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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript


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BLITZER: Yes and six weeks to the election (INAUDIBLE) from today as well. Jim Acosta, good work as usual. Let's turn to a key Democratic lawmaker right now, Senator Dick Durban of Illinois. He's the Democratic Majority Whip. He's also on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Quickly, your reaction. I haven't heard Mitt Romney say in the past that Ahmadinejad should be charged with espousing genocide, which in effect mean he shouldn't even be allowed to come to the United Nations. What do you make of that?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY WHIP: Well Governor Romney ignores the obvious. Under President Obama, we have established the strongest international coalition against Iran's development of nuclear weapon in history. We have imposed the crippling sanction he's speaking of, and we have invested in an iron domed (ph) defense system to make certain that both Iran and Israel know that we're going to do everything in our power to stop the Iranians from developing a nuclear bomb. It is easier for Governor Romney to come up with these ideas, but President Obama has the record. He's made this a clear part of our American foreign policy. There should be no doubt in the mind of anyone, including the Iranians.

BLITZER: But do you agree with Romney that Ahmadinejad should be charged with in his words, espousing genocide, which I assume refers to his suggestions in the past that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map?

DURBIN: Well, I'd like to hear the particulars of where Governor Romney is going. He's trying to think of something that we could do that might give him a headline here. But the bottom line, the president has been working behind the scenes, decisively, with strength, with our allies, creating the largest global coalition against the Iranian development of a nuclear bomb that we have seen and enforcing sanctions that are working.

BOLDUAN: And Senator Durbin, you also heard in Jim Acosta's interview with Mitt Romney that the governor really doubled down on his harsh criticism of President Obama and his bumps in the road remark that he has made recently. Did the president mess up there when he referred to recent events in the Middle East as bumps in the road?

DURBIN: Well, I think that if you take a look or listened to President Obama's speech to the United Nations General Assembly today, you would have seen the seriousness in his tone and in his message when it came to the killing of our ambassador and the violence in the street. The president made it clear that the Americans believe, for the world, that we should be rewarding people with the values and courage of Ambassador Chris Stevens and not those with the basic cowardice and ignorance of those who killed him. It was a very decisive statement.

The president took it seriously, the night it was announced, and if you'll remember, Governor Romney was holding press conferences, trying to find some campaign advantage here. The president has taken this very seriously from start to finish. What he said today at the General Assembly in New York really spoke for the values of this country. We are telling the leaders around the world join us in putting an end to the violence and extremism in the streets.

BOLDUAN: So did the president misspeak then in reference to the bumps in the road comment?

DURBIN: Well, I think it is wrong for Governor Romney to suggest that the president was in any way minimizing the loss of life of our great ambassador. From the start, and even again today, he has said how seriously he has taken that, and he has appealed to the leaders throughout the Middle East, with constant communications during this upheaval that they've got to step up and restore order in the streets and protect our embassies and the embassies of other nations.

BLITZER: You're a very strong supporter of Israel, Senator Durbin. I've covered you for a long time. Was it a mistake not to invite the prime minister of Israel for a meeting with the president? They're both in New York this week.

DURBIN: It's ironic that when that criticism came up the president had just spent one solid hour on the telephone with Netanyahu, discussing some of the developments and relationships between our two countries. It's unfortunate that their schedules did not mesh and they couldn't meet at the same time in New York, but it doesn't diminish in any way whatsoever our commitment to the security and future of Israel and the strong commitment the president has made to the people of Israel. The ongoing relationship between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be diminished in any way because they're not meeting in person.

BLITZER: Senator Durbin thanks very much for coming in.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Senator.

DURBIN: Good to be with you.


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