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THE SITUATION ROOM
Record Temperatures; Bad Jobs Numbers; Country's Nastiest Congressional Race; Weak Jobs Report Makes Waves; Great Whites Spotted Near Scene of 'Jaws'
Aired July 6, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Bad news on the job front opens a fresh battleground in the campaign.
Hot enough to buckle the pavement, as record temperatures sear the country.
And straight out of a movie, great white sharks spotted off a popular beach.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The jobless numbers are now in, and they are not good. The trends are disappointing. For the first three months of this year, the economy was creating an average of more than 200,000 jobs a month. That's decent. But for the last three months, that number has dropped to around 70,000 jobs a month. That's weak.
We need at least twice that number just to start seeing a little bit of a drop in the unemployment rate. Nearly 13 million Americans remain unemployed. Millions more are not even counted in the statistics any longer because they have simply given up looking for a job. Overall, unemployment remains at 8.2 percent. Among white Americans, the unemployment number is around 7 percent. For Hispanics, it's around 11 percent.
For African-Americans, it's now jumped up to more than 14 percent. For many young people, including a lot of new college grads, it's off the charts. None of these -- this, of course, factors into the many millions of Americans who have a job but are underemployed. They may be working only part-time.
They may be working for a lot less than they used to make, but they have no choice. They need to put food on the table. And they may be way overqualified for the job they currently have, but they can't find a job that meets their job skills.
On the surface, the current numbers don't necessarily bode well for President Obama's reelection. Here's how he reacted today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that overall means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs. That's a step in the right direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mitt Romney had a very different reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president's policies have not gotten America working again. And the president's going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The one thing President Obama does have going for him is this. While the 80,000 jobs created last month certainly not good, still a lot, lot better than the 700,000 jobs a month lost when he took office. The country was then in a great recession.
He inherited a mess, to be sure. Certainly not in great shape today, but a lot better than it was. So is that enough? Is that enough good news to get him reelected four months from today? We will all find out.
Let's go to Kate Bolduan now. She's got some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf.
I first want to talk about a story affecting the majority of the country, the relentless, blazing heat. And if this summer seems hotter to you, well, you're right. New records are being set by the thousands.
CNN's Lisa Sylvester is out there in it for us.
You are quite a woman to be doing that for us right now, Lisa. How is it?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kate.
Yes, it is a little bit of a scorcher out here. Washington did set a new record. It's the ninth straight consecutive day of temperatures over 95 degrees. And we have here, this is a laser thermometer. And I can point and I'm going to show you a point here in the shade. This is mind you in the shade. This is coming up about 94 degrees, 93 degrees.
But we can walk over here into the sunlight. Different story. Watch these numbers as they immediately start to climb, 115, 116, 117.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): In Chicago, it's been hot enough to buckle the pavement. A record-breaking heat wave hitting the middle of the country with merciless triple digits. In Rockford, Illinois, another road buckled, and that can put lives at risk. This damaged highway in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, sent one driver airborne earlier this week captured on video by Teresa Reich (ph). Across the country, the weather map is bright red.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We got two dozen states again that are under heat advisories and heat warnings. And you look at this as far as the scope of the U.S., about a quarter of the country is involved in these heat advisories and heat warnings. About a third of the nation's population, some of this is going to be dangerous heat once again.
SYLVESTER: Some people getting emergency relief like ice by the truckload in Topeka, Kansas or beating the heat by hitting the pool. Nationwide, more than 4,000 heat records have been broken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just going to work and I'm dying.
SYLVESTER: Drought conditions in much of the country and tough times for animals as well. The heat is being blamed for several fish kills this week from St. Louis to Delaware. And power outages due to recent storms still have several hundred thousand without power or air-conditioning.
The best some D.C. residents can do is pray for breeze. But some people are determined to carry on, like these Minneapolis runners and these volunteers preparing for a weekend block party there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I'm melting. Just melting today.
SYLVESTER (on-camera): Well, everyone knows it's a hot day, but just how hot? Well, we have this laser thermometer. And here at this bus stop in Washington, you can see the heat coming off of this pavement is registering about 127 degrees.
(voice-over) In New York City, we took a thermometer to the subway platforms. The result, 92 degrees underground in the shade. And in D.C. --
How hot is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're saying it's in the close to 100 degrees.
SYLVESTER: Yes, we actually have a way of measuring it. Take a look here. What's coming up here, this is what it feels like, 127 degrees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say bring on, three, 30, 23 more degrees, and we'll OK for today. Let's make it even 150 degrees.
SYLVESTER: Anyone whose work requires them to be outdoors, take an example from these Chicago firefighters. Know your limits, take breaks, and stay hydrated, so you don't end up like these folks earlier this week in Indiana who were at a sweltering Fourth of July parade. How do you stay cool?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of water, Gatorade, ice.
SYLVESTER: Experts say wear loose clothes and sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and watch for signs of exhaustion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feeling weak, feeling dizzy.
SYLVESTER: The good advice is you want to wear loose clothing if you are outside. You want to make sure that you have water. And it doesn't hurt to have your sunglasses on as well, Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Lisa Sylvester, a long day for you out there. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: And, finally, we are following a developing story right here in the Washington, D.C., area, where at least three cars derailed on D.C. Metro's green line, just over an hour ago. None of the 55 passengers were hurt. But this happened near Hyattsville, Maryland, where the temperatures were just under 100 degrees right now.
I want to go to a reporter, Suzanne Kelly, who is -- Suzanne Kennedy, who is with our CNN affiliate WJLA, who is out there.
Suzanne, what more can you tell us about what the situation is right now?
SUZANNE KENNEDY, WJLA REPORTER: Kate, this started at about 4:45 this afternoon. It was an outbound green line train that was heading into the West Hyattsville station.
And when all of those 55 passengers were brought off the Metro train, some of them were brought into the bus that was brought in here, this medical ambulance bus provided by Prince George's County Fire and EMS. Their names were recorded. They were questioned about how they were feeling. They were given water.
Those were the walking wounded. I want to take you over here just a little bit and show you what was going on. You can see a small silver hatch in the ground. Those two doors allow access down into the Metro rail system. And that is where they were bringing passengers out about a half-hour ago. Ambulances remain on the scene, although Metro is saying there were no injuries. We did see several people transported, one of them a senior citizen, one of them a pregnant woman.
What we know is there were at least three cars that derailed, the last three cars on the train. Service has been suspended between two major stations here in Prince George's County. We also know that above- ground trains have been slowed to 35 miles per hour.
I asked a Metro spokesperson just a few minutes ago how this heat could have impacted it. They say that is certainly something they are going to be looking into as they investigate this.
Again, a green line train, inbound green line train here in Washington, D.C., derailed within the last hour -- back to you.
BOLDUAN: Suzanne Kennedy of our affiliate WJLA, thank you so much.
Of course, the commute home is going to be quite impacted this evening, but, fortunately, they say no serious injuries.
BLITZER: It will be interesting to see how that heat, if the heat really did play a role in the derailment.
BOLDUAN: We have seen the heat buckle roads across the country. It's quite possible. Of course, they will be investigating that. You know that.
BLITZER: I'm sure they will. Thank you.
We're following a lot of news, important news around the world as well. This could be the tipping point for the regime of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The man to the right of him in these photos could almost be called his right-hand man.
He's certainly a top Syrian army general from one of the country's most elite families, tied to the Bashar al-Assad dynasty for decades. His name is Manaf Tlass. We now know he fled to Turkey and is heading to Paris in what's being called a hard blow to the regime.
CNN's Ivan Watson is watching it all unfold. I asked him to explain the magnitude.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He comes from the closest thing that Syria has today to an aristocracy. The Tlass family has been at the top of the Syrian political structure for decades now.
He was a princeling, the son of Mustafa Tlass, who was the defense minister, and one of Hafez al-Assad's right-hand men, who helped lead the way for the eventual presidency of the current president, Bashar al-Assad.
I have interviewed this man's brother, Firas Tlass, who was a powerful and wealthy businessman in Damascus, and Manaf Tlass was the military side of the family, of the younger generation, from the same generation, Wolf, as Bashar al-Assad.
So they likely grew up together. And at the very least, it is a powerful psychological blow and a sign that the inner circle of the Syrian regime, which has maintained incredible discipline for 16 deadly months at least has one very noticeable crack now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Because what I'm hearing, Ivan, is there are a lot of efforts, not just by sources in the West, but also in the region, in the Middle East, Arab countries, that are using whatever they can, money, covert operations, to encourage high-ranking generals in the Syrian military to defect, to break with President Bashar al-Assad.
And they're warning them, the international community is, if you don't you could be tried for war crimes, brought before the International Criminal Court, you could be killed yourself. And that effort, that covert effort, if you will, seems to be working to a certain degree. The question is how much time is left? Because a lot of people are dying in the process.
WATSON: That's right.
According to estimates, more than 16,000 dead in 16 months. And a big question for men like Manaf Tlass, who are so closely associated with the regime, is, is there any place for them to go if they defect?
I'm hearing from opposition networks that some people want to prosecute this man for alleged war crimes, for crimes against humanity, which the United Nations has repeatedly accused the Syrian government of. So it may be a case for some of these people who are being wooed by Western or Arab intelligence agencies, do they even feel like there's a safe haven for them to escape to with the voluminous amount of evidence linking their regime to unspeakable atrocities month after month in Syria?
BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting for us.
Today's disappointing jobs report has sparked a new skirmish in the presidential campaign. President Obama and Mitt Romney, they are trading barbs. We're going to hear what they're saying.
Plus, Brian Todd has something really exciting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's real concern for beachgoers here in Cape Cod in this area behind me. There have been recent sightings of great white sharks. We're going to show you the pictures and we will tell you what's drawing them here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's not the news President Obama was hoping for. A disappointing jobs report putting a damper on day two of his bus trip through Ohio and Pennsylvania and leaving his prospects for reelection as uncertain as ever.
Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is traveling with the president.
Dan, what did he say today about this disappointing jobs report?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president said that it will take some time to turn the economy around. But his top economic adviser, Alan Krueger, cautioned in a statement not to read too much into one monthly report because these numbers are volatile. Sometimes there are revisions.
But this is the third straight month of these dismal numbers, and we're only four months away from Election Day.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): President Obama's battleground bus tour drove over a big speed bump when disappointing job numbers overshadowed his campaign message.
OBAMA: It's still tough out there.
LOTHIAN: At a rally in Poland, Ohio, the president didn't dwell on negative news, instead played up private sector gains.
OBAMA: Business has created 84,000 new jobs last month. And that overall means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs.
OBAMA: That's a step in the right direction.
LOTHIAN: But unemployment remains at 8.2 percent. And voters are divided over who best can handle the economy. A recent CNN/ORC poll shows 48 percent of registered voters think Mitt Romney, 47 percent President Obama.
Looking to keep a tight grip on the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania that voted for him in 2008, the president pushed his message of manufacturing gains, especially in the auto industry, to working-class voters. He began the final day of his Betting on America bus tour with breakfast in Akron, Ohio, where the president was joined by three union workers from a nearby Goodyear tire plant.
OBAMA: You have been there 20 years. You still there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LOTHIAN: Then he toured this Summer Garden Food manufacturing plant near Youngstown, a business the campaign said was expanding and creating jobs.
At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, his biggest event of the tour, there was one final appeal for a second term.
OBAMA: And if you still believe in me like I believe in you, I hope you will stand with me in 2012.
BLITZER: That's a report from CNN's Dan Lothian, our White House correspondent, traveling with the president.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is seizing on the disappointing jobs numbers. He's using it as a way to hammer away at the president.
Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is in Boston. She's covering the Romney campaign today.
Dana, what's going on? What happened?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first let me start by showing you some new video just in to CNN, captured by our producer Shawna Shepherd with Gil De La Rosa. They got some video of Mitt Romney doing what we think he's been doing pretty much all week long and that is frolicking in the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire with his family, his kids, with his grandkids.
We certainly saw some images, but nothing like this, with him diving into the water and really seeming to have some fun and relax.
While he is doing that, I can tell you all week long here in Boston, where Romney's headquarters are, they were waiting for this morning, for today, the first Friday of the month, to get these jobs numbers and to try to refocus their campaign message on joblessness under the Obama administration.
BASH (voice-over): Ninety minutes after news broke of disappointing jobs numbers, a vacationing Mitt Romney appeared before cameras.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's another kick in the gut to middle-class families.
BASH: Responding fast to America's slow economic recovery is a way for team Romney to begin its own political recovery after a rough holiday week.
An aide veering off GOP message about whether the health insurance mandate is a tax, which the candidate himself cleaned up on July 4.
ROMNEY: The Supreme Court is the final word, right? Isn't that the highest court in the land? And they said it was a tax, didn't they? So it's a tax, of course, if that's what they say it is.
BASH: And there was an unusual amount of friendly-fire, a pair of corporate heavyweights calling Romney's advisers amateur and harsh editorials in the influential conservative "The Wall Street Journal" and "Weekly Standard," which slammed the GOP candidate for focusing too much on what the president hasn't done, and not enough on what Romney would do.
Editor William Kristol writing: "Adopting a prevent defense when it's only the second quarter and you're not even ahead is dubious enough as a strategy."
A day later, this got special emphasis.
ROMNEY: I have a plan. My plan calls for action that will get America working again and create good jobs both near-term and long- term. It includes finally taking advantage of our energy resources, building the Keystone pipeline, making sure we create energy jobs and we convince manufacturers that energy will be available and low-cost in America.
BASH: Despite trying to quiet criticism by reiterating his economic plan, Romney advisers believe this election will be a special twist on Ronald Reagan's famous question.
RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you better off than you were four years ago?
BASH: Romney aides argue with President Obama, it's not so much a question of, are you better off? It's did he meet those high expectations he set four years ago for a different America with soaring rhetoric like this?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody has a chance to succeed, from the CEO to the secretary, from the factory owner to the men and women on the factory floor.
BASH: It was no accident that Romney used an emotional term, kick in the gut, not once, but twice.
ROMNEY: America can do better. And this kick in the gut has got to end.
BASH: Now, Romney still has some work to do to convince those conservatives about the fact that he is going to talk more about his own economic plan for the future because as that "Wall Street Journal" editorial said, they are concerned that he is squandering an historic opportunity.
And let's look a little bit at the history, why they're so frustrated. Wolf, here's a little bit of historical statistics -- 70 years ago, even more than 70 years ago, that was the last time a president was reelected with this kind of unemployment numbers. Franklin Roosevelt was the president.
BLITZER: Yes. Do we expect, Dana, the Romney campaign, the Republican presidential candidate himself to be offering specific new proposals over the next four months?
BASH: I don't think necessarily that he's going to offer new proposals, because, as he reminded people today, he did put out a 59- point plan. I think -- early on in the primary season.
I think the bigger issue for him is talking about it more and talking about it in a concise way, in a way, as John Sununu, the former senator from New Hampshire, said to you yesterday, that is declarative and very specific and very easy to understand, which Republicans are worried that he hasn't done so far.
BLITZER: Short sentences, he said.
All right, Dana, thanks very, very much.
That 59-point proposal he put out, some Republicans panned it then, but we will see if he can elaborate right now.
BOLDUAN: Short sentences that people can understand. That's what he says. That's very important.
All right. Coming up, Vice President Joe Biden's home town struggling so much, officials want to pay all city workers minimum wage. What's going on in Scranton, Pennsylvania?
BLITZER: It's a critical state for President Obama this November. In fact, he's visiting Pennsylvania tonight, and Vice President Joe Biden was just there in his home town of Scranton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It seems strange to say that I'm home. But, you know, our family's roots run deep here in this county, in this city. My great-great-grandfather was the city engineer for the city of Scranton from 1883 to '93.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So if Biden's great-great-grandfather were working for Scranton today, guess what? He'd be facing a severe pay reduction.
The mayor wants to cut almost all -- almost every 400 members of the city employees to minimum wage.
Let's bring in our CNN political director, Mark Preston, to tell us what's going on.
So everybody who works for the city is only going to be paid minimum wage, is that right?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, that's what the Scranton mayor's trying to do right now.
And we always talk about how the economic crisis is hitting close to home, and what we're seeing up now in Scranton and what Joe Biden is he's really watching what he describes as his hometown basically running into this financial wall.
So what has happened is that you have the city mayor who says he doesn't have enough money to pay all the workers. He needs money to pay off bills, pay for gasoline, for police cars, and for the fire engines, as well as to pay for health insurance.
I have to tell you, earlier today, a lawyer for the unions for the city of Scranton was on CNN and he said in fact that this is a dispute now between the mayor and the city council and the money does happen to be there. Now, Wolf, we should note now, as much as Joe Biden does say that he is from Scranton and he loves it and that's where his family's from, he doesn't have a whole lot to do with local issues. He can't really get involved in the fight.
But we did ask the Obama campaign, the Biden campaign what the vice president thought about it, and this is what they had to say.
They said: "This administration is leading the fight to address the challenges facing first-responders, teachers, and all public employees and that's why no matter the locale, the vice president and president are standing up for these middle class workers and their families with a jobs plan that would create up to a million jobs right now, putting teachers, police, firefighters, and construction workers back on the job."
Now, of course, he doesn't address it directly, trying to push his economic plan. But just a few days ago, as you had said in the open, he was in Scranton. He had some prophetic words for the people of that city. Let's hear what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This county, this city has gone through some tough times. It's had its heyday. It's come back. It's had tough times.
But the remarkable thing about all of you is that, like my father, you don't measure success on whether or not a man or woman's been knocked down. You measure success on how quickly they get up. And so many people, so many sons and daughters of Scranton have been knocked down, but they have gotten back up time and time again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PRESTON: There you are, Wolf.
Prophetic words, Kate, prophetic words from the vice president just a few days ago.
BOLDUAN: And when you are talking about the tough times that the city may be in, what are you hearing about these reports that the city wants the campaign to actually pay for Biden's trip there?
PRESTON: Well, it just goes to show you that they are trying to squeeze every nickel that they can and see where they can get it.
We reached out to the mayor's office today because he had told the local newspaper, "The Times Tribune," that in fact he was going to ask for that money from the campaign to help pay for security costs and other expenses.
We reached out to the mayor's office. He did not get back to us today. But we did speak to the Obama campaign, the Biden campaign, and they simply had to say this: "The campaign will follow all the rules and pay for the portion of travel that relates to political events, as has been true for previous incumbent presidential candidates."
And I think, Kate and Wolf, it's really simple to say that all politics really is local.
BLITZER: It certainly is.
BOLDUAN: Very good point.
BLITZER: All right, good reporting. Thanks very much, Mark...
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Mark.
BLITZER: ... for that.
Her military service versus his Tea Party backing. Those two issues have this congressional race boiling over right now with some ugly rhetoric. Tammy Duckworth talks to me about her campaign to unseat Congressman Joe Walsh.
Plus, Great White Sharks spotted off one of the most popular beaches in the northeast. We're going there live; 50 past the hour.
BLITZER: Happening now, her service in Iraq, the focus of an ugly campaign battle.
How disappointing jobs numbers will impact the White House race.
Plus, what's drawing 14-foot killer sharks to the Atlantic coast?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's get right to one of this year's most watched and nastiest congressional races. It's in Illinois, where a Tea Party Republican incumbent faces a Democrat who's a veteran of the war in Iraq.
Kate Bolduan is joining us now, our congressional correspondent.
You're here. You're keeping a close eye on this race. A lot of folks around the country are, as well.
BOLDUAN: Yes, we've definitely been keeping a close eye on this one. We're talking about Joe Walsh and Tammy Duckworth. They are fighting for a new seat in the state representing the northwest suburbs of Chicago, created as part of redistricting efforts that have been taking place across the country.
But what's really making headlines in this race is the name calling.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Here's the town-hall video that created an uproar around Republican Congressman Joe Walsh.
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: That's what's so noble about our heroes.
BOLDUAN: Walsh, a Tea Party conservative, has earned a reputation for controversy during his two years in office, suggesting over the weekend his Democratic challenger talks too much about her military service.
WALSH: Now, I'm running against a woman who -- I mean, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about.
BOLDUAN: The woman Walsh is attacking, Tammy Duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs in a 2004 helicopter accident while serving in Iraq. Walsh has clarified several times he does think Duckworth is a hero.
WALSH: I've said that thousands of times. I've called Tammy Duckworth a hero hundreds of times.
BOLDUAN: But clearly he's not apologizing. Here's more with CNN's Ashleigh Banfield.
WALSH: She was on TV a month and a half ago. She was asked a question about gay marriage. Do you know what she talked about? Her time at Walter Reed.
Look, I'll say it again. I have respect for her and her service. My thoughts and prayers go out to her like they do every wounded warrior. But that doesn't demand our vote. Ashleigh, if that's what it took to be -- to get your vote, John McCain, another hero, would be our president.
BOLDUAN: Duckworth has been more than happy to fight back.
TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: He's just trying to shift the focus away from the fact that he's done nothing in his two years in Congress other than be an extremist loudmouth for the Tea Party.
LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Joe Walsh is having, I think, a bit of trouble trying to figure out how to run against a war hero. Even though he's the incumbent in the House, he has a new district. He hasn't run from some of this territory before, and I think he is just trying to figure out how to use the experience he has as a way to match up against the record that Tammy Duckworth has.
BOLDUAN: Right now the non-partisan Cook Political Report calls this the surest Democratic pickup for House races across the country. So Duckworth is expected to win this one.
Wolf and I interviewed Walsh this week. He made clear he thinks Duckworth is a hero but says he is not backing down and does not regret what he said.
BLITZER: And I spoke with Tammy Duckworth earlier, and I asked her to react to what her opponent Joe Walsh has been saying. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: He repeatedly says John McCain, a war hero to be sure, he never really spoke that much about his own personal experiences as a POW in Vietnam, for example, but that's all he says you talk about, your war experiences. Do you want to respond to what Walsh is saying?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I think that Mr. Walsh is being very irresponsible in his words at a time when we have so many veterans coming home.
I hope that the veterans of this generation talk about their war experiences more than the veterans of the Vietnam generation like Senator McCain. You know, they were criticized back then. Our war heroes coming home today should talk about their service.
They need to talk about the leadership skills they earned -- they learned in the military that will make them better employees. They need to talk about the fact that they were able to accomplish really tough missions under really extreme conditions. And that'll make them, again, better employees and better leaders in the civilian world.
We also need to make sure that our veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress talk about their wartime experiences and reach out for help. And also those veterans who become homeless need to talk about the fact that they are homeless.
It's very irresponsible for Mr. Walsh as a sitting congressman to try to muzzle war veterans and to keep them from talking about their service by trying to insinuate that you're not a hero if you talk about your service when, in fact, our veterans should be talking about their service. It will help us better understand why they make better employees so that they can find those jobs.
It will also help us address the issues of post-traumatic stress, increasing veteran suicides, the need for access to health care for veterans, and also the need to end homelessness among veterans.
BLITZER: Do you have a problem that he never served in the military?
DUCKWORTH: None whatsoever. I think there are many, many ways to serve this nation. I think that people who volunteer in their kids' PTA are serving. I think people like my mom, who volunteers at a soup kitchen, is serving this nation.
The key is for to us all do a part to make this nation great. And what we need now are people in Washington, just as we have here at home, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Mr. Walsh is an example of what is wrong with Washington. He's been there for two years, and all he does is use belligerent words and belligerent actions and he doesn't want to compromise or work with anyone. Instead he disagrees and argues with anyone who disagrees with him and doesn't see things his way. That's simply not acceptable in a sitting congressman. BLITZER: I agree that the differences on substantive policy issues are what the two of you should be debating. But he's used some nasty words.
But you've also suggested, among other things, that Walsh is an extremist loudmouth for the Tea Party. Back in April you said, "There's not a crackpot Tea Party idea that he hasn't embraced."
Is that appropriate to use that kind of language against a sitting United States congressman?
DUCKWORTH: I think it's appropriate against a gentleman who says that he wants to be the poster child for the Tea Party. He actually gave that quote to "TIME" magazine.
He's told the people in the district that "you're not going to get squat from me." His words. And that he is going to Washington to shout from the mountaintops and that he's not going to compromise, he's not going to work with anyone. He is there to be a poster child for the Tea Party.
BLITZER: I also asked Tammy Duckworth if she'd be willing to debate Joe Walsh right here in THE SITUATION ROOM live. She was open to it, although she didn't make a flat commitment. She said she already had several debates planned with him, wouldn't commit to joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM. But she's going to think about it.
And a little bit after that interview aired I received a tweet from Joe Walsh saying this, "@WolfBlitzer, I'd be happy to come on your show to do a live debate with @Tammy4Congress." That would be Tammy Duckworth. We're going to try to make this debate work. Let's hope it does.
So have voters already made up their minds about the economy? The impact of today's jobs report. That's next.
And Great White Sharks sending a chill through the summer air at a popular beach. We're going there live. That's at 6:50 p.m. Eastern.
BLITZER: The June jobs report numbers are out. It's not good news. Certainly not good news for the country. Not good news for the president. Lay it all out.
BOLDUAN: Sure, OK. So here's what we learned just this morning. The U.S. economy added 80,000 jobs last month. Not enough to move the unemployment rate from 8.2 percent, where it's really hovered since the beginning of the year around there.
Still, as you mentioned, Wolf, at the top of the hour, President Obama is putting up a fight while Mitt Romney is, not surprisingly, pouncing.
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BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to deal with what's been happening over the last decade, last 15 years. Manufacturing leaving our shores. Incomes flat-lining. All those things are what we've got to struggle and fight for.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time for America to choose, whether they want more of the same. Whether unemployment above 8 percent month after month after month is satisfactory or not. It doesn't have to be this way. America can do better. And this kick in the gut has got to end.
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BLITZER: Let's talk about it with our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He's also the editorial director of the "National Journal." Also joining us, Steven Moore, senior economics writer for the "Wall Street Journal" and a member of its editorial board. And our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She's the anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
Steve, when you heard that 80,000 number today, what immediately went through your mind?
STEVEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMICS WRITER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Uh-oh. Because that was a lousy number. You know, we've only been averaging about 75,000 jobs now for the last three months. So this isn't the first bad jobs report we've had.
By the way, you know, we in the media always report the 8.2 percent unemployment rate. But there's various measures of unemployment, and the other big one is 14.9 percent, Wolf. And that's the percentage of Americans who either aren't in a job, have become so discouraged they're not looking for a job, or can't find a full-time job. That's a lot of Americans. That's one out of every seven.
It's a big problem for President Obama going four or five months before an election.
BLITZER: Either underemployed or unemployed.
MOORE: That's right.
BOLDUAN: And talking more, now, four months away from the election, Ron. I mean, would you see that there's going to be any drastic changes to that point? And if we're sitting here on election day and it hasn't budged, how much trouble is President Obama in?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, it would be historic for him to be re-elected with this level of unemployment. But that doesn't mean it's outside of his reach.
My guess is that this is not going to have a huge effect on the dynamic. The last bad month of unemployment did not really change it. In fact, President Obama's probably in a slightly better position today than a month ago. But what this does, I think, make clear is that there's not going to be a tailwind for him. There's not going to be anything that's going to lift him into a safer zone. And this is just going to be a dogfight or trench warfare where it's going a very -- in all likelihood a very close result without any real tailwind for the president that anyone can see on the horizon at this point.
BLITZER: Candy, Steve Schmidt -- Steve Schmidt, who was the McCain campaign manager four years ago, he told "The New York Times" this. He said, "The shape of the playing field is largely set. They believe it's a very bad economy. They're pessimistic, and they're anxious. The campaign that wins is the campaign that best -- is best able to address the anxiety."
He's sort of convinced that most people have already made up their minds.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think -- yes, most people have already made up their minds. That's true.
But the people that are going to decide the election haven't made up their minds. So the folks that they want to talk to, the swing voters.
I do think the economic table is set. We've seen this pattern since early spring at least. And it's going to stay around 8.2. It's not great. It's not awful. It's not losing jobs, but it's not gaining enough jobs.
So I think what we've seen is here's President Obama out there going, "I understand it. I feel your pain. I used to, you know, travel the country by bus and stay at hotels. I'm a regular guy. I get it. But you don't want to go back to the guy -- the kind of policies that caused us this in the first place."
And then you see Mitt Romney out there going, "This isn't working; he's failed."
So those are the messages. They're set. The economic messages are set.
MOORE: It's a problem, though -- you know, if you go back to almost four years ago, what did Barack Obama say? "If I can't fix this in four years" -- I think he used the direct quote -- "you can fire me." That's something that Mitt Romney's going to say week after week after week, that this isn't working.
BLITZER: He says he's fixing it, it's not completely fixed yet, but it's better than it was.
MOORE: The real issue is whether Americans when they go into that voting booth feel at all confident that things are...
BLITZER: And that's why that right track, wrong track is...
BROWNSTEIN: That is the key. What improved Obama's position from last summer to this summer was an increase in the people who -- share of people who believe things were going to get better, not the share of people who said that things were better today in their lives.
I was out in the Denver suburbs on July 4, interviewing voters, and I felt like the clear divide was almost everyone felt that Obama had been handed a very difficult situation. And the divide was between those who said this is about as good as anybody could have done and those who said, as Steve did, "Look, this just isn't working and we need" -- you know, Romney is almost a non-entity at this point. There's no real impression of him among these voters.
But there -- what you have is either people who feel that Obama's doing about as well as he can or that he's just hit the wall.
BLITZER: Steve, the "Wall Street Journal" caused quite a stir this week, because I know how anxious you made the Romney campaign. That editorial. I don't know if you had any involvement in writing that editorial. I assume you did. But it was a blistering -- walk us through the decision-making process when you said what you said. I'm paraphrasing. Dysfunctional campaign, counterproductive. Or whatever.
MOORE: I'd like to use the term "tough love." Right. I mean, it was a very tough editorial. It's saying look, wake up, the game is on here. You've had -- you know, you're not being very quick on the draw.
We didn't think he did a very effective job responding to the Supreme Court decision on Obama care, which Ron, as you know, that's going to be the other big issue, is healthcare, because now this election is also a referendum on whether we're going to keep that.
So we were just trying to say, look, you've got to get involved in the race. You know, taking a vacation right now doesn't sound like the greatest idea. And you've got to be tougher.
I was in Chesapeake, Virginia, this week turning on a TV. You know, this is a battleground state. There are a bunch of Obama ads on the economy. I didn't see much of Romney. So he just seems to be falling behind.
BOLDUAN: Final thought on this. Do you think this is a problem when you think of -- when you see this tough love with the candidate or with the campaign?
CROWLEY: I think it's a problem with the candidate, No. 1. It always is. You know, he's running that thing. This idea that he needs to bring outsiders -- I talked to a couple folks in the campaign. They said, "Look, we weren't geniuses three weeks ago when everyone said, you know, President Obama is really blowing this, and we're not idiots now."
But they are taking this advice. I mean, they listen to it, and they say, "We are listening to our friends. We are -- you know, we are making progress. We are trying to get people on the ground." And they also say, "Listen, remember, the Obama campaign has just dumped everything it had on us. We're being outspent 3-1, you know, in ads."
Watch for them to step it up. But they are taking this kind of advice.
BLITZER: When the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page speaks, Republicans listen.
MOORE: Yes. We'd like to think so.
BLITZER: And some Democrats, as well.
MOORE: Hopefully them, too. And I know you read our page, as well.
BLITZER: Of course. Thanks very much.
Fourteen-foot killers lurking in the waters off Cape Cod. We're going there live for new details of the Great White Shark scare keeping beachgoers out of the water.
BLITZER: Shark sightings are sending a chill through the summer air out on Cape Cod. And these aren't just any sharks. They're the giant killers made famous in the movies, Great Whites.
CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene for us on Cape Cod right now.
Brian, what's the latest? What are you seeing? What's going on there?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, take a look at this beach behind me. Our photojournalist, Walter Imparato, is going to take a span of the beach. Here, you see some people milling around. This is one of the most popular, one of the best-known spots on the East Coast.
Right now, as you see, hardly anyone even near the water, and there's good reason for that.
TODD (voice-over): Gorgeous weather and at the height of summer. But they're only going in waist-deep, and it's not because the water is cold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up watching "Jaws" back in the '70s and vivid memories. And I don't want to relive that.
TODD: This is what they're worried about on Cape Cod.
TODD: Not far from where "Jaws" was filmed, Great White Sharks are back.
GREG SKOMAL, MARINE BIOLOGIST: Tuesday were the most recent sightings by one of our spotter pilots. Two white sharks.
TODD: Each measuring at least 14 feet. Authorities have identified 20 of these predators right off the cape over the past three years and believe there are many more lurking.
A group called Cape Cod Shark Hunters works with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to track, photograph and tag the Great Whites.
We're out off the cape, looking for the sharks with John Chisholm of the Marine Fisheries Division. We spot abundant marine life here, including humpback whales.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
TODD: It looks like a harpoon, but it's a listening station. These buoys carry acoustic receivers that track the migration and behavior of Great Whites that have been tagged. What's drawing them here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know they're here looking for seals. That's why we placed these things in strategic locations, where we know they're hunting seals, where we have documented seal predations.
TODD: The population of Gray and Harbor Seals on Cape Cod has made a huge comeback in recent years. Every expert we speak to points to that as the magnet for Great Whites.
(on camera) Here's a pod of seals. This is an area where they've tagged a lot of sharks. We're told that the sharks are very stealthy. They lurk on the bottom, come up and grab the seals, even this close to shore.
Scenes like this make people wonder just how close the sharks could be. This dead seal washed up on shore. An experts says things to look for in a seal that's been attacked: tooth marks and possible tearing. That could be what we're seeing right here.
(voice-over) An expert later looks at our video and says this was very likely a shark attack victim.
The sharks aren't scaring folks off. They're actually a top attraction this summer, and even good for business.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some quality Great White Shark t-shirts being sold. It's awesome.
SKOMAL: I think folks in general love to see sharks. They love the idea of sharks. I think sharks fascinate people.
TODD: One marine biologist points out that a human has not been attacked by a shark in these waters since 1936. But with the seals making such a big comeback and the seals' proximity to the swimmers around here, authorities are getting increasingly concerned.
Wolf, one of the shark trackers told us that one of these Great Whites got as close as 30 feet from the shoreline.
BLITZER: Wow. Let's just hope everybody stays away from that dangerous area if, in fact, it is dangerous. Brian, thank you.
BOLDUAN: So something new in this hour of THE SITUATION ROOM. We're calling it "Ask Wolf." If you have ever had a question for Wolf you've just been always wanting to ask him, to get inside his brain, well, you can finally chime in. You see all the ways you can reach out right there on your screen: Facebook, Twitter, iReport. Ask away. We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: It's the birth that has Tokyo celebrating. Our "Video of the Day" is next.
BLITZER: For the first time in almost a quarter century, a baby panda is born at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo. It's our "Video of the Day." Check it out. You can't see it, but you can certainly hear it squealing.
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BLITZER: Zoo keepers say all that noise is a very good sign of a healthy cub. Congratulations.
That's it for us.
BLITZER: Have a great weekend.
BOLDUAN: You too.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.