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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Democratic National Convention

Aired September 6, 2012 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was explosive, Anderson. There were people here chanting, Gabby, we love you. I saw cheers, high fives. Here they go. Fired up and ready to go. Now they're saying, Gabrielle Giffords got this, Arizona delegation really up off their feet right now. I really can't say it any better. There's the (INAUDIBLE) right now. They're obviously very energized. A very meaningful moment for her friends and supporters here -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just joining us at the top of the hour, you're watching the Democratic National Convention. Folks standing up, chanting, fired up, ready to go. They just watched Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords giving the "Pledge of Allegiance." And here comes Caroline Kennedy, another very popular part of the Democratic Party.

Let's listen in.

CAROLINE KENNEDY, DAUGHTER OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: It's an honor to join you tonight for the most important reason I can imagine. To make sure that Barack Obama is re-elected president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Four years ago, I was inspired by the way Senator Obama had lived his life. Fighting for jobs. Giving hope to the hopeless and working day in and day out for the America he believes in.

I was inspired by Barack Obama's vision for America. An America where we look out for one another. Where we take responsibility for our sisters and brothers. And, most of all, for our children. Back then, I was inspired by the promise of Barack Obama's presidency. Today, I'm inspired by his record.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Over the past four years we have had a president who has committed himself and his administration to the values that made America great. Economic fairness. Equal opportunity. And the belief that if each of us gives back to this country we love, and all of us work together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Those are the ideals that my father and my uncles fought for. Those are the ideals I believe in. And this election is about whether we will advance those ideals or let them be swept away. Like my father's election in 1960, this is one of those elections where the future of our country is at stake. And --

(APPLAUSE)

And women and children have the most on the line. The president has been a champion for women's rights. The first bill he signed was to make sure women can fight for equal pay for equal work.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

His commitment to women is about even more than economic rights. It's about health care. Reproductive rights. And our ability to make our own decisions about ourselves, our families and our future. When it comes to what's best for women, there is only one candidate in this race who is on our side. Barack Obama.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

As a Catholic woman, I take reproductive health seriously. And today it is under attack. This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women's access to reproductive health care. That's not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters. Now isn't the time to roll back the rights we were winning when my father was president. Now is the time to move this country forward.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

President Obama has shown the same commitment when it comes to our children. He has put our ideals into action for the next generation. He has inspired them to get involved. He has listened to their ideas. And he has committed us all to building a better future for them.

He's challenged states to raise standards for teaching and learn and almost all of them have. He has fought for early childhood education. Putting outstanding teachers in every classroom. And making college accessible to all young dreamers.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I know Barack Obama will fight for women and children and all Americans because he has proven it. He has the quality my father most admired in public life. Courage. Despite critics who said it wasn't good politics, President Obama listened to my Uncle Teddy and staked his presidency on making health care accessible to all Americans.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Despite an opponent who wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, this president saved the auto industry and now it's coming back strong.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

He not only demonstrated the courage to oppose the war in Iraq, as president, he showed the determination to bring our troops back home.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Barack Obama is the kind of leader my father wrote about in "Profiles in Courage." He doesn't just do what's easy. He does what's hard. He does what's right.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

My father couldn't run for a second term. It was left to his brothers, our family and the generation they inspired to fight for the America he believed in. Now it's up to a new generation. Our children's generation. To carry America forward.

So let me say to the young and the young at heart, Barack Obama is only president because you worked for him, because you believed in him. Because you convinced your parents to vote for him.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Young people have always led America towards a brighter future. It happened in 1960. It happened in 2008. And if you show the same spirit in this election as you did in the last, I know that we'll make history again on November 6th. Thank you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Caroline Kennedy here at the Democratic National Convention.

We very seldom hear from members of the president's immediate family but our own Piers Morgan is standing by with President Obama's half-sister. Stand by for that.

The delegates are about to hear also from a former Republican. He's going to explain why he's supporting President Obama this year.

And Vice President Joe Biden is getting ready to deliver his acceptance speech.

Much more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And welcome back to the Democratic National Convention. Our Candy Crowley is standing by near the podium with Caroline Kennedy and her -- and her son Jack Schlossberg -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: I think it's Jack's first appearance on our air, so thank you for joining us. And why don't I start with you, because I know you were -- your mom said at the time she endorsed President Obama four years ago, that you were part of her inspiration for that. What drew you to Barack Obama?

JACK SCHLOSSBERG, CAROLINE KENNEDY'S SON: Well in 2008, everyone was so excited, and it was great to be able to talk to my mom and my uncle Teddy and my sisters, and sort of talk about politics over three generations. And I was really inspired, as my mom just said, about the promise Senator Obama made to us. And now I'm really inspired by what he's done so far. And, yes, that's the main reason.

CROWLEY: So when we are looking at the polling now, what we're seeing is young people in particular are a lot less enthused this time around about voting, less enthused about voting in particular for President Obama, although overwhelmingly they still favor him. What went wrong, do you think?

CAROLINE KENNEDY, DAUGHTER OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: I don't think -- you know, it's been a tough four years economically. People have had a really hard time. And I think now we're really going to see, though, that people are really deeply committed to President Obama, especially young people. Because I think when they sit down and think about it, they know that he's the one with the plan for the future, for their future.

I think that's going to change. I think those polls are going to change.

CROWLEY: It's going to be hard to make up -- there's like about a 20-point gap between those who say that they're definitely going to vote, and then young people, who say they're definitely going to vote this time around. I know you've written a couple of articles for our dot-com. What is your best pitch there? I think we heard your mom's out here in her speech that we carried. But why do you think it is? A lot of people think it is the unemployment rate among young folks, 18 to 24, is about 17 percent.

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I think that young people have a lot to thank President Obama for, actually. I think that he's been an incredible ally to us in Washington, whether it's pushing for the DREAM Act, whether it's, you know, coming out in support of gay marriage, an issue that's very important to my generation, or -- and the Affordable Care Act. All of us are able to stay on our parent's plan until we're 26, and that's a really big deal, and I think that a lot of people are going to start getting excited now. We're really starting to kick this off. And I think you're going to see a lot of young people at the polls.

CROWLEY: It's interesting, you're saying the social issues in some way sort of drive out the young vote. Let me ask you, and I'll start with you, would you like Jack to have a career in politics?

KENNEDY: Well, Jack's great, and I know whatever he does, he'll do it with all his heart, so whatever that is, I would be fully behind it.

CROWLEY: So mom wouldn't stand in the way?

KENNEDY: Well, he's got to finish college, so you know, so why don't we come back and talk about that later.

CROWLEY: OK, let me try with Jack then here. So you're a sophomore at Yale. And I should ask you what's wrong with Harvard, but OK. Would you think about running for office? Does politics interest you?

SCHLOSSBERG: Politics definitely interests me. I'm most interested in public service. I think that's something that I got from being part of my family, which is such an honor. I haven't even picked what classes I'm taking this semester yet, so I'm not thinking about a political career right now.

CROWLEY: Thinking about getting through Yale, right?

SCHLOSSBERG: Yes.

CROWLEY: OK. And I just have to ask you about the tribute to Uncle Teddy, your great-uncle and your godfather.

SCHLOSSBERG: Yes.

CROWLEY: Right. Any dry eyes in the room you were in?

KENNEDY: No, that was so wonderful. I don't know, it was just great to feel his presence here, and I think everybody shared that feeling.

SCHLOSSBERG: Teddy showed up for every, you know, first communion, Thanksgiving, everything, and it was so typical for him to show up one last time here again, which is great.

CROWLEY: Jack Schlossberg and his mom, Caroline Kennedy, thanks for spending some time with us. Back to you, Anderson.

KENNEDY: Can't wait to see you on the debates.

CROWLEY: Oh, thanks. Thanks.

Anderson.

BLITZER: Yes, Candy, thanks very much. Our Piers Morgan is standing by with President Obama's half-sister -- Piers.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: Yes, thanks, Anderson. I'm with Maya Soetoro-Ng. How are you?

MAYA SOETORO-NG, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S HALF-SISTER: I'm well, thank you.

MORGAN: You must --

SOETORO-NG: So nice to see you.

MORGAN: You must know a few of the secrets of this speech. So what are we going to get from your brother Barack tonight?

SOETORO-NG: I prefer to be surprised so I have not asked any questions. But of course I know that he's going to lay out the next four years. And he's going to do so assertively and elegantly and I'm very excited for the speech. MORGAN: Now although he's still more popular with women than Mitt Romney, the latest poll says he's beginning to lose a bit of appeal with women, your brother. So what are you going to say to him to get things back on track with your gender?

SOETORO-NG: I think that women will come around. I think they have to. And I think that he is an amazing president for women in terms of making sure that, you know, women's health issues are taken care of, representation. And honestly everything that he does, he does for his girls and it's a very intimate engagement with women's issues that he has.

I mean he has me, he has Michelle, he has Michelle's mom. He was raised by a mother. And a very fierce grandmother. So he will be there for women. And I have to believe that women will see this, understand it and go in hoards.

MORGAN: President Clinton said of all the many reasons to vote for Barack Obama, some of the rather key ones was because he chose Michelle as his wife. Did you get --

SOETORO-NG: That was very sensible I think, yes. No, I think that she is a perfect partner for him. She is very strong. She's sort of balances healthy and practical firmness with gentleness and nurturing, and she's a terrific mother and that is enormously important.

MORGAN: And you know Barack better than most people. What will he be feeling out the back there? A lot of pressure? Does he get nervous?

SOETORO-NG: I don't think he's nervous. I think he's very prepared. I think the speech is going to be great. And I think, you know, he's probably stretching his long limbs and excited to address the crowd.

MORGAN: Will he better than Bill Clinton's? That's the key question.

SOETORO-NG: I think he'll be different. Right? Everyone serves their purpose. So Michelle was about storytelling, about helping us to kind of frame the campaign issues and deeply, you know, loving intimate ways. And Bill Clinton was about gaining perspective on the last four years. And I think my brother is going to be about looking ahead.

MORGAN: I think the crowd rather liked what you've just been saying, Maya. It's all about you.

SOETORO-NG: I wish --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Lovely to see you again.

SOETORO-NG: Of course. Lovely to see you. Thank you so much. MORGAN: Best of luck tonight. Must be nerve-wracking for all the family members. Good luck.

SOETORO-NG: Exciting, exciting.

MORGAN: It definitely is.

SOETORO-NG: Thank you.

MORGAN: Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: And Joe Biden is getting ready to accept his nomination for another term as vice president and describe what it's like working up close with President Obama. We'll bring you his comments ahead. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're waiting to hear from Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The former Governor Charlie Crist. But right now, let's listen to the actress Eva Longoria.

EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: -- work on campus to pay those loans back. And like a lot of you, I did whatever it took, and four years later, I got my degree.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

But more importantly, I got a key to American opportunity. Because that's who we are. A nation that rewards ambition with opportunity. Where hard work can lead to success no matter where you start.

As I traveled the country for the president, I see Americans of every background fighting to succeed. They're optimistic. They're ambitious. They're hard working. But they also want to know that their hard work will pay off. And we're lucky that our president understands the value of American opportunity because he's lived it.

(APPLAUSE)

And he's fighting to help others achieve it. He's fighting to make college more affordable. He's cut taxes for every working American. He's helping small businesses get loans and has cut their taxes 18 times. Eighteen times. And that's important. I'll tell you why. Because small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America. It's the suburban dad who realizes his neighborhood needs a dry-cleaner. It's the Latino nurse whose block needs a health clinic and she's the one that's going to open it. Or it's the high school sophomore who's building Facebook's competitor.

They are the entrepreneurs driving the American economy. Not Mitt Romney's outsourcing pioneers.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) Mitt Romney would raise taxes on middle class families to cut his own and mine. And that's not who we are as a nation. And let me tell you why. Because the Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy's, flipping burger, she need a tax break. But the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

President Obama, he is fighting for changes that grow the economy from the middle out and help all Americans succeed. Jobs, education, health reform. The Dream Act. Equal pay for women. President Obama's moving us forward with opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow.

Mitt Romney wants to take us back to yesterday. And that's not going to work. Because America was built by optimists. Optimists like my friend Amanda who recently started a small business. And she went to buy her Web site address. Her first and last name. And she found out somebody already owned it but wasn't using it.

So my friend e-mailed the owner of the site and she asked if she could buy it. Well, the owner wrote back. She's a 13-year-old girl who shares Amanda's name. And she politely explained that she could not give up the Web site. Why? Because the younger Amanda plans to be president of the United States one day.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And she's going to need the Web site for her campaign.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

So here's a little girl, 13 years old, who believes that she can build her American dream. And here's a president who's building an America where that dream is possible.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

So let's fight for the American dream. Amanda's. Yours. Mine. All of ours. And we know how to do that. Let's re-elect President Obama.

(Speaking in foreign language)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana.

BLITZER: All right. Here comes Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana. He's wrapping up his term as the governor of Montana. Former chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Anxious to hear what he has to say. Let's listen in.

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Settle down, Montana, settle down. We got work to do. Settle down. I know Mitt Romney. We were governors at the same time. Both elected straight from the business world. We traveled together to Iraq, Afghanistan. Spend a week in a war zone with a guy and you really get to know him. We traded stories about our early years. His as a missionary in France. And mine as a soil scientist in Libya and Saudi Arabia.

We talked about family. Religion. Business. Energy. War and peace. And the future of America. And I'll tell you this, Mitt's a good man. A good family man. And a loyal American.

(APPLAUSE)

But -- and you knew there was a "but." He brought the wrong agenda to Massachusetts. And he is the wrong guy to be president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Now Governor Mitt Romney saddled Massachusetts taxpayers with an additional $2.6 billion in debt and left them with the most debt per capita of any state in America. In Montana, that dog don't hunt.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Now remember those words. I might ask you to say them. Governor Mitt Romney cut higher education by 14 percent in his first year which meant that college education skyrocketed for students in Massachusetts. Now I guess that's OK if you can afford it. But for the rest of us, that dog don't hunt.

Now Governor Mitt Romney raised taxes and fees by $750 million a year. Now I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When a politician doesn't want to be honest about a tax hike, he calls it a fee.

Now Mitt raised taxes -- I mean fees on driver's licenses. On school bus rides. On mental health services. And even on milk.

(CROWD BOOS)

But here's the one that got the burr under my saddle. He quadrupled the fee for a gun license. Well --

(APPLAUSE)

Now maybe, just maybe that's OK for a guy who hunts varmints. But for the rest of us, that dog don't hunt.

Now, Mitt, you can't just Etch-A-Sketch away your record.

(APPLAUSE)

Taxes up. Cost of college up. Debt up. Now help me out here. New business starts, down. Manufacturing, down. Medium household income, down. Economic growth, down. You know, if private equity Mitt Romney met Governor Mitt Romney, he'd do what he says he likes to do. He'd fire him and outsource his job.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Now let me tell you how we get it done in Montana.

(CHEERS)

Clinton arithmetic. Clinton arithmetic.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Yes. Clinton arithmetic. We've had record budget surpluses every year I've been governor averaging more than $400 million in surplus. Even during the great recession, we invested more new money in education than ever before. Frozen tuition at our colleges for the longest period ever. And get this, we increased the percentage of adults with college degrees faster than any other state.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Well, we cut more taxes for more people than any governor in Montana history and we vetoed Republican tax increases. And our bond rating was upgraded. Now, Montana is moving in the right direction and so is America.

When President Obama took office, the economy was in free fall. Losing more than 800,000 jobs a month. Since then, he's helped create 4.5 million private sector jobs and 29 straight months of job growth. Stock market has doubled.

Energy production is up. Imports from foreign country are down. The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States has more than quadrupled. Manufacturing jobs are coming back.

And not just because we're producing a record amount of natural gas that's lowering electricity prices, but because we have the best- trained, hardest-working labor force in the history of the world.

We're demanding more from our schools, but we're backing up that demand by investing more in teachers, increasing financial aid and doubling funding for Pell Grants. Now, while he was doing all of that, President Obama cut our taxes.

He cut taxes 18 times for small businesses. He cut taxes by $3,600 for the typical middle class family. Now that dog does hunt. Now, Governor Romney, he said that finding Osama Bin Laden was, and I'll quote him, not worth moving heaven and earth.

Well, tonight, Bin Laden isn't on earth. Sure isn't in heaven. And thank, to the courage of American Special Forces and the bold leadership of our president, Osama Bin Laden's at the bottom of the ocean. All four of my grandparents were immigrants. They homesteaded the Montana prairie with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and faith in God, and the hope in their hearts that their kids and grandkids would have a better future.

They delivered on that hope and so has President Obama. Now it's our turn to deliver. Not just for the president, but for our kids, for our grandkids. This election is about their education, their health care, their freedom, their dignity, their hope and their future.

Are we going to deliver? Are we going to keep America moving forward? Are we going to hire the right guy to finish the job for four more years? How many years? How many years?

You got it. Let's get to work, America. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

BLITZER: Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana. Now Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida and now an independent.

Four years ago, he was on the short list for John McCain's vice presidential running mate. Now he's speaking to endorse President Obama.

CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Good evening. Thank you. What an incredible night. Optimism is in the air and what an honor to be here with you to stand with President Barack Obama. Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose optimism was inspiring to me to enter politics, he famously said at one time that he did not leave the Democratic Party, but the party left him.

Listen, I can relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party. It left me. Then again, my friend, Jeb Bush, recently noted Reagan himself would have been too moderate, too reasonable for today's GOP. We face serious challenges in our country.

We must create good middle class jobs so we can have an economy that is built to last. We must rebuild our roads and bridges and improve our public schools. And particularly important to me and my state of Florida is the challenge of saving Medicare and Social Security so we can keep our promise to our seniors.

But there are commonsense solutions within our reach if we only have leaders who are willing and enthusiastic to find common ground. No political party has a monopoly on that kind of leadership.

But as a former lifelong Republican, it pains me to tell you that today's Republicans and their standard bearers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, just aren't up to the task.

They're beholden to the "my way or the highway" bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll their ads, and allergic to the very idea of compromise. Ronald Reagan would not have stood for that. Barack Obama does not stand for that. You and I will not stand for that. I'll be honest with you. I don't agree with President Obama about everything, but I've got be to know him. And I've worked with him.

And the choice is crystal clear. When he took office, the economic crisis had already put my state of Florida on the edge of disaster. The foreclosure crisis was consuming homeowners.

The tourists we depend on couldn't visit. Our vital construction industry had come to a standstill. President Obama saw what I saw, a catastrophe in the making and he took action. One of his first --

COOPER: Charlie Crist speaking. We're getting ready for the big finale of this convention, of course. And former nominee, John Kerry, a warm up for Vice President Joe Biden and then can President Obama live up to expectations when he gives his big speech? That's all ahead. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to the Democratic National Convention. We are waiting to hear from Senator John Kerry who's going to be taking the stage very shortly.

Also, we're waiting to hear from Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He is going to be speaking, we think, with Erin Burnett shortly.

I'm joined by Donna Brazile and Alex Castellanos. We haven't heard much from Joe Biden. Traditionally, last night, would have been the night for vice presidents. Do you think are they trying to keep him reined in?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely not, look, Joe Biden is an asset to the Obama administration. Not only in helping the president address many critical issues but, you know, most people don't understand that he -- the Democrats love Joe Biden.

Joe Biden has been part of the Democratic family for a long time. He's the go to guy on education, the go to guy on civil rights, the go to guy on foreign policy, women's rights, and gay rights.

Joe Biden is invaluable to the Democratic team. You'll hear from him tonight. It's very exciting.

COOPER: The debates are going to be interesting between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think they're trying to shut down Joe Biden. They did tell him he could speak at the football stadium tonight. He's been around politics for 29 years. He's an old pro. He knows how to perform.

I am going up against a policy wonk in Paul Ryan. I don't think Republicans should underestimate Joe Biden. This is a guy who appeals to Joe six pack, talk, straight. Wonders a little bit, but he'll be tough in debates.

COOPER: The crowd is on their feet for Senator John Kerry. Let's listen in.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, thank you. In this campaign, we have a fundamental choice. Will we protect our country and our allies, advance our interests and ideals, do battle where we must and make peace where we can? Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn't learned the lessons of the last decade?

We've all learned Mitt Romney doesn't know much about foreign policy. But he has all these "neo con advisors" who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them - after all, he's the great outsourcer.

But I say to you: This is not the time to outsource the job of commander in chief. Our opponents like to talk about American exceptionalism, but all they do is talk. They forget that we are exceptional not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things.

We break out of the Great Depression, win two world wars, save lives fighting AIDS, pull people out of poverty, defend freedom, go to the moon and produce exceptional people who even give their lives for civil rights and human rights.

Despite what you heard in Tampa, an exceptional country does care about the rise of the oceans and the future of the planet. That is a responsibility from the Scriptures - and that too is a responsibility of the leader of the free world.

The only thing exceptional about today's Republicans is that almost without exception they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place. An exceptional nation demands the leadership of an exceptional president. And, my fellow Americans, that president is Barack Obama.

Just measure the disarray and disaster he inherited. A war of choice in Iraq had become a war without end, and a war of necessity in Afghanistan had become a war of neglect. Our alliances were shredded.

Our moral authority was in tatters. America was isolated in the world. Our military was stretched to the breaking point. Iran was marching unchecked towards a nuclear weapon. And Osama Bin Laden was still plotting.

It took President Obama to make America lead like America again. It took President Obama to restore our moral authority and to ban torture. This president understands that our values do not limit our power they magnify it.

He showed that global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries. And President Obama kept his promises. He promised to end the war in Iraq and he has and our heroes have come home. He promised to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly and he is and our heroes there are coming home. He promised to focus like a laser on al Qaeda and he has our forces have eliminated more of its leadership in the last three years than in all the eight years that came before.

And after more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be naive to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists.

It took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order to finally rid this earth of Osama Bin Laden. Ask Osama Bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago.

Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel to tighten sanctions on Iran and take nothing off the table. Again and again, the other side has lied about where this president stands and what this president has done.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu set the record straight. He said, our two countries have exactly the same policy. Our security cooperation is unprecedented and when it comes to Israel, my friends, I'll take the word of Israel's prime minister over Mitt Romney any day.

President Obama promised to work with Russia to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and signed an historic treaty that does just that. He promised to lock down nuclear materials around the world, and he has done just that.

He refused to accept the false choice between force without diplomacy or diplomacy without force. When a brutal dictator promised to hunt down and kill his own people like rats, President Obama enlisted our allies, built the coalition and shared the burden.

So that today without a single American casualty Moammar Gadhafi is gone and the people of Libya are free. So on one side of this campaign, we have a president who has made America lead like America again. What is there on the other side?

An extreme and expedient candidate, who lacks the judgment and vision so vital in the Oval Office, the most inexperienced foreign policy twosome to run for president and vice president in decades.

It isn't fair to say Mitt Romney doesn't have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position. He was against setting a date for withdrawal then he said it was right and then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon.

He said it was tragic to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine. He said we should've intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to duck reporters' questions.

Then he said the intervention was too aggressive. Then he said the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it before you were against it! Mr. Romney here's a little advice, before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy. You better finish the debate with yourself! President Mitt Romney, three very hypothetical words that mystified and alienated our allies this summer.

For Mitt Romney, an overseas trip is what you call it when you trip all over yourself overseas. You know, it wasn't a goodwill mission it was a blooper reel. But a Romney/Ryan foreign policy would be anything but funny.

Every president of both parties for 60 years has worked for nuclear arms control, but not Mitt Romney. Republican secretaries of state from Kissinger to Baker, Powell to Rice, President Bush, and 71 United States senators all supported President Obama's New Start treaty, but not Mitt Romney.

He's even blurted out the preposterous notion that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe. Folks, Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt Romney talks like he's only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.

So here's the choice in 2012. Mitt Romney out of touch at home, out of his depth abroad and out of the mainstream or Barack Obama, a president who is giving new life and truth to America's indispensable role in the world.

A commander-in-chief who gives our troops the tools and training they need in war, the honor and help they've earned when they come home, a man who will never ask other men and women to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.

And let me say something else. No nominee for president should ever fail in the midst of a war to pay tribute to our troops overseas in his acceptance speech. Mitt Romney was talking about America. They are on the front lines every day defending America, and they deserve our thanks.

Some of us from a prior war remember coming home was not always easy. President Obama has made it his mission that we welcome our troops home with care, and concern, and the respect they deserve.

That is how an exceptional nation says thank you to its most exceptional men and women. Mitt Romney says he believes in America and he'll restore American exceptionalism. I have news for him. We already have an exceptional American as president and we believe in Barack Obama!

Thank you and God bless America!

BLITZER: Senator John Kerry. Clear to me that if President Obama is re-elected, John Kerry would be on the very, very short list to be the next secretary of state following Hillary Clinton. Let's go to Erin Burnett. She's got a special guest -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I do, Wolf. I have a very special guest. Mark Kelly joins me now, astronaut, husband of Gabby Giffords. She's obviously already settled in the VIP box for the big event coming up tonight.

When she walked out on that stage, I was -- had tears on my face. I think almost everyone in the room did to say the pledge of allegiance. How important was that moment for her?

MARK KELLY, ASTRONAUT, HUSBAND OF GABBY GIFFORDS: It was a big deal. You know, she hasn't been around this kind of atmosphere for a long time. A lot of her friends are here.

There's so much energy in this room, really excited to do it, quite of a -- a bit a long walk. I couldn't see her directly. I was backstage, but she had a great big smile on her face when she came back.

BURNETT: You could hear the cheers, right? The chants of Gabby, Gabby. So how did she get ready for it? You talk about the long walk. You were saying she's been working tireless, day in, day out, with therapy, with walking.

KELLY: She really didn't have to get ready for this all that much. We talked a little bit today about where are you going to come in, where are you going to stop, those things. We ran through it once. She's really -- a lot energy so she's really excited about it.

BURNETT: She was pumped to do it.

KELLY: Yes, it was a lot of fun.

BURNETT: You and Gabby this week announced "Gabby PAC." And a lot people hear "PACs," they think -- I know it's a three-letter acronym but it's a four-letter word. You and your wife are trying -- the goal you say is bipartisan. You're trying to basically fund Democrats who are going to sponsor bipartisan things.

KELLY: Yes.

BURNETT: We've heard so many partisan speeches here and heard them last week in Tampa. What are the main bipartisan causes?

KELLY: It's causes that she was really interested in. First, let me just say you know, over the last several years, you know, we've gotten to a point where there aren't a lot of people in the middle anymore.

And Gabby was one of those people right in the middle liked to work with Republicans on legislation all the time and has some great Republican friends in Congress. A lot of her friends are here and you know, she really wants to make more of that happen.

But things that she cares about, certainly renewable energy, veteran issues, the border in Arizona, a big problem, so those kinds of things, she's really interested in continuing to do that work.

BURNETT: So the PAC is going to only fund Democrats but Democrats who say, look, I'm going to work with Republicans?

KELLY: She's focused on getting moderates elected to office. And probably because she's a Democrat, you know that's probably going to be most, but it doesn't actually say that and we haven't written that down anywhere. She thinks it's really important to have people who can work across the aisle. That's how you get things done.

BURNETT: So tell me, one question I've wanted to ask you, they look at her and she is so triumphant and so amazing. You have been through so much together. What has all this done for you, your relationship, your marriage? This unexpected and horrible event that -- what has it done?

KELLY: Yes, it's still -- it was so horrible on so many levels. Certainly, Gabby was just injured but there are people who died including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, just wanted to go there to meet her congresswoman.

I mean, just really, really a horrible thing. For us personally, it's been horrible. But there have been a couple good things about it. We get to spend a lot more time together. And she doesn't work that crazy schedule she had as a member of Congress.

She misses it, but there is -- you got to look for the positive things in life and she does that every day. She's excited to be here. Got a lot of friends here.

BURNETT: It was a special event. So thank you so much for taking the time. I know you're going to go back and join her and watch Barack's big speech.

KELLY: You're very welcome.

BURNETT: Great to see you, Mark.

KELLY: Very nice to see you.

BURNETT: CNN's election coverage continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Charlotte tonight, the democratic convention finale. Barack Obama accepts his party's nomination to serve four more years.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We've got more doors of opportunity to open to every single American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First Lady Michelle Obama sets the stage for the president. Introducing the man she knows better than anyone.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: When it comes to his character and his convictions and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will Obama do what it takes tonight to hold on to the white house and fulfill his promise in change?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We've come too far to turn back now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now CNN turns the spotlight on one of the biggest platforms in American politics. This is the Democratic National Convention. This is Barack Obama and Joe Biden's night.