'" person of the year. Some say by releasing the old photos around the time of the vice presidential debate, the editors of "Time" wished to make him look trivial, young, and unserious.

Maybe it's the backwards baseball cap, but when we took the photos out to the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have no clue who that is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to say no.

MOOS: Two-thirds of the people we asked didn't recognize him. Who is this guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Mr. Shuster, Matthew Morrison.

MOOS: No. Not the glee club instructor from Glee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little like Bradley Cooper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jeff somebody? He has got a new --

MOOS: New sitcom?


MOOS: No, not Jeff Probst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's the vice president soon to be.

MOOS: The VP candidate spokesman said this about the photos. Paul Ryan takes his health seriously. Clearly, judging by these silly pictures he doesn't take himself too seriously.

Neither did readers on buzz feed. They put him in with the Village People, with the cast of "Jersey Shore," they made him flex and even wink like a certain previous VP candidate. Some wondered, when are the Joe Biden workout photos coming? The best we could do is drag out that famous photo shop job done by "the Onion," a shirtless Joe Biden washing his Transom in the White House drive way. Shirtless Joe, meet backwards cap Ryan.

MOOS: This is the potential vice president of the United States.


MOOS: Jeannie moos --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is a great look for him.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's regular old Joe blow --

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: Remember, you can always follow what's going on here in the SITUATION ROOM. Just go to twitter and you can tweet me @WolfBlitzer.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM.

The news continues next on CNN.