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JOHN KING, USA
Your Money; Senator Dick Durbin Interview; Senator Jim DeMint Interview; Senator Joe Lieberman Interview
Aired April 26, 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, Wolf. More heated rhetoric in the immigration debate today in Arizona and also right here in the nation's capital. Also what was to be a big bipartisan announcement about climate change canceled, guess why, more partisan politics.
But our "Lead" tonight, your money, a big day here in Washington as the Congress tries to protect you from another big financial collapse like 2008. A test vote in the Senate, Democrats lose. Financial reform is the issue. The negotiations continue though. We'll track both the policy and the policy argument tonight.
When we go "Wall-to-Wall", you won't want to miss these destructive pictures of a gigantic tornado. It killed 12 people in Mississippi and in Alabama, several miles wide at some point. You'll hear from Mississippi's governor and we'll give you the latest on the recovery effort and show you the dramatic pictures.
"One-on-One" tonight with the Independent Senator Joe Lieberman. He was in the middle of that big climate change debate. It has collapsed now, a victim of immigration politics. You'll hear Senator Lieberman talk about the political climate right here in Washington, D.C.
And on my "Radar" tonight, some fascinating stories including one Democratic governor's unusual job pitch. She wants to come to Washington. Guess where she'd like to work?
And we'll also explore the issue of whether the Supreme Court should step in to keep your children from playing violent video games.
You're not getting what you want from Washington tonight -- most of you, anyway. And I'm guessing that doesn't come as a big surprise. Two-thirds of Americans say they support tougher rules on big Wall Street financial firms, but the Senate decided tonight that such a debate has to wait a bit. Why? Well, you make the call. Here's what happened. Senate Democrats failed a short time ago to muster the 60 votes they needed to begin debate on a package of sweeping financial reforms. They blame Republicans and raise their voices in doing so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: What's the point of having 100 seats here coming from 50 states when a major issue affecting our country cannot even be the subject of a debate? So Mr. President, I urge my colleagues, I urge them let us get to this debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All Republicans on hand voted no, not, they say, because they don't want financial reform. Their goal is to force more negotiations and compromises by Democratic leaders and the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The Democrats want us to trust them on this one. With all respect, Americans aren't in a trusting mood. The burden is now on the Democrats to prove it when they say their legislation will or will not do something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Negotiations are still active and key players say they expect the bipartisan deal within days that includes new rules on risky investments blamed for much of the big 2008 collapse. So what are the hang-ups and what does it mean for you?
The Republican perspective in a moment from South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and first we will hear from the number two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin of Illinois. But as he makes his way to our camera, let me begin the discussion here in studio, our CNN political analyst Gloria Borger and our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. So the Democrats, Dana, lose this vote tonight, and yet they rush out all these statements sounding as if they think they have a political win in a voting defeat.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Only in Washington a loss is a win and it's not an accident. That's exactly right and I'm fascinated to hear what Senator Durbin says and how he explains it when he comes before the cameras. Because behind the scenes what Democratic sources are being extremely candid about is that not only did they push this vote, which they knew that they were going to lose, but they'll probably going to do it later in the week as well.
Why are they doing it? Because they want to, as you mentioned, they want to make Republicans look as though they are voting against Wall Street reforms, but that belies what is going on behind the scenes. As we speak, John, right now on Capitol Hill, there are negotiations, bipartisan negotiations going on.
KING: And so, Gloria, it is the theater of politics versus some high stakes negotiations on policy.
KING: The Republican complaint is they don't believe the language is strong enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
KING: They think you can still have too big to fail. The taxpayers would still be on the hook, maybe if regulators decided they have to shut a big bank down in the future we would go through what we went through before. So why have all the votes when people seem to think if we just keep talking, we'll get there.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Because it's politics -- I know you'll be shocked --
BORGER: -- to learn that goes on in Washington, but you know there's an outside game and an inside game. The outside game is they're calling for these votes, the Democrats are lining up to go have a talk-a-thon tonight on the Senate floor. And meanwhile behind the scene, you've had Republicans and Democrats negotiating on this measure for months.
In the end, if you asked everybody -- Dana, you know this better than I do -- does everybody expect there's going to be a bill? Yes, they say. Could be as many as 60 or 70 votes. We'll have to see.
KING: Well then let's put the question to a man who helps with the vote counting on Capitol Hill. The number two Democrat from the leadership, Dick Durbin of Illinois -- Senator thanks for joining us. I know it's a busy day. I hope you heard a little bit of what Dana and Gloria were saying as you hooked up there.
The expectation is if you talk to Senator Dodd and his staff, Senator Shelby and his staff that when the Democrats and Republicans spend a few days in a room, they'll figure this out. They'll come up with the language. If that's the case and they're optimistic you can get 60, maybe 70 votes for this in three days or a week, why keep having these votes?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Well I can just tell you why, because we face so many filibusters from the Republican side. You know, Chris Dodd made a good faith effort. He sat down with the ranking Republican Dick Shelby of Alabama. They spent two months. They couldn't reach an agreement.
He then said I'll work with Bob Corker of Tennessee, another Republican on the committee. They spent a month. They couldn't reach an agreement. Then Dodd said let's have a markup. Let's all come together in the room, Democrats and Republicans and discuss our differences, consider amendments.
The Republicans brought in 400 amendments -- that markup didn't offer a single one of them. So those of us who believe that we need to make things right on Wall Street so we don't get into another recession like this, believe that it's time to move forward. The filibusters have to end.
KING: Let me ask you a quick policy question then. So you wanted to have this vote as a statement that it was time to move forward and if you have objections deal with them with amendments on the floor. Do you agree that some of this language does need to be changed, that it is vague, that the Republicans at least have a credible case and say there are too many loopholes for them. They're not dead certain that you couldn't have another bailout and so you need to tweak some of the language.
DURBIN: I'm willing to listen to any constructive suggestion. What I'm not willing to do is to basically say we're going to change it and weaken the bill to bring in Republican votes. We want to make sure this bill is strong. We want the strongest consumer financial protection law in the history of America.
We want to make sure that the Wall Street interests and big banks that got away with murder in this recession and left the taxpayers holding the bag don't have that chance again.
BASH: But Senator Durbin, it is Dana Bash. What the Republicans argue is they agree with you, they have the same goal, but they don't believe that the legislation that the Democrats have crafted so far does that and that there are still lots of loopholes that leave taxpayers on the hook and that they want to close.
Let me just get specific with you. Goldman Sachs has been in the news. Do you fundamentally believe and can you promise your constituents that with your bill Goldman Sachs could not do what they are accused of doing? Obviously they've not been convicted of anything, but what your colleagues are saying that they play both sides and they really hurt taxpayers.
DURBIN: I think that this bill really strengthens the hand of the oversight agencies that would watch Goldman Sachs or any other company that tried to do what they're accused of doing. It's only an allegation, but it's a serious one, that they were playing both sides of the street, if you would, selling a product, then basically betting that it would fail.
And that to me is the wrong thing to do. It's the kind of thing that makes people so cynical and upset with what's happening on Wall Street. If we want to make that provision stronger, you bet. I'll join the Republicans in doing it. If they want to water it down for some banker or Wall Street interest, I'm not on board for that at all.
BORGER: But Senator, you said in the past, and this is a quote, "the banks own this place". So isn't that Democrats as well as Republicans you were referring to?
DURBIN: Absolutely. I can tell you, I found it in my bankruptcy bill. I lost a number of Democrats and virtually all the Republicans when I offered it to get tough on the banks.
BORGER: And so does it change with this, does it change with financial reform?
DURBIN: I think so. I think we're moving to the point now where even the Republicans believe we've got to do something really basic here to restore the public confidence and to make sure that people have some belief that their government's going to stand up and fight for them so we don't end up with another taxpayer paid bailout. KING: Senator Durbin, John King, one final question on another topic. There have been a lot of questions about whether President Obama's seat back in your home state of Illinois is at risk in this election campaign. I know that you have shared some of your concerns with the White House.
The Democratic candidate out there, his family bank was shut down just last week and there's an investigation of that, and, again, it's just an investigation, but there's a lot of questions that as of this day as we speak that Republicans would be favored to win that race. Do you think the Democrats need a new candidate in that race? And have you asked the White House to help you in that regard?
DURBIN: I can tell you that the bank that Senate candidate, Democratic-candidate Alexis Giannoulias family was involved in closed on Friday. We had seven banks close on Friday in Illinois and of course it hurt him. This is a bank his father started as an immigrant to this country.
But Giannoulias has been removed from that bank for over four years. Had nothing to do with it because he's our state treasurer. Had nothing to do with 90 percent of the loans that this bank had in its portfolio, so I think he has to answer the questions directly and honestly and he's done that and he needs to continue to do that.
And he really needs to bring it down to the basic issues. Congressman Mark Kirk, the Republican, opposes the Wall Street reform. Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat supports it. Now there's an issue the voters really do care about when it comes to banks.
KING: Congressman Dick -- Senator Dick Durbin -- I'm sorry -- of Illinois. Senator we appreciate your time tonight and we know you're going to the floor to be among the Democrats who speak tonight. We'll continue to follow this one as it plays out. We appreciate your time, sir.
DURBIN: Thanks, John, Dana.
KING: Here's a quick look behind the numbers before we take a break. The Down industrials closed up less than a point, still it's another 19-month high. One highlight, on another quiet day, economic (INAUDIBLE) Caterpillar posted stronger than expected earnings and its stock was up four percent.
KING: So let's get the Republican perspective on this evening's big Senate vote against proceeding with the financial reform debate and the ongoing negotiations, hopefully, to get a bipartisan bill. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina joins us from Capitol Hill and back again here in the studio, CNN's Gloria Borger and Dana Bash.
Senator, you have called this regulation without reform. Is it your take that the Democrats just want to regulate, regulate, regulate, or do you support at least some aggressive new steps to, what they would say is necessary, rein in Wall Street? SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well I am afraid this is another massive bill that doesn't keep the promises on the label. All Republicans want to fix what caused this financial mess that we're in. But unfortunately, the bill that has been presented does not address the key problems that created the sub-prime market and it expands regulations to community banks, credit unions and thousands of businesses that had nothing to do with the financial meltdown. So we're hoping the vote tonight will at least get the Democrats to work with us on fixing the problems and making sure that we just don't have another overreach of government power without really fixing the problem.
KING: A number of your Republican colleagues who are either vulnerable this year or who think that there are some merits to this legislation even though they want some tweaks have said they're willing to vote with the Republicans on these procedural votes maybe once or twice but they want to move this process along. Take us inside the caucus room because this is an issue where if you look at the public opinion polling, Americans do want something done. Are there any jitters with all the Republicans standing together at the moment to say no?
DEMINT: Well, all of us want a financial reform bill to pass. I mean, we clearly have some problems in our financial market. A lot of those were caused by bad government policy which we're not addressing. We certainly want to clamp down on Wall Street to make sure we get out of this too big to fail idea. Unfortunately, this bill actually has a fund for a special group of companies to either bail them out or liquidate them.
These are things that we can fix. I'm on the banking committee. We've worked with Democrats for several months to come up with consensus on many of the issues. So there's a lot that we agree on here except the major concepts of fixing the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the subprime market, they are not allowing us to address it. So hopefully if we can shake them up like we did tonight and help them see they're not going to ram this down our throat that we can get a real bill that the American people can feel good about.
BORGER: Senator DeMint, Gloria Borger here. Can I just change a topic on you for a moment?
BORGER: Because one of the other controversies you've been dealing with today is the question of whether the Senate does immigration reform or energy reform, climate change. And your colleague from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, created quite a stir when he said, you know I want to do climate change first. He's been working on it. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, no, I'm going to take up immigration reform. What's your reaction to this as a Republican? Do you want to do immigration reform right now in the Senate?
DEMINT: Well I was just talking to Lindsey Graham about this. And no one can challenge his credentials on wanting to do something about immigration, but he is exactly where I am on immigration that there's no policy that makes any sense or will make any difference if we can't control our borders. We've got thousands of Mexicans being killed on the border because the federal government will not do its job to control our border and secure our country.
BORGER: But do you want to do climate change first -- do you want to do climate change either?
DEMINT: Well what I want to do is open up our own energy supplies in this country. And part of what Lindsey Graham is working on is making sure we follow through with opening our own natural gas supplies, moving to nuclear generation and away from coal. These things would clean up the air quicker than any of these cap and trade ideas. So I'm not sure that Lindsey and I agree on every point but certainly we can't bring up immigration reform until we control our borders and we need to focus on opening our own energy supplies. But clearly the majority leader, Harry Reid, is playing politics with immigration to try to show the people back home he wants to do something about it. But I think Lindsey Graham has taken an important stand -- is we're not going to go to immigration when we can't even control our borders.
BASH: Senator, it's Dana Bash. You say that Senator Reid, the Democratic leader is playing politics with immigration. But I want to read you a quote from your -- one of your leaders, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, in a meeting last Friday with Hispanic Republican activists.
He said "if we want to have a comprehensive policy that is uniform around the nation, then the federal government has got to step up. I look forward to our Republican leadership putting on the table good solid efforts to create the kind of reform that takes in mind first and foremost the family that recognizes that this is not a nameless composition." Sure sounds like the chairman of the RNC is calling for comprehensive immigration reform, at least when he is talking to Hispanic Republicans. Do you agree with him?
DEMINT: Well I agree that we need to address the immigration issue, particularly the illegal immigration issue. The only way to honor our heritage of immigration is to make sure we have a sensible and legal flow of people into and out of our country. Right now, we've created a disaster on our southern border because we're unwilling to take the measures that are necessary to control immigration. I don't think there's any legal immigrant in our country who wants an open border that compromises our national security.
KING: Any concern at all, Senator, about Latino voters in the midterm election year if all you do is border security this year at the federal level?
DEMINT: Well, we need to do everything we can to make sure that all the immigrants in the country, legal immigrants know that Republicans are taking a stand for the things that make a difference in their lives, for their families, for their jobs, for the economy. And every immigrant that I've talked to that has come here the legal way wants us to continue to work on border security and a workable worker I.D. system. All of us as Republicans want to move ahead with those kinds of reforms.
KING: Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina -- Senator, we thank you so much for your time tonight.
DEMINT: Thank you.
KING: Thank you, sir.
Today Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour told me this weekend's gigantic tornado left one car dealership roof (ph) pushed up like a beer can. We'll go "Wall-to-Wall" to see all the destruction next.
KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight, the devastating tornado that hit Mississippi and Alabama over the weekend. You see some of the devastation here. The video and the aftermath, it is extraordinarily destructive. We can show you a little bit more just on the force of all this and what happened -- 12 fatalities reported so far, 10 of them in Mississippi, two of them in Alabama. Dozens of injuries, hundreds out of their homes.
The rating of the strength of this tornado EF-4, five is the maximum strength, 150-mile path of the tornado, maximum width 1.75 miles. Among those assessing the damage is the Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. In high school he played for the Yazoo City Indians. Yazoo City among the towns hardest hit, the governor was there today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R), MISSISSIPPI: It is the -- the biggest tornado I can ever remember and in terms of across, at times a mile across. Car dealership, windows blown in, roof just twisted up like a beer can. Several hundred people have lost their houses. There are a bunch of people though whose houses are not just uninhabitable, they're unidentifiable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let me show you a map here -- I believe of the tornadoes reported so far in 2010 -- you see those red dots -- those are all tornadoes reported so far this year. Now we'll bring up some severe weather reports throughout the year. This includes wind and hail. We'll watch the rest of the numbers fill in here. These are severe weather incidents across the United States in 2010 so far. You see them swept up.
The red dots of course the tornadoes, blue is red -- is wind, excuse me, large hail storms are the gold dots. Now I want to take you over to the magic wall to take you through the path of this particular tornado that caused so much destruction. And you see the map through here -- let me walk across -- excuse me -- we'll fly you in to show you where the damage is. As we come on in, you come right into central Mississippi here.
You see the path of the storm going this way. First we want to show you is a bit of the video of this as it played out -- play this through. As you see this -- you'll see a windshield wiper going by. But you just see the power lines bending. You see some debris in the air.
It is hard to see of course in the graininess, but you can see destructive debris flying as this goes through and as we watch this out and come through, take you some of the photos as well. This is up in Durant (ph), tree just uprooted (INAUDIBLE) power of the storm bringing that over there. Come down closer here in Yazoo City, you see some of the destruction, the homes, the houses just ripped off, devastated, houses.
Governor Barbour told me hundreds of people without their homes tonight. Another one there -- the storm just taking the roof right off. And as you follow the path of the storm this way, two of the fatalities, 12 total, 10 in Mississippi, two in Alabama, and if you watch this, you'll see again some dramatic video. Watch the debris flying.
Again it's grainy footage. This sent in to iReport from storm chases. See as the wind blows up, debris just flying in the air. Remarkable destruction for a storm. When I spoke to the governor today, he said he grew up with tornadoes, never has he seen anything like this at all. Said the best news is relief efforts are there, people are volunteering. They believe they'll get federal disaster assistance, but we'll continue to track this destructive storm over the next coming days.
In a minute I'll go "One-on-One" with Senator Joe Lieberman. His work on a bipartisan energy and climate bill may be the latest victim of Washington's toxic political climate.
ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".
KING: In a town where everything is split by the Democrat/Republican divide, Joe Lieberman stands out. Officially he's an Independent. Technically he sides with Senate Democrats, but he's been quietly working with both parties on energy and climate change issues of vital important to everyone and Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is here to go "One-on-One".
Thanks for coming in. A simple question at the beginning -- what happened? Lindsey Graham, your Republican partner on this energy and climate bill, he says they had a promise from the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that after financial reform, you would move immediately to this piece of legislation you've been working on. Is he telling the truth?
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Yes, that's a simple question. On what happened it's not so simple an answer, but --
KING: Did Leader Reid make that promise after financial reform he'd move to climate change? LIEBERMAN: You know as recently as Thursday when the three of us (INAUDIBLE) Lindsey Graham and I met with Harry Reid, he said that he would take up the energy climate change bill as soon as we were ready. And he was still saying to people that could be during this work period before Memorial Day. Then there were leaks out of his staff that said no, it's not coming up and it may not come up at all.
And -- but Lindsey was really upset about another promise he thought he had, which was an immigration reform on which he is also the only Republican out front, would not come up this year. And he believes that the decision to bring it up is political.
KING: So then what happened? If you had this clear path on your bill, you had a Republican who was out there working the business community, you had the best coalition you've ever had on this issue.
KING: The House has already passed legislation --
KING: -- so you would have something to try to compromise with if you could get it through, why confuse things? Why not move to that and then if Leader Reid wanted to bring up immigration. They did that for a reason. You called them leaks from his staff. For some reason they decided to say maybe we'll do immigration first.
KING: Or we're going to do immigration. Why did that happen? Lindsey Graham says he thinks it's just partisan politics. Harry Reid is in trouble back home and needs to appeal to his Latino base.
LIEBERMAN: Well I don't know why it happened, but I don't think -- I don't think it was right. In other words, what John Kerry and I and others -- and I hope the White House will get involved in this -- have to do in the next few days is to come to a meeting of -- to bring about a meeting of minds between two people, Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham so Lindsey feels a separation from immigration reform, which will enable him to come back and be where he wants to be for this energy independence climate change bill.
KING: You know how -- you know how to do the math though. Do you think there is any chance, any chance in this tough election year of passing immigration reform?
LIEBERMAN: I happen to be for immigration reform.
KING: That's a separate question.
LIEBERMAN: But yes, I want to say that as a precondition to saying that I am therefore disappointed to tell you that I don't see a reasonable prospect of passing immigration reform this year.
And I think that one of the reasons for it is that the only republican who's come forward to say her work with democrats and immigration reform -- Lindsey Graham -- says, "I won't do it this year."
Also, there's not unanimous support on the democratic side.
KING: A lot of democrats don't want to take that tough vote in this election year. But if there's not unanimous support on the democratic side, and you know just raising the issue right now is going to cost you your only republican on another important issue -- this energy and climate-change bill -- why do it now?
The president is suddenly talking more about it. Leader Reid is suddenly pushing it more. And many do come to the conclusion, Senator, that they're looking at base politics. They need Latino voters to come out in the mid-term elections. Is that all this is about?
LIEBERMAN: I sure hope not.
I don't know what they're looking at, because I haven't been part of the inside deliberations on immigration reform. But I do know that Lindsey Graham is with us on energy independence, climate-change legislation.
I do know that we've got the kind of support from the businesses that will have to change as a result of our bill that we haven't had before, and that that can bring us both moderate democrats and some republicans.
In other words, I know that we can pass this energy-climate legislation this year. So to me, that's what we really ought to focus on. That ought to be first.
KING: Let me ask you to step back from the emotions of that particular debate at the moment. And the immigration debate. Where are we in town?
Everything is left-right. Republicans will vote "no," on the financial-reform bill today. And they say then they'll go negotiate.
Healthcare was left-right. We now see this playing out in the mid-term election year. And there are a lot of democrats who quietly say, "We don't want any more tough votes. We just want to go home and do our best at what is going to be..." and even you have said is going to be, "...a very tough year."
KING: For the Democratic Party.
What's the climate in town right now? It's not very pretty.
LIEBERMAN: The climate's bad. And what's worse -- and more important -- is the climate of attitude toward government out across America is terrible. Because they see people in Washington playing partisan political games that seem to be mostly related to the next election. Instead of to their lives in the next generation or the next period of history.
It's really bizarre and it's been going on for years, here, now. But it just seems to get worse. Both parties never stop campaigning. Party loyalty is put ahead of the national interests -- what's good for the public. For the people that are good enough to send us here.
And the net effect of that is that the American people have a lower opinion, less trust in their government, than any time in my adult life. And that is bad!
We've got big problems that we can always solve if we work together. And we're not doing that now!
KING: So then give some advice to the governor of Florida. You know him well. Charlie Crist. He's republican, but you know him from the McCain campaign.
KING: He's in a very tough primary right now. You lost a primary, and you decided to run as an independent. And you won reelection to the United States Senate. Charlie Crist faces that decision this week as to whether to file to run essentially as an independent. They call it something a little different in Florida.
If you were him, would you drop out of the republican primary and do that? Can you tell him, "You know what? It can be done."
LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm not going to offer republican ways to Charlie Crist. Because every campaign -- every individual -- is a different situation.
But I'll say this.
When I lost the democratic primary for reelection in 2006 in Connecticut, it was the most painful moment -- most disappointing moment -- of the my political career. Yet as I look back to it, and it sure didn't feel like that then, I feel like I was done a favor.
If I wanted to continue to serve and I didn't want to give up as a result of the rejection of the Democratic Party, I had to go forward and run as an independent.
My state laws fortunately allowed me to do that. That's not the case in Florida.
So being elected as an independent, God bless the people of Connecticut, I think put me in exactly the position I want to be in at this hyper-partisan, non-productive, divisive time in our politics. And it gives me the latitude to try to be a bridge on a lot of different issues, to make things happen.
Or sometimes not to be a bridge! Just to speak out and say what I believe. Whether it makes everybody on one party or another happy or not.
KING: Senator Joe Lieberman, thanks for coming in.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, John.
KING: And if you're one of the 13 million volunteers who signed up with Barack Obama in 2008, today's most-important person you don't know has your name on his e-mail list. Find out who he is and why, next.
KING: If you lean left politically, this way, most of you might be getting emails from today's most important person you don't know. Mitch Stewart runs Organizing for America which is folded inside the Democratic National Committee and inherited the Obama campaign's now legendary list of 13 million names. Stewart wants to motivate all of you for this year's election, an uphill battle at best for the Democrats. He's no stranger to political organizing. Stewart helped Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota withstand the Republican tide back in 2002. In 2008 he helped turn Iowa and Virginia Obama blue. Not bad for a South Dakota boy whose dad was a sociology professor and his mom taught fifth grade.
I want to bring our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash back into the conversation. We all get the OFA e-mails, too, because we're trying to track them. One of the steps they've taken in recent days is a personal video appeal from the president himself. And listen who the president is trying to motivate saying, you were with me in 2008, don't sit out 2010.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African American, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.
KING: So when you run into the vulnerable Democrats on Capitol Hill, do they think this operation has their back? Do they want the president so invested?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They'll take anything that they can get. Historically last year especially when some of the vulnerable Democrats who were conservatives were considering whether to vote for health care, this group, the president's group really smacked them and it caused some bad blood. But my question is right now given the fact that Democrats don't seem to be very motivated, when they get those e-mails, will they think has he closed Guantanamo Bay? No, has he brought troops back from Afghanistan? No. They're going to hit delete on that e-mail instead of going out to work for him.
KING: That is the great question whether Democrats who are mad about some issues still rally to the bigger party cause or whether they stay home? It could make a huge difference. Let's use just one example, Latino voters. The president mentioned them in that video you just heard. If you go back to 2006 remember this number, 69% of Latino voters cast their ballots for Democrats in the 2006 congressional elections. In 2008, move the number up, 68% voted for the Democrats. But look at our polling now as to how Latino voters plan to vote in this year's Congressional elections right now, 56%, 12, 13 points down from 2006 and 2008. If those numbers hold firm, that will cost the Democrats some house seats and maybe a Senate seat come November.
BASH: You wonder why the Democrats are suddenly talking about moving immigration reform. It is not an accident. They see these numbers. They realize that Latino voters who did put a lot of stock in Democrats and it's a very important thing for them say what have you done for us? They're angry and they know it.
KING: They want something. We'll watch how that plays out.
Coming up, among the items on my radar today, violent video games shooting their way to the supreme court.
KING: This is the part of the show where we bring in smart political players to talk about stories of our radar. Here tonight, Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher and Republican strategist Kevin Madden. Here's one just in on my radar. Our Congressional producer Ted Barrett tells CNN that Democrats plan the next cloture vote, that's what they call it in the Senate, on financial reform. Remember at the top of the show they lost today. They didn't have the votes to start the debate on financial reform. Instead of waiting for the negotiations to play out Kevin and Cornell, the Democrats want to have another vote. They think even in losing there's political victory. Make sense?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: If it looks like the Republicans are just showing opposition to reform, yes, but I think that clearly what you've seen is that there's a persuadable electorate out there that Washington doesn't have all the answers here, that Democrats don't have all the answers, and that in order to get a bill that's really going to work, they have to come to the table and have a bipartisan bill. If anything, this is another step in the process towards a deal.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Republicans are looking like they're blocking reform here. Look, there's no one group that Americans are more angry at right now than Wall Street. Right now looks like Republicans are on the side of Wall Street. As a political play, we got to love it. Because you block reform, block reform, block reform when Americans are angry at Wall Street.
MADDEN: By a hair. They're almost as angry at Washington. So they don't trust Washington to fix this.
KING: I've covered Michigan's Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm for many years. Never been shy. Check this out. I call this a video resume for a job opening on the U.S. Supreme Court.
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: I'm from the most challenged state in the country, and, you know, for somebody to experience and see what everyday people are feeling and experiencing out there, I think is an important thing to consider. KING: To be fair, she also mentioned homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, also a former governor. Governor Granholm, her term is almost up. She's term limited. She can't run again. I'm not sure she'd want to run in the political climate in Michigan right. She's actually saying, look at me, Mr. President.
BE;CJER" She's a strong candidate. She's on the short list along with some other people on the short list. What the president said is you want someone beyond that realm of the courts. That could bring real world common sense to it. She understands the struggles of real world. I think she'd be great on the Supreme Court.
MADDEN: You're right. I think it sounds like a plea. Every time a Supreme Court nomination or vacancy comes up, we do this. We start talking about people who I think will never get nominated. It's a great conversation. It's something usually had here in Washington, D.C., and only in Washington, D.C., but ultimately --
KING: You're suggesting we're disconnected from reality.
MADDEN: Just a touch. But this time around if you look at the short list, he really does have people on the short list that are not your typical run of the mill folks.
KING: This sounds like a believe it when I see it environment here. Here's another one. This one is actually quite interesting, especially for the parents. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether California can ban the sale of violent video games to children. Rather to speculate on Justice Scalia or Sotomayor facing off on Grand Theft Auto, we decided to ask Erin Kotecki Vest of Blog Her, the largest women's blogging network, for her take.
ERIN KOTECKI VEST, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, BLOGHER, INC.: My issue as a parent and as a mom blogger, it's the things that I can't control. I can't control when we're watching an NFL, NHL, NBA game in the middle of the Sunday when one of these video games customers come on. I have to dive for the remote because I don't want my 5 and 7- year-old seeing it.
KING: So her take is she doesn't need the courts, she'll decide what her kids will rent or buy. But what do you think about this case? It's a big privacy ban.
MADDEN: That's exactly right. You have nine members of the Supreme Court. 435 members of the Congress, 100 senators. None can do what I do in my house, which is police my children. I'm more powerful than all of them put together. All the laws and regulations in world aren't going to be able to stop what one parent can do.
BELCHER: It's hard to disagree with that. It should be parental responsibility. It starts with that but at the same time should we be able to ban some of this stuff that we know is toxic and hurting the kids? Shouldn't government have a role in saying, hey, you know what? That's out of line. We're going to help parents here. Not everyone is a great parent. KING: Just go to the garage and maybe throw the circuit breaker. You guys hang out right here. We'd like to get your take on this issue as well. We're giving you all week to make your case. Is it a good idea to ban the sale of violent video games to children? Record your opinion and post it at CNN.com/JKUSA. We'll play the best videos on Friday and the winners get a guaranteed, nonviolent friendly and durable JKUSA T-shirt.
Next in the play by play, President Obama continues a tradition and visits the Reverend Billy Graham.
KING: We're back with the "play-by-play." Just like in the big sports shows, we break down the action, break down the tape. Sometimes we take another look at the key plays. Still with us here, Kevin Madden and Cornell Belcher. One of the big issues, we showed some polling numbers earlier, Latino voters have turned away a bit from the Democratic Party, in part because they say hey Mr. President, you promised us you would deal with immigration reform very early on. I want to take you back to the campaign. Listen to the president, candidate Obama, not make this promise not once, not twice, but more.
OBAMA: I'm tired of seeing immigration used as a political football.
We have to stop using this as a political football. And instead actually solve the problem.
But this requires us not to use this as a political football.
I'm tired of people using this as a political football.
KING: He's consistent if nothing else in saying political football. There are some, even some Democrats mumbling now we don't have the votes for this. There are no Republicans to join us on this. And they see the president or maybe more pointedly Leader Reid bringing up as a political football to try to check a box saying we tried.
BELCHER: Look, I know it's crazy in this town for someone to follow-through on a campaign promise, but that's what he's doing. When he campaigned on the idea that I'm going to take on the big fights. I'm going to stop kicking the can down the road and take on the big fights, that's what change is all about. We talked about immigration for a long time. The president's taking it on. We may not have the votes now, but it's a fight worth taking on. He's not going to keep kicking the can down the road. It takes leadership and that's what he's doing.
MADDEN: To use the football analogy a little bit more, I think both parties are going to see the best punters on this one. It's going to go back and forth and back and forth. If you're one of the Democrats that sits in one of the majority seats -- I'm sorry, sits in one of the seats that McCain won, you are very worried that this is going to, you know, alienate your base. The way the Democrats and the Republicans start to fight over it. I think Republicans are also worried that we're going to, you know, we may scare off the independents with the way we talk about the immigration issue. I think it's important not to look at Latinos as just one monolithic block. I think one of the reasons that they got away from the Democrats and the president is because of economic issues, spending in Washington. A lot of the other economic issues that they care about.
KING: Let's have the voice of the Arizona governor to the debate. Republican Governor Jan Brewer just signed that controversial law that gives police some new powers. It allows them to say, hey, can you prove you're in the country if they have reasonable suspicion, can you prove you're in the country legally. She says she signed that law only because she has been writing President Obama and writing Washington for months and not getting a good answer.
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: The last year and a half with my five letters that I have sent and have spoken to the president personally in regards to that has been met with complete, total disrespect to the people of Arizona.
KING: Let us stop that there. We get her point. She says Washington is not helping. She is also in a tough Republican primary. Let's not let her, you know, say this is all about Washington. She has politics at home as well. But how much? Washington was going to have this conversation anyway. How much does the Arizona law and the conversation about that change the debate here?
MADDEN: You know, I think you're right on first part which is that when all else fails, blame Washington. What happens is if immigration was as easy as a lot of people make it out to be, it would have been solved already. It's not. It's a very complex issue. When the complexities get distilled down to the basics, it becomes about what I disagree about with you. That's why and often times it poisons the debate.
KING: Let me call time-out on this particular issue because I want to get to something. The president met with the Reverend Billy Graham on Sunday over the weekend. I want to bring up the photo so everybody can see it. You see him right there. Reverend Graham is clearly getting up in age. The president meets with him. Now let's go back in time a little bit. You can see George W. Bush meeting there with Billy Graham and also Bill Clinton we can show you meeting with Billy Graham. We show you these three, 12 U.S. presidents dating back to Harry Truman met to the pastor to the presidents as you call him. How important a cultural figure?
BELCHER: He is an awfully important cultural figure and one I think we're going to miss as time goes on. And it hasn't been a partisan thing. You go there and you pay homage. You listen to what he has to say.
MADDEN: More importantly, he is also a unifier. There are people from all ideological divides that can, you know, when we look to our faith we look to its history as a big part of how we became a country. I think a lot of people afford that certain level of respect. KING: We could use a unifying figure at the moment.
BELCHER: You're right.
KING: Cornell Belcher, Kevin Madden, thanks so much.
Next, we go out with Pete on the street. He is looking at just how Arizona's tough new immigration law is playing in the ultimate melting pot, New York City
KING: We spend a lot of time here in Washington talking about politics of the policy of immigration. We wanted to send our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick on the street to find out what people in New York City think. Hey, Pete.
PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey, John. Obviously this law in Arizona is really controversial. One thing that isn't controversial is that our nation, the United States of America, is a nation of immigrants. I went on the street to prove that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother is half black, half Jamaican. My father is half Puerto Rican and half black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm like 40 percent Polish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Korean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: South America, Columbia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Czechoslovakia and Poland.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I ask my grandmother all the time but she always tells me she's African American and that's it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grandfather is originally from Panama.
DOMINICK: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My grandmother is American Indian.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Italian and Irish.
DOMINICK: You're Italian and Irish. Where did your parents meet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They met in New Jersey in Hackensack, New Jersey.
DOMINICK: Of course they did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure.
DOMINICK: You're not sure what you are. This woman has no idea. What's your favorite foreign food, ethnic food if you had to go anywhere?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kielbasi. Perogis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rice and beans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oxtail and curry chicken.
DOMINICK: You eat oxtail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicken rice. It's cooked together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jerk chicken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicken curry.
DOMINICK: Everything chicken. Everybody eats chicken everywhere in the world. How many languages do you speak?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have my own language, French, English, and I try some Spanish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We speak Vietnamese at home.
DOMINICK: Your daughter is saying do you not. What about sports? I would imagine you're a big soccer or futbol fan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, actually, I don't play since I left school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sports, cricket.
DOMINICK: Cricket. Enough with this cricket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the only game where they stop for tea.
DOMINICK: They stop for tea?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baseball. I like the Mets.
DOMINICK: A Mets fan?
DOMINICK: Yeah. I can't deal with a Mets fan. But that must have been like 20 nations.
KING: It was many nations. I can't wait to drive into Hackensack next time and see the sign, welcome to Hackensack where the Italians and the Irish meet and get married. You walked away from the Mets fan. I have to pay tribute. I have to pay tribute. This studio is part of Red Sox nation. Today at the white house, your team got its due. Two the victors go the spoils. We'll show it right here. The president of the United States, Joe Girardi, Yankees won, hopefully not next year.
That's all for us. Campbell Brown starts right now.