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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Obama Versus Ryan; U.N. Observer Mission Ends in Syria
Aired August 19, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN NEGROPONTE, CHAIRMAN, THE COUNCIL OF THE AMERICA: My understanding is that the British would arrest him and extradite him to Sweden.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Wait until you hear how he may try to escape. We'll have a report from the scene.
Plus, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, like you have never seen it before. An inside look at the prisoners and their prayers. I'll talk to a reporter who was there.
And later, it's a recession that seems endless, no, not the economy, but political comedy. Why Paul Ryan may hurt political funnymen everywhere.
KAYE: Good morning, everyone. And happy Sunday. I'm Randi Kaye. It is 8:00 on the East Coast and 5:00 a.m. out West, glad you're starting your morning with us.
An already heated race for the White House is getting more heated this morning as President Obama and Republican vice presidential campaign Paul Ryan battle it out over the nation's financial future. The president taking the fight directly to Ryan over his bucket. And a familiar topic over recent month: Mitt Romney's taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His new running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year. That's a pretty good deal, just paying 1 percent in taxes. You are making millions of dollars.
Now, here's the kicker: they expect you to pick up the tab.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: The president is referring to Paul Ryan's 2010 budget proposal which by one estimate would eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest, the main sources of Romney's income.
Meanwhile, Ryan making a very high profile stop in Florida, taking his pitch to save Medicare to the people who care it the most, seniors. Ryan's secret weapon on the trip: his mom, a part-time Florida resident who is herself on Medicare. Ryan offering praise to his mom during the appearance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mom, I am proud of you for going out and getting another degree, and I'm proud of you for the small business that you created and, mom, you did build that!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Ryan showing his willingness to serve as his ticket's attack dog, revisiting comments made by the president during a stop last month. Republicans have seized on the president's "you didn't build that" remark, saying it showed the president doesn't fully understand what helps U.S. business grow.
And New Hampshire looks to be the latest battleground in the 2012 race. Mitt Romney heading their tomorrow, following a stop there this weekend by President Obama. It comes as a new poll shows a tight race between the president and his Republican rival.
Likely voters giving Obama a slim three-point lead over Romney. That's within the poll's margin of error.
And Paul Ryan isn't just facing criticism from President Obama out on the campaign trail. It's also from people like this man, who greeted the Republican vice presidential candidate in Virginia by tearing up a Romney/Ryan sign. This demonstration happened right after this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: Who epitomize --
RYAN: Making me feel at home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Just the latest in a string of hecklers who have followed Ryan since his first solo day on the stump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: Welcome to Iowa. So, hey, all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: That incident taking place at the Iowa state fair.
Now to Syria where it seems that the country's vice president is missing. Rebels say Farouq al-Sharaa as defected from the regime and fled the capital. But now, they are worried for his safety.
This morning, Syrian state TV showed President Bashar al-Assad attending prayers in the capital for end of Ramadan. His V.P., nowhere to be found. Still, the regime denies that he's defected.
If V.P. Farouq al-Sharaa did indeed defect, it would be the latest in the disappearing act of al-Assad's A-list. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected. He later said the Syrian government is collapsing.
And in early July, a high profile general left the regime. He was also al Assad's childhood friend.
Now, the question, of course, is, who might be next to go?
CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is following the latest from Abu Dhabi this morning.
Nic, good morning. What is the latest on Assad's vice president? Any word on him?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Still no update, and that is troubling the Free Syrian Army who've been trying to get him out of the country, to Jordan. They say he defected a week ago, but they've lost contact with the commanders, military commanders trying to get him and his family out of the country. They say that they are afraid if some of his family is captured, he may be forced to surrender.
But, you know, there's the pictures of the mosque today of those Eid prayer, where normally the vice president would sit there next to the president really telling. I mean, not just because this is a rare appearance by President Bashar al-Assad, but because he held the prayers in a mosque very close to the presidential palace, not the normal big mosque in the center of the country. His physical world, not just his political world, appears to be shrinking here. The defection, or at least the changes at the ministerial level just yesterday as well.
So, Bashar al Assad, this image, he's not able to project himself powerful and in control the way he would like to. This is very damaging for him, Randi.
KAYE: So, what do you think about that? I mean, will al-Assad bow then to any of this pressure? How do you think he's going to react to all of this?
ROBERTSON: So far, he plans to carry on fighting according to the international security assessments, he's used barely 70 percent of the military force. He tends and he appears to be on content to fight with fighter jets, helicopter attack gunships, shelling around the country still going on today. So he is going to go down fighting, it appears.
The consensus is, and we heard this from the prime minister who quit in the past couple of few weeks that the government Assad controls less than 30 percent of the country, that he appears to be continuing fight and pushing the effort to show unity and continue that fight to hang on.
It doesn't appear to be set to change him right now, Randi.
KAYE: Yes, even as the things appear to be crumbling around him.
Let's talk about the United Nations observer mission. That actually ends today. Will it be seen as a success, Nic, or failure?
ROBERTSON: You know, it was almost a sort of failure from the beginning in many people's eyes. They came in to monitor the U.N. cease-fire in the beginning of April and the casualty toll at that time fell into the single digits for a few days, but the cease-fire never really held. Right where it is right now there are more than 100 people a day being killed.
So, really, it was a failure from the beginning for this Syria -- you know, for the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian army, itself, to actually agree to a cease-fire. The U.N. really had nothing to monitor, and halfway through the mission, all they were doing is to be able to try to get truces at local level to allow the humanitarian supplies to get in to the community level.
So, a success at that level, which the civilians in Syria are going to miss when they leave, but the overall picture of observing a cease-fire and bringing that towards dialogue has been a failure.
KAYE: Yes, certainly difficult to make anything happen there, it seems. Nic Robertson in Abu Dhabi -- Nic, thank you.
In about 30 minutes, we are expecting to hear from Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who sparked international outrage with the release of classified U.S. cables. He hasn't made a public appearance in months. His attorney spoke just moments ago, and he says that Assange is in, quote, "strong spirits," as he remains inside the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain. He sought refuge there while he fights for attempts to extradite him to Sweden, for charges of sexual assault.
For his part, Assange has denied those allegations, saying they are really just a retribution for disclosure of American secrets.
From now on, American troops in Afghanistan will carry loaded weapons at all times. It's the new policy after the most recent killings of two soldiers by an Afghanistan policeman. As the trust between the two erodes, the U.S. will use guardian angels, armed troops, to keep a watchful eye in routine settings.
Since 2007, 69 Americans have been killed in these green-on-blue attacks, as they are called, 39 this year alone, as the number of incidents has risen sharply. They took a oath to protect and defend. Now, a group of the Navy SEALs has a new mission, defeating President Obama. So, why are they calling themselves nonpartisan?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN SMITH, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden, America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: That's a new web ad that includes former Navy SEALs who accuse President Obama for taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and they also say he leaked operational secrets for political gain.
So, did the president take too much credit? He is the commander- in-chief and gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden. Were there any secret operational tactics leaked? CNN's Brian Todd takes a closer look at this latest controversy in the 2012 race for the White House -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, we've just discovered some links this group has to the GOP, links that the group has not freely acknowledged. It's new video rakes the president for his campaign references to the bin Laden raid.
(voice-over): In a campaign ad, Bill Clinton praises President Obama's courage for ordering the Navy SEALs to launch against Osama bin Laden.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Suppose they'd been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him.
TODD: On the campaign trail, the president emphasizes it himself.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promised to go after al Qaeda and go after bin Laden, and we did it.
TODD: Now there's a counterattack.
SMITH: Mr. President, you did not kill Osama bin Laden. America did. The work that the American military has done killed Osama bin Laden. You did not.
TODD: That's former Navy SEAL Ben Smith in a new video slamming President Obama. The 22-minute film titled "Dishonorable Disclosures" features former SEALs, Special Forces members, intelligence officers skewering the president for taking credit for the bin Laden raid. The Obama campaign pushes back, saying the president has repeatedly credited SEALs for the bin Laden operation. The Obama team also points to this interview Wolf Blitzer did recently with the commander of the raid, Admiral William McRaven.
ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN, COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS: At the end of the day, make no mistake about it, it was the president of the United States that shouldered the burden for this operation, that made the hard decisions.
TODD: I pressed Ben Smith on that.
(on camera): Does the president get no credit here? Should he get no credit here?
SMITH: He gets the credit for having Osama bin Laden killed under his watch. If he's -- if he gave the order, wonderful. But taking all the credit with the I, I, I, me, I, I about it and using us as a political ad is wrong.
TODD (voice-over): The film also blasts the Obama administration for allowing classified information on the raid and other security operations to become public.
JAMIE WILLIAMSON: We had tactics, techniques, procedures that were compromised. We even knew the name of the dog that was on the operation.
TODD: The Obama team denies taking part in any leaks and says the Republicans are resorting to swift boat tactics, a reference to the blistering 2004 attacks on John Kerry's Vietnam War record.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry cannot be trusted.
TODD: This new film was made by a group called OPSEC, for Operational Security. A spokeswoman for the group says it's completely nonpartisan, but CNN found many links between the group and the GOP.
The president of OPSEC, a former Navy SEAL named Scott Taylor, who appears in the video, once ran for Congress as a Republican. A spokesman for the group has done similar work for the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress.
Ben Smith, that former SEAL, told me he's an independent voter, but says on his Facebook page that he was once a spokesman for the Tea Party.
(on camera): And OPSEC lists its headquarters as being in this building in a certain suite. We found out that also in that suite are two Republican strategy groups and no other groups. We were not allowed to film inside, but we're told by someone in the suite that OPSEC doesn't have much more than a desk there and that no one from OPSEC was there to talk to us.
An OPSEC spokeswoman told us where they're located has nothing to do with the message they want to get out.
(voice-over): Could that message hurt President Obama like swift boat damaged John Kerry?
DARRELL WEST, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It could hurt Obama politically in the sense that it's a very competitive election. It's going to come down to 20,000 or 25,000 votes in a handful of states. So, we don't know now what's going to move those voters. But national security's a very sensitive issue for many people.
TODD (on camera): And OPSEC is now one of three groups of former Special Operations members coming out with campaigns against the president over the security leaks. Neither the Pentagon nor the CIA would comment on this latest video or confirm the military experience of those in the film -- Randi.
KAYE: Ryan, thank you very much.
And the founder of a similar group aimed to portray President Obama as anti-military says he's a birther and isn't afraid to admit it.
Larry Bailey, founder of Special Operations Speaks, believes Obama is lying about his origins, is a socialist and was raised by communists. The 27-year-old veteran of the Navy SEALs says he is against the president's politics and personality. His theory, Barack Obama Sr. isn't even his father, but rather writer Frank Marshall Davis, Obama's long time mentor.
Still ahead, the story behind the dramatic rescue as this man is pulled to safety from below ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: Porn star Jenna Jameson has endorsed Mitt Romney. Although Jameson did say, as a porn star, she does admire Joe Biden's ability to put his entire foot in his mouth. So that's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Now to the world of late night TV, where things are changing behind the scenes at "The Tonight Show." A source tells CNN that NBC has purged its payroll by laying off 20 to 25 employees of the hit show. Jay Leno also is said to be taking a big pay cut to keep more workers from losing their jobs. Leno replaced longtime host Johnny Carson back in 1992, you may recall. Apparently, the network is trying to reduce production costs.
Checking stories across the country now -- 20 minutes past the hour.
Rescuers pulled a man from a rural well near Little Rock, California, last night. Take a look here. Some horse riders heard his calls for help and he had been in the well for 24 hours in the desert heat. The man was wedged tight, and firefighters had to chip concrete to get him, and he had apparently dropped something in the well and fell in trying to recover it.
People in Lake Michigan may get another chance today to see a pretty fascinating, sort of frightening force of nature. Look at this. It's a waterspout -- in fact, nine of them formed on the lake yesterday and forecasters say conditions could trigger more today. The weather service says boaters should be in the alert. Winds near water spouts apparently hit 60 miles an hour.
And in Chicago, a small monument now marks the spot where President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama first kissed. It stands outside of what was once an ice cream shop in Hyde Park.
In 1989, she was a lawyer. He was a summer associate at the same firm. The monument was commissioned by owners of a nearby shopping center.
Muslims around the world are celebrating the end of Ramadan. We'll tell you how one community in the South is marking the holiest month on the Islamic calendar.
But, first, a very good morning to Washington, D.C. Lovely shot of the White House. Gray skies there it looks like, but thanks for waking up with CNN.
KAYE: This week, First Lady Michelle Obama will meet with some of the families devastated by the shooting at the Sikh temple. Six people were killed, four wounded when a gunman opened fire inside the temple in Wisconsin earlier this month. The gunman, an Army vet, with ties to racist groups, then killed himself.
Sikh leaders call her visit a powerful symbol of the administration's concern and support.
This weekend, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al- Fitr, the end of Ramadan. It's an annual time for fasting and abstinence -- a 30-day period of internal reflection for all Muslims. We visited one Islamic community in Georgia to talk about the holiday's significant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI GEBRIL, ROSWELL COMMUNITY MASJID: Ramadan, you can look at it this way -- you can think of it as a boot camp, training boot camp for the spirit or the soul. It's a spiritual training period that extends about 30 days.
KAREEMAH BUDAIR, ROSWELL, GEORGIA RESIDENT: The funny thing is that people think it is the food and the water. It's not the food and the water that's the hard part. The hard part is that without the food and the water, everything goes on in life. People may aggravate you, and when you don't have food and water, and you are tired, then you have to be patient, and that's, you know, that's like a challenge.
GEBRIL: Ramadan by the nature will change the routine for everybody. Everything will be upside-down. Sometimes you are the only fasting person in the workplace or your classroom, and everybody else is not practicing what you are practicing, so you have a feeling that you are doing this alone. It's not easy. It's harder.
You play this role where everybody comes together and stay at a state of worship.
BUDAIR: And sometimes you will not see somebody for a whole year, so you start to connect with them and their lives and then brings together that whole idea that this is the community that we need to care about each other.
We teach the kids that they have to be extra good in this month. They have to try to please God, and they have to try to strive to do good deeds so that their reward is their holiday. The idea is to go back to life better than what we entered Ramadan in, and try to, you know, improve ourselves and in turn improve the world through that process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Even in the Guantanamo Bay detention center, Muslims are marking Ramadan. We're giving you a rare look from the reporter who go special access inside.
KAYE: Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Randi Kaye, bottom of the hour now.
Here are some of the stories that we are watching this morning:
Any moment now, we are expecting to hear from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who once again finds himself in the center of controversy as Ecuador and Britain battle over his asylum in London. Moments ago, Assange's lawyers spoke out on behalf his client.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALTAZAR GARZON, JULIAN ASSANGE ATTORNEY: Julian Assange has always fought for truth and justice and has defended human rights and will continue to do so. He demands that WikiLeaks and his own right also be respected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Assange is currently living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he sought refuge after Britain attempted to extradite him to Sweden for charges of sexual assault. He denies those charges.
Well a violent wait is on, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara is still missing, rumored to have defected. Al-Shara was nowhere to be seen at this weekend's Ramadan celebration with President Bashar al-Assad. If al-Shara did leave the country it would mark the highest level departure from al-Assad's regime yet.
The President and Paul Ryan are trading accusations over the Medicare program. In New Hampshire yesterday Obama accused Republicans of being quote, "Dishonest about my plans since they can't sell their own." "A GOP administration" he says, "will force seniors to pay more for healthcare." Ryan says, "The President has siphoned $700 billion for Medicare to pay for Obamacare".
Now Mars rover used a laser to help analyze a Martian rock overnight. It's the first time such a powerful laser has been used on another planet. Once hit by the laser the rock emits glowing, ionized gases helping the "Curiosity" rover to identify chemical elements. Next the rover will travel about 1,300 feet to start to drilling into Martian rock.
For today's "Faces of Faith" we're focusing on unlikely place to celebrate a holiday, the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. That's where more than 150 detainees will end the holy month of Ramadan today and we're getting a very rare look inside.
Remember, this is where the U.S. keeps some of the world's most notorious suspected terrorists. U.S. soldiers have had to make several changes around the detention center for the prisoners and say there is a notable change in the mood. It's quieter.
The photos you're seeing are from "The Miami Herald" which is granted special access to observe detainees during Ramadan. "The Herald" wrote about it for their extensive Guantanamo coverage. Of course, the visit was accompanied at all times by a U.S. official, and the visit is censored.
Joining us from Washington is Carol Rosenberg, the Guantanamo Bay correspondent from "The Miami Herald."
Carol good morning to you, Carol. What incredible access, you and your team had. You saw the food, you heard the prayers; you had a chance to watch the detainees. What was it like inside and what was it like to witness this?
CAROL ROSENBERG, GUANTANAMO BAY CORRESPONDENT, THE MIAMI HERALD: Well, remember, this is the 11th Ramadan in a row in U.S. custody for most of the detainees and the first for most of the guards at Guantanamo. And what we found is that it really has developed a routine, that the military has gotten accustomed to doing this after 11 of them down there.
And -- and what they've done as they say is they changed the battle rhythm and -- and they really upended their schedule so that at night when the detainees are awake and praying and eating their meals, there's a lot of activity.
And remember, this is the prison camp that should have been closed a couple of years ago and instead, it's -- it's they have learned how to do this holiday not unlike when the military around the world does Thanksgiving. They bring in the traditional foods, they bring in dates literally this time a ton of dates because they were -- they've got 168 detainees and captives down there and they are -- and they are giving them dates twice a day. They are giving them traditional meals and they are -- they are trying to make it as quiet as possible as they say from what they showed us and they didn't show us everything.
ROSENBERG: We saw -- we saw a pretty peaceful Ramadan. And -- and what was extraordinary about this visit, sorry, is that they let us go in at 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning when the camps are kind of awake and alive and active.
KAYE: Yes. You say that one of the most surprising things was that some detainees on hunger strikes I mean, they are force fed by the guards, but even that process has actually changed a bit out of respect for Ramadan.
ROSENBERG: That's exactly it, they turned -- they turned all of the activities into the night. So something that they would do during the day which is feeding the hunger strikers through tubes inserted through their noses goes on at night. The military says this is all part of respecting their Islam. Now they won't tell us this year how many people underwent this treatment or how many this was done to, because the transparency only goes so far.
ROSENBERG: But yes at night, most of the activity goes on and during the day, they are trying to keep it quiet. And the guards have been handed out pocket guides that teach them not only to be quiet and respect the prayer time, but also to be on alert. The pocket guide tells them that even in Ramadan, war is -- it's allowed to wage war.
KAYE: And even the defense lawyers they don't schedule any meetings with the suspects at this time, why is that?
ROSENBERG: Well, the defense lawyers say that this is an introspective time and the men want to stay with themselves and they don't really want to go through the process of being shackled and moved from their detention spaces over to the meeting spots with the -- with -- with the attorneys.
So the attorneys give them that month off basically, because, you know, the detainees have the choice of meeting their lawyers and I guess they were rejecting it through the years.
KAYE: And you were actually accompanied this whole time. Did you get a sense that there was something that they didn't want to show you?
ROSENBERG: Well for sure. You know, the transparency only goes so far. We go to the two camps where the low-value detainees are kept, one of them is very much like a prisoner of war camp. You can see they eat together, they pray together and the guards aren't really on their blocks, they're outside looking in. But you know, there's a -- there's another prison down there called Camp 7 and it's their secret prison, they won't -- that's where they keep the people who the CIA waterboarded and the people who they're going to be putting on these death penalty trials later this year or next year.
And not only don't we see it and not only don't they talk about it, but you know we the American people can't even know when it was built or how much we paid for it. This is the secret prison where they keep just over a dozen of the former CIA captives. So what we see are the low level detainees and more than half of them, you know, have been cleared for release, but politics and violence in Yemen and the inability to resettle some of them around the world --
ROSENBERG: -- means they are stuck there in this legal limbo.
KAYE: Did they know you were there? Did the prisoners know you were there and how did they react if so -- to who you were?
ROSENBERG: Well I mean, part of the -- part of the deal is that we go and what we show the photographer whose pictures you showed -- he shoot through one-way glass so they don't know where the -- and the idea is that they would be understandably upset if they knew that people were watching them at prayer and photographing it.
So the deal is that you have to really not -- not be exposed to them and stay out of their way. In one instance they were walking a captive to the recreation yard and he saw us. And you know he shouted at us something that sounded very much like in an accented English, "Everything is great at Guantanamo," but it sounded rather sarcastic from where we were standing.
KAYE: I'm sure. Coming up this week Wednesday, the trial for the 9/11 suspect. Do you get any -- any word I mean, was there any chatter about that or any talk of that trial starting?
ROSENBERG: Well everybody is -- well, this is a pre-trial hearing and one of the issues that will be on -- on, you know, at issue in the motions is how much we, the world, will actually get to hear about the treatment in those CIA block sites of these men who are going to be put on trial in the September 11th case.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as you know was waterboarded and we are bringing down a media lawyer and we are going to try to persuade the judge to open it up, because there is a lot that's classified and a lot that's going to closed at this 9/11 trial.
So we're in pre-trial hearings and there's going to be a lot of discussions and motions regarding defense attorneys' resources, what the media will see, the ACLU is coming down and there will be other issues about transparency and discovery being -- being argued in the court.
ROSENBERG: Not -- we're not going to see a trial for -- for some time to come, certainly not this year.
KAYE: Carol Rosenberg, I appreciate your time, correspondent for "The Miami Herald", you and your photographer did incredible work. Thank you.
ROSENBERG: Thank you.
KAYE: Is Paul Ryan fibbing on the campaign trail? Find out what he's blaming the President for and whether he is right in doing so.
KAYE: To politics now and a blame game that traces its roots back to Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. Ryan says this General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin part of his congressional district is evidence of what he calls quote, "One more broken promise by President Obama" saying "The auto bailout which Ryan voted for failed to keep the plant open."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENDAN KEEFE, REPORTER, WCPO: Unlike Mitt Romney, you supported the auto bailout, do you think the Obama bailout of the auto industry was a good idea sitting here today?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It didn't not help Janesville they shut our plant down. It didn't help Kenosha, I represent there, shut down the Chrysler plant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: That plant however actually closed during the Bush administration and reports show that Ryan made several attempts to keep the plant open visiting the GM headquarters and writing op-eds to local papers but his efforts failed.
The Detroit news report said Obama shown here in a 2008 visit to that same plant said government help could keep the plant open. Ryan later helped secure a $1.6 million emergency grant to help workers dislocated by the plant's closure. The plant is still owned by GM but it never reopened.
And when it comes to the best way to manage federal funds President Obama says his plans are better than those of Ryan and the man at the top of the Republican ticket, Mitt Romney.
Speaking to potential voters the President blasted the Republicans policies as more of the same ideas that hurt the U.S. economy in the first place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Another $250,000 tax cut to folks who are making $3 million a year or more. Now, have you heard this before? They have been trying to sell this trickle down snake oil before. And guess what, it didn't work then, it won't work now. It's not a plan to create jobs, it's not a plan to reduce the deficit, it's not a plan to move the economy forward. And you know secretly, I think they know this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: President Obama had previously called those policies quote, "Fairy dust".
With about 80 days until the election both parties are ramping up their campaigns. The flashpoint right now is Medicare. Republicans and Democrats each want to cast their party as the great defender of the elderly.
Jim Acosta is following it all from Washington. Good morning, Jim. It's getting pretty ugly out there, isn't it?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it really is, Randi. And we're going to be talking about this in just a few moments on "STATE OF THE UNION". We're going to have Eric Fehrnstrom (ph) from the Romney campaign and Stephanie Cutter.
Also we're going to be talking to Rick Santorum who, as you remember Randi, was on the receiving end of some of those though Romney attacks during the primaries. It is getting tough out there but hey, politics isn't beanbag, and we do have about three months to go. It is going to get probably even nastier and uglier than we've seen so far but there are some big issues at stake here.
And I think the Paul Ryan pick more than anything else in this campaign so far Randi has really made this election choice between two contrasts. You could not have a clearer contrast between these two campaigns right now especially on the issue of Medicare and on the budget.
KAYE: So, in terms of what they all want to talk about, I mean Romney certainly would like to switch the conversation back to jobs, wouldn't he?
ACOSTA: He would. And as the President's team knows, there are some more jobs reports coming out. And it seems we have reached the sort critical mass every time one of these jobs reports comes out, and then we all of the sudden have this new analysis as to how the President is doing on the economy.
But really it is sort of surprising Randy to see Medicare just jump to the forefront of this campaign -- talk about an issue that really was sort a sleeper until Romney picked Paul Ryan. Up until that point, we really weren't talking about Medicare that much and as you saw down in Florida, this has become such a concern for the Romney campaign, they had Paul Ryan out there with his mother telling those senior citizens down there in Florida where the elderly vote will be crucial that the Romney/Ryan ticket will not be doing anything to Medicare that will harm current beneficiaries and people who are nearing that age when they would start receiving Medicare benefits.
And so I think you're going to hear the President going after Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney on this for weeks to come, and we will be talking to all of our guests about that this morning.
KAYE: All right. Jim Acosta in for Candy Crowley for "STATE OF THE UNION"; Jim nice to see you. Thank you.
ACOSTA: Nice to see you. Thanks.
KAYE: And keep it here for "STATE OF THE UNION". Today Rick Santorum assesses the current campaign nastiness. If you remember he had a pretty bruising primary campaign with Mitt Romney as Jim was just talking about. But now he's back in the fold. "STATE OF THE UNION" starts in about 14 minutes 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 a.m. Pacific right here on CNN.
By picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney may have energized the Republican Party. But comedian, Dean Obeidallah, thinks it is bad, bad, bad for late night comedians. He will join us.
KAYE: It is Sunday so let's take a look at some of the big stories that we will be keeping an eye on in the week ahead.
On Monday, we will be watching Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan; they will be campaigning in New Hampshire.
And on Wednesday, we have the Gitmo hearing; accused 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and his co-defendants will have a hearing at Guantanamo Bay moved from earlier in the month to accommodate the Ramadan plans. Ok and there we have it.
Stay tuned of course, to CNN for Thursday, for live coverage outside of James Holmes hearing in Colorado, the 24-year-old you may recall who is accused of killing 12 and injuring 58 at a "Batman" movie screening last month.
And on -- come on, ok, there we go. Sometimes it's a little finicky. On Friday all eyes are on Norway where a verdict is expected in the Anders Breivik mass murder trial. Breivik's admitted killing 77 and wounding hundreds more when he bombed central Oslo and then opened fire at a camp for kids.
And on Sunday, the attorney for Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistleblower promises an exclusive presentation about his client at Georgetown University.
The Republicans, the Democrats -- both sides always find a way to give comics some easy material. But my next guest, comedian Dean Obeidallah says we are in a political comedy recession. Say it isn't so. He will explain.
KAYE: Good morning, New York City. Look at that lovely shot of the Hudson River there -- just beautiful. Glad you are waking up with us here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
Our next guest is somewhere in that crush of buildings. In comedy, it is all about timing. And thanks to the presidential election, it seems like a good time to be a comic. The late night guys are getting a lot of material.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: Usain Bolt won the 100 and 200 meter dash for the second Olympics in a row. You know, he has been running since he was in elementary school -- kind of like Mitt Romney.
JIMMY FALLON, TALK SHOW HOST: Mitt Romney is hoping to energize republicans by announcing Paul Ryan as his running mate. Seriously? That is like trying to spice up a bowl of oatmeal with more oatmeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: But comedian Dean Obeidallah has written an op-ed for CNN.com saying we are in a recession of political comedy.
Dean, good morning. What do you mean -- a real recession of comedy?
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Since President Bush left, Randi, it has been a tough time. I swear I'm going to be on the subway holding up a sign saying we will tell jokes for food if this continues.
We really -- I'm being honest. We miss President Bush and that material he gave. I don't Romney has any chance to give us the material if he were elected or Paul Ryan. Look I need Paul Ryan -- the jokes are that he is boring.
Yet in the world of politics it is considered courageous to pick a middle-aged, you know, white (inaudible) Christian from the Midwest. It's beyond. So I think it is a challenging time for us.
KAYE: So you're saying neither Romney nor Ryan are funny? And Obama is not funny -- he gives you nothing?
OBEIDALLAH: He gives a little bit. They do give us a little bit of jokes. Don't get me wrong, it is not like we are without jokes, but I think it's really reflecting compared to what President Bush gave us.
And also Sarah Palin; I mean I wanted her to run for president. That would have been like a comedy economic stimulus package. It sure would have put comedians to work across the country. So we miss that. We really do.
KAYE: But you know Paul Ryan he gives you the P90X and the six- pack, doesn't he? It's not something to work with?
OBEIDALLAH: It is. I think in time we will find more stuff about Paul Ryan, but I mean Rush Limbaugh called Paul Ryan the last Boy Scout. He's reliable but boring. That is where we are getting a lot of that, you know, low key; a lot of political wonk and not a lot of fun things. I don't see any gaffe machine, Paul Ryan, which is good for him, but bad for me.
KAYE: Yes, but you have had some fun with some Bidenisms, haven't you?
OBEIDALLAH: Biden is unbelievable. Biden is our Dan Quayle. And yet for some reason the American public and the media are not as fascinated with him as they should be.
So here the truth about political comedy; if I am telling the audience jokes about a topic that they don't know about like Joe Biden and what he's been saying. It means we have to educate the audience and then do jokes about it. It's much easier when they know -- they have some assumed knowledge.
Joe Biden has been amazing -- even this week's gaffe, "they're going to put you all in chains". The same thing like with the prime minister of Ireland saying "I'm sorry about the passing of your mother", and the prime minister said, "Well, my mother is still alive."
So I mean the little things that Joe Biden has given us, it would continue if the media would pay -- please Randi, please pay more attention to Joe Biden.
KAYE: Ok. We will work on that. But wasn't it, take us back to the glory days. And was there a golden age for political comedians at some point?
OBEIDALLAH: I have to pause and think about those great days. Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and then George Bush eight years; whenever he spoke -- even if he squinted and laughed, remember that. Those were the days -- and little things that Bush would say. Instead al Qaeda, he would say el-Qaida; he changed it from a Middle East terrorist group to a Mexican restaurant. That's the kind of guy we want leading our presidency.
KAYE: Who would you have liked? I mean if Ryan is kind of boring for you. Who would you have liked Romney to pick then? Who would have given you some material?
OBEIDALLAH: I think, Donald Trump would have been amazing. You know, the best thing about Trump is that he is funny, he knows politics and he's a great campaigner, because he can campaign in one state and his hair can campaign in another. So you have that going for him -- the two-pronged campaign attack.
Also I think my dream would have been Snooki. I know it makes no sense, but she endorsed John McCain in 2008. She is a Republican. Romney/Snooki ticket, you get a lot of those Jell-O shot and self- tanning people.
KAYE: What a ticket that would be. So I guess what is a comedian's dream ticket then? Is that your dream ticket right there for 2016?
OBEIDALLAH: No, you know, I want to put politics aside and think about the country. I think we need a bipartisan ticket to bring us all together in this hyper-partisan world. I'm suggesting, just think about it, Sarah Palin and Anthony Weiner in 2016. That's the ticket that brings us together and the laughs never stop coming. Oh, my gosh.
KAYE: I was going to say, I don't know if we would have a political recession then, comedy at least.
OBEIDALLAH: No, I think it would be a fun time -- the whole world would be amazed by us.
KAYE: Oh, yes. All right Dean, always fun to see you on a Sunday morning. Thank you for the laughs.
OBEIDALLAH: Thanks. It was nice seeing you Randi.
KAYE: Appreciate it. Have a great day.
OBEIDALLAH: You, too.
KAYE: Thank you so much for watching today. You can always continue the conversation with me on Twitter @randikayecnn is where you will find me.
"STATE OF THE UNION" is next. I'll see you next week.
ACOSTA: I'm Jim Acosta, in for Candy Crowley and this is "STATE OF THE UNION".