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Courting the Women's Vote; Family Defends Alleged Bomber; Do Celebrity Endorsements Matter?; Google's Stock Falls 8 Percent; Fidel Castro Releases Message; Shiny Particles Found in Martian Soil; Rescued at Sea Thanks to Passing Plane

Aired October 18, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: The presidential candidates' wives make a pitch to a vital bloc of undecided voters, women.

We're getting new details right now about the man accused of plotting to bomb the New York building that holds more gold than Fort Knox.

And a reason to take the window seat. We have the amazing story this hour of how an airline passenger or a few passengers spotted and helped save a man who had been stranded at sea for nine days.

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

President Obama and Mitt Romney, they get together once again tonight, but very differently. They won't be debating. They will be going for laughs, telling jokes at the Catholic Archdiocese of New York's Al Smith Dinner.

It's their wives turns to get serious. On this day hoping to reach out to undecided women voters, Michelle Obama taped an appearance for Friday's edition for "Live With Kelly & Michael" and Ann Romney visited the ladies of "The View" this morning.

CNN's national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us from New York right now with more -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, while Mitt Romney was behind closed doors preparing for his third and final face-off with President Obama, arguably his best political weapon was taking to the airwaves trying to get her husband's campaign out of a bind with women.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Supporters have long called Mitt Romney Mr. Fix- It. But on this day it was Ann Romney on the daytime talk show "The View" playing the role of Mrs. Fix-It.

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: I would say 95 percent of what I hear from women is help. Please help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Economic help, you're talking about.

A. ROMNEY: Absolutely. ACOSTA: Repairing some of the damage from her husband's awkward response on a question for pay equity for women at this week's debate.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks?" and they brought us whole binders full of women.

ACOSTA: The Obama campaign instantly saw an opening to press Romney on women's issues, namely abortion rights. When Mrs. Romney was asked about her husband's evolving position on the issue:

A. ROMNEY: Mitt has always been a pro-life person. He governed when he ran as pro-choice.

ACOSTA: She argued there is more at stake in the election.

A. ROMNEY: It's about economic issues and making a better future for your children and making sure that we have this. That's the beauty of what we have in this country is being able to have those choices.

ACOSTA: But according to a new "USA Today"/Gallup poll, women in battleground states cited abortion as their most important issue followed by jobs. Contrast that with men, who picked jobs first, the economy second. The Romney campaign released an ad earlier this week that accused the president of mischaracterizing the GOP contender's stance on the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turns out Romney doesn't oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest or to save a mother's life.

ACOSTA: The Obama campaign fired back with its own spot.

NARRATOR: Seen this from Mitt Romney?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If Roe v. Wade was overturned, and Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions that came to your desk, would you sign it, yes or no?

M. ROMNEY: Let me say it. I would be delighted to sign that bill.

ACOSTA: But the ad leaves out some context.

M. ROMNEY: But that's not where we are. That's not where America is today.

ACOSTA: Democrats warn the fate of Roe vs. Wade could well be determined by the next president as four Supreme Court justices including Ruth Bader Ginsburg are in their 70s.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I'm mindful that next year I will turn 80, God willing. I'm not all that old, I told my youngest colleague.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After these debates do you have any doubt who they will likely appoint to the Supreme Court of the United States? How much chance do you think Roe v. Wade will survive after four years of a Romney Supreme Court?


ACOSTA: But tonight it is the husbands' turn. Later on this evening both Mitt Romney and President Obama are scheduled to appear at the Al Smith Dinner. That's a benefit hosted by the Archdiocese of New York. It's typically a lighthearted affair where the politicians set aside their verbal jabs and try their punch lines instead. We will have to see how both do later on this evening.

BLITZER: I remember. I saw the tape earlier today. I remember from four years ago when then the candidates John McCain and Barack Obama they were at that Al Smith dinner. They were both hilarious. Any inside word on how Mitt Romney is preparing for some of the laughs tonight?

ACOSTA: Funny you should ask, Wolf.

As you recall yesterday, Dennis Miller, you will recall he was the funny man on weekend update on "Saturday Night Live." He was campaigning with Mitt Romney across Virginia yesterday. So I asked the Romney campaign, is Dennis Miller helping Mitt Romney work on some of his jokes later on this evening? I was told no, that a rough draft was already in the works yesterday and that Dennis Miller was not contributing, although he did fire off some one-liners at the Obama campaign, as expected yesterday, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will have live coverage of both of these men, both of these candidates, during the 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour later tonight on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." Both presidential candidates, they will be telling some jokes. Thanks so much, Jim Acosta, for that.

President Obama may be trading some jokes with Mitt Romney later tonight, but he was pounding away at him earlier this afternoon in New Hampshire and getting some high-profile help from former President Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen in another battleground state, and we're talking about Ohio.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now, and that's where the president's been campaigning today.

What's going on, Jessica?


The last polling here showed it all tied up in the state of New Hampshire. So the Obama campaign made a swing here because they say they're taking nothing for granted.


YELLIN (voice-over): An energized President Obama was tossing off quips all day Thursday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have heard of the New Deal. You have heard of the square deal and the fair deal. Mitt Romney's trying to sell you a sketchy deal. He took another swing at it and he whiffed.

YELLIN: Trying to build momentum, the campaign is hitting the battleground states, including tiny New Hampshire.

(on camera): There are just four electoral votes to be won here in New Hampshire. Why is it frankly worth the president's time to be here?

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, this is a battleground state. I was governor here in 2000 when if Al Gore had had the four electoral votes in New Hampshire, he would have been president.

YELLIN (voice-over): So the Obama camp is fanning out. The president's number two stumping for six electoral votes in Nevada.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the president said the day after the debate, Romney's plans were awful sketchy. Sketchy. Well, folks, I don't think they were just sketchy. I think they were Etch A Sketchy.

YELLIN: And two marquee names wooing 18 electoral votes in Ohio. The explainer in chief was the warm-up act for the boss.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was born in the USA, and unlike one of the candidates for president, I keep all my money here.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, MUSICIAN: I'm thankful GM is still making cars.


SPRINGSTEEN: What else would I write about? I would have no job without that.

YELLIN: The focus on women voters remains intense.

OBAMA: We don't have to order up some binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women who can learn and excel in these fields right now.

YELLIN: The Obama campaign released a new ad hitting Governor Mitt Romney on abortion.

COOPER: If Roe v. Wade was overturned, and Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions that came to your desk, would you sign it, yes or no?

M. ROMNEY: Let me say it. I would be delighted to sign that bill.

NARRATOR: Banning all abortions.

YELLIN: But the ad doesn't say it all. Here's the governor's full answer. M. ROMNEY: I would be delighted to sign that bill. But that's not where we are. That's not where America is today. Where America is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in the country, terrific.


YELLIN: Now, Wolf, as you saw earlier, that ad itself was a response to one that Governor Romney put out defending his own decisions on contraception and reproduction.

The bottom line is the candidates in these final weeks are gunning hard to get women voters on their team. They seem to believe and polling is showing women voters could decide this thing, Wolf.

BLITZER: So he's going to tell jokes later tonight at this Al Smith Dinner, Jessica. And he's also taping an episode with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show," that's what he's doing in New York right now?

YELLIN: That's right.

The president has taped -- is in New York. He's taped with Jon Stewart. I think this is his sixth appearance on the Stewart show, the second since he's been in office. They seem to have a pretty good rapport, but sometimes he gets a little serious. Jon Stewart can ask him some pointed questions about politics and policy. And then he's going to make more jokes at that dinner, the Al Smith Dinner later tonight, so a day full of quips for President Obama.

BLITZER: We will see how funny he is, how biting, and we will see how funny and biting Mitt Romney is. We will have live coverage once again 9:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight. Both of these speeches at the Al Smith Dinner on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."

President Obama was in Ohio just yesterday. He will be back on Tuesday, the day after his third and final debate with Mitt Romney.

Our chief national correspondent, John King, is in Ohio, happens to be in Cincinnati right now.

John, you visited one of the most important swing counties in one of the most important swing states if not the most important swing state. We're talking about Ohio. What are you seeing, what are you hearing?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) President Obama carried it with 53 percent, and he went onto win the state and, of course, he won the White House.

If you go back to 2004, Hamilton County is red, same as in 2000. George W. Bush carried this county and carried this state and went on to the White House. Early voting is critical. For the president to win Hamilton County, again, he needs another huge turnout among African-Americans. So they're distributing these brochures.

Ohio votes early. This is a road map of the process, the identification, everything you need to vote early. It was a big part of the Obama campaign (AUDIO GAP) but Republican intensity is also up this time in 2012.

I asked Amy Searcy -- she's director of the Hamilton Board of Elections -- if either side had an edge so far in the early voting.


AMY SEARCY, HAMILTON BOARD OF ELECTIONS: The numbers at this point though there are more Republican ballots rather than Democrat, but clearly the overwhelming number is the nonpartisans, the independents.

KING: And four years ago, were there were more Democrats or Republicans requesting them?

SEARCY: Four years ago, it was probably about equal.

KING: Probably equal.

Does it tell you anything? Does the early voting tell you anything about what the results will be on Election Day?

SEARCY: Doesn't tell me anything because that's not my concern as to who wins. At this point as an elections official I'm just concerned about this process being smooth, access to the ballot box for all voters and being sure that when these ballots are returned they're handled properly, they're stored in a double-locked secured room, and then, of course, tabulation on election night and getting results out as quickly as possible.


KING: When you show up at the location, the Board of Elections, Wolf, anecdotally, the lines are not as long as they were back in 2008, but you ask those in line who they're going to vote for, it's overwhelmingly for President Obama.

But you heard Amy Searcy there saying Republicans are at least equal in terms of requesting those ballots. The key question is how good are the campaigns at making sure people fill them out and then turn them in?

BLITZER: John King doing some on the ground reporting in Ohio for us. John, we will stay in close touch with you. Thank you.

We're learning new and disturbing details right now about the man accused in a new plot to blow up the New York building that holds more gold than Fort Knox.


BLITZER: Jobless numbers taking a roller coaster ride. Lisa Sylvester's here. She's monitoring this and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What a ride it has been, Lisa.


The Labor Department cited a huge spike in people requesting unemployment benefits for the first time last week just after hitting a four-year low of 342,000 jobless claims the week before; 388,000 people filed for the benefits. And it's a tough to say what a sudden jump like this means, but the four-week average suggests layoffs remain low though it doesn't mean hiring has necessarily picked up.

And it is the end of an era for the news magazine "Newsweek." Its editor-in-chief announced the magazine will shift to online publication only next year, doing away with its print version after 80 years. She says the growing use of tablet computers combined with the 70 percent drop in print advertising forced the decision. The final print edition will be the December 31st issue.

And you can now save $500 more a year for retirement tax deferred. Starting next year, the Internal Revenue Service is raising the contribution limit from 401(k)s from $17,000 to $17,500. It's the second year in a row the IRS raised the limit as a result of rising inflation.

Puppies aren't only cuddly, they're also a great source of heat. Officials believe a 10-year-old boy in Alabama used his puppies to keep warm overnight after he went missing for 15 hours. He has Down syndrome and vanished when he followed his dogs into the woods. Searchers found him without shoes on about a mile away from his home.

And the good news is that he is okay. You can see him there he was a little cold, but what a great story. We're so happy the way things turned out. And yes, the puppies kept him warm overnight.

BLITZER: Good for the puppies. Thanks, Lisa. Thanks very much.

We're hearing an amazing rescue story of a man stranded at sea for nine days. The man is safe thanks to some sharp-eyed airline passengers.


BLITZER: Relatives of the man accused of plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City say he was set up. Authorities say the man's goal was simply and I'm quoting these authorities now -- "to destroy America." His arrest came after an FBI sting operation.

CNN's national correspondent Susan Candiotti is joining us from New York with more.

Susan, you shared most of the details yesterday, but you're learning more.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're getting two entirely different views of who this man is. Not surprisingly, prosecutors say that he was a man bent on doing the most damage he could to America, while his family says that authorities have it all wrong.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Who's the real Quazi Nafis? He's accused of coming to America to launch a terror attack and then inspire brothers in al Qaeda to do the same.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: Well, from the complaints, it's alleged that his attempt was to launch a devastating attack here in New York City, to destroy a building, to kill men, women and children.

CANDIOTTI: His family in Bangladesh paints a completely different picture.

"It's simply not possible," his sister says, "that he did this. We think it's impossible that it was him and that he's being made a victim here. Maybe he's being set up by somebody."

Using a valid student visa, the 21-year-old was majoring in cyber security for one semester at a college in Missouri where one fellow student remembers giving him rides to class and getting a Koran in return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not an evil person, and I -- but this is such an evil thing, I can't -- I'm just stumped.

CANDIOTTI: Investigators say Nafis abruptly moves to New York over the summer, a source says, to attend a business school. Prosecutors say Nafis has other business in mind, using Facebook and social media, he unknowingly hooked up with undercover FBI agents in July who he thought would help him launch an attack on the Federal Reserve, a landmark and the world's largest holder of gold bouillon.


CANDIOTTI: And of course, Wolf, as we told you all this culminated in what went down yesterday in this alleged plot when we are told that the suspect in this case drove a van with an undercover agent unwittingly with him in that van, all the way down to the Federal Reserve. But first before he tried to detonate this fake bomb, he made a video that had a message saying that he would never give up, that the idea here is victory or martyrdom.

And so, after that, he tried to detonate this fake bomb with a cell phone, but when it just didn't work, that's when the FBI moved in and arrested him.

And, you know, Wolf, we're also learning more today from the State Department about the student visa that this man had. He was here legally in the United States. And in fact he did all the right things, all the right information was given from the one college in Missouri to another school here in New York, a business school. And he had just started classes here a couple weeks ago here in New York at a business school when this alleged plot finally unraveled -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The authorities say he was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda leader, the American-born al Qaeda leader who was killed by U.S. -- by the United States in that drone strike. CANDIOTTI: That's right.

BLITZER: Is that consistent with what you're hearing?

CANDIOTTI: It is. Not only was he a devotee of Anwar but also of Osama bin Laden which, of course, most terror experts say both of these men live on and are continuing to urge people to follow their beliefs. In fact, they have a lot of followers who are still evidently doing this.

Wolf, this is at least the 15th attempted attack on New York City since 9/11.

BLITZER: And the point that they make in this videotape that he left -- that he thought he would be leaving behind he wanted to go back to Bangladesh, he said one more time to say good-bye in effect to his family. But on this videotape, he said he wanted to destroy America's economic power, just like those 19 hijackers who went into the World Trade Center. He wanted to destroy the Federal Reserve Bank in America because he thought that would break America's economic power, all consistent with al Qaeda missions.

CANDIOTTI: Exactly. Again, they continued to see many of these alleged terrorists attack the financial center of the United States. And that, of course, centered right here in New York City, those are just targets they like to go after time and again. Certainly this is more evidence of that.

BLITZER: Susan Candiotti, all over this story -- thank you.

It's a safe bet that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York isn't anywhere near the top of many tourists must-see lists for a visit to New York City. So why would this potential terrorist be interested? As we've been reporting just like the World Trade Center, it's a symbol of the United States' economic power.

Consider this -- the New York fed holds about 15 million pounds of gold. That's more than exists at Ft. Knox. It's also the world's largest accumulation of gold. And most of it belongs to some 36 governments and central banks and international organizations. It isn't easy to get to the gold bars. They're stored in a vault 80 feet below street level. Entry is through a ten-foot passageway cut in a steel cylinder that revolves in a steel and concrete frame.

There are countless issues on which to base your vote, but do celebrity endorsements make any difference at all? Standby.


BLITZER: Never mind the big issues, the big names are staking a stand in the presidential election. Here is a quick snapshot.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: There seems to be this contest between Democrats and Republicans to get the best celebrity support. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dennis Miller committing to the Romney cause in a big way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you have friends who talk about their vote for Obama now in much the same tone they used when they told you they took an Ambien and woke up naked outside?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The Obama campaign is counting on big names like Springsteen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's vote for the man who got Osama. Tuesday Romney was schooled by Obama.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go straight to our Kate Bolduan. She's got an excellent unsolicited advice panel -- Kate.



BOLDUAN: Thank you, Wolf. What better a panel to talk about celebrity endorsements than these beautiful celebrity politicos. Hello, everyone.

It's all that matters sometimes, exactly. Celebrity endorsements, they come around every election cycle, some election cycles more than others.

But I think we can all agree a celebrity endorsement does not make or break a campaign. But, Ana, how important are they? What good can they do? They've got to offer some good or campaigns wouldn't look for them.


BOLDUAN: Exactly.

NAVARRO: They can do a lot of financial good. They also provide entertainment. Listen, listening to these speeches day after day, the same stump speech, you got Bruce Springsteen, some celebrity out there, it becomes very entertaining.

I'm going to make a confession here, I went to the Democrat Convention for the first time this year, and I got to admit I got celebrity envy.

ROSS DOUTHAT, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": What about Clint Eastwood? I mean, come on. I was about to say something positive about the Springsteen endorsement because I think Springsteen is kind of a unique figure in that he does -- he crosses the political and artistic in certain ways. It's sort of like Ralph Nader stumping for Obama. Sort of the inspire -- but that clip, it was a little painful.

BOLDUAN: So Springsteen was out today along with President Clinton which had some people suggesting to me if you're bringing out Clinton and Springsteen together in Ohio, does that mean the president's nervous about Ohio? They had to really bring out the big guns today.

GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Of course, he's nervous about Ohio because you win Ohio, you win the election. Here's what I think about celebrities. They do something special that is to energize your base. You get people to show up that maybe necessarily wouldn't have showed up and you get them to volunteer to get on the phones to put up signs.

And the second thing it does is it gets people there who aren't really interested in politics. And while they're there you get them to register to vote. You remind them when they can vote and how to vote.

So it builds some excitement, but I don't think a persuadable voter decides who they're going to vote for because the person they watch on television or the music they listen to happens to want to vote for somebody else.

NAVARRO: I got to tell you for a chance at dinner with George Clooney --

SCHWEITZER: I'll call George. Do you hear that, Donna? All we have to do is call George.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Notice, I'm solemn, because I think we would fight over George Clooney. First of all, I think the more the better. In addition to all the great things that my colleagues just said, they boost the morale of the staff.

I mean, come on, on the campaign trail for two years, eating pizza, staying in hotels, away from your family. And all of a sudden Jon Bon Jovi shows up and you're like, I still have a pulse.

They bring added value to the campaign especially to the staff. And those closing days of the campaign just seeing Denzel Washington right now, I would go out and work overtime.

DOUTHAT: It's a fine line, don't you think?

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask. Does the calibre of the celebrity matter?

DOUTHAT: The calibre matters, but I think it's good mostly, again, except for that clip when Bruce Springsteen is doing a concert about Obama. I think the more the celebrities actually talking about policy though, the more voter are like wait, why is this clueless Hollywood actor?

But the exception though in the campaign is the Lindsay Lohan endorsement of Mitt Romney. Because I think, look, we're in the stage of a campaign where you need low information voters to go your way.

BOLDUAN: That's what celebrities also help with.

DOUTHAT: The fact -- I think Lindsay Lohan is the classic low information voter and the fact that Romney got her endorsement is a good sign for him. I'm only half kidding.

NAVARRO: There is somewhat of a liability here. And it's that right now we are in a recession. We know that celebrities are at a much higher pay rate than most Americans.

And so while, you know, unemployment numbers and bad economic numbers are coming out, we're seeing these fancy glamorous beautiful events, whether it's concerts on fundraising events at Beyonce's house --

BOLDUAN: I mean, Jay-z, Beyonce fundraiser brought in some $4 million.

SCHWEITZER: That's another issue. But these rallies, it's about the base, it's about registering people to vote.

NAVARRO: Let me ask you why fund raising matters. We have seen celebrities be very active this season in fundraising for their candidate.

SCHWEITZER: But that's a different venue. That isn't these rallies that we're doing now. That's a different venue where you bring other rich people to write $20,000 checks.

BRAZILE: But if you spend $15,000 on a Springsteen CD and get an opportunity to go listen to him for free, that's added value as well.

BOLDUAN: Talk about the flip side, we are kind of alluding to it, when can an endorsement backfire? For example, Romney does have -- maybe not as many A-Listers, but he does have some A-Listers. The Ted Nugent for example, his comments were not good.

DOUTHAT: Right. Republicans are more likely to get b, c and d list celebrities and then it's like you're trouting out Ted Nugent because you can't get Bruce Springsteen.

The danger for Democrats is the opposite, you get too many celebrities and it's like those Hollywood liberals telling us how to vote. So Democrats have to be careful --

NAVARRO: I don't think there's a danger for Democrats. And I'll tell you why. They can say whatever they want. Democrat celebrities can say whatever they want as we see through Bill Mahr who gave $1 million to the pro-Obama PAC and they don't get the scrutiny for it. They don't pay the price.

SCHWEITZER: Easy cowgirl. We watched Ann Coulter say crazy stuff every week.

NAVARRO: She's not a celebrity.

SCHWEITZER: She is -- what do you call it?

NAVARRO: Bruce Springsteen, Ann Coulter? Ann Coulter is political --

DOUTHAT: We don't know.

BOLDUAN: Donna, let me ask you this --

BRAZILE: Her time and her talent, she's given him more than a million dollars.

DOUTHAT: She's given more.

BOLDUAN: Managing Al Gore's campaign, do you seek out celebrity endorsements?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. We had volunteers, some of them in Hollywood, in New York, in Chicago, seeking out celebrity endorsement and support especially the last couple weeks you want fly around and people to energize the base and get out and vote early. Celebrities as far as I'm concerned the more the merrier.

NAVARRO: The last election they did -- some celebrities did some terrific videos I think that were helpful so get out the vote for the youth in particular.

DOUTHAT: That was a big part --

SCHWEITZER: Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, there will be some that the candidate would say, not so much.

BOLDUAN: You don't think President Obama was excited when he got the Honey Boo Boo endorsement?

SCHWEITZER: Yes, he was because that brought another demographic to the team.

BOLDUAN: That's true. When you look at the ratings, they're doing pretty well.

DOUTHAT: They got just about every demographic right now.

NAVARRO: Anderson Cooper watches Honey Boo Boo he said.

BOLDUAN: That man, I don't know how he has time to absorb all the information he does. My political celebrities -- standby, up next this group will offer unsolicited advice to unsuspecting targets. I can't wait for that. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Let's get right back to our unsolicited advice panel. And to offer our unsolicited advice, you may not have asked, but we shall provide nonetheless. Governor, we'll start with you.

SCHWEITZER: Well, I'm walking into some very dangerous territory given the panel that we have here today. I'm going to give unsolicited advice to women.

BOLDUAN: You better be careful. You're sitting next to a strong one.

SCHWEITZER: In 1916, the first woman was elected to congress. A woman by the name of Janet Rankin from Montana.

BOLDUAN: That's correct.

SCHWEITZER: She went to Congress and the first thing she did was vote against a crazy World War I. Now we have a couple presidential candidates and people all over America saying I want to represent women. Women, run for office, be our leaders. You don't need the middleman. You need to run for office.

BRAZILE: With the majority of voters in this country and majority of citizens and I absolutely agree. We should run for office. We have more women, a record number of women running for the House and Senate. We need more women in public office.

BOLDUAN: Still not enough, I think everyone would agree.

SCHWEITZER: Women are better negotiators.

NAVARRO: A Republican woman president.

DOUTHAT: I mean, one of the big shifts over the last five or ten years has been that there are more female candidates in general, but there are also more female Republican candidates.

In fact, there were a couple primaries in 2010 where if the female candidate had won, particularly in Colorado, I think there would be more female senators right now. So it's advice for both parties I think.

SCHWEITZER: At the end of a campaign you'll find much more undecided voters among women. Because women will say I'm still making up my mind. I'm still learning more.

BOLDUAN: It's called --

SCHWEITZER: Men, we say I don't know a thing about it, but I already made up my mind.

NAVARRO: It's called reserving our right to change our mind.

SCHWEITZER: That's it.

NAVARRO: And it comes with our birthright.

BOLDUAN: One thing that comes up because both candidates are going so hard to try to win over the female vote, are they breaking any new ground or are we re-treading issues candidates bring up trying to win women voters?

DOUTHAT: I think playing the card harder in this election than any other time in my lifetime.

BOLDUAN: You do?

DOUTHAT: Yes. I think this is the Democrat's Pat Buchanan moment where in 1992 Republicans talking culture war when the Democrats wanted to talk about the economy. Now that is reversed.

BRAZILE: Health care for women, no longer pre-existing condition, that is also talking about the economy. So when you talk about equal pay, that's talking about the economy. These are very important issues. I wouldn't segregate them as being women issues. They are family issues as well.

NAVARRO: As a result of a very long and difficult Republican primary. The truth is it was a difficult process and we gave them a lot of fodder.

BOLDUAN: All right, Ana, how about your advice?

NAVARRO: My unsolicited advice is to the supporters of President Obama and Mitt Romney. Folks, let's lay off the moderators. President Obama did not lose the first debate because of Jim Lehrer.

And I don't think Mitt Romney delivered a lacklustre performance because of Candy Crowley. The truth is both these guys had an off night, President Obama the first night and Mitt Romney the second time.

I think we need to make sure they have a strong debate in the third one instead of blaming the moderators.

BOLDUAN: I will interject only once here to say we are very proud of how Candy Crowley did.

BRAZILE: I'm proud of Martha Raddatz as well.

DOUTHAT: Once again, women, running for office, moderating debates, what can't they do?

BOLDUAN: Me, I can't cook.

NAVARRO: I can and I don't mind doing it.

SCHWEITZER: If you drop the ball, then you blame the referee.


SCHWEITZER: That's what's happened here. Both sides said, it was the moderator, it wasn't the moderator. You have an opportunity to represent yourself. You've got 90 minutes, do your best.

NAVARRO: I would also say look to the campaigns and supporters, Candy Crowley was the first woman in 20 years to moderate a presidential campaign. We are chasing and courting the women vote, be careful with our words.

DOUTHAT: I'll be quick because I know we're running short, but betters on "Intrait," which is this prediction site that pundits especially like to follow.

Right now, "Intrait" has President Obama at about 63 percent chance to win. I still think Obama's the favorite, but I think he is massively overpriced at 63 percent.

He hasn't led in a national poll in four or five days. I'm not sure if you can bet on in trade on this side of the continental United States, but if you're watching in Brussels or Tokyo, this is an opportunity --

BOLDUAN: We have a lot of viewers around the world.

SCHWEITZER: The Europeans don't understand what winning and losing is. What happens if Mitt Romney wins the popular vote, but doesn't win the Electoral College?

DOUTHAT: There's a in trade bet for that as well.

NAVARRO: I would rather the other way around.

BRAZILE: That reminds me of 2000 campaign. No matter what I say I can't win.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Donna.

BRAZILE: My advice is to residents, citizens living in all of these states voting early including in North Carolina, if you have an opportunity to cast your ballot before Halloween, please go out and vote. It's time to vote.

And in North Carolina and so many states across this country, in Ohio voters will be able to vote the last weekend thanks to a federal judge said open that up. So I'm one of those proponents that believe that if you can get a chance to go and vote, go vote, go vote, go vote.

NAVARRO: Early voting begins in Florida October 27th and absentees are already in the mail.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

SCHWEITZER: We're voting in Montana, by the way, you can trick or treat at the governor's mansion in Montana on Halloween evening. So show up.

BOLDUAN: So as we're waiting though someone I wanted to hear your one piece of advice for President Obama and Mitt Romney going into Monday, the final debate. What can they do? One piece of advice, what can they do to win?

SCHWEITZER: Well, it's an international debate --

BOLDUAN: Foreign policy.

SCHWEITZER: Talking about foreign policy. I would say, Osama Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden, something at the bottom of the ocean, Bush tried for seven years, I got him. I think that would say a lot.

DOUTHAT: I think you just let us hear your internal monologue.

BOLDUAN: Does it potentially offer risks for Romney?

NAVARRO: They have to come very well prepared both of them. I think we saw that in the second debate. They also have to keep their answers succinct, short and to the point. We saw a little meandering from both of them in this last debate.

BOLDUAN: And the fighting over the rules and who has the word and the up and down.

NAVARRO: You haven't given us your unsolicited advice.

BRAZILE: President Obama has been tough and decisive and shown real leadership on foreign policy. Go in there with your a-game and let Mitt Romney --

NAVARRO: Have you noticed our moderator hasn't given us her unsolicited advice.

BOLDUAN: I shall be keeping my unsolicited advice to myself this time. I'm going to keep my secrets this time and let you all spill them. Wolf, from celebrities to foreign policy, we've got everything here for you.

BLITZER: Doesn't get anything better than that for those of us that are political nerds. We love this kind of stuff. Guys, thanks very, very much.

Following a wave of rumors going on for several days that Fidel Castro had died, there's now a new sign that Cuba's former communist leader may be very much alive.


BLITZER: A really bad day for Google. Lisa Sylvester's back. She's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What happened, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This doesn't happen very often to say the least. Well, the tech giant accidentally announced its third quarter earnings about four hours early and missed analyst estimates on both sales and profit.

Google shares quickly fell 9 percent before trading was actually halted. When it resumed, Google pared losses to about 8 percent. All three major indexes finished down on Google's weaker than expected report.

And Fidel Castro appears to be very much alive after releasing a message through the Cuban state media. There's been speculation recently about the health of Cuba's ex-leader. He hasn't been seen publicly since the meeting with Pope Benedict in March though his oldest son says he's doing well. Castro is said to have mentioned the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis in that message.

And the Mars "Curiosity" rover has discovered something. Well, curious in the Martian soil. NASA says the rover found shiny particles while digging in the soil. First scientists thought it was debris from the rover itself, but now they believe the material is Martian after finding even more of it on a second dig. NASA will now study a third sample.

And the highest paid player in Major League baseball is finding himself in an unfamiliar spot, riding the bench. New York Yankee short stop Alex Rodriguez did not start game four of the American League championship series this afternoon, the third time in the last five games.

But big question, why? Well, one reason has to be that he only has three hits in his last 23 at-bats as the Yankees look to avoid elimination against the Detroit Tigers. I know you were sad when the Nationals were eliminated.

BLITZER: Let's not talk about that.

SYLVESTER: I know. Sore subject.

BLITZER: We're moving on.

Airline pilots love to tell passengers what they can see outside their windows. In the case of a rescue at sea, a captain had to ask passengers to look for something. Lucky for one sailor they found it.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." In Washington, the Marine One helicopter lifts off from the south lawn of the White House. In India, a street vendor wanders there a market with brightly colored flower garlands.

In Afghanistan, a young girl selling water looks for customers. And in Germany, a meerkat is having an afternoon of pumpkin at the zoo. "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.

Rescues at sea don't come more incredible than this. A man was plucked from the ocean after his crippled boat was spotted by a passing airliner. CNN's Michael Holmes has the story.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After nine days stranded at sea, this is the moment Glenn Ey made it to safety rescued in the middle of the night. The 44-year-old had sailed from Sidney, but soon was hit by a freak storm, a huge wave rolling his boat and breaking the mast.

GLENN EY, RESCUED YACHTSMAN: Show you when a wave picks you up and dumps you like that. It's very frightening.

HOLMES: Australian authorities began searching for Glenn's missing yacht on Tuesday after he activated his emergency beacon. They even asked for help from an Air Canada flight on its way to Sydney. The captain of the plane called on his passengers to help.

ANDREW ROBERTSON, AIR CANADA CAPTAIN: As we approached the area, I made a p.a. announcement to the passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd really appreciate it if everyone could look out their window.

ROBERTSON: Please help us look for -- if you see anything.

JILL BARBER, AIR CANADA PASSENGER: Heart started beating a little bit faster. Anything out of the ordinary on an international flight like that is a bit concerning.

HOLMES: Incredibly they spotted the yacht.

ROBERTSON: Almost immediately as we closed in on the area the first officer said, well I see what I think is the boat. So we proceed right over. It was almost exactly where they had told us it would be.

HOLMES: The Air Canada crew called in the yacht's position and soon after Glenn heard a rescue plane.

EY: It was absolutely wonderful. It's beautiful.

HOLMES: Glenn's worried parents were waiting for him when he stepped back on land early Thursday morning. Soon after Glenn talked about his ordeal on Australian television, he says he had no idea the passenger plane was key to his rescue.

EY: It's fabulous. I wasn't aware of any of this until this morning. I've actually spoken to some Canadian people about it.

ROBERTSON: We were happy when we found the boat the first time and we were really happy when we found this guy is alive.

HOLMES: Now that he's safe, Glenn is in no rush to go back to sea.

EY: I'd be happy to sit at home for a while to be honest.

HOLMES: Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.