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THE SITUATION ROOM
Hurricane Targets East Coast; Romney's New Economic Promise
Aired October 26, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: An epic storm threat hangs over the Northeast and the election. Forecasters say they don't have the words to describe how bad it could be.
Mitt Romney's new economic promise, is it enough to close the deal with voters?
And President Obama maps out his 11th-hour campaign strategy. I will ask Vice President Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, about weak spots.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The warnings are getting more urgent here in the Northeastern United States, warnings that a storm of so-called historic proportions may be coming. Hurricane Sandy could morph into what is being described as a superstorm and slam major cities along the coast as soon as Monday. More than 66 million people live in the national hurricane's track zone for Sandy.
One forecaster says he's at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm potentially could do.
BLITZER: This is coming at a bad political time as well, just days before the election.
Kate, a lot of people along the East Coast could get handled.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, there's -- the zone I guess that is threatened is so huge right now.
We're hearing a lot of dire predictions about this storm, as Wolf has been talking about. And it collides somewhat with the presidential elections.
Brian Todd is here. He has been following this.
Federal weather officials have given you some special access to their kind of climate prediction center, Brian. What did you find out when you went there?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did. This place is fascinating, and this is in College Park, Maryland. It's brand-new, state of the art, with the nation's top meteorologists and other experts tracking storms 24/7. And their computer and satellite models are, as we said, state of the art. One of them which they're just now rolling out, you can see it right there, it's called a super rapid scan image. This is a picture coming in from a satellite, putting together images taken once a minute to give you the moving picture of the storm just about in real time.
But that's compared to standard satellite pictures now taken about once every seven minutes. But in this real-time transmission, as you see, the eye of the storm there and the clouds swirling off the coast of Florida, we saw it in real time as it was coming in. It's that kind of satellite view that allowed their experts to track the storm and tell us what makes this so unusual.
I spoke with Tom Renkevens, a satellite meteorologist for NOAA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RENKEVENS, NOAA: On this satellite image, as you heard him saying, coming up towards the East Coast, and then through the Midwest, we have this cold front that's approaching.
We also have a blocking system that you can see off on satellite imagery off this map, and we have energy digging in from the Pacific Northwest. So all these factors coming in together, you really see the models are pulling it together where the hurricane is going to come toward the Mid-Atlantic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: You see me pointing toward that screen in disbelief. That's because I could not believe it, the storm not only combing with a second weather system currently over land in the Midwest, but as he pointed out up in that upper left-hand corner, even a system that is in the Pacific Northwest right now he says is going to join in, Wolf and Kate, perfect storm. You're talking about maybe three systems coming together.
This hurricane, two systems now over land, unbelievable.
BOLDUAN: Obviously, there's a lot of uncertainty, a lot more we will know more in the next 24 to 48 hours, though. But what is the potential impact on voting, especially early voting?
TODD: Early voting is key, and there are states in this region that are doing early voting.
We do have a map that kind of lays this out. This is from the Web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures. It lays all this out. You see that Web site in green, gray, and blue.
The states in green there, North Carolina and Maryland, those are the states that have early voting in person. That means that those states could be affected by this. Maryland's governor says his state's early voting starts tomorrow and the storm could impact that. He says they're looking for alternative voting sites. Now, if you look at the gray in that picture, if you could see it a moment ago, many states potentially in the path do not have early voting, and that's Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. For them, voting in person is on Election Day.
The storm should be well clear by then, but the problem then is residual flooding, power outages, that is key. If there are power outages still around in these regions after the storm, and you saw what happened in June, with that derecho that happened. There were power outages a week later, whatever.
That will be bad if there are power outages still around on Election Day. Could have a big problem.
BOLDUAN: It was days without power.
BLITZER: I remember with Pepco and the local power.
BLITZER: They're still getting a lot of grief as a result of that. And who knows. Hopefully, all these power companies will be better prepared for this storm.
BOLDUAN: We're seeing a lot of preparations early on, though, a lot of people talking about state of emergency already.
Brian, thank you so much.
BLITZER: A lot of people are worried as well. All right, Brian, thank you.
President Obama trying to appeal to young voters, he's talking about his fathers, his fears, and Facebook. Spoke to MTV -- that interview coming up next.
BLITZER: Just 11 days until the election, and we have a snapshot of the one thing that matters most to voters, the economy.
The gross domestic product is the broadest measure of the nation's economic health. It grew at annual rate of 2 percent from July until September. The White House notes that it's the 13th straight quarter of growth, a little stronger than expected, but still not good enough.
Mitt Romney's campaign calls the figure disappointing and he is doubling down on his economic pitch in these, the final days of the presidential race.
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now and he is in North Canton, Ohio.
What's the latest, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be out here for a joint appearance in North Canton, Ohio, in a cold drizzle to try to fire up their supporters in this critical battleground state.
But earlier in the day, Mitt Romney was in the state of Iowa where he was delivering his speech on the economy, and that is where he laid out what he is calling big changes that are coming for Washington after he is elected president of the United States. But the trick for Romney at this point is to avoid any big slip-ups as he is getting very close to being tied with the president in many battleground polls.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney traveled to the important battleground state of Iowa to deliver what his aides were building up as a major speech on the economy. But the speech was no big change from Romney's theme of the week, that he's now the candidate of big change.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What this requires is change, change from the course of the last four years. It requires that we put aside the small and the petty and demand the scale of change we deserve. We need real change, big change.
ACOSTA: Romney also returned to his line of attack that the president has no second-term agenda, just more stimulus spending.
ROMNEY: A new stimulus, three years after the recession officially ended? That may spare government, but it won't stimulate the private sector any better than did the stimulus of four years ago.
ACOSTA: But as it turns out, the site of Romney's economic speech, Kinzler Construction Services in Iowa, has received stimulus money. According to the government Web site that tracks the program's spending, the company's owner received a small business loan through the stimulus for more than $1 million.
Romney's speech came on the same day the government announced the economy grew by 2 percent in the third quarter of this year, beating estimates, but worse than past predictions from the Obama administration.
ROMNEY: Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay. That's what four years of President Obama's policies have produced.
ACOSTA: With polls showing Romney threatening to take the lead both nationally and in key swing states, his campaign hit another detour when one of his top surrogates and long-time Republican leader John Sununu suggested former Secretary of State Colin Powell had endorsed President Obama because of his race. JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.
ACOSTA: Sununu later released a statement saying he now believes Powell's endorsement is due to the president's policies. Earlier this month, Sununu raised eyebrows with this critique of Mr. Obama's first debate performance.
SUNUNU: What people saw last night I think was a president that revealed his incompetence, how lazy and detached he is.
ACOSTA: After a long campaign that's almost reached its end, keeping the candidates straight is also a challenge, as it was for Iowa senator Charles Grassley.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: We will put America on a new path to a new day with a new president, Obama -- a new president, Romney. Pardon me.
GRASSLEY: You know, I want to forget that word.
ACOSTA: And it's not just verbal slip-ups like that that might make the final stage of this campaign a bumpy ride.
There is also the weather to look out for. Earlier this afternoon, the Romney campaign decided to scrap an event that is coming up on Sunday afternoon in Virginia Beach. That event was postponed and possibly canceled altogether because of that looming threat coming from Hurricane Sandy as it starts to approach the East Coast.
In the words of one Romney adviser, we're keeping an eye on all of this. Wolf, there's the potential that other events may be affected as well. But all we know right now is that one event late in the day on Sunday.
BLITZER: I'm sure they will be. Monday and Tuesday, this could be a real disaster unfolding. Jim Acosta in Ohio for us, Jim, thank you very much -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Just on that note, the Obama campaign just announced the first lady is canceling a rally in New Hampshire that is scheduled for Tuesday because the university that was holding it is closing because of Hurricane Sandy.
Meantime, the president is at the White House today doing his day job, but still clearly very concerned about reaching out to voters. And because of that, he is doing interviews, many interviews.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, for more on this.
Brianna, who is being targeted by the Obama campaign, specifically President Obama in these final days?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It might be who isn't Kate?
With all of the interviews today, voters in battleground states, no surprise there, as well as black voters, and also young voters. He did 10 interviews today, radio and television, including one that wrapped up just a short time ago with MTV, obviously targeting youth voters.
He was interviewed by MTV's Sway Calloway and they talked about a range of issues that concern young voters, education costs, same-sex marriage, climate change, music. But listen to what President Obama said when he was asked about his concerns as a parent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What are you most worried about, Malia getting a driver's license, Malia going out on a date, or Malia being on Facebook?
OBAMA: I would worry about Facebook right now, only because, look, I know the folks at Facebook, obviously, they have revolutionized the social networks.
But, you know, Malia, because she is well-known, you know, I'm very keen on her protecting her privacy. She can make her own decisions, obviously, later as she gets older. But right now, even just for security reasons, she doesn't have a Facebook page.
Dates, that's fine, because she has got Secret Service protection, so...
QUESTION: You're not worried about that?
OBAMA: I'm not too worried.
The one thing I always tell my daughters -- and hopefully I'm serving as a good example of this -- is, I want them to be with men who respect them, boys who respect them and value them, and, you know, understand their worth. And, you know, if they're -- if the boys are kind to them, then they will be OK. They're competent young women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, it was obvious in this interview that Sway was searching for some big answers.
Of course, young voters are not really impressed with incremental ideas. He was asking a lot about what President Obama would do in the future. And a lot of the questions that President Obama answered, instead, he talked about what he's done in the past.
Two of the things that really struck me, or one of the things that really struck me was the question on same-sex marriage. This is something obviously that a lot of young voters are in favor of. Sway asked him, Kate, this was interesting to me, a question about what the next step was, and he prefaced this by saying the federal government intervenes frequently to protect rights. Equal rights and civil rights, for instance, he talked about.
And President Obama definitely touted his support for same-sex marriage, his personal support, but he said he didn't think that it was the federal government's role to legislate same-sex marriage, something that perhaps the interviewer and some of the voters watching may have been disappointed with.
But one of the other things that President Obama struggled with actually was a question about music. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I had to go buy an album or a cartridge, you know?
QUESTION: A cartridge, wow.
OBAMA: Yes, that's old school.
QUESTION: I will send you some music, too, some music that you should tune into.
OBAMA: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So he was being asked, Kate, what artist that has a political message would he listen to, and he kind of struggled to find one, and there he is talking about getting music from a cartridge, by displaying that it's been awhile since he himself was a youth voter.
BOLDUAN: And I think he was talking -- Brianna, definitely someone -- it came across in the interview that President Obama has not watched MTV himself in quite awhile.
KEILAR: I would agree with that.
BOLDUAN: Brianna Keilar at the White House, thanks so much, Brianna.
Just a reminder: You can see more of the president's MTV interview. It will re-air during a special edition of "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00 Eastern tonight right here on CNN.
BLITZER: I will be anxious to see it.
BOLDUAN: Exactly. More of the president.
BLITZER: New information just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM on Senator Harry Reid's condition after he was injured in a car accident in Las Vegas.
We will have that next.
BLITZER: I want to update you on that accident involving the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid.
Kate Bolduan has got that and some of the day's other top stories -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: A pretty scary story, at least a scare for many people.
Senator Reid was taken to the hospital in Las Vegas just this afternoon.
Let's get the latest from CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana, what are you hearing now?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing the gods news is that Senator Reid seems to be doing fine.
We just got an official statement from his office saying that he actually walked into the hospital on his own. I will read you the key quote here: "Senator Reid was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. He experienced rib and hip contusions and has been cleared for release by the doctors."
This was a six-car accident on I-15 in Las Vegas. Four of the cars were part of his caravan. You can see the pictures right there. He was the only one to actually go into the hospital, although other staffers -- one staffer and one member of his detail had minor injuries.
And Wolf asked if the senator was driving. The answer is no. It was his detail that was driving.
BOLDUAN: Yes. He often is not. And if he's just making out with just a few bruises, that's pretty good news.
BASH: Yes, it is.
BOLDUAN: Dana Bash, thanks so much. Talk to you soon.
BLITZER: We have a new poll in Ohio. That state could be the decider in the presidential race.
We're talking to voters in that battleground state as well about what they want.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: CNN is putting enormous resources into covering the tossup states that potentially could decide this presidential election.
BOLDUAN: Our correspondents are out in force, as they always are in many of the key battlegrounds right now.
And here in studio, John King is at the magic wall.
We have brand-new polling, John, from the most critical of the critical swing states, Ohio.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ohio.
And our polls shows the president with a small lead, 50 percent to 46 percent, but that's within the poll's margin of error. But still we have seen that in a lot of these polls coming out of the state of Iowa, the president with a lead two, four, sometimes bigger.
But this poll here shows you pretty close to a dead heat heading into the final days of the election in a state where the president has had that persistent, though small lead, and Mitt Romney very much needs to win.
What is driving it? Here's interesting data from our new poll. These are likely voters in the state of Ohio, among independents, 49- 44. Both campaigns will tell you the candidate who wins the independents in Ohio on Election Day is likely to carry the state, at the moment, a significant advantage there for the president. Even though it's a small advantage, that's a significant advantage.
Now, there's a generational gap in the state of Ohio, and I'll put it this way. Those under the age of 50, a lopsided advantage for the president, 56 percent to 38 percent over Governor Romney.
Governor Romney is winning older voters but not by as big a margin as he needs. These are older, more reliable voters. They also tend to be Republicans, especially in these industrial Midwestern states. Fifty-two to 46. That's a lead for Governor Romney, but he needs to boost that by election day if he hopes to have a chance to win Ohio.
One other key point when you look at this state, this is one of the states, Michigan primarily, but then Ohio second, where the auto industry bailout is playing out in politics. And if the president can stay above 40 percent among white men, especially in these industrial states in the Midwest, he's pretty hard to beat. Because he already gets a big African-American turnout. He gets a significant slice of the Latino vote. Not a huge Latino vote in Ohio, but there's a big African-American vote. With the minority vote, the president has a head start. If he can stay about 40 percent among white men, he's pretty hard to beat. And you see he's at 41 percent in our poll right now.
So when you look at it right now, the Romney campaign says their polls show a little bit closer, but this has been a steady indicator. Almost all the general election polls have shown the president with a small but a persistent lead in battleground Ohio, and if he keeps that one blue like he did in 2008, he's pretty hard to beat.
BOLDUAN: All right. John King, thank you.
BLITZER: He's got a good report. All right, John. Thank you, as well.
Let's stay in Ohio right now to get a better sense of how this campaign is playing out on the ground. CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us from Cleveland right now. Martin, what's the take of the new numbers where you are right now in northern Ohio? What's going on?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, the major thing that's interesting out of these new numbers coming from CNN is the fact that that margin between the two candidates has not changed in a couple of weeks. In other words, it's the same four- point margin that we saw right after that first debate.
There has been a lot of talk from other people in other places, suggesting that Mitt Romney had somehow picked up, you know, a new kind of momentum and that things were beginning to change here in the state of Ohio. As John rightfully points out, you know, that's within the margin of error, so it's too close to call.
But this poll by CNN does not seem to indicate that there's been a dramatic shift, say, Mitt Romney's way. And, of course, as you move forward, if you go on to win the state of Ohio, you're probably likely to go on to win the White House.
The key, though, for Democrats is Cuyahoga County, where we are right here, the city of Cleveland. Because in 2008, President Obama won the state of Ohio by a margin of 26,000 votes. That was his margin of victory. Two hundred thirty-thousand of which came from this particular county. So that's how important it is. Democrats have always said for a Democratic candidate, if they get 60 percent of the vote in Cuyahoga County, they're going to go on and win the state of Ohio. Maybe modern times now, we'd say 65 percent of the vote. But if they get that, Democrats feel the president will win.
BLITZER: They've got to do well to be there, to be sure.
The astronomical amount of money being spent in these political commercials, it's really amazing what's going on, not only in Cleveland but throughout the state. But what are you seeing on the ground?
SAVIDGE: Yes. Staggering, $177 million has been spent for television time alone in the state of Ohio. But most of it is here in northern Ohio. They have spent to date, for political ads, about $88 million. That is by far -- crushes, destroys, wipes out every kind of record known to man in the state of Ohio, especially in Cleveland.
If you wanted to buy, say, 30 seconds of air time on the 6 p.m. news, the price has gone up 400 percent. And just one other figure to throw at you, Wolf. If you took all the political ads that have run in the Cleveland market, say, since the beginning of October, and you splice them all back to back and watch them, you would be sitting and watching them for four and a half days, 24 hours a day. That's why the people here feel just blasted politically -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good for the local economy. Good for those local TV stations, I'm sure. Martin, thanks very much.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, we're learning about emergency preparations for that monster storm that may strike the Northeast in the coming days.
BLITZER: States of emergency right now in effect across the Northeastern United States. Declarations were made a little while ago in Maine, Pennsylvania, and right here in the nation's capital.
BOLDUAN: Officials across the region are preparing for a monster storm that's likely to strike in the coming days. Hurricane Sandy appears on track to morph into a potentially devastating super storm. Virginia's National Guard now is authorized to activate 300 personnel if needed. And many other states hoping to do the same thing.
BLITZER: Serious, serious problem. Bob Henson is joining us now from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He's joining us via Skype from Boulder, Colorado.
Bob, give us some perspective. How bad could this be?
BOB HENSON, NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH: Well, really, we haven't seen a storm exactly like this one in our lifetimes. It's going to be a blend of Hurricane Sandy, which is now moving north, and a strong mid-latitude storm system, winter-type storm moving across the country right now. These are going to be merging over, essentially, the warm waters of the gulf stream, and it will all lead to a very strong storm system.
If you picture Hurricane Irene from last year, which was bad enough in its own right -- major power outages and flooding -- this storm will actually be stronger than Irene if forecasts pan out and larger, and it will be moving on a much more dangerous path. To New York City, to an area much more at risk for storm surge and high winds.
BOLDUAN: And for people -- many people on the East Coast aren't feeling anything yet, of course, so give us some perspective on this in terms of what's the worst-case scenario for people in the affected areas. It's a huge amount of people.
HENSON: Well, it's going to feel maybe not that ominous until, you know, the storm approaches and gathers strength, and the storm will be developing as it moves toward the East Coast. So people shouldn't be, you know, distressed by whether or not it's a hurricane or not at that point.
It's -- the risks are substantial, and millions of people actually could be without power for days. I think the storm surge risk is especially large, depending on where the storm strikes, north of wherever that center is. And that could be anywhere from, say, the Norfolk area all the way up to Boston, although the latest computer models are zeroing in on somewhere near New Jersey.
BLITZER: There's suggestions that this could cost a billion dollars in damage, maybe more. What do you suspect?
HENSON: I think that's definitely in line. And if you consider that Hurricane Irene was $15 to $20 billion in damage, and this storm has all the earmarks of being stronger than that one. It's an extremely widespread storm. So even though no place is likely to see Category 4 or 5 winds, the winds that do occur, which will be largely gales, maybe some Cat 1 winds, those will occur over an immense area, stretching over several hundred miles in the most populous part of the United States. So we're going to have trees coming down, power lines coming down. For most people, millions of people, that's going to be the big risk, and those inconveniences and hazards could last for days.
BLITZER: Power shortages could be sure for 50, maybe 60 million people out there potentially at risk. Some of them will have serious, serious problems.
Bob -- Bob Henson, thanks very much.
HENSON: Thank you.
BLITZER: Earlier we heard Mitt Romney's latest attack on the Obama administration's handling of the economy. We're going to get a Democratic response from the vice president's son, the attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden. I'll ask him if he'll accept a backhanded compliment from Newt Gingrich.
BLITZER: In these final days before the presidential election, the Obama-Biden campaign is under harsher attack from Mitt Romney over the economy.
BLITZER: And the attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden, is joining us right now. Mr. Attorney General, thanks very much for coming in.
BEAU BIDEN, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF DELAWARE: Happy to be with you.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little about Mitt Romney's economic speech today. Much of it was really devoted to hammering your dad's economic promises and, of course, the president's economic policies. I'll play a little clip. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last quarter, our economy grew at just 2 percent. After the stimulus was passed, the White House promised that the economy would now be growing at 4.3 percent. Over twice as fast. Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay. That's what four years of President Obama's policies have produced. Americans are ready for change: for growth, for jobs, for more take-home pay. And we're going to bring it to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A lot more people are living in poverty today than four years ago. More people are -- require Food Stamps today than four years ago. There have been some real disasters out there.
BIDEN: There's no doubt there's people hurting, and there's people hurting every day. And that's what president of the United States, since the moment he took the oath of office, as well as my father, have worked to make sure that we continue to build the middle class, to give people a fair shake and a fair shot, build this economy from the middle out, as you've heard, and not from the top down.
The top down policy, we know for sure and for certain, that it doesn't work. And more than not working, it caused a great recession. We can't afford to go back to that. And I've not heard one new idea from Governor Romney, other than giving the big tax breaks to the wealthiest among us.
In that debate in Florida where I was earlier this week, I thought at the end of that debate, Governor Romney was going to endorse the president of the United States. Because he spent the entire campaign railing against the president of the United States on things like Afghanistan. He questioned the president's timeline to turn over authority there. Now he has embraced it in Iraq. He called the president's removal of troops and ending that war a tragedy. The list goes on.
This is -- look, ask the people of the Commonwealth in Massachusetts if he can be trusted to say what he means and mean what he says. He's not even testing a race in his home state, a state, by the way, that's had five of the last six governors have been Republican. So it's not as if a Republican can't compete in Massachusetts.
I know one person that can't. And that's Governor Romney, because the people of that state know he's the type of person that is willing to say whatever it takes at the moment to get the vote that he thinks he needs. And that's -- that's not how you earn the trust of the American people.
BLITZER: The other day, you were on Piers Morgan. You did a good, solid interview there. Afterwards, you got some praise from Newt Gingrich. I want you to listen to what he said about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's amazing to me how Beau Biden is so much more mature than his father. He gives much better interviews and seems much more in control of himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. What do you think about getting that kind of praise from Newt Gingrich?
BIDEN: Well, you know, the congressman's backhanded compliments, you know, I'll let them speak for themselves. It's nice that he said nice things about me.
The reality is, is we have a big decision to make in the next -- on November 6. Voting has begun all over this country in Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina. And over the next two weeks, less than two weeks, it's about earning the trust of the American people.
And the, you know, what people who know Mitt Romney best know is that he's willing to say whatever it takes to close the sale. This is not a sales pitch. This is about asking the American people whether or not they can trust you. And he's running for president. He's not trying to sell something.
When you run for president, you have to have a core. You have to have principals. You have to have conviction. And Governor Romney, over the last two weeks, has abandoned every one of those things I've heard him talk about on the debates you moderated over 20 debates. He's the only person I know, Wolf, that has taken one stage 20 years ago, and tried to portray himself as being more progressive than Ted Kennedy, and taken another stage 20 years later, and tried to be more severely conservative than Newt Gingrich. It's a remarkable bit of contortion on his part, and I think it's -- it's solidified the narrative on Mitt Romney that he's willing to say whatever it takes.
BLITZER: Whatever it takes. And one final question before I let you go, nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with Hurricane Sandy. Delaware could be in the eye of the storm in the next few days. I know Washington D.C., where I am, people here are very worried. I believe you're in the National Guard. You're the attorney general. Are you guys ready for whatever happens?
BIDEN: I'm confident that the -- our Adjutant General, General Frank Vavala, as well as our governor, Jack Markell, are as we speak preparing the state for whatever comes our way. And, you know, I think it's time for everybody to, you know, get ready and listen to the reports on CNN and -- and take this storm very seriously.
BLITZER: I agree completely. The attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden. As always, thanks very much for coming in. Good luck to everyone in Delaware. Good luck to everyone along the East Coast of the United States. It could go into Canada, as well. We're obviously watching this storm very closely.
BLITZER: Watching it very closely for a lot of reasons; 50 or 60 million people along the East Coast will be watching.
BOLDUAN: I was just struck by that interview. Beau Biden is a very strong surrogate for his father.
BLITZER: Yes, he is. He loves his dad very much.
BOLDUAN: He does. That's a very good interview.
Erin Burnett and her staff have been crunching the numbers in Mitt Romney's plan to reduce the deficit. So Erin, give us a preview. You've got to.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, you know, last time we looked at the president's plan. He says he's going to cut the deficit by 4 trillion. We concluded it didn't add up.
We looked at Mitt Romney's plan today. In his economic speech, he said the national debt threatens to crush our future. Well, guess what? His numbers don't add up either.
We're going to lay them out, and we're going to be joined by Jim Tallon, former senator from Missouri and a member of the Romney economic team who is going to take the tough questions on what Mitt Romney is really going to do or not do for our nation's future.
And also, we have former chief of staff to George W. Bush, Andy Card, joined by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, John Podesta. They're going to talk about Ohio.
And, well, did the auto bailout headline that, Wolf and Kate, you all know so well, let Detroit go bankrupt? A headline written by the newspaper in which Mitt Romney's op-ed was published. Not by Mitt Romney. Is that headline going to be what kills him in Ohio?
That's coming up top of the hour. Back to you.
BOLDUAN: Very good question. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," top of the hour. Thanks so much, Erin.
Still ahead, this is the busy season for presidential imposters, if you will. We caught up with some of them on streets of New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hoping it's going to be another Bush or Bill Clinton. That's what I'm hoping for, but this guy, he gives me a lot of problems. I gave a good speech for you, though. I didn't want to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The presidential candidates are working overtime during these, the closing days before the election. So are Obama and Romney lookalikes. They're trying to cash in on the campaign excitement while it lasts. Here's CNN's Alina Cho.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine the chaos.
JIM GOSSETT, MITT ROMNEY IMPERSONATOR: Appreciate your vote.
LOUIS ORTIZ, BARACK OBAMA IMPERSONATOR: Before I take any more pictures...
CHO: President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney together at the crossroads of the world...
GOSSETT: I'm going to win.
CHO: ... picture taking...
ORTIZ: Let's bring the cameras over here. Is that cool?
CHO: ... glad handing...
GOSSETT: See you November 6.
CHO: ... baby holding.
GOSSETT: I think he's a Democrat, don't you?
CHO: Wait a minute.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've been all over the map.
ORTIZ: You're all over the map.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love Big Bird.
GOSSETT: It's nothing against Big Bird.
CHO: These aren't the real candidates.
ORTIZ: Good afternoon, how's everything?
CHO: Meet Louis Ortiz, a dead ringer for President Obama. Playing Romney...
(on camera) Governor Romney, so nice to meet you.
GOSSETT: Nice to meet you, Alina, I love CNN.
CHO (voice-over): ... Jim Gossett, who has multiple presidential personalities.
GOSSETT: Because I'm hoping it's going to be another Bush or Bill Clinton. That's what I'm hoping for, because this guy, he gives me a lot of problems. I gave a good speech for you, though. I didn't want to do it. CHO: But the race is tight, and these two know campaigning at one of the busiest places on earth is a good thing.
ORTIZ: Here comes the storm. Are you the naked cowboy?
ROBERT BURCK, NAKED COWBOY: Hey, it's Barack Hussein Obama.
ORTIZ: That's right.
GOSSETT: Mitt Romney. If I'm elected president, the Naked Cowboy will get pants under a Romney administration.
CHO: And if one naked cowboy isn't enough...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney! Obama! Yo mama!
CHO: ... there's always room for two. It's Times Square, New York, a blue state, where the president is more popular than the governor.
GOSSETT: I can't even get anybody to take a picture with me.
ORTIZ: This is my town. Jay-Z made a song about that. Who's going to run this town tonight? This guy.
CHO: Kidding aside, the presidential impersonation business can be lucrative.
(on camera) What do you charge?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Per show with four characters, up to $30,000. I'll tell you, the president's going to get a million for a speech, so $30,000 isn't that much.
ORTIZ: It really gets overwhelming, especially when you don't have proper security. You know? Especially when you're not really the president, you know? I know I look like him. But...
CHO: It's amazing, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. I said, "Oh, my gosh! This is really him."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President -- it's the same. The same, right?
CHO (voice-over): There's even a Big Bird moment.
ORTIZ: This guy doesn't understand us. Come on. Let's get out of here.
CHO: We'll know who wins, both here and, oh yes, the election November 6.
GOSSETT: This is the worst case of cartoon pandering I've ever seen in my life. CHO: Alina Cho, CNN, New York.
BOLDUAN: Much fun. Alina, thank you.
So, if you are a political junkie, a movie fan or a Blitzer fan or a combo deal of all three, heads up. Tonight, Wolf, this guy, is co-hosting a special event on Turner Classic Movies showcasing films with political themes. "All the President's Men" is one of the featured films. Listen here to Wolf talking with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz about the 1976 pitch (ph) about the Watergate scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN MANKIEWICZ, "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN": At one point, the director, Alan J. Pakula, was thinking of casting a woman as Deep Throat. And he does something to Woodward which is the kind of thing that Woodward and Bernstein, specifically Bernstein in the film, did to a source that he had at the FBI, where he essentially said, "I'm thinking of casting a woman for this. If I'm wrong, don't say anything for ten seconds."
And Woodward was silent, and they're like, "OK, well, I guess we're not casting a woman."
BLITZER: I've used that myself in speaking with sources.
MANKIEWICZ: It's good.
BLITZER: I remember the night that Richard Nixon died. I was the White House correspondent for CNN. And I broke that story that Richard Nixon was there, but I saw stuff going on in the West Wing of the White House and I had to put stuff together. I wasn't sure.
And I spoke to one very senior official. I said, "Look, I'm about to go out on the North Lawn of the White House and report that Richard Milhous Nixon is dead. And if I'm wrong, that's a career ender." I had, I think, 10, 15 seconds. I said, "You wouldn't let me go out there and make a fool out of myself and end my career, would you?" And there was silence. And I just said, "If I don't hear anything from you, I'm going out. I wasn't going to do it."
He said, "I wouldn't let you end your career."
MANKIEWICZ: That's good stuff. That's good stuff. That's exciting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I've heard a lot of your stories, but I've never heard that story. That's fascinating.
BLITZER: It has the added advantage of being true. Marty Kramer was there with me at the White House that night.
So, I'm a movie critic tonight.
BLITZER: TCM, Turner Classic Movies.
BOLDUAN: Are you a good critic, a harsh critic?
BLITZER: Eight p.m. Eastern. Starts in an hour. "Seven Days of May," "Advise and Consent," "All the President's Men." Three excellent, excellent, wonderful political films.
BOLDUAN: So what's your version of thumbs up, thumbs down?
BLITZER: All three of them, thumbs up.
BOLDUAN: Is it like, you get three Blitzers?
BLITZER: Three Blitzers. Three Wolf Blitzers. Three Blitzers.
BOLDUAN: Those are good Blitzers.
BLITZER: Something like that. And I loved doing it with Ben Mankiewicz. He's really, really good.
BOLDUAN: You guys both have great fashion sense in eyewear.
BLITZER: Nice glasses. Both have nice glasses.
BOLDUAN: Yes, yes.
BLITZER: Remember, you can always follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tweet me, @WolfBlitzer.
BOLDUAN: Tweet me, @KateBolduan. Three days in a row.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.