Return to Transcripts main page


Director of National Intelligence Resigns; Guns and Immigration

Aired May 20, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. The culture war is front and center in our politics tonight with emotional new debates over immigration, gun laws and whether the federal government's civil rights laws of the 1960s went too far, but we're putting your safety first because there's a major breaking story tonight.

A dramatic shakeup in President Obama's national security team. The country's director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair is out. He' just issued a statement confirming what CNN sources have told us earlier in the day. He is resigning. Those sources also report long-running personality and policy clashes between Blair and other members of the Obama war cabinet, including the president and the CIA director, Leon Panetta. Blair's resignation also comes in the wake of two scathing new reports, one from the Senate Intelligence Committee, the other from the leaders of the 9/11 commission.

Both reports criticize the intelligence community and other government agencies that suggest their failure to improve intelligence gathering and to share information is undermining America's security. The Senate report lists 14 intelligence failures leading up to the attempted Christmas day bombing of a U.S. airliner, and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Kit Bond says we cannot depend on dumb luck, incompetent terrorists and alert citizens to keep our families safe.

Senator Bond joins me now along with CNN nation security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was President Bush's homeland security adviser and is a member of the CIA executive advisory board. Senator Bond, to you first, I have your report here, pretty damning language about essentially the same things we heard after 9/11, failure to communicate, failure to share intelligence, failure to connect the dots and see trouble on the horizon. Is this resignation, is DNI Director Blair, now former Director Blair, was he part of the problem in your view?

SEN. KIT BOND, (R) MISSOURI: Actually, I think Admiral Blair deserves thanks for serving well. He had had to be very frustrated that he was put on the sidelines by the attorney general, who is now running much of the intelligence collection effort, and he got the blame for it. Now, there's blame to go around, and we pointed out in our reports the things that were missed. The director of National Intelligence, though, was never given the authority nor the support to get all the things done that needed to be done.

KING: So, when you say in this report, the NCTC, the National Counterterrorism Center, which was under his control, failed to do many things, you don't blame them directly? you think they were interfered with elsewhere in the administration?

BOND: I think in that instance, I think the NCTC did have shortcomings. I think those needs to be addressed. I think that there are other areas where he clearly has been put on the sidelines and it's been -- he has had the intelligence community has had the ability to question terrorists we've caught trying to be in the act, away from the intelligence committee and turned it over to the FBI for criminal prosecution, which is the wrong way to deal with a terrorist.

KING: Help the American people, help anybody watching this, Senator. Tonight, their big question is why is this decorated military veteran resigning? And am I any safer? I think is that the key question the American people would have. This job was created after 09/11. He is now the third DNI in five years. So, we will have a fourth in five-plus years. And I want to share something with you, this from a source to CNN tonight, somebody close to Admiral Blair. He said on the record many times that his intention was to serve the full four years at the will of the president. The will of the president changed. What's going on here?

BOND: Well, I think he's been squeezed out. He's been squeezed out by turf wars. He has been undercut by the White House on a number of occasions. And the attorney general has taken over the handling of terrorists who've been captured. They're questioning how they can be held, how they should be treated. That is a problem. But I believe that there are rivalries in the White House, but with Blair and other members of the intelligence committee -- community. And he did not -- he came out on the losing end.

KING: I'm going to bring Fran Townsend into the conversation. Senator, please feel free to jump in as we talk. You heard the senator talking about these. There are always rivalries. There are always turf battles, but this job was created to try to at least minimize them so that we caught things, so that we connected the dots that we have not in the past before 9/11. As Senator Bond and even the White House have said in the case of the Christmas day bombing, never should have happened. The guy never should have been allowed to get on a plane. His visa should have been revoked. What's happening here?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's interesting, John because I think there have been rivalries, and we've heard lots of dwelling and gnashing of teeth about it. I think they were getting along better both director of NADA (ph) and Admiral Blair. We know there's always going to be some tensions because, of course, Admiral Blair is responsible for coordinating the entire intelligence community including the CIA. You know, the interesting thing about the Senate's intelligence report with all due respect to it is, you know, they took several months to go through the Christmas Day bombing attempt.

The White House, in fairness to them and to their credit, John, Brennan did a report in like two weeks. That never happens in government, and it wasn't much else we learned from the Senate report. They took the mistake seriously. They're changing them. And quite frankly, I think Admiral Blair just -- this is a decorated navy admiral, as you point out, who likes to be in the mix of an operation and that's not the DNI's job. He is much more an enterprise manager, and I really think it's not a whole lot more to the story than he didn't really like this job and it was time to go.

KING: Let me ask you a question, Senator --

BOND: I just disagree with that.

KING: You disagree?

BOND: I disagree that analysis. Yes.

KING: Do we need this job? It was created with the best of intentions when we saw all the problems after 9/11, but there were many veterans of the intelligence community, including the current defense secretary, Bob Gates, who came back in the Republican Bush administration. He's not an Obama guy. He wrote an op-ed when the DNI was being considered saying yes, there needs to be better coordination. Yes, there needs to be better sharing of intelligence and everyone needs to get along better, but this job is not the way to do it. Do we need this job? We've now had three DNIs in five years, and now, we will have a fourth.

BOND: Everyone I've talked to in that position has said they had all of the responsibility but not the authority. The Senate could not and the Congress could not give the director, the intelligence to coordinate the community. He really had very little power. I did not vote for the bill because I thought you created up an unnecessary there of bureaucracy with no authority. And I have talked to former DNIs who say, yes, you were right. We should have come forward and asked for some power.

But obviously, Fran, you know that there was a battle between the CIA director and the DNI, but the DNI should have been able to appoint the DNI station chiefs around the world, and the White House, the NSC came down on Director Panetta's side, and he was, once again -- Admiral Blair was shunned to the side, but this is a problem I think the national Senate -- National Security Council, not Leon Panetta had with Admiral Blair.

TOWNSEND: Senator Bond is absolutely right. I mean, when we presented -- when the former administration presented the legislation, we did think the DNI needed budget and personnel authority, neither of which he got. Senator Bond is absolutely correct, and I do think that hamstrung the position and made it more difficult. He is supposed to, though, set standards for training, deconfliction, and Admiral Blair has lost a number of these battles with the CIA director. And I agree. I do think that that was part of his frustration in his position.

KING: And so Senator, finally, again, to what somebody watching at home would care most about. So, we have turf battles. You think the attorney general has pushed him to the sidelines, but Fran has talked about other policy and personality conflicts. Are we, on this day, doing a better job gathering intelligence, sharing intelligence among and between the relevant government agencies, including say the New York City police department or the St. Louis police department, for that matter, than we were years ago, or are these turf battles and interagency squabbles making things worse?

BOND: I think there is better sharing of information. We pointed out a number of things that were not classified that needs to be better information technology systems. The one thing that I think is making our country less safe, it is the Department of Justice, the attorney general taking over the handling of terrorist we capture and treating them as criminal prosecution subjects who have to be mirandized rather than getting the information from them and not telling them they don't have to talk and they get -- have to get an attorney.

We don't need -- there's no law that says they have to have the Miranda warning. The intelligence community, not the Department of Justice, ought to be questioning these people and following the information that they give immediately, without releasing it as the Department of Justice has.

KING: Let me ask you quickly in closing, I'm not sure, Senator, anyone who agreed with your perspective, and I'm sure the justice department will disagree and we will give them a chance to make their case here in the program. But given your perspective right there and what you think of this administration and Fran, I want you to weigh in quickly as well as closing, who should take this job, Senator Bond? Who should replace Dennis Blair as the DNI if you believe it's a vital position?

BOND: I think it could be a vital position. I think as (INAUDIBLE) said it's probably right now not worth with a bucket of warm spit. I think probably the only person who could make it work would be Leon Panetta.

TOWNSEND: Two leading contenders right now, John Hamre, former Deputy secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and General Jim Clapper, a career military intelligence official, currently the undersecretary of the Department of Defense or Intelligence. Both would be magnificent appointments.

KING: Fran Townsend, Senator Kit Bond, we appreciate your help tonight on this breaking news story.

BOND: Thank you.

KING: We will stay on top of it in the days ahead. Thank you both very much.

Still a lot to come in our program, including, in our politics, the return of what you might call the culture wars. Mexico's president was invited to speak to Congress today. He immediately stokes emotional battles about gun control and immigration.

Also tonight, wall-to-wall, it was a month ago, the tragic oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico. An ultimatum of sorts from the Congress today, many lawmakers saying BP cannot be trusted anymore. They want complete transparency about the size and scope of that spill.

On my radar tonight, Rand Paul and race. He is the tea party candidate, the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky. New comments he has made about states' rights versus civil rights stirring not only a debate in Kentucky but across the country.

And in play-by-play tonight, Republicans once had a fearless forecast of huge gains in the midterm election. They're scaling that back a little bit. Just how many seat do they expect to pick up?


KING: Guns, immigration, civil rights, you might say the culture wars are back in our politics. This morning, congress assembled for a rare joint meeting to hear an address by the Mexican president, Felipe Calderon. An honor extended to very few international leaders and only ones considered to be friends of the United States. But what lawmakers got was a bit of a lecture on immigration and gun laws.

Joining me now from San Diego is California Republican, Congressman Brian Bilbray and with me here in studio, Illinois Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez who's chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force. Gentlemen, I want you to listen first to some of what you heard from your guest. He said a lot of nice things about the relationship, a lot of positive things about the relationship, but he also sharply condemned the Arizona new state immigration law. Listen to this.


PRES. FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICO: That not only ignores the reality that cannot be erased by decree but also introduce a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.


KING: That was one criticism of an action by one state in the United States. He also criticized the Congress, going back in history saying that when the federal assault weapons ban was allowed to expire, that is one of the reasons that guns are flowing, he says, across his border, contributing to the drug violence.


CALDERON: There is one issue where Mexico needs your cooperation and that is stopping the flow of assault weapons and other deadly arms across the border. If you'll look carefully, you will notice that the violence Mexico started to grow a couple of years before I took office in 2006. This coincides, at least, with the lifting of the assault weapons ban in 2004.


KING: Congressman Bilbray, you first, the Mexican president on Arizona immigration law saying that it's racial profiling and uses it as an affront to his people, and he also thinks that you could help this drug war if we reinstate the assault weapons ban. Does he have a point?

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY, (R) CALIFORNIA: No, he's missing the point. I think, you know, I appreciate he's brave. He's taking on the drug cartels, but he is, you know, talking about Arizona, kind of disingenuous when Arizona has implemented a program that for years. Sixty-three other political subdivisions have adopted that policy here in the United States, and he hasn't read the bill. I shouldn't point fingers at home. We have a lot of our people in our administration that made the same mistake, and the issue of the gun issue was just like the immigration issue. You cannot continue to mix legal and illegal together. You got to separate that our problem is the legal immigration. Our problem is the legal gun sales. We need to focus on those. And by mixing the two together, you actually give the cartels and the smugglers the cover to be able to continue to hide on this.

John, I think we got to say the fact is the president needs to read the laws, get the facts but the thing is with -- to blame the drug violence down south on the fact that semiautomatic weapons are being sold legally in the United States, absurd. We all know these are illegal drug activity and illegal immigration activity and illegal gun activity and that's where Mexico and America should focus on. Like we've done with the merit admission (ph).

KING: Who's right, your colleague from California or the president of Mexico?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: I think, let's put in context what the president of Mexico said today. He said that he has put his civil forces, his military forces, and as my colleague in San Diego said, he's very brave and very courageous. He is taking on the drug cartels. And what he said is can you help? There's two different fronts. He said 75,000 arms have been captured from the drug cartel. 25,000 a year. And he says 80 percent of them are coming from the United States.

Can you help me? There's 7,000 points along the border where guns are sold. He said, can you help? He had a suggestion. I think we should respond to someone who says that is our common border. He also said, look, there's a consumption of drugs in the United States also. We need to work in a bilateral, because the people that win are the drug cartels when we don't coordinate our efforts.

KING: But is there any agreement between the two of you, to the point I know you disagree on the gun control issue, you disagree on the Arizona law. What about if you want to help the president of Mexico? What about in the short-term, two border securities beef up security along the border, would you agree to do that if Congressman Bilbray would agree next, once that is done, maybe after the election, in a less emotional lame duck session of Congress, have a conversation about the broader bill you want and includes against work or program in some path to status for those who are here illegally? Could we break it in two and maybe lower the volume? GUTIERREZ: Here's my response. Absolutely, we should control that border. We should do everything we can as Americans to control that border. But look, let's separate. The person who's entering through that border to raise our kids or pick our fruit or, I don't know, wash dishes or make our beds in hotels, they're not a real threat. The real threats are the members of the drug cartel.

KING: But they're breaking the law. They're here illegally. I'm not saying they are a threat, but they are breaking the law.

GUTIERREZ: What I want to do is separate the real criminal element and the real threat to our society from those who really have come here to look for a better future. Yes, breaking the law, but let's look at the real threat to our society, both civilian and to our children and to our future. So, yes, I want to have that conversation. I believe in a holistic approach. I know that there were 10,000 border patrol agents eight years ago. There are 20,000 today. We're increasing. We are outputting more.

So, I believe in security and putting more security, but I also believe that until you deal with the 12 million people that are here that Mr. Bilbray (ph) and no one's given an answer what do we do with the 12 million that are here and the million of American citizens.

KING: Mr. Bilbray, what do we do?

BILBRAY: Luis, you and I know that one thing we can agree on that does address the 12 million here illegal is focus on the true problem and go after the legal employers who are exploiting the illegal immigrants and creating the crisis at the border, and it's not at the border. You and I should be able to get together with things like going he should or stay back (ph) go after the illegal employers, shut off the source of illegal immigration. The problem isn't at the border, it's in the neighborhoods were illegals are being hired by legal employers -


GUTIERREZ: He said that, and I just want to agree with him real quickly. Yes, let's do that, let's then illegal immigration. We do have to go after the employers. We need an I.D. I got a driver's license. I got a passport, got a picture, and so does my social security card. So, if people really listen, they find the Democrats are for enforcement and for the protection and the rule of law, but let's face it, what are we going to do with the 12 million that are here? What's fair --

KING: I'm going to give Congressman Bilbray a quick last word, and we'll continue the conversation another night. But go ahead, sir.

BILBRAY: John, the first thing you don't do is reward those illegal employers with a steady supply of those illegal immigrants by giving them amnesty so they can stay in work for the people that create the problem, the exploit of employers. So, amnesty is a nonstarter when it comes down to addressing the problem because what you'll do is tell the world you're going to now subsidize illegal employers with this labor by calling it -- calling it amnesty or nationalization or whatever you want to talk. We got to stop rewarding with the employers and Luis' amnesty program does that. So, let's focus on stopping illegal employment --


GUTIERREZ: I just really want to end it in a complete way. So, look, I'm for all the enforcement. Can we agree on what we do with the undocumented?

KING: I don't think we're going to agree tonight, but we will continue the conversation. Congressman Gutierrez, thank you so much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

KING: Congressman Bilbray, appreciate you coming in from San Diego. Thank you, both.

BILBRAY: Thank you, John.

KING: We will continue the conversation (INAUDIBLE).

We're now a month beyond that explosion that started the Gulf oil spill. Why is the government only now ordering BP to tell us how bad it really is? We'll go wall-to-wall and show you the latest, next.


KING: In wall-to-wall tonight, it has been one month since the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and still, the government cannot tell you exactly how much oil has been spilled or when will that leak be plugged. There is, though, some new data available to you 24/7. This is a website right here, If you go there, you can see a live stream of the cameras that BP has showing the spill. Let's show some of the video of that as we come forward. These are live cameras now showing the oil as it spews out.

Not much you can tell from that in terms of how much is coming out, how fast it is coming out, but it does give you a sense that the spill continues tragically. The leak continues one month later. Among those who are outraged is the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. He led reporters on a tour today of some marshlands just off the very sensitive coast in Louisiana. You see it here. And you can just see right here, this is not light sheen of oil, this is deep, thick oil in this very sensitive ecosystem and the marshlands. Governor Jindal says if this is not stopped soon, he is so worried that this area will be setback the ecosystem, not for days and weeks but for years.


GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: We need the dredges to do this more comprehensively and keep this oil away from our wetlands. Make no mistake about it. Once it gets inside those wetlands, it will be nearly impossible to clean in some areas, and the damage it will do to the biological lifecycle could be tremendous, could be multiyear, could be multigenerational.


KING: So, let's get a sense of where we are one month in as Congress starts to demand more accountability. The Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency have demanded that all of BP's data be put online and put online now. The EPA is also demanding that a less toxic chemical dispersant be used in the waters, and there is growing anger in Congress to the point that Ed Markey, one of the key lawmakers involved here, a Democrat from Massachusetts says, if BP says something, he doesn't believe it.


REP. ED MARKEY, (D) ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT SUBCMTE. CHMN.: We cannot trust BP. People do not trust the experts any longer. BP has lost all credibility. Now, the decisions will have to be made by others, because it's clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill.


KING: Let's take a walk over the magic wall and take a closer look both of where the spill is and what is being done, the attempt being done to contain it. If you look here, the big yellow is the size of the scope, the lighter the color, the thinner the oil spread. The darker the color, that's where you have the thickest areas of concentration. We're going to zoom in here and take a closer look at some of the mitigation efforts. Here's what they're trying to do from up above, they're drilling down here two drills, the idea is to punch in down here. The oil is coming up and spewing out up here underground, under the sea bed.

These drills are here and here and here. Final destination is down here to try to cut off the flow of oil coming out from the leak. That is one thing they're trying to do to deal with this. If you come in here and look at some of this, here are some of the video. There are some live cameras underneath, three different angles underneath, you see it spewing out. There is one of them spewing out. You see the oil coming out. Turn that off, we will show you a different angle. You see again as this plays up, this here another angle from a different view, it looks more muddy and murky as it comes out underground.

Again, this is 30 days later. One more angle we can show you of what is happening. You see some of the pictures from up above on the shore, and then this - they're still not getting -- the question is how much has come out so far? The other question, of course, when to stop it? Let's take a peek at some of various estimates just how much oil. BP says roughly 30,000 gallons have leaked after one month. The "Exxon Valdez" that was 260,000 gallons, but independent scientist who have looked at this and looking at all that video trying to use their analysis. They estimate probably somewhere in the ballpark of 750,000 barrels, much higher than BP.

There is one scientist who's way out on the edge of the extreme, Steve Wereley (ph) says he thinks 2.79 million barrels that, of course, is way out here. An outlier in terms of the estimates, but these various ranges show you the great frustration and that is that Congress doesn't know how much, doesn't trust what it's hearing from BP and still doesn't have a good answer of when, when, when, they will be able to stop the flow. We, of course will continue to stay on top of that story.

When we come back, though, you've heard the controversy. Now, hear it in his own words. Rand Paul speaks, coming up next.


KING: This is the part of the show where we talk about stories on my political radar, talking them over with smart folks and we have two of the best tonight, Republican Robert Traynham with us, Democrat Paul Begala.

Let's spend a considerable amount of time on a story "On My Radar." And if you follow politics in America, if it's not on your radar, you've been hiding today. And this is the controversy about Rand Paul. He wins the Senate nomination in Kentucky, Republican candidate, Tea Party favorite.

And he's given some interviews that have led to a firestorm about whether he thinks or whether he supports things like the 1960s Civil Rights Act, whether he supports the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Let's start on the Civil Rights Act. He gave an interview with National Public Radio where he was asked, essentially, if you were serving in the Congress back in 1964, would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act?


RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: I think it's confusion on a lot of cases with what actually was in the civil rights case, because, see, a lot of the things that actually were in the bill, I'm in favor of.

I'm in favor of everything with regards to ending institutional racism, so I think there's a lot to be desired in the civil rights. And to tell you the truth, I haven't really read all through it because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn't been a real pressing issue in the campaign on whether -- we are going to vote for the Civil Rights Act.


KING: Before you jump in one more quick point. So he's not quite clear there. Doesn't say yes. Says he likes some of it. In other interviews he said he questions some of it. So Wolf Blitzer had him on "THE SITUATION ROOM" today and asked him again. And this time he said emphatically yes, I would have voted for it. Yes. But then he went on to say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: I think what troubles me is that the news cycle's gotten out of control. I mean, for several hours on a major news network yesterday, they reported repeatedly that I was for repealing the Civil Rights Act. That is not only not true, never been my position, but is an out and out lie.


KING: Is the news cycle out of control or do we have a candidate who was off message and maybe said some things that will get him in trouble?

ROBERT TRAYNHAM, BUSH-CHENEY '04 CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Welcome to the national stage, Mr. Paul. I think that's what it -- I think what you see there is someone quite frankly was a bit overwhelmed, that got lost in his own words, have been very clearly either staff or his conscience caught up with him, and he realized that he needed to say the right thing, which I do believe is in his heart of hearts that he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act back in 1960 or 1962, whenever it passed -- '63 when it passed.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm not entirely sure at all. I think Robert's point is right. Welcome to the NFL, Doc. But --


BEGALA: But, you know, he of all people -- I love to bash the media, as you know, John, but he of all people has no right to complain. The press has been very, very good to Dr. Paul. But he has shifted his position. His position has been that he supported the Civil Rights Act insofar as it banned discrimination by the government.

KING: Right.

BEGALA: But did not support civil rights laws that banned discrimination by businesses. In fact in 2002 -- the "Huffington Post" is reporting this right now -- he wrote a letter to his hometown paper in Bowling Green attacking the Fair Housing Act.

KING: We have that letter. We -- we have that letter.


KING: We got that off the Bowling Green Web site. So let's put it up for our viewers. "Decisions concerning private property and associations should, in a free society, be unhindered. As consequence, some associations will discriminate -- Alcoholics Anonymous may only accept alcoholics, Madison Avenue advertisers may choose only the young and slender. Boy Scouts may wish to exclude sex offenders. Christian churches may wish to exclude atheists from the clergy." And so on.

His point has been on that issue there -- and he said this about the Civil Rights Act, part of what got hi into trouble, is that if you take public money, if you're involved in any way, that no, you cannot discriminate.

TRAYNHAM: But there is a clause. There is a clause in the Civil Rights bill, if I understand it correctly, that says look, if you're a Catholic charity and if, in fact, you don't want to hire someone that's non-Catholic that's OK.

If, in fact, you are -- you work for the United Negro College Fund and you do not want to hire someone that perhaps may not support your overall mission statement, that's OK. So there is a clause in the Civil Rights bill that says that nonprofits and other special groups do have an exemption.

BEGALA: In that letter, he goes on to specifically endorse race- based discrimination and private actor. He says a free society will abide unofficial private discrimination even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin.

He explicitly endorsed allowing racial discrimination in business -- in housing so that a -- this happened all the time when I was a kid. Black people would go to --


KING: This is the libertarian --

BEGALA: -- try to represent a house or an apartment and they were discriminated against.

KING: This is the libertarian view that the community will take care of this, that he says -- he says, I would never go to such a business --

BEGALA: That's right.

KING: I would never go to such a restaurant, I would never go to a such a club but --

BEGALA: Well, he didn't grow up where I grew up.

KING: His point is that --

TRAYNHAM: That's not -- it's not reality. Paul has a good point. It's not reality-based.


TRAYNHAM: From a libertarian standpoint, that's one thing. From a Utopian standpoint, of course we all want that, but in reality we all know that's not the case.

KING: And -- so in terms of the overall effort here -- this is day two since winning the nomination, whereas is he?

BEGALA: He -- well, he's floundering. And this is a tough thing because he is where he is because he has this, you know, say, eccentric but pure libertarian principled position. That's why he is where he is. Not a typical politician like Trey Grayson, the guy he beat who is a long-time veteran politician in that state.

And now, you know, you live by the purity of your principles, Dr. Paul. You're going to have to suffer the consequences.

TRAYNHAM: I have nothing else to say except welcome to the big leagues.


KING: All right.

TRAYNHAM: He needs to clean up his thoughts.

KING: Welcome to the big leagues. Well, that's a good segue to break. These guys are going to stay with us. We've got more on our radar, including the most important person you don't know and he joined the big leagues today.


KING: Today's "Most Important Person You Don't Know" is a repeat winner, sort of. He is the new representative from Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District. When we did this on Monday, said this would be the job's most important person, we didn't know who would be filling the late John Murtha's seat.

But now we do. Democratic congressman Mark Critz was sworn in this afternoon.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Congratulations, you are now a member of the 111th Congress.


KING: Critz's son, Joe, daughter, Sadie, got to stand with their dad for his maiden speech. Mr. Murtha's widow and Critz's wife Nancy were up in the galley.

Critz is a longtime Murtha aid and his top priority would be creating good paying American jobs.

In order to keep his job, though, he's going to have to win in this November's rematch with the man he beat on Tuesday, Republican Tim Burns.

Paul Begala, Robert Traynham, this was a big victory for the Democrats. So he's a member of Congress and now he's a candidate for re-election like that.


BEGALA: Again, like Robert said, welcome to the big leagues.

(LAUGHTER) TRAYNHAM: Welcome to Congress. And look, they're running every two years, he's running, what, every six months? So --


TRAYNHAM: But look, this is a big -- I'm sorry. Go ahead, Paul.

BEGALA: He spoke -- I'm told, Congressman Critz not only gave maiden speech on the floor, spoke to the Democratic caucus in private and, you know, any time somebody wins, he may be the most junior member of the House, but he's the most listened to in my party's caucus right now because he just won.

He beat a Tea Partier in a district that John McCain carried. Everybody is listening. What do we do? How did you do it? And what I'm told he said to them -- music to my ears -- attack, attack, attack.


BEGALA: But the other guys on trial -- put their ideas on trial -- have a contrast, which is a big -- there's a big fight in my party right now. If you listen to the president, he's not doing much of that. If you listen to some of the congressional wing of my party, they are.

And that -- the Democrats haven't sorted that out yet what their strategy is going to be for the fall election.

KING: And there a lot of Republicans who thought they were going to win this seat.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

KING: And they thought it was going to be the first proof of a wave.

TRAYNHAM: Absolutely.

KING: Now what?

TRAYNHAM: Well, go back to the drawing board. Look, John, on Tuesday, last Tuesday, there was one congressional race in the whole entire country that congressional Republicans were looking at. They put all their resources into this race, they lost. So they have to go back to the drawing board and probably lower expectations.

Because remember, right before Tuesday, the Republican Party was raising expectations saying, look, when we win this race, this is not only a shot across the bow to the Democratic Party, but this is a shot across the bow to the president's leadership.

You go -- they had the press release already written. Clearly they had to rewrite the story because it didn't follow the script.

KING: Immigration is dominating a lot of the political conversation but I think that this story on our radar will eventually take the lead in the campaign and it was a bad day on Wall Street.

Analysts blame the Dow Industrial's 376-point loss and worries about Europe's debt crisis and the slump in the value of the Euro. The Dow is now 10 percent of its post-recession high, officially making this a correction. It's in the negative for the year.

The economy, we already knew, Paul, was going to be a drag on the Democrats this year. It may -- they may have inherited it, as you're about to say, from George W. Bush, but 10 percent unemployment in that ballpark doesn't help any president no matter where it came from.

BEGALA: It's terrible. First off, it's the real world, not just politics. It's terrible for the folks who are struggling to find jobs. It's terrible for people who were trying to save money or invest or businesses that are -- who we'd like to see growing.

So it's always bad news and it's particularly bad news for the party in power and that's my team. This is the burden that they assumed with office and now they have the responsibility for doing something about it.

I would as a political consultant suggest to them any time the Dow goes down is a good day to remind people that Republicans want to privatize Social Security and put your Social Security in that stock market.

That's the only lemonade I can make out of the lemons here for my party.

TRAYNHAM: But, you know, John, there's two stories here. The first story John mentioned. The second story, there are millions of people out there that are either afraid that they're going to lose their jobs or they're underemployed. In other words, they are the working poor.

That's the real story where there's people out there that are working at fast food restaurants barely making minimum wage, that are barely making paycheck-to-pay check.

I think that's what Democrats have to really be concerned about because that's the new under-middle class, if you will, that's going to go to the ballot box, and says, you know what, incumbents, it's time for you to go.

KING: A legend of the Senate -- we don't see that much anymore because of illness -- made a rare appearance today, 92-year-old Robert Byrd, making this rare appearance at an important committee hearing today.

He blasted Massey Energy for putting what he said safety over profits before this spring's West Virginia coal mine explosion. Listen.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: What unconventional remedies exist to deal with a rogue, R-O-G-U-E, rogue mining company that has a reputation, I mean, a reputation for flouting, in other words, waiving its nose at the law?


KING: One of the guys when I first came to Washington, when he was on the Senate floor, no matter what he was talking about, he could have been talking about the time of day you stopped to listen to him because he's one of the greats. He's obviously ailing and it's hard for him but it was important for him because that's his state.

BEGALA: He is. He is a senator that the Roman Senate would have welcomed much less the -- and the founding fathers would have welcomed. And it's great to see the old lion roar again.

Keep in mind, Massey Energy, the coal company that he was talking about, a major employer in his state of West Virginia, particularly in the southern part of his state. And so this still showing some political courage, to stand up to a major employer in his state.

But I don't think Bobby Byrd's very worried about the next election. I don't think he's honestly concerned, he -- his wife has passed and he used to proudly say that he married a coal miner's daughter.


BEGALA: And his state is full of those coal miners, and I promise you he wept at the funerals of those miners who died in that Massey mine.

KING: You worked on the other side when you were on Capitol Hill, but he is one of the legends.

TRAYNHAM: He -- there's no question, he's a living legend. You know as you said a few moments ago, any time Bob Byrd goes to the Senate floor, you smile and you listen. And not only do you listen, you take notes. And the reason you take notes is because this is a guy, 92 years old, who's still standing tall for his constituents. So God bless him.

KING: "Play by Play," when we come back, these guys will be right here. When we do "Play by Play," you heard Robert talk about the Republicans changing the expectations game. We'll break it down.


PETE DOMINICK, JOHN KING, USA'S OFFBEAT REPORTER: You do it first. Answer me, pay attention to it.


DOMINICK: All right. Your teacher is going to shave her head. Hold her to it. No, I didn't do it, buddy. I didn't have a choice. How dare you? These kids.



ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play by Play."

KING: All right, you get the drill. We break down the tape. Who did what's right, who did wrong. Got two pros to help us. Paul Begala, Robert Traynham.

Want to go back to the point you were making earlier about Republicans perhaps lowering their expectations, about taking control of the House after the midterm elections. After the Democrats won that Pennsylvania congressional seat on Tuesday night, the number two in the House Republican leadership, Eric Cantor, was a little sober.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MINORITY WHIP: We cannot let ourselves get ahead of ourselves. There is certainly a business in this town. Many people want to predict how many seats that we take back in November.

I do think that we will reclaim the majority. But last night is evidence of the fact that we've got a lot of work to do and we just can't get ahead of ourselves.


KING: Just can't get ahead of ourselves, Eric Cantor says. Now who might these people are who might want to predict how many seats that we might take back? Who might he be criticizing?


KING: This is his boss, John Boehner.


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

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

BOEHNER: At least 100 seats.


KING: A little -- a little tension in the ranks there? That -- I should say that Leader Boehner was before Tuesday's elections. I just wanted to give you the now and the then.


KING: Give you the then and the now. TRAYNHAM: All I have to say is somebody got the memo and the other person didn't. It's ironic that the number two person got the memo, the number one probably didn't.

A hundred seats in play, John, I don't think that's completely accurate. On the Republican side, it's probably a good 20 or 30 seats, though, that are in play. And of course can they get to that magic number of taking over the House? Time will tell. We'll see. But 100 seats --

KING: If you look at the letterhead, and it says, you know, John Boehner, number one, Eric Cantor, number two, Mike Pence, number three, you think these guys were all buddies.

BEGALA: Not always.


BEGALA: I bet you there's a little -- a little trouble in the ranks there, not that it never happens in the Democrats.



BEGALA: But yes, this -- I'm mystified as to why Mr. Boehner would set the bar that high. I don't think it matters to voters to tell you the truth. But for guys like us, it gives us something to chew on. It's a big mistake for him because they're not going to carry 100 seats. They're going to -- it's just -- but, you know, God bless him, maybe that's what he thinks they're going to --

TRAYNHAM: The only thing I can think of is that he's sending a message out to every single incumbent out there that your seat is in play.

KING: I think he's sending a message out to fund raisers. We think there's 100 seats in play, send us money.

Let me switch subjects because we talked at the top of the show -- near the top of the show about the immigration issue which is front and center. We all we think this is going to be mostly a campaign about the economy or a referendum on the health care bill.

But immigration issue is coming up more and more and more. Here's a sampling of some ads several different states but a similar message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gresham Barrett's immigration plan. Pass a common sense Arizona law.

SUSAN MARTINEZ (R), NEW MEXICO GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm standing in New Mexico and on the other side of that fence is the murder capital of the world. When crime spills over, I prosecute. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who has the courage and values to stand up to illegal immigration?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not liberal Meg Whitman. She supports Obama's amnesty plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And like Obama, Whitman opposes Arizona's immigration law.


KING: All three of those ads -- South Carolina, New Mexico, California -- being run in Republican primaries. Is this issue going to be front and center all year?

BEGALA: Oh, yes, I think so. I think so. And -- this is the thing. Those ads are certainly helping, I think, those candidates in those Republican primaries. When you widen it to the general election and the Democrats can vote, those very ads are going to be used to boost Latino turnout for Democrats.

Democrats are going to say hey, look, they hate us. They don't want to -- they don't want to -- you know, support us. And so, you know, we're not going to vote for Republicans.

KING: I want you to come in -- before you come in, I want you to listen to one more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They keep coming. Two million illegal immigrants in California. The federal government won't stop them.


KING: Let's stop the ad. I'll stop the ad there. I do that to raise a point. That's 1994, Pete Wilson running for governor 16 years ago and it's back.

TRAYNHAM: It's back. Look, it's a wedge issue both on the Republican side and the Democratic side. Exactly what Paul said is going to happen on the Democratic side, it's going to happen on the Republican side.

Republicans right now, the intensity level not only on health care but on immigration is through the roof. So if in fact Democrats and Latinos and other folks are going to come out on the Democratic side be rest assured that the Republican side is going to be unbelievable in terms of the intensity.


BEGALA: Let's go back to that. It was a good tactic and it saved Pete Wilson's job, right? But it sank Republicans in California for a generation. Republicans carried California in '68, '72, '76, '80, '84, '88 -- (CROSSTALK)

KING: Time out.

TRAYNHAM: The -- OK, time out.

KING: We'll continue the conversation another day. A feisty issue. We'll be back. Robert, Paul, thank you very much.

What would you do for a good cause? Pete is on the street after the break.


KING: Let's head up to New York, get a sense from Campbell Brown of what's ahead at the top of the hour.

Hi, Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, John. Well, should students who are illegal immigrants be put on a fast track to citizenship? There is a renewed push tonight for such law given what's going on in Arizona.

Some, though, calling it amnesty and amnesty program for millions of law breakers. We're going to have both sides on that tonight.

Also new developments in the controversy over the Muslim American soldier who says he was harassed at Fort Hood.

And the latest charges of doping against cycling legend Lance Armstrong.

We'll have more on that as well -- John.

KING: See you in just a minute, Campbell. Thanks.

Let's check in now with our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick who has a tattoo of sorts on the back of his head and is otherwise causing trouble -- Pete.

DOMINICK: Don't give it away yet, John. You'll have to wait.

Yes, this high school girl in Florida, to protest America's oil addiction, shaved her head and carved no oil in the back of her head. I wanted to ask people what they would do outrageous shave their heads to protest their cause.


DOMINICK: What's your most important issue that you care about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe the environment.

DOMINICK: The environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The oil spill, I'm very concerned.

DOMINICK: A girl shaved her head to bring attention to the oil spill. She wrote "no oil" in the back of her head. You're going to join her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They might confuse that message, though. They might be, like, I have no oil in my head?

DOMINICK: So you want to shave your head right now?


DOMINICK: No, we can't. What about your dog? Want to shave the dog?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you can shave the dog.

DOMINICK: We can shave the dog, really? All right. Get out the razor, everybody.

So you'd shave all of your body hair and throw a Speedo on and run through Capitol Hill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say it like I don't do it normally.

DOMINICK: Anything you'd shave --


DOMINICK: Any cause at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any cause at all. You name it.

DOMINICK: Change the track advice. No more jaywalking.


DOMINICK: This guy is easy.


DOMINICK: All right, I like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. Peanut butter cookies.

DOMINICK: Yes, you're selling watches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Two for $10.

DOMINICK: What's the most outrageous thing you'd do to get somebody to buy a watch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd give it to him for $5. I'm doing bad, man. Need to drink coffee, cigarettes --



DOMINICK: Would you do anything outrageous?


DOMINICK: To bring attention to that issue, sir?


DOMINICK: What would you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull a gun on you and I'm going to say give me the money.

DOMINICK: I'm going to get going --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't ready for that.

DOMINICK: I need to get going, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in advocacy but I think that it can be achieved in many other ways. I don't think that you have to necessarily run naked through a park to get your point across.

DOMINICK: So we won't see you in a park naked tonight but --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably -- I mean probably but in a different way.

DOMINICK: But you're just exercising.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. That's just what I do.


DOMINICK: I don't know if it's outrageous, John, but I just wanted to prove that I'm a "JOHN KING" man. There you go. Have a good night.

KING: I would have bought a billboard instead but I appreciate it, Pete. Thank you so much.

And we thank you for watching us. Please come back tomorrow. "CAMPBELL BROWN" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: CNN Primetime begins right now.