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JOHN KING, USA

Commission for Gulf Oil Spill; Mad at Washington; Extreme Politics; Senator Cornyn Interview

Aired May 17, 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. We start with breaking news, a major development in the Gulf oil spill. An administration official confirming to CNN the president will use an executive order to establish a new presidential commission to investigate the causes and the response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That commission will be modeled on the investigation of the space shuttle "Challenger" explosion and the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident.

Our senior political analyst Gloria Borger is with us. You've been working your sources, Gloria. This is a dramatic step by the White House. Just Friday the president was in the Rose Garden promising to get to the bottom of this -- why take this extra step?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well because I think it's an administration that knows John that it has got huge regulatory failures on its hands that it has to examine. It's got CEOs pointing fingers at each other. But if this administration wants to continue its policy of offshore drilling which of course they've temporarily have suspended, they have to get some answers to these questions about what went wrong in order to assure the American public that it won't happen again. And they know that they have made mistakes in regulation and they've got to fix those mistakes before they can drill.

KING: And it raises the stakes for them though because you mention those mistakes. When they lay out that permits are being issued for these --

BORGER: Right.

KING: -- rigs out there even though they don't have the environmental permits required by federal law, not suggested by federal law, required by federal law --

BORGER: Right.

KING: -- and yet agencies and the government and they've been in power for 16 months saying go ahead.

BORGER: Right. They didn't even meet their own inspection schedules, John. So they understand that this is now could become a real political problem for them particularly given what their policy is and so they have to say, OK, we're going to get to the bottom of this. We're going to -- no pun intended -- we're going to get to the bottom of this. We're going to answer these questions before we decide what steps to take next in terms of offshore drilling.

KING: Gloria Borger on this important development. We'll continue to track it in the hours ahead. Now though to the night's big political story -- we know most of you look at Washington and don't much like what you see. Tomorrow is a big test though of what you're prepared to do about it. Does seniority matter or is it just time for new blood to shake up the place even if your state might have less influence in Congress as a result. The challengers are banking on it, people like Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania and Bill Halter in Arkansas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. BILL HALTER (D). ARKANSAS SENATE CANDIDATE: I think you could summarize it pretty simply. People want change and they know that if you send the same people back to Washington, you're guaranteed to get the same results.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you want to send an unyielding liberal or conservative to represent you here or is pragmatism more important than ideology? It's a tough sell when voters are mad but embattled incumbents like Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln win this year only if they convince you the middle is a good place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I have fought the bickering and the partisanship in Washington. I've been one guy who's been willing to cross party lines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do powerful endorsements influence you or is that the problem in politics, the same old people working the system to their benefit? The president is backing Senator Specter and Lincoln. Both are in trouble. And the Senate's top Republican has a favorite in his state Senate primary but it's not Rand Paul and Rand Paul at the moment is running ahead and sounding defiant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: We, the Tea Party, we the people of Kentucky will help to decide what that message is, where the Republican Party goes, what the Republican Party becomes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So let's begin with an election eve pulse in three states that will give us a good sense tomorrow of just how dramatic a year this might be. Our chief political correspondent Candy Crowley is in Philadelphia, national political correspondent Jessica Yellin is in Bowling Green, Kentucky and senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is in Little Rock, Arkansas. Candy to you first -- I want you to listen to your candidate. You've been following (INAUDIBLE) Arlen Specter today who six years ago he needed George W. Bush. Well today he says vote for me because Barack Obama is on my side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPECTER: President Obama is for me. The Democratic State's Committee voted for me and perhaps more importantly in my tenure in the Senate I have voted on the big issues with the Democrats more often than the Republicans. I've been an independent guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In a primary, Candy, you know better than I intensity matters. Are the Democrats embracing their new convert?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well what is interesting to me right now is the number 16 percent. That's how many people right now according to the latest poll we've seen are undecided. Certainly Arlen Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat has given people pause. One of the things I think even more so than the president's endorsement because we've seen that in gubernatorial races we had last year that the president hasn't had much of a coattail. More importantly I think for Arlen Specter is he does have some big unions behind him and you know John as well as I that unions can get out the vote and that may help.

KING: Let's pick up that point as we shift to Arkansas. The unions are with Arlen Specter there but the incumbent in Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln the unions are working against her. And Dana, Blanche Lincoln as she runs says I know people are mad at Washington but I'm not the problem. Listen to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: People are concerned. I think you know people are disappointed in Washington. And I join them in that. I'm disappointed, too. I mean, you know, I do believe in fiscal responsibility and I am a true moderate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I am a true moderate is not normally the message you hear from somebody trying to rally their party's ideological base.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right because this is not a typical primary where she's having a typical challenge from the left because it just won't work here. You know that, John. Arkansas is very conservative. She absolutely has a big anti-labor is really running hard against her.

Liberal groups have come down here. MoveOn.org are running against her, but what is most fascinating is that her opponent, Bill Halter is not running against her from the left. He is running a classic 2010 play and that is I'm on the outside. You're on the inside. And I need to come up there because Washington needs to be changed. And that is what he says over and over and over again.

KING: And Jess, that's the message from Rand Paul. I'm an outsider. I will change Washington. As he runs, he's running not only against Trey Grayson (ph), his opponent, but against the state senior leader and the Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell was on one of the Sunday shows yesterday. It sounded like he's pretty clear that his guy, Trey Grayson (ph) is not going to win. Listen to Mitch McConnell Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Whichever one ends up running the best race I guess will be the nominee. But most importantly in terms of the Kentucky scene, we will have a unity rally at the State Party Headquarters next Saturday to get behind the winner and win in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In Pennsylvania and Arkansas, the question is how divided are Democrat. In your state it is which direction will the Republican Party go?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and I asked Rand Paul about his feelings for Mitch McConnell, what message of victory Rand Paul victory would send to the Republican establishment, he said see you at that victory party on Saturday, Mr. McConnell. And his overarching (ph) message to the Republican establishment is first butt out -- that's not a direct quote, but butt out of state politics.

Let the people decide. He was very frustrated that the establishment chose and so forcefully got behind his opponent, his chief opponent, Trey Grayson (ph), who as you point out, is trailing badly in the polls. And the second message is there is a Tea Party tidal wave -- that's his word -- his term -- that's sweeping the country and it's going to show tomorrow that they can elect politicians to office. Tomorrow he's right. It looks like the Tea Party will get him a victory. The question is does that work in November and the jury is still out on that, John.

KING: Three different races but there are similarities to a degree. MoveOn.org involved in Democratic races, the Tea Party, which is the power, the new grassroots insurgent on the right in the Republican Party. Is this all internal struggles? Candy, to you first, or is there a debate over jobs? Is there a debate over federal spending or is it mostly just an internal party tug of war?

CROWLEY: It is certainly to me most of this has been about internal party tug of wars as you put it for this Democratic race in particular here in Pennsylvania. This has been a race about Arlen Specter. And the problem that he has right now, the major problem is yes he's an incumbent but he has got to convince Democrats that he's really a Democrat. He just switched over a year ago. I think it's one of the reasons that you saw Arlen Specter quickly say if I lose, I absolutely will be behind Joe Sestak, his opponent. It's -- he has had to be out there. It's why he's talking about Obama and all these other endorsements to say I'm a true Republican -- sorry -- I'm a true Democrat. But also dragging him down, as you noted is the whole idea of incumbents that people want something new and something fresh. But it's definitely been about Arlen Specter and a lot less about issues.

KING: And Jess, if Rand Paul wins this race, is he going to come to Washington as part of the party or is he going to come to Washington to challenge his own party?

YELLIN: He'll be picking and choosing. I mean he's made it pretty clear that he will not be a cookie cutter stamp with the majority leader, minority leader says Republican. He will buck the party when he wants to. His views are sometimes very out of the mainstream like he wants to abolish the department -- Federal Department of Education. But he also wants to enact term limits so his whole message is elect me because I won't do what my party tells me to. I will be my own -- I'll listen to myself and I'll listen to the people. And that's a message that resonates here so powerfully is why he's so far ahead, John.

KING: And Dana, lastly, most years you could go home if you're Blanche Lincoln and say I'm the chairwoman of a committee. I have influence. I have power. I bring you things. Is that in some ways the absolute worst message this year?

BASH: It's the message she's sending good or bad. You know we know just from covering politics that usually and most years you see from polls and you hear from voters that they don't like Washington. They don't like Congress but they're OK with their congressman or they're OK with their senator. And she is still campaigning on that because she doesn't really have much of a choice. She's absolutely campaigning as somebody who is in Washington that can use her seniority to help Arkansans and that she -- they should not vote her out because they will suffer.

They won't get the help for farms. They won't get the help for child -- children's nutrition, but you know on the question of the issues versus this overall atmosphere, it really is a combination of both here, John. I just want to show you. This is just an example, just one example of all of the flyers that have been going to people's homes here -- just a small sample of it. And you know it is coming from outside groups particularly like labor who are saying look she's not one of us.

You've got to get rid of her. But it's also really internally and there are people here, voters here, who are simply saying we like Blanche. She's OK, but it's time for change in Washington. And it's in a way kind of blind and it's just a sentiment, a gut feeling that you get from voters as you talk to them here.

KING: Dana Bash in Arkansas, Jessica Yellin in Kentucky, Candy Crowley I Pennsylvania, we'll see you all back here tomorrow night this hour when some of the first results will start to come in. Both the left and the right are restless, even angry this election season. When we come back, we'll explore their reasons why. Also still ahead tonight, we'll go "Wall-to-Wall" to give you an election preview and break down the keys to victory in tomorrow's major contest.

"One-on-One" tonight with John Cornyn, he tries to recruit and elect Republicans to the Senate. We'll ask him how the GOP will try to escape anti-incumbent fever.

On my "Radar" tonight, you'll want to find out who called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "Goliath" and John McCain has a big campaign shakeup back home in Arizona. And Pete, as always, is out on the street tonight addressing workplace incivility.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Some look at 2010 so far and see the year of extreme politics. Both the far left and the far right are angry, restless. How will this tug of war affect tomorrow's primaries and ultimately the lawmakers who come here to Washington?

With me now CNN contributor Erick Erickson -- he's the editor-in- chief of the conservative blog RedState.com and Amy Goodman, host of the radio news program "Democracy Now!". I'm going to put an interesting proposition before the two of you who disagree on so many things. The left is angry. The right is angry. Both are angry about TARP, correct, bailouts?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: I think that's pretty fair.

KING: Amy, that fair?

AMY GOODMAN, HOST, "DEMOCRACY NOW!": Oh I think yes. Bailing out the big banks with very little strings attached, absolutely.

KING: OK and both are angry for very different reasons about the Obama health care bill, right?

ERICKSON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

GOODMAN: Oh I think there's no question especially that weighs in strongly with Bill Halter who is for the public option and Blanche Lincoln she just did a flip-flop on that.

KING: So let's start with Blanche Lincoln right there. You two both -- I want the record to reflect I got you both to agree on two things. That's pretty good.

(CROSSTALK) KING: How it plays out of course will be very different. Let's listen to Blanche Lincoln. She talked to our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash today and she says what is the problem here. Labor unions are against her. Amy, as you noted, they are with Bill Halter. She says what's the problem? I'm with you most of the time. That should be good enough. Listen to Senator Lincoln.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINCOLN: It's not that I'm the big, bad enemy. I'm just not at 100 percent and I think you know for all of us as Arkansans or Americans, are you ever going to -- are you going to ever agree with somebody on 100 percent of everything?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Does she have a point, Amy, or did she cross a line?

GOODMAN: Well first, quickly, I just want to say I don't think we're talking about the far left in these situations. We're talking about mainstream progressives who are deeply concerned Democrats have left them behind. Like Blanche Lincoln known as Wal-Mart senator in Arkansas. On health care she said no to a public option. On the employee free choice act she said no. And this really angered working people in Arkansas.

KING: And if you get a Republican senator from Arkansas as a result, many people think Blanche Lincoln whatever flaws she might have is a stronger candidate than the general election, probably lose anyway in a Republican year, but if you would rather have a Republican senator than what you call a Wal-Mart senator back?

GOODMAN: I mean I think that Bill Halter the issue is much more about representing working people and who does that -- Democrats or Republicans? I'm not for Democrats or Republicans. I am about certain platforms that are of deep concern to Americans I think across the political spectrum.

KING: And Erick, I want you listen to Rand Paul who I know is your candidate in the state of Kentucky. He is favored to win that primary tomorrow. I want you to listen to his message today and tell me what you think it means if he comes to the Senate from the state of Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: It will be the first victory for a Tea Party candidate in a statewide election and this will have huge ramifications. We, the Tea Party, we the people of Kentucky, we will help to decide what that message is, where the Republican Party goes, what the Republican Party becomes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What are the ramifications he's talking about? ERICKSON: Well you know, first I would say Scott Brown might argue with him on being the first Tea Party candidate considering what happened up in Massachusetts. But by in large he's right in that this will be a base driven grassroots driven candidacy. We're seeing this battle across the country and I'm glad to be a part of it with the Republican establishment in Washington saying these are our favorite candidates and the grassroots saying no not this time. We put up with your candidates before.

We're going to go our way this time. You know, though, I would say in regards to this and Arkansas there's been a lot of ink spilled and oxygen consumed over this purge in the Republican Party. But you've got to keep in mind the Democrats are going through this as well in Pennsylvania and Arkansas and if we're going to talk about a purge, we should talk about on both sides except the Democrats particularly in Arkansas don't look like they're going to purge Blanche Lincoln. It looks like they're going to hang onto her.

KING: Do you agree with that Amy, there's a bit of a purge?

GOODMAN: Well first I don't know what's going to happen in Arkansas. But I think people are saying get back to what is basic I think among the Democrats. What are basic Democratic principles that have to do with people not losing their homes, bankruptcy, not having health care and it's the candidates who are not representing the large corporations in Washington that speak to them wherever they are in the political spectrum whether they are Democrat, Republican or independent.

KING: You know low turnout midterm year intensity is what matters most. Let me ask you both in closing -- Amy, to you first -- on a scale of one to 10, 10 being high intensity, where do you see intensity on the left, the progressive movement right now?

GOODMAN: I mean I think it's all over the country right now. And people are angry. They're angry about the wars that President Obama hasn't pulled back. They're angry about health care that public option and single payer wasn't considered. And they're looking for candidates who represent their points of view -- what they thought were the basic principles, American principles.

KING: And Erick, on the right if on the left they're still looking, how do people feel on the right on the scale of one to 10.

ERICKSON: I think on the right they're probably at a 9.9 if not a 10 among the grassroots, maybe not necessarily the establishment who seem to be OK with the status quo by in large. The real issue is where do the moderates, independents fall and right now they're looking at these Tea Party guys and conservatives and saying I think I'm with them and they are headed rapidly to a 10 as well.

KING: Erick Erickson, Amy Goodman, thanks for your thoughts tonight. We'll see what happens tomorrow and check back in with you.

(CROSSTALK) KING: Thank you both. Next, we fire up my old friend the "Magic Wall" to show where you can find the keys to victory. CNN is the place to be as the votes come in tomorrow and it all starts right here on JKUSA. The first returns from Kentucky will come in during our hour, 7:00 p.m. (INAUDIBLE).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight we'll try to give you a sense of what to look for. Twenty-four hours from now right here on this program the first results will start to come in from the big primaries. So let's look more closely at what we'll being looking for tomorrow night. As we do -- as we do this here let's look at African- American voters in Pennsylvania. As you can see across the state here, let me come in on the state a little bit, here's another thing you want to look at.

Union households -- let me shrink this down -- the union households are backing -- the unions are backing former Republican now Democrat Arlen Specter. You see the intensity here -- the brighter yellow the more union households, so down here in the Philadelphia area out here in Pittsburgh, watch the labor vote. Another thing right here the African-American vote. The majority of it is right down here in central city Philadelphia. Can there be a big turnout in the city among African-American voters? If that is happening, it's a good night for Arlen Specter -- something to watch in that state as we watch that play out.

Now let's take a look at the state of Kentucky. We'll shrink this down -- we'll pull this up in the state of Kentucky. One thing we'll look for in Kentucky first the population centers -- Louisville, Lexington, those are the big population centers. That's where most of your vote will come from. But an interesting -- remember this is a big Republican primary here. The interesting thing to watch is these rural areas. Let me shrink the state down a little bit again and bring it down just a little bit -- now we come back in.

(INAUDIBLE) you see in here in these rural areas, the evangelical vote is critical. Tea party candidate Rand Paul hoping to get disaffected (ph) Tea Partiers plus evangelicals from down in the rural areas -- watch that as that one plays out. Now let's look at one more, the state of Arkansas as we watch the primaries there. Let's bring up the telestrator (ph), bring that down -- pull this back out. Arkansas is a fascinating state in terms of the lighter the colors here -- this is where you find most African-American votes right down in here.

Little Rock, Hot Springs in this area -- watch the African- American turnout here. Not only how many are turning out but how are they splitting. That's one thing to watch and Blanche Lincoln hopes to avoid a runoff -- she needs 50 percent to avoid a runoff. Before she was in the Senate she was in the House of Representatives. This is roughly an outline of her old house district up here in northeast Arkansas. When she first had a primary running for the Senate years ago, big turnout up here in her old house district made the difference. She was campaigning up there over the weekend. Watch the turnout up here in northeast Arkansas. If it is way up, perhaps Blanche Lincoln has a chance to avoid a runoff. As we go -- now three big contested primaries tomorrow but they are not the only incumbents in trouble. Senator Specter in Pennsylvania, Senator Lincoln in Arkansas, two others to watch as we go forward in the primary season.

Michael Bennett (ph), the appointed Democratic senator from Colorado, he faces a big primary too from State Senator Andrew Romanoff. And John McCain the former presidential candidate for the Republican Party, just two years later, he's in a tough race, former Congressman J.D. Hayworth challenging Senator McCain from the right as well. We'll continue to watch that.

Next when we come back here "One-on-One" with Senator John Cornyn. He is the top Republican recruiting candidates for the Senate and we're also determined to bring you into our conversation, so each week we ask you to "Make Your Case" on an important topic. This week's question: Does your member of Congress deserve to be re- elected? Record your opinion and post it at CNN.com/JohnKingUSA. We'll play the best video on Friday and the winner gets a JKUSA mug.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

KING: History tells us the first midterm of any presidency is almost always good for the opposition party, but while Republican prospects are certainly looking up, this year is especially volatile. Consider this, conservatives in Utah refused to nominate incumbent Republican Senator Robert Bennett for another term and the early favored Charlie Crist bolted the Republican Party in Florida.

Even Senator John Cornyn who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which recruits and supports GOP candidates, has admitted he's glad he's not on the ballot this year. He's with us now to go "One-on-One".

Senator Cornyn, to that point, if you look just at the race that matters most to you tomorrow, the Republican primary, the Senate race in Kentucky, Trey Grayson, the secretary of state, he holds statewide office, in a normal year he would be the overwhelming favorite and yet Rand Paul is a Tea Party favorite, not a politician, comes out of almost nowhere. What's in the water this year?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, NATL. REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL CMTE. CHMN.: Well, obviously Kentucky reflects what's happening around the country and that is there's a lot of people engaged in the political process that are relatively new to the process. A lot of these folks are folks who showed up at town hall meetings and showed up at tea parties and they're voting. We saw that happen in Utah in the convention process where Bob Bennett did not make it into the primary. You know, the most important thing, John, is there are active primaries on both sides on the Republican side and the Democratic side and it's not unique to ours. We will nominate the strongest candidate and we'll get behind that candidate and I'm confident in a state that President Obama got 41% of the vote in 2008 that the next senator from Kentucky will be a Republican senator.

KING: Do you worry at all about the tone and sense that Rand Paul has said a vote for Trey Grayson is a vote for more big Washington spending, more bailouts, more of the same. Trey Grayson responded with an ad that Rand Paul would be some sort of an extreme cartoon figure. Is Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment is that dead this year?

CORNYN: Look, I think the 11th commandment is honored more in the breach than in the observance in Republican primaries and in Democratic primaries we're seeing a lot of back and forth as well. All of that will be forgotten. We'll have a unified ticket after the primary and obviously our goal is to win in November.

KING: Let's look at the other two big primaries next year in terms of the Democratic candidates. In Pennsylvania, you are pretty certain who the Republican candidate will be. When you look at the two Democrats, former Republican colleague now a Democrat Arlen Specter, Congressman Joe Sestak in that race there. Who do you think would be the tougher opponent for Republicans in the fall?

CORNYN: I think Pat Toomey will be the next United States senator from Pennsylvania. Right now it looks like Sestak is surging. He may beat Arlen Specter. Arlen said he was switching parties because he couldn't win in the Republican primary for no other reason and I think he is having a hard time finding a way to appeal to Democrats because frankly he doesn't seem to have any particular orientation for one party or the other, just his political survival.

KING: Yet he's been counted out before. He was counted out six years ago as a Republican. Do you worry more in a general election about Arlen Specter or Joe Sestak?

CORNYN: I think Arlen certainly is better known but, look, I acknowledged Arlen is a survivor. He's survived everything that's been thrown at him from a health standpoint, from a political standpoint. I think either one of those gentleman will be beatable by Pat Toomey so I don't have a preference going into November.

KING: What about the state of Arkansas? Blanche Lincoln another person with seniority having a hard time because it seems like unlike many years where if you have seniority, that's not an asset. Is she a better Democrat for the candidates in a general election?

CORNYN: Certainly Blanche Lincoln is better known and I expect that she'll probably win the primary but she'll probably get in a runoff with Mr. Halter, the lieutenant governor. She's getting hit from the left by the unions and others for not supporting card check and cap and trade and the like and of course she's got very strong challenge from the right. The other candidates are running for the Republican nomination.

KING: Lastly, your colleague in leadership and on the judiciary committee John Kyl said over the weekend he doesn't not envision a scenario in which a filibuster would be used against Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court nomination.

CORNYN: Part of it is a function of the fact we only have 41 Republicans and all of us would have to stick together to filibuster any nominee. We fought against the use of the 60-vote requirement when President Bush was there and ultimately the new rule evolved, the new precedent in Senate was set that only under extraordinary circumstances would a filibuster be considered. I don't see those sorts of extraordinary circumstances being present with Elena Kagan. That being said, we have a responsibility to ask her the hard questions. She's got the responsibility to answer those questions. We'll see how it goes through the hearing.

KING: Senator John Cornyn of Texas, appreciate your time today. Like you, we'll watch closely to see what happens tomorrow.

From Republicans anti-Washington playbook is important when it comes to today's most important person you don't know. Find out why next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Today's most important person you don't know is the new representative from Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional district. We don't know who that is either. Pennsylvania 12 is the seat of the late John Murtha. There's a special election tomorrow to fill it. The Democrat in the race is long time Murtha aide Mark Critz. He's emphasizing his familiarity with people in the district. Critz is anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and opposes health care reform none of which stopped Joe Biden and Bill Clinton for campaigning for him. His opponent Tim Burns is using the 2010 Republican playbook. He's anti- Washington, anti-incumbent and anti-big government spending. Sarah Palin called him a hockey dad when she endorsed him framing the race the businessman against the bureaucrat. Three people who know a lot about politics here to help us go through our radar, John Feehery Republican strategist, Hilary Rosen Democrat strategist and our senior political analyst Gloria Borger. Why does Pennsylvania 12, John, we'll start at the end, why does it matter? This is an election, not a primary.

JOHN FEEHERY, CONSERVATIVE STRATEGIST: Well, it matters because it will show what the rest of the year will be like. I think that for the Republican in the race, he's got a tough road to hold because it's a Democratic primary also. That's going to really bring up a lot of the Democrat folks who are both for Specter and Sestak. So the Republicans shouldn't too exercised if they lose this race although I do think they have a good shot at winning.

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The Republicans have been talking about reclaiming this district and districts like this for the last several months. I think it is a bellwether state. It was interesting who went out there. This was Clinton country for Hillary Clinton in the early primaries and then it went for John McCain in the general election. These are conservative Democrats holding onto conservative Democrats is critical for Democrats in November. GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a district that Jack Murtha had for decades, was probably drawn and redrawn for Jack Murtha. It's full of conservatives. If Republicans can't take this district now, then maybe we're overestimating what they're going to be able to do in the midterm elections. I take your point that there's a hot Democratic primary in the Senate race and lots of Democrats could come out and vote and that could hurt the Republican but even so, this is a pro-gun, pro-life, working class district that should appeal --

KING: Hang on. If it's a test of the Republican message this year, of this one candidate, it's also a test of something they're trying nationally. I want to stay with this race and I want you to look at this pro-Tim Burns commercial by a conservative group called Right Change and it's the attack of the 80-foot Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, gorged on our taxpayer dollars, Pelosi is a power hungry goliath defying the will of the American people. Who has the power to stop her? Who can save America? You, the Pennsylvania voter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I think OTT, over the top.

FEEHERY: This is an awesome commercial. It's great. It's humorous. It really lays out the problems in the electorate. It's an awesome commercial.

BORGER: I talked to somebody today involved in the Republican race who said let's just say that Nancy Pelosi tests well when it comes to Republican voters.

ROSEN: On the other hand, Nancy Pelosi was one of John Murtha's closest allies in the house. She's been in that district. She helped deliver a lot of things for that district. I'm not sure her name recognition is so bad among Democrats and independents.

KING: We mentioned at the top Bill Clinton was there. While he was there campaigning for Mark Critz in Pennsylvania yesterday, he had advice for angry voters. Here's Bill Clinton. "Forget about politics. Think about decisions you made in your life when you were really mad. There's an 80 percent chance you made as mistake."

FEEHERY: Or if you're Bill Clinton, a 100 percent chance.

ROSEN: He knows best, doesn't he?

KING: The voice of experience, is that what you're saying there?

BORGER: There's a saying don't get mad, get even. That's what a lot of these voters are thinking.

KING: All right. Let's move on the government's top bureaucrat for oversight offshore oil drilling is getting out of town you might say in a hurry. Chris Oynes is associate director of the Interior Department Offshore Minerals Management program. The administration official tells CNN that shortly after the deep water Horizon explosion he announced he would retire at the end of June. Today he told colleagues he's leaving at the end of this month. This resignation on top of the fact now we know word of a presidential commission to look into this. They're mad at the oil companies. But the administration I think also seems to realize that some of this is internal.

ROSEN: I should say I do some crisis communications work for BP. From the administration's standpoint --

KING: Tough job these days.

ROSEN: Tough job but you know they'll stop this leak. The administration is, you know, their neck is a bit on the line, too, here on the crisis side. They have worked extremely hard and I think they're going to come out of this just fine. Clearly there are going to be people calling for more regulation and that ought to happen. And a lot of the regulation that has existed they've inherited from the Bush administration. That's not the president's fault. That's not the interior department's fault.

FEEHERY: I think there's a narrative to the story and I think the Obama administration is getting in the middle of the narrative too quickly. First thing they've got to do is fix the leak and they've got to focus on that. Let's worry then about the other stuff. I think they're way ahead of the story.

BORGER: But they have a policy that calls for offshore drilling. They have to answer these questions before they can continue that policy which they temporarily suspended.

ROSEN: They've demonstrated they're capable of dealing with emergency and that's what they have to be doing.

KING: All right.

BORGER: But the regulation was lax on their watch as well.

KING: Can you guys sing a tune, do you think here?

BORGER: Not me.

KING: Happy birthday to YouTube. It's all of five years old. Officials celebrated by announcing it's now getting more than 2 billion views a day. The most popular political ad in those five year is will.i.am's Yes We Can from back in 2008. It's viewed more than 20 million times. The most viewed ad in this political cycle, Carly Fiorina's demon sheep. That ad's in the California Senate race and political ad all the rage on YouTube today. Stay tuned. We'll show you that in play by play.

Also ahead in play by play, Arlen Specter versus ...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back for the play by play. You get the drill. We break down the tape with our experts here and analyze what's right and what's wrong. Democrat Hilary Rosen, Republican John Feehery with us. I want you both to listen. Arlen Specter in a tough primary in Pennsylvania was on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley this weekend. Now remember a year ago he was a Republican. Now he's a Democrat. When he switched parties a lot of people said why is he doing this? Why is he doing this? Arlen Specter told Candy Crowley if he had stayed in the Republican Party --

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I had a clear shot at re- election. If I had stayed with the obstructionist Republican caucus, I would have been re-elected easily especially in an out year when the party out of power is favored.

KING: OK. Let's remember that guy. Now that's Arlen Specter, right? He would win. If he stayed a Republican, he would win. Then who is this guy?

SPECTER: My change in party will enable me to be re-elected. I undertook a very thorough survey of Republicans in Pennsylvania with polling and a lot of personal contacts and it became apparent to me that my chances to be elected on the Republican ticket were bleak.

KING: Will the real Arlen Specter please stand up?

FEEHERY: Arlen Specter is a survivor. We'll see. He might survive this. Let's not kid ourselves. Arlen Specter is all about the party of Arlen Specter. He's not really a Democrat and he's not really a Republican. He really is Arlen Specter.

ROSEN: I understand why Harry Reid and President Obama came out in support of Arlen Specter early when he made the party switch. We need his vote on health care. I'm glad we got his vote on health care. If he had principles he would voted for it as a Republican. Count me in the box. Hoping Joe Sestak wins.

KING: All right. I don't just want to pick on Arlen Specter though. That was too easy. He said one thing once and another thing another time. Let's take a shot at Congressman Sestak. Here he is. He's on the MSNBC "The Ed Show" the other day. He's a Congressman. Now listen.

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: People have lost any faith that Washington, D.C. could do something right. They feel it's broken down in Washington. They know that --

KING: Can you stop that for me? It's broken down in Washington. You have seen this before. See these buildings and see those columns down in Washington. He's a Congressman in Washington.

ROSEN: Are you sure it's not the Pennsylvania train station in.

KING: No that's not the Pennsylvania. That's the Russell Senate office building where he's doing a live shot but it's broken down in Washington. FEEHERY: Sestak is right. It's broken down in Washington and he's part of the problem.

ROSEN: Sestak has not been in office very long. He's considered a reformer. I think he still has credibility on that. He came in making change. You know, I think he's got the change voter by the way. We'll see whether the change voter wins in the primary.

FEEHERY: The only guy outside of Washington right outside of Washington is Pat Thume. Thume will come in and really change things up. You watch.

KING: All right. We'll see how that one goes. The interesting thing to me about that race, six years ago Arlen Specter needed George W. Bush to help him get through a primary against Pat Thume, six years later he needs President Obama.

FEEHERY: And Rick Santorum, too.

KING: All right. Only in the YouTuber era. There is an ad in the Alabama primary, not for governor, not for Senate, not for Congress, but for agriculture commissioner that has received more than 114,000 hits in 24 hours. This is why.

DALE PETERSON: Here we are losing three family farms a day. The illegals bust in by the thousands and Alabama's unemployment's at all time high and what are my opponents doing about it? Stealing yard signs in the dark of night for my supporters. We're Republicans, we should be better than. That I'm Dale Peterson. I'll name names and take no prisoner.

FEEHERY: I wouldn't want to fool around with him. He's got a gun.

KING: You wouldn't take his yard sign would you?

FEEHERY: No yard sign stealing for me.

BORGER: Voter roles are public. It is a little unnerving. This is the amazing thing about it being YouTube's fifth anniversary. It's hard to imagine a political campaign season now without YouTube. And when you think that we've only had one presidential race with YouTube, we've had -- this is only our second, you know, political cycle with YouTube. This is a phenomenon that is forever changed politics. It's instant accessibility.

FEEHERY: And the ads don't only have to be 30-second ads. It could be three minute ads like the Demon Sheep ad you talked about before. Sometimes you have three, four, five-minute ads. It could be a lot of fun.

KING: Let's stay on this for a minute. What's the plus? The plus is instantaneous. The plus you is get feedback instantly, right? What else?

BORGER: Well, it's citizens talking. I mean one of the great things about, you know, online video is anybody can make it and anybody can put it up. So if you looked -- if you looked up on YouTube or on another online video site and keyed in, you know, Dale Peterson or Arlen Specter or Pat Thume, you'd have tons of homemade videos with people expressing their videos. It's not just the professional political ads.

FEEHERY: You get to see the creativity of the American people. That is refreshing. It's not the usual campaign consultants doing the usual stupid stuff. It's really exciting and interesting things out there. It's fun to watch.

KING: Is there a down side?

BORGER: I don't see it. The down side is that politicians --

KING: If you make a mistake, they don't know if it isn't fact.

BORGER: Politicians are always a little more careful, always on. That might be a down side.

KING: All right. Nothing you want to say?

FEEHERY: I don't think there is a down side. The great American people doing their thing. It's great.

KING: I want to show you a picture from "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" yesterday. Peter Orszag who is the budget director is on. His fiancee is right there with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parents talked to me about keeping me on a budget and how important it is to stay within one's budget. I was like, you know, I don't think you have to worry. He's the one that does the budget.

KING: Stop that. It's nice to see Peter relaxed in his jeans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the luckiest guy in the world. How does a budget director get someone that looks like that?

KING: Now the snarky people would say you know she says she doesn't have to worry about the budget anymore. The snarky people would say, wait, look at the federal deficit since the Obama administration came to town. We may have numbers we can show you on that one. That was the deficit the first year. And it is starting to go down. So maybe he should take some solace in that.

BORGER: There is comfort in that. She's a smart reporter. But I'm not sure that they on the couch will do quite the George and Ally thing.

KING: So their first time, they'll get there, Hilary. They'll get there. Hilary Rose, John Feehery, thanks for that.

Ever have one of the days at the office, not to they ever happen here, where you just want to tell a co-worker what you really think? Pete Dominick is investigating that after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Campbell Brown is a few minutes away at the top of the hour. Let's head up to New York and get a sense of what's coming up. Hi Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, John. Tonight I'll have an exclusive interview with a Muslim-American in the U.S. army who says he is a target within his own ranks. Also the stunning results of an exclusive CNN study on raising our kids. Over a half century since desegregation in America schools, what lessons have we yet to learn? We'll talk about that and a lot more in a few minutes. John?

KING: We'll see you then. Thanks, Campbell.

You know, our off beat reporter Pete Dominick is a voracious reader. He was reading this book coming out by Jonathan Alter that has an exchange in there. It talks about how Barney Frank, a congressman, launched an f-bomb tirade over Hank Paulson, he was the treasury secretary, back late in the Bush administration when they had the Wall Street bailout plan. So yelling at each other? Using foul language. You would ever do that at the office? Pete is on the case.

PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: Yeah, apparently, John, it was even worse than that. Apparently Congressman Frank almost physically attacked Secretary Paulson. But Senator Obama apparently got in between. I wanted to ask people if they ever had that kind of situation at their job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINICK: You ever get in a fight at work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time.

DOMINICK: No. Do you curse each other out at your office?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

DOMINICK: What place do you work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Postal office.

DOMINICK: Do you ever curse somebody out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have but not at work.

DOMINICK: Not at work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kill them with kindness. I just go with a smile.

DOMINICK: You ever curse at work? Have you ever cursed at anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife. DOMINICK: Just your wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in the wine business. That's the thing. Everyone is half sedated all the time anyway.

DOMINICK: That's a good point. You are drunk right now, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm totally out of my mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work at a ticket agency in Times Square.

DOMINICK: The Lion King tickets left. I want Lion King. Any fights ever at work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just fire them.

DOMINICK: You just fire people. That's awesome. I wish I had the ability to fire. You guys are fired.

Sir, have you ever gotten in a fight on the job? Has that ever happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ever curse someone out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time.

DOMINICK: You're an actor. Act like you're really mad and curse me out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How dare you, you [ beep ] jerk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why you son of a gun.

DOMINICK: Geez, sir!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to hurt you. You're too cute.

DOMINICK: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINICK: John King, you have ever been in a fistfight your whole life? I say no.

KING: A fistfight my whole life, yes, at the office, no.

DOMINICK: Where?

KING: In a place called Dorchester, Massachusetts, my friend. I'll take through some time.

DOMINICK: Would love to go with you, sir.

KING: Those are interesting people. The woman, we gave her a flaming head on television. She is a good actress.

DOMINICK: Yes, she is I'm hoping things take off with her even with the graphic you guys put on, I think she'll do all right.

KING: You guys had some energy together. Pete Dominick, we'll see you tomorrow. Campbell Brown starts right now.