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Tax Plan; Gaining in the Polls; Final Factor

Aired October 15, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT next Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan say they're not going to offer specifics about their tax plan until they talk to Congress. Waiting on Congress. Does that add up?

Plus a wow of a new poll in the race for the White House just out tonight and we are learning more about what happened in Libya the night four Americans were murdered. Senator Bob Corker, who is just back from a visit to Tripoli, is our special guest tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening everyone. I'm Erin Burnett and OUTFRONT tonight, seriously, Paul Ryan? You were proposing the biggest tax overhaul since Ronald Reagan and you won't give voters details? Instead, you tell us that Congress will figure it out. Now, asked about which tax loopholes his ticket would close in order to prevent his across-the- board 20 percent tax cut from adding to the already fat bloated massive -- pick your adjective -- deficit, Paul Ryan says and I'll quote him, "we shouldn't be negotiating the details of tax reform in the middle of a campaign."

Instead, Ryan says he'll work with Congress to push through tax reform. He tells "The Wall Street Journal" "what we've learned from experience, Mitt's experience as governor, my experience doing tax law, is that you don't go to Congress and say take it or leave it, here's my plan, pass it. You say here's my framework. Here's my objectives. Now, let's figure out together how to accomplish these objectives." Now, this isn't the first time we've heard the Romney- Ryan ticket talk about working with Congress.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to work together with Congress to say OK, what are the various ways we could bring down the deductions, for instance.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to do this in front, in the public through congressional hearing with Congress so that we can get to the best conclusion with the public participation.

ROMNEY: That's something Congress and I will have to work out together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: All right, it sounds nice, right? We're going to work together, Kumbaya (ph). Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Just ask this guy.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they skipped town, members of Congress left a whole bunch of proposals sitting on the table.


BURNETT: And that's the rub. That's the problem about working with Congress. With 11 weeks to go this year, our elective Congress has enacted just 195 bills this session. That compares with the previous decade average of 448 bills per Congress. That's a do- nothing Congress.

So, what makes Romney and Ryan think things will be any different if they get into this office? After all, does it really matter who occupies this chair? We're showing you an empty picture for a reason because the problem is, it may not matter when there are people like this senior Democrat who say the very idea of lowering tax rates and closing loopholes is a nonstarter.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We ought to scrap it. The reason is simple. The old style of tax reform is obsolete in a 2012 world.


BURNETT: That doesn't sound like a guy who's about to compromise with you, does it? And we understand how an overhaul of the tax policy in this country is necessary. Democrats and Republicans, notwithstanding what you just heard there, mostly agree on it. And we also understand that politically, committing to closing one loophole over another could be suicide for the Romney-Ryan ticket, but if closing loopholes is the rock on which your promise to cut tax rates rests and you're relying on Congress to stand up to special interests to do it, well, Houston, you got a problem.

You might not get a tax cut. Never mind an overhaul. So do Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan need to get more specific on how they'll end loopholes as we know them in order to win? Robert Reich served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. Mark McKinnon advised the Bush and McCain presidential campaigns. So Mark let me start with you.

Chris Christie is a well-known Romney surrogate. I remember when he was running for governor of New Jersey and a lot of people in the media thought there's no way he can win because he said I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to cut. I'm going the get the list when I get in office and then I'm going to do it. And then of course he won and "The New York Times" wrote on the day after Election Day "voters embrace Mr. Christie, though he offered little detail about how he would fix the state's chronic financial problems and instead appealed to voters hungry for change." Can this strategy work for Mitt Romney when it comes to his tax plan?

MARK MCKINNON, COLUMNIST, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: Well, first of all, as the cofounder of No Labels (ph), I like the idea of bringing the Congress together and to negotiate bringing these solutions together with the president involved. Now, that said, there are realities and I think that bold solutions are required. Now, I'm not an economist and having me talk about tax policy is like having Paris Hilton explain quantum physic (ph) but let me say something about the Romney plan. Romney --

BURNETT: That's a rather aggressive analogy, by the way. OK. Keep going.

MCKINNON: Well, they laid out a plan a couple of weeks ago and I'm surprised that Paul Ryan didn't talk about it the other night and that is this idea of a capped basket of deductions. So we get deductions right now for chartable giving or for home mortgages. The plan that I heard them lay out a couple of weeks ago was that you cap that. You bring it down and you say it's 17 percent and then you get to make a decision about whether or not it's charitable or home mortgage or some combination of those. And if that number doesn't meet the 20 percent tax reduction, then you lower the deduction even more and if the deduction doesn't meet it then, then you raise the cap on the -- on the rate. So in other words, you've got a basket of deductions capped and that's very specific and that sounds like a pretty good plan to me, so I'm surprised that Ryan didn't talk about it the other day.


BURNETT: All right, which is interesting and Robert Reich, maybe that is their plan, but they've also said they're going to close loopholes, which is different than capping deductions, right? I mean you know in some sense, it's the same outcome, but is it that they really don't have a plan for how they're going to make up the revenue side of this?

ROBERT REICH, SECRETARY OF LABOR, CLINTON ADM.: Erin, I think the reality is not only do they not have a plan, but they don't know how they would ever get to their goal of creating five or almost $5 trillion of tax cuts for the very wealthy and at the same time not having any effect on the deficit and not increasing anybody else's taxes. They keep referring to these six independent studies that show that it can be done, but if you look closely, there aren't six independent studies that show it can be done. There are no independent studies showing it can be done.


REICH: There are a couple of studies out there, but they have assumptions built into them such as rapid economic growth or magic asterisks. You know mathematics is mathematics and you can't duck the logic of adding and subtracting and that's what they're trying to do. BURNETT: All right, well I'm glad you brought up studies because I have -- I mean professors are -- kept in business because of this. We've heard a lot about studies from both sides, Robert. Here's a little taste.


ROMNEY: There's been a study done recently.

RYAN: Six studies have guaranteed --

JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The AEI (ph) study, the American Enterprise Institute study, the Tax Policy Center study --


BURNETT: I mean honestly I've never heard so many references to studies. It keeps the think tanks in business. Robert Reich though in all seriousness it seems to me there are studies on both sides and you're right. You could throw whatever caveat you want on one or the other. But does Mitt Romney need to give more detail in order to get through this or can he plow through ala (ph) Chris Christie?

REICH: He does have to provide more detail, Erin, because this is the centerpiece of his economic plan.


REICH: This huge tax cut mostly for the rich and he cannot even begin to make that credible unless he tells the public how he's going to begin to pay for it.

BURNETT: You keep throwing in --

REICH: And he refuses to do that.

BURNETT: You keep --

REICH: It's one thing to say you're going to work with Congress. Everybody wants to work with Congress --


REICH: -- but it doesn't happen.

BURNETT: You keep throwing in though sort of as an aside mostly for the rich. Now, he's giving a 20 percent tax cut for everyone. He says the wealthiest percent share of tax revenue will not change under his plan.

REICH: Yes, but that assumes it won't change only if you get rid of certain deductions and you get rid of loopholes, but if you're not getting rid of those deductions and loopholes, if you're not specifying even what they are to begin with, if most of the people who have examined your plan, most economists including the independent Tax Policy Center, which I might add, both Democrats and Republicans respect and utilize all the time, they say it's not possible. There are not enough deductions for people over $200,000 to possibly pay for a $5 million or almost $5 million tax cut.

BURNETT: Right. They did, but then when Bloomberg came and said hey here's some more assumptions that would cut your estimate in half, the Tax Policy Center said that's fair, but we're not going to change our study.

REICH: Well, look, Erin, the fact of the matter is that most of the so-called independent studies that have looked at this assume that the money is going to come back through economic growth. That's supply side economics. Maybe they're right, but we don't know. It's a big risk. We have right now very, very slow economic growth. We've had slow economic growth for years.


REICH: And we've heard a lot of promises with regard to tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts did not result in huge economic growth. We still have a huge deficit because of them.

BURNETT: All right, well thanks very much. We appreciate it to both of you. Mark will be back in a moment. Still OUTFRONT, new polls in the race for the White House. Tonight, the flip that caught our attention. Plus, he's just back from a fact finding trip to Libya, so what did he learn about who knew what and when they knew it? Senator Bob Corker OUTFRONT. And the man who set a world record made us all sick when he fell from outer space at 833 miles an hour. But that is not the record that could change your life.


BURNETT: Out second story OUTFRONT a move towards Mitt. With just 22 days until the election, a brand new CNN Poll of Polls has Mitt Romney leading President Obama by one percentage point. Now, that comes out to 48 to 47 and obviously, that is well within the margin of error, so it's a dead heat. But what it is, is a significant reversal from what we saw just a month ago when President Obama was leading 49 to 46, which also was the margin of error, but you get the point. That's actually when you add it up, that's where you get the margin. Other polls show a dead heat.

It is a margin of error race, but many of them have the president in the leading spot. OUTFRONT tonight David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist and Mark McKinnon -- you just saw him a few moments ago -- is back with us. OK, great to see all of you. Let me start with you, David. We're starting to see Republicans rally around Mitt Romney. Latest "Washington Post"-"ABC News" poll I think is actually pretty good indicator of that. Sixty-two percent of Romney supporters now say we're excited, we're enthusiastic about this guy. It was 48 percent before the convention. What's behind that shift?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it would be a mistake to say they're enthusiastic about him and therefore they're going to vote for him. I think it works the other way around. They're going to vote for him and so they have no choice but to become enthusiastic. And we are seeing as we get closer to the election a rallying of bases on both sides. I look at those polls and I see a race of tremendous stability. I see a race that has been basically neck-and-neck since the conventions. Romney slipped after the revelation of the 47 percent tape. He recovered after the debates and now we're back where we were before. I mean it's a little bit like what they say about Iraq. We're not really having an election. We're having a census and what we are seeing is that the different constituency groups of the country aligning behind the parties that speak for them and speak for them more successfully than say the Republicans did in 2008.

BURNETT: But Jamal, how concerned should the president's campaign be about the momentum when you see a shift this late? Sure, it's still margin of error. It was before and it is now, but obviously when you add up the shift, it has been noticeable and it has been in favor of Mitt Romney.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, they should be concerned. I've been writing for a week they should be concerned because I think what -- this was always going to be a close race. This is where David is right. This was always going to be a close race. And what was making me nervous was how cocky some of my Democratic friends and sometimes maybe even me, people were getting a week ago or two weeks ago feeling like OK, we've got a five or six point spread. Things are headed in the right direction. Romney's running a horrible campaign. The president's not doing anything badly, but what we know now is this is going to be a neck-and-neck race so the president's got to do well in this upcoming debate. He's got to be focused on the future. He's got to be talking about what's important to voters and he's got to be strong and show leadership. I think Romney was strong last week and it gave people a chance to have a second look -- or maybe 10 days ago -- it gave people a chance to take a second look at him and now the president's got to remind them what he's been saying for the last year about this Republican candidate.

BURNETT: And Mark, let me ask you about when you look throughout American history at this late of a stage, what do the polls mean? There have been two cases where the person who was ahead by a little bit now ended up losing. John Kerry was ahead of George W. Bush by a point and Carter was ahead of Reagan back in 1980, as you can see, by five points. Now again, it's a poll of polls that we're showing you, which is an average of all the polls. You've got Romney up by one. Whose race is it to lose at this point?

MCKINNON: Well, it's always been the president's to lose. The incumbent always has the advantage, but I disagree a bit with David. You know I think these debates are more important than ever and shows a dramatic shift in movement for Romney and part of the reason for that I think is that voters have become more and more cynical about everything they see in politics. They're cynical about all the advertising they see. They're cynical about the conventions. Everything they see is packaged until they see the debates. And this is the first time that many voters have seen Mitt Romney. They've heard about him. They're read about him, but it's been somewhat of a one dimensional caricature in many cases. So this is the first time they've actually seen him and I think that's why there was such a remarkable shift. And you know I just go back to 2000 -- the 2000 four races that I was involved with. We were three down, three to five down. We went in the debates and suddenly we were three up after the debates and as you know very closely within 500 votes, but these debates are instrumental and I think more important than ever and I think tomorrow night's may be the most important debate ever.


BURNETT: Go ahead -- go ahead, Jamal.

SIMMONS: Well I just want to correct one thing for the record. Al Gore did get 500,000 more popular votes even though obviously Florida (INAUDIBLE).

BURNETT: Yes, but you know what, electoral college versus popular, a great discussion, right, but --


SIMMONS: It's true. It's true --

BURNETT: -- I guess popular vote doesn't matter. If you live in certain states and you're voting not the way of your state -- you know a lot of people feel their vote doesn't matter.

FRUM: Here's where the popular vote really does matter.


FRUM: Except for last time we were in the middle of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We have not had a non- close race since 1988. Every race has been very, very tight. 2004 was a three-point race. George Bush was reelected in 2004 by the narrowest margin of any president ever not to lose. What has been happening --

BURNETT: What you call a mandate.

FRUM: What has been happening in this country is as you've had a rise of the level of education (INAUDIBLE) population, as media communication get better, people become more committed to certain brands including their political brand and the country's become more locked in and has a more ethnic diversity. You also see people walking in ethnically to one or the other party as the champion of their tribe or tribes (ph), and so it's not a surprise that this race is going to be close and it's not a surprise this race is going to come down to the very few people who are the least informed and the least committed in the entire country.

BURNETT: Which is frightening. Thanks to all three of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is frightening.

BURNETT: We all can probably agree on that no matter where you stand politically. And we're going to be talking to the moderator of tomorrow night's debate. You just heard it called the most important one of the season and could be what determines the election. Candy Crowley from CNN, the moderator, will be my guest later this hour and the key to this election could come down to just one state, Ohio. So we sent John Avlon OUTFRONT to the "Buckeye" state to find out why the president has an unlikely ally there. And is there any tolerance for conservative politics in Hollywood? We're going to ask the man famous for his liberal views.


BURNETT: Our third story OURFRONT, Ohio, no Republican has won the White House without it and Paul Ryan knows that full well. Here he is in Cincinnati today.


RYAN: Ohioans, you know you have a big say-so. You know you're the battleground state of battleground states. You understand your responsibility, right? You understand your opportunity, right?


BURNETT: The Bellwether region of this Bellwether state is northeastern Ohio, home to cities like Akron. John Avlon is OUTFRONT with the "Final Factor" that could swing the election.


JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): For decades, economic news here in northeastern Ohio has been bleak. Once the bread basket and manufacturing backbone of the nation, Ohio has been hit hard by outsourcing. Family farms the foundation of this community's economy have been fighting for survival. But a bright spot is emerging here, a boomer brought on by natural gas and oil wells.


AVLON: Carol Kiko and her husband Roger have been dairy farmers in Carroll County (ph) for decades, raising five kids and working around the clock.

CAROL KIKO, OHIO DAIRY FARMER: The farmers around here -- we didn't have two nickels to rub together, our bills were paid and we couldn't do anything. We couldn't go anywhere. Everything went back into what we were doing, to make our payment.

AVLON: Then, opportunity knocked. REX Energy (ph) wanted to lease their land for oil and gas exploration. Suddenly, local farmland that had been worth $15 per acre six years ago is now valued at 5,800 and leases allow farmers to keep a portion of the profits if oil and gas are found.

(on camera): In 2009, when you were at the worst of it did you ever have a thought that maybe this wouldn't (ph) happen?

C. KIKO: No, no, never. And when that check came, I cried. I cried.

AVLON: You did.

C. KIKO: Because we have worked so long, so hard to get to that point that that one check brought us. It's incredible, just incredible. People really don't understand the plight of the dairy farmer throughout the years. The ups and the downs, mostly downs.

AVLON (voice-over): Carol is a coveted swing voter in this key swing area of Ohio.

C. KIKO: I have voted both Democrat, Republican and Independent. I voted for Ross Perot. I thought he would -- a business man might be able to pull us out of the rut we were in.

AVLON: So, the issue of energy and what it means for the local economy is critical to Carol's vote and it's personal. The first thing she and her neighbors did with their windfall was pay off their debts. She wants to see the president do the same.

C. KIKO: I would like to see Obama, President Obama, do like the dairy farmers have done in the past. We had to be efficient. We couldn't spend money that we did not have. We couldn't go in debt. Who was going to bail us out? Nobody. (INAUDIBLE)

AVLON: So, just what is Carol Kiko listening for in the next presidential debate?

C. KIKO: The truth. No more negatives. No more lies. Don't bash this person, that person. I don't want to hear that anymore. I want to hear what you can do for us, what you can do for the country.


AVLON: The "Buckeye" state is the key Bellwether of this election and Erin it's fascinating. After decades of tough economic news, all of a sudden, there's this silver lining these farmers with oil and gas drilling.

BURNETT: Amazing.

AVLON: It's amazing to see and yet, President Obama is not necessarily seen as an ally of that industry. So it's going to be fascinating to see how it cuts when we come down to the wire here.

BURNETT: Certainly ironic but the one thing there don't be negative.


BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) they don't -- people don't like it.

Well ahead, new details about the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, Senator Bob Corker just back from Libya, asking questions on the ground, he's OUTFRONT next. Plus, what can we expect to hear at tomorrow's presidential debate, the debate you just heard on this show called the most important thing between now and Election Day. The debate's moderator is our own Candy Crowley and she'll be my guest.


BURNETT: We have breaking news right now. Our Elise Labott just finished an interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And they talked about Libya.

Elise joins me. She's on the phone from Lima, Peru, where she's with the secretary of state right now.

And, Elise, what did she say?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER (via telephone): Well, Erin, this is really -- she gave a set of interviews to network reporters, really the first time speaking in depth about the attack on the U.S. post in Benghazi, where Ambassador Stevens and these three other Americans were killed, and, you know, she said the buck stops with her. You know, there has been a lot over the last couple of days and weeks about who's responsible, about who takes responsibility. You heard Vice President Biden in the debate say, hey, we didn't know.

And when I asked Secretary Clinton whether, you know, the White House is throwing the State Department under the bus, she said, listen, this is my State Department. I take responsibility. Security for the U.S. diplomatic post is a State Department function and the vice president and president didn't know -- kind of distancing I think the State Department from the White House in this election season.

Erin, she also said she didn't want to play any kind of blame game or political gotcha. She understands that the election is coming up, and obviously, everyone wants to politicize this. But she said that four Americans died. We need to make sure that it doesn't happen again and we need to make sure that the U.S. is still engaged diplomatically.

And so, she wants to wait for an investigation before she talks about whether there was good intelligence or bad intelligence, security decisions, but she did say the buck stops with her.

BURNETT: All right. The buck stops with her.

And, Elise, I guess the question would be some will say, look, is she sort of falling on the sword. The White House has made it clear it was intelligence. It was the State Department. I mean, she's obviously being consistent with that from everything you heard her say.

LABOTT: I don't think so. I think that it's true. You know, obviously, that the White House would know about threats in Benghazi, but those individual security decisions are really a State Department function and that's basically what she was saying, the responsibility for protecting the embassies don't work with her, but also, she said, yes, we need to work with Congress to make sure we're getting the appropriate funding we need. We need -- the whole U.S. government has to work together to make sure that diplomats are getting what they need.

You know, Erin, everyone talks about how the military needs to have more resources for the troops. But we've seen a lot of budget cuts over the last couple of years for State Department funding and so, I think she's saying, listen, we'll see where the intelligence co comes out and what happened that night.

But I don't think she's trying to throw the White House under the bus kind of like the White House was last week over the State Department.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to Elise Labott.

You just heard it here first. Elise Labott reporting. She talked to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said the buck stops with her.

We asked that question on Friday. Where does it stop, the State Department or the White House? The secretary of state at least tonight trying to make the argument that it should stop with her and go no further.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT is Libya. It has been almost five weeks since the attacks and in addition to a dramatically changing U.S. government story about what happened, those responsible are still at large. Senator Bob Corker just returned from a fact finding trip to Libya and has been demanding answers from day one.

Right before the show, I asked him what he actually learned.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, the country is very fragile. I mean, they are -- I think you know the country is basically governed security wise through militias. So, right now, they have a lot of security issues. That's one of the reasons there's such difficulty in trying to prosecute the folks responsible for this.

But with the president, the GNC, the military, the prosecutor general and foreign minister, we pressed obviously the case that we wanted full cooperation in finding them and I think they have a will. It's just that the country, as most people know, has almost no institutions of government.

BURNETT: And what about your visit with U.S. intelligence on the ground in Libya? What did you find out? I know you have a lot of questions, did they have the help they need, were they turned down for security requests? What did -- what did you hear?

CORKER: You know, I focused mostly on that evening and there's not a shadow of a doubt the administration knew this was a terrorist attack. I think they knew it in real time. But certainly within 24 hours, at the highest levels of our government, they were very aware that this was a terrorist act and that's why this whole response over the last five weeks has been so bizarre.

I mean, there was no question about it. For five days later, to have this kind of interviews for the classified briefings we've had to be the kind that they are. It just begs the question, towards what end is the administration, were they trying to paint a different picture?

I know by now, obviously, they've been flushed out and obviously have a very different view of what happened. But it's just hard to imagine what the point was of misleading the American people in this way.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, about several things. About the role of the movie, about whether there were protest, whether it was a terrorist attack and who was responsible.

There's something that, of course, has also happened, which is that the White House, Joe Biden said it at the vice presidential debate and now, David Axelrod has said it, that the president and vice president were not aware of additional security requests and that only the State Department was aware and makes those decisions.

Let me just play David Axelrod yesterday making this point, because I think it's important the way he said it.


DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: These requests go into the security professionals at the State Department and there's no doubt that some of these matters went into the security department at the state security agency at the State Department, but it didn't come to the White House and that's what the White -- the vice president was responding to.


BURNETT: Now, I'm just curious, Senator, what your view is on this. I mean, it's all one administration, right? So, is it fair for the White House to point the finger over at the State Department or as they did to me on the phone recently, say any error with these briefing points was the responsibility of the intelligence community, not theirs?

CORKER: I can understand how the security request might not have been known at the White House. I understand that. What is not acceptable is what the vice president said in the debate is that for you know, a long period of time, they were unsure of what happened. I am absolutely convinced, Erin, again, beyond a shadow of a doubt by meeting with people in Libya on the ground that at the highest levels of our government, they knew it was a terrorist act on the front end.

My sense is that in this political season, what they're trying to do is make Americans feel like they have vanquished terrorism, and any like this obviously shows very different. I think you know and most people who are paying attention to this understand that the Arab Spring has ushered in a whole new era of terrorism and what we're finding is there are vacuums that have been created in places like Libya, but also in Egypt and as move out of Afghanistan and certainly in Syria, where terrorism is actually growing in these countries.

And my sense is that's what this has been all about is the -- in this presidential race, the White House, not really wanting people to focus on the fact that that's the case.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Senator. Always good to talk to you and appreciate your time tonight.

CORKER: Thank you.


BURNETT: All right. We're going to be talking to senator corker to get his reaction to the fact that the secretary of state now in an interview to CNN says that she takes responsibility for the failures in Benghazi and it is not the fault of the White House.

And now to the big debate tomorrow at which this likely will be a topic. President Obama and Mitt Romney will be duking it out in a town hall style debate. And what that means is they're going to be taking questions directly from people in the audience.

These town halls have created some of the most memorable and race-changing moments like this one in 1992 when an audience member asked how the national debt affected the candidate. President Bush stumbled through his answer. This was Bill Clinton's response.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: How has it affected you again? You know people who have lost their jobs and home?


CLINTON: When people have lost their jobs, there's a good chance I know them by their names. When a factory closes, I know the people who run it. When the businesses go bankrupt, I know them.


BURNETT: It was also that same debate George Bush famously got caught checking the time.

And in the year 2000, George W. Bush had to deal with Al Gore getting -- well, a little too personal.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's not only what's your philosophy and what's position on issues, but can you get things done? And I believe I can.


BURNETT: There's just something about that moment.

OUTFRONT tonight, CNN's Candy Crowley. She's moderating tomorrow night's debate. I spoke to her earlier and asked her how she is preparing.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Everything has been kind of going toward this debate. I mean, I have been preparing just in the sense, you know, Erin, like every day. You have to be up on what's going on. I've watched the old debates to see what works and doesn't work, the old town hall meetings.

So I feel like you have to know 100 percent of stuff going in. And even though you might use 1 percent of it, you need -- you don't know which 1 percent. So, you've got to -- you've got to know that.

BURNETT: And, obviously, as you say, the town hall format -- I mean, it's perhaps the most difficult because you're managing a whole lot of people. Not just the two candidates.

CROWLEY: A lot of moving parts. Yes.

BURNETT: I mean, this format can make or break a candidate. You know, we just talked about some of the moments, you know, when someone looks at their watch, those moments can kill you or can make it for you.

What do Obama and Romney need to do to do well?

CROWLEY: Well, I think you know, as trivial and cliche as this is, they have to show some connection with the folks answering the questions -- I'm sorry -- with the folks asking the questions in their answers. They have to show that they get it. Or that they least have some way they'd like to try and help solve it.

Having said that, they also have to do kind of and that's the difference between me and him. I mean, there has to be contrast there. That has a really hard balance to do.

It was a very famous, I think it was the second debate with Perot and George Bush the dad, and Clinton where somebody stood up in town hall and said, I can't stand it when you fight all the time and the ads are terrible. It kind of sucked all the conflict out because it's hard when people are in your face, to suddenly turn around and be mean to the other candidate standing next to you.

So, it's going to be interesting because we've heard so much about how President Obama has to come out and he's going to be aggressive and he's going to be this, and I'm thinking -- well, if you're looking for Joe Biden, I don't think you're going to see him tomorrow night.

BURNETT: I can only imagine that in the town hall format.

Candy, you know, what's amazing about this cycle, at least to me, has been that moderators have become a part of the story. I mean, very much. I know that's not at all what any of you moderators want to have happened, but it has.

You're no different. There are some questions that have come up about what your role is going to be.

So, help me clear it up. It's a town hall.

CROWLEY: Sure, yes.

BURNETT: Does that mean the questions are only going to come from the audience?

CROWLEY: No, because the questions will come from the audience, there's a six and a half, almost seven-minute period. There's a question. There are answers, time for both those candidates to directly address that town hall question.

But if the question is about apples and the answer is about orange, seems to me as a journalist and certainly as a moderator, and within that purview is, wait a second, that was -- she asked apples and you answered oranges, let's try this again.

BURNETT: Speaking of that, you may be tough and you may be firm, but this is a stressful moment for you as well as for them. I know that to get through it, you have -- your children are all there, your grandchildren. This is a family event.

CROWLEY: Yes. Yes. It is a family event and in fact, I was in downtown -- I was in Manhattan last night, went to a little Thai restaurant. My children are here, three of them and two grandchildren. It's really nice when you've got an almost 2-year-old running around who kind of only knows that he can climb up on your lap and play with the chop sticks.


BURNETT: And that's the kind of person that Candy is. She's really got the right perspective.

Still to come, are liberals losing their grip on Hollywood? Oh my God. Are pigs flying? Rob Reiner has a strong opinion about that.

And Felix Baumgartner, you know the name. Well, if you don't know the name, you know about the leap, the one from outer space that set record after record. You know what? There is another record that was set during his jump that could change your world.


BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: the Republican side of Hollywood. Did you think I just misspoke or something like that? No, there apparently is one.

"The New York Post" today reported that comedian Tim Allen's character on the sitcom last man standing will take swipes at President Obama in an episode airing just before the election. The character is conservative, like Tim Allen himself, and is reportedly going to say, and I thought it's pretty funny. That's why we put in here.

"Democrats love spending other people's money. Free health care for everybody. Whoopee! Now, lazy people can go around licking doorknobs."

Licking doorknobs, yes --

ROB REINER, COMEDIAN: What does that mean?

BURNETT: I know, I know. I've got Rob Reiner here.

Tim Allen is not alone. "Clueless" actor Stacey Dash, Cindy Crawford, Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi are all supporting Mitt Romney this year. Some like have endured quite a backlash for that.

Now, they are in the minority in Hollywood, which overwhelmingly favors the Democratic Party, not just in raw numbers but most certainly in campaign donations.

Director Rob Reiner is among President Obama's biggest supporters. He is the man behind "The Bucket List," "When Harry Met Sally," and fittingly, "The American President" -- and he is OUTFRONT tonight.

Good to see you.


BURNETT: Licking doorknobs?

REINER: I don't know what that means Erin.

BURNETT: I just got mental image.

I wanted to start with Stacey Dash, though. I know you're familiar --

REINER: I don't know her, but I know she came out for Romney.

BURNETT: She came out for Romney and she was ripped for it. In part because she's African-American, I mean, in large part. And what is the stigma in Hollywood for supporting a Republican candidate? I mean, if someone comes into a party and may go on for Romney, do people go, you go in the corner?

REINER: No, I don't think so. I mean, we know -- we live with Republican. There are a lot of Republicans out there. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican. Clint Eastwood, as we know very well is a Republican.

BURNETT: Famously or infamously, right? REINER: And, you know, we're friendly. You know, we're not -- we don't bite Republicans. We're not gnawing on their legs. Now, we live in detente.

BURNETT: We live in detente.

OK. You're out with a new ad for, obviously a big left wing organization, with some of Hollywood's biggest stars and it's about women's issues. I wanted to play it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to talk to you about women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And about Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney's for ending funding to Planned Parenthood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Including cancer screenings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he'd overturn Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have Republicans trying to redefine rape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to force women to undergo invasive ultrasounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you think that this election won't affect you and your life, think again.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote for Barack Obama.

ANNOUNCER: political action is responsible for the contents for this advertisement.


BURNETT: That's a powerful ad that you did. Do you think you can be for women and vote for Mitt Romney?

REINER: I think it's pretty hard. I mean, you know, you can make an argument about the economic issues, although if you look at his economic plan, it doesn't really help most women. But you can obfuscate economic issue. You can lie about it. You can say I didn't really mean a $5 trillion tax cut and I'm not really going to tell you how I'm going to pay for it and all of that.

But when it comes to things like women's reproductive health care, you can't lie. You can either say I'm for a woman's right to choose or I'm not. And Romney is very clearly for women's right to choose.

One of the few things that is very rarely talked about in presidential politics is the Supreme Court and a president has very -- has very little power when it comes to pushing policy. You can do some but you've got to have, you know, a filibuster proof Senate and all of that.

The one place where you do have power is on the Supreme Court. And this president is going to have at least two, maybe three nominees to the Supreme Court, and Mitt Romney has said unequivocally that he will seek to overturning Roe v. Wade. That will directly affect women's ability to choose.

So, I think it's a critical issue and I think that it's important that women know that.

BURNETT: And let me ask you a question. This is something that makes me curious. Especially talking to men, not that men don't have the right to have an opinion on this issue, because they do. But don't you think that everybody is pro-life in a certain sense? You want people to have the right to choose, in your case you believe in that.


BURNETT: But the concept of wanting to have life in every case that you can is something --

REINER: Yes. I'm pro-life, in that way. I believe -- I don't believe in abortion. I don't think it's the right thing to do, but I would not tell, just like Vice President Biden said in the debate against Paul Ryan, I would not force my beliefs on somebody else.

And that's what we're talking about. We're giving everybody to make that choice, that moral choice that is between them, their doctors and their God. So, you know, whatever I believe, I should not force my beliefs on you or anybody else.

BURNETT: All right. So let me ask you a question. You're a rich guy. I'm just going to state it. You're successful.

REINER: I have some money. I make a living.

BURNETT: That's OK. We're not going to shoot you for it.

But here's the thing. There's a lot of people in Hollywood that have a lot of money. Hollywood is overwhelmingly on the left. I mean, I listed some examples. Rob Lowe recently has said he's on the right.

But why is that?

REINER: Well, what's interesting is Hollywood is the one group of people that doesn't vote -- that doesn't want anything for our support. In other words, we give money --

BURNETT: You're so rich --

REINER: No, it doesn't have to do with so rich because we're not anywhere near as rich as the Koch brothers or a lot of other very wealthy corporate type people, but we are interested in -- if you are a creative person, you are a liberal-minded person to begin with, you want to see the world in a broad -- in broad strokes. You have a large sphere of concern for not just yourself, but for everyone, and that large sphere of concern allows you to donate to things that may not directly affect you.

I'm producing and directing an ad about women's issues. It doesn't directly affect me, but it ultimately affects me because it's going to affect my daughter and my friends, you know? So we think in terms -- in very, very large terms. We don't ask for anything in return for our money when we support a candidate.

BURNETT: So let me ask you this. The last debate, the president did not do well by almost all accounts. Performance --

REINER: Without question.

BURNETT: You're a director. I listed a few of your films. You got exponentially more than listed.

So, let's just say you were producing tomorrow night. What would you say the president needs to do to not be distant, uninterested, arrogant -- whatever it is he came across last time?

REINER: Well, first of all, you got to look at the format. It's a town hall format, so you can't be in your face aggressive the way Joe Biden was in the last debate. You have to -- but by the same token, you have to be aggressive enough to not let your opponent get away with something.

If he says something that is blatantly false or blatantly goes against what he has stated and what has been on his Web site and as part of his policy positions, you cannot let him get away with it. If he tries to obfuscate or lie or ameliorate a position, you got to put his feet to the fire and say, I'm sorry, sir, you said this and be very firm, but you have to strike a good balance between being presidential and also being firm.

BURNETT: Well, thanks, Rob Reiner. Good to see you.

REINER: Well, thanks for having me, Erin.

BURNETT: Congratulations for getting the world ameliorate on the show. It doesn't appear often enough.

REINER: I hope I used it properly.

BURNETT: I believe you did.

All right. Thanks to Rob. And OUTFRONT next, a record plunge.


BURNETT: It was a record-breaking weekend. On Sunday, Austrian Felix Baumgartner became the first skydiver to break the speed of sound as he jumped from an altitude of 24 miles up. It's just crazy.

Anyway, he fell an estimated 833.9 miles an hour during a 10- minute descent and then he landed on his feet. He now holds three world records, highest jump from a platform, longest distance freefall and maximum vertical velocity.

But there's another record that is much more important to all of us terrestrial afraid of heights people who think he's certifiably insane, which brings me to tonight's number: 8 million.

That's the number of people who watched Baumgartner's jump live on YouTube on the Internet. That is an incredible number. To give you a comparison, "The Amazing Race" on CBS, which is a popular reality show where people run around the world, attracted 8.9 million television viewers the Sunday before. I mean, that's amazing. TV size.

For years, YouTube has been the place to go for video on the web but they have never been able to make an impact on live events until now and if YouTube could find a way to turn 800 million monthly users into a regular viewing audience, wow. They'll sure be attractive to advertisers that currently choose to run ads on TV. No surprise YouTube announced today they are launching 60 new channels online. Pretty amazing.

"Anderson Cooper 360" starts now.