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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript

Interview

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mitt Romney's been trying to open up to voters in recent days, telling stories of friends who have died, even service members who have died in combat. But the mother of one fallen Navy SEALs says she's offended and her criticism comes as Democrats are trying to accuse Romney of hiding his true beliefs.

(voice-over): It's been a staple of Mitt Romney's recent stump speeches, the GOP nominee talking about the deaths of friends, even soldiers who have inspired him.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have met some wonderful people. One was a former Navy SEAL, Glen Doherty. And he -- we chatted for a while.

ACOSTA: At three events in the last two days, Romney has gotten choked up.

ROMNEY: It touched me, obviously, as I recognized this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life. ACOSTA: As he hailed the bravery of Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who died in last month's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

ROMNEY: When they heard that the consulate was under attack, they went to the attack. They didn't hunker down and hide themselves. No, they went there. That's what Americans do.

ACOSTA: But within an hour of Romney's last telling of the story, his aides confirmed to CNN the GOP nominee is dropping the anecdote after what the Navy SEAL's mother told Boston TV station WHDH.

Doherty's said: "I don't trust Romney. He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda. It's wrong to use these brave young men who wanted freedom for all to degrade Obama."

In a statement, Romney's campaign spokeswoman said, "Governor Romney was inspired by the memory of meeting Glen Doherty and shared his story in that memory. But we respect the wishes of Mrs. Doherty."

Romney started sharing his personal tales last Friday, when he talked about the widow of a soldier who died in Afghanistan.

ROMNEY: Chris died for them to be able to protest.

ACOSTA: Jane Horton told ABC News she was humbled by Romney's gestured, adding, "One of the last things my husband said to me before he was killed, when I would ask him, what do you need over there, he said, I need a new president."

The heart-wrenching stories have been a departure from Romney's focus on the economy.

ROMNEY: My whole passion is about helping the American people who are struggling right now.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought, wow, here's old moderate Mitt. Where you been, boy?

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: But Democrats including Bill Clinton say Romney has been trying to shift back to the center ever since last week's debate. The Obama campaign is pointing to what Romney said to "The Des Moines Register" on the issue of abortion.

ROMNEY: There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda.

ACOSTA: Contrast that with what he said at a town hall last year.

ROMNEY: What I would like to see happen would be for the Supreme Court to say, look, we're going to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states the authority to decide whether they want to have abortion or not in their -- state by state.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: His severely conservative positions that got him through the GOP primary are still there. Now he's trying to cover them up.

ACOSTA: Asked about those comments on abortion, a Romney campaign spokeswoman released a statement to CNN saying, "The GOP nominee will be a pro-life president" -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Jim Acosta in Ohio traveling with Romney.

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