Return to Transcripts main page


Paycheck Politics; Gulf Oil Spill

Aired April 30, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf. We begin with breaking news tonight on the gulf oil spill. The defense secretary, Robert Gates, is mobilizing 6,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard at the request of Governor Bobby Jindal. A Pentagon spokesman tells CNN that Secretary Gates is expecting similar requests from other gulf state governors and is likely to approve them -- more on the spill and its environmental impact in just a bit.

But first tonight, why would Friday be any different? Another big day in what will be remembered as a defining week in this combustible midterm election year. The top Republican in the House said something that is just stunning, suggesting today as many as 100 House seats are in play this year -- that hype or reality? We'll take a close look.

The president also was talking numbers, in the Rose Garden, any president's stage of choice on such a perfect spring day here in Washington. The economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter. Not eye-popping but still dramatic when you remember a year ago it was shrinking and losing 650,000 jobs a month on average. Yet the president was careful, extremely careful because he knows a rising Dow and better statistics from Washington don't buy dinner for the millions of Americans still unemployed and likely to remain that way for months and months.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're still trying to recover from a shockwave of lost homes, lost businesses, and more than eight million lost jobs. It's a tragedy that has families and communities across America too often feeling like they're on life support.


KING: Eight times out of 10, maybe nine times out of 10, the economy drives our politics and what people think is often more important than what the numbers say. And what they think at the moment, nine in 10 Americans rate the state of the economy as fair or poor is troubling news for the president and his Democratic Party, so we will begin there with paycheck politics as we close out a remarkable week.

With us here to reflect and to look ahead, Matt Schlapp, a Republican strategist who served as political director in the George W. Bush White House, Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Democrat of Maryland, and Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of "The Hotline" and as good as they come in tracking the big midterm races. Let's begin with the economy and the president's tone today, very careful even though some good news and you would think the administration would want to jump up and down.

But I want to show our viewers just why the president might be cautious. We're in the spring of a midterm election year. Let's go back in time. Let's look at 1994, President Clinton at this point, his approval rating was 48 percent; the first quarter GDP growth, four percent; a little better than what President Obama had to say today. Unemployment 6.5 percent; President Obama would kill for that.

President Clinton that year lost 52 House seats and eight Senate seats. Let's look at President Bush -- Matt, you were there in 2006 -- his approval rating 32 percent; a low number at this point; GDP was growing at 5.4 percent, a good number. Unemployment rate was only 4.7 percent. And yet President Bush still lost 30 House seats and six Senate seats. And let's look again at where we are right now with President Obama.

His approval rating is a bit higher than both of his predecessor, 51 percent, but GDP growth more anemic at 3.2 percent; unemployment much higher 9.7 percent. So we have those question marks, what will happen in November when it comes to the House and when it comes to the Senate -- those question marks and this dramatic prediction today from the House Republican leader, John Boehner.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: And what we're seeing every day is the playing field widened, widened beyond anything we've seen around here during my 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How wide is the playing field now, as far as you're concerned?

BOEHNER: At least 100 seats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think there are 100 seats in the United States that could change hands --



KING: Hundred seats. Congresswoman Edwards, are you ready to make 100 new Republican friends come next January?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well I think that the minority leader is doing a little wishful thinking there. I think if you can look -- if you look at the economy even now I think the president has reason to be cautious and optimistic at the same time because the economy is improving. I think you can hardly predict what's happening in April or May and tell me what's going to go on in November. And I see obviously you know this is going to be a volatile election. I think nobody denies that, but 100 seats that's a little bit exaggerated.

KING: So Matt, you sat in the White House and you track these things. You track the economic numbers. You watch what's happening out there in the terrain, 100 seats probably a little high, you think --


MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Look, when we were there, about 40, 45 seats were being tracked, and there's no question that there's, you know, at least 60 or so seats that are -- that people are watching closely. And I think the real difference is that President Obama looms very large over this election and you had 51 percent, the Gallup had him at little over 48 percent, if he's under the 50 percent mark going into this midterm election, you look at president Clinton right before that midterm election, was right above 50, and he still got a washout in the House and Senate, it's going to be a very rough night for Democrats in the midterm.

KING: This is what you do, Amy. You count these races every day. And is Boehner looking to raise money, trying to tell Republican donors hey look, I need more help. I've got 100 seats or is that anywhere in the ballpark?

AMY WALTER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HOTLINE: I agree with Matt that it is probably somewhere in the 60-seat range. And you know the thing with a midterm wave election like this is shaping up to be is there are 100 seats that you could say are in the realm of possibility, there are going to be surprises that nobody picked. That certainly happened in 2006, happened in 1994. The big difference in this year though you put up the unemployment rate and the approval ratings, which are very important, we've never had an unemployment rate sustained for this long with a president going into midterm election.

So we're in uncharted territory, which is quite amazing for where President Obama's approval rating is, if you go back to the last time we had unemployment rate this high going into midterm, Ronald Reagan, of course, 1982. His approval rating hit under 50 percent, the year before and it stayed under 50 for a long time, so the fact that this president with a 9.7 percent unemployment still at 50, is impressive. The problem, no offense, is Congress is where people are taking the brunt of their anger out, so their approval ratings real, real trouble.

KING: And so we'll watch the president's approval rating, the congressional approval rating, the unemployment rate. And we'll all also watching one of the most dramatic races that we had big developments in this week is in the state of Florida. Charlie Crist, a Republican governor, very popular, not all that long ago, has to leave his party and run nonparty affiliated because of a challenge from conservatives. I want to begin with just listening to Charlie Crist this morning as he tries to stake out the middle and he doesn't have a party to help him. Listen to his tone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: Because it's time to listen to the people. Just go to the people. Abraham Lincoln said it best. We need to have a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. It frustrates the people more than anybody.

What I'm doing is going to the people -- only a certain segment of the people have the opportunity to make this decision and this choice. This is going right to the people. This is making sure that all of the people have the opportunity and it's all in the people --


CRIST: This is an embracing of all of the people. As I said before, this is supposed to be about the people. Let all of the people make this decision.


KING: All right, people what do we make of this? (INAUDIBLE) 14 times in a three-minute interview Charlie Crist says "for the people". You went down there, Matt, with President Bush in 2006 when he was running for governor to Pensacola and Charlie Crist wouldn't appear with you because he thought you were too politically risky at the time.

SCHLAPP: I'd like to let Governor Crist know that Republicans are people, too, and it is a very strange thing. What you're seeing across the country, and I think Amy will agree, is that conservative Republican candidates really have the upper hand in these primaries all across the country, even in states where we didn't necessarily think it would be so tight. And so you have a situation in Florida where Charlie Crist went from the for sure presumptive nominee to a person who would not even stand a chance to winning the nomination.

KING: So let's look at this. Here's what we thought the race looked like last night. Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, the conservative Republican, Kendrick Meek, one of your colleagues in the Congress, Congresswoman Edwards. That's what we thought last night. Democrat, nonparty affiliated, Republican. But this morning, a guy named billionaire Jeff Greene throws us a wild card. Jeff Greene says he is going to run now in the Democratic primary.

Who is he? He's a billionaire investor. He ran for Congress in California once as a Republican. His net worth is 1.4 billion and he has some interesting friends. Mike Tyson was the best man at his wedding and Heidi Fleiss, many of you know her name -- I won't tell you why -- was once a houseguest of his. Congresswoman, do you worry about this now? You have a rich man getting into the Democratic primary, will force Kendrick Meek to spend money on a Democratic primary and many people see this -- they thought OK, if you're going to run like Ross Perot, as a rich guy, why not run as an independent?

A lot of people see this as cynical, but smart. Kendrick Meek an African-American, not well-known outside of his base area, much of the state to the north especially when you get up into the rural panhandle areas, white voters. Is that what you see happening here?

EDWARDS: Well what I do see is a Kendrick Meek who still enjoys a strong support of most of the Democratic infrastructure and I think despite what Charlie Crist says you actually do need a little bit of an infrastructure in order to run a race. You know, number one, I think Americans aren't going to be hoodwinked especially in Florida around this.

I mean one of the problems that you know our new entrant has is his connection to the subprime mortgage situation. And I just don't think that you get over that hurdle in a state like Florida that has suffered so terribly out of this mortgage crisis.

KING: Is he real?

WALTER: We had that as our quote today in "The Hotline", which was one of my favorite maybe of the year, where in announcing his candidacy he says, you know had I known that the subprime market was going to collapse and I would make millions and millions of dollars, I mean I was just as surprised as anybody. So I don't know that's kind of the campaign theme you really want to run on this year. Like I don't know, I just got lucky. The market tanked and I made millions.


KING: A rich guy running in the Democratic primary perhaps force the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to get involved, spend some money there that they want to have in the hopper for October, November.

WALTER: Right. I mean the good news for Meek is that he's been able to hold on to all of his money, he hasn't had to spend a dime. He has $3 million in the bank. Let's see how serious this Jeff Green guy is about putting his money up there. The DSCC, the Democratic Committee has a very interesting dilemma though.

They've been spending a lot of time beating up the Republican committee for getting involved in these primaries, backing Crist in the beginning, backing a whole lot of others and quite frankly, Meek came in, he interviewed with us this week and he said you know I'm proud about the fact that nobody came to recruit me. So he wants to run, position himself as the outsider. I don't know if he'll --

KING: Quick timeout -- when we come back we'll talk about President Obama's road map for the campaign year and the dicey politics of immigration, but a quick look first behind the numbers. Today's 159-point loss means the Dow industrial's eight-week winning streak is over. The average ends the week lower than it started. One reason for the sell-off Standard & Poor's downgraded Goldman Sachs stock to sell because of reports Goldman is now the target of a criminal investigation.


KING: We're back with Matt Schlapp, Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Amy Walter from "The Hotline". Let's get straight to another thing we learned this week, which was a bit of a glimpse at the Democratic strategy. They know the wind is in their face, it's going to be a tough year. So Barack Obama used his e-mail lists from the campaign to 13 million people, he sent out a video and it was crystal clear from the president's message what he thinks is the biggest challenge at the moment, perhaps a bit of a problem for the Democrats in terms of ginning up the vote. Let's listen.


OBAMA: It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women, who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.


KING: Now, some conservatives spliced that and criticized. (INAUDIBLE) Erick Erickson,, a controversial conservative was here on the program the other night. He said what was the president's message? White men need not apply -- talking about women, Latinos, African-Americans.

EDWARDS: Well I think the Democratic Party understands where its base is. We build from our base and you know get a nice representative sample of the American people. And I think understanding your base is really important to turning it out. And it's really important for the president to be out there all across the country getting those enthusiastic voters who may have voted for the first time in the last election to come out in this midterm.

KING: What else is going on in this climate? Because we just talked about the Florida race where Charlie Crist, a once popular Republican governor is (INAUDIBLE) has to leave. Out in Utah, Bob Bennett, a Republican senator, a member of the establishment, being challenged by a lot of the same forces -- I want to play a little bit of a Bob Bennett (INAUDIBLE) ad just to show -- here's a Republican senator who has to go on the air. He is in danger of losing the Republican nomination in his own state. Let's play just a little bit.


SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R), UTAH: A lot of folks have asked me, who is this Club for Growth? And why are they attacking you --


KING: Let's just stop it right --


KING: Club for Growth is a conservative Republican organization that is going after a lot of Republican incumbents that they think aren't conservative enough. Is that a healthy thing for the party?

SCHLAPP: Look, free and open debates are always healthy for the party. Everyone has a right to participate. I applaud the president for trying to get everybody to participate in the political process. Of course I'd like my side to you know participate a little bit more and have some more successes, but senators like Senator Bennett have to be able to go to the electorate of 2010 and explain why their Washington experience is going to accrue to a voter's benefit. Right now they're a little cynical about that.

KING: Congresswoman, you yourself challenged an incumbent. You lost the first time, came back and got him the second time with the help of, which is to the left what Club for Growth is one of the forces on the right. Is this just a healthy part of democracy or when you see these challenges, do you see something worse out there?

EDWARDS: I think sometimes it is. I think it's a rarity. But you know the fact of the matter is I wouldn't want to be in the Republican party right now and especially as a moderate or you know these days it's actually tough to know even what a centrist is in that party because it's so fractured that it's really ginning up I think a lot of these challenges -- inter-party challenges. The Democrats don't face the same thing and so even my race was a little bit of an oddity.

KING: One of the things that some conservatives don't like about Senator Bennett is that he stood with President Bush and John McCain back in that day on immigration policy and that issue is now back before us again. The president says he wants the Congress to do something, although he says he's not sure there's an appetite. Leader Reid, who has the Latino population back home in Nevada that wants him to do this yesterday, says he will bring it to the floor. And one guy who injected his voice in this debate, his position hasn't changed but he thinks Congress has been cowardly, is the California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was on "The Tonight" show last night. Let's listen.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: The last six years since I've been in office they have been talking about it and every single time they say, what is this election year? We can't get it done. Hello -- every two years there's election year, so (INAUDIBLE) in the history of the United States.




KING: Before we get to Congresswoman Edwards who I think wants to get this done, Democrats to the right of her, a lot of them, don't want to touch this, right?

WALTER: We talked a lot about ginning up the base which is important in a midterm election year. But and Matt knows this quite well, you can't win if you're losing Independents 2-1, which is what's happening right now with Democrats. So they have to have this fine balance of, yes, you want to get that coalition that helped to elect President Obama, that the traditional Democratic base out and it energized by doing those sorts of things that energize liberal voters but at the same time if you're losing Independents you cannot win.


KING: So should the Democrats wait until after the election on this one?

EDWARDS: Well our Democrats and especially in the House have taken some really tough votes and have actually led on those tough votes throughout the Congress --


KING: Is it time to give them a break?


EDWARDS: What I will say though is really it's important for the Senate to lead and it's important for the president to lead, and they have to set the agenda from this point forward. I mean we've taken every tough vote over in the House and some of our Democrats who are actually in you know the most vulnerable districts have done that and they've done really well. And I think that they have a great message to go back to their district and sell not only to their base but also to Independents.

KING: We're short of time. Do you see any prayer of this happening this year?

SCHLAPP: No there's not the votes in the Senate and if the congresswoman is ready for the Senate to lead, she's going to wait a good long time. That's not what they do well.

KING: Matt Schlapp, Congresswoman Edwards, Amy, thanks so much. Tonight an environmental disaster is creeping closer to the gulf coast -- oil in the water. And as the waves turn to spray, oil in the air. Next, I'll go "Wall-to-Wall" to show you which areas are in the most danger.


KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight an update on that horrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, now threatening the coast of Louisiana, Alabama, other coastal areas as well. Let's take a look. This is a still photograph up close of what it looks like, the murky, oily waters there. It's horrible as you see the water discolored. Now let's take a look at what it looks like from the stars, this is the GOI (ph) satellite image -- these orange streaks from space, that's oil.

That's part of the slick and this is video images from above the slick today. These orange things here, booms trying to contain some of the oil as it makes its way toward the shore. The Obama administration sent a team down there today. Among them, the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, who made clear that in his view, BP, British Petroleum which owned that rig that exploded, should be held accountable for every cost of this operation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot rest and we will not rest until BP permanently seals the well head and until they clean up every drop of oil.


KING: So the assessments of how bad have changed throughout the week. Let's walk over to the magic wall and take a closer look as we do. And you see these images of the Gulf Coast here. What I want to do is show you this. Here's what the slick looked like on Thursday. Let me pop this up, you get it right in -- all right. Let's see -- there we go. Come on in.

This is the slick on Thursday. The darker areas in the middle is the heavier concentration of oil. The orange liner on the outside, when they burn some of this off, when they flame it, you get tar balls and they tend to go out to the outside perimeter -- remember that's Thursday. Here's where we are today -- I'll take this one off. Here's where we are today and you see landfall here right close to the shore here, getting closer and closer still some heavy concentrations in this thick area here.

Now we'll come off again here and go -- this is the projection for Saturday as we come on in and you see here, it's a little less thick in the center areas there. But you're endangering some areas here, some incredibly sensitive areas that have already been battered by Katrina, by Rita, now oil slicks coming in, marine life in here, some coastal wildlife refuge in here, all under threat.

I do want to give you one piece of context. This would be the area if we closed this down. Now the Exxon Valdez was in Alaska. But this was -- this would be the size of the slick of the Exxon Valdez that hit the coast of Alaska. Remember that as we take you to this projection of what the size of this will be on Saturday, so at the moment, still smaller in scope. But remember, the oil is still coming up from that well.

They haven't been able to shut it off yet. The environmental impact still to be determined as more and more of the oil comes out. And that's a point we want to make. The original estimates, the early estimates from the Deepwater Horizon, 9,000 barrels they said, would spill in. That in the context of the Valdez is a very small -- small account -- still bad -- but nowhere near the scope. But now look at this.

This is where they have now changed the estimate to 45,000 barrels, much still smaller than the Exxon, but a good slice and remember 200,000 gallons a day still coming out. They've been unable to shut it down. So we'll watch how this pie chart fills in the days ahead and as the investigation continues one of the questions is BP's environmental and safety record. Back in 2009 the company paid a record OSHA fine, Occupational Safety and Health Administration $87 million, four times the previous record. And many will remember in 2005 in Texas City, Texas, a BP plant explosion killed 15 people, injured 170. Again, we are in the early stages of the investigation. When we come back next, I'll go "One-on- One" with the EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson. She's from Louisiana. She was there today to look close -- right up at this up close. She knows just how vulnerable that coastline is.


ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".

KING: The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is one of a handful of top Obama administration officials dispatched to get a firsthand look at the Gulf of Mexico spill. It's still spewing more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day. The spill now threatening sensitive coastal areas and some officials are warning of a colossal tragedy to the gulf's marine life.

Jackson joins me now to go "One-on-One". Let me start, Administrator, with this big question everybody has. Is there any short-term hope of stopping the flow, 200,000 gallons a day, any short-term hope of shutting that down?

LISA JACKSON, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Yes -- no, there is still the opportunity and the possibility that they'll be able to shut it down, but of course as responders we have to look at the worst case and keep planning for that.

KING: And do we have any idea why some people say is this just a faulty shut-off valve or as critics of this industry would say, is this proof that these things are not as safe as the proponents say they are?

JACKSON: All we can say right now is that the first fail/safe, the blowout prevention system has not proved to be a fail/safe. It hasn't activated. And until it does we're still going to have concern about leakage from the well. And in fact at this point, BP is looking at other means to try to stop the flow, not knowing whether they'll be able to activate it. We all remain hopeful, but we have to work on worst-case scenario.

KING: Do you have any sense -- we're 10 days in now -- was the administration putting too much trust in BP in the early days, its initial estimates of the oil flow were much smaller than they are now. Was there too much trust put in the company to handle this at the beginning?

JACKSON: I don't think it was ever a question of trust in the company. I think it was a question of respondents (INAUDIBLE) set of facts as we came to understand them. The situation has certainly worsened. It began as a human tragedy. It is now what I think is an environmental challenge of the highest order. And every one of these is different but in response, what you do is use the response plans that have already been developed.

KING: And I want your assessment of just what you saw in terms of the environmental impact. You grew up in New Orleans. You went to Tulane. You know how important those coastal areas are. You know how breathtaking they are and the species, the marine species offshore, the birds and other species and the refuge onshore, how important the marshlands are to protecting that area from the hurricane. What is your sense of the environmental impact here? Is it the colossal disaster that many folks in the community down there are saying?

JACKSON: Well, it certainly has potential to be. I mean, we're talking about a very, very large slick of oil that's moving and is continuing to be fed. What struck me first is that it is a very, very large area which has a sheen and so for us, that means the potential for that sheen to move in the air as well as on the top of the water.

Of course, then there's the larger areas of emulsified oil that are going to start to affect those marshlands. What I can tell you is this, those marsh lands are a way of life, they're culture, they are also a way of making a living for a lot of people down here. And they know them well. And I think part of our challenge, part of what we heard is to make sure we're hearing their ideas about ways that they may be able to protect oyster beds or shrimp hatchery, places that will be vulnerable over time if we can't see an end to this continuing oil release.

KING: And do you have a sense yet, from your perspective at the EPA, is this temporary environmental damage or is there permanent damage to that coastal marshland, to those fisheries to not only the beauty of it but the economic vitality of it?

JACKSON: Well, I think it's way too early to forecast the severity or how long it will last. These marshes are resilient, but they are also fragile and for years now, especially since the hurricane, people have been focused on restoring them. So, this is yet another example of why those marshes are an important buffer, but it makes no sense if we lose them to contamination, after we fight to put them back there.

KING: Should anybody in the United States be worried about the quality of food safety? Are there any questions about that at this point?

JACKSON: One of the things we discussed earlier was the states are looking closely, most of them, their health departments are working as part of a joint response effort to keep a very wary eye. The governor announced that there's some protective closures of oyster beds by the state of Louisiana, already. No, obviously, people are very worried here that people stigmatized before we have any data. And I think the best thing that the nation can do to support all of the folks in the Gulf Coast region is to rely on fact and not suppositions.

KING: And when the president says those responsible will be held accountable in terms of the financial impact of this, does that cover everything, does that cover the efforts to clean up the waters, the effort to deal with the environmental impact, the efforts to deal with the economic impact, meaning are the taxpayers going to be on the hook for any of this or will it be all BP? JACKSON: Well, that's not our intention. I mean, every person who's met with BP, every federal official has made it absolutely clear that under the current laws they are the responsible entity and they are supposed to be out doing everything they can, everything we instruct them to do to stop the spill. But now, as we start to move into environmental response, to deal with damages as well as deal with recovery as well as deal with mitigation. Now, you know, the Coast Guard and the secretary of Homeland Security are working right now to make sure that we can give even further assurances of that.

KING: And you know how the political debate has changed in the last several day. What would you say to those out there who oppose offshore drilling to begin with, oppose the administration's recent announcement to allow an expansion of offshore drilling who on days like this watching a tragedy like this unfold are saying: I told you so?

JACKSON: Listen, you know, those who opposed it were calling to mind days of having to do this in the past and all we can do at this point is every single thing we can for the people who would be the ultimate victims and for the ecosystems down here, which are so beautiful and fragile and valuable, not only for their seafood, but for what they provide in terms of our environmental health. So you know, there will be lots of time to remember, but for people who remember before, every single one is different and we have to -- we have to act and then we'll have time to think about "what if," later.

KING: EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, thanks for your time.

JACKSON: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.

Up next, your chance to make your case. Is it a good idea to ban the sale of violent video games to children?


KING: This is part of the show where we introduce you to the most important person you don't know. Every Friday, that's you. As part of our commitment to bring you into the conversation, we always read our FaceBook postings, tweets, and all the comments sent to our blog. And every Monday we ask a question and we give you all week to make your case by posting a video at our Web site, This week's question, is it a good idea to ban the sale of violent video games to children? Here's sampling of what you told us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Violent video games should be banned because violence breeds violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm against the ban because I believe it should be house directed and I don't believe people should try to run other individuals' homes. KATHI CORDSEN, FULLERTON, CA: Violent video games are out there. There's nothing we can do about it. Banning things in America is just, to me, not American.

RASHAD CARRINGTON, LAUREL, MD: I do think there needs to be a ban on kids around 18, the reason why games are very influential, people don't know the affect they have (INAUDIBLE). If you looked at today's society a lot of the kids are using it as an example.

ASA THIBODAUX, MINNEAPOLIS, MN: I don't know what California's doing. They're about to have an ultraviolent ban. Not an ultraviolent as in the intent of (INAUDIBLE). Not an ultra ban on lame kiddy meal kid but was ultraviolent ban on video games.


KING: That's you making your case. Let's get a little perspective from our guests. Conservative strategist John Feehery, Democratic strategist, Kiki McLean.

In my household, I look at report card. That is my determining factor of whether the Xbox or any other game can be turned on.

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I like the fellow who said it should be house directed. He didn't mean the House of Representatives. He meant mom and dad sort of step up to the plate here, man up, take control of what's going on in your own house. I've got an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old, you know I've have talked to other parents about this and they're in the same place.

KING: You just wait.

MCLEAN: Yeah it gets worse, right?

JOHN FEEHERY, CONSERVATIVE STRATEGIST: My 4-year-old loves to do the Wii Boxing and apparently he's been practicing the Wii Boxing on his little compatriots at school, so his mother has banned the Wii Boxing from Jack and I think that's a good thing for parents to have that ability to ban those video games. That's why you have parents you don't need the government do it.

KING: All righty, let's go through some stories on our radar today and we'll get your perspective, you can help us out. The president's economic adviser is trying to put the current recession into perspective. Forty years ago he says one in 20 were unemployed. Now, one in five.


LARRY SUMMERS, DIR NATL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: And a good guess, based on extrapolating the trends in this area, is that when the economy recovers five years from now, assuming we've returned to normal cyclical conditions, one in six men who are 25 to 54 will not be working at any point in time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Larry Summer there, a little more downbeat. The president was more optimistic today. But the thing that struck me, when the economy recovers in five years.

MCLEAN: Well, he's an academic by nature, he's taking the long view of the thing. I had a conversation with a colleague of mine, Michelle Fisnal (ph) today about where people are in the workplace, how long it's going to take to come back and what are expectations.

I just say, I think at this point, most people are living day-to- day. Maybe sometimes waiting to hear the job numbers for signs, but I don't think anybody's looking for the quick recovery anymore.

KING: Five years.

FEEHERY: Interesting thing of what he said, one in six "men," and that -- the economy has hit men the hardest and really there has to be some sort of plan to put folks who have not been able to get a job and haven't been able to get a job for a long time and find out how they can be productive members of the society.

KING: Here's another very interesting one, particularly because of what's happening in the gulf. Remember, Sarah Palin chanting, "drill, baby, drill" during the 2008 campaign. Well, we've seen a lot of people change their minds about offshore oil, at least saying we need a pause because of this spill in the gulf. Sarah Palin, not really.

In an new FaceBook posting, Governor Palin writes this, "I repeat the slogan here, drill now, 'drill here, drill now,' not out of naivete or disregard for the tragic consequences of the oil spills -- my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. Increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous and peaceful nation." So, she's not backing down at all.

MCLEAN: Well, it's not a matter of backing down, and I do some work in the energy sector, you should know, I do some work on natural gas issues and I'm from south Texas. I've grown up on the Gulf Coast with drilling going on. We need to find out what happened there. But it doesn't take those kinds of fuels off the table. The question is, we have alternative and so the questions that have been being asked about oil and where it is and other fuels like natural gas, like other renewable should still be on the table. One shouldn't stop the discussion about the other.

FEEHERY: If you're living on the coast of Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, you're thinking something different right now, especially off the coast of Florida, that has so much tourist dollars are focused on the coastline. So, you know, this is something Sarah Palin and I think is right for Americans, but if you're on the coast line, it's a different story.

MCLEAN: Well, and don't get me wrong, this is not an issue that I think means we shouldn't worry about it, it wasn't a big deal. It's a really big deal and we don't know how big a deal it is. But it doesn't mean take everything off the table. We need to find out what happened.

KING: One of country's most colorful governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger, says last year -- it's his last year as governor -- he was born in Austria, so he can't run for president. He can't run for president, guys from Boston can, guys from Austria can't. Arnold can't but...


GOV ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I think that you're just asking me this because you know this is painful to me.


SCHWARZENEGGER: Because I'm foreign-born and I can't run for president, is that it?

LENO: That's exactly.


LENO: Exactly.

SCHWARZENEGGER: That's what I like to talk about the...

LENO: Would you like -- would you run if they had changed that law?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Oh, without any doubt there's no two ways about that, yeah...


KING: At least he's honest, he wants to run.

MCLEAN: Well, he says straight out he would. You know, you don't get many people answer that. But, sense he can't, maybe we'll put your FaceBook up and start the call for John King to run since we know you're eligible. How about that?

KING: Not.

FEEHERY: You know, I don't think he'd get re-elected if he ran for governor, so I think it's kind of big thoughts for him. And maybe run for president while -- run doing another movie in Hollywood.

KING: Here's guy who will not run for president of the United States, in part, because he's not eligible, in part because he wouldn't get votes. But, while visiting Bolivia, yesterday, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, marveled at the power of Twitter, he invited some friends to join. Speaking to the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, Chaves said, "The potential Twitter has, it's not capitalist, it's not socialist, it depends on how it is used. I invite Evo and Fidel, Evo are you on Twitter? Let's invite Evo on Twitter." Chavez doing Twitter on Tuesday already has more than 120,000 followers, but he's still far behind the top three international leaders who tweet. That would be President Obama, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and -- you know the third one?

MCLEAN: Is it Sarah Palin?

KING: No. World leaders.

MCLEAN: Oh, the world leaders. Oh.

KING: Queen Rania of Jordan.

MCLEAN: There you go.

KING: Fascinating. Fascinating. You guys going to follow Hugo Chavez.

MCLEAN: Well, here's -- if you think about it, he's the great acquisition director. He acquires privatized industries and makes them state owned. I think he's back there trying to figure out how to take Twitter state owned and have an organizing tool.

FEEHERY: I'm shocked, shocked that he can keep it to 140 characters. That guy goes on for hours and hours. I still don't believe it works with the communist ideology.

KING: All right, everybody stay put. We'll be back. So, Mike Tyson's the best man at your wedding and you bring Heidi Fleiss to a Passover Seder with your mom. That's Florida Senate candidate Jeff Green's circle of friends. Next in play-by-play, we'll hear what he has to say about it.


KING: Hopefully you get the drill by now. "Play-by-Play," like in the sports shows we do a little replay, we break down the tape, we use our extra smart analysts here. Kiki McLean, John Feehery, to set the record straight. Want to begin with this new candidate, last night we get a surprise, the Republican governor's going to run nonparty affiliated. We think we know the three-man race, but then a billionaire decides he's going to run for the Senate as a Democrat. He has some interesting friends, Mike Tyson was the best man at his wedding, Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood madam, how do I say that -- stayed at his house for a Passover Seder and some other times. He explained this -- he did an announcement today on YouTube and he explained a bit about himself.


JEFF GREENE (D), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: They'll attack me for my friends and my past when I was single. Some of it's true, but none of it matters. I didn't live my life looking over my shoulder, worrying who my friends were in case I'd run for office someday.


KING: Well, maybe he should have?

(LAUGHTER) MCLEAN: Might give a new meaning to everybody's welcome in the big tent.

KING: It's your tent. It's a Democrat.

MCLEAN: I understand, it's my tent, that's why I'm talking about the big tent. I mean, I think we'll have to hear what he says. You know, the amazing thing about candidates is that if you go back through history, you have some very, very colorful characters who have gone on to be really, really effective public servants. The question is, let's hear what he has to say in the course of a campaign and see if it all kind of balances it out somewhere.

FEEHERY: Well, he's right, they are going to tag him for all his friends and they're probably going to be successful. I mean, this guy has just decided -- the good news for Republicans is he was going to run in a primary against the Republican congressman -- or not a primary, but up against a Republican house member. Now he is doing it in the Senate. This is actually good for Republicans. But I don't think he is going to win.

KING: All right, so one of the candidates in the race is conservative Marco Rubio, who forced Charlie Crist to abandon the Republican primary because he was going to beat him. So, Charlie Crist decided to run non-party affiliated. Marco Rubio became the darling of the conservative movement. Many of the conservatives like to label President Obama a socialist. So, he was on "Nightline" last night, Marco Rubio, and the question was put to him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?

MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I think he has a much healthier -- I should say a much more enthusiastic belief in government's ability to generate economic growth than I do, and that most of us do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he is not a socialist?

RUBIO: Well, let me tell you what he is. He is not a believer in the free enterprise system.


MCLEAN: You know, he is on Twitter, so I don't know. Maybe with Chavez being on Twitter, maybe there is a socialist connection there. But you know, grow up. Answer the question. You know, if you're too chicken in your own primary to answer a question, although he doesn't have a primary as of today, in his own base of supporters he won't answer the question.

KING: So, Kiki's laying down the line right here. Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist to Kiki is a yes or no question?

MCLEAN: Yeah, it's a pretty straight forward thing. FEEHERY: I think most voters don't care if he is a socialist or not. They just care what he is doing with the country. I don't think those labels matter much.

MCLEAN: Do You think he is a socialist?

FEEHERY: Do I think he's a socialist? I'm going to stammer just like Marco Rubio. I don't think he is a socialist. He does not call himself a socialist. The only person I know in politics who calls himself a socialist is Bernie Sanders.

KING: But, I don't know if most voters care, but it is a conversation among conservatives. A lot of conservatives might say hey wait a minute, you're a guy, Marco. You don't think it hurts?

FEEHERY: I don't think it hurts Marco at all. I think he's got the primary and I think he's going to win.

KING: All right, we want to play for you an ad that we brought you first a little more than a week ago. It is a very controversial ad. It's one of the ads early in this campaign that caught our attention. I want to play it -- go back and play it. It's from Tim James, he's a Republican, he's running for governor in Alabama. We want to play it because we did a little fact check on this, so let's play it through first.


TIM JAMES (R), ALABAMA GOV CANDIDATE: I'm Tim James. Why do our politicians make us give driver's license exams in 12 languages? This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it. We're only giving that test in English if I'm governor. Maybe it's the businessman in me, but we'll save money, and it makes sense. Does it to you?


KING: Tough language here. But we looked into this. Would English language only drivers exams save the state of Alabama money? We called Doris Teague's, she works for the Alabama Department of Public Safety, right there for the state. She said Alabama uses computerized driver's license exams. The exams are available in English and 12 foreign languages since 2003. The foreign language exams cost no additional money. The English only exams, if they went to that, could result in a loss of federal funding and almost certainly would result in court challenges.

So, our conclusion, would English-only driver's licenses save Alabama money is no. They would not. Is that -- not so much from a factual perspective, but from the tone of it, English-only?

FEEHERY: You know, America is a multicultural country with all kinds of different folks. That's part of its strength and you know, I think from a political perspective does this ad work with some folks in Alabama? It might. But, you know, I think that we have to embrace the strength of multiculturalism of America. MCLEAN: You know what I find fascinating about the ad is, you've got these really harsh words and this really soft piano music on the bottom and a filter on the visual -- I'm not really a horrible person. But here's the deal, I want tests in multiple languages because when somebody gets here they may not have had the chance to learn the language yet, but I want them safe on the roads while they're driving. That's just dumb is what that is.

KING: We'll keep an eye on that one and we'll keep checking facts in those ads throughout the campaigns. When we come back, a special deliver from our off-beat "Pete on the Street." How do you feel about the post office plan to cut your service on Saturdays?


KING: Rick Sanchez is filling in for Campbell Brown tonight. Let's head up to New York and get a sense of what is coming up at the top of the hour.

Hey, Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Every single day this week I've been asking about this Arizona law. And my question has been: what does lawful contact mean? And for five straight days, no one's been able to give me a straight answer. Well, I must have been on to something, because tonight they've changed the law. I'm going to tell you what they changed "lawful contact" to, and I'm going to tell you why.

There you go, John, back to you.

KING: We'll see you in a few minutes, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right.

KING: All of us know we're sending more e-mail than snail mail these days. And so the folks at the postal service are in a bad way. They're even talking about ending Saturday mail delivery to save some money. Our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick hit the streets to see what you think.


PETE DOMINICK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Mail delivery may be going from six to five days, and hard-working people like this might lose a little bit. We're going to try to find out if Americans still use the post office.

You look like a woman who would send a care package to somebody full of cookies or goodies.


U.S. Postal Service plans to cut Saturday delivery next year.


DOMINICK: No? No one that you care about that you would send...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I send money to people.


Around 584 million pieces of mail are processed each day.


DOMINICK: Send a package of weed or something?


Postal workers drive 1.25 billion miles a year.



DOMINICK: No. You would never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all.

DOMINICK: Do you know your mail carrier's name?


There are about 40,000 zip codes in the U.S.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yeah, I know him, Nick. He is a nice guy.




The film "The Postman Always Rings Twice" was actually made twice.


DOMINICK: There is a proposal to save money for the U.S. Postal Service to stop Saturday delivery, bringing it down to five days. Does that concern you? Would you be affected by that?


Jack Nicholson starred in the 1981 remake. (END GRAPHIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just concerned about the people's jobs.

DOMINICK: Why are you so thoughtful?

I got rush delivery, rush delivery. What window? Who wants me?

Are you concerned about the postal delivery going down from six to five days?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, but what can I do about it?

DOMINICK: Well, it might save money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They make enough as it is.


DOMINICK: How many days a week do they deliver mail in Germany?


DOMINICK: It's six days. The answer is actually six days.


DOMINICK: Do you guys have Saturdays in Germany?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish I had somebody to write a letter to.

DOMINICK: Hi, Pete Dominick. How are you? I live at 23...



KING: All right. I think I'm going to just send Pete a quick e- mail. That's all for us tonight. Have a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by and spending time with us. Rick Sanchez standing by in New York right now.