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Cashing in on the Drought; Unemployed for a Presidential Term; Obama in D.C., Romney in Vegas; Romney Talks Middle Class Economy.
Aired August 3, 2012 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": And hello, everyone, I'm Kyra Phillips. It's 11:00 on the East Coast, 8:00 on the West.
Forty-five minutes until a live address from President Obama and a speech from Mitt Romney, a time-slot duel. Probably the same topic, but that's about it.
Gay PDA at Chick-fil-A, public displays of affection not aimed at the socially-conservative fast-food chain.
And move aside Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity. A new Mars rover is on the horizon and should be on the ground by Monday.
Well, finally, a job's report that beats expectations. Sure, expectations were low, under 100,000, but look at this official net gain for July, 163,000. That's the most new jobs since February. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, a separate survey, ticked up last month to 8.3 percent.
CNN's Christine Romans, watching this all-important gauge of economic vitality, shall we say? Would you call the July numbers vital?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I would say it's vital to the president's re-election prospects. I would say it's vital to every single family in America who's trying to figure out if they can keep their job or they can get a job. So, yes, this is a really important report.
You gave the headline numbers. Let me dig in a little bit. I took 40 pages of tables and charts and graphs. I put it all in one info-graphic to try to show you how it works.
The private sector created 172,000 jobs, Kyra, but the government is still a drag on overall job creation, 9,000 more government jobs lost in the month. You've got almost half a million government jobs that have been shed since February 2010.
Let's look at the trend because this is what's really important. Never make too much out of one month in the job's market. The trend is what's important and the trend here is two years of job's growth.
And you can see that last summer and this summer it looked like there was a swoon and this really caused some concern about potentially even heading into a double-dip recession, but then you saw employers picked up the pace of hiring in July.
And, so, that is causing some encouragement, overall. Politically, why it's so interesting, I think, is because, if the president now can add 316,000 jobs between now and election day, he'll be able to rightfully say all the jobs lost on his watch have come back. That will take another 105,000 or so jobs each month between now and then and we're going to get a jobs report just a few days before election day.
Quickly, I want to show you manufacturing. We always talk about a slight resurgence maybe in the American manufacturing sector, even with Europe, 25,000 jobs created in manufacturing. Kyra?
PHILLIPS: And let's talk about making up those jobs, though, in the recession.
ROMANS: Yeah, OK, so, let's go back. Here are all of the jobs that have been lost. Look at that. It's really something, hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.
And many complain that the jobs recovered since then have been cautious. The jobs recovery has been tepid, at best. You want to see something more robust, so when we tell you about a jobs market that's slowly getting better, you know you hear a lot from people who say, we're not quite feeling it yet.
So, the big question on election day will be whether, Kyra, people feel they've gotten everything back or they're still uncertain about the economy.
PHILLIPS: All right, Christine, thanks so much.
And nobody's happier about a sharp uptick in hiring than the guy who works in the Oval Office. We do expect to hear from him later this hour, but right now, let's go ahead and bring in Athena Jones. Athena, a lot of smiles over there today at the White House?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra. Well, you know, this month's job number, last month's job number, I should say, is certainly an improvement over the number of jobs added in May and June, but the White House always say, as much as Christine Romans just noted, that we shouldn't focus too much on one month's job report because it's so volatile. But we should instead be looking at the trends.
But they say the trends are good. This report shows that, while there's still work to be done, the economy is continuing to recover. They also highlight those 29 consecutive months of private sector job growth and the half a million jobs that have been added in manufacturing since January of 2010.
So, they're certainly pleased. This number could have been a lot worse, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, well, let's talk about the Romney camp. What exactly are you hearing from that side? JONES: Well, as you can imagine on the Republican side, they have pretty much the opposite reaction. Mitt Romney released a statement. I'll read part of it. He says, "Today's increase in the unemployment rate is a hammer blow to struggling middle-class families. My plan will turn things around and bring the economy roaring back with 12 million new jobs created by the end of my first term."
So, a big promise there from Mitt Romney and, of course, in the Congress, House Republican Speaker John Boehner has pointed, instead, to the 42 consecutive months of unemployment rate over 8 percent. So, we get kind of the reaction you would predict from the Republican side, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Athena, thanks so much.
And don't forget the president speaks at 11:45 a.m. Eastern. You'll see him live right here on CNN.
PHILLIPS: Well, as the USA "Dream Team," our Olympic athletes breaking records left, right and center, and there's plenty more opportunities ahead. The most decorated Olympian of all, Michael Phelps, hitting the pool, again, in the last individual race of his career.
And, always a crowd favorite, track and field begins today. We're watching the sprinters, especially the Jamaicans, Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, who can expect stiff competition from the Americans in the 100-meters.
Well, she's America's new golden girl, gymnast Gabby Douglas, making history in London. The 16-year-old is the first African- American to win gold in the women's individual, all-around gymnastics.
Becky Anderson joining us from London. Just a couple of months ago her coaches actually described her as "average." Isn't that unbelievable, Becky?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you, she did it in style Thursday night. It is unbelievable her coaches said that. It was just this sort of getting her going, sort of to build her up.
I don't know what it was because what we saw last night was really almost faultless on the uneven bars, the reason they call her "The Flying Squirrel," the most remarkable aerobic exercises, taking the gold in the all-around individual, along with her team gold. She's really put U.S. gymnastics back on the map. They are dominant, once again.
Talking about the women here, the men not doing quite as well, although taking away a bronze in the all-around individuals, of course. But the women have done absolutely remarkably here, so, as I say, the U.S. back on the map. And watch this young lady, 16-years old. She has got a long way to go from here.
PHILLIPS: And you know what's incredible, Becky, her coaches actually said she lacked the concentration and confidence to be an Olympic medalist. I mean, they've got to be eating their words today, Becky.
ANDERSON: If she lacks confidence and concentration, I don't know what I lack. I haven't got any of it, you know?
PHILLIPS: It is so true.
ANDERSON: It is remarkable, isn't it? And I think today they sort of swallowed their words to a certain extent. They're incredibly, incredibly proud of her, as is the entire U.S. team. There's been a record-breaking route for these Olympics and the U.S. really doing extremely well.
PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about the judo winner, Kayla Harrison. Boy, does she have an interesting back story.
ANDERSON: Yes, this was the first gold medal in judo for a U.S. female here and a really remarkable story. She's 22-years old. It's been a long journey. Nine years ago, her coach pled guilty to sexually assaulting her.
Now, this is not something that she has kept a secret. She's talked about it in the past and, in the post-match press conference after she got her medal and people are asking questions, she was asked about the struggle on the mat and how it compared to the struggle in her life.
And she simply said and I quote her here, "It's no secret I was sexually abused and that was definitely the hardest thing that I've ever overcome." She beat out the Brazilian who is the world number one and she beat out a Team G.B. judo athlete who was getting an awful lot of home advantage, as you can imagine, here.
That is one of the medals that will go down in my history books, if not other people's, as one of the best ever, I think.
PHILLIPS: Absolutely. Totally agree with you. We've got to talk about the U.S. basketball team now. Boy, did they wipe the competition right off the court.
ANDERSON: Listen, it's the group stages, of course, and this is the first time -- let's set some context for this -- that Nigeria have ever qualified, but, boy, I think the Nigerians enjoyed it as much as the Team U.S. did. The score at the end, 156-to-73.
I'm going to just read off my notes here because there are so many records that the U.S. team broke last night. I'm going to have to go through them sequentially here. An Olympic record for the most points scored. Carmelo Anthony scored a record 37 points.
And what was the other one? I think that's the record for three- point shots. That's right. Twenty-nine of those, as well. I mean, the records just kept falling in that game last night. And I know that Lebron James and Kobe Bryant talked before these games about comparing this team to the 1992 Dream Team and we all remember that team and, so, they think they can beat that team if they were to play them today.
Well, with this sort of result, people just sat back and applauded that USA team last night. They may not have as easy a run as they get into the knockout stages, but, boy, what a result.
PHILLIPS: Well, so far it's been pretty amazing for we Americans here. So, we appreciate, Becky, all the updates.
ANDERSON: We're doing all right.
PHILLIPS: Yeah, you're not doing so bad yourself. Becky, thanks so much.
And it's no surprise that these Olympians need a lot of food to recharge their bodies for all that grueling competition. Just a few examples. 16 bananas every 24 hours and four-and-a-half pounds of fish a day, but one of the eateries in the Olympic dining hall may surprise you -- McDonald's.
PHILLIPS: Well, there's going to be a lot of kissing going on, so we hear. Chick-fil-A restaurants have been a symbol in the gay marriage fights since the president expressed opposition to it.
So, supporters flocked to the chain on Wednesday for what was dubbed Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day and Chick-fil-A reported record sales. Now it's Friday, TGIF, and same-sex couples are being encouraged to go to a Chick-fil-A and kiss in protest.
George Howell has been following the protests, the kisses and everything in between. So, what do we expect today? And there's been some discrepancy, too, on the time. It was supposed to start this morning, this afternoon, this evening. What do we know?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The times are all over the map. We know, here in Atlanta, there's an event that's supposed to start in Decatur, Georgia, just around noon. Some events to happen, also, in Central and on the West Coast, so, the times are happening throughout the day.
But the goal is this, Kyra. They want to see as many people go to Chic-fil-As and kiss in front of the signs, some to go inside the building to kiss and, also, pay with dollar bills with the words written on it, "gay money," also, just to make the statement.
We know, though, when you look at the Facebook page, they have more than 13,000 people who signed on to be part of this. Now, that pales in comparison to the more than 600,000-plus that took part in the event on Wednesday, the Chic-fil-A Appreciation Day.
But they say the goal is to make just as big of an impact, to make sure that this company knows they not appreciate the stance that it's taken.
PHILLIPS: We even saw, what was it, just about 20 minutes ago coming into CNN, some graffiti that's already taken place, some hate messages on one of the Chic-fil-As out in California?
HOWELL: And an isolated incident, but in Torrance, California, we see that video of this graffiti written on the wall and, you know, obviously, that is not the message that many people today are hoping to send. Obviously, they want to send a different message, this "Kiss-In" Day.
I do want to read a statement, though, from Chic-fil-A. They were prepared for this.
PHILLIPS: Yeah, were they ready for this?
HOWELL: Well, they said this. Quote, "We understand from news reports that Friday may present yet another opportunity for us to serve with genuine hospitality, superior service and great food."
So, they know this is expected to happen today and they say that they support all of their customers, regardless of race, sexual orientation. They respect all their customers.
But we heard from Carly McGehee. Carly set up this "Kiss-In" Day. She's in Dallas and she explained why she has such a problem with this company. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLY MCGEHEE, CHICK-FIL-A "KISS-IN" ORGANIZER: So, it's OK if someone doesn't agree with us or doesn't believe in gay rights or gay marriage, but when you spend money to perpetuate hate, intolerance and discrimination, that's what we have a problem with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And that's what she wants to make sure that people who spend money at Chick-fil-A to know that their dollars could go to different organizations that do not support same-sex marriage.
PHILLIPS: All right, we'll be following everything today. That's for sure. George, thanks so much.
HOWELL: Kyra, thanks.
PHILLIPS: And organizers also ask people to donate the approximate cost of a Chick-fil-A meal -- that's about $6.50 -- to gay and lesbian rights groups as part of today's event.
Well, the romance, the history, the fashion and the food, Paris has it all and CNN's Alina Cho gives us a taste of all the finer things the city has to offer for this week's "Travel Insider."
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I lived in Paris during college, so going back always brings back memories.
One of my favorite things to do, then and now, sit outside and sip espresso or a glass of wine at a cafe. The French invented the concept. Cafe de Flore on the Left Bank is my pick.
And for dinner, Brasserie Lipp across the street from Flore is also great.
If you've never been to Paris, take an afternoon on a sunny day and ride the Bateaux Mouches. These large sightseeing boats are open air and allow you to see the entire city by sea.
For the arts, the l'Orangerie Museum which houses spectacular murals by Monet.
For shopping, head to Avenue Montaigne, the Madison Avenue of Paris.
Then, grab your walking shoes and head to the Champs-Elysees, walking all the way up to Arc de Triomphe and back down is a great way to work off a meal.
And, speaking of food, don't forget to buy a real baguette sandwich at a boulangerie or a crepe on the street. Soon, you'll feel like a native.
Alina Cho, CNN, Paris.
PHILLIPS: Well, another reported massacre in Syria. Opposition forces say that President Bashar al-Assad's forces killed another 69 people in Hama and we haven't been able to confirm the report, but we can show you this, a 10-year-old boy reportedly among the victims there and an all-out battle expected in Aleppo.
The nation's most populous city has been engulfed in fighting between regime forces and rebels and the U.N. general assembly meets today to vote on a resolution condemning Syria's government just one day after U.N. envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, called it quits.
And an update on that bizarre story of the kidnapping of baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. She told police that she was blindfolded and driven around in her own car at gunpoint, but found unharmed later. Ripken says that his mom is doing OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAL RIPKEN, JR., FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STAR: A lot of people are concerned and they're asking questions about mom.
And, you know, she's doing OK. I mean, it's been a traumatic experience, one that I think none of us know how we would have handled. I'm just thankful that she is home.
But she's doing OK. She's a strong woman, after all. She raised four kids with my dad away doing his baseball thing, so, I think she's doing as well as we can expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, police have released a video of the suspect and offering a reward in the hope of getting some leads. Ripken says that his mother is still a bit shaken and has not returned home yet.
Well, 95 days till the elections and President Obama and Mitt Romney are butting heads, big time. They're both going to speak at the same time just moments from now. The president is in Washington, Romney's in Vegas. We'll bring it to you live as soon as they begin.
Well, Congress has started its August recess without passing help for the drought-stricken farmers and ranchers. The Senate passed a farm bill that the House didn't like and then, at the last second, the House passed a short-term drought relief bill, but the Senate didn't like that.
So, current programs farm-aid programs are going to begin running out next month, except help for livestock producers. That's run out already.
Now, for most Americans, you know, that drought has not been good news at all. And one area that's suffering is the South where a lot of farmers are feeling the brunt of the bone-dry conditions.
But, believe it or not, some people are actually cashing in on the drought. We go "In-Depth" now with CNN's Martin Savidge in Ft. Valley, Georgia.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Peach County, Georgia, they are plucking the last peaches off of the trees. Peaches have been in Duke Lane's family for close to 100 years. He grows nearly 300 acres, selling to the likes of Publix, Whole Foods and Walmart.
How's the peach crop looking?
DUKE LANE, JR., LANE SOUTHERN ORCHARDS: Well, all things considered, I think the peaches look real good.
SAVIDGE: The peaches themselves may be smaller due to the drought, but the demand is still high, which is why wholesale prices are up by almost 50 percent over last year and they taste better.
LANE: So, when these peaches arrive and we don't have the rains to come in here and take the sugar away, so that's a plus, is being able to have this fruit, its highest maximum amount of sugar, which is a good thing.
SAVIDGE: So, if I understand you then, the less rain means that a peach like this could be smaller, but it's going to be sweeter and tastier.
LANE: That's right. SAVIDGE: Peach fans aren't the only ones smiling about the drought. In nearby Marshallville, Georgia, there is something else growing in this farmer's field.
ELTON SHARP, SHARP IRRIGATION SYSTEMS: Is that going good for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
SAVIDGE: A massive collection of pipes, spigots and sprayers that, when finished, will become a crop-sized sprinkling system.
These Rube Goldberg-looking contraptions rotate ever so slowly in a giant arc around a central pump tied to an underground well, hence the name "pivots."
Elton Sharp's been selling pivots since the '70s, Recently, thanks to the drought, business has doubled.
SHARP: We have put in a lot of pivots in the last five years for people that never did have it before.
SAVIDGE: Systems like these can easily cost more than $100,000 each.
Even so, Jim Reid says these days farmers would have a better chance gambling in Las Vegas than betting on nature.
JIM REID, REID BROTHERS IRRIGATION: As the cost of production has gone up and the risk of the amount of money you had invested in an acre of land has increased, then the necessity of irrigation became greater.
SAVIDGE: Which is why Reid has crews working close to twelve hours a day, six days a week just to keep up with demand.
Thanks to the worst drought in half a century, whether it's peaches or pivots, both are finding business pretty sweet.
PHILLIPS: All right, he's joining us now from Ft. Valley. So, it's a double-edged sword, Marty. The drought hurts farmers, yet some people are benefiting from the drought, as you just pointed out. So, do we have any idea how many farmers irrigate in the U.S.?
SAVIDGE: Well, it never fails. You do a drought story ...
PHILLIPS: And it's raining.
SAVIDGE: ... and you can guarantee you're going to end up in a situation like this.
However, this is not quite what it seems. Look, let me step out of this. This is actually one of those giant pivots we were talking about. It's an irrigation system and, to get to your question, only about maybe 27 percent of the farmers around here and in the United States have a system like this, at least the farmland.
Not as many as you might expect, but the reasons for that, part of it is, of course, huge expense. The other part is access to water. Georgia, they're lucky. They've got a lot of water underground.
You go out west, though, not the case, so, really, these sort of systems are still fairly rare, but more and more banks are demanding that, if farmers are going to grow a crop, they want to see something like this. Otherwise, they may not get the loan. Interesting.
PHILLIPS: Leave it to you to fool all of us. Why is Marty in the rain? Wait a minute. It's beautiful outside. So creative.
We'll it's definitely something we're paying close attention to because it is impacting so many of us, not only the farmers, but the food we eat and the livestock and everything else.
PHILLIPS: Marty, thanks so much.
Let's talk about how bad the situation is. The Department of Agriculture says more than half of all U.S. counties have been designated drought disaster zones.
Another indication of how severe the drought is, the Mississippi River was closed at two locations yesterday after a barge ran aground near Greenville. Apparently the river is back open now but the closure affecting a ten-mile stretch of that river. A year ago it was flooding that was the problem but now the river is 50 feet lower than at peak levels last year.
We brought you numerous stories about the daily struggles women face in male-dominated Afghanistan and a struggle that is violence sometimes ends in death for a wife, mother or daughter. Even something as basic as education is rare. But today's "CNN Hero" is a woman who has made it her life's mission to change that.
RAZIA JAN (ph), CNN HERO (voice-over): In Afghanistan, most of the girls have no voice. They are used as property of a family. The picture is very grim.
My name is Razia Jan (ph), and I'm the founder of a girls' school in Afghanistan.
When we opened the school in 2008, 90 percent of them could not write their name. Today, 100 percent of them are educated. They can read. They can write.
I lived in U.S. for over 38 years, but I was really affected by 9/11. I really wanted to prove that Muslims are not terrorists. I came back here in 2002.
(on camera): Oh, yes, everybody. (voice-over): Girls had been the most oppressed. And I thought, I have to do something.
It was a struggle in the beginning. I would sit with these men and I would tell them, don't marry them when they're 14 years old, they want to learn.
(on camera): How do you write your father's name?
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: B-A-T --
JAN (ph): After five years now, the men, they're proud of the girls when they, theirself, can write their name.
Still, we have to take precautions. Some people are so against girls getting educated.
JAN (ph): We provide free education to over 350 girls.
JAN (ph): I think it's like a fire. It will grow. Every year, my hope becomes more. I think, I can see the future.
PHILLIPS: The jobs report out this morning shows hiring is up with 163,000 new jobs added in July. Better than expected, but unemployment inched higher to 8.3 percent. And that's about 330,000 so-called discouraged workers, not counted because they've quit looking for a job in the last four weeks.
Stocks are rallying, though. Dow Industrials now up 240 points so far this morning.
President Obama's first term in office has some significance for Ernie Casillas. It's actually the same length of time that he's been unemployed. CNN first met him in 2009 in the midst of his struggle.
Our caught up with him recently and found a pretty different story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The start of the day and a new full-time job Ernie Casillas. These first steps on the Los Angeles Airport tarmac have been nearly four years in the making.
(on camera): How long were you unemployed?
ERNIE CASILLAS, UNEMPLOYED FOR A PRESIDENTIAL TERM: I'm going on four years, November 6th. LAH: Four years?
LAH (voice-over): Barack Obama started his new job as president, a short time after Casillas lost his job making big bucks as a mortgage broker. CNN met him as it wreaked havoc on the economy and his own career.
CASILLAS: Drive an expensive car, having an expensive suit. Just like everyone else looking for work. It humbles you.
LAH: He not only lost his job, but his home and his marriage. He moved in with his mother. Casillas went to job fairs and networks sending out hundreds of resumes and he started his own consultant company but it never took off. Desperate, he put this ad on craigslist stating bluntly, "I need a job."
Last year, still unemployed, he hit downtown Los Angeles carrying a sign.
CASILLAS: I'm so tired of collecting unemployment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if there are a lot of us walking know we're not that far away.
CASILLAS: You're right.
LAH: Last week, he was at rock bottom.
CASILLAS: I had something to eat. I didn't have money for gas. I looked under my car seat and I had $1.65.
LAH: that paid for the gas that took him to meet Anna Rosales and she gave him a job for her cleaning company newly contracted at lax.
ANNA ROSALES, CEO, AVOR, INC.: He deserves it. Everyone deserves to work. Have you ever been unemployed? Have you ever not been able to pay a bill?
LAH: As the next presidential election looms with the economy as a defining issue, Casillas' political intentions may surprise you.
(on camera): Who are you going to vote for?
LAH: Why are you not going to vote for Romney?
CASILLAS: He -- I don't think he's with the people.
He's a person that we think poor. LAH: Casillas says Obama, less distasteful than Romney, deserves more time. He says his long jobless ordeal showed him there's no easy path out of unemployment and no quick fix for this country's sluggish economy.
Kyung Lah joining me now.
So, after four years of being out of work, my guess is he has learned a lot from this.
LAH: Oh, yes, a lot is an understatement, Kyra. He says if anything he learned to make sure that you don't look at your previous life and your post-job life with any sort of discriminatory eye. For example, he's a supervisor of a cleaning company and he's making more money doing that as a mortgage broker. He also said you have to learn how to save. He was living on 110 percent of his income and now he's going to try to live on half -- Kyra?
PHILLIPS: He's one of millions of people with a very similar story.
LAH: You're right. You heard his boss say that there are a lot Ernie Casillases out there. 5.2 million of them according to today's jobs' figures. That's 40.7 percent of the unemployed.
But something we should point out is that is an improvement from the month before. Just like Ernie has gotten that job, the numbers are suggesting that for the long-term unemployed, people who have been unemployed for 27 weeks, they are starting to see some improvements, as well.
PHILLIPS: Kyung, thank you so much.
And the checks will run out for about one million long-term unemployed Americans this year due to a federal government cutback on extended unemployment benefits. Congress could renew the program, but many experts say it is unlikely.
PHILLIPS: Well, after all that chatter, it turns out the president and his GOP challenger may not be sharing a time slot today after all. After scheduling their speeches for exactly the same time, 11:45 a.m. eastern, President Obama is now due to speak at noon straight up. He'll be in the Eisenhower Executive Building, right next door to the White House, pushing to extend the Bush era tax cuts for all but the wealthiest households. Mitt Romney is continuing a western swing that will take him to Reno and Sun Valley, Idaho.
Candy Crowley watching it all from Washington.
OK, what happened here? There was a lot of talk about this dueling time slot, and now all of a sudden, it's shifting by 15 minutes. What's the behind, what's the scoop, Candy? (LAUGHTER)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it is no surprise that the jobs numbers for every month come out at the time they do every month. So, what these two folks have done is take advantage of some pre-existing situations and that is, Mitt Romney was always going to be at this trucking equipment place. And the president now is trying to get some traction off this new tax policy study that looks at Mitt Romney's tax proposals, and also push for continuing tax breaks for the middle class.
So, what they're going to do is use these events and drop in their comments on the jobless rate. And I can -- let me just predict to you that the president will say it is a movement in the right direction and that we need to keep going, and Mitt Romney will say it's too slow and proves that we need to change folks in the Oval Office.
PHILLIPS: They're even showing a little respect towards each other, rather, shifting the time slot here by 15 minutes. That could be a good sign, Candy, that it's not --
CROWLEY: Or maybe he's just busy.
PHILLIPS: There you go. Maybe he's just got his hands full and he wishes he could still have that 11:45 time slot, so they would be dueling out. We are on track for net gain, politically significant or a footnote? What do you think?
CROWLEY: You mean this month or overall?
CROWLEY: What we are looking at is a glass half full/glass half empty situation. If you look at this past month, what have we had? Unemployment ticking up -- and ticking is the right word here -- to 8.3 percent. And this is Mitt Romney saying it's been over 8 percent for more than two years. This is unacceptable.
But you also see that the economy created 160,000 some jobs last month. And that's good, particularly when most economists thought it would be around 100,000. It is not great, and the president will not claim it is great, but it is better. They will take it this close to the election.
So in the end, when voters go into the voting booth, they -- it is a gut check. Do you think the economy will -- is getting better and will continue to get better under President Obama or do you believe that he is going in the wrong direction and the economy will get worse and he's spending too much money and the debt is going up? In the end, no one number is going to do it. But the totality of how American consumers and American voters feel, and these numbers are part of it. And certainly, the administration can say we've created jobs, you know, for more than two years and that is true.
PHILLIPS: And Romney's coming forward saying, hey, I promised 12 million jobs in four years if I'm elected. I don't know. It's sort of like Newt Gingrich. Remember when he promised, what, $2.50 gas?
Everyone says, it sounds great, but, come on. Reality check.
CROWLEY: I think most voters, in fact, listen to those things and they understand them. And who knows. I mean, because the fact of the matter is when you talk to people about the economy, they say, well, we could create this many jobs if the following 12 things happen. All these things are so caveated that they are awfully hard to kind of hold them to task. But a lot of people have looked that number of jobs that Mitt Romney says he can create and say, well, we sure haven't seen the goods that would make that a reliable number. But there's lots of fungible numbers that float around campaigns on both sides. The one being picked apart pretty readily and also pretty substantially.
PHILLIPS: So, will you hang with us here until --
CROWLEY: I will. Until we see somebody?
PHILLIPS: OK. Until we see somebody in one of these time slots, whether it's the same time or different.
CROWLEY: Yes. Great.
PHILLIPS: Candy, thank you so much.
Remember, the president speaks just moments from now. We'll bring you that live as soon as we see him. Also, Mitt Romney going to be speaking in Vegas. We'll bring them both to you.
PHILLIPS: Countdown has begun for NASA's latest noise Mars. Spacecraft "Curiosity" expected to touch down on the red planet Monday. But here is the deal. NASA is calling the landing seven minutes of terror.
Chad Myers, what's going on?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it takes seven minutes from when it hits the top of the atmosphere at Mars to actually land. The problem is the signal from the spacecraft takes 14 minutes to get to earth. You know how it takes a while for the lights and the sun to get here. It's going at the speed of light, but the signal, will take 14 minutes. This thing will be on the ground seven minutes before we get a signal stays it hit the top of the atmosphere. So did it land or did it crash, we will have no idea. You will hear about that. This right here is Gail Crater this is where the Martian spacecraft going to land. It will land in a very deep part of Mars, a big crater been there for three-point-something billion years. If that there is the lowest spot, that is where the water may have settled. Obviously water goes to the lowest spot. That's the lowest spot, that's where you want to go to see if there is water, to see if there is life.
Here is former astronaut, Charles Bolden, to talk about where they are going right here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR & FORMER ASTRONAUT: If you can imagine going into the Grand Canyon where we can look at the history of earth, really in that area as we look at various strata. That is what landing in the crater allows us to. And it will actually climb the mountain. So it will look across the geological history of the planet Mars in the two years it is there. it is a harrowing experience. As they say, seven minutes of terror, but that's why we are NASA, because we like to do things like that. We love risky things. But we are confident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MYERS: They are terrorizing themselves.
Let me show you what it looks like. It hits the atmosphere 13,000 miles an hour, hits the heat shield, goes to 1,000 miles an hour. The bottom of this is on fire, burning up, just like you see -- remember the old Apollo astronauts were coming down, this thing on fire. They couldn't talk to the Apollo astronauts.
The Martian surface is small, heated earth. The atmosphere is less dense, 100 times less dense. Then they put out the parachute. It slows it is down to 1,000 miles an hour. They take the thing called a sky crane and land it on Mars. They can't use the jets to land on Mars. They think all they will get is a bunch of dust. They take this sky crane and take it and they land it on Mars. A lot of moving parts. We hope it lands safely because it's not going to be "if" we find life on Mars, it is "when" we will find life on Mars with "Curiosity." It is going to be that cool.
PHILLIPS: Yes. It is cool stuff.
Chad, thanks so much.
PHILLIPS: If all goes according to planned, "Curiosity" will be the sixth NASA spacecraft to reach Mars. For more information on the mission, visit NASA.gov and watch us, of course.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Mitt Romney campaigning and fund-raising. Let get straight to him in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- really struggling and of course, today we just got a new number from the unemployment report and it's another hammer blow to the struggling middle class families of America, because the president has not had policies that put American families back to work. I do I will put them in place and get America working again.
ROMNEY: There are -- you know this, these numbers are not just statistics. These are real people, really suffering, having hard times. 23 million Americans out of work or stop looking for work or under employed, the official unemployment number, 8.3 percent, the longest period of time, 42 months, the longest period of time we have had unemployment above 8 percent in American history, since this has been recorded. This is an extraordinary record of failure. The president's policies are not worked because he thinks government makes America work. He is wrong. It is people like John that make America work.
ROMNEY: I hope the president understands but McCandless trucking and Sierra here, McCandless International Truck, all the businesses that the McCandless family have organized, they were not built by government, they were built by the McCandless family and the people that work for that family. They were built by people, not by government.
ROMNEY: And so the time has come for a plan that will actually get America's workers back to work, create more jobs and more take home pay and I know how to do that. This is not a mystery for me. This is not theory. This is practice. And I've got five things I have got to do. Hope to get the middle class working again with more jobs and more take home pay, five things, putting them in place get the economy going again, create jobs again, get higher incomes again.
Let me tell you what they are. Number one, we will take advantage of energy in this country, oil, gas, coal --
ROMNEY: -- nuclear --
ROMNEY: And when I say take advantage of our energy, let me play you the goal, by the end of my second term -- by the end of my second term, North --
ROMNEY: You got that, did you?
By the end of my second term, North America will be energy independent. We will not need to buy any oil from the Middle East or from Venezuela.
ROMNEY: Number two, we are going to make sure the American workers of today and tomorrow have the skills to succeed in America. That means better schools, better job training programs, but we cannot continue to allow our schools to perform at the bottom of the world, we have to bring our schools to be the best in the world. I can do it. We did it in my state. We can be competitive and give our kids the future they need with great schools.
ROMNEY: Number three, we've got to have trade that works for America that means that people cheat like China has cheated we don't let them keep doing that and we also open up new markets to sell our products to new places --
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Listening to Mitt Romney in Las Vegas talking about how he would be a better steward in dealing with the economy.