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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 15, 2011 2:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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we're talking about the economy, jobs. president obama is slamming republicans along the way. ground zero for the presidential campaign for now. also republicans here in iowa have helped reshape the race for the white house. indiana picking up the pieces right now after that deadly stage collapse at the state fair. and powerful warnings of a powerful storm. i'mful with blitzer in "the situation room." 3 the state has pretty much been
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the center of a lot of political activity for republicans over the last few days. president obama is keeping the spotlight on this day. he's here getting ready to come into iowa from minnesota. it's the second stop of his three-day three-state bus tour in the midwest. talking to voters about jobs, the economy and the debt crisis facing the united states. also on his agenda, a one-on-one interview with me tomorrow. much more on that tomorrow. we're standing by, though, for the president's town hall meeting here in the next hour. we'll have live coverage. right now, though, i'm joined ey brianna keeler. i catched the town hall meeting. he's getting more feisty in lashing back at the republicans. >> that's right. he really stepped up the rhetoric. he's really lambasting the paralyzing political climate in
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washington and really blaming republicans specifically looking back to the bruising debt ceiling battle. of course as he's facing a lot of criticisms from republicans on jobs, we didn't hear any new proposals. he continued to outline ideas that we've been hearing him outline for some time. infrastructure spending, extending unemployment benefits, extending the payroll tax cut. and what he said, wolf, is that there isn't a shortage of ideas, but that congress isn't acting, specifically looking at republicans. here's some of what he said. >> we just went through this debacle on the debt ceiling, an entirely self-inflicted wound. it wasn't something that was necessary. we put together a plan that would have stabilize our debt and our deficits for years to come. because we've got a politics in
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which some folks in congress, not the folks who are here, but some in congress would rather see their opponents lose than america win. >> he said i know you're frustrated, i'm frustrated, too. h he's taking specifically about people who are frustrated about the debt ceiling debate. a lot of back economic news, the seeming indags of that. he really singled out almost the entire republican presidenti presidential -- all of the candidates in the debate the other night. he specifically was talking about that one answer where he said all of these candidates were asked, would you go along with $1 in tax increases for $10 in spending cuts and they said no and he said that wasn't common sense.
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so kind of criticizing. rick perry wasn't in that debate. >> from the white house perspective is, that a campaign trip? they're saying this is the president going out and speaking to the american people about issue number one, jobs. >> they say it's not a campaign event. it certainly feels like a campaign event. it has a hard political edge to it. i think the one element to it is that the be the is trying to capture some of the optimism. when you look at the place headquarters's going, these five spots in iowa, minnesota and illinois, while national unemployment is 9.1%, all of these counties are 0.8 over the high 6s. it doesn't sort of help politically, because these are states that went for president obama especially iowa being very significant. >> we're standing by right
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behind us. the president is going to have this down hall meeting. we'll have live coverage. our analysts will be here. stand by. we'll have much more in this part of the story coming up. the republican race isn't what it used to be after perry's formal campaign announcement over the weekend and the results of the iowa poll. jim acosta is following what's now seen as the top tier candidates. >> all of a sudden, the real race for the gop nomination is starting to come into focus. >> rick perry is feeling the love in iowa.
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it was a response to romney's feather soft jab at perry earlier in the day, when the former massachusetts governor and ceo suggested there's a difference between running a government and running a business. >> understanding how the economy works by working in the real economy is finally essential in the white house. and i hope people recognize that. >> perry lobbed one back. >> what i would say is go take a look at his record when he was governor and look at my record when i'm governor, then you've got some apples to apples. >> the race has been blown down to three front-runners. a top tier in the making. it's a fight romney doesn't want. the strategy up till now has been all about obama. the romney campaign e blasted out this image, mocking the trip as a magical misery tour. >> frankly, i think the american
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people would rather see him in washington working on getting this economy going again. he seems to be more intent on trying to save his job. >> but perry's fast start changes erg. and less than 48 hours, he announced his campaign, rolled out a bus. >> conservative to the core -- >> and a new web video. >> america's jobs governor, rick perry learned the values of hard work and belief in god as the son of farmers in paint creek, texas. >> his willingness to open up in the town where bachmann was born to go after her tea party base of support is the sign that the 2012 debt has been reshuffled. >> tea party types you all are angry. we're not angry. we're indignant. >> all bets are off. >> the tea party has been the best ant dote to the out of control spending that we have seen. rather than dissing the tea party, we should be praising the tea party. >> leaving little time for one
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more wild card to make her move. >> perry will now be vetted like never before. a process she knows all too well, wolf. >> let's bring in jack cafferty right now. jack? >> one other note, ron paul finished second in the iowa straw poll. a very strong second to michele bachmann. >> rick perry is officially a candidate for president. >> political contributor and paul begala says that perry who, quote, threw his hair in the ring this weekend will say or do absolutely anything to win, including calling social
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security a ponzi scheme and saying both it and medicare are unconstitutional. perry has also flirted with secession and reportedly presided over the execution of one of his constituents who was probably innocent. in questioning perry's capacity for the job, paul begala points to his mediocre grades at texas a&m or as begala calls it, this cute remedial school we have in texas. that's a quote. one thing perry likes to talk about is how texas leads in jobs creation. it turns out texas unemployment rate is higher than the states like massachusetts and new york. and 1 in 4 texans have no health insurance. that's another highest in the nation. kruegman writes it co-comes from the economic effects of population growth. since it's growing faster than the rest of the country, job
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growth is also higher there than in other states. and because wages are low, lots of companies want to move their production there. almost 10% of texas workers earn minimum wage or less. in fact, there's a joke down there about texas job creation that goes sure, rick perry has created thousands of jobs. i'm working three of them. here's after question, are you buying what rick perry is selling? go to or go to our facebook page. >> all right, thanks very much.
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the president will be here making an opening statement. we'll have live coverage coming up in "the situation room." don't forget, i'll be interviewing the president one-on-one tomorrow here in iowa. that's tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. eastern. much more on the world of politics coming up. there's important news we're following including a horrible tragedy in indiana. officials say they're not looking for scapegoats right now, but they are looking for answers after that deadly stage collapse at the state fair. witnesses say they're baffled that a disaster like this could happen. we're investigating. the latest for you. and who's behind some major new deadly attacks in iraq. stay with us. [ shapiro ] at legalzoom, you can take care of virtually all your important legal matters in just minutes. now it's quicker and easier for you to start your business...
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you're looking at live pictures. the president will be here soon. the president is getting ready for a town hall. his second of the day. we'll have coverage here in iowa. other news we're following right including some chilling information coming out of egypt. the world got another look at the ousted egyptian president hosni mubarak. he was pool l whe-- wheeled int courtroom case. this may be the last time we see him. the judge has barred television cameras from the rest of his corruption trial. mohammed, tell us what happened and the reaction to the judge's decision to bar cameras. >> wolf, it was the second hearing. a lot of shock today. the fact that the former president was in that courtroom. in that iron and mesh cage.
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a lot of procedure issues. what really shocked people with the decision to bar cameras from the rest of the trial. the trial has been adjourned. the activists are saying where's the transparency that the government promised to the citizens of egypt. they're concerned because cameras won't be allowed for the rest of the trial, people won't be allowed to follow what's going on. other activists are saying this is a good thing. they say because this is a show time, a circuit, the fact that cameras won't be allowed in there, it will still allow the journalists to cover the trial. but the people of egypt can go ahead and focus on what needs to be done post revolution, they can focus on the human rights revoluti revolution, to cuz on tfocus on requests being met. >> based on what you've seen so
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far, does this look like it's going to be a speedy trial? or is it going to take a while? >> wolf, based on what we' seen, it looks like it's going to take quite a while. the judicial system on a good day moves a the a glatial pace. this is considered the trial of the century here. to try to corral all the people into the courtroom, not only for the trial of hosni mubarak and other former members of the regime, that's something that's a very big undertaking. so far in two hearings for the former president, it's taken a long time. there's been a lot of lawyers present, a lot of procedural questions that haven't been answered. if that were to be granted, that trial could go on for years.
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>> elsewhere in the middle east right now, the worst violence to hit iraq in months. some other top stories in the situation room right now. lisa, what do you have? >> well, iraqi officials say at least 75 people are dead. and more than 250 wounded following a string of attacks across the country. the reported 20 bombings marked the middle of the the holy month of ramadan and come weeks after iraqi officials agree to ask officials to stay beyond the january 1 deadline for withdrawal. there's no claim of responsibility for those attacks. the "l.a. times" reports that officials at the san francisco b.a.r.t. transport system are warning of more possible cyberattacks. the hacking group known as anonymous has claimed responsibility for yesterday's hit which obtained the personal information of 2400 customers. the fbi is investigating and the homeland security apartment is
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being brought in for assistance. casey anthony is appealing a court order that she serve one year of supervised probation. anthony who was acquitted of murder charges in the 2008 death of her daughter caylee was previously charged with stealing a friend's checkbook and writing checks for more than $600. her attorneys are argiine argui she served that time while in custody. and kiss is the latest growing a list of performers paying a tribute to michael jackson. the concert features music greats like christina aguilera, smokey robinson and c. lo green. that have concert day is october 8, wolf. >> we'll check back with you. other news we're following. remembering those who lost their lives in a horrifying concert stage collapse just ahead. the family of one of those killed is now speaking out.
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and thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from powerful lobbying groups in washington. could it have a stake in how the congressional supercommittee solves the u.s. debt crisis? stay with us. we're hear in iowa where we're getting ready for a down hall with the president of the united states. he'll be here at the seed saver exchange, answering iowans questions. that's coming up soon. [ female announcer ] what if your natural beauty could be flawless too?
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law makers will have their work cut out for them when they try to find ways to cut the
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federal deficit dramatically. we'll take a look at the members of the so-called supercommittee and where their political cash is. co-ing from. let's bring back lisa sylvester. where's all this money coming from for these politicians? >> they're going to have to have pick winners and losers. the full 40us will not be able to offer any kind of amendments or make changes to any kind of compromise they come up with. it all comes down to this committee. some have deep ties to special interests. the congressional supercommittee of 12 has been tasked with slicing $1.5 trillion from the deficit. aside from feeling the pressure from their home state constituents, they are also under pressure from special interest groups. at&t and other wire leless providers want them to auction off valuable spectrum. it would be hugely profitable to
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the communications companies desperate for more airwaves for the next generation of portable devices. 3 of the 12 members have received generous campaign contributions from at&t over the years. more than $77,000 to representative james clyburn. more than $99,000 to fred upton and more than $53,000 to jeb henserling. >> when you kind of look around, there are all kinds of play ers that have a real stake in these negotiations. >> senator pat toomey used to head the organization has received more than $850,000. club for growth as given senator jon kyl more than $155,000. wall street has contributed more than any other industry to the campaigns of the 12 congressional members.
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multinational corporations like boeing, microsoft and ford motor company have also figured prominently. >> at&t, general electric, major multinational corporations have a lot at stake in these decisions. if there are tax breaks pulled back or tax increase, that could mean a big dent in potential profits. >> reporter: whirlpool receives tax credits for increasing production of high efficiency appliances. the credit accounts for a third of whirlpool's earnings this year. whirlpool was founded by fred upton's grandfather, also one of the 12 on the supercommittee. chris van hollins' two largest contributors are lobbying firms. >> are they beholden to these special interests? >> i think what's clear is all these donors have a certain level of access to these members
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of congress, especially the big donors. members know who their biggest donors are and they're going to be listening to these people. >> about a dozen former staffers register lobbyists. that's going to make it easier for them to pick up the phone and talk to former colleagues. if you look at the campaign contribution list, who know who's not well represented? the defense companies, wolf. and they certainly have a lot at stake here. president obama may be feeling a bit uneasy after seeing a new round of poll numbers. is he running scared?
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i'm wolf blitzer here in iowa where any minute now the president of the united states is expected to arrive for this, his second stop on the three-day bus trip. when his town hall meeting ends, we'll bring it to you live. also, the message that president obama is seizing while on the road here. now it's time to, quote, stop coddling the super rich. and two top republican contenders outlining controversial visions for united states troops.
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los coming up right here in "the situation room." just days after jumping into the republican race for the white house, the competition is heating up between texas governor rick perry and a key opponent. the former massachusetts governor mitt romney. our political reporter shannon travis caught up with the campaign trail earlier in the day. listen to this exchange. >> that makes him better qualified for the job. >> i think it's oranges and apples. running a state is different from running a business. >> he will make that a center piece of his campaign. >> go take a look at his record when he was governor and look at my record when i'm governor, then you've got some apples to apples. >> all right, let's bring in our
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strategy session. the democratic strategist paul begala is a senior strategist for the fundraising groups, priorities usa and priorities usa action. also joining us republican strategists leslie sanchez. she's a founder and ceo of impacto group. guys, thanks very much. paul, first to you. it looks like there's no love lost already between mitt romney and rick perry. >> the optics, rick perry did not look too rattled. as we say in texas, this ain't his first rodeo. but when you compare the jobs records, you're really comparing terrible to awful. mitt romney was 47th out of 50 states. rick perry took over, unemployment was 4.2% in texas. it's 8.2% now. huge percentage of the jobs created have been minimum wage jobs with no benefits. he leads america in the
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percentage of people uninsured, percentage of children uninsured. i hope they fight it out between terrible and awful. >> half the jobs of the whole country? >> there's been a huge increase in the price of oil, which always drives employment in texas. bad for the rest of america, but very good for my beloved home state. and it's had a huge increase in population, which is also for good thing for texas. but when economists take a look at it, they say these aren't jobs you raise a family on. that's going to be the future of jobs, not low-wage no benefit jobs you can't raise a family on. i think democrats have a very
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strong case to make. i would caution rick perry on running on the so-called texas miracle. the massachusetts miracle didn't work for mike dukakis. and i don't think the texas miracle can stand up to any kind of serious scrutiny for rick perry. >> that's a minority voice. where democrats are a minority in a very red state. the reality is this is a shining example. i would like to look at the glass more half full, paul, than the opposite. it is leading in a way because, i think, governor perry did a few different things. he looked at the situation back in 2010 when he was putting his campaign together. talked to his team internally and they said look, we're going to put dollars there, recruit businesses because we know we haveless regulation. for as much as you say about these types of wages and jobs, if somebody hasn't had a job in two year, we're teetering in an
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economy looking at possible a second dip. people want jobs. and i think whether they have to work one or two, they want the opportunity to be able to feed their families. when you look at minority students and minorities in the state, there is opportunity. that's what people are going to be looking for. do you have the credibility on a national level. >> all right. >> go ahead, wolf, sorry. >> let me move to president obama. he's got some serious problems right now in the latest gallup poll he's down around 40%, 39%, 41% over a week-long period. his lowest numbers so far since he was elected, paul. but maybe more significant, look at this. among democrats in our own cnn/orc poll. democrats choice for nomination right now, 70% of the democrats
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want barack obama to be their choice for the nomination. 28% another democrat. but back in august -- back in june, excuse me, 81% said it should be barack obama. he's gone down 11 points. how worrisome should that number be for democrats? >> well, this is the summer of his discontent. i think democrats ought to take this very seriously. i'm not allowed to talk to the obama campaign. i advise one of those pacs supporting president obama. we have to be independent. i know those men and women reasonably well from years past. the only way to run is run scared. when your approval rating is 41%, you better run scared. now calm down, that's about where bill clinton was, about where ronald reagan was at this stage of their presidency. i wouldn't panic, but they better take it seriously. they need to take the fight to the republicans. put the plan out there and contrast it with the republican plan which would -- rick perry said, do away with social security and medicare.
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he thinks they're unconstitutional. i would put the perry record, the bachmann, the romney record up there, then you've got a campaign that's a choice, not a referendum 37. >> leslie, the great advantage the president has is he is the president and there's the advantage of being an incumbent. i suspect he's going to have a lot more money to run on than the republican nominee. he can get a's campaign organized. >> it's really contingent on the economy. fundment tally, republicans, democrats agree on that. when you're talking about vision and being able to make those choices, people are going to look at the facts. when they look at the type of economic albatross the president is faced with, who is going to be more credible on the idea of delivering and moving america forward. you're talking about 2/3 of the country believing we're heading in the wrong direction. he's going to iowa state. he won by what, nine points three years ago. you have 61% of independent
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voters say they do not support the direction the president is moving in. he has some serious problems. there's an advantage for republicans. in the terms of credibility on creating jobs. it's going to come down do who has the best leadership, who has the best opportunity to strengthen america. >> leslie aechb paund paul, tha much. here in iowa, the president is going to roll into this state. he's coming in from minnesota. not very far away. we'll have live coverage of his town hall right here at the seed saver exchange. stand by for that. we're also getting ready to talk to a family of a victim in that stage collapse in indiana. he died making sure the show went on. stay with us. ] what if your natural beauty could be flawless too? discover aveeno positively radiant tinted moisturizers with scientifically proven soy complex and natural minerals. give you sheer coverage instantly, then go on to even skin tone in four weeks.
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>> inn state fair reopened for business today with a memorial service for the five people who lost their lives in a concert ha attack over the weekend. cnn national correspondent susan candiotti at the scene of the tragedy. what happened, what do we know about this? >> well, we don't know much more, but there are a lot of questions that are coming up, wolf. certainly cotton candy is selling and the ferris wheel is spinning but there is an air of sadness. you see that tangled pile of steel that used to be the sound stage. and there's questions about whether this tragedy could have been avoided.
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>> as relatives struggle with their grief, they're also struggling with what they call the senseless. >> the only question i would have at this point was why? >> families are questioning what happened. >> there was a great deal of a lack of communication. no one was really able to act and get the orders put out that need to get put out. >> nathan bird, a father of two worked the rigging. he didn't make it. nathan bird had been around grand stands and stages like this one for 25 years. they saul ecalled him save the nate. he died when the rigging collapsed on top of him. his family says his death could have been avoided.
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>> nathan is the kind of guy that would push people out of the way of danger and take it on himself. he was fearless. >> reporter: indiana's governor said the accident was caused by a freak of nature. officials were aware of an approaching storm and said they were getting ready to evacuate the concert crowd when the killer wind struck. was the rigging inspected? fair organizers say they're not sure. the indiana state police leading the investigation says it doesn't yet know who built what on the stage. indiana's department of homeland security, which inspecting carnival rides tells cnn it knows of no state agency responsible for the satety of stage construction, rigging or scaffolding at entertainment venues. mid-american sound, involved in the stage's construction issued
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a statement calling the event devastating. quote, we have started our own investigation, using expert engineers from chicago, as we try to understand as best we can what happened saturday night. for the bird family, answers cannot come soon enough. is there anger? is there confusion. >> not a lot of anger. just hurt. i feel hurt because of everything that happened. because of all the people that were hurt. >> right now, there's no public investigations and they're not sure how long the investigation will take. >> a heart breaking story, susan, thanks very much. the president of the united
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states has now crossed the border into iowa. he's now 50 miles away right now from where we are. we're awaiting the president. he's going to be holding a town hall meeting here, talking about jobs, jobs, jobs. we'll have live coverage coming up. stay with us.
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welcome back. we're awaiting the president of the united states. he's due to hold a town hall meeting right behind me in the next hour. he just crossed the talk about n though in this state, if anyone knows politics here, it would be the former governor, the current agriculture secretary tim
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vilsack. he's joining me live here in decorah. mr. secretary, thanks for joining us. don't know if you prefer me calling you mr. secretary or mr. governor. >> doesn't make any difference. >> you spent eight years as governor of iowa. let me pick your brain politically and do analysis of what the republicans were up to. were you surprised in the straw poll that michele bachmann came out on top? >> not really. michele bachmann has an iowa connection and she does a very good job of building up support, but, you know, frankly, that straw poll has passed and what folks are really focusing on is the jobs. what you mentioned in your lead-in is about the jobs. the president is coming here today to talk about jobs in rural america, and i really appreciate the fact that he's putting the spotlight on a part of country that often gets ignored when we talk about the economy. 16% of america's population, but 44% of america's military, wolf. this is the heart and soul of america, and it's important for us to put the focus on jobs in rural america.
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>> how is employment here in rural america? >> well, the iowa unemployment is good. it's about 6%, but historically rural america has had an higher unemployment rate and also higher poverty rates. that's why it's important and necessary for the president's efforts, which are his tore nick terms of the investments in rural america to continue. we'll have a series of a announcements as part of the next couple of days as part of this forum and tour to focus on getting more small business development in rural america and get more jobs. >> you've spent some quality time with the president over the past couple of days. how is he doing? when he looks at these poll numbers, 39% job approval, 40% job approval, it's pretty low given where he was not that long ago. >> the president's focus really, wolf, is not on poll numbers or on the next election. it's on getting jobs today. he had a great event earlier in minnesota. i think he's going to have a wonderful event here. he's going to be able to listen tomorrow to a number of key rural leaders about their concerns. steps that we have to take beyond the 10,000 small businesses that have been helped in this administration, beyond
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the blond band expansion that's taken place, beyond the renewable energy projects which are part of the fabric of america. you're going to see a lot more than that. >> he carried your state iowa decisively in 2008, but right now he could be in trouble in this state, carrying it -- if he doesn't carry iowa, minnesota, states like that, ohio for that matter, he could be in trouble. >> i can't speak for the president on this, wolf, but can i tell you that i'm confident that his people understand and appreciate the contribution and investment that we've made in rural america. 35,000 farmers with assistance from my department, over 400,000 people who got home loans through the usda, when we start talking about those numbers of people who have been helped, i think it will make a difference. >> so far at least in the first town hall we heard today, he repeated some of his initiatives, some of them modest, not so modest that he said before. i didn't hear a new bold initiative to create jobs. is there something, you're a member of the cabinet, that's in the works that we can expect to hear from the president fairly soon?
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>> over the course of the next several days you'll hear a number of proposals that the president will lay out that will increase job opportunities and send a clear message that there is a focus on rural america. this is obviously the place where most of our food and most of our -- of our feed is produced, but it's also going to be a place where a good deal of our fuel is produced. you'll hear more of that. how can we build a biofuel industry that will wean ourselves off of fossil fuels? >> the republicans in the house have a big majority. they won't vote for a whole lot of new spending. >> this isn't about new spending. we have to spend less, but we have to invest wisely, and i think you're going to find the initiatives that we're talking about are not necessarily about new spending but by directing that spending and focusing it and leveraging it with additional resources. >> is this an initiative he can do through an executive order, just signing it, or will he need congressional approval? >> he started the initiative by executive order that created the rural council. it's a cabinet level council,
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first in the history of our country, and he's challenged his cabinet members to work together. how can you cooperate, integrate and coordinate your programs more effectively to provide service? i think you'll see a lot of examples of that the next couple of days and throughout the course of the next week. >> who would be the strongest opponent, mitt romney, rick perry or michele bachmann? >> i'll let the republicans decide that. >> diplomatic answer. >> got a beautiful state. love coming here to iowa every four years. you come here a lot more than that. >> proud of it. >> thanks, mr. secretary. thank you very much. new comments by republican congresswoman michele bachmann may, repeat, may, may be raising red flags over at the pentagon and she's not the only republican presidential candidate saying some very controversial things about the military and the president. stand by. and concerns at the brazen kidnapping of an american citizen in pakistan was an inside job. new information coming in. stay with us here in "the situation room." aflac! oh, i've just got major medical...
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try capzasin-hp. it penetrates de to block pain signals for hours of relief. capzasin-hp. take the pain out of arthritis. let's get right back to jack with "the cafferty hour." >> the question is are you paying what texas governor rick perry is selling? doug in miller place, new york. we have over 300 million people
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in this country. are you telling me the best candidates we have to offer are obama, romney, bachmann and now this guy perry? it's a sad, sad state of affairs. my brother las vegas in texas. he tells me that perry's intelligence makes bush look like a nobel laureate. david in missouri writes absolutely, jack. it's not that i don't like obama. it's that i don't want to live in a socialist country crushed by a government that knows what's better for me whether i like it or not. so i'll vote for rick perry so that i can be free. john in cedar rapids of iowa writes. of course not, many will buy perry's look and high energy. substance need not apply. karen writes on facebook. let's vote him in because texas has only 8.2% unemployment and 10% of all jobs are minimum wage. that sounds like a solution america needs to the economic crisis. read my lips. no new texans. dee writes judging by how much this man is hated by every facet of the left wing, including most
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of the comments here, i say, yes, i'm buying what he's selling. nothing i love more than seeing loony lefties go crazy over what anybody on the right says or says or thinks. i say to rick perry do, not back down. mia says buying. i wouldn't take it if he was giving it away. carl says no thanks, jack, i'll pass. don't want to overfertilize my lawn and oscar writes perry is an incompetent narcissist from a backwards state. i predict he'll be our next. you want to read more on this, go to my blog, or through our post on "the situation room"'s facebook page. >> jack, thanks very much. and to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, out of washington. indeed into america's midwest heartland. president obama kicks off a three-day bus tour. it includes a town hall meeting this hour. we'll bring it to you live. it's happening right behind me.
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also, the newest republican presidential hopeful says he wants to make sure american troops, quote, respect the commander in chief. this texas governor rick perry suggesting something about president obama, and an iowa straur poll winner michele bachmann says she would reinstate the military ban on gays serving openly in the military. that's just one of the reasons cnn contributor john avlon says she's a risky pick for the gop. john is here to explain what she means. we're going to welcome our viewers around the united states and around the world. breaking news. political headlines and jeanne moos all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer in decorah, iowa. stand by for the president of the united states. you're in "the situation room." we're live here in iowa center stage for american politics. right now with president obama here kicking off a three-state
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bus tour fresh off the heels of a straw poll that shook up the republican presidential field. we'll have much more on that coming up. also this hour, the president's town hall meeting here in decorah, iowa. stand by for that, but first, let's get some more on the bus tour that the president has had. our white house correspondent brianna keilar is joining us. the message that the president is trying to bring to the midwest heartland. >> well, certainly today we've seen a lot of criticism. we talked about that. he's also trying to create some optimism and also push some of his job-creating proposals, not new proposals, proposals that we've already heard about, but the white house insisting that this isn't a political swing, though it has all of the sights and sounds of campaign events, from the music to the mostly supportive crowd, at least at the one stop that we've seen so far today and yes, it has the rhetoric. president obama stepping up his criticism of republicans today. president obama left washington far behind.
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>> i am very pleased to be out of washington. >> reporter: to rail against the paralyzing political climate in the nation's capital and try to tap into the frustration of voters concerned by an unrelenting stream of bad economic news and disgusted by the bruising debt ceiling battle. >> i know you're frustrating. congress would rather see their opponents win than america win, we ended up creating more uncertainty and more damage to an economy that was already weak. now we can't have patience with that kind of behavior any more. i know you're frustrated and i'm frustrated, too. >> reporter: cannon falls, minnesota, was the president's first of five stops on a three-day midwestern bus tour that will take the president to iowa and illinois as well, all states he won in 2008. he'll be making stops along the way, like this one at a delli where he met with veterans.
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>> how many tours have you done? >> two tours. >> reporter: republicans are criticizing the road trip as a political stunt. the rnc calling it the dead end bus tour. presidential hopeful mitt romney's campaign dub it had the magical misery tour. >> the president has set about a bus tour today going to swing states, and frankly i think the american people would see him in washington working on getting this economy going again. he seems to be more intent on trying to save his job than to try and create jobs for the american people. >> reporter: the president had nothing new to offer on job creation. instead highlighting to a crowd of several hundred in minnesota the proposals he's been pushing for some time, extending unemployment benefits, extending a payroll tax cut, infrastructure spending, and as republicans accuse him of failing on jobs, he pointed a finger right back at them. >> there is no shortage of ideas to put people to work right now. what is needed is action on the
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part of congress, a willingness to put the partisan games aside and say we're going to do what's right for the country. >> reporter: so why not call congress back into session? this was the focus of a campaign back and forth that we saw -- almost a campaign-like back and forth between mitt romney and the president, wolf, the president saying congress was just proving they were bickering and challenged them to take this time in their home districts and states and come back with a bit of an attitude adjustment getting ready to clearly trying to elevate himself above it all. >> if you compare the tone of the way he spoke today compared to last week, certainly the weeks before, he is becoming much more assertive, aggressive in going after the republicans, even though he's not necessarily naming names or saying anything like that, but he's clearly trying to score political points. >> and we saw this very much on thursday when he was in michigan, that he stepped it up, and he used that line about
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people who clearly talking about republicans, not calling him out by name, people who would want their opponents to lose, even if america doesn't win, and we heard much more of that today, wolf. >> brianna, don't go too far away. we'll have you back later this hour. the itinerary for the president's bus trip has been very, very carefully chosen for some obvious and some not so obvious reasons. our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is joining us now with more on this part of the story. jessica, what are you looking at? >> reporter: wolf, let take a look at the places the president is visiting on his three-state tour. you know, he's focusing on joblessness and the problems in the economy, so let's look at the economy. in minnesota, the unemployment rate slightly better than the national average which you know is 9.1%. iowa, 6%. again, slightly better than the national average and in his home state of illinois, well, they are right up there, 9.2%, so that's pretty much in keeping with where the rest of the nation is so better picture most of the nation, but this area is important for another reason for
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the president. these are midwestern states. the president overwhelmingly won in 2008. only missouri is a state he lost. he's not visiting it, but these are states he's got to hold if he wants to win re-election and take a lack at how he's doing in the area. minnesota, that state where he said back in 2008 i'm going to be the democratic nominee, famously did that fist bump with mrs. obama during the campaign. still doing well, there 52% approval, but in iowa, early voting state that launched him to the white house, below 50% approval and his home state of illinois, he's still doing well, but what you're not seeing are the states he's skipping. michigan, has to win there. 45% approval, despite the auto bailout he gave to their crucial auto industry and helped them out. indiana also a very low approval rating, 42%, and ohio, not a good number. 45%. this is a must win for the president, so this is a region where he really needs to shore up support. another question that comes up
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with this tour, with at least 14 million americans out of work, why is the president touring rural america where there are comparatively few jobless people? so if you look at that through a political lens you might see this. democrats badly lost the rural vote in the 2010 elections. in the house of representatives 39 rural districts went from democrat to republican in the last election cycle. in fact, republicans won control of the house of representatives largely thanks to the support of rural voters. now, these are not the same districts the president is visiting, but the message could reach these voters. other advantages to a rural tour, they already have a policy agenda for rural america and can just tout their accomplishments to some extent, and it's a good setting, as can you see, for the president to just roll up his shirt sleeves and escape washington during the most dangerous time on the political calendar, august.
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wolf. >> all right, jessica, thanks very much. good analysis. tomorrow, by the way, i'll be sitting down here in iowa with president obama for a one-on-one interview. i'll ask him about the economy, the campaign, national security. a whole lot more, an interview you'll want to see right here in "the situation room" 24 hours from now. my interview with the president of the united states. one of the wealthiest men and certainly one of the best known investors in the world says he wants to pay more taxes. let me repeat. he wants to pay more taxes. we're talking about warren buffett. cnn's mary snow is joining us with the details of what's going on. mary, tell us what warren buffett is saying. >> reporter: well, billionaire warren buffett has said in the past that the rich should pay higher taxes but today he spelled out specifics in a "new york times" op-ed aiming his message to the members of the congressional super committee tasked with ways to balance the budget. it's gaining a lot of attention. it didn't take long for
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president obama to start quoting warren buffett's call to tax the rich. >> warren buffett had an op-ed that he wrote today where he said we've got to stop coddling billionaires like me. that's what warren buffett said. >> reporter: just as quickly as the president embraced buffet's call, critics like conservative pat buchanan dismissed it. >> why didn't he set an example and send a check for $5 billion to the federal government. he's got about 40 billion. >> reporter: in a stop coddling the super rich op-ed, the billionaire investor said while he paid nearly $7 million in taxes last year, the percentage of his taxable income was less than the people in his office. that's because the super rich get tax breaks on capital gains and pay little in payroll taxes. so who are the wealthy? to hear president obama tell it, they make $200,000 a year or more. that would make up 3% of americans or 4 million people. go up the pay scale, and
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according to the irs, who is making $1 million or more equal about 236,000 people. in the $10 million or more club there are roughly 8,000 people. buffet wants higher taxes on those making 1 million or more. we asked a member of the non-partisan tax policy center for a scenario of what a tax hike like that would amount to. >> the example we took a look at was raising the top tax rate on incomes over $1 million from the current 35% to 50%. if we did, that we'd gain an additional $34 billion in revenues this year. over a ten-year period perhaps $350 billion. >> but what about the effects on the economy? williams says, yes, the wealthy would spend less on goods and services and on investments, but -- >> the investment they are making these days are mostly in government bonds, not in real economic activity that generate jobs, so neither their change in spending nor their change in investment behavior would likely have a very serious adverse
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effect on the economy. >> reporter: and as the debate over taxes the welly takes place, the tax policy center says tax revenues are currently under 15% of gdp, the lowest level since the 1950s, not only because of tax cuts in recent years but because the economy is weak and with incomes down there are fewer taxes paid. wolf? >> mary snow, thanks very, very much. newly minted republican presidential candidate rick perry has been raising some eyebrows with this controversial remark. >> one of the powerful reasons that i'm running for the presidency of the united states is to make sure that every young man and woman who puts on the uniform of this country respects highly the president of the united states. so was governor perry suggesting that american troops don't respect president obama, or did he mean something else? we're taking a closer look. also, iowa straw poll winner
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michele bachmann says she would reinstate the military gay ban if -- if she's elected president. do her positions make her a risky pick for the gop? we're looking at that as well. and we're awaiting president obama's town hall meeting right here in decorah, iowa. he's just arriving right now here in decorah. live coverage of his town hall coming up. you're in "the situation room." stay with us. can i have some ice cream, please ?
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for medicare made clear, we're here to answer all of your questions. call unitedhealthcare medicare solutions. all right. the president of the united states has just arrived here in decorah, iowa. we're here at a town hall meeting. we'll have coverage of his town hall. the crowd is applauding. can you hear the music behind me. there's the president walking in right there, but while we await the president getting up to the podium, getting ready for this town hall. let me bring in jack cafferty who has "the cafferty file."
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jack? >> the rats for the republican nomination for president finally starting to get interesting. looks now like it's going to shape up to be a chose race among mitt romney, rick perry, michele bachmann whose campaign was fueled big time by her victory in the iowa straw poll. texas congressman ron paul also remains a player in this, following a very strong second place finish in iowa. and now the big question is whether or not sarah palin is going to decide to make a go for it. the half-term dropout governor of alaska managed to steal the spot height in iowa on friday when she showed up at the iowa state fair. palin says she thinks there's plenty of time to jump in the race, and that there's plenty of room for more people. maybe so, but she said all that before michele bachmann we out and won the straw poll. it's worth pointing out there is a lot of overlap between bachmann and palin supporters. both charismatic women are tea party favorites who apole to anti-washington christian conservative voters, and it's no
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small feat that bachmann won the straw poll in iowa. it's a key early voting state. the iowa caucuses have been known to catapult politicians right into the white house. does the name barack obama ring a bell? that was his springboard to election, the iowa caucuses. this all means the clock is ticking pore sarah palin making up her mind. working in her favor, palin remains near the top of the pack in the polls. she would be the best known republican in the field if she gets in. also by waiting until the fall to decide, palin could spare herself months of media scrutiny and sparring with the other gop candidates, so here's the question. does michele bachmann's iowa victory make it tougher for sarah palin to get into the race? go to and post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on "the situation room"'s facebook page which i am told is growing by leaps and bounds, and that's a good thing. makes the bosses happy with me. wolf? >> makes the bosses very, very
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happy, jack. thanks so very much. you probably might see the president, he's behind me right now. he's introducing himself to the crowd a little bit. he's welcoming a lot of local officials. we're monitoring what the president is saying, but he's saying thanks to a lot of folks. once he gets into some substance, we'll hear what the president has to say, but let me move on to an important story we're following right now. republican presidential candidates michele bachmann and rick perry, they are both speaking out about the u.s. military, and their remarks for different reasons are stirring up controversy. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is joining us with details. barbara, what's going on here. >> reporter: well, wolf, as you say, both candidates talking about the u.s. military over the weekend, but their statements struck a bit of an odd chord with some of the troops and the people that we've been talking to. two top republican candidates are already using the troops as a talking point, but some wonder what it is they really are
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saying. >> they are definitely trying to appeal to their conservative populist base. >> reporter: michelle bachmann says she might bring back the ban on gays serving in the military. >> if you became president, would you reinstitute the don't ask, don't tell policy in the military which said that gays could not serve openly in the military? >> the don't ask, don't tell policy has worked very well. >> would youy will institute it then because it's been set aside? >> it worked very well and i would be in consultation with our commanders but i think, yes, i probably would. >> reporter: do troops care? >> right now the number one issue for veterans when they return home isn't whether theyer is before gays and lenians but whether they can get the jobs. >> reporter: and there's rick perry. >> one of the powerful reasons that i'm running for the presidency of the united states to make sure that every young, man and woman who puts on the uniform of this country respects highly the president of the united states. >> reporter: did perry seem out of touch with young veterans'
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concerns? todd bauers has served three combat tours. >> these are not the major issues that vets are going to be watching. right now with the stifling economy and major employment issues for iraq and afghanistan veterans as a whole, that's what they want to hear about. they don't want to hear the headline blush. >> reporter: a recent congressional report calculates unemployment for iraq and afghanistan veterans nationwide is 11.5%. in perry's home state of texas, 13.1%. and in minnesota, bachmann's home state, 22.9%. not talking about that these days could be a problem. >> they are definitely playing politics, no question with that. whenever you try to put size of the military you are by definition playing politics and you are playing to the lowest common denumber nator. >> reporter: perry says he thinks the troops want a president who has served in the u.s. military and, of course, he did serve in the u.s. air force many years ago. bachmann to be fair says she would consult with her commanders, but, wolf, many of the young troops, just like so
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many americans, say, look, right now what concerns them is the economy, their health care benefits and a job once they get out of the military. wolf? >> barbara starr at the pentagon, good report. thanks very much. let's immediately go to the president. he's here at this town hall in iowa. he's speaking about issue number one for americans, jobs, jobs, jobs. >> the problem is that we've got the kind of partisan brinksmanship that is willing to put party ahead of country, that's more interested in seeing their political opponents lose than seeing the country win. and nowhere was that more evident than in this most recent
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debt ceiling debacle. the fact of the matter is that our debt and deficits are manageable if we make some intelligent choices and make sure that there's shared sacrifices as well as shared opportunities, and had we made some decent decisions over just the last two, three months, had we been willing to seize the opportunity that was before us, then there is no reason why we had to go through this downgrade because that did not have to do with economics. that had to do with politics. it was an assessment that our congress is not able to come up with the kinds of compromises that move this country forward. i don't know about you, but i'm pretty frustrated about that.
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i am pretty frustrated about that because given the challenges we face we don't have time to play games. there are a lot of folks, a lot of our neighbors, a lot of our friends who have been out of work too long, who have got too many small businesses that are struggling. i see a lot of young people in the audience here today, and they are thinking about what are their prospects for the future, graduating from college knowing they have a lot of debt, needing to find a job. they don't have patience for the kind of shenanigans we've been seeing on capitol hill. they understand that now is the time for all of us to pull together and do what it takes to grow the economy and put people back to work. now, the good news is there are things we could be doing right now that would make a difference
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for our economy. back in december when some of my folks on the other side of the aisle were more willing to compromise we were able to put a package together that cut taxes for families by an average of $1,000. what i said is let's continue this payroll tax cut into next year so as the economy is strengthening, ordinary families who are still digging themselves out of credit card debt, seeing their homes underwater, they have got a little more purchasing power, that will be good for small businesses and large businesses, and they will hire. we could right now say we are going to go ahead and renew that tax cut and that would be good for the american people and good for the economy. there's no reason to wait. there's no reason for us to wait putting construction workers back to work all across the country. nobody took a bigger hit than those who were involved in the housing boom whether the boom went bust, so why don't we put them to work right now rebuilding our roads and our
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bridges and our schools all across america. there's a proposal right new in congress, congress should pass it and get it done. there's no reason why we shouldn't be helping our small businesses and start-up businesses. we've passed 16 tax cuts for small businesses, and right now we've got a bill pending that is called the american invents bill t.basically reforms our patent system so if somebody has a creative idea, they can turn it into a business right away without red tape, without bureaucracy. that's who we are, a nation of inventors. this -- this traditionally has had bipartisan support. what are we waiting for? we should pass it right now to give a spark to industry. we've got pending trade legislation.
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tom vilsack and i were talking on the way over, on the bus here, and the truth of the matter is that the agricultural sector in america, the cornerstone of states like iowa, is doing very well, but we could be doing more, and my general attitude is why don't we want to open up markets so that the extraordinary bounty of the heartland of america is making its way there but also manufacturing is making its way there. look, we've got -- we've got a whole bunch of kias and hyundais here in the united states of america on our roads, and that's fine and good, but i want tom chryslers and some gms and some fords on the roads in south korea as well. we should go ahead and get those trade deals done. so there are a whole host of ideas that we could be implementing right now that
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traditionally have had bipartisan support. the only thing that is preventing us from passing it is that there are some folks in congress who think that doing something in cooperation with me or this white house, that that somehow is bad politics. well, you know what? you guys didn't send us there to be thinking about our jobs. you sent us there to be thinking about your jobs, and your future. now, we do have to be thinking about how we invest in education and how we invest in infrastructure and how we invest in basic research, but still do it while the government is living within its means. neither party is blameless on this. truth is we had a balanced budget in 2000.
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the last time we had a democratic president, and what we ended up doing was -- we had two wars we didn't pay for, a prescription drug plan we didn't pay for. we had two tax cuts that we did not pay for, and the result was a burgeoning debt, and then what ended up happening was because of the recession and the lack of regulation on wall street this wrenching recession meant less tax revenues coming in and more going out because we're providing help to states to make sure teachers and -- and police officers and fire fighters weren't laid off and to make sure that we could help small businesses and put people back to work, so we've got a genuine problem with deficits and debt but here again is the good news. if everybody is willing to make some modest sacrifices this problem we could solve. we could solve it tomorrow.
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we could solve it next year. if the speaker of the house had taken the bargain that he and i were talking about, we would have had it solved last month and we would not have gone through everything that we went through over the last several weeks. but it does require compromise and it requires some balance. warren buffett had an article published today in which he said stop coddling billionaires. [ applause ] he pointed out that i think he made about $36 million -- i guess it was an off year for him, but he pointed out that he paid an effective rate of 17% when it came to taxes which meant that he paid a lower tax
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rate than anybody else in his office, including his secretary, because most of his income came in the form of capital gains, and he made a simple point. he said, look, nobody's income has gone up faster than the top 1%. in fact, nobody's gone up faster than the top 0.1% of 1%. there's nothing wrong with close our deficit and managing our debt to say that we should ask a little bit of help from everybody. i don't want a tax cut if it means that senior citizens have to pay an extra $6,000 a year for their medicare. that's not fair, and that's not right. i -- i -- i think it makes sense to say you know what? let's close some loopholes that only oil and gas companies are able to take advantage of to make sure that we don't have to cut back on pell grants for students who are trying to go to college and get a better education.
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now that doesn't mean that we defend every single government program. everybody's got to make sacrifices. there are programs that aren't working well and sometimes there are those in my parties who will defend everything, even if it's not working. we do have to make some cuts on things that we don't need, and -- and that allows us to invest in the things that we do. but there's got to be balance, and there's got to be fairness, and that's not just my view. the majority of republicans agree with that view, although i have to tell you when i saw the other day my friends in the republican presidential primary, they were asked would you take a deal in which for every $1 of tax increases we cut $10 in
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government spending, 10-1 ratio, and nobody was willing to take that deal. what that tells me is you've gotten to the point where you're thinking about politics. you're not thinking about common sense. you've got to be willing to compromise in order to move the country forward. so here's the upshot. we do have real challenges. we're going to have to make some tough decisions and i know that during the two and a half years that i've been president we've gone through a lot of ups and downs and a lot of tough times and our job is not finished until every single american who is looking for a job can find a job, and until we have fixed the problems that caused me to run for president in the first place so that we're growing a middle class and people have basic security and they know if they are following the rules, if they are working hard, if they are
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looking after their families and meeting their responsibilities, that they have got a chance at the american dream. you guys are meeting your responsibiliti responsibilities, you're meeting your responsibilities, you're working hard, and if you've gotten laid off and you don't have a job you're out there looking for a job. you're looking after your family and you're tightening your belt where you need it and you're still making investments to help your kids with your future. you're -- you're operating with common sense and you're -- you're donating time at your church and food pantry or little league. well, if you're meeting your responsibilities, the least you can ask is your elected representatives meeting theirs, and so i understand that after this last mid-term you voted for divided government, but you
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didn't vote for dysfunctional government. you -- you didn't vote for a broken government that can't make any decisions, can't move the country forward at all. that's not what you voted for, and so, you know, some people have been saying, well, mr. president, why don't you call congress back for a special session. what i've said is the last thing the people need for confidence right now is to watch next on capitol hill arguing all over again. what they need to do is come to decorah or go to cannon falls or meet with their constituents back home and hear the frustration and understand the people are sick and tired of the nonsense and the political games, and hopefully when they come back in september they are going to have a wake-up call that says we need to move the country forward. you've got to start focusing on doing the people's business. that's what everybody is expecting.
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i want you to help hold all of us accountable, me included. i am enlisting you in this fight because if you are -- if you're making your voices heard, if you're letting people know enough is enough, it is time to move forward. it is time for us to win the future if your voices are heard and sooner or later these guys have to start paying attention, and if they don't start paying attention that they won't be in office and we'll have a new congress in there that will start paying attention to what is going on all across america. i'm confident in the power of your voice. i'm confident in your values. those are the values that we share. i don't care whether you're a democrat or a republican or an independent. all of us here are patriots and everybody here cares about our country and puts it first, and if -- if we can have that kind
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of politics, then nothing can stop us. thank you very much. god bless you. thank you. >> all right. so the president of the united states, he's a democrat, but he's in iowa right now. a lot of republicans have been in iowa and remain in iowa. it's the first contest that's coming up with the republican presidential nomination. we have a lot to digest of what we just heard from the president. i want to remind you tomorrow, i'm here in iowa as well. i'll be sitting down for a one-on-one interview with the president here in iowa. that interview will air tomorrow right here in "the situation room." the president beginning to find his groove, you just heard right now. he's beginning to get a little bit into that political campaign mojo. we'll have much more from decorah, iowa, much more from this town hall meeting. q&a coming up when we come back. [ man ] behind every business is a "what if."
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gthe nascar nationwide series, complete your will in minutes. i know pleasing fans is a top priority, 'cause without the fans, there'd be no nascar. just like if it weren't for customers, there'd be no nationwide. that's why they serve their customers' needs, not shareholder profits. because as a mutual, nationwide doesn't report to wall street, they report to their customers. and that's just one more reason why the earnhardt family has trusted nationwide for more than 30 years. nationwide is on your side. the president answering a tough question from someone here in decorah, iowa. why didn't he work harder to repeal the bush tax cuts for the wealthy? let's listen in to his answer.
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>> republicans would not go along with just voting for continuing the middle class tax cuts and letting the high end lapse and what that meant was the choice hi to make would have been to let all the bush tax cuts lapse, including those for the middle class which would have meant that the average family saw their taxes go up $3,000 on average at a time when they were still digging themselves out of a debt hole. it would have been very bad for the economy. we also would not have gotten unemployment insurance continued into this year. we would not have been able to do the payroll tax and so the economy would have been much weaker, and so i made a decision that it was bert for us at that point to strengthen the economy because we only extended those tax cuts for another two years, and we would be able to take our case to the american people as the economy got stronger as to why we've got a different approach than the republicans do. now on this debt ceiling, it's
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pretty straightforward. i felt that it was important for us to try to solve the problem rather than play games, and that was particularly important because if we had allowed default, if you think that the stock market gyrations this last couple weeks was bad, if we had had a default, then we might not genuinely might have gone back that a financial crisis because the truth of the matter is even though we got downgraded, i don't know if you've noticed, but when -- when the market got all crazy, what do you think people bought? where did they put their money to avoid risk? they bought treasury bills so the market voted to say we have complete confidence in america right now, but if we had defaulted, that meant that we might not have the legal authority to issue treasury bills, and we would have had problems making our social security payments, making our
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payments to our troops, our veterans and so forth, and that was not a risk worth taking. now, i know that people would like to say, well, just, you know, do something to -- to get these guys under control. this was a unique situation in which, frankly, you know, the collateral damage from an actual default would have been so great that i didn't want to risk the livelihoods and the well-being of millions of people even though i thought the other side was very unreasonable. now that's a unique circumstance. moving forward my basic attitude is we know what to do. i'll be putting forward, when they come back in september, a very specific plan to boost the economy, to -- to create jobs and to control --
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>> all right. so the president of the united states just saying he's going to put forward a specific plan in september once congress comes back from their five-week recess. the president will announce a specific plan to deal with the jobs and the economy. he's not announcing details right now, but he is at least saying that he will come up with a major new plan in september. lots to assess right here from iowa. much more of what the president is saying. our analysts are saying right after this. tough challenges rig. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy.
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the president of the united states clearly more assertive here in iowa picking up his steam a little bit going after the republicans. let's discuss what we just heard. joining us now our cnn contributor john avlon, an important new column up on entitled picking bachmann or perry is risky for the gop. we'll talk about that in a second as well. brianna keilar, our white house correspondent is with us as well. john, you hear the president, he's got his message. he's beginning to sound a lot more feisty, if you will. what do you make of this? >> absolutely. he's a passionate president obama presenting the campaign
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themes for 2012, railing against the dysfunctional culture of hyperpartisanship in washington, d.c. and really almost borrowing a page out of president harry truman's playbook talking about the do nothing congress, hyperpartisanship is stoppinging the economy from moving the country forward and that's why the economy has stalled. congress should be able to agree that a trade plan would improve the economy, an assertive president barack obama, playing offense there in iowa. >> and brianna, you cover the president on a day-to-day basis. he certainly ismore assertive right now than he has been in recent weeks and months. >> he has been, and he's been really railing against republicans without naming republicans specifically. he has said or some will hear him essentially referring to mitt romney at times, but you certainly feel this campaign element in this back and forth
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that he's doing with republicans, and -- and really as john said railing against what he said was it's not government that's the problem, it's politics that's the problem. clearly targeting house republicans as well talking about brinksmanship and that bruising debt battle that we saw a couple weeks ago. >> john, explain your column, why in the headline picking bachmann or perry is risky for the gop. >> well, the column is about really the results of the straw poll and perry getting in, and the fact that in our polarized environment the parties are pushing forward who have the least positive chance of being able to transition to a general election. you know, president obama speaking there in iowa, a swing state in a general election, but the straw poll, the caucus tends to really skew to the far right of the republican party, so it puts forward less representative candidates, candidates who can do very well in a close partisan primary or caucus will do less in a well high turnout general election and so that's the catch-22 that's being faced right now by the parties.
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as they get more polarized they put candidates less representative, less able to compete in a general election, and michele bachmann is exhibit "a" in that. >> john, stand by, brianna stand by. we'll take another quick break. much more of our coverage from here in iowa when we come back. what's it going to take? do we have to spell it out? can't republicans in congress get the message? instead, they protect tax breaks for big oil. tax breaks for billionaires. even tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas.
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republicans in congress have shown who they stand up for. voting to take care of the wealthy. not the middle class. it's time to bring jobs back to america. seiu cope is responsible for the content of this advertising. we get double miles on every purchase, so me and my lads earned a trip to san francisco twice as fast! we get double miles every time we use our card... i'll take these two... matter what we're buying. ...and all of those. and since double miles add up fast, we can bring the whole gang! it's hard to beat double miles! whoa dude. [ male announcer ] get the venture card from capital one and earn double miles on every purchase, every day. go to what's in your wallet?
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let's check back with jack for the cafferty file. >> question this hour is does michele bachmann's victory in the iowa straw poll make it tougher now for sarah pale on the get into the race should she decide to do so? valerie in raleigh writes where are the electable republican women candidates such as kay bailey hutchison, a woman of education and intelligence, who has a chance to win voters outside the far right tea party group. the republican party gives us the likes of bachmann and palin who are unelectable to the general voters in this country. add to that the other strange female candidates like the one who said she wasn't a witch. if you want a republican win, give us someone electable. carl ra writes with the wild-eyed the witless and the weird throwing their hats in the ring, i don't think we can
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handle the warmed over whacko from wasilla, too. even sarah palin isn't dumb enough to think she can actually win the presidency. so just like donald trump she won't try. she'll hang around the tv cameras hoping to get more free publicity and give stupid answers to intelligence questions. greg in arkansas, paleson nothing more than prerace entertainment and thinking that she's getting into the presidential race is like believing the celebrity singing the national anthem is going to get into the indianapolis 500 race as a driver. tammy writes on facebook, i don't think palin ever wanted to be in the race. i think she likes all the free media attention to help sell more books. and but which one is lucy and which one is ethel? really? is this stupid question monday or what? if you want to read more go to or through a post on the situation room's facebook page. >> very popular page indeed. all right, jack.
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end up having in common with george w. bush. here's cnn's jeanne moos. >> reporter: he came toting a fried pork chop, a corn dog and an egg on a stick. there's a new texan in town swigging water like it's mouthwash, with his leg on a bale of hay spouting y'alls. >> y'all holler out a question. >> reporter: dropping his gs. >> messing around. farmin' and ranchin' people. >> reporter: we're thinking that texas talk sounds mighty familiar. >> daggum it -- >> reporter: some say that rick perry is the mirror image of another famous texas politician. >> what? >> reporter: the "new york daily news" even concocted a photo illustration showing perry looking into the mirror and george w. bush squinting back out. the accompanying column called perry w-2 with much better hair. hair, by the way, that's looked pretty much the same since his days in the corps of cadets at texas a&m university.
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in his first presidential campaign video -- >> he wore the uniform of our country. >> reporter: he sure reminds us of president bush in a flight suit, on a farm. but perry dismisses similarities saying -- >> we're not all carbon copies in texas. >> reporter: bill clinton said of perry -- >> he's a good looking rascal. >> reporter: when politico asked perry if he's armed today he declined to say saying, that's why it's called conceal. he doesn't conceal his touchy feely side. he put his arm around an iowa voter, then proceeded to slap and squeeze her before giving a final good-bye tap. he loves to tousle the hair of kids. colin here not only got his hair mussed, he got his cheeks rubbed. even a cnn producer got the cheek treatment. >> governor, what are your thoughts about -- >> back in the pen. >> reporter: and the photographer got a late pat.
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perry's got that down home charm that you know who had. remember all that winking? president bush even winked at queen elizabeth. don't blink or you'll miss rick perry's wink. get how perry pronounces this. >> i'm a supporter of nuclear energy. >> reporter: they both pronounce nuclear. and rick perry winks while he drinks. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> tomorrow i'll be interviewing the president of the united states, president obama, i'll sit down here in iowa. that interview tomorrow in the "situation room" 24 hours from now. stay tuned for that. until then, thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." world report is next. in north america, "john king usa" starts right now. good evening. everyone. if the pictures don't lie, then take a look at tonight's