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THE SITUATION ROOM
Keeping Chemical Weapons?; Secret Obamacare Notes Released; Police: Mall Shooter's Motive Appears To Be Suicide; Election Day In America; Living Under Al Qaeda's Reign Of Terror; Interview With Senator Rand Paul; New York's Modern Family
Aired November 5, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, Jake, thanks very much. Happening now, new documents from inside the Obamacare war room reveal administration concerns about more problems beyond a broken web site.
Americans on edge after the latest high profile shooting incident, a gunman opening fire in a crowded shopping mall, is this the new normal?
And Newt Gingrich may be full of praise right now for Chris Christie on this Election Day, but wait until you hear what Christie had to say about Newt Gingrich.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But we begin this hour with breaking news just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM about Syria's chemical weapons. After the threat of a U.S. military strike this summer, the regime of Bashar Al-Assad had apparently been cooperating with international teams working to destroy the country's stockpile of chemical weapons.
But now, there are some disturbing new developments.
Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara, you're picking up word of new classified intelligence that Syria might not necessarily be giving up its chemical weapons.
What are you learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is, in fact, according to several U.S. officials I've spoken to, new highly classified intelligence that indicates Bashar Al-Assad might not be ready -- might not even declare and be ready to destroy his entire inventory of chemical weapons stockpiles.
Officials are looking at all of this minute by minute now. And what they are telling me, one official is saying, quote, "There are various threads of information that would shake our confidence."
He goes on to say they've done things recently that suggest Syria is not ready to get rid of all their chemical weapons.
Why would Syria be doing this?
What are they up to?
The intelligence analysis, I am told, is that Assad may want to hold onto some of his chemical weapons as a hedge against Israel and Israel's nuclear weapons. As long as Israel is next door, Assad feels he will need to hold onto some of those chemical weapons.
Where they are right now, how much, remains to be determined. But this is something of great concern to the Obama administration because, of course, the international policy agreed upon now is that Assad will give it all up, will turn it all over and it will all be destroyed, except maybe it won't -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Are there any indications, Barbara, the Pentagon might get more involved?
STARR: Well, on the technology side, which is very important, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier today said that the U.S. has some technology to offer for the destruction of the weapons that are declared.
I think we have a pretty interesting photo to show you. This is a new Defense Department system, a new piece of technology that can be shipped overseas to a third country that would take the chemical weapons. Basically, I won't even go into the details, but chemical weapons go in one side, come out the other side rendered safe.
The chemical weapons will be shipped out of Syria. They will be destroyed in a third country.
The urgency now is to find a country that will take them and allow them to be destroyed inside those borders.
But this other piece of information that Assad will not, may not, declare all of his stockpiles of great concern and something that is still developing at this hour -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A real developing story.
All right, Barbara.
Thanks very much.
Let's move on to other important news.
Papers the Obama administration once kept secret show that a broken Web site and a broken promise about keeping your insurance plan may be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Obamacare problems.
House Republicans have now released new documents shedding new light on the botched health care rollout.
Joe Johns is here.
He's poring over these documents. Are these problems worse than we initially thought?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, 175 pages of documents, in fact, from administrative meetings. It turns out that it was not just the Web site, but half of the call center calls having issues in the first few days.
Keep in mind, it was in the first few days that the Obama people were pushing callers to the call centers, which had been handling the bulk of them over the past few weeks. The problems have since been corrected, but that technical chaos at the beginning even more problematic.
BLITZER: So there are new concerns about, what, security of these -- of this Web site?
JOHNS: Absolutely. It appears that they scrambled to fix a flaw that gave some people signing up on the documents the opportunity to find out who this person is. There's one guy in South Carolina who got information from a guy in North Carolina and alerted everyone that he had gotten the wrong information.
They now say they've actually fixed that.
BLITZER: And now we've heard from the Obama administration the first estimates of how many people they would really like to see enrolled by the end of this month.
JOHNS: Absolutely. Marilyn Tavenner, the head for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, talked about that today at a Senate hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: What's the target enrollment number for the end of November for the exchange?
MARILYN TAVENNER, CMS ADMINISTRATOR: For the end of November?
BURR: Yes, ma'am.
TAVENNER: I think that we were looking at between October and November. I think that number was, I want to say around 800,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So it's the first sign of what the administration wants and where they want to be by the end of November. Keep in mind, they have yet to reveal any numbers of actual enrollment and won't, until mid- November.
But if you look at the number they have just released, 700,000, that's just the people who have signed up to start looking for plans, but haven't necessarily enrolled. The administration warns that the numbers at the outset certainly are going to be low. And now, we have a measure of the expectation.
Some of the other numbers that caught our ear today at this hearing, Alaska, the senator there said they had just three enrollees. But Rhode Island has more success, with 4,000, according to Senator Whitehouse. The senator.
BLITZER: People who have actually purchased new insurance.
JOHNS: Right. Absolutely. Always.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.
Joe Johns with that part of the story.
Thank you very much.
Many Americans woke up today to learn about a high profile shooting. This time, a young gunman dressed in black walked into a massive new shopping mall in New Jersey, near closing time. He began firing, but apparently did not aim at any of the thousands of shoppers.
As police rushed in, the 20-year-old gunman holed up in a back room and then turned his weapon on himself. Today, his family is speaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SHOOP, BROTHER OF MALL GUNMAN: My brother intended to harm nobody else but himself. He just, sadly, decided to make an act of -- an act of, I guess, self -- self-indulgence by taking his own life publicly. And it's a tragedy to us all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There were no other casualties except the shattered nerves of more Americans who once again are forced to wonder if this is the nation's new normal.
Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM looking into this.
What are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is an impression now that there's been one high profile shooting after another in the US. Some of that has to do with media attention and perpetrators wanting that attention.
Either way, as one expert says, it's giving Americans a collective case of Post Traumatic Stress.
TODD (voice-over): Panic and terror inside a New Jersey shopping mall. Bullets fly, but no one except the shooter is hurt.
JOEL CASTENADA, WITNESS: We heard four gunshots and everybody was scared, everybody was panicked.
TODD: Authorities now believe the gunman only intended to kill himself.
Days earlier, a man wielding an assault rifle kills a TSA officer at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Every time we turn on our TVs, it seems there's more breaking news coverage of a high profile shooting.
(on camera): Is this the new normal in America, this trend of people wanting to go out in a blaze of glory?
DR. ALAN LIPMAN, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF VIOLENCE: It's not the new normal. Since the 1980s, we have seen crimes exactly like this -- angry, psychotic, depressed young men, mentally ill, haven't been treated, with a triggering event that causes them to emerge into rage and want to go out in a blaze of glory.
TODD (voice-over): Criminal psychologist Alan Lipman says often at the peak of that range, those people have easy access to the deadliest weapons. Collectively, it's put America on edge.
In Connecticut, a student's Halloween costume put a college campus on lockdown for hours.
In California, a sheriff's deputy mistakenly shot and killed a teenager who carried a fake assault rifle.
Even an overnight break-in at a Colorado middle school, with the perpetrators brandishing bee bee guns, prompted police to surround the building.
LIPMAN: We're jumpy because the impression has been created by interest groups that any mentally ill person might jump out around a corner and harm someone. That is false.
TODD: Why can't gun violence be solved politically in America?
DARRELL WEST, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Even Democrats don't want to do this. You have Democrats who are representing rural areas where the right to have the gun is sanctamount (ph) and nobody wants to put any limits on that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: So forget about a ban on assault weapons. And even lesser measures like tightening gun registration, closing sales loopholes at gun shows and more stringent background checks on mental health and criminal history, are not likely to pass in Congress any time soon. Analysts say there just isn't the political will to do that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Statistically, have mass the shootings increased in the United States in recent years?
TODD: You would think, with all this attention they have. But experts say that statistics say they've had only a slight tick-up since the 1980s. And overall, national rates of gun homicides have decreased sharply since the 1990s.
Now, a lot of the stress has to do with the attention paid to these incidents, the media attention. But the overall gun violence in this country has decreased since the 1990s.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much for that report.
By the way, the attorney general, Eric Holder, is insisting gun violence can't be something Americans start getting used to and that the government isn't going to stop fighting it.
Here's what he told our justice reporter, Evan Perez, just a little while ago, in an exclusive interview.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT:
, Newtown, the Navy Yard, what can we do about this?
Is this the new normal for this country?
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It can't be the new normal. It cannot be something that we accept. There is too much gun violence. There are commonsense gun safety measures that we can take that the American people overwhelmingly support. And, yes, we failed. We failed at the early part of this year. But it doesn't mean that we're not going to continue to try to push those things.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: The attorney general went on to tell Evan it's hard to believe something more hasn't been done this year, given all of the incidents we have seen.
Up next, big races across the country on this Election Day.
CNN is deployed to bring you full coverage. And the first exit polls only moments away, showing you what's on the minds of voters as they cast their ballots.
Tensions have exploded in public, but how do Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich really feel about each other?
Newt Gingrich is here live. He'll respond to some sharp words from Chris Christie.
And coming up, new allegations of plagiarism against Senator Rand Paul. The senator standing by to join us live this hour. He will respond in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The first exit polls from some of today's most closely watched races, they are just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We're taking a closer look at what they reveal about voters, what's on their minds, as they cast their ballots on this Election Day.
John King joining us.
He's standing by.
Much more, right after this.
BLITZER: It's Election Day in America with the major contests that could have a significant impact on how the country is governed. We're watching governors' races in two critical states. In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie may use his re-election campaign as a launching point for a White House run.
In Virginia, a very close friend of Bill Clinton takes on a tea party favorite, and the biggest of the big city mayor jobs now open in New York City. We're deployed to bring you the kind of coverage that only CNN can deliver. Let's start with CNN's Jake Tapper. He's in New Jersey covering the gubernatorial race there -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD: Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey. I'm here where Governor Chris Christie will be delivering his either acceptance speech or something else later this night after the polls come in. He is favored by double digits in every single poll over his Democratic challenger, State Senator Barbara Buono. But as you point out, Wolf, the significance of what happens here in the Garden State is far beyond what happens tonight.
Governor Christie is thought to be entertaining hopes of running for president in 2016, a possibility at least, and the question is can he rack up enough of a margin of victory here in a blue state that Obama won by 18 points last year to make the case to Republicans that he can lead the party out of the White House wilderness, that he can win over independents, women, minorities, traditionally Democratic voters, and get the Republicans back in the White House.
That's the question that will be his pitch if he is able to significantly win this evening, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jake had a terrific interview with Governor Christie today. We're going to run it in our next hour. Jake, stand by for that.
Let's go to Virginia right now. Dana Bash is over at Terry McAuliffe headquarters in Northern Virginia. He's the Democratic candidate. He's looking pretty good, but it's not a done deal. Is it, Dana?
DANA BASH CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not a done deal at all, but the fact is that he has been pulling ahead in most polls over the past several weeks, even month or so, with a fairly comfortable lead in those polls but obviously much tighter than what Jake was talking about in the state of New Jersey. This is the commonwealth of Virginia, a very fascinating governor's race every four years. Four years ago, it was because it really was the harbinger for what we saw with the Tea Party movement sweeping the house in 2010 when the current Governor McDonnell won here. Now, you hear Democrats and Republicans making the case on either side that you're likely to hear nationally over the next year again heading into the midterm elections.
Democrats, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate here, saying that this is all about trying to do away with the Tea Party extremists, trying to do away with the whole idea of obstructionism which he accuses the Republican of. And on the Republican side, particularly in the past few weeks, they've been trying to make this all about Obamacare and the fact that Obamacare is broken.
So, if, in fact, Terry McAuliffe does go ahead and win the governor's race, you're absolutely going to hear Democrats make the case that they believe that all of these problems with Obamacare certainly are troubling politically but maybe not fatal when it comes to the politics of the elections upcoming, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Dana, thank you. Polls close in Virginia 7:00 p.m. eastern. Let's stay in Virginia. Peter Hamby is over at Ken Cuccinelli's headquarters. They've got an uphill struggle over there, Peter.
PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: They do, Wolf. Jake mentioned that acceptance speech in New Jersey. Most people here, most Republicans are bracing for a concession speech. Look, I mean, the republicans here behind the scenes are already starting to point fingers, but they're also, you know, pointing to a number of external factors that have held Ken Cuccinelli down throughout this race.
An ethics scandal that sidelined the governor, Bob McDonnell, who was popular, and he hasn't been able to help Cuccinelli raise money and appeal to the business community here. There was the government shutdown. There's been spending, vast spending on the Democratic side, four to one just in the last week. Democrats and their allies have been outspending Republicans.
You've seen labor unions, you've seen environmental groups, Planned Parenthood, come in heavy for Terry McAuliffe who, as Dana mentioned, is a prolific fundraiser in a state with really lacks camping finance laws. McAuliffe has raised about $34 million this year to Cuccinelli's 20 million. So, that's one major factor in this race here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Peter Hamby in Virginia. Let's go to New York City. Don Lemon is standing by. Hard to believe there hasn't been a Democratic mayor in New York which is a pretty Democratic city in a long time. That's about to change, right, Don?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is about to change, if it goes the way the polls are going. Sixty-five percent to 24 percent Democrat Bill de Blasio to Joe Lhota, the Republican here. It has been two decades since there's been a Democratic mayor in New York City and that was David Dinkins. That's been since David Dinkins. Listen, Bill de Blasio has been running as an unapologetic liberal, unapologetic progressive, he says, and he says he's going to bring in a new era of liberalism to New York City. He's running on things like universal pre-K, charter schools, income inequality, really saying he's going to change the way that things were done under Bloomberg and also running, saying he's going to get rid of that controversial police tactic in New York City called stop and frisk.
And so, he says he believes that the people here have Bloomberg fatigue and he has been running very successfully on that, Wolf, and if things continue the way they are, he's going to be the winner tonight.
BLITZER: Yes. We're going to check in with you, Don, often. Thanks very much.
Coming up, we're just getting in the first exit polls from today's races. You're about to find out, including me, I'm about to find out as well, what the voters are thinking as they cast their ballots. John King is standing by at the magic wall.
Plus, Chris Christie's harsh advice to Mitt Romney about Newt Gingrich. The "Crossfire" co-host, he is here. We'll talk about that and much more. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: All right. We're getting breaking news into CNN. The first exit polls on this Election Day showing what's on the voters' minds as they cast their ballots. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is over at the magic wall with the new information. John, what are we learning?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, first and foremost, we want to make clear we're going to be very careful. The polls are still open in Virginia, still open in New Jersey and elsewhere. So, we're going to share some of our exit poll data as you said, what's on people's minds, what's driving their votes. I want to be careful not to get into actually what the early exit polls are showing about the results.
Look at this in the state of Virginia. Obviously, very close to the nation's capital. A lot of government workers, especially in Northern Virginia, lot of defense workers. Did the shutdown affect anyone in your household? The government shutdown. It was a big issue in that race. Thirty-two percent of the voters in Virginia today saying yes, it directly affected someone in their household. Two-thirds, though, saying no.
One of the big issues in the Virginia governor's race, Wolf, the government shutdown. Another one was the president's health care law. The Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, among the first attorneys general, a Republican to challenge Obamacare, to say it was unconstitutional. Look at this. An even divide in the state of Virginia, 50 percent of the voters today opposed the president's health care plan, 48 percent support the president's health care plan. Again, that was a key issue in the race between the Republican, Ken Cuccinelli, and the Democrat, Terry McAuliffe. And what about the president's job performance rating in the state of Virginia? Remember, the president made history by winning Virginia in 2008 and again in 2012. It's a key state for Republicans in presidential politics. The president, his own performance, an issue in this race for governor.
Fifty-three percent disapprove of the president's job right now, his job performance, so he's under water, if you will, in the state of Virginia, 46 percent approving. You go back through all of those, Wolf, what do you get? The president's view of Obamacare, view of the president's job performance, pretty evenly divided Virginia electorate on the big issues and the president. We'll see how they impact the turnout and the decision ultimately in that race for governor.
BLITZER: What are the exit polls show us about the voters in New Jersey?
KING: Obviously, the pre-election polls showed a big Chris Christie lead. Let's take a look at what voters are thinking about as they go and vote today to determine, decide whether their Republican governor deserves re-election in a blue state. Nearly half of the voters today say the economy is the biggest issue in the race for governor, another 24 percent say taxes.
So, pocketbook issues dominating the New Jersey electorate today as they decide whether to keep Chris Christie for four more years in the state of New Jersey. And look at this. It is not an optimism electorate when it comes to the direction of the U.S. economy, 87 percent, nearly nine in 10 voters in New Jersey today worry about the direction of the national economy over the next year.
So, a bit of pessimism driving their vote as they look at the national economy and decide who they want to be their governor in the state of New Jersey. Again, let's take a look at this. Remember, the president was slightly under water in the state of Virginia. He's slightly over water, 51 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove, but again, a pretty evenly divided electorate in this state.
The president won big, remember, twice, the state of New Jersey on the president's job performance. Here's one more, Wolf. This is something a lot of people are going to be talking tonight. Chris Christie says if I win big, that makes me a formidable Republican presidential contender. Well, we're asking people as they vote today in New Jersey, if this were the lineup in 2016, Hillary Clinton versus Chris Christie, how would they vote?
Chris Christie can make the case that he would run stronger than Mitt Romney. He would run stronger than John McCain against the Democrat, but, you see Hillary Clinton with a slight edge at least in the early exit polling when voters in New Jersey today are being asked even as we expect them to re-elect Chris Christie. Clinton versus Christie, a close race but the Democrat on top in a reliably blue state.
BLITZER: Fascinating numbers from New Jersey and Virginia. John, thanks very much. John is going to be with us throughout the night, of course, for more exit poll information. By the way, watch the bottom of your screen all night long here on CNN on this Election Day. You can see all the numbers coming in.
Let's discuss what we just heard and more. Joining us, our CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, along with CNN's "Crossfire" co- host, Van Jones, a former advisor to President Obama, and Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House. And I want to get to all that.
But Newt, I got to ask you about in this new book and you've gone through it "Double Down." Chris Christie is clearly going to win tonight in New Jersey. I don't think there's a whole lot of surprise there. He has some pretty harsh words, at least, the authors quote him as saying harsh things about you when you were running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Advice he gave Mitt Romney, for example, I'm quoting now, "get out of your crouch and kick the "bad ass" (ph) word out of this guy. That's what you should do. He's a joke and you're allowing him to be taken seriously. At one point, according to this book, Christie thought you were the worst human being he had ever met in politics, but now, you're writing nice things about him.
NEWT GINGRICH, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE: Wolf, I mean, first of all, the book is a collection of gossip and I don't take much of it very seriously. I think this city's ability to avoid thinking by reading this kind of junk. Chris Christie was for Romney. We terrified Romney. There was a "New York Times" story right after South Carolina where one of his aides said to him if you don't eviscerate Gingrich, you're not going to be the nominee.
Now, they were that frightened. So, I think this is a little like locker room talk. Here's Coach Christie saying to Romney you can do it, et cetera. I don't take any of it very seriously.
BLITZER: So, you're -- have you spoken to Chris Christie at all? Do you want to make nice with him? Does he want to make nice with you?
GINGRICH: I'm here in my role at "Crossfire." I'm going to tell the truth, whether I like Christie or dislike Christie, I want to talk about what I think realistically the size of his win means and what he can do. I don't worry about stuff like this.
BLITZER: The authors of this new book will be here in the SITUATION ROOM on Thursday. You've got a new book that's out too and called "Breakout." We'll talk about that. Van, the president keeps changing the line if you like your health policy, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep it. Now, there's a nuance, a significant one. A big "if" in there. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really like that plan, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn't changed since the law's passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was a new clause that was added, because we didn't hear that in 2009, 2010 when he was winning support for the legislation. Jay Carney had this explanation when he was questioned by our own Jim Acosta. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, if the president could go back, he would use the same words again?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the president, as awesomely powerful as the office is, can't go back in time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Can't go back in time. What do you make of this?
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, CROSSFIRE: Well, look, this is painful stuff. Obviously, the president was overly broad in his assurances.
BLITZER: Did he know he was not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
JONES: If you look at the way the law was written, there were guarantees in the law to prevent this outcome. You look at the regs, it gets iffy. If you look at what the insurance companies are actually doing, obviously, he was wrong.
BLITZER: But there were people who were saying to him at the time, give it a little clause in there. If you like your health care plan, you probably could keep it, but that doesn't have the ring to it, you can keep it.
JONES: Listen, he was overly broad in his assurance. I think Democrats look kind of foolish when we get out here and try to twist the words. I think at the end of the day, though, what he was trying -- the point he was trying to make is an important one. We're talking about going from a system where 14 percent of Americans were locked out, shut out, being denied, being duped, being dumped, to a system now where that's not going to be happening.
Three percent of Americans, though, are in some danger. It was 14 percent before. Now, it's three percent. We got to fix that three percent. I want to get beyond the kind of geez, the president should have spoken better. Let's get together and fix that three percent problem so 100 percent of Americans feel good about this.
BLITZER: You know, already in Kentucky, in one of the Senate races out there, Gloria, there's -- Republicans are using the president's words to go after Democratic candidates. How worry -- let me play this clip from this ad going against the Democratic senatorial candidate in Kentucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, a shocking NBC News report, Obama knew all along that wasn't true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. How worried should Democrats be right now because of what's going on on this?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think Democrats should be worried about Obamacare on a lot of levels. This is one of them, right? They should be worried that the website isn't working. You saw last week, Wolf, that about ten of them, seven of them up for re-election in the Senate said to the president, delay open enrollment. And, I think this does speak to the president's credibility.
I think that's the large issue here. Wolf, we went back and we looked at the president's trust numbers from when he was first elected, and he was in the 70 percent range. When you ask people do you trust your new president? Now, that's down in some polls to just around 50 percent, if not, a little less. So, this affects the president's credibility and those numbers could continue to head south if people believe that he was sloganeering rather than telling them the truth.
BLITZER: Let me show these numbers, then I'll ask Newt Gingrich to respond how is the president handling his job. This new Gallup poll -- tracking poll that came out today, only 39 percent approve. That's pretty low. So, what does he do to fix this?
GINGRICH: Well, I think he's got a huge problem, first of all, because out of pride or something, he can't be honest. I mean, they're now in effect lying about having lied. That's what you saw last night in the president's speech. That's what you saw today with Jay Carney. I think Chris Christie had pretty good advice for the president. Relax and say I blew it.
He blew it at least 29 times we know for sure where he personally said no one will lose their insurance. But let me give you an example how real this is. The Moffitt Cancer Treatment Center in Tampa is probably the most sophisticated treatment center in Florida. It's just been dropped by United Health out of the option you're allowed to choose.
So, you won't be able to go there if you take that particular option. So, I think people need to understand, this is about real change that affects people's lives.
BLITZER: Hold your thought for "Crossfire," because we're out of time on this segment. I know both of you are going to have a lot more 6:30 p.m. eastern. Don't forget, Newt's got a new book "Breakout." We'll talk about in the days to come. Newt, thanks very much for that. There's much more ahead. As I said, "Crossfire" coming up 6:30 p.m. eastern right after the SITUATION ROOM. They have a good solid debate coming up on this Election Day.
When we come back, we have a CNN exclusive, beaten and electrocuted. We're going to take you to one city living under al Qaeda's reign.
BLITZER: New allegations of plagiarism against Republican senator, Rand Paul. I'll speak with him live. That's coming up. Give him a chance to respond to all of these allegations. My interview with him, much more right here in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Growing terror inside Syria. Al Qaeda-linked militants are quickly moving in and taking over. Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, has this exclusive report with fresh details. We want to warn you, some of the images you are about to see are graphic and disturbing. We're also hiding the identity of the people Nick spoke to because they fear for their safety.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what happens when al Qaeda claims they came to help but instead decide to rule. This man beaten for spraying graffiti. "Every 15 minutes, someone poured water on me, electrocuted me, kicked me, and then walked out," he said. He was dragged from the city streets of Raqqa into this church that al Qaeda had torched and mocked as their base.
Al Qaeda-linked militants the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria known as ISIS (ph) have in the past month put an end to the liberal lifestyles of Raqqa. They put up posters asking women to cover their beauty. Here, they roam at night, preaching to the cafe that smoking will be banned. By day, they burn confiscated cigarettes. There are new rules, wear Islamic clothing, don't see a male doctor, don't leave home without a male relative.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They're closing hair salons. Women can't go out at certain times.
WALSH: This is the school (ph) indoctrinates Raqqa's youngest, the first steps on Islamist (INAUDIBLE) unimaginable in Syria just months ago. At the weekend, one nearby town awoke to signs saying thieves would have their hands cut off. ISIS has in this graphic video filmed by activists, their own form of justice.
In May, ISIS swept in, their brutality against these alleged regime thuds (ph) and antidote to the weak and chaotic rebels. You can hear the crowd's fury for blood revenge here. The hole in society are kind of slipped into (ph). Soon, ISIS' heavy hand sparked protests. Today, locals complain using graffiti.
They don't dare protest and only dare film this at night. The revolution sprang to life because the regime tortured boys for graffiti. Now, al Qaeda does the same and many wonder if the revolution itself is dead.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Gaziantep, Turkey.
BLITZER: Shocking story, that is, indeed.
Just ahead, very different story. New allegations of plagiarism against Senator Rand Paul. He's standing by to join me live. We'll discuss.
Plus, an exclusive interview with New Jersey governor, Chris Christie. He speaks to our own Jake Tapper about his own political future.
BLITZER: CNN's Jeanne Moos getting ready to introduce us to what probably will be New York City's new first family when we come back.
BLITZER: The mayor of the fourth largest city in North America says yes, he smoked crack, and no, he's not stepping down. In an emotional news conference just a little while ago, the Toronto mayor, Rob Ford, said the drug use probably happened in what he called, and I'm quoting him now, "one of my drunken stupors."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I embarrassed everyone in this city. And I will be forever sorry. There is only one person to blame for this, and that is myself. I know that admitting my mistake was the right thing to do. And I feel like a thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What a story that is. Ford had previously denied smoking crack, but last week police announced they did in fact have a video, a video showing his drug use. And now he has acknowledged it. But he says he's not stepping down.
Other news. We're watching the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia, and the mayoral contest in New York City, and we're waiting for the first results to come in.
Let's talk about that and more. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is joining us.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I want to get to all these big elections tonight, what they might mean to the country, your political future, but you've got to respond to all of these plagiarism allegations. Your name attached to these speeches, to the book. Obviously there were major mistakes made.
Who is to blame here for these problems? Because verbatim quotes should have been cited, as you well know, but they weren't.
PAUL: You know, ultimately, I'm the boss, and things go out under my name, and so it is my fault. But I would say that people need to also understand that, you know, I never have intentionally ever presented anyone's ideas as my own or tried to pass off anything, you know, it started with a speech I gave where I gave attribution to the novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four", the movie "Gattaca," the autobiography "My Left Foot," Einstein, Ray Bradbury and Michelangelo, among others.
So I felt like boy, I'm giving a lot of sources here for one speech and yet because we don't have everything properly footnoted, people have attacked. And I think really the standard that I'm being held, too, is a little different than anybody else. They've now read every book from cover to cover, and they're looking for places where we footnoted correctly but don't have a quotation marks in the right place or didn't indent.
Did we make mistakes? Yes. I'm the first to admit that I'm imperfect. But at the same time, I do get offended when people try to cast aspersions on my character because I'm honest. I've never tried to mislead people. I've made mistakes, but, you know, I think that's different than trying to attack someone's character.
BLITZER: Look, every politician, they have aides who help write speeches and books and articles. What are you going to do, Senator, to make sure this doesn't happen again?
PAUL: We're going to be much more specific and footnote everything as if it were a college paper. I'm working on a speech right now for the Citadel which I'm given portions of it before but we've never footnoted my speeches. Ninety-eight percent of my speeches are extemporaneous and have never had footnotes.
We're now going to footnote everything and make sure it has a reference because I do take this personally, and I don't want to be accused of misrepresenting myself, and I've never intended to do so. But I think we've been slopping and we're going to try to be much more precise in the future.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the election. Let's say -- and everybody believes Chris Christie will win. A moderate Republican. Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite in Virginia, it looks like he could lose. If in fact Cuccinelli loses, Chris Christie wins, what does that say about the future of the Republican Party?
PAUL: You know, every individual race is a little bit different, but I think the Republican Party is a big party. And we need moderates like Chris Christie who can win in New Jersey and our party. What that means about the national party, I'm not sure there's an answer. But we do need moderates like Chris Christie in the party. As far as Ken Cuccinelli, I really like him. I campaigned for him. I don't know if he'll win tonight or not. I hope he does. You know, in the last few days, it's gotten narrower because people are really unhappy with Obamacare, and he was one of the leaders. And when he sued, he said one really important thing. He said that if someone chooses not to buy insurance, is that really -- are they committing an act of trade or commerce?
And I think that point was well taken because at the Supreme Court, ultimately they didn't rule on the Interstate Commerce Clause and Ken Cuccinelli, I think, was actually very prescient in saying, it isn't -- you know, Interstate Commerce does not justify this. And actually I think he won that argument on Obamacare.
BLITZER: Is Chris Christie the guy to beat for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016?
PAUL: You know, I think the party in general is more conservative. I think there's room for moderates in the party. I think it will be more difficult, states like Iowa are very conservative. South Carolina is very conservative. New Hampshire, I think, is conservative with a little bit of a libertarian bent.
It's a tough road, but I think we need ideas. And we need a broader party in many ways. So I welcome him to the party and I think he's an important part of it.
BLITZER: Senator Paul, thanks as usual for coming in.
PAUL: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Still ahead, the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's exclusive interview with CNN. There you see him with Jake Tapper.
Up next, CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look at the new first family, probably, of New York City.
BLITZER: He probably will be New York City's next mayor and he and his family already have their own victory dance just in case. Jeanne Moos shows us when we come back.
BLITZER: They're poised to become New York City's next first family.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dad's arm around son. Son's arm around dad. Husband hugging wife, dad hugging daughter, a four-way group hug. Meet the De Blasios. It sounds like a sitcom.
BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm here with the most wonderful family in the world.
MOOS: They've been the high-five, fist bumping, and blowing synchronized kisses to the point that this biracial family has become almost a brand. Not only biracial, but De Blasio's wife used to identify as a lesbian. The family even has a group dance nicknamed the smackdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then the entire de Blasio family including son Dante and daughter Kiara did a weird gymnastic move that had brought huge cheers on the crowd.
MOOS: It's enough to make a comedian beg.
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Adopt me.
MOOS (on camera): Now never has a hairdo been so overdone during a political campaign. Not De Blasio's hair, his son's.
(Voice-over): The fame of 16-year-old Dante's afros snowballed when he appeared in a commercial for his dad. Even President Obama commented on it, mentioning Dante, who has the same hairdo as I had in 1978, although I have to confess my afro was never that good.
His sister pokes fun.
DE BLASIO: In her enthusiasm, Kiara just attempted to touch the hair. Security was ready to intervene.
MOOS: Jon Stewart went from seeking adoption to adopting the afro.
STEWART: I mean he's --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.