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JOHN KING, USA
Damage Control; Incumbent Races; Sarah Palin in Washington
Aired May 14, 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. It was damage control day at Obama White House. Twenty-four days after the explosion that caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico there are still more questions than answers. Chief among them, when will the leak be plugged? Just how much oil is gushing into those sensitive waters? And did both BP and the government play down the scope of the leak in the early days of the crisis? The president made clear stopping the leak is priority one but he also vowed today a thorough investigation and said it would look at not only the companies involved but the federal government as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For too long, for a decade or more, there's been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Cozy might be an understatement. The Minerals Management Service part of the Department of Interior, today's "New York Times" offers a stunning indictment of its performance including these past 16 months of the Obama administration, 346 drilling plans given the go ahead by this administration, despite not having environmental and other permits required -- required by federal law.
Yes, the Deepwater Horizon rig, at issue in this spill was among them. CNN contributors Democrat James Carville and Republican Mary Matalin know a thing or two about crisis management. And this crisis is personal. They live in New Orleans where the economy and the environment are taking a huge hit.
James and Mary, let's start there with your sense of the crisis management and how it has been handled and as we get to it listen to your governor today, Bobby Jindal, he was with a team of folks who flew out over the spill, he came ashore. He looks exhausted and boy does he sound frustrated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: For Louisiana, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We want them to cap the leak, we want them to clean the oil off the water but it's not done for us until they mitigated and remediate the damage out there to this very, very important and fragile ecosystem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How is it that all of this time has passed and so many questions still unanswered? Is that just the way it is?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well you know, this is day 25 and everyone talks of nothing else but -- I've not had one conversation about the politics. Everybody's saying what Bobby's saying, stop it, contain it, and clean it up or mostly people are talking about these sailors. A man called in to Rush today to talk about his nephew perished on the rig, he's got a 3-month-old, a 3- year-old. These people down there, this is not making a living. This is how -- these are their lives. So, there's no making them whole with money. That's what the conversation has been about here. And obviously they had the science to get in; they don't have the science to get out.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I am utterly unimpressed and the CEO of BP saying that this was a tiny thing. Is this the ecological equipment of a drunken sailor urinating off the end of the Santa Monica pier? I mean come on, you know -- (INAUDIBLE) 1,000, 5,000, 70,000, then they say no, it's not that, and we get 30 seconds of video. Why didn't the Congress subpoena this stuff? Why don't we have -- the government have a submersible down there that's measuring the rate of outflow here?
There's a thousand answers here that we don't -- a thousand questions that we don't have answers to, and it's time for BP, it's time for these investigative committees and the Congress, administration, everybody, to get off their duff and move on this thing. And as far as the MMS, they ought to all just resign en masse. That's the most pathetic agency I've ever seen.
MATALIN: Somebody explain it to me. I'm not being political, five permits have been -- five permits without the impact studies, required, as you suggested, have been (INAUDIBLE) since the leak. I mean it's just out of control. And it's not -- it's not about politics. It's people feel like they're so anxious. You know what (INAUDIBLE) to say. We're all praying, we're all donating and that's the only thing you have left to do it --
CARVILLE: No, they can do more. They can find out and they can bring these people up and find out how many PR people have been hired, how many lobbyists have been out there. And you know people need to get serious about this. And the governor's frustrated. People are frustrated. And it doesn't seem that BP, their CEO is giving the interviews to "The Guardian" over there in London talking about how tiny this thing is.
KING: Let's talk about that because one of the things people are frustrated with is they're a police force. Meaning the government and Mary mentioned since Secretary Salazar said there will be no permits an agency under his jurisdiction has issued five more permits. So one of the questions is do you have a (INAUDIBLE) agency, excuse me, in the government and the president talked a bit about that today. I want you to listen to the president saying, we're going to figure out how to get this agency under control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We've announced that no permits for drilling new wells will go forward until the 30-day safety and environmental review that I requested is completed. We're also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews. And today we're announcing a new examination of the environmental procedures for oil and gas exploration and development.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He says a new examination and closing loopholes. But no matter your view on whether there should be offshore drilling, a lot of people would say that they told these guys during the transition, and they told them in the early weeks that this is an agency that routinely ignores the scientists, that routinely has what even the president called a cozy relationship with the industry. We're 16 months into the administration, you've both been involved in transitions and new administrations, should they by now have a better sense of what's going on in their own government?
CARVILLE: Yes. Let me -- I'm as good a Democrat as the next person. There was a 2007 I.G. report that was one of the most devastating I.G. reports ever, and I -- this -- this agency -- and we need to go back and find out what happened to it, how it became an extension of these oil companies, but that's an interesting thing.
And Congress needs to get off the duff; they need to (INAUDIBLE). They need to get these people back down there. I understand they've hired every PR person you can imagine. I don't know who advised this guy to go say this thing was tiny. But we ought to find out about that and find out how many lobbyists they have and how many contacts they've had with MMS. All of this stuff has to be gone through. These answers have to come out and come out fast.
MATALIN: You know John I -- as you know, I supported many conservatives, Republicans supported the president's new policy on offshore drilling, we need to have hydrocarbons. Yes, we're for all of the above and we're going to have alternative energy. But every city says that in the next 20 years that can only account for 15 percent of our energy. We need hydrocarbon and a third of them come from the Gulf.
And when he announced his new policy, which we supported he said I've been looking at this closely for a year, so we're going to use science to reduce the impact of the extraction of these hydrocarbons. What was he doing for a year? Who was he talking to? What was that policy that he said he looked at closely for a year?
CARVILLE: And they've also got to go find out why in Brazil and Norway, this acoustic device is required, and why not here? And why was there just one of these ram sheers (ph) (INAUDIBLE). Where are these college -- (INAUDIBLE) people come out? What do they teach team in these petroleum engineering colleges? Where are the deans? Where are these engineers --
MATALIN: How about the blowout preventer had a dead battery. How about that --
CARVILLE: There's one courageous guy out named Bob Beat (ph) who is looking into this and people ought to pay attention to what he has to say.
KING: All right --
CARVILLE: It's bad. I'll tell you it's bad. There's no sense in trying to play this down.
KING: It is bad, indeed and we'll continue to watch. We're going to ask James and Mary to stay with us because when we come back they're going to share their thoughts with us on the big elections coming up Tuesday, a big primary night and midterm election.
And that's not all we have still in a busy night ahead. We'll also go "Wall-to-Wall" tonight -- let me ask this question. Would you friend your member of Congress on Facebook? Would you send them a tweet? We'll look at the growing roll of social media in congressional politics.
On our "Radar" tonight, a lot of fun tonight. Does the NRA equal the GOP? It's the NRA's big convention and there's been a parade of prominent Republicans.
And Charlie Crist, you might say he hearts Elena Kagan and that's a big change. Let's explain in just a little bit.
In our "Play-by-Play" tonight, a lot of fun here, the president tells Republicans you can't drive. And the attorney general says the federal government might sue to overturn Arizona's immigration law. Here's a question, has he read it?
And Pete is on the street tonight and he's asking you, would you boycott Arizona?
KING: We're back now with James Carville and Mary Matalin. They're going to help us walk through some big races coming up on Tuesday night, the most critical primary night so far in 2010. Let me go over to the "Magic Wall", as we map this out.
And James and Mary, let's start with Pennsylvania, an interesting Senate race. You have the incumbent, Arlen Specter, a five-term senator but the first time now he's running as a Democrat. He switched parties a little more than a year ago against Congressman Joe Sestak. He's a second-term member of the House, a former three-star admiral, the highest ranking former military official in the Congress. In this race, even though Specter just switched parties the Obama White House is on his side, the governor is on his side. And if you listen to the radio in Pennsylvania, you'll hear Joe Biden putting in a plug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean Pennsylvania, to lose that seniority to lose that fight, to lose that tenacity, this guy never gives up. He's just an amazing guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mary Matalin, to you first. In an anti-incumbent year, is that the message you want the vice president out there saying, send the guy with seniority back?
MATALIN: We love Joe. He's "Saturday Night Live" in the Specter race spot -- our "Saturday Night Live" spot. You have got everybody loves Specter. You've got spots running with Bush and Palin up there. I love Specter. You have got Obama spots, I love Specter.
You have gout Biden out there -- send back the guy that's been there for a thousand years. No there -- it's -- it's -- this is a classic case. The irony of this is that is Rahm recruited Sestak, so it's a cute little race for the White House.
KING: Another irony of this, James, is that George W. Bush bailed out Arlen Specter six years ago when he was being challenged from the right. Now he's being bailed out by a president because he's being challenged from the left.
CARVILLE: You have two (INAUDIBLE) rules. The rule of 2010 is never bet on an incumbent. But also there's another rule. There's never bet against Specter. He's some equivalent of like you know (INAUDIBLE) the nuclear -- comes out at the end of the nuclear war, he's still there, you know, so I don't know. This polling and primary polling is difficult but you've got two ironclad rules that are at odds with each other, so we'll see which (INAUDIBLE) prevails --
MATALIN: You want to do a bet for Sestak --
CARVILLE: I wouldn't bet --
KING: No bets -- no bets --
KING: Family-friendly show. All right let's move on to Arkansas. This is another one where you have an incumbent with stature, Blanch Lincoln, second term senator, the chairman -- chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee versus the Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, who is running to her left, saying that she's not essentially a good enough Democrat. They had a debate today in Little Rock. Let's get a little sense of their closing arguments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: I've worked hard to become the first Arkansan ever to chair the Senate committee on agriculture, nutrition, and forestry. Now that I'm here, I'm not waiting for things to happen. I'm making things happen.
LT. GOV. BILL HALTER (D), ARK. SENATE CANDIDATE: The choice here is simple. You can continue with the same Washington policies or you can vote for change. Because if you send the same people back to Washington, you are guaranteed to get the same results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: James, why is the left mad at these Democratic incumbents?
CARVILLE: Let me -- full disclosure here -- I sent out a fund- raising letter for Senator Lincoln, so our viewers need to know that I --
KING: All right.
CARVILLE: -- publicly (INAUDIBLE) for her. Look, this -- again, this is a very difficult year to be an incumbent. It's not surprising that she's facing this guy -- is articulate, well-spoken guy, lieutenant governor of the state. And -- but if she survives this, it probably makes her look a little bit stronger. It doesn't -- it probably doesn't seem that way and if she doesn't, then you know we'll see what happens in November. But it's a tough race. I like her, I'm supporting her, but our viewers need to know that.
MATALIN: But John, this is a (INAUDIBLE) going on in the Democratic Party. The press and the political (INAUDIBLE) focused on the Tea Party, what does it mean to the Republican Party. But this is -- that race, the one in Colorado, in Pennsylvania, we just discussed, the left is coming after these guys and they're having a much better -- bigger schism than we are.
CARVILLE: Thank God they don't have those problems in -- Republicans in places like Utah, Kentucky, or Florida --
KING: Mary is right. Mary is right though. There's a lot of restiveness (ph) or restlessness on the left because of things like Afghanistan, because they didn't think they got everything in health care. But as James mentioned, there is plenty of it on the right as well, and you mentioned Kentucky.
Let's move on -- Trey Grayson is the Kentucky Secretary of State. He is the favorite of the senior Senator Mitch McConnell who also happens to be the Senate Republican leader. He gets his endorsement, but Rand Paul, who is son of Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for president both as a Republican and as a libertarian and Rand Paul (ph) is a Tea Party favorite. This, Mary, how much of a challenge is this to Mitch McConnell who came out early, for Trey Grayson. How much is this to see if the base of the party not only wants to give Rand Paul the nomination but maybe send Senator McConnell a bit of a message?
MATALIN: I think this is more about Rand Paul, the son of and symbolic of libertarianism. That's the root of the Tea Party activists which -- it's a lot bigger than that. But conservatives are generally quite happy with and proud of Mitch McConnell who has been the one that's kept the Senate together that stopped as much as we could stop of this crazy Obamanomics and all the rest of the policies that are causing all this discomfort and (inaudible) of the Democratic chances in the fall. McConnell's been pretty good. So I think this -- that's a -- that's a different home state kind of issue going there. You know I'm right.
CARVILLE: Everything is -- but they like McConnell so much, but they're not going to vote for this guy --
MATALIN: Well you vote for the guy.
MATALIN: You don't vote -- this is not a year -- and you know what --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
MATALIN: No one has any coattails.
CARVILLE: Yes, yes --
KING: James and Mary have coattails. Carville and Matalin, the only two people left in American politics with coattails. You guys have a great weekend. (INAUDIBLE) down there in New Orleans, enjoy it --
KING: Celebrate. Say hello to Anderson Cooper. Tell him we'll see him back on the air next week.
And next, who says Congress is out of touch. We'll go "Wall-to- Wall" to show you what our lawmakers are embracing. Guess which party's really making the big social media push.
KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight, the growing role of the Internet and social media in Congress and elections. Let's take a look first at the most traveled Web sites, top Web sites. Number one is Google, but number two Facebook, social media. Number three YouTube, social media. Twitter is 11th, MySpace 19th, so a lot of social media traffic on the Internet.
Now let's look at how Facebook and Congress get along together. This is the main site -- Congress on Facebook -- this is run by Facebook, not by members of Congress itself, this main page here. But now let's flip over and show you some of the members. If you're looking to friend your member of Congress or a favorite member of Congress, look, Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House, 20,000 fans. You can visit her Facebook page.
Lesser known congressman, Congressman Robert Brady, 347, down here Michelle Bachmann, a conservative Republican, she actually has more friends on Facebook than the Democratic speaker does. And remember that point because we're going to go over to the "Magic Wall" now to take another look. Michelle Bachmann, a Republican, well you find when you look all over social media. Here you have the people; these are the members of Congress who have gained the most friends on Facebook just in recent days.
Here's the House Republican leader, John Boehner. And you see some of his recent postings about Republican efforts to fight the Obama administration's jobs program and the health care program. That's one thing there. Over here, Eric Cantor; he's the House Republican Whip, the number two to John Boehner, talking about national security. A recent speech he gave on his posting.
Want to come down here, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana and you'll notice some of his postings, actually quite a few this past week are about the tragic Gulf oil spill down there, putting the latest information he has about congressional action and information on the site up there. Let's look at some of the numbers here as we do this -- we come through.
If you look here, here are the top tweeters. The president, by far among our politicians the top tweeter, three, almost four million friends on Twitter, and here you have here, 1.7 followers for John McCain, then it jumps down 38,000 for Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. But look here, Republican, Republican, Republican, Republican. Republicans are getting out there quickly on the social media sites and getting a lot of followers and friends.
Here's one tweet recently a Republican member, Randy Neugebauer sent out the Republican had this social media drive for you cut, to get people to send in suggestions for cutting in federal spending. He's had over 150,000 received so far. And lastly let's take a peek at this because when people go online, when adults go online, do they want to look, actually do they want to find their member of Congress? What are they doing?
Well here's what they're look for according to Pew Research. About 40 percent of adults who go online are looking for information on government activities. Twenty-three percent are trying to track stimulus spending. Twenty-two percent legislation text, meaning they want to read the bill. And 14 percent are exploring campaign contributions. So as you can see from this activity, there's every reason that the people who are in the business of politics want to relate to people online.
So maybe you want to friend your member of Congress or maybe you want to friend us like JKUSA, logon to Facebook.com/JohnKingUSA. Join our conversation. Also head, you'll want to follow this conversation. Sarah Palin tells the NRA she's a redneck. You'll want to hear why.
KING: It's the part of the show where we introduce you every night to the most important person you don't know. And if it's Friday, you know the drill. That means it's you. It's part of our commitment to bring you into the conversation. We always read our Facebook postings, out tweets, comments sent into our blog. Every Monday we ask a question and we give you all week to "Make Your Case" by posting a video on our Web site, CNN.com/JohnKingUSA. This week's question: If members of Congress had a suggestion box, what programs would you tell them to cut? Here are some of your answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHIE DILLON, DENVER, CO: I'd like us spend less money on foreign conflicts and put that money towards the immigration problem we have on the southern border.
BEALE TEJADO, DURANGO, CO: I would take money out of the federal prison system and stop incarcerating people for life and then take that -- those funds and instead put them back into rehabilitation programs.
ADRIANA MAXWELL, MARIETTA, GA: The military, you can save billions of dollars.
STEVE FORDAN, WASHINGTON, D.C.: First thing they should do is cut back on their own salaries and perks because they haven't earned it in a long, long time.
APRYL MOTLEY, COLUMBIA, MD: (INAUDIBLE) I think it's great that we're trying to learn about what's happening on other planets but we've got plenty of issues right here on this one that need resolution right now.
TATE PERAZZELLI, NEW JERSEY: Congress needs to stop spending money on themselves, they need to stop being introspective (ph) about all their constituents and look at everything as a whole and start worrying about people, people, people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We thank you for your contributions. As always keep them coming. And a good sense there of maybe the grumpy mood, members of Congress will face when they go home this year try to get re-elected and defend all of the money they're spending here in Washington.
Sarah Palin is all over my "Radar" today. She started her day at the Susan B. Anthony breakfast right here in Washington talking about the evils of government bailouts she says our children will have to pay for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: When that happens, I think a whole lot of moms who are concerned about government handing our kids the bill, generational theft, too, we're stealing opportunities from the future of America, we rise up and moms say, come on, now that's enough! That is enough! And we're going to do something about this. There in Alaska I always think of the mama grizzly bears that rise up on their hind legs when somebody's coming to attack their cubs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get a sense here in studio about those mama grizzly bears and how dangerous they are politically. Joining me in studio Maria Cardona, our Democratic strategist (INAUDIBLE) Robert Traynham, veteran Republican strategist Amy Walters, the editor-in-chief of "The Hotline" and or senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Should we be worried about mama grizzlies in this political climate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It seems like --
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, BUSH-CHENEY '04 CAMPAIGN ADVISER: It seems like there are a lot of folks out there that are angry and a lot of mama grizzlies out there may decide who the next speaker of the House may be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) the new soccer mom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well grizzly with lipstick.
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm a mama grizzly. I know that there are other mama grizzlies here as well. And yes, we are concerned but you know what, I think further on in the speech she says we're going to fix it. The "we," that she talks about, Republicans, they had eight years, they put us in this mess.
AMY WALTER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HOTLINE: Well and that's -- certainly the president has been talking about it. The other day, right, he came out and said, basically, this is what we're going to see on the campaign trail in 2010, the message being you guys had eight years, you drove the car in the ditch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
WALTER: Time to get that car out.
KING: Add mama grizzly to our polling?
All right here's another one. Sarah Palin didn't just come to Washington. Next stop, the NRA Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, where she told everyone she's fine with the accusation of being a redneck. Then she decided to prove it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I Google at the last minute all the newest redneck jokes, you know trying to find something funny. But I'm reading -- I'm going these aren't funny, these are mean. They really are. But this is what I read. This is what I read. You're a redneck if directions to your house include turn off the pave road. Yep -- go to Ocilla (ph), turn off the pave road, that's where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: She's right. I've been to Ocilla (ph). You do turn off the pave road to get to her house.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And she's right and look, that absolutely speaks to her constituency and I think it also speaks why she didn't help John McCain in the suburbs of Philadelphia where they thought that they were -- that she was going to help with women, you know, who are not used to driving on paved roads to get to their house --
TRAYNHAM: I got to tell you, I want to go where Dana left off, she is crazy like a fox, in a good way, because she's...
KING: Dana or Sarah Palin?
TRAYNHAM: Well, Sarah Palin.
BASH: That's all right.
TRAYNHAM: Because she is not only speaking to her constituency, but she's stoking the fire a little bit. It's an angry constituency out there that is anti-Obama.
KING: But here's the -- go ahead.
CARDONA: She couldn't tell us one newspaper she read, one magazine that she read. Now she can tell us she reads jokes without even writing on her hand.
TRAYNHAM: She's no intellectual but something tells me that this woman is very, very politically astute.
WALTER: Yeah, she's making $12 million a year. That's pretty astute. KING: Here's a guy -- you talk about her constituency, here's a guy who we're trying to figure out just who his constituency is. We do know it had changed. Florida governor, Senate candidate, Charlie Crist is enjoying his independent ways. At a meeting with the "St. Petersburg Times" editorial board, Governor Crist was asked about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. His reply? "I think she'd do a great job."
TRAYNHAM: Look, he's running for election and a state that leans blue. He is someone that has always been somewhat independent. He's always been a "moderate" Republican. I think this speaks, again, to his being very, very savvy and being in tune with the state.
KING: Here's my favorite part. Before you jump in, my favorite part, because he was against Sonia Sotomayor when he thought he was running as a Republican. So the editorial board seemed a little taken aback and Governor Crist turned to them and said, "Isn't that fun? Honesty is the best policy... It's easier (as an Independent). I don't have to sort of think about, 'how's that group going to react?'"
BASH: Honesty is the best policy, but I mean, it's all politics. And the politics right now, at the moment...
BASH: I know, shocker. -- in Florida, for him, are that most of his voters, if you look at the polls, are coming from the Democratic Party, so of course he's got to say that. He's got to support the Democratic president...
CARDONA: And he absolutely doesn't feel constrained anymore. But what it does point to is what the Republican Party -- is happening there and the fact that they're in a lot of trouble because they are getting a lot smaller. And if you want to be a governing party at some point, you got to do the opposite.
WALTER: I don't know about grizzlies, I can't work that into this, but what I do know is that authenticity is another catch word for this year and the problem that is facing a lot of these people that you talked about earlier, Arlen Specter, Blanche Lincoln, is not so much ideology as it is that they don't look like they're authentic.
One person switched from running as a Republican to Democrat just so that he could win, Blanche Lincoln is getting questioned about the votes she's taking so she could win her primary. In this case, Charlie Crist, who has always been known to be very calculating about putting that finger into the wind, now who knows where that wind's blowing. He's just going wherever and voters are going to say -- I just don't think they're going to buy it.
KING: All right, here's another fascinating race, Connecticut. Republican Senate candidate, Linda McMahon, she's not letting the gulf oil spill change her mind about offshore drilling. A recent campaign mailing not only features a giant picture of an oil rig, the caption reads, "Increase offshore drilling and production. Offshore drill will create jobs and increase energy supply without cost to the taxpayer."
Now, that's not an unusual message among Republicans, but this flyer came out right in the wake of all of this. Should somebody have been trying to keep it out of the mail?
WALTER: I mean, we've seen polling recently, the most recent NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll that shows, you know, by and large, a majority of Americans still support offshore drilling, even in the wake of BP. Most of America, though, does not mean Connecticut where obviously you have a public that's very concerned with its shoreline. And so, I think, you know, positioning yourself in a Republican primary, one thing she's got to win a...
BASH: ... a WWF match on an oil rig.
KING: There you go.
TRAYNHAM: Let me talk by saying, this was a very foolish rookie mistake for them to do. But polls, as Amy said a few moments ago, overwhelmingly still support offshore drilling. Look, the bottom line is that they shouldn't...
TRAYNHAM: Well, maybe with her base. I don't know. But the bottom line is, is that she shouldn't have sent that out, at least right now.
CARDONA: People will get it and once again they're going to say, my elected official is not in line with what I'm thinking, out of touch.
All right, everybody, stay put. We're going to take a quick break, but we got a lot left on the radar, including this -- a dire prediction from congressional Democrats and one Republican.
KING: Much more on the radar. We're talking it with Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, former Bush/Cheney Campaign advisor Robert Traynham, "Hot Line" editor-in-chief Amy Walter and CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
This one is a good one here. The dire headline of the new Cook political report. Everybody in Washington reads it. The headline is "Twin Furry." Political analyst, Charlie Cook warns that strongly populist and anti-Democratic incumbent winds are blowing across the country. One Republican needs watch out, too, though, Charlie writes. He says, "I remain convinced that Representative Joseph Cao, who represents a heavily African-American and Democratic district in New Orleans, is the only Republican member of the House or Senate who is in serious danger of losing the general election." So, Joe Cao and then all of the Democrats have to worry? BASH: What was funny was I spoke with a Democratic source who's involved in campaigns and all she said was, "Well, I'm glad he's finally said that Joe Cao is in trouble because he didn't even say that before." They say here that they have on the Democratic side maybe four, five incumbent Republicans who are in trouble. But, four or five compared to, you know, a gazillion on the Democratic side.
WALTER: Right, and it's not unprecedented in those bad years 1994, the wave election. Not one single Republican (INAUDIBLE). You know, the good news for Republicans, because they lost so many seats in 2006 and 2008, they don't have many to lose.
CARDONA: It's not an anti-Democratic mood, it's an anti- incumbent mood. You have even the Republican leadership saying that. You have what happened to Bennett in Utah. So yes, every incumbent is going to have to fight for their lives to keep their seats, Democrats and Republicans.
TRAYNHAM: But she is drinking the Democratic Kool-Aid, because the Obama line is that more Democrats are in deeper trouble than Republicans. Name one Republican that is in deep trouble.
CARDONA: There is no -- well, Cao is.
KING: There you go.
CARDONA: You have Bono in California. You have Dent in Pennsylvania, and Lungren in California, as well.
TRAYNHAM: Well, OK. But they're not vulnerable...
CARDONA: You have other Republicans who are vulnerable.
KING: Three. We got to three.
CARDONA: But look, it's not -- it's not news that it's going to be tough for the Democrats. We knew this coming into it. Midterms always are.
KING: Here's another race to watch and it has the favorite Republican, if you will, campaigner nationally, probably at the moment, is Scott Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts, a Republican. He's trying to make history repeat itself in Pennsylvania.
Today, Senator Brown campaigning with Republican Tim Burns who's running to fill the late Democratic congressman, John Murtha's seat. Bill Clinton in the district Sunday to campaign for the Democrat. That Democratic candidate is longtime Murtha aide Mark Critz. This is another one everyone's going to watch because as long as it was Jack Murtha's seat it was safe, but it is not a big "D" district. WALTER: This is not a big "D" district. This is a district that Bush beat Gore here and it's most denoted for the fact that it's the only district that voted for John Kerry and then went to vote for John McCain. All right? So, this is a very -- this is the kind of district that Republicans need to win. A lot of folks are going to be paying attention, of course, on election night to the Senate race, but this, to me, is a much more of an important bellwether because what we're looking for is if Republicans can't win in a district like this, what does that say about their chances to knock off other seats? And so we're -- I'm paying very close attention to it. It's a toss-up right now. The last public poll showed that Critz is a little bit ahead. That's good news if you're Democrats in a district that right now gives Obama 40 percent approval rating.
TRAYNHAM: Congressman Murtha said it best, he said, "My district is a bunch of red necks" and he meant that in a very lovingly way in the context of President Obama running for election. Congressman Murtha's former district represents a central part of Pennsylvania, which is Johnstown, Altoona, some very blue collar, but it's very socially conservative. Those are the folks out there that are also anti-Obama right now because they feel like the government is just way too big.
CARDONA: I think what Democrats need to do throughout the next six months, is just talk about what they have accomplished. Because what I keep saying, my friends on the Hill, is that the more that Democrats can say to constituents this is what I did versus Republicans who always wanted to block, the more that they'll be able to convince them that they're working for them.
KING: Now, here's one of the ways they're trying to convince them they're working for them...
BASH: Or not against them.
KING: Or not against -- thank you. Thanks to the assist. Members in Congress are getting their wings clipped. New travel rules from the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, say lawmakers and staff have to fly coach, god forbid, or economy class for most overseas trips and per diem money can only be used for official purposes. Of course, we taxpayers are still footing the bill. So, this is one of these things where they say big change and everybody says, and why didn't you do this so long?
BASH: Exactly. I have the letter right here. And actually, Nancy Pelosi had a meeting about two weeks ago with her leadership and the chairman and said, we're going to do this. And this comes after several pretty bad stories out there about some pretty intense excess on these trips. But I actually want to put the ball in Robert's court because you were a staffer and you were on these codels, I mean, the whole concept -- one of the big things is that the per diems that they get, government money for these trips, they're putting them in their pocket -- putting the extra money in their pocket, these are members of Congress, or spending it on trinkets and souvenirs and things. You saw that happen, right? TRAYNHAM: Yeah, there's no question about it. Look, this is long overdue, this is one of those little things, playing small ball that Speaker Pelosi clearly is trying to win some favorites with the American people. But Dana's right, former congressional staffer, I've been over there, I've never, ever, for the record, have abused any taxpayer money, but I have seen it happen where people will bring over Persian rugs or go through customs without getting things cleared and so forth. And so, the speaker is long overdue in doing something like this. There's no question about it.
And this is why Americans are so frustrated with Washington because they hear about these instances. This is a no-brainer. When I go to Italy, when I go to Europe, I got to fly coach can darn near -- I can't afford first class ticket. Why are my public officials flying first class on my dime?
CARDONA: It's a great move on her behalf and again, it shows that Democrats are trying to work for the American people. And she's done a lot in terms of ethics.
TRAYNHAM: Because Democrats got caught up...
WALKER: And you know what, nothing -- I think all of the anti- incumbent fervor will go away, now that they've passed it. Everyone can say, thank you.
TRAYNHAM: Don't be cynical about it. It is a small thing, but it's...
KING: As long as you fly middle seat on Southwest Airlines I'll send you back to Washington.
All right, here's a guy who's not on the ballot this year, but who is making clear he wants to come back to Washington down the road. Republican senator, Orrin Batch of Utah he says now he's going to run for re-election. But, after watching his Republican colleague get bounced at state convention off the ballot, Hatch is quoting Ronald Reagan to the "National Review" magazine.
He, meaning Reagan, "always said that Republicans shouldn't attack fellow Republicans. Now, I think he'd look at what happened in Utah, realize it was an extraordinary situation, understanding the anger, at the same time though, he'd understand the importance of having conservatives with experience like me to be in there fighting."
So, if you're -- Orrin Hatch's message is, if you're in a bad mood, get over it by the time I'm on the ballot?
WALTER: Which is because already Jason Chaffetz, who's a, what is he, a sophomore member now, Utah delegation, making waves, saying that he is champing at the bit saying I'm thinking about running against him. In polling Orrin Hatch is hurting, one of those delegates who bounced out Bennett, he was polling very, very poorly.
BASH: In the halls of Congress this week, Orrin Hatch, who is a Mormon, and I have never heard him say anything more than "darn," he said that Americans are really angry about this "crap." That's what he said in the halls of Congress, which was actually a big deal. I know, I know we're cable so we can say that, here.
But, in all seriousness, you know, he realizes that this is bad. I mean, can you imagine if Orrin Hatch were on the ballot this year? They guy worked with Ted Kennedy, spoke at his funeral and Bob Bennett, his colleague from Utah was bounced out from just talking to a Democrat?
TRAYNHAM: There are a lot of folks out there that are shaken by this, by Bob Bennett because they said, oh my gosh, if they can do this to him, they can do this to me. Ronald Reagan said the 11th amendment, thou shall not speak ill of another Republican. And so that's in the process, there are a lot of people out there that are speaking very ill about Republicans...
KING: What fascinates me about this conversation is how different it is in Washington compared to the rest of the country, because they all think, oh, my goodness, they're after us. And out there they say, yeah, this is what we call Democracy, see, we register to vote and we show up at our primaries or our conventions and we do work it out (ph) and then the person who gets the most votes, guess what, they win. They're not as stunned by this in the country.
CARDONA: When it doubt, for Republicans, quote Reagan. Obviously he's the hero. The problem is that Ronald Reagan did believe in a big tent, the Republicans currently in office and the bigger Republican Party does not. They're not going to get bigger, they're going to get smaller.
TRAYNHAM: You know, Barack Obama, when he ran for president said, "change, change, change." This is what change is all about. Change is about people showing up, as you said, John, and voting their conscience and saying, you know what, you did a great job for 15 years, but it's now time for a change. It's OK, that's Democracy at its best.
WALKER: Well, yeah, unless of course you're that incumbent.
And you're like, I don't know, that's not the change that I wanted. But it's true. I think that the idea -- this is where this change election is really fascinating, right -- 2006 was about change, 2008 was about change. So is 2010, we're just taking the same theme and just flipping parties.
KING: I guess at the White House they're asking, will 2012? OK, Dana Bash, Amy Walter, Robert Traynham, and Maria are going to hang with us.
Up next, the space shuttle "Atlantis" takes off what could be its last mission. Even after all of the years, you know what, it's still pretty cool to see.
And later on "Pete on the Street," he answers this question -- do you boycott?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE DOMINICK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: What about hair gel or highlighting? Would you boycott that ever?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I wouldn't.
DOMINICK: Would you boycott...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Animal testing or anything, I'd still use it.
DOMINICK: Animal testing, you would still use it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes.
DOMINICK: Well, would you boycott pretty girls ever?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sure?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play-by-Play."
KING: All right. You get the drill in "Play-by-Play," we break down the tape, we don't usually do weather in "Play-by-Play," but take a look at this. This is a live picture of the White House right now. It is raining very, very heavily here in Washington, D.C. There actually are some tornado warnings out in some outlying counties, the capitol as well. You see the gloomy gray skies, it is in one way sort of spectacular looking, in other ways sort of scary looking. Again, some tornado warnings out in some of the suburbs. We'll keep track of the severe weather in the D.C. area, but now we'll get to "Play-by- Play." Robert Traynham, Maria Cardona are still with us.
The president gave a speech last night at a Democratic fundraiser. Now, he was trying to frame the stakes in the election, but sometimes you do that by saying, here's what I'd do in the economy, here's what they would do. Here's what I would do in health care, here's what they would do. The president decided to be a little bit more colorful. Imagine yourself getting ready to get in the car and go out for an election drive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Now, after they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! (APPLAUSE)
You can't drive! We don't want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The president is not -- is not going to be in the role of the valet here, he's not giving keys back.
CARDONA: He's absolutely right, John. And this is something that I think Democrats can't emphasize enough. And yes, it is something the American people have to keep hearing over and over, because there is anger, there is frustration, there is fear, because we're not out of the woods yet. The numbers are going in the right direction...
KING: A lot of Democrats would say he doesn't do that enough.
CARDONA: It's true, but he's doing it. And you see why they want him to do it more because this is where he is at his best, and that will help Democrats, it will help Americans remember exactly where they were when they elected him.
KING: The president says you can't drive. It's right here.
TRAYNHAM: Well, look, the folks that own the car are the American people. They're the one with the title holders. They're the folks who get to decide who gets the keys. And guess what? We just talked about this a few moments ago. It appears that the keys may go over to the Republicans because, you know what? They say, you know what, Mr. President? You know Democrats? You had your chance. We're not too sure we like your driving skills, as well.
KING: We'll see how this one plays out. Americans, in the past, have shown an affinity for divided government. We'll see how it goes.
One of the big policy questions facing the administration is its response to terrorism and other things. And now here's one thing right here, the Arizona immigration law comes up. The attorney general, on Sunday, is asked about -- Eric Holder's first time out on the Sunday shows, he says, we don't like this law and we're thinking about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are considering all of our options, and one of the things that we are thinking about is the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, America's top lawyer thinking about the possibility of filing a lawsuit. But then up at the congressional hearing a few days later, he says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLDER: I'm not in a position to say, at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with the people who are doing the review, exactly what my position is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRAYNHAM: You know, we were talking in the green room. He clearly cleaned up his remarks because I'm sure staff got to him and said, you know what, Mr. General, we can do this, but we can't do that. You may want to say this, you may want to say that. No question about it, that the federal government, under the Obama administration, is very frustrated with Arizona. Arizona is very frustrated with the federal government. They're going to have to work it out and we'll see constitutionally who win.
CARDONA: I think he was still making the same point which is that he made on "Meet the Press," he doesn't know what is -- what are the options, so everything is on the table right now. You can't take anything off the table until you figure out what exactly the law is, what you can do constitutionally and how you can react to it.
KING: We have some pictures. A number of Republicans, prominent Republicans, went before the NRA annual convention, today. We have Mike Pence here, who's a member of the House Republican Leadership, conservative from Indiana. Governor Palin was down there, as well, speaking as well, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who runs the Governors Association. Senator John Thune of South Dakota who has been mentioned as a possible conservative presidential candidate down the road. And yet, Robert, to you first, this does not seem to be getting as much attention, the NRA, as it did, I'll say five or 10 years ago in Republican politics. That a fair statement?
TRAYNHAM: It is They're working below the radar screen. They're doing two things. No. 1, they are registering millions of people across the country hopefully by November so that the Republicans can take over. They're also very subtly saying our freedoms, our values, the things that we hold near and dear to our hearts, they're at stake, all the more reason why you need to come out, i.e. the Tea Party, i.e. through talk radio, and so forth. We'll see if, in fact, they're successful.
But, if you take a look at Sarah Palin on the screen, if you take a look at that podium, it's a celebration of American values. What is that? That is code for folks, they're taking away our values, we need to celebrate our heritage.
CARDONA: John, it's clear that there is new darlings in town and they're called the Tea Partiers, that's why we're not hearing so much about the NRA. There is new folks now that are this new group that are now the darlings of the Republican Party. And I think the more you focus on the Tea Partiers, and frankly, the more you put the NRA out there as well and Sarah Palin and all of the others, I think the more that mainstream America understands that they are out of touch, especially when you have more attention going to the Tea Partiers.
KING: All right, from the left and from the right, Maria and Robert, enjoy the weekend. Thanks so much.
And this question to you: To boycott or not to boycott. That is the question our offbeat reporter, Pete Dominick, is looking into for the big answers. We'll have them, when we come back.
KING: Rick Sanchez filling in for Campbell Brown, tonight. Let's head up to New York and get a sense what's coming up in just a couple of minutes.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Look, we've been looking into this thing, John, all week long. Our officials who are banning ethnic studies in Arizona. I mean, are these people xenophobes? Are they ethnocentric? Or here's the other side, all right? Are the classes that they're criticizing inviting this ban by being so damn militant in how the course work is being taught? I mean, this is an interesting debate. I got the guy from the class who does the course work, and I got the man on who has been pushing for this law and has gotten it through. The governor signed it. Folks, you're not going to want to miss this.
John, back to you.
KING: Great issue, Rick. We'll see you in just a couple minutes.
Our Pete Dominick has been out on the street today asking a very important question. What would you boycott.
DOMINICK: Hey, John King, happy Friday to you. And yeah, I guess some people are deciding they're not going to go to Arizona, they might not take that Grand Canyon trip. I wanted to ask people what else would they boycott.
Hey, would you boycott Arizona?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're from Arizona.
DOMINICK: You're from Arizona. Look at that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My brother used to say people around bag -- ask for you to like hold up a paper bag to somebody's face and if they matched it, they would check to see if there is anything going on.
DOMINICK: For me they just hold up a tube of paste. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know about their new law. I'm not going anywhere near Arizona, even though I have long-standing friends there.
DOMINICK: What if somebody wanted to fly you out, have a good time, and maybe...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't look for a good time in Arizona. I'm 88 years old.
First class, five-star hotel, you and a guest. Are you on your way to Arizona?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would still think twice about it.
DOMINICK: Can you show me your papers?
First class, take you on the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got a Rolls-Royce?
DOMINICK: What if it's just a Honda Civic?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nah, I won't going.
DOMINICK: You'll boycott?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, I'm a celebrity myself.
DOMINICK: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe what they doing is right.
DOMINICK: Any other like stores or anything now that you won't go in?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wal-Mart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I boycotted Wal-Mart.
DOMINICK: Another one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I boycott anything made in China.
DOMINICK: Anything made in China. So, that means you have no stuff.
Young man, do you boycott broccoli?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, not that bad. I do boycott green peppers. I eat red peppers.
DOMINICK: Red pepper and green pepper is the same thing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know.
DOMINICK: John, I think I'm going to try to boycott oil, I don't know if it'll be possible.
KING: I like green peppers. Pete Dominick, you have a great weekend, my friend. We'll see you Monday.
And that's all for us tonight, you have a great weekend, too. Rick Sanchez is sitting in for Campbell Brown and he starts right now.