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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Fuzzy Math for Romney's Tax Plan?; Presidential Candidates Prepare for Second Debate
Aired October 15, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
We begin tonight with breaking news about the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month. As you know, heavily armed militants stormed the compound on September 11. They also attacked an annex housing U.S. personnel. It was a terrorist attack. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, three other Americans were killed.
Security at the time of the attack was modest at best. The White House has come under attack for not providing better protection. Well, just a short time ago this evening, Secretary of State Clinton traveling in Peru told CNN's Elise Labott the buck stops with her and she takes the blame for the assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts.
The president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Her statement, of course, comes just hours before the second presidential debate.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria and national security contributor Fran Townsend are standing by for us.
But first I want to bring in CNN's foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott, who had the interview.
This is the first time that Secretary Clinton has really talked about that night in depth. What else did she tell you?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: and you're right. It's the first time she talked about the attack, and she talked about the harrowing night that she and other State Department officials, the long hour -- many-hour ordeal that they went through waiting to hear if Chris Stevens was alive, waiting to hear if Sean Smith and others were alive.
I think what she was trying to do is a couple of things. She was obviously take the heat off the White House in this election period. Everyone's talking about whether the president and the vice president knew about the security requests that were denied.
And you heard Vice President Biden speaking in that debate last week saying, we didn't know. So I asked you have Secretary Clinton, did they throw you under the bus? That's when she says, no, this is my State Department, I'm responsible for the security of the department.
But she was also, Anderson, I think trying to take a little bit of the politicization out of this. Republicans are after the Democrats. The Democrats are calling it a witch hunt and Chris Stevens' father is even speaking about how his death was politicized.
What she's trying to say is, listen, let's stop political gotcha. Let's remember that four Americans were killed. We want to get to the bottom of what happened that night, but we also need to make sure it doesn't happen again. We need more State Department funding for embassy security.
Fran Townsend is joining us and so is our Fareed Zakaria.
Fran, this is the first time Hillary Clinton has said anything about this. Is this the end of the story? Do you think this will work in terms of taking pressure off President Obama going into this debate?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think her taking responsibility is the right thing.
But just in the short clip you played, Anderson, she said she's responsible, and then she deflects over to the security professionals who she says made the decision. Well, let's remember security professionals asked for more security in Libya.
Look, I think this has got to be the beginning of the conversation. She talks about her harrowing night. I think what we ought to -- what Congress and others ought to be asking the State Department is for -- are there tapes, are there cables, what is it -- all the documents, all of the things that led up to this night.
And then she acknowledges, that harrowing night in the State Department, they were on the phone through the embassy in Tripoli, to the consulate in Benghazi with the security officer there. We all want to know, what did they know? And by the way, if they were on the phone, they probably knew it wasn't from a protest, and how did that whole thing, that misunderstanding early on get had?
I think this ought to be the beginning of the conversation, not the end of it.
COOPER: Fareed, what do you make of her comments? FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think that she was trying to do the things we talked about, relieve the White House of some pressure.
But I think it also strikes me as pretty clear what she was saying was pretty accurate. She said, look, these were the decisions that were being made at a level that is clearly not the president or the vice president. Ask yourself, Anderson, if today there was a request from some security professional in a consulate, not even an embassy, in one of the 275 outposts the United States has, would that request make its way even to the secretary of state?
Even into today's environment, that's highly unlikely. So the reality is of course this was decided at a lower level, and naturally, everybody takes responsibility for it, in a sense, but ask yourself going forward, can we tell what place in the world right now security needs to be beefed up?
No. In retrospect, it's always clear that we needed more security in the place that the attack took place, absolutely granted. But as Fran knows, having lived through these kind of things, a certain set of circumstances occur which makes one place get attacked, and at that point it's absolutely clear you have too little security.
But looking at it at the time, I'm not so sure it's clear. The White House handled the aftermath of the crisis in an extremely clumsy manner, probably incompetently. But that doesn't mean that the issue of whether or not they should have provided security was also handled incompetently.
We don't know. Maybe it was, let's have an investigation. But it may just have been bad luck. There are many threats around to U.S. outposts all over the world. Resources being limited, you can't beef up security at all of them and you make judgment calls. This might have the wrong judgment call or they might have just gotten unlucky.
COOPER: Fran, was this a political call on her part to try to deflect attention away from President Obama again going into this debate? And if so, why do you think it took this amount of time for her to give an interview about this?
TOWNSEND: Well, Anderson, I think for sure it's an effort to deflect responsibility from the White House as both Elise and Fareed have said. Her taking responsibility comes between a vice presidential debate where this came up and Vice President Biden handled it badly and tonight's next presidential debate.
No question the timing of this is political. And Fareed is quite right. These sort of security at a consulate do not come up to the White House. We should have no illusion that the president or vice president knew before the attack that there had been such a request.
I will say, Anderson, having been there in the 10 days leading up to the attack, this was not bad luck. I'm sorry. It is just not possible. I was there, I saw the security situation. Everyone was aware of it that I met with, including the Libyan government officials I met with. And so the notion that this was -- just could not have been foreseen and was just bad luck is nonsense.
COOPER: Fran Townsend, Fareed Zakaria, Elise Labott, thank you very much. There will be more fallout no doubt about this tomorrow.
Let us know what you this. We're on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I have been tweeting about this already.
Just ahead, Mitt Romney claims his tax plan will cut rates without ballooning the budget deficit, but a bipartisan study found the math doesn't work. Does any of it add up? What about the studies they keep citing? We will take a look at that "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: Ahead of tomorrow's big presidential debate, we are taking a look admit Mitt Romney's tax plan and his claim it will cut rates without ballooning the budget deficit. We are interested in it for two reasons tonight. It was a major subject on the Sunday shows where Romney advisers continued to defend it and no doubt it will be a big topic tomorrow night.
"Keeping Them Honest" though, a bipartisan study found the math doesn't work and other studies which the Romney campaign counters with, they're coming under fire tonight as well. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED GILLESPIE, FORMER REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Six different studies have said this is entirely doable.
QUESTION: Very questionable. Some of them are blogs. Some from the AEI...
QUESTION: ... an independent group.
GILLESPIE: These are very credible sources.
QUESTION: One of them is from a guy who is -- a blog from a guy who was a top adviser to George W. Bush. These are hardly nonpartisan studies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie. More on that in a moment.
First, though, I just want to begin at the beginning with what Mr. Romney has been promising.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under no circumstances will I raise taxes on the middle class of America. We are going to keep our taxes down.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Mitt and I are proposing is a five-point plan.
ROMNEY: There will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit, but I do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle income Americans.
The combination of limiting deductions and credits and exemptions.
RYAN: You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers. It is mathematically possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's the promise. "Keeping Them Honest," though, neither he nor his running mate, Paul Ryan, have ever specified which tax deductions they will cap, which loopholes they will close or frankly give out many details at all. Their campaign advisers didn't either this weekend.
Despite that handicap, a bipartisan panel of three authors for the Tax Policy Center examined the plan and concluded that there's really no way of making the numbers work, that is, unless the middle class pays more, thousands of dollars more per family, according to the authors.
The Romney campaign called the study biased, and began saying that -- academic support of its own. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: The good news is that five different economic studies, including one at Harvard and Princeton, at AEI and a couple at "The Wall Street Journal" all show that if we bring down our top rates and actually go across the board, bring down rates for everyone in America, you can remain revenue neutral.
You cite a study. There's six other studies that looked at the study you described and say it's completely wrong.
GILLESPIE: Six different studies have said this is entirely doable.
QUESTION: What gives if you're not right about your projections?
ROMNEY: Well, because, first of all, I have got Princeton, Harvard, "Wall Street Journal" and AEI all saying actually that we can bring down the rates.
RYAN: Six studies have guaranteed, six studies have verified that this math adds up.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," though, not quite. The suggestion is that these are full-blown academic studies. Actually, three are blog posts. One is a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed. In "The Wall Street Journal" piece, Martin Feldstein, who is also a campaign adviser, makes the math work but only by using a different definition of middle class than Mr. Romney uses in his own plan.
In another study cited by Mr. Romney, Princeton economist Harvey Rosen assumes the tax cuts would generate enough economic growth to offset the cost. But for many, that's a rather large assumption, one that's also by the way questioned by many conservative economists as well. Bottom line, though, that word assume.
Every one of these authors in each of these studies or so-called studies is making assumptions. Some may be solid assumptions, others dubious, but they are all just assumptions because neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan nor any of their surrogates have yet come forward with specifics.
Instead, we asked the Romney campaign if they would like the opportunity to respond to the program. They declined for us tonight. Of course, the invitation stands.
Joining us is Republican campaign consultant Alex Castellanos and Bill Burton, the senior strategist for the leading pro-Obama super PAC.
Alex, with all the criticism, wouldn't you expect the Romney campaign to produce their own evidence to prove the numbers add up? Because right now, people are wondering where that 20 percent figure came from, whether they came up with the number for policy reasons or political ones.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, this has devolved into my study's bigger than your study, Anderson.
COOPER: In some cases, it's my blog post is bigger than your study.
CASTELLANOS: Yes. Of course, President Obama had tons of studies that explain how his stimulus would actually stimulate. It didn't. How his health care plan would reduce health care costs. It hasn't.
Every major economic decision this country has made for the past 40 years, we had study upon study and guess what, we're $16 trillion in debt and you can't find a job with the Hubble telescope here. So my point is that these studies are not the end-all and be-all.
For example, the particular study that is attacking Romney's tax cut does not account for growth.
COOPER: Bill, what about that? The six studies, so-called, does it not matter that some of them aren't actually studies? BILL BURTON, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: There's a couple problems with what Alex just said.
For starters, I don't think that you can assume that the economy's going to grow extraordinarily just because you take -- just because you give enormous tax cuts to the wealthiest. It's never worked in the past. There's no reason to think that it's going to work right now.
Secondly, we wouldn't even be having this issue if Mitt Romney would just come clean about what his plans are. If he would just say, well, here is actually how we would pay for it, then we would have a clear sense, and we wouldn't even have to talk about these studies.
But the truth is, if these plans were so good for the middle class, I don't think that Mitt Romney would keep them secret. I think that he would let us know what they were.
CASTELLANOS: I can help you with that, Bill.
CASTELLANOS: I can tell you what the Romney plan is. It's what he said it is, which is right now, we have a tax code that's full of tricks and deductions and all kinds of strange things.
So if you have money, what do you do? A lot of people try to make money by taking advantage of those incentives. If you get rid of a lot of the tricks and loopholes, especially, by the way, which upper income wealthy people take advantage of, and if you get rid of those, you reduce the incentives to try to make money with tricks and deductions and you increase the incentive to try to make money by investing money in things that grow and create jobs.
CASTELLANOS: So the tax level doesn't really change. You just reallocate capital to more productive uses. We can do better than we're doing now.
BURTON: But, Alex, what you're saying, the numbers don't add up.
CASTELLANOS: Sure they do. Sure they do.
COOPER: Let Bill respond.
BURTON: Because they simply don't add up.
No independent economist has come to this and said, well, actually, you can accomplish all these things that Mitt Romney is talking about without raising taxes on the middle class. In fact, one of those studies that Mitt Romney cites even says that you would have to raise taxes and not end deductions for people who are making between $100,000 and $200,000, in effect raising taxes on those folks.
The bottom line is that President Obama comes to this debate and you know where he stands. He thinks that you can grow the economy if you focus in on the middle class and make sure that everybody does better. Mitt Romney simply has a different view which is that if you focus on the very wealthiest and the corporations, then everybody will do better. We know that doesn't work.
COOPER: Alex, there are no studies, no nonpartisan studies that say Romney's plan is going to work. And the studies that are there are based on assumptions that the authors have to fill in because there's not enough details to really know what's in the plan.
CASTELLANOS: Well, AEI has a study right now, two authors who say that if you can reallocate capital more efficiently, just with the same tax revenue we have now, but put it into growing areas, we will have a growing economy with the same amount of tax revenue.
So I don't think that's entirely accurate, Anderson. For example, every on-tenth of a growth in the economy, one-tenth of a percent, that's an extra $12 billion or $13 billion in tax revenue. You have to account for growth. I know a lot of the Democrats...
COOPER: But there's no guarantee that the economy is going to grow like that. Earlier, Mitt Romney was saying that just because he gets elected, that's going to be a boon to the economy. Do you buy that?
CASTELLANOS: I buy the -- look, if you think you plant seeds and you don't grow anything, then you have a static analysis, yes, then farming does not work. OK? We can prove that.
But that's not the case. Do you think that a larger private sector with more money in it is better and will grow more than a larger public sector with more money in that?
BURTON: Here's the problem, Anderson. We tried this with President George W. Bush, who said....
BURTON: ... his tax cuts would focus on the middle class.
BURTON: But, actually, what happened was his tax cuts were not focused on the middle class, the wealthy got the extraordinary amount of the benefit from them, and what we saw was economic decline and then another tax cut that was focused on the wealthy and near financial collapse in this country. COOPER: Alex, in terms of the debate tomorrow night, there are those who say, look, this isn't Mitt Romney's strong point, the town hall style. We haven't really seen him in a town hall style. What are you expecting tomorrow?
CASTELLANOS: Mitt Romney I think has been on the campaign trail now for five years, since before the last election, and he was doing ask Mitt anything town halls even then.
I have seen him in this campaign, Anderson, get so much better. This process we have for these candidates is brutal. It really takes a lot out of them but it's brilliant because they meet so many Americans, they hear so many stories. You are hearing Mitt Romney talk on the trail now about how many people he's met that under Barack Obama have lost their jobs, lost their hope.
COOPER: So you're optimistic?
BURTON: I think we have seen Mitt Romney connect in a lot of ways. Barack Obama is actually very good at this town hall format, too. Maybe if both these guys are good, we can actually make a judgment on substance.
COOPER: Bill, the pressure is on for the president. What are you expecting tomorrow night? Obviously, I assume you think he will be more aggressive than he was the first time around.
BURTON: Well, there's no doubt that Mitt Romney did himself some good in that first debate, but just from a strictly polling standpoint, if you look at what happened, the president has remained pretty stable, but Romney has been able to consolidate some support that he was already going to get.
Now, the town hall format I think could hold some challenges for Romney, even though he's very experienced at this and he has done a lot, just like Alex said. But having to answer for the 47 percent comments in a crowd full of regular folks who aren't affiliated with one side or the other side, I think is going to be very difficult for him.
But President Obama, I think he lays out his vision for the future, talks about the accomplishments of the last four years and like Alex said, hopefully we can have a debate on who won substantively coming out of it.
COOPER: Let's see.
Bill Burton, thank you. Alex Castellanos, thanks. We will see you tomorrow.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight.
Up ahead, because tonight is the eve of the next presidential debate, we will bring you up to date on how the two candidates have been preparing. Live reports on that. Plus, we're joined by the debate moderator, CNN's own Candy Crowley.
COOPER: The second presidential debate obviously is tomorrow.
Just in case you're wondering about the stakes, new numbers make it very, very plain. Mitt Romney now enjoying the slimmest of razor thin leads in the CNN national poll of polls, 48-47. In our poll of polls from battleground Virginia, though, it is the other way around, the one-point edge going to President Obama.
And it's that way all across the electoral map. A few points in Florida, North Carolina, tight in Nevada, New Hampshire. Very little separating these two candidates which means that for the next three weeks, every advantage, no matter how small, could turn out to be crucial, none more so than a victory tomorrow night at the town hall debate moderated by our own Candy Crowley.
Both men have obviously been practicing a lot. In President Obama's case, considering his performance the last time around, the question is how to make the prep work pay off?
We have two reports tonight starting with Jessica Yellin, who is covering the president. Jim Acosta, who is traveling with the Romney campaign, also with us tomorrow night's moderator, Candy Crowley.
Jessica, the president is obviously going to be under an enormous amount of pressure to stage a comeback, a better performance. Should we expect him to be as aggressive as Vice President Biden was last week? Certainly, stylistically, I can't imagine them being the same.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Anderson. He simply can't be as aggressive as the vice president because the town hall format doesn't allow for it.
There's nothing that the president's aides would like more than for him to just go after Mitt Romney and go after him especially on the economy. That is their number one goal is to make his case on the economy and they keep describing it as Romney's evasions.
You could say it's inconsistencies on his positions, and to have the president really go at those issues, but in a town hall format, the president's number one goal has to be to connect with the voters in the room, because those people stand in as proxies for the voters watching and he has to be able to connect and emote with those people first.
It's a two-pronged attack. First, he has to prep to relate to those people in a clear and concise way and then be able to figure out how to pivot and draw contrasts with Mitt Romney. And so the president is in a bit of a bind, because he has to do both things and it's a format that has much more upside for Mitt Romney, who has been seen as this rigid, unrelatable man who if he can connect with people in that room has so much more to gain than the president, who if he does well tomorrow night, it's sort of just a relief for them.
COOPER: Well, Jim, you're there in Boston with Governor Romney. How are they looking at tomorrow night?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they are preparing for this debate as they did the first debate. They are taking it very seriously.
Mitt Romney has been behind closed doors almost the entire time for the last 24 to 48 hours. The last time we really saw him publicly was going in and out of church on Sunday, and then before that on Saturday night. He's been spending the last several days out on the campaign trail with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, his debate sparring partner at his side.
It's been hard to figure out who is the running mate, Paul Ryan or Rob Portman. That's how much time they have been spending together. And then the other thing Mitt Romney has been doing, I think is they have been preparing for a more aggressive President Obama. You heard Rob Portman on one of the Sunday talk shows saying they expect the president to come out swinging.
The Obama campaign earlier this afternoon came out with a new Web video that essentially accuses Mitt Romney of being his own October surprise, saying that he's been changing his position on a whole host of issues to appear more moderate. So I think the Romney campaign is taking all of that into consideration.
And then there's also this issue, and I think Candy can talk to this, about whether or not there will be follow-up questions to the questions that are posed by audience members at the town hall debate tomorrow night. I talked to a senior Romney adviser about this, and they said that while this has come up as an issue, they say they are ready for whatever comes, no matter who asks the question, Anderson.
COOPER: Candy, what about that?
In terms of what you're expecting, Jen Psaki, one of the president's campaign spokeswoman, told reporters today that voters in the country aren't looking for a -- quote -- "salesman in chief." But isn't it salesmanship -- isn't salesmanship important as well in these debates?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Of course.
Look at the kinds of things that -- what is an election if you're not selling yourself? Yes, you're selling your policies, but part of it is about who you are and how you relate.
What's been the big problem with Mitt Romney so many people have felt is they didn't think he related to them. So, yes, you know, salesman's a little harsh because you kind of get this sort of huckster feel to it, but the fact is that any election is about selling yourself to people as a person who understands them, and who can help them with their problems.
And so kind of both things have to come to the forefront tomorrow. Both of these men have to be relatable and both of them have to, you know, sell policies as well. COOPER: What have your preparations been like?
CROWLEY: They have been interesting.
You know, I have spent a lot of time looking at where the holes are sometimes in the questions where they're asked. And I think we have got a pretty good sense of what people are looking for, what their big questions are.
I will see these questions tomorrow morning from the town hall folks and sort of choose the ones that we hope reflect what people out there in TV land are wanting to know or on the Internet and wanting. I have done that. I have also told people I need to know kind of 100 percent of things. Maybe I will only use 1 percent of that in terms of where we go subject-wise, but you got to know most of it, so you can try to guide this conversation and to get answers to the questions that these townspeople are asking.
COOPER: It's interesting, because I have done a town hall debate before, and I'm sure you have as well.
Sometimes people change -- when they actually get up to ask the question, they change the question or a question that they wrote down as being very kind of aggressive, once they're actually face-to-face with the candidate, they kind of back off that a lot. How do you as moderator keep the candidates honest?
CROWLEY: Well, I think if someone asks about apples and they answer about oranges, you go wait, you know, the question was about apples.
And I think you're right, I think that folks who are asking the questions have as much trouble being aggressive when they ask when you're right there with someone. We understand that it's a lot harder to have a fight when you're close up.
So I think as moderator, you try to keep moving this along. I mean, I'd love to have, you know, new information or look at, you know, new subject matters, if these folks, that's where they want to go.
But the fact is that after -- after the question is answered, there is this time that there will be a, quote, facilitated discussion, you know, follow-up questions, where you go, "I didn't totally understand that, do you mean this or that" or whatever it happens to be.
So, you know, what you have to do is flesh things out as much as you can without staying on the same question for 40 minutes because, you know, nobody wants that. Not the presidential candidates and certainly not the town hall folks, nor do I think the viewers.
COOPER: Yes. It is going to be interesting. Candy, appreciate it. Jessica, Jim, thanks.
CROWLEY: Yes, yes. COOPER: When President Obama and Mitt Romney face off tomorrow night, it isn't just what they say that may sway voters' opinions. Body language also matters. Up next, we're going to take a look at some of the dos and don'ts as they prepare for their first town-hall- style debate.
COOPER: Fearless Felix Baumgartner's 24-mile skydive from the edge of space is now in the record books. So what is Baumgartner saying about it all, now that he's safely back on earth? We'll have that ahead on 360.
COOPER: Well, President Obama and Mitt Romney are obviously preparing for debate No. 2 tomorrow night at New York's Hofstra University. Unlike last time, it will be a town-hall-style face-off with the candidates taking questions from the public.
Now, both candidates already know the wrong words can change the momentum of the race, but with millions of people watching at home, tens of millions watching, body language can also speak volumes. So what are the dos and don'ts for both candidates as they prepare for one of the most watched moments of the campaign?
Jeanine Driver, body language expert, joins me. She also is the author of the book "You Can't Lie to Me."
Body language is really important. I mean, I used to be skeptical of this. You know this because you were on my daytime show, but you kind of made me a believer. But studies show it's not just the words that come out; it's how you say them with your body.
JEANINE DRIVER, BODY LANGUAGE EXPERT: Literally our brain, if I say to you I'll have peanut butter and jelly on my socks, please, you brain does like a heart monitor and says, "What? I don't understand"
Same thing when someone says this is the American dream. That's not my American dream. So when your body language does not match your words, our brain literally picks up on it. It's scientifically proven. Colgate University did a study. It says wait a minute, I'm not buying what the candidate is saying or what they're objecting to. I feel like it's overly scripted or overly, you know, coached.
COOPER: Right. Let's take a look at some video. We haven't seen Mitt Romney in a town-hall-style debate yet, but this is him on the campaign trail. He does a lot of pointing, which I know from past conversations with you, candidates usually try to stay away from. What do you make of his gestures?
DRIVER: Much better on the second round here when he started gesturing with the palm of his hand like we see here. But pointing, how do you feel when someone points at you? It's almost like I'm pointing a gun at you. It can become aggressive. It's aggressive when you're pointing. COOPER: That's why they do that thumb on the fist thing.
DRIVER: The thumb of power. That's right. That's right. The thumb of power right here. It's a combination of pointing and chopping. It's a much better and softer -- or palm up.
Mitt Romney loves to point. I think it's going to hurt him in the debate tomorrow night.
COOPER: Let's take a look at President Obama in a town hall format. He's gotten mixed reviews. In general, what do you make of him?
DRIVER: I think Obama is a pro at this town hall format. Why? He's a master communicator. He'll look over here and connect with you, and then he'll look over here and connect with people.
Mitt Romney, I think we're going to see tomorrow night, he gets a little like a bird or chipmunk. He's all over the place with his eye contact. He did really well in the last debate. Why? There's two places he had to look: at the president and he had to look at the moderator.
So Obama, he's doing the thumb of power that you see right here.
COOPER: He's not pointing. He's doing the thumb on his fist.
DRIVER: And then he has both feet directly next to each other, Anderson. We see this when we have both feet in the game. His feet will be in the game tomorrow.
In the last debate, Obama had his left foot pushed back behind his right foot.
DRIVER: This says, "I don't have both feet in the game."
COOPER: What should the other candidate do when the other candidate is talking?
DRIVER: Well, look right here. Do you see right there? We have McCain holding his wrist. The rule of thumb is the higher the hold, the more anxiety is told. You should think about what they're saying.
You know, Mitt Romney had the perma-smile on the last debate. When the president is saying, "Listen, if you're 55 and 56 years old, listen up, this matters on your health-care system," and Mitt Romney had a permanent smile.
COOPER: There was a town hall exchange in 2004 between Senator Kerry and President Bush. Let's watch that. Because President Bush got very vocal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, let's extend for a minute.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just -- I've got to answer this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. And with reservists being held on duty...
BUSH: Let me answer this, what he just said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I wanted to get into the issue.
BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DRIVER: I love this clip. And I'm going to tell you what I like about it.
The rule of thumb with our gestures is our gestures should be within the frame of our body. When we get bigger, we can do that when we're talking to a bigger audience.
When we see George Bush, he takes his hand out. He's saying, "This is a big issue right here. I need to address what just happened." He puts that hand out, and then he continues to walk as if he's pulling us along with him.
Now, body language, a lot of it, Anderson, has to do with your perception. There's not scientific -- every time you do this doesn't mean you're powerful, but it can be perceived as powerful, can be perceived as also arrogant.
COOPER: The other thing about a town hall that's difficult is you have to relate to the person who's asking the question, but at the same time, you need to pivot and attack the other candidate.
DRIVER: All right. Now, this is a big problem I've seen with past debates, Anderson. As soon as you ask me the question, people will turn, and they start talking to the audience over here. This is what I call a transference of power. If I treat you and answer your question with respect, with an open palm gesture, I look you in the eyes, I lean forward as I'm talking and engaging you, if I treat you with respect, everyone at home who's watching is going to feel that, if the president or if Mitt Romney was in front of them, that they would treat that person at home with that same level of respect.
COOPER: That's particularly important in a town-hall debate, if it were citizens asking the question.
DRIVER: Not everyone has been great at it, I have to say. A lot of people immediately listen to your question, and then they turn and try to work the crowd. I think that's a big mistake. It's like a politician who shakes 50 hands instead of the politician that takes the time to say, "Nice to meet you, sir."
COOPER: Right. Jeanine, thanks very much. Jeanine Driver.
All right. Another story coming up. A 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban. It's just a horrific story. Good news is she has arrived in England for treatment. We're going to get an update on her condition from Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Her name is Malala Yousufzai. She is brave beyond her years. She's incredibly heroic. Here's the advice she had last year for any girl who's afraid to stand up to the Taliban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALALA YOUSUFZAI, TEENAGE ACTIVIST: I tell her that don't stay in your room because God will ask you on the day of judgment, "Where were you?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl gunned down by the Taliban last week, was airlifted today to England for treatment and rehabilitation.
You may know Taliban gunmen stormed onto her school van, shot her in the head at point-blank range.
Now for years, Malala has defied the Taliban's ban on girls attending school. She's dared to speak out publicly for every girl's right to an education. Here's what she told CNN's Reza Sayah last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So why do you risk your life to raise your voice?
YOUSUFZAI: Because I thought that my people need me and I shall raise my voice because -- because if I didn't raise my voice, when will I raise my voice?
SAYAH: Some people might say you're 14, you don't have any rights. You just have to listen to Mom and Dad.
YOUSUFZAI: No, I have rights. I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Malala also wrote a blog for the BBC describing her fears and her hopes for the future.
The Taliban clearly sees this young girl's voice as a threat. They have vowed that if she survives her latest injuries, they will come after her again, and they say they will kill her. Today, Pakistan's interior minister told Christiane Amanpour there's now a $1 million bounty on the Taliban spokesman who took credit for the attack.
Malala's shooting has ignited outrage across Pakistan and the entire world. Tens of thousands of protesters attended a rally yesterday in Karachi, which is Pakistan's largest city.
Malala's doctors say her condition is good but that her recovery could take months.
Reza joins me now along with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, you're a trauma neurosurgeon. You operate on gunshot wound victims regularly. What can you tell us about -- about her injury, based on the information that we know publicly so far?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the doctors say they spent about three hours doing an operation after she was shot point-blank. We understand with a nine millimeter weapon, is my understanding.
You know it's a pretty significant injury, as you might guess. Fewer than 10 percent, roughly, of all patients who suffer this kind of injury even survive and of that, a smaller percentage with meaningful neurological recovery.
There was a good piece of news that I read yesterday, though, I heard about. And that was that she was moving her hands and her feet, plural. Both hands, both feet. And that's really important, Anderson. I think we talked about this a little bit in the context of Congresswoman Giffords previously. But just that kind of movement on both sides means that if she was following a command, doing it in response to someone telling her to do that, that would be a very -- a much better sign but just moving them at all is a very good sign.
At this point, Anderson, just really quick, they usually give the patient a lot of sedation, sort of put the brain to rest a little bit, let it sort of recover on its own, even remove some of the bone around the brain to allow some swelling as they did with Congresswoman Giffords, as well.
COOPER: And how long before they know kind of the extent of damage?
GUPTA: Well, you know, this is a little bit of a judgment call. I will say that her young age helps her a fair -- a considerable amount. We talk about something known as plasticity of the brain, the idea that the brain can sort of rewire itself. It's true, and in a younger person it's even better.
What doctors do at this point is they sort of lift the sedation up every now and then, and allow her to wake up and sort of see how she's doing. Even with a significant bullet wound, you know, to the brain, it really more depends on those clinical exams, you know, in the days and weeks to follow, Anderson.
COOPER: Reza, you met with her, you talked to her, you interviewed her. What was she like? I mean, just her -- I've just been blown away by her courage over the years. And did she have any security? Because clearly, there were a lot of people who wanted to do her harm.
SAYAH: She didn't have security. And the government here says they offered her security, and her family turned it down. To your question what was she like? I would best describe her as half child, half ferocious human rights activist. Just incredible courage, determination. We put to her some tough questions, and she didn't back down to us. Just a remarkable child, Anderson.
COOPER: and Reza, I know Pakistani authorities, they've made some arrests but the suspected attacker still remains at large, right?
SAYAH: That's not clear. They say they've made some arrests. It's not clear if the suspected attacker was among those arrests. They've also named the alleged mastermind, a man by the name of Atolla (ph), in northwest Pakistan.
They say they're close to getting to the bottom of this, but here's what we need to point out. In the past, this government has made lofty, grand claims like that before, and it hasn't materialized. The 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, they still haven't convicted anyone in that case.
So you have to wonder how much of these claims by the government have any substance, how much of them are pushback to some of the criticism that they're anticipating.
COOPER: They say there's now a $1 million bounty. Is that for real, is this public relations thing? What is it, Reza?
SAYAH: Here's what's strange. There's a $100,000 reward for the attacker, a $1 million bounty for the Taliban spokesperson. Why is the bounty for the attacker less than the bounty for the spokesperson? I don't know, but it's another example why you have to take these claims by the government early on in this investigation with a grain of salt. They're under a lot of pressure, not just here in Pakistan but from the world, to get to the bottom of this. We have to wait and see if these claims have substance.
COOPER: Sanjay, this is probably a dumb question, but if she was shot point-blank with a nine millimeter, how is she still alive? I mean, was it a bad shot, you think? I mean, how -- how can that happen?
GUPTA: Well, you know, there are certain parts of the brain which are just going to be much more vulnerable and critical than other parts of the brain.
You know, someone who, for example, has an injury on the right side of the brain typically that involves primarily the right frontal area, that's not as significant an injury. And that's -- you know, obviously, you think about brain injuries overall, and certainly penetrating brain injuries, they are all critically treated but I think we saw the same thing with congresswoman Giffords. People can survive these types of injuries if they get early treatment and they reduce the swelling around this quickly.
I will say that from what we heard, Anderson, it sounded like she was shot and the bullet ended up somewhere near the back of her neck. So I don't know where the entry point was, but it took about three hours for surgeons to try and remove the bullet and some of the bleeding around that.
COOPER: And Reza, the Taliban, what's so just insidious, they have vowed if she survives they are going to come after her again and they're going to kill her. Is -- I mean, I guess obviously she will have protection, if she does survive, she will have protection from now on.
SAYAH: Yes, that's what the government says. The Taliban says, "Not only are we going to come after her. We're going to come after the family. She along with her parents and her little brother are safe in England. She has other family members here. The interior minister saying they have protection.
The other two girls injured in the attack, the government says they have protection, as well.
COOPER: We will continue to follow it. Reza, appreciate your reporting. Sanjay as well. Thanks.
Still ahead, an incredible fall. An Austrian daredevil sky dives from space and gets the world's attention. We're going to show you the video. The entire record-breaking jump is just remarkable. We're going to talk about how he did it and the dangers he faced if he got a little tear, a tiny tear in his suit, why he would have died just from that. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Well, the numbers are in on Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner's stratospheric skydive. It was extraordinary what he did. Even fearless Felix, as he's known, says this was bigger than even he anticipated.
Baumgartner jumping from 24 miles up, reaching speeds near 834 miles per hour, smashing the sound barrier on his way down.
Now, as he stood on the edge of space looking down from his capsule, Baumgartner tried to put the moment into some perspective. Take a look at this incredible free-fall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FELIX BAUMGARTNER, RECORD-BREAKING SKYDIVER: Sometimes you have to get up really high to see how small you are. I'm going home now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jumper away. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So under parachute now. Did he break the speed of sound as he hoped? He's coming. And there you can see by the approaching shot, he's just about there. And he's down safely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Amazing landing.
Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us now live from Atlanta.
He didn't even, like, hit the ground and roll. He just walked. It was amazing, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
COOPER: If he had gotten the tiniest tear in his suit, what would have happened to him?
MYERS: Well, you know, technically, the word is boiling, but any scientist would kind of not want you to use that term. If you take water to the top of Mt. Everest, it will boil at 160 degrees. You take it higher than that, the boiling point, the temperature goes down.
What happens that far up is, technically, the gases that are in your blood -- the oxygen, carbon dioxide, the nitrogen -- they would come out of solution into gas. They would be bubbles. There would be bubbles in your bloodstream. So technically, you could use the word boiling but really, you're going to die from other things rather than boiling.
We're not getting -- you wouldn't get to 212 degrees in the sense that we believe that boiling is down here at the surface of the earth.
COOPER: So even -- but you're talking about even just a tiny tear in the suit?
MYERS: Absolutely. One tiny tear. Because all the pressure that's in his pressure suit would go out. Therefore, he would be at zero pressure. He would be in a vacuum, and you can't live more than about 15 seconds in a vacuum.
COOPER: A few minutes into the fall, you see him starting to spin uncontrollably. We're looking at it right there. Goes on for about 30 seconds. It was really, I mean, terrifying to see. What was happening, and how did he regain control?
MYERS: He called that spin violent, and it is. When you look at it, he was going around and around. And what was happening at that point, he then became the center of gravity in the middle, and his head and feet were getting forced to the blood -- the blood was coming up to the top of his head. And literally, the blood would have been up so far, if he had been up to 3.5 G's, a little drove chute would have had to come out to stop him from spinning, because he certainly would have injured himself with all that blood pressure in his head and in his feet. COOPER: and the one record that he wasn't able to break was the longest free-fall. He lasted four minutes, 20 seconds. The record is five minutes, 35 seconds. But the plan all along was to pull the chute at 5,000 feet, right?
MYERS: Right. It appears now -- the data's still coming in, it appears he probably pulled the chute a little earlier than 5,000, but that's irrelevant.
The problem was with the time, is that when he got up to 833 miles per hour, he was going so much faster than any other free-fall. That's why it didn't take him very long to get down to the ground or to get to where he pulled his chute. It was the speed of the fall that lowered the amount of time rather than anything else. Obviously, he had the longest distance free-fall of anyone in history.
COOPER: And this is a dumb question, but when you're going more than 800 miles an hour, do you feel like you're going 800 miles an hour? Do you know?
MYERS: I'm not sure I can answer that.
MYERS: He said that he didn't. He said he couldn't hear the wind. He said he didn't feel the wind, and technically, it's because there's no wind there. There's no there, there. There's no air up there. That's how he was able to get going so fast.
As soon as he started to hit the air at about 50,000, 60,000 feet, that's when he started to slow down to 400, 300 miles per hour, and then yanking the chute to slow him down all the way to the ground. But he said -- I mean, I can't speak from experience -- but he said he didn't notice that he was going any faster at any point.
MYERS: He had no idea he was going 800 miles per hour or even close to the speed of sound.
COOPER: Wow. It's amazing. Chad, thanks very much.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.