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JOHN KING, USA
Mine Rescue Still on Hold; President Obama Heads to Prague; Virginia Governor Apologizes; Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Hears From Greenspan; Interview With Congressman Nick Rahall
Aired April 7, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thank you, Wolf. Accountability is a word you hear a lot after something bad happens. What went wrong? Who's to blame? How do we hold those responsible accountable? Good questions, and questions raised today in two very different but very important settings.
Here in Washington, a panel called the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is trying to figure out whether the meltdown of 2008 could have been avoided. The name Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is more than a mouthful, but its work matters. It is, after all, your house that's probably worth less money, your portfolio that took a pounding.
And in the hills of West Virginia, grief-stricken families want to know, deserve to know, if the horrific coal mine explosion that killed at least 25 brave men could have been prevented. Accountability is important, important whether the issue is billions of your dollars or precious lives of hard-working Americans.
We'll spend some time on both questions tonight. We'll take a close look at the safety record at the mine and explore whether people who should have known better failed to raise alarms. And as we discuss the financial inquiry, we will share with you an exchange once unthinkable, one in which former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is blamed for the seeds of the collapse. Two very different challenges yet the same key accountability question. Did the government have enough evidence of bad, risky, reckless, even life- threatening behavior yet failed to act? An important question and props a too painful lesson.
The heart-wrenching wait continues in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Search and rescue teams still can't enter the mountainside where at least 25 miners were killed Monday. They can't enter because levels of poisonous gases are still too high. Four miners are still unaccounted for. And as their families hope and pray for a miracle, each passing hour makes survival in shafts filled with smoke and toxic gases less and less likely.
More holes are being drilled into the hillside to help ventilate the mine, and officials hope to know more a bit later tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: You're asking about the timeframe before the rescue operation would start. We can't give you that. What we can by -- we hope by (INAUDIBLE) have a determination that we have safe enough figures to move or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: As we wait for that announcement later tonight, CNN's Brooke Baldwin is on the scene in West Virginia for us. Brooke, are they still hopeful tonight?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, they are still hopeful, but as every hour and every day really passes here, that hope is definitely dwindling. This process of -- you mentioned it, the drilling, the ventilating, the testing of the Upper Big Branch mine air quality levels has been painstakingly slow. Why? Because these rescue crews, these 30 men who are poised on top of this mountain and are ready to roll in -- they can't get in there because so far, air quality levels have tested and the methane, the carbon monoxide has been proven to be too fatal thus far.
As for the families, they are still holed up in this office building just about three miles down the road from me. They have been told to go home, eat, shower, sleep. Most of them have not moved an inch. They are waiting to hear about the fate of those four missing miners.
And one other angle here. They are furious with Massey Energy, who runs this mine. I was told night before last, there was a meeting and one of the mining families told CEO Don Blankenship, The one word we have not heard from you yet is sorry -- John.
KING: Fascinating drama unfolding. They are all in our thoughts and prayers. Brooke Baldwin on the scene, thank you so much.
A major apology from Virginia's Republican governor. Bob McDonnell now says it was a mistake to omit any reference to slavery in a proclamation from his office regarding the state's recognition of Confederate History Month. In a statement issued a short time ago this evening, Governor McDonnell now calls slavery an abomination and apologized to anyone hurt or offended by his decision to make no reference to slavery in the initial proclamation.
The governor added a paragraph to that proclamation saying it is important to understand that slavery was among the factors that led to the Civil War and was a, quote, "evil and inhumane practice." McDonnell's initial proclamation was condemned by the Virginia legislative black caucus and the NAACP. In a few moments, we'll discuss this controversy with an African-American state senator, Henry Marsh.
President Obama departs a bit later this hour for a transatlantic journey to Prague in the Czech Republic. It was there a little more than a year ago that the president outlined an ambitious goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. And it is there in Prague on this trip where he will take what the administration considers a significant step in that direction, signing a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia. But while that plan to slash the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals has been well received here at home, the president's broader call for a new nuclear strategy is generating more than a fair amount of controversy.
Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is in Prague and has been working his sources about the president's goals overseas -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. I just got off the phone with one of the president's top advisers. He says their chief goal is to really showcase this moment, this picture we will see tomorrow here in Prague of these two world leaders coming together in a way they have not in many years. There have been a lot of critics saying this president has not racked up very many foreign policy successes, people inside the White House, though, telling me that this never would have happened, this treaty, without the president personally driving it to conclusion.
The second key goal they have is to immediately now turn to the business of getting the 67 votes in the Senate to ratify this treaty. That's going to mean getting a lot of Republican votes, something this president has not done so far on big issues. This top adviser to the president leveled with me. They do not have the 67 votes tonight, but they are feeling pretty good that with some work in the weeks ahead, they will have those votes, John.
KING: Ed Henry for us tonight in beautiful Prague. Ed, thank you.
There was a time in Washington -- a long time -- when former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was seen as the man who could do no wrong, or at least nothing that important wrong. But he's one of the central figures as a government panel tries to trace the seeds of the 2008 financial meltdown with the goal of determining whether the government missed too many clues and failed to take steps that might have prevented or at least mitigated the problems.
Chairman Greenspan, never lacking in confidence, made clear today he sees little to be gained by looking in the rearview mirror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: When you've been in government for 21 years, as I have been, the issue of retrospective and figuring out what you should have done differently is a really futile activity because you can't, in fact, in the real world do it. I think -- I mean, my experience has been, in the business I was in, I was right 70 percent of the time, but I was wrong 30 percent of the time. And there are an awful lot of mistakes in 21 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, that's his take. But consider this, and not just what you're about to hear but just the fact that you're hearing it. Greenspan untouchable? Not in the view of Brooksley Born, a federal regulator back in the Clinton administration who says her warnings were ignored.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKSLEY BORN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, CFTC: You also failed to prevent many of our banks from consolidating and growing into gigantic institutions that are now too big and/or too interconnected to fail. Didn't the Federal Reserve system fail to meet its responsibilities, fail to carry its mandates?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Greenspan sitting about 20 seconds away as she said fail, fail, fail. And there's more drama and more important questions to come. Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is tracking this critical investigation -- Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, expect fireworks tomorrow because you know who'll be in the hot seat? Robert Rubin. As you recall, he was secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, and back then considered the King Midas of Clinton's golden economy. Tomorrow, we'll see just how far his star has fallen.
He's going to take questions about his job after he left government, when he became one of the most powerful players at CitiBank. That firm helped drive the subprime mortgage crisis. It got a $45 billion bail-out. So expect Rubin to be grilled over allegations by a former employee who testified today that he warned management the company was taking on too many risky mortgages, but he said the company ignored those warnings.
John, we believe this will be the very first time Bob Rubin is going to be forced to answer in-depth questions about Citi and his role in the financial meltdown. It'll be a big day.
KING: Be a big day and we'll keep watching it. Jessica, thanks very much.
A big day tomorrow, a down day today on Wall Street. The Dow Industrials fell about 72 points. Investors are worried about a new downturn in consumer borrowing. Also weighing on the market, news that General Motors lost $3.4 billion in the last quarter of 2009. But officials say there's a chance GM could turn a profit by the end of this year. Those are the numbers on Wall Street.
Let's head to the magic wall to see what's still ahead in the program tonight. We'll continue our focus on that mine tragedy in West Virginia. When we come back, we'll go "Wall to Wall" with an eye on the safety of that mine. With a history of problems and citations, should there have been enough alarms raised to stop mining before the explosion? One man who can help us answer that question is Congressman Nick Rahall. The mine is in his congressional district, so we'll ask the congressman who's accountable. We'll also get the latest from the scene.
Our "Most Important Person You Don't Know" tonight -- well, she's making history high up in space, helping women break yet another a big barrier. And in our "Play by Play," you won't want to miss this, Palin and Pawlenty, another P-squared, two potential Republican presidential candidates down the road, two stars of the party now, together at the same event. But together? Not exactly.
KING: We try every night to take you outside of Washington to take the pulse of the country. Tonight we head to Virginia, where the governor, Bob McDonnell, just issued an apology for what he calls a major omission in a proclamation honoring Confederate History Month. It called Confederacy a defining chapter in Virginia's history, noted that Virginians fought for their homes and made sacrifices and admitted the state was overwhelmed by insurmountable numbers. But that initial proclamation made no mention of slavery.
Joining me now, Virginia state senator Henry Marsh III, a prominent member of the Civil Rights community in the state. Senator, the governor has now apologized. He has said slavery is an evil and inhumane act, that it should have been in the proclamation, and he's issued an amendment to the proclamation putting it in. Case closed? Do you accept the apology?
HENRY L. MARSH III (D), VIRGINIA STATE SENATE: Well, he has a right to apologize, but I don't accept that as a good answer because this is a pattern of this governor. He says the wrong thing. He sends a signal to his base, and then he makes an apology. And this has happened many, many times. So I think it's a question of whether or not he's sincere or not.
KING: A question of whether or not he's sincere -- and I want to follow up on that point. I believe you were the first African- American mayor of the city of Richmond. Governor Wilder, we had on the program the other night, is the first African-American elected governor in the United States and from a state that was once the capital of the Confederacy. We have our first African-American president, who lives in the White House. Why are we still having these controversies and these debates, sir?
MARSH: Well, I think it's a question of recognizing that this is not the last century. This is a new century and people are different. We have different expectations. Governor McDonnell came on saying he was the unity governor, he was going to bring us together. And we expected him to do that, but his actions have belied what he said. I mean, he came in cutting public education K-12 to a horrible degree. We restored some of the cuts, the Democrats did, but...
KING: A lot of states have had to do that. I don't mean to jump in, sir, but a lot of states have had to do that because we're in this painful recession. Are you saying he did that in a way that was race motivated or just...
MARSH: Well, I'll put it this way. K-12 education is critical not just for African-Americans but for all Virginians to keep us competitive in the race for industry and for tourism, and to cut K-12, which has a disproportionate impact on poor people and African- Americans, in my opinion, was a tragic mistake. And he also unfroze (ph) the standards of quality funding, which left the part of Virginia where most African-Americans and poor people reside -- left them in a situation where they almost couldn't function. And later on, because of pressure, some of the money was restored. But he also pushed a charter school initiative that put the local school boards out of the situation. The state board could intervene to push charter schools and to push charter schools which would only serve the elite of public education.
KING: Let me -- let me -- let me jump in. I understand you don't -- you obviously have questions about his records and early actions as governor. On this particular issue, this proclamation where he omitted slavery, I'm trying to get the sense -- he has now apologized. He has now said slavery was evil and inhumane and he should have done it.
Our contributor, Donna Brazile, who I'm sure you know, is active in the Democratic Party -- she just sent out a little tweet saying, My great, great-grandparents, their offsprings and others, were split up in the commonwealth of Virginia and sold into slavery. Apology accepted.
What does the governor need to do, Senator Marsh, to get you to say, Apology accepted? What is the test for him, in your view, in the next days?
MARSH: Well, he set a high standard for himself. He said he was going to bring Virginians together. He was going to reach out and be the governor for all Virginians. But so far, his actions haven't demonstrated that. And this is the latest in a series of insults to a sizable segment of Virginia. And I just think that we need to be careful. You can do something and apologize and keep on doing it again, and I don't think that's the right way to govern all the people.
KING: Well, would you reach out to him and say, Let's have a meeting, or does he need to reach out to you to put this behind him?
MARSH: I'll be glad to meet with him. I put a bill in, and I said, This is on behalf of the governor. And the Republicans in the legislature said, Which governor? I said, I don't have but one governor. That's Governor McDonnell. I accept him as my governor. But I expect respect from him toward me and my constituents. So I mean, if he continues to do this, then I'm not going to believe his apologies.
WILLIAMS: If he's sincere -- if he's sincere, then I'll accept his apologies. But so far, he's starting off on the wrong foot.
KING: Obviously, the contention will continue despite the apology. Senator Marsh, we thank you for your time tonight. And we should note we invited the governor on the program earlier today and we extend an invitation -- we'll continue to extend an invitation to him -- excuse me -- for him to come on the program any time if he wants to talk about this issue and other issues, as well.
Next, though, we turn our attention back to the West Virginia mine disaster. Who's accountable? I'll go "Wall to Wall" and look at this mine's long record of safety violations.
KING: In "Wall to Wall" tonight, we want to take a close look so you can understand for yourself the long record of safety violations and allegations of safety violations at that mine in West Virginia where 25 miners perished and we are hoping tonight search teams can get in to search for the four still unaccounted for.
Let's start with just the allegations this year. We'll show them here, more than 125 citations issued against the company this year. As you watch them scroll through, it's hard to read as it scrolls, but you'll see them. It's countless of them coming through. Then they come closer into focus here -- "In contest," "in contest," "in contest," meaning the company is contesting these violations and these citations.
You see the fine amounts here, relatively modest, $1,400, $1,000, $70,000 proposed fine for this violation, $66,000 for this violation. They include questions about whether there's proper ventilation or a proper plan to have a ventilation system in case there is a problem at the mine. And yet despite this just this year, the CEO of this mine insists that when you compare it to others in the industry, this is safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON BLANKENSHIP, CEO, MASSEY ENERGY CO.: I think the reason it was operating is that all the people who are very knowledgeable of mining, whether they be with the federal government, the state government or Massey, had concluded that the mine was safe to operate. And these violations and the efforts on the ventilation are efforts to improve it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But let's come over to the magic wall. We'll take a closer look. But I want to begin first with a statement that is on the Massey Web site. The Massey says that its company -- this is company-wide -- had an all-time best safety record. And it also notes on its Web site, sixth consecutive year in a row, 17th of the past 20 years, in which Massey's safety performance was stronger than the industry average. It also lists on that Web site some awards it has received for safety, none of them, we should note, though, at the mine in question.
So let's take a closer look at the violations. This is the Upper Big Branch South mine. This is where those men died in the explosion and where four are still unaccounted for -- 240 citations back in 2000, 156 -- you see the numbers here. We get more closer here -- 197. There was a drop in 2008. But then look at that. It jumped to 515 citations last year, just last year. And so far in the first quarter of this year, 124 citations, including new citations we were told of tonight, issued on the day of the explosion.
Here's the civil penalties that the company has paid. Again, this is the mine in question, the Upper Big Branch South mine. Proposed back in 2008, $240,000, the company settled, paid $47,000. The proposed fines back in 2009, nearly $900,000. The company negotiated that down, paid just shy of $170,000. So far this year, proposed fines nearly $200,000. The company has negotiated those down again, we just showed you many of those still being contested, to about $2,700.
We wanted to look to compare this mine, so we looked at three other mines, as well. This is the one in question right here. Upper Big Branch. These are other mines that produce, if you notice the numbers here, about the same amount in tonnage in terms of coal. So we wanted to compare.
At the mine in question, 2009 citations, 458, 205 at this comparable mine, 236 at this comparable mine, 254 at this comparable mine. So that is one of the big questions as we head forward, not only what happened at this mine, but does it meet the CEO's test that it is as safe or safer than some of the other mines in that area. We'll continue to look at these records, continue to look at the story. And we will continue to ask this question. Where is Washington's accountability in all of this? When should the federal regulators put their feet down and tell a mine owner, Fix your problems? West Virginia congressman Nick Rahall joins me next to go "One on One."
KING: We're talking about accountability in the wake of the West Virginia coal mine explosion. The mine is in Democratic congressman Nick Rahall's district, and he joins me now to go "One on One."
Congressman, appreciate your time. After the Sago disaster a few years back, federal law about mine safety was changed. And everyone said the goal was so this would never happen again. Does that agency, the Mine Safety and Health Administration -- does it still lack teeth, does it still lack resources or does it still lack resolve to do the job the way it needs to be done?
REP. NICK RAHALL (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, a couple points, John. Let me say, first of all, I'm not going to dispute your well researched figures you just presented. Certainly, those figures present a case for closer scrutiny by agencies at all levels, federal, state and in the Congress.
I will say that every violation, of course, is not as serious as other violations. The serious violations deserve the scrutiny and deserve to be looked at. But it must also be noted that because a violation is issued will mean that the operator is taking attention of something that's wrong. And in most cases, most responsible operators will correct whatever is wrong in order for that violation, that citation to go away.
Is there an adjudication process here on the serious violations which are not contested by the company? Yes, there is. Is that adjudication process too long? Perhaps it is. But following the Sago and Aracoma disasters, which should be mentioned, as well -- Aracoma disaster was several years back, following Sago, another mine owned by this same company, A.T. Massey -- we did institute federal safety laws, following our state lead. And those laws put into place did have features that were in place here at this mine, but perhaps were not given a chance to kick in because of the severity of this mine explosion. We certainly need to find out what happened here and we need to hold those responsible accountable.
KING: But we have these accountability questions only after brave men die. And my question to you, sir, and is -- is if this place was a bad actor -- you used those terms yourself, has a maverick reputation, you used on our air this morning -- we have talked to miners who say -- that were worried about the evacuation plan. They were worried about the ventilation plan. There have been citations about methane gas and citations about coal dust.
Why isn't there a system to say, We're not assigning blame here, but enough allegations have been raised that we're going to stop work until we figure this out? If my car doesn't have a blinker, I can't get a safety inspection. If my brakes are worn too low, I can't get a safety inspection. The government stops me because that car might hurt somebody and might kill somebody. Why doesn't the government, the congressmen, somebody stop a mine when people are saying it's a ticking time bomb?
RAHALL: That's a valid point, John, and certainly, we need to pay attention when there are warning signs issued. The unfortunate fact is here that when many of those warning signs come from the miners themselves, those most directly affected, those who have to go into the mine before the sun comes up and don't come out until the sun goes down, we have to have verification. Certainly, any agency would have to have some sort of verification from that miner.
Now, to just go on an anonymous tip won't work. But believe you me, MSHA is doing a better job in recent years. They've had cutbacks in the past, yes, but in the last year or so, they are beefing up their personnel, they are training their personnel, again a requirement under the Miner Act. They're having practice sessions at least quarterly, and these individuals now that are inspecting our mines are being better informed and are better trained than mine safety inspectors of the past. So it is a new age and it is coming into effect, and we will certainly follow up in the Congress.
KING: That's my question, in the sense that I know you will follow up, sir, and I'm not questioning your commitment to this issue. But it is only after people die that we start asking these questions. I am trying to figure out, is there a way to have a circuit breaker that doesn't blame anybody -- I know the company is innocent until proven guilty. Some of these violations, as you mentioned, are very, very minor. They can be taken care of quickly, but some of them are not, the allegations. And is there a way -- and the miners say they have to go to work because they have to feed their families. Is there a way for the industry, somebody, to create a fund that if you need to stop work for a day or three or even a week or three, to check these things out, that these guys get paid? So that they are not afraid to raise their hands? And that somebody can go in and say, is there a methane buildup in there? Is there an evacuation plan? Is there too much coal dust before we have to have a conversation under these circumstances?
RAHALL: I will admit to you the warnings signs were there on this particular operation, this particular mine. And as I have said and you've accurately quoted, this has been a bad apple, and it's incumbent that we find methods, perhaps an anonymous 800 toll-free line -- and we have experimented with that in the past -- to get people to call in with information.
And then that's not enough. And even the law passed by Congress is not enough if it's not implemented and enforced. And that's the key here, is implementation on the ground, enforcement. And that takes integrity. That takes honesty. That takes a no cutting the corners approach not only by the industry, but those that inspect the industry as well, and who may be later on in life, in their careers, looking for a job within that same industry. We've seen that in the past. I'm not saying that's happening today, but that is a warning to these mine inspectors that they have to be on the alert for the warning signals, and then run it up the chain of command, no matter how frivolous you may think it is at the time.
KING: But you said yourself, sir, that there were warning signs, you just said warning signs were there at this particular mine before this accident.
RAHALL: Yes, they were.
KING: So why didn't somebody, maybe the local congressman -- that would be you -- or somebody, chain themselves to the damn fence and say, there are enough warnings signs, you're not going in there?
RAHALL: Well, the fact of the matter is that those warning signs weren't brought to the proper officials. We know now, for example, because of your research of the violations issued as late as Monday, although I don't think serious, but there were violations I've just learned that were issued as late as March 30th that perhaps were of a more serious nature, involving ventilation. When you have violations or citations issued because of ventilation, improper ventilation for methane and CO and other hazardous gases, then that should be a warning something is wrong.
But it should be made public. It should be made knowing to the members of Congress. That was not made to my attention. It was not brought to my attention. And as far as I know, I'm not sure whose attention it was brought to, except perhaps some listing in an anonymous register somewhere. That don't get it. And that's where we need to have some other type of alert when these violations, citations are issued.
KING: Congressman Nick Rahall, I appreciate your time tonight, sir. And let's talk (inaudible), if there's anything you think our business can do, my business can do to help bring these things to people's attention, I hope in the days and weeks ahead you drop us a note or give us a call, because we would like to be part of it as well. Congressman Nick Rahall, thank you, sir.
RAHALL: Thank you, John.
KING: Next, today's most important person you don't know. She's part of a star studded milestone for women.
KING: Today's most important person you don't know is Tracy Caldwell Dyson. She's the U.S. astronaut who was waiting aboard the International Space Station to welcome the crew of the shuttle Discovery. It arrived early this morning with three women aboard. That's four women in space at the same time and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a new record.
And Dyson did it the hard way. She trained with the Russian crew and flew to the space station over the weekend aboard of Soyuz. They're tight, a Soyuz spacecraft. She not only speaks Russian, she can converse in American sign language. She is from Arcadia, California, is married, has a PHD in Chemistry, flew on a space shuttle back in 2007, and she does it all apparently. She repairs cars. She will be one of the space stations flight engineers until September, 167 days long, long after "Discovery's" 13-day mission has come and gone.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wow! What a superstar?
KING: How many times, Jessica Yellin, have you wanted to go into space?
YELLIN: Space is my thing, but I do think it's impressive that women have broken the sound barrier before we broke the glass ceiling.
KING: Badaboom (ph). That's good. That's excellent. Now, we were talking at the top of the program about this inquiry looking into what happened back in 2008. Should the government have done more? Who should be held accountable if anybody? You were also over the White House today for a meeting on an issue about looking forward. What should be done in terms of Financial Reform and consumer protection, what are they?
YELLIN: You know, they're very focused on it. They feel that they have a lot of momentum at the White House, and they're going to build on health care success to drive this through. They're facing stiff opposition from the Republicans who -- on the face of their insisting that they're being rushed. Not fair to say they're being rushed. This has been going on for some time now. But the big challenge here is to figure out how to craft a bill that can bring on Republicans without losing some very upset Democrats.
And one of the big issues is the politics of all this, John. You know, they're saying that the Democrats believe that this is going to be a huge campaign issue. And Republicans politically cannot afford to vote against Wall Street reform vote for the banks. But I've talked to a lot of Republicans who think they can oppose Wall Street reform by arguing simply that it's just more big government spending. That is just more big bureaucracy.
KING: And after health care, is this one where the White House says let's get the president involved? Is he supposed to bring the Republicans in and say look, we didn't get along on health care, but let's do it here?
YELLIN: There are Democrats who are saying that's what the president should be doing right now, saying that quietly and privately. And they're frustrated the president isn't. He is not right now. What's happening right now is his staff is very, very involved. They're the ones doing the talking. There are also a lot of lobbyists doing the talking, and so they want the president to show up soon enough, but he's not doing the negotiating just yet.
KING: Not doing negotiating just yet. Jessica Yellin, thanks for that. When we come back, we'll look into our clash tonight. Retaliation for health care reform, a new tea party commercial attacking anti-abortion Congressman Bart Stupak.
UNKNOWN MALE: In this corner and in this corner.
KING: Here for the clash, democratic strategist, Maria Cardona. She worked for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. She is now a principal with the Dewey Square Group here in Washington. Also Republican strategist, Kevin Madden, who is Mitt Romney's press secretary during the 2008 campaign. He is not executive vice president of Jim Dyke & Associates.
Welcome. Want to talk first about this dustup about the Virginia governor. First, he issues a proclamation citing the month of confederate history, no reference to slavery. He apologizes this afternoon. He says it contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that, I apologize to any fellow Virginian who was offended or disappointed. Apology there, but I asked a prominent African-American member of the legislature a short time ago, accepted? Is that enough, Senator Marsh says no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY L. MARSH III, (D) VIRGINIA STATE SENATE: I don't accept that as a good answer, because this is a pattern of this governor. He says the wrong things. He sends a signal to his base and then he makes an apology. This has happened many, many times. So, I think it's a question of whether he's sincere or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He's a new governor, Kevin. And new governors make mistakes, but this is a pretty big, sensitive issue. New governor, new or not, and his staff maybe should have weighed into this more carefully?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It doesn't matter what governor or what state. You know, the civil war, confederacy, racism, slavery, it's such a raw part of our history that you're never going to get it 100 percent right. There's always going to be somebody that's offended. And you know I think -- I was surprised by the state senator's remark, because I did think that the apology was so emphatic and sincere, but you know, that's for people to judge. And I think what I did notice was that the state senator also said that he would be willing to meet with the governor. And I think maybe after that sort of meeting, when you bring personalities to it and you bring people face to face, these issues tend to be a little cooler. Cooler heads prevail sometimes.
KING: You're shaking your head?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't blame him for not accepting the apology. Look, yes, people make mistakes, but this was not an off-the-cuff comment. This was not a slip of a tongue. This was a seven paragraph proclamation that stayed on his website for days. And it wasn't until a whole day went by with all of the uproar that he apologized. So, I think it's a little too late. I think we saw at his core what he really believes because if the apology was what he really believed, then I don't think we would have had a need for an apology in the first place. I don't think it's believable.
KING: Every two years, the Republicans say they're going to get Congressman Bart Stupak. He represents a conservative world district. He's a democrat. He's in the upper peninsula of Maryland. He was a key anti-abortion Democrat who helped cut the deal. They cut health care reform through the House. Every two years, the Republicans say we're going to get him. We're going to get him. Every two years, they fail. Bart Stupak wins and usually by a pretty comfortable margin. This time, the tea party express says it will get Congressman Stupak, and it's spending more than $200,000 on this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN MALE: Congressman Bart Stupak, you've betrayed our constitution. You sold us out on the health care vote. And now, it's time for you to pay the political price. Join the tea party express as we send Bart Stupak --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The tea party express is heading out there. And Dana Bash, our congressional correspondent, who happens to be my wife, is on her way out there to cover the tea party as they're out there. Is this a test? If they're going to spend -- first they do demonstrations. They show up. There's no question to vehicle for anti-government sentiment, but they're going to put money into TV ads. Is this a test of their clout?
MADDEN: It is. And I think, you know, by any measure, the tea party organization is at its genesis stage. And it's quite impressive that they're already organized to the point where they have an ability to play in these races with ads and with the substantial amount of money behind those ads. And I think this ad will probably generate more enthusiasm, maybe more organization, maybe more money so that they can have, you know, an effect in some of these races. So, it will be interesting to see. We don't right now, but it'll be interesting to watch.
KING: There's even some question as to whether Congressman Stupak will run. There's some -- his office issued a very vague statement saying he always talks with his constituents.
MADDEN: This health care debate took a lot out of people.
KING: We'll watch that one. I'll ask you both to stand by, because when we come back, the play-by-play. Tiger Woods isn't just returning to the golf course. He's making a commercial come back too. Everyone is going to be talking about this. We're going to show it to you. Stay tuned.
KING: And back for the play-by-play. Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, and Republican strategist, Kevin Madden. I want to begin with something that's not political, but it will be buzzed across the country tomorrow. Tiger Woods is going to play in the Masters this week. It's his first tournament in five months since the scandal in his life. The question was would he be back in our life commercially like he was beforehand. Here's a new ad by Nike just out tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN MALE: Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's stop the tape there. The voice of his late father on a recording obviously made about something else. I want to find out what your feelings are. Did you learn anything? Tiger Woods looking straight to camera there. You see the picture looking quite solemn. Nike is trying to help Tiger, rehabilitate Tiger in the process, rehabilitate Nike.
MADDEN: And it's very odd because right now, the one thing that we've all talked about is that you know Tiger Needs to get away from the whole personal. It's not about his personal life. It's about him being a golfer. When he gets back to being a golfer again, he'll reemerge as somebody again who is popular, and this is about tiger, and it's very invasive.
KING: But you guys do image work. This is what you do. You do campaigns. I'm going to bet you by a dollar (ph), Nike has some research that tells them he needs -- they need, maybe he doesn't need to do this, but they need to do. CARDONA: Right. Exactly. I think the reason that they did this is because when he did his press conference, there were a lot of people, and I saw this online and friends and everybody was talking about it. A lot of people believed him, but a lot of people didn't. They didn't think that he was very sincere. They thought that he was doing it because it was the right thing to do, to rehabilitate himself, his image, his millions of dollars. So, I think that one more time is probably appropriate from an image standpoint.
MADDEN: All the ads aren't going to help him right now. A win in the Masters will do more than any advertisement like that.
KING: I want to show you a fascinating sequence today in an event in Minnesota. Tim Pawlenty is the governor of Minnesota. He was almost picked as John McCain's running mate. The woman who was picked is Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska. They're both here, at this event, to raise money for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who is a conservative favorite. So, we think, great. These two potential 2012 Republican candidates on the same stage. But watch out this place out. You have first Governor Pawlenty comes out into the room. I think we have the tape so we can make that happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING (voice-over): There we go. We see Governor Pawlenty. He does some of the intros here. He says thank you very much. He takes his wave. Wait a minute. Where's Sarah Palin? He heads out and so it is later in the event, after Governor Pawlenty has left the stage, that Congresswoman Bachmann and Governor Palin come in. That's the congresswoman there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Kevin madden, we needed this moment. There's Sarah Palin.
MADDEN: Start with Maria on this one.
KING: Are there events. I mean, you worked with Mitt Romney in the campaign and sometimes these guys passing all of egos and their rivals and everything else, but what's the harm?
MADDEN: Here's what I think happened. If you look at what happened in these things behind the scenes is that they wanted the image of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to dominate the image that we're going to watch. And that's exactly what they've done. So, it was a much more cleaner shot with two women who were designed to be the real stars of this event and that's the image everybody was watching.
CARDONA: But it was clear that Tim Pawlenty did not want to be anywhere near them. He did not want the image with that at all.
MADDEN: No. This is what we're doing, we overanalyze everything.
KING: Is this a Washington thing or is this a boy/girl thing? MADDEN: You're right probably --
CARDONA: It's a Republican/Democratic strategist thing.
KING: We have to make everything for us. Kevin Madden and Maria Cardona, thanks for coming in. Next, Pete on the street. Actually tonight and this one pains me. Pete, a Yankees fan. A Yankees fan is on sacred ground in Boston's Fenway Park. Stay with us.
KING: Let's check in with Campbell Brown up in New York to see what's coming up at the top of the hour. Hey, Camp.
CAMPBELL BROWN, HOST: Hey there, John. Tonight, the U.S. now on a mission to kill an American citizen. We're going to have a debate, a conversation tonight over whether that's the right thing to do in the name of fighting terror or have we crossed a line here.
Plus, we're going to have a lot more on the governor of Virginia doing damage control after declaring April confederate history month and leaving out one big part, slavery. The nation's first elected African-American governor here to talk about that. We'll see you in a few minutes -- John.
KING: Both fascinating stories. We'll see you then.
This one pains me. This one pains me. Not only is Pete Dominick, our off beat reporter standing outside of heaven, which in Boston is called Fenway Park, with a Yankees cap. We paid for him to go there. Pete, one to one so far. Sox have won the Yankees. There's a game underway behind you. Please Red Sox tonight. How are you doing up there tonight? I'm surprised you haven't take the (INAUDIBLE) in that hat.
PETE DOMINICK, JOHN KING, USA'S OFFBEAT REPORTER: As much as I'm a Yankees' fan, John, the organization, John King, has been very, very nice to us. It's been a fun time. I figure, why not go to the second most partisan place, Yankees-Red Sox game, and I went in as a Yankees' fan to stir it up. We will see what happens.
DOMINICK: So Democrats and Republicans obviously can't get along. Can Red Sox fans and Yankees fans?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: If the Yankees will be nice, nice.
DOMINICK: If the Yankees will be nice, nice. What are the Yankees, 4-year-old?
UNKNOWN MALE: If you're buying Yankees hat, buy a hat, you can pour beer on it. I'm here with my two brothers. I don't eat as much.
DOMINICK: Your dad is a Red Sox fan. You're a Yankees fan. Why would you allow this? UNKNOWN MALE: Because I was a Red Sox fan, she had to be Yankees fan.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: She was a rebellion.
DOMINICK: Would you ever date a Yankees fan?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: No. never.
DOMINICK: If Yankees and Red Sox fans can get along, so can democrats and Republicans, right?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Sure.
DOMINICK: So, we hug.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: And then we dance.
DOMINICK: And then we should dance. Do you want to see more, Red Sox beating the Yankees or winning the war on terror?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Red Sox-Yankees.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Red Sox-Yankees.
DOMINICK: You're empty inside, aren't you?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Yes, pretty much.
DOMINICK: Guy actually thinks he's Kevin Euklis. He thinks he's on the team.
How are you doing?
UNKNOWN MALE: Dude, how are you doing?
DOMINICK: I got to go.
Red Sox or Yankees tonight?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Red Sox.
DOMINICK: But I'm a Yankees fan. Can we still get along? Can we still hang out?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Sure.
DOMINICK: It can happen.
DOMINICK: If Yankees and Red Sox fans can get along, so can Democrats and Republicans. John, you bought me a new hat, John King. Thank you.
KING: Look at that. It's the best rivalry in sports. You know, I can't disagree with that hat. I'm still not sure why we paid for you to go there, but Pete, I want to get you on something because I might ask the Boston police to come and arrest you. There was a big drama last night. Rumors that some Yankee fan had somehow taken over the power at the prudential building, a big Boston landmark and you see the picture we're showing on the screen there. That's the Yankees' logo on one of the landmarks of my town, Boston, Massachusetts. Now, it turns out the company says this was one of those hoaxes that people do on the inter web net. You know, those guys get on YouTube and they do crazy things, but I'm wondering if you might be the guilty party.
DOMINICK: John King, while you bought me a hat, you didn't buy me a hotel. I needed to find something to keep me busy last night, and I can climb pretty well, but I had nothing to do with that, of course.
KING: Nothing to do with that, of course. Are you going to go watch the game tonight? Are you going to go watch the game when you're done here?
DOMINICK: Yes. I'm going to try to sneak in. They were very good last night. I'm going to definitely try to get back in. There's something about a Yankees-Red Sox game. As much as I love the Yankees, you love the Red Sox, there's nothing better in sports, in my opinion, and I actually don't even care who wins, as long as it's a good game. It's a historic rivalry.
KING: There is nothing better. Sneak inside. Put a cold beer on your expense account if they don't let you in. We used to be in place back by the bleaches as kids we just knocked in. That's all for us tonight. Campbell Brown starts right now.