CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

JOHN KING, USA

Anger in America; Remembering Oklahoma City

Aired April 19, 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: Thanks, Suzanne. A busy day here in Washington in the financial reform debate and if you're following that Florida Senate race, don't go anywhere, more wacky developments as Governor Charlie Crist suddenly sounds an Independent streak.

But our "Lead" tonight here, "Anger in America", we will look at this anger all across the country. Who's angry, why are they angry, and how might it affect our midterm election year politics?

We'll also go "Wall-to-Wall" and look at this question. Is the government trying to take your guns away? That's what many of those demonstrators think. We'll put their concerns to the fact test.

And in "One-on-One" tonight, Frank Keating was the governor of Oklahoma when tragedy struck Oklahoma City 15 years ago. We'll ask him about America's discontent then and now.

And in our "Forum" discussion tonight, Florida's wacky politics -- Governor Charlie Crist is a Republican. For months he has said, no, no, no, I'm running as a Republican. Suddenly Charlie Crist says he's open to running as an independent -- all that and more in a packed hour ahead, but first as always a few observations.

Growing up in Boston, Patriot's Day meant three things, remember Lexington and Concord, it was the shot heard around the world, the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It is also Boston Marathon Day and because of that, the Red Sox play an 11:00 a.m. day game. They lost again, but I digress. It is always a day to celebrate, not a day to be angry.

But anger in America is a big theme this Patriot's Day and an important one. It's the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, a heinous act of domestic terrorism. And rallies from coast to coast are a reminder of the deep disaffection in our country and our politics. A new Pew Research Center survey finds just 22 percent of Americans say they trust in government in Washington most of the time.

Just four in 10 Americans give their president high marks. Fewer than two in 10 think Congress does a good job. So yes, anger is easy to find. And yes, when the Democrats are in charge, the rules of politics say they will suffer more in such a foul climate, but beyond that, the wear of any sweeping generalities. Anger is easy to find, but different people might be mad at different things. We'll explore that some tonight mindful that we have more questions than answers at the moment. And we will look back on the shock of 15 years ago to see if there are any lessons to be learned today.

Let's begin tonight with a closer look at the frustration and where that frustration grows to anger and disaffection. We'll take a closer look at public opinion and how it shapes our election year policy and political debates from taxes and spending to the current fight over financial reform, but first, an up-close personal look.

I went across the Potomac River into Virginia to what organizers called a "Restore the Constitution" rally. It was held in National Parkland (ph) along the Potomac in Virginia so that those attending could bring their firearms. It was an honest crowd and many critics were quick to label those on hand as fringe elements of our political system. Whatever you call them, their disaffection was very real.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: (INAUDIBLE)

RACHEL COOK, TENNESSEE NURSE: (INAUDIBLE) it's a pump shotgun. It's the primary I guess you call it home defense weapon, because with a shotgun, you can neutralize a threat, although I hope I never have to do that. I think what people miss is that Obama has out-pushed Bush in, you know, kind of a disdain for the Constitution. I think he's carried on the negative policies of Bush. We are still overseas, and the president said that he was going to bring our troops home. And that has not happened.

TIM HAMMOND, FORMER U.S. ARMY RESERVE: Well Hillary Clinton announced at the beginning of the year that she was going to work with the U.N. on the Small Arms Treaty (ph), so assuming that passes, they're going to find some way to -- to logistically get around the Constitution to take away the right to bear arms.

KING: Have you always felt that way in terms of frustration with government?

HAMMOND: Well, no, it's definitely escalated in the last about 20 years. (INAUDIBLE) It's incremental, but they're turning up the heat as they go. They used to nibble around the Constitution. Now they're stabbing at the heart of it.

DANIEL ALMOND, RALLY ORGANIZER: Right now, a lot of what motivates me to be here is the recent constitutional violations, the health insurance mandates. There is no justification in the Constitution; nowhere in the Constitution does it give power to the federal government to bail out companies that are deemed too big to fail. A right unexercised is a right lost. Rights, like muscles, atrophy if not used.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So fringe or part of a bigger picture of disconnect and distrust -- with me tonight Democratic strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger and in Atlanta, CNN contributor Erick Erickson of the popular conservative blog RedState.com. Erick, I want to start with you. Most of those in attendance leaned right. They would say that they were part of the right or center of the community. But their disdain for George W. Bush and the spending and the bank bailouts of his administration, their criticisms of some Republicans now, it was clear that they might be conservatives, but they're not happy with Republicans either. When you have discussions on Red State and in your community, how does that affect the moment, the politics of the moment when there's such distrust if you attach yourself to a political institution people don't trust you?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well you know it is across the board. A lot of Republicans feel very betrayed by George W. Bush, myself included. The end of his administration just went totally off the reservation, deciding he was going to define conservatism as something it wasn't, big government conservatism. There's no such thing.

He went for TARP. He gave that weird statement that he was going to tear down the free market to support the free market. And then Barack Obama came in after him and was no better and to a large degree worse in a lot of conservatives' minds. People are very angry at government.

The Democrats and Republicans have both been pedaling false choices. You know back in 1856, Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican, said that the reason the country was great is because every man could make himself. A lot of people, conservatives, myself included, don't think that's very much the case any more. You have to rely on the government instead of yourself.

KING: So Cornell, this affects your party, the governing party more so, "A", because you are the governing party, but, "B", because Democrats (INAUDIBLE) government can be an instrument for good. And I want to show some numbers from this Pew survey, as we said, four in 10 Americans like the president, approve of his job. Only two in (INAUDIBLE), but look at these here.

Public's view of institutions -- banks and financial institutions. Do they contribute positively to society; 22 percent; negative 69. The Congress; 24 percent say it makes a positive contribution; 65 percent a negative contribution; the federal government; 25 percent a positive contribution; 65 percent a negative.

Similar numbers for large corporations. To show the flip sides because people do see good in their church, a religious organization; 63 percent positive; 22 percent negative. Cornell, if you are the Democratic Party, the party that believes government is an instrument of good, how do you govern in an environment where people just flat out don't trust you to get it right?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well a couple of things. One is you do have to sort of have the conversation about what good the government comes from. And look, Bill Clinton said the era of big government is over and a lot of the anger that you see sort of manifesting itself, as some of the folks said, I mean is from Bush on. I mean Barack Obama didn't start this trend line of people being upset with government and not trusting the government. He's inherited this trend line. Now how he turns that around is going to be a real challenge for us going into the midterm election cycles, but it is going to about hope over anger because nothing good has ever come out of our political system that's been angry.

KING: Can he turn it around? Is one lesson we have to learn that 2006 OBAMA: 2008 was more a negative reflection on George W. Bush rather than a positive embrace of Democrats in governing or has the tide just turned?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well we don't -- you know we just -- I don't think we know yet. I think that Barack Obama's problem is that he promised things would be different. He promised change. He promised government would be smarter not -- maybe larger but also smarter. And people are looking at things and saying, you know what?

It's pretty much just the same as it's always been. And they didn't like health care reform. Democrats have gone out in the country trying to sell health care reform. You saw in this poll that the attitude towards health care reform has not gotten any better. People are skeptical of big government because they haven't seen it do good things for them.

Now, this is cyclical. For example, after 9/11, when people saw the first responders go in to those buildings, government, the trust in government and the faith in government went up because people said, oh, that's what government does for me. And that's what they do well.

BELCHER: I would push back a little bit by saying this, look, he has in fact, done everything that he said he was going to do and change is not easy. When you for the first time ever go and buck political trend and say you know what, I'm going to take on the big fights like health care reform, which every president going back to what Truman said he was going to take on, but for political purpose hasn't, that this president had the courage to take on that fight, that is, in fact, change. When he's pushing for some of these big things that fundamentally he said he was going to do in the campaign they're not going to be politically popular and you're seeing it's not politically popular --

(CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: -- change.

KING: Everybody hold on one second. Erick, I'll come right back to you. I got to get a quick break. I'll come back to everybody. Don't go anywhere. Before we continue or conversation though, we'll look at what's fueling the gun owners out there, their anger. Is the president trying to take away their guns? I'll go "Wall-to-Wall" and we'll show you the facts on this one next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Back to our panel in just a moment, but first we go to the "Wall-to-Wall" to put to the test some of the complaints from those we saw demonstrated today. This is a restore of the Constitution rally, as you can see the Washington Monument across the Potomac River. This is just out in Virginia. I went over there today to listen.

And you see people carrying their firearms in the National Park. One of their complaints was that they believe this president wants to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. Now many of them were quite honest. They say nothing President Obama has done as yet would take away or limit their gun rights, but they do remember something he said as a candidate that leaves them worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So are gun rights being limited or are they expanding in an Obama administration? Let's go to the magic wall and take a look, we'll put to the test some of the claims and the fears demonstrated at the rally. Come in and take a closer look here at these states. The red state has the most restrictive gun laws. That's California.

Then the colors here, the greener the state, the least restricted the gun laws. The darker green have the least restrictive. Let's look at some of the state laws out in Montana for example. State-made firearms and ammunition are exempt from federal regulations although that's currently being tested, challenged in the federal courts.

Out here as well, we come in Arizona, it allows concealed weapons without a permit. It's the third state to legalize that. Here in the state of Indiana allows employees to bring firearms into the workplace parking lots. You must keep those weapons though in your car. You can't take them inside.

And let's also look here at the state of Virginia where we had the rally today. It allows concealed weapons in restaurants and clubs. The person carrying though cannot drink any alcohol. What about nationally though, especially in this administration? Here's a little bit of a history test.

In 1968, a major gun control act. In 1994, those of you who remember the Clinton administration, this was a big fight, the federal assault weapons ban -- in 2004, though, President George W. Bush allowed that ban to expire. Now what about President Obama? What is his position on this issue? Let's bring this up right here.

We'll get her to play along. In 1996, he did endorse a possible Illinois handgun ban. That was in 1996. During the primary debates at one point he said he would defer to state and local governments to determine their gun laws. As president he's on record saying he still supports that federal assault weapons ban. He has not lobbied the Congress to pass it though.

And as president ironically he signed a law reluctantly, he didn't like this particular provision, but he did sign a law allowing guns in national parks. Despite that, no gun rights restrained in this administration and some gun rights actually expanded. If you listened at the protests today, many of those protesting say they have legitimate worries the Second Amendment is under siege.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is God pro Second Amendment? I think he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must declare war against oppression and against socialism, and you are the people to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It isn't left versus right, black versus white, conservative versus liberal. It isn't any of that. It is us versus them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we want a communist running America and disarming us?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! Do we want Tiananmen Square and more Waco's and more Kent State University events in our country? No. What do we want? We want freedom, freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, if you look at this map and what has happened to the administration, it doesn't match up with some of those fears raised at that rally. But those fears are part of the political discourse and our panel will be back in just a minute to continue the conversation about "Anger in America" and how it plays into this politics right now.

And as we go to break, a reminder of what happens when anger becomes irrational. This is Oklahoma City's memorial for the 168 victims of domestic terrorism. That bombing happened 15 years today -- a bit later in the program former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating here to go "One-on-One".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's continue the conversation. Democratic strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher is with us, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger and in Atlanta CNN contributor Erick Erickson of the popular conservative blog RedState.com. Erick, I want to bring you back into the conversation.

As I do, though, I want to ask in this context, where is this anger coming from? And I guess where does the frustration and the discontent take us? And one of my questions is in a sense are these people more frustrated because they don't have outlets? We don't have a Perot movement in a national election.

We watched the British debate last week and the third party, the leader of the liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, they're usually the third ranking party, they're (INAUDIBLE). He did very well in that debate. And we're showing some pictures of it on TV.

You have the labor prime minister, you have the conservative challenger0. You have a third party where at a time of discontent people have a place to go. We see it a bit, Erick, in the Tea Party candidates running in elections, but come November in the overwhelming majority of elections in this country there will be a "D" and an "R" and nobody else.

ERICKSON: Well you know that's why I've been so aggressive on Red State trying to encourage Tea Party activists to funnel their energy whether they're Democrat or Republican frankly to engage in the primary for the parties because we are a two-party nation that campaign finance rules stack up to benefit them. The qualifying rules, the ballot access rules, the money, they all benefit a two- party system and that frustrates people. But at some point they have to accommodate the rules.

I think the real anger comes from a point Gloria raised earlier that after 9/11 polling about government, the first responders, the protectors it was very, very good. There are a lot of people in the country, mostly conservative, but not all conservative, who they realize they can't read the Constitution any more and realize how the government is structured. They can't figure it out without paying encaustic (ph) in a black robe and hiring a lawyer and going to court.

They feel like the government has been removed from them, and it's Republican and Democrat as well. They live in Washington. Congress largely exempts itself from the rules that everyone else must follow, whether they're Republican or Democrat. People are very, very frustrated about it. They feel like they should be able to understand how the Constitution works.

They shouldn't have to have some guy on TV telling them that they're not as smart as the guy on TV or a congressman thumbing their nose at them. They feel detached and when they see what government is doing right now, they look at the Constitution and say I get where defending the country comes from. Where does taking over health care come from?

KING: So how does this play out in a climate in which just about everybody has some anger, some discontent, some disconnection, but it's for a whole lot of different reasons, Cornell. You see this in your numbers. Some liberals are mad. They think with a Democratic president a big majority they should have gotten more done and they should have gotten more done to their liking. Conservatives of course are upset (INAUDIBLE). Everybody is mad but not always for the same thing. How do you tap that?

BELCHER: Well let's get a little bit into the numbers as well because I'm going to go a little bit to the opposite direction here because I think to a certain extent we are mainstreaming fringe. Because when you get inside the numbers quite frankly the vast majority of Americans don't say they're angry. You know you have a majority of them saying they're frustrated. Quite frankly, I'm frustrated with -- with government. So --

BORGER: They don't trust --

(CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: -- but -- but they haven't trusted --

(CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: They haven't trusted government since the '50s, I mean it's -- it's going downhill. And when you see this anger and you -- the Tea Party we had like 35, 3,600 people show up on the mall angry and we treat it like it was a million -- it was a million people. This is a disillusion sort of fringe element of the Republican Party and they are angry. And quite frankly they're not necessarily angry about policy, they're angry about culture.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One quick point for context --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One quick point for context, Cornell is dead right about the big numbers. We've seen -- if you compare the inauguration, for example --

BORGER: Sure.

KING: -- or immigration marches, but there are still people who have legitimate concerns whether you agree or disagree with them or not and my question is whether the modest numbers are the side of something else out there?

BORGER: Yes and I think -- I think Democrats do not pay attention to this at their own peril. I think this poll that we saw is a little bit of a wake-up call to Democrats particularly as you're heading into the 2010 elections. The people who are energized right now are the people who are frustrated and the people who are angry. It's always that way, as you know.

So heading into the election, you know we were chatting about Barack Obama. Barack Obama wants to be a transformational president. When you do big things, as he's trying to do, it takes a long time. We're used to seeing results in the next 10 minutes. And people are afraid of what's coming next and so it's going to hurt Democrats.

KING: Well we'll see as this plays out. I'm going to call a time-out for now but --

BORGER: Sorry.

KING: -- because of this -- this is a point we'll be talking about all the way through the elections, you can count on that and probably after the elections, too, when we will deal with what the American people decide, how much they decide to change our city here and our states come this November -- Gloria Borger, Cornell Belcher, Erick Erickson thanks all three of you for sharing your help with us tonight.

And we're determined as always to bring you into the conversation as well, so each week we ask you to "Make Your Case" on an important topic. This week's question: follow up our conversation right here. Are you angry or frustrated with your government and if so, why? Record your opinion and post it at CNN.com/JohnKingUSA. We'll play the best video on Friday and the winner -- this is why it's so important -- gets a JKUSA T-shirt.

Fifteen years ago today a truck bomb shattered the federal office building in Oklahoma City. Tonight the empty chairs of the city's memorial stand in silent tribute to the 168 lives that were lost that day. Frank Keating was Oklahoma's governor. Next we go "One-on-One" to compare the anger, the disaffection of the country then to what we're seeing now.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: It was 15 years ago tonight all eyes were on Oklahoma City and the horror of domestic terrorism. A truck bomb had shattered the Murrah Federal Building, 168 people were dead, including 19 children in a daycare center. And Army veteran, Timothy McVeigh, was eventually caught, convicted and executed. He said the bombing was an act of revenge against the U.S. government. Frank Keating was Oklahoma's Governor back then and he's here now to go "One-on-One".

Governor, it's good to see you again -- first, just a simple question -- you were in charge of the state on that horrible day. You came to learn about a rawness in the culture, at least in this individual. How do you compare when you hear people talking now about an angry America, frustration in America, the threat of domestic terrorism in America, what's your sense of the then and now?

FRANK KEATING (R), FORMER OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR: Well, I don't really see a very direct or accurate comparison, John. I mean, back when I was in FBI in the early '70s, it was the SDS. It was the Weather Underground. It was the Black Panther Party, a lot of violence, a lot of hate spewing and some hateful actions, real violence in the street. Obviously, the tax protester movement, Branch Davidian Compound, that's the reason in 1993, the ATF and FBI action there and McVeigh, who killed all these wonderful neighbors of mine, wanted revenge.

And the reality is we have had, unfortunately, a lot of violent acts by extreme individuals and groups, but I think to have a group of individuals largely reasonably well educated, upscale economically who have had enough of taxes and are protesting and are angry, that's really quintessentially America. I mean that's something from the Boston Tea Party forward. As long as you say, I'm angry, but I'm not violent, that's OK. If you're angry and violent, then you're a problem. Law enforcement is interested in you and that is not American.

KING: You're bringing up your experience not only as governor but in the Justice Department and with the FBI. And I want you to tap that experience. I want you to listen to the current Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. She did an interview with CNN earlier in the day. And I want you to get her take on how she says the government is much better at figuring these things out now. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We're seeing some of the same kinds of activity that we did see prior to Oklahoma City, but at the same time, as I said before, I think as a nation, we are better prepared and leaning forward. And I think recognize more gravely the different or more acutely the difference between really angry rhetoric and really plotting something like what happened here in Oklahoma City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, Frank Keating is a conservative Republican from Oklahoma. But does this Democratic administration have the right balance in your view on how they do this or are they off on anything?

FRANK KEATING (R), FORMER OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR: Well, Janet Napolitano was here today celebrating life with us and remembering those who were killed. She's a highly gifted very experienced person, as I am, she's a former United States attorney. She understands that isolated, dangerous individuals, Tim McVeigh, Hinckley, Oswald, even back in the civil war, there was a glorified actor John Wilkes Booth, a very angry young man who decided to take law into his own hands. You have that. And what's important is for schools to teach civic responsibility, sharing debate but not crossing the line and to have good and attentive citizens tell law enforcement, you know, my friend has crossed the line, I think he's going to hurt somebody. That's what good citizenship does.

I think Janet is right. And I think we have to be careful. There are people out there because of the internet and other propaganda pieces saying you need to hate, you need to cross the line and hurt or kill somebody. But think of this guy, McVeigh. He hated the ATF. He didn't touch an ATF agent. He hated the FBI. The FBI wasn't even in this building. He killed 19 babies. He killed people standing in line to get their social security checks. He killed people that had nothing to do with his beef. Now, is that a smart thing to do? No, it was an evil, wicked, outrageous act. We need to make sure students, young people and even older people in America know that that is unacceptable.

KING: Governor, another question on a completely different topic. Back in 2003 you were head of the Catholic Church sex abuse oversight panel. You stepped down. There are a lot of questions about how this pope, how the church has handled more recent -- a recent uptick, recent new revelations about all this. What's your sense?

KEATING: Well, the good news is the catholic community is a fourth of mankind. It's 160 countries. The bad news is when an allegation or an accusation about American misconduct occurred and occurs, I think the attitude of this has been those are those oversexed Americans. They need to solve their problems. The catholic bishops when they asked me to chair that panel set zero tolerance, criminal referral and transparency, that's what we did as a board. As a result the incidents of abuse are very low now in the United States. I think we've done the right thing. But these individuals who had touched children are criminals. They ought to go to jail. They ought to be stripped of their ministry, their priesthood. That became the attitude of my board. I really feel for the pope because he is the spiritual leader of the church, but that means he's got to make sure the kids are safe. And he's got a real trial under way because this is not helping the church, but it's important, obviously, that we on behalf of the catholic and the faith community everywhere that we win this battle and not have these kind of people in ministry.

KING: Governor Keating, we appreciate your thoughts. Thank you, sir.

KEATING: Thank you, sir.

KING: Take care, governor.

When we come back, the most important person you don't know is trying to get to the root causes of the financial disaster in this country. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Today's most important person you don't know was on Survivor, the big banks would probably kick him off the island quicker than you can snap your fingers. Robert Khuzamis behind all the headlines about the government suing Goldman Sachs for alleged fraud. You're innocent until proven guilty, but Khuzami has a history of proving people guilty. As a federal prosecutor, he took down the blind sheikh and 11 others behind the 1993 world trade center bombing. He's also been a top lawyer at one of biggest banks around. He's led the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division. In that time he's doubled the number of federal investigations. Last week he asked Congress for permission to hit people who cheat investors would even bigger penalties. We'll keep an eye on that investigation as will our national political correspondent Jessica Yellin and senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Flowing out of this is the big debate over will they try to take steps out of prevent this from happening again. AIG bonuses, then the big bank bailouts. Outrage today from a Republican who is supposed to be in the middle of trying to get a bipartisan deal and was early on. This is Bob Corker of Tennessee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: What's happening right now is both sides of the aisle are trying to herd up folks with language that really in many ways I don't think does justice to this issue which is very important, very difficult and something that's very, very much need in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So they're going to talk and talk and talk and point and point or get something done?

DANA BASH, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What was interesting about Senator Corker today -- and both Jessica and I heard that today and went, wow. He didn't say by name but it was clear he was talking about, his own Republican leader. Some of the rhetoric he's been using to hit them on this bill. Ludicrous. He said the rhetoric was out of control. A pretty rare thing for a Republican to kick dirt in the face of a Republican leader. To be fair, he was talking about both sides. But the jest of it is as you said here is a guy who has been working to try to get some kind of bipartisan solution on this huge issue. He's frustrated that both sides are taking what are very real substantive issues and twisting them for rhetorical and political gain.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He has said, Bob Corker, this is not health care reform this is different because he said that Republicans are close to being able to support what the Democrats have done. They won't support this bill but he feels there's room for negotiation. That's why there's some optimism on both sides that they'll get a bill done. But right now there is such a divide in the Republican caucus. It's possible but the Democrats are pushing this to a vote.

KING: On this one, you say the divide in the Republican caucus. On past issues, particularly health care, the leaders have been able to hold them. Is there evidence -- and I take Corker's statement as evidence that that grip is loosening.

BASH: We've talked about this before. That especially Mitch McConnell, one of the hallmarks of this Congress is that he's had major discipline from his Republican --

KING: He's got the troops in line.

BASH: Yeah, he really has. But this issue, he's getting pushed back rhetorically, the fact that another Republican went on the Senate floor and said he's not too happy. In terms of votes, that's a different thing. I talked to Senator Corker in the hallway. He said right now he's with the Republicans broadly in saying we won't allow this bill to go to the floor unless we have bipartisan negotiations. Late tonight our congressional Ted Barrette who's up on the still just sent a note saying there are actually talks. Believe it or not. Hold your breath, don't hold your breath, I don't know. On a huge issue that perhaps bipartisan talks are resuming between key players, Republicans and Democrats. KING: Let's hold our breath. Next our reporters forum and the stories on our radar that might not be getting the attention they should. This one is going to get more attention now. Florida Governor Charlie Crist's brand new comments on whether he'll run for Senate. He's a republican governor but will he run as an independent? Stay there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This is the part of the show we call the forum. We have our reporters here. Jessica and Dana still with us to discuss the big stories. Let me talk about a few things on my radar and we'll get their views on that. Last Thursday we told you here on this program two senators were threatening to subpoena the Obama administration accusing it of stonewalling Congress about the Ft. Hood massacre. Today it happened. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman and the ranking Republican Susan Collins subpoenaed the justice and the defense departments ordering officials there to tell Congress what the government knew before the November attack. Especially about the radicalization about Major Nidal Hasan who is charged now with 13 counts of murder. This was a running theme in the -- late in the bush administration when Democrats once they took back Congress said the administration would never cooperate with their investigations. Rare to have a Democratic Congress now challenging a Democratic white house.

BASH: Can you imagine if that's where we were right now? If we were talking about a Democratic-led committee subpoenaing a Republican president named George Bush?

KING: I was surprised last week when they first threatened this and it didn't get more attention. Because the secrecy, executive power was a running complaint of the Democratic Congress in the Bush days.

YELLIN: And I predict they call executive privilege and don't cooperate. Because that's what the white house does. Isn't that what the white house does?

KING: You know, he was a senator. He liked the legislative prerogatives. Now he's the executive. When they get to the white house, they tend to have a different take on executive power, low and behold. All right. Here's another big one on the radar.

One of the year's most bizarre Senate races the unfolding in Florida. Mitt Romney's down there today to endorse Marco Rubio who polls show is likely -- the primary is a way off. But polls show Rubio likely to beat Charlie Crist in that Republican primary. Charlie Crist is the sitting Republican governor. Once a darling of the Republican Party. Today Crist talked about the advice he's getting to run as an independent instead.

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), SENATE CANDIDATE: I can tell you, I'm getting a lot of advice in that direction. So I'm a listener. So I'm certainly listening to it. KING: Listening this week. He was no, no, no, no, no way last week. That kind of talk doesn't sit well with the Republican establishment here in Washington.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: He would lose all Republican support if he were to run as an independent.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I hope that Charlie Crist will remain a Republican.

BASH: Let's get to why we're even talking about this. We're talking about this because this is, as you said, a darling of the Republican Party. Was considered a shoo-in. John McCain had endorsed Charlie Crist.

YELLIN: A year ago.

BASH: Exactly. Today the executive director of the Republican senatorial campaign sent an e-mail that we obtained saying he has zero chance of winning the Republican primary and they're trying to kick him out as fast as they possibly can.

YELLIN: Subtle.

BASH: Remarkable.

KING: But he was a popular governor. He has proven that he can win moderate and independent votes. If he goes as an independent and he can raise the money, what a fascinating race -- that's just an all bets off.

YELLIN: You think he could do it? You think he could prevail?

KING: I don't know because a guy named Joe Lieberman, when he lost the Democratic primary, he did it.

YELLIN: Wasn't the difference that the Democrats tacitly approved and they said, Democrats we give you our permission to vote for him. It would be different in this case because Republicans are not giving other Republicans --

KING: But Florida is such a fascinating state. There are conservative pockets of Florida, there are moderate parts of Florida. The farther south you go, the more north you get in terms of the population of Florida. If you have a weaker Democratic opponent or a Democratic opponent that maybe Charlie Crist might be able to get Democratic votes if he rebels? I don't know.

BASH: But it's yet another example of what we're seeing across the country politically -- and you've talked about this -- whether you're a Democrat or Republican incumbent caught in the middle. The idea of being a moderate like you said, you covered him in Florida.

YELLIN: Everyone in the state seems to know him. He has been in public office for so long. He gets along with both sides of the aisle. He's a classic centrist. BASH: But with the politics we're in right now, it is difficult to succeed as a moderate and somebody who wants to reach across the aisle which is public say is exactly what they want.

KING: OK. One last piece of radar. This is an excuse for men everywhere not to take their wives and girlfriends on European vacations. The Icelandic volcano spewed out more ash today. It is actually not a funny story. It is costing the airline industry $200 million a day. No wonder the European airlines are screaming for permission to fly again. They insist it is safe. Millions of travelers are stranded including some 40,000 Americans.

YELLIN: Such a nightmare. The thought of being stuck at an airport with your family for days and days, I mean, they have to fix this. And there's nothing we can do.

BASH: Nothing we can do. But the interesting thing is to hear some of the remarks from people who are stranded. And they seem to actually -- many of them, obviously some are frustrated. They have an understandable -- they're sort of fatalistic about it. Well, better that I'm here than up there where --

YELLIN: It's not very safe. No control.

KING: We have no control, exactly right.

Next, Joe Biden shows up in the briefing room. We'll tell you why. And John McCain trying to make the voters forget, excuse, amend, his record on immigration.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Not a sports show, but like the sports show in play by play, we break down the tape. We look behind the numbers. We go into the politics and try to see analysis from our folks here. We're going to start today here. Jessica and Dana are still with us. We're going to start with John McCain on immigration then and now. Here's John McCain back when he wrote, he was a co-sponsor of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill of 2005. It allowed for a temporary worker program, a path for illegal immigrants to achieve legal status. A recognition, John McCain said that immigrants have contributed to economic growth. Here's the senator speaking about this issue at the CNN YouTube debate in November 2007.

MCCAIN: We need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are god's children as well and they need some protections under the law. And they need -- they need some of our love and compassion.

KING: So that was then. Here's now. The McCain-Kyl immigration bill introduce today, talked about today with his colleague, John Kyl of Arizona, 3,000 National Guard troops to the border, 3,000 new border patrol agents, jail time for second offenders caught crossing the border and 700 miles of fencing along the border. Listen to the senator today, his tone is much tougher.

MCCAIN: The situation is spiraled out of control. The degree of violence has increased. Those crossing the border illegally are increasingly armed and the violence across our southern border and in Arizona has increased.

KING: Now, he has every right to say the situation has changed, and the situation along the border has changed. But his tone is so striking. These were god's children in the old days. Now it's we need to get tougher on the border.

BASH: Welcome to John McCain in the Republican primary in Arizona in 2010. I mean that's just what it is. There's no other way to say it. I was actually at that press conference and I raised my hand and I said senator how does this fit into any broader immigration reform bill? His answer was we have to secure the border first. Period, end of story. Going back to his run in 2008, it wasn't different. He kind of veered right during the primary and would come back in the general. But I don't see him coming back.

KING: But if that's the mood among Republicans who once were for a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, is there any chance of getting Republicans to stand with Democrats and say immigration reform this year?

YELLIN: Not in an election year. They've got to do it after the midterm election next year before the presidential really takes off. When I've been in Arizona recently, you talk to the folks who are former John McCain supporters, immigration is one of their biggest complaints. It's not going to fly this year.

KING: All right. Quick assessment of some pictures here. When the president walks into the room, I want to show the pictures. I think we have it ready, the president of the United States walk into the white house briefing room and, people stand, the staff stands, the reporters stand. Some of them more quickly than others. Not all of them, actually. They're a little surprised. Okay, now, that's the president. Let's watch the vice president walk into the briefing room today. He was making a big announcement two al Qaeda in Iraq leaders. Staff gets up.

YELLIN: He gets no respect.

KING: He came in to make a pretty important announcement. Two al Qaeda in Iraq leaders were killed in a joint Iraqi U.S. military operation. It was kind of different. You've been in that room.

BASH: It is different. I was trying to think of when the vice president pressed up.

YELLIN: I would like to say it's the element of surprise.

KING: We will research this, I promise. Thanks for coming in tonight. When we come back, we'll check in with Pete on the street. You might say today he's a case study in anger management.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Now we talked throughout the show, there's anger out there, discontent, frustration. Some of it's bubbling. Some of it's sort of under the surface. Who better to check out the current state of angry America than our polite, always pleasant Pete on the street? Pete Dominick.

PETE DOMINICK, COMEDIAN: As a stand-up comedian it's been my job to make people upset or angry perhaps laugh and happy. But John, I notice it's hard to be really angry if -- I'm not angry at her -- if you're really busy. Check this out.

You look like a big gun enthusiast, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not really.

DOMINICK: You just went to the gun store?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

DOMINICK: How do you explain this right here?

Do you own a gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

DOMINICK: Do you have it on you now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not.

DOMINICK: Can I frisk you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

DOMINICK: What about your dog? He's startled.

You say people should have guns?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not around the street, no.

DOMINICK: How long does it take you to do your hair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five minutes.

DOMINICK: Five minutes? You don't look like an angry guy. He's good. He's clean. What's this? That's a kneecap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got tools.

DOMINICK: He says that's a hammer.

When you're angry, what do you do? Do you do any reading? Prayer? Meditation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I read, watch a movie, I'll take a drink.

DOMINICK: Do you have a couple of drinks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little something called woosa. It's when you meditate and say to yourself -- count to ten. Breathe in, slowly let it out.

DOMINICK: Did you just do some lunges? Just lunge with me.

You look like a yoga guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do, don't I.

DOMINICK: Some hot yoga.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hot yoga.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to talk about relaxing? What I do to relax?

DOMINICK: Well, we found out what people do to relax. People aren't as angry as we might be perceiving them, John King.

KING: Watching that, if this comedy thing or TV thing news doesn't work out, you can work with the TSA with that little frisk thing you have going.

DOMINICK: Not everybody accepted, but a lady just walked right through the live shot. I didn't get angry. I added her on Facebook.

KING: She was in a hurry to get somewhere. Let me ask you this as a test of your reporting skills. Does spring weather make people happier?

DOMINICK: Absolutely weather has an effect on the way people feel about their day. When it's nice out, people are a lot happier, that's for sure.

KING: The NYPD behind you says your furlough time is up. Pete, we'll see you tomorrow. Thanks to Pete Dominick. That's all for us tonight. "Campbell Brown" starts right now.