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JOHN KING, USA
United States Sues Arizona
Aired July 6, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Jessica Yellin. Thank you, Wolf. John King is off tonight, and we begin with the spectacle of the United States government suing one of its only state. The feds say Arizona cannot make its own immigration law because handling immigration is Washington's job. Arizona says it's taking matters into its own hands because Washington isn't doing its job. It's a legal and political mess. Now, Arizona's U.S. senators Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl issued a joint condemnation saying the American people must wonder whether the Obama administration is really committed to securing the border when it sues a state that is simply trying to protect its people.
The statement from Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, also a Republican, is even more scathing. She says Arizona is under attack from the violent Mexican drug and immigrant smuggling cartel. Now, Arizona is under attack in federal court from President Obama and his department of justice. Well, today's filing is nothing more than a massive waste of taxpayer's funds.
And Homeland Security secretary and former Arizona governor, Janet Napolitano, shot back. Her statement, we are actively working with members of Congress from both parties to comprehensively reform our immigration system at a federal level because the challenge cannot be solved by a patch work (ph) of inconsistent state laws. So, who is really creating problems and is anyone going to solve them?
CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is with us from New York. Dan Lothian is at the White House. But we start now with our Sandra Endo who is in Phoenix. Sandra, we're going straight to you because we want to know what is the reaction there in Arizona?
SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jessica, the reaction here is pretty much split, but now, you're going to see the big push from groups for and against Arizona's law. They're going to be really ramping up the effort leading into July 29th date. That's when the law goes into effect. But you have people here on both sides of the issue. People who are against this law here in Arizona who say that it would be unconstitutional towards immigrants, that it would promote racial profiling, and the unconstitutional for people civil rights.
Then on the other hand, we spoke with people who say the illegal immigration problem here is so big that if the federal government doesn't step in, then the state really has to step up. But here's the third piece of the puzzle, Jessica, there are those who are undecided. People we spoke with who say, look, yes, illegal immigration is wrong but what do you do with all the illegals who have come here and made contributions to this country? So, certainly, a big toss up here in Arizona -- Jessica.
YELLIN: And Sandra, just give us a quick sense, there are several citizens there who have filed lawsuits against the state law. Where do those stand?
ENDO: Yes, those civil actions against Arizona's law are also going to be ramping up. We're going to be hearing a lot from the preliminary injunction hearings, leading up to the July 29th deadline. You're going to see a lot of rallies being held throughout the state, throughout the courthouses here as well. So, groups are gearing up. They're getting ready. They say they're going to make a big push towards July 29.
YELLIN: All right. Thank you, Sandra Endo in Arizona. Now, we turn to Dan Lothian, our White House correspondent who is there. Dan, our polling shows that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law. So, is there concern inside the White House right now about the politics of this suit?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not really. I mean, the administration has said that this legal action, filing this lawsuit really is based on its legal merits. And that they're not looking at anything in terms of politics around this because they believe that what's happening in Arizona violates the law is unconstitutional. Having said that, there are some political benefits to all of this. The Latino community, which has been quite supportive of President Obama during his campaign, they really were looking to him to fulfilling that campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
They've been quite critical of the president saying he's not been quick enough in moving toward that. In meetings as late as just last week, they did put pressure on the administration to push legal action in the Arizona case. Now, perhaps the president did not need any pushing or coaxing on this because from the very beginning, he has talked about this law being divisive, ill-conceived and also unenforceable. And what the administration has been saying is that they don't want to see a patch work of laws set up across the country in multiple states and that's the reason that they're bringing this legal action.
YELLIN: All right. Thanks to you, Dan Lothian, at the White House. I want to turn down to Jeff Toobin who hopefully can help us understand this whole lawsuit in the fight -- Jeff. Because, you know, we're all focusing on the Latino community, the Latino politics in the lawsuit, but if you read it, the lawsuit says, and I want to show the graphic, that a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with federal immigration laws. So, the bottom line is that this lawsuit isn't over discrimination. It's a state's rights versus federal rights fight, isn't it?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. And it's an interesting choice on the part of the Obama administration, at least the justice department, to bring the lawsuit under that theory because it really avoids some of the touchier issues involving this law. Most of what we've discussed about the law is, is it profiling, is it discriminatory against Hispanics? That's not the claim at least by the federal government in this litigation.
What they are saying is that under the constitution, this area of law, immigration, is reserved for the federal government. And states have no right to pass laws because that is -- they simply -- it's like declaring war. Arizona can't declare war on Mexico. That's a federal responsibility. Same thing with immigration. That's the theory behind the lawsuit.
YELLIN: OK. Well, obviously, the governor of Arizona sees things differently. Listen for a moment to what Governor Jan Brewer said on JKUSA last month when asked about the possibility of this law coming, this lawsuit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER, (R) ARIZONA: Well, we'll meet you in court. I have a pretty good record of winning in court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Basically, she's saying, bring it on. Does she have a point?
TOOBIN: You know, it's not a slam dunk either way, I think. It is true that federal courts tend to defer to the federal government when there's a conflict between state and federal law, but the justice department here brought this lawsuit before the law even went into effect. What this is is what's called a facial challenge. It's challenging the law on its face even before it goes into effect. Most federal judges don't like facial challenges. They prefer what's called as applied challenges. They want to see the law in action before they evaluate whether it's constitutional or not.
They want to see how it works. And so, I could definitely see a federal judge saying, wait, I'm not saying you're right or wrong, but let's let this law go into effect first, see how it's applied, and then we'll decide whether it's constitutional or now. So, there are a lot of moving parts here. There are other lawsuits, as you mentioned earlier. They will presumably all be consolidated into one big case. This will certainly be a major lawsuit, with a lot of different parties, a lot of moving parts, and I think anybody who predicts with certainty how it's going to be resolved at this point is really blowing smoke because nobody knows.
YELLIN: All right. Well, we will continue to follow it and watch the turns as they come. Thanks, Jeff, so much.
And how is today's news in Arizona playing out with local leaders? We'll talk to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Congressman Raul Grijalva. Next. Stay with us.
YELLIN: Arizona is ground zero for the fight over illegal immigration, a fight that's provoking strong passions on both sides of the issue. Joining me now from phoenix is Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, and in Tucson, Democratic Arizona congressman, Raul Grijalva. Thanks to both of you for being here.
And Sheriff Joe, I want to start with you. You've always said that you needed to take immigration matters into your own hands, but the federal government is saying with this lawsuit that, essentially, you don't have the right. They say that's a federal responsibility, not a state's right. What's your reaction?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: First of all, we've been enforcing two other state laws regarding illegal immigration for three years. I've been the poster boy. We have investigated, arrested, detained in our jails 40,000 illegal aliens. Where is all of the problems, even though the Department of Justice launched an investigation, 60 days into the Obama administration, going after me to civil rights, for alleged racial profiling? But nothing's happened. It's been a year and a half. Janet Napolitano took away my 100 deputies, trained by homeland security, to enforce the federal immigration laws. Took that away from me.
The federal government should be asking law enforcement to help them like we do in all other federal types of crimes. So, I think that this is strictly politics. Congressman's colleagues in the Congress started a hearing against me way back a year and a half ago, went to the Attorney General Holder, went to Janet Napolitano, asking me to be investigated. But we're here to help. To help with federal government.
YELLIN: Let me ask you about this because -- and I'll give the congressman an opportunity to respond in just a moment, but as part of the government's lawsuit, they have also submitted three statements from law enforcement officials in your state of Arizona who say that the Arizona law will not help them. It will be a problem. One statement says that shifting the burden of immigration enforcement and responsibility cannot be justified or sustained. It's too much of a burden.
Another one says the law requires too many resources to be expended by local government, and a third says that it will lose the support, the collaboration of community members who may be here unlawfully. Bottom line, a lot of people in your line of work think that this is actually hurting them, this law.
ARPAIO: It's not a lot of people. It's some chiefs of police bureaucrats that have to report to mayors that have their own agenda against our laws, the immigration laws, illegal immigrations laws. When I talked about 40,000 people that we have contacted or took care of, I think that crime has gone down because of that. 40,000. Where are all of the problems? Why is law enforcement some of them, a very minority of them, don't want to enforce the illegal immigration laws? They took an oath of office to do that. Maybe we should not enforce all of those other federal crimes like bank robberies and so on.
YELLIN: Congressman Grijalva, your reaction to Sheriff Arpaio? REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, (D) ARIZONA: Well, it's not a reaction. It's more of an understanding of how a Democratic process works. The legislature legislated 1070, this law that's being challenged by the justice department, and I think that the challenge is necessary and prudent, and this challenge is based on something that's fundamental in a democracy. That the courts are part of our Democratic process. And, yes, we all took an oath of office. And one of those oath was to uphold the constitution of the United States of America. That's the oath that I took.
And whether you are a supporter of 1070 or an opponent, which I happen to be, I think it is prudent and necessary for us to test the constitutionality of it. And this is what this lawsuit is about, the supremacy clause, the preemption clause that says that this is a federal responsibility. Arizona is at the point of a spear on immigration. It's also the experiment where many things are being tried in the state legislatively and for us and it is a precedent. So, I think the justice department is absolutely correct in challenging this law on its constitutionality.
YELLIN: I'm curious to know what the reaction from your community in Tucson has been to this, to filing?
GRIJALVA: It's been divided. It's been divided. Like this issue has been in Arizona and the rest of the country, it's divisive, and it's been a divided opinion, and it continues to be a divided opinion. But public opinion does not drive a constitutional issue. If that was the case, we'd still be having separate but equal. If that was the case, Native Americans in Arizona would still not be voting. They only happened in 1950. Thanks to a constitutional challenge. So, you know, public opinion has a -- is important, but the protection of the constitution as a balance in this whole process is critical. So, we're in that stage.
YELLIN: All right. I want to continue this conversation, especially talking about some of the crime statistics, Sheriff, you spoke about earlier on the other side of this break.
Also, coming up later in the show, Joe Biden, our vice president says, November might not be so bad for the Democrats.
And, get this, Levi Johnston, remember him? He offers an apology now to the Palins.
YELLIN: Joining me again from phoenix, Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, and in Tucson, Democratic Arizona congressman, Raul Grijalva. Gentlemen, I'd like to ask Sheriff Arpaio about some of the crime statistics you've cited both now and in the past. You talked about the amount of violent crime that's come with illegal immigration. We took a look at some of the statistics from the FBI's violent crime research, and they show that in Arizona, since 1995, the crime rate has actually declined as the rate of illegals coming in has grown. So, the statistics don't seem to support the argument that illegals are bringing more crime. ARPAIO: First of all, the number of people in our jails from 8,000 to 10,000, but 18 percent are there. They have committed murders. We have 55 right now in jail, charged with murder. I can go on and on. 18 percent are illegal aliens. So, you have to say that they do commit crimes. Can I go back to the congressman just one minute, please?
ARPAIO: Congressman, you keep talking about let the courts decide. Why did you ask everybody to boycott Arizona? Why didn't you wait for the courts to come up with the final decision? That wasn't right for our state. And I'm a little disappointed that you had to go out and tell everybody in the country, don't come to Arizona.
YELLIN: You did call for a partial boycott, sir, did you not?
GRIJALVA: No, I asked for economic consequences. When you don't have a political process that is going to respond to an equitable compromise with the issue of immigration in the state of Arizona, when the domination of those politics are not going to allow you that avenue, you have the courts and you have the other avenue which is economic. It's historic. It's been used before. It was used to -- it is kept the Martin Luther King holiday in Arizona, and we asked for sanctions, economic consequences, and they've happened.
And you know, as much I would like to think I'm so powerful, Sheriff, that I said something and the consequences began, the minute that that was signed into law, the consequences began. And the consequences began because there's people all over this country that understand that this law is not only wrong but that it targets people. And so, the consequences that are happening to the state of economics, you, guys, put the chickens in there, and they come to roost, and you should not be blaming anybody but yourself.
ARPAIO: The chickens have been there for three years, and I've been enforcing the other two state laws including the federal immigration laws and been very successful. Just because of this new law, which is almost patterned the other two state laws. Now, we have a problem across our nation and internationally about our state. But 70 percent of the people who want this law, Congressman, you know that. But if you're going to let the courts decide, that's great.
I'm going to tell you one thing, come July 29th, you're not going to like to hear this. I will do my 16th crime suppression operation with volunteer PASI (ph) and deputies, we're not going to change. Law or no law as far as the decision, we're still going to do our job until the courts say otherwise.
YELLIN: And the 29th is the date when this law is intended to go into effect if the court doesn't issue an injunction. Congressman Grijalva, we're having this debate because something isn't working in our immigration system --
GRIJALVA: I agree.
YELLIN: There needs to be reform. Both sides agree. First of all, is President Obama doing enough by filing this lawsuit today?
GRIJALVA: No. No. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to look at security. And security has been an issue. I find it interesting that we have no tipping point of when the border is secure. If you leave it to others, it will never be secure. And, therefore, we can't deal with the reality of comprehensive reform in this country. We have more --
YELLIN: And do you and your colleagues bear (ph) some of the responsibility here? I mean, it's up to Congress to pass a law.
GRIJALVA: There's many of us that have been pushing to pass a law, a compromised law. And if you want to point the finger, yes, federal government and congressmen deserve the blame. But, let us see who the obstructionist are in this process. There's an insatiable appetite for not doing anything to exploit this issue, and I would venture to say that many of the same politicians that are right now from Arizona that are federal legislatures, have complaining about this lawsuit are the same politicians that have yet to vote or take an initial step to come to a compromise or to a discussion about what we can do to deal with security, deal with immigration reform. It's a broken system. You can leave it broken and exploit it and that's what's happening right now.
YELLIN: And Sheriff, let me ask you -- I mean, that's a damning statement, that there's an insatiable appetite to do nothing. Will today's action make any difference for you in Arizona?
ARPAIO: Not for me. Not for me. I'm still going to do what we've been doing for three, four years. And nothing is going to change. That's my message. At least from this sheriff.
YELLIN: All right. Sheriff Arpaio and Congressman Grijalva, thanks so much for joining us tonight. This debate will continue for quite some time.
ARPAIO: Thank you.
GRIJALVA: Thank you.
YELLIN: All right. And coming up later on in our show, we will be going one-on-one with Jorje Ramos. A tighten in the field of journalism is now taking aside on this issue of immigration. Demise
On my radar, Vice President Biden on reports of the Democrats "demise."
And the guy behind that "Rolling Stone" McChrystal article, guess what, he is writing a book.
And in our "Play-by-Play," finally, is really Prime Minister Netanyahu on the U.S.-Israeli special relationship?
My favorite video of the day, the queen of England at the U.N. then and now. Stay with us.
YELLIN: And tonight, we go one-on-one with one of the country's most familiar and most influential members in the Latino community. Jorge Ramos has been the anchorman for Noticiero Univision for the last 23 years. Now, he isn't only reporting the news. He's making it with his just published book, "A Country For All: An Immigrant Manifesto." When we spoke this afternoon, the first thing I asked about is his reaction to the government's lawsuit against Arizona's immigration law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE RAMOS, ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: It's what the Hispanic community was expecting from the Obama administration. Last Thursday, President Barack Obama gave a great speech with no action on immigration. And now, the Latino community and the immigrant community was expecting some kind of action. This is action. President Barack Obama, unfortunately, he cannot deliver on his promise of having an immigration bill during his first year, but at least he's saying to the immigrant community, I'm on your side. And the argument I think is very strong.
This is a federal issue, not a state issue. I just came back from South Africa covering the World Cup, and it was amazing to see how in the last 16 years, South Africans have progressed normally to fight discrimination and to (INAUDIBLE) their structure. But when I come back and see what's going on in Arizona, it resembles (INAUDIBLE).
YELLIN: You've called this legalized races in the Arizona law?
YELLIN: So, you must have some sort of at least a sense of relief for you, that the government, the federal government is taking action?
RAMOS: If we were popular (ph) in Spanish is to be almost around the Espanol (ph) right now in Arizona. We were in Phoenix or in Tucson. Probably, I could have been stopped simply because I have an accent or simply because of the color of my skin. The 234 years ago, with the declaration of the independence, it clearly says that all men are created equal. But if you go to Arizona right now or to many parts of the country, you will see that men and women are not treated equally in the United States. Something is wrong. This is the civil right issues. And in Arizona (INAUDIBLE).
YELLIN: You think it's a moral cause? There's also a political cause behind it. I want to play something that then candidate Obama said to you during the 2008 election and we'll talk about it after. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I cannot guarantee that it's going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting and that I want to move that forward as quickly as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: It's been called (inaudible) Obama and it's clearly not going to happen this year.
RAMOS: He broke his promise. It's that simple and obviously, he doesn't have the 60 votes. Where are the Republicans? Where are the 11 Republicans that voted for immigration reform two years ago? Where is John McCain?
I also talked to John McCain during that campaign. He wasn't favorable for a path to citizenship. He even called undocumented immigrants "God's children."
So where is John McCain right now? And where is Lindsey Graham? And with John McCain what's - I mean, just because he's running a very tight primary? Why is he changing? Why does he keep dropping? So it's not only Democrats but --
YELLIN: Why do you think they're changing? Why is he flip- flopping?
RAMOS: Well, because at the end they think they just might get a better result during the election in November. Obviously it's only politics but you're playing politics with 11 million people. It is incredible that the most powerful country in the world is persecuting and discriminating 11 million people right now in the middle of the 21st Century.
YELLIN: Let me push you on that because the polling shows that the majority of Americans actually support the Arizona all and you call a discrimination, but Americans seem to think that it's enforcing existing law. It's our polls that show 57 percent of Americans in all favor it. Why should the government go against the will of the people on this issue?
RAMOS: I don't think that there's a lot of misinformation on the documented immigrants in this country. Many people think that they are taking jobs away from American citizens and if you ask one of the 50 million people who don't have a job, well, I mean, obviously they are not going to want anyone else in this country.
But the reality of the facts are exactly the opposite. Immigrants create jobs. They pay taxes and they are doing the jobs that Americans simply don't want to do. I haven't seen thousands of Americans going to the fields in California, Texas, or Florida right now picking up tomatoes or oranges.
YELLIN: This is one of the most fascinating thing that I found about your book was not just argument that our perception of illegal immigration is wrong --
RAMOS: It is -- YELLIN: -- But also that this could be the big economic boom of the future. We're looking for what's going to replace the dotcom boom that propelled our economy 10 years ago. Now, you think immigration could propel a -
RAMOS: Immigration would be - we just saw the latest report 83,000 jobs were created by the private sector during the last month just to keep pace with the new workers. We need to create 130,000 jobs per month. It's impossible.
YELLIN: We have a map that shows where the majority of undocumented immigrants are in the nation and overwhelmingly it's not surprisingly California, Nevada, Arizona and New Jersey. Is it surprising to you that this has become a national issue of national concern and not just staying in those particular states. What do you think the rage about immigration is all about?
RAMOS: I think it has to do with the fact that people don't understand the incredible contributions of immigrants and, especially, this is nothing new. There's an historical cycle. Whenever we are in a crisis, people tend to blame immigrants for all of the problems that we are facing.
YELLIN: Do you think President Obama brought this lawsuit because of some of the pressure that you and others in the Latino community have exerted?
RAMOS: Maybe. That's a possibility. It's great that the Justice Department thinks that something unfair is going on in Arizona, but we need much more. We have to deal with 11 million undocumented immigrants. I think we can agree that the system is broken, that families shouldn't be separated.
That you cannot deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, but something has to be done and no one is doing anything whatsoever neither Democrats nor Republicans because they share the blame on this.
YELLIN: Do you think he's taking the Latino vote for granted? The president is taking it for granted?
RAMOS: Not anymore. He got 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in the last election. But the latest poll shows that he had 69 percent of the Latino support in January. Right now, he only has 57 percent of the Hispanic support. So if he doesn't get enough Latinos voting for Democrats next November, it's going to be difficult for him in Congress.
YELLIN: And finally you - there's a chapter in your book about the first Hispanic president.
Any interested running for office. Could it be you?
RAMOS: Well, not me because I was born in Mexico, but maybe my son who's 12 or maybe my daughter or maybe George D. Bush or maybe the new mayor of San Antonio -- we are there. I mean, I think the new -- the first Hispanic president has been born. He just might be watching cartoons or doing chatting --
YELLIN: Jorge Ramos and today's most important people you don't know, they're key figures of the government law suit against Arizona. One of them is an Arizona wildcat and the other one represented one of the most unpopular defendants of the last decade.
YELLIN: The names of most important people today that you don't know, are right on the lines of one and 2. Tony West is an assistant attorney general. He graduated from Harvard before he got a law degree from Stanford and he's worked in both the Justice Department and in the California Attorney General's Office.
During his stint in private practice, West clients included the Taliban American John Walker Lint. Our other most important person you don't know is Dennis Burke. He's the U.S. attorney for the district of Arizona, a Georgetown graduate. He got his law degree from the University of Arizona.
During the last decade, Burke was then Governor Janet Napolitano's chief of staff. In January, Burke told Arizona Attorney magazine that the U.S. immigration system is "broken."
Well now, he and West will argue that Arizona's way of fixing it is not right. Joining me now, CNN Espanol correspondent Juan Carlos Lopez, from the left leaning senator for American Progress Action fund and Republican strategist Whit Ayres.
All right, thanks to all of you for being here and I want to start right away with something that just came from one of the interviews I conducted. We were talking about to Congressman Raul Grijalva. We're talking about the federal government's failure to deal with immigration reform. Let's listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, (D) ARIZONA: There's an insatiable appetite for not doing anything to exploit this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Whit, is there an insatiable appetite on not doing anything on immigration reform?
WHIT AYRES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There is certainly the result of not doing anything and the federal government looks silly today, having not passed anything, having not done anything to address this problem.
Now going after a state that has taken the bull by the horn and tried to do something about it themselves. I think the federal government has a lot more credibility going after Arizona if they'd actually passed something on their own.
YELLIN: This is not just the conservatives who failed to do something. I mean, what he's really talking about is there's a lack of political will on both sides.
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Right, but we need 60 votes in the Senate and we had leadership just a few years ago from the likes of Senator McCain and Senator Graham who's now run from this issue.
We had bipartisan support, which we had a few years ago. This bill would be on the Senate floor. It's because we don't have that bipartisan support, because Republicans have walked away from this debate, that we have this failure of leadership and why we have this major problem in Arizona.
YELLIN: But Juan Carlos, we've watched this debate for years. It doesn't matter who's in control, who's in power, is this one of those intractable problems that will never be solved?
JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN ESPANOL WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I remember hearing Secretary Janet Napolitano saying that the border is as secure as it has ever been. So is it really as unsafe as people to say.
Do the figures show that the border is safe or not? I think that's the argument. I think there's a lot more politics and these real facts because when you speak to law enforcement on the border, the scenario is much different from what we see in Washington.
YELLIN: OK, well the immigration debate is going to continue, but there are other things happening in the news. So we want to get so other matters, including Vice President Joe Biden.
He, shockingly, his wisdom, but he is not speaking out of turn. He says that there might not be as many political wipe outs in the Democratic Party when it comes to the midterm elections as you might think.
Biden told "Politico" that quote, "reports of our, meaning the Democratic Party's demise are premature. I think we're going to do a great deal better than anyone gives us credit for. I do not see this grand debacle."
And as for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's reelection chances in Nevada, Biden said, he gives him a 55 percent chance or better. Obviously, he has to talk some happy talk, be the coach pep up the troops. But you feeling a little better about this race as time goes on?
TANDEN: Well, I think what is fascinating is Vice President Biden was actually channeling (inaudible). In 2004, he said basically the same thing. You have to -- you have a race between two people in these races.
So you see in Nevada, we have a race between Senator Reid and Sharon Engle, who is an extremely right-wing candidate. A lot of people think that Harry Reid has a better chance today than he did a month or two months ago because there is a candidate who is so out of the name extreme that she scares people.
YELLIN: Whit, are you worried about some of the candidates who are running around the country, the Republicans?
AYRES: Well, I'm not worried about is what Vice President Biden said, Jessica. You would expect him to say that. But the voters are enormously frustrated with the bailout.
They don't think the stimulus worked to create jobs. They really don't like this health care bill and they think that the Democrats are spinning us into bankruptcy.
On top of all of that, the Democratic leaning groups like young people and minorities are much less likely to turn out in an off year than they are in a presidential year. And so all of the building blocks are in place for a very big Republican election.
TANDEN: I do think that is conventional wisdom. But it's incumbent on the president and the Democrats is to ensure that there is a real choice. There is a real choice for voters and Republicans have to own up to what they will do on the economy, what they will do on the big problems. What will they cut? What are their solutions to the problems? Because really it's easy to tear things down, it's hard to build things up and it's upon them to actually give answers.
YELLIN: Juan Carlos, next question is for you. This didn't come as such a surprise to me, but it is news, the guy who wrote that run away -- the run away general article in the "Rolling Stone" magazine, he caused all that trouble for General McChrystal. He had to retire and guess what the guy got a book deal. Is that just politics as usual? That's just --
LOPEZ: I guess the question is, what did he leave out? What did people read? The guy already lost his job. He had to retire. Is there anything left that would be worse than what we saw?
YELLIN: I feel like we're going to see it at airport kiosks in, you know, six months one of those instant books that comes out. It's supposed to be about the war, but we'll see. And in your travels, Juan Carlos, you covered the elections around the country a lot as well. The biggest topic you hear from voters when you're out there talking to folks?
LOPEZ: Well, if we're talking about Hispanic voters, there's a point that people in the White House make that is very valid is that Hispanic voters are no different than any other votes . They're worried about the economy. They're worried about health.
But immigration seems to be something that brings people together. A lot of Hispanics feel that the debate on immigration is a debate on Hispanics. So it feels like an attack. Now immigration reform had basically disappeared until Arizona came out with the law. Now people are talking about it again and now Hispanics are being asked again to vote to see if immigration reform is possible. It will be interesting to see if they come out again because usually they don't participate in the midterm elections.
TANDEN: You know, I worked in California in the '90s and what was interesting about immigration issues then is like now there is a big debate about, you know, what we're going to do, some very direct laws were proposed and passed and it really hurt the Republican party.
AYRES: Keep an eye on the Hispanic Republicans like in Marco (Rubio) in Florida, he's a superstar. If he can win that Senate election, the sky is the limit for his group.
LOPEZ: He was way ahead but now he's --
YELLIN: He's losing some ground. It's going to be quite a race.
OK, we have to get to this. It's my favorite story of the day. The latest installment of the long running political soap operas - the Palin, Levi Johnston, he's back. Remember him, he's talking to "People" magazine about his relationship with Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol and he's sounding, shall we say it, a bit more grown up.
He says, "Last year, after Bristol and I broke up, I was unhappy and a little angry unfortunately against my better judgment, I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true. I owe it to the Palins to publicly apologize."
You think he hired a PR consultant, Whit?
AYRES: I'm going to pass that right on.
TANDEN: Probably talked to his mom and his mom taught him how to behave because he did not behave well before.
LOPEZ: The story that won't go away.
YELLIN: The story that won't go away. Thanks to all for joining us.
Coming up, a new commercial is raising eyebrows not because of what it advertises but because of who it might appeal to. Stay with us.
YELLIN: It's time for the play by play, just like in sports shows, we replay the tape and breakdown the action. Back again with us is Neera Tanden and Whit Ayres. Thanks to both of you and let's start right away with President Obama's meeting with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a symbolic show of support during some tough times. Borrowing a line from Mark Twain, the Israeli leader had this had to say. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: The reports about the demise of the special U.S./Israel relations -- relationship aren't just premature, they are just flat wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Or borrowing a line from Vice President Biden who said that about the Democrats. Are they flat wrong there Neera?
TANDEN: Well, I think today actually showed that they are wrong because, you know, what happened today is that the prime minister finally said he would really commit to concrete steps.
I think it shows the president, his patience in working through this when many people have said give up on Middle East peace. It is showing some real results and really up to the prime minister to show what these concrete steps are.
YELLIN: But there a lot of people in this country who are supporters of Israel who are very frustrated with this president.
AYRES: And there a lot of people who going back to the campaign have worried about some of the things the president has said. I do think the U.S./Israeli relationship is strong enough to withstand some tensions, but there are clearly some supporters of Israel who are worried about this president.
YELLIN: OK, well, among the supporters of Israel, some of those to prominent are Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. And it was interesting to me today that while President Obama was talking with the Israelis, Senator John McCain was in the Middle East meeting with the Palestinians.
He sent a tweet -- he sent a bunch of tweets. One said he met with the Palestinian prime minister today. I believe he is dedicated to a genuine peace settlement, but many obstacles remain.
Another tweet he said, visited Palestinian National Security Forces operations camp, very impressive operation. And then Senator McCain also sent pictures, first of the meeting, then visiting with the Palestinian security forces.
Why would he pick today, of all days, I guess I should ask you, Whit, why would he pick today of all days to go meet with the Palestinians?
AYRES: I don't know the answer to that, Jessica, but it certainly provides an interesting juxtaposition of McCain with the Palestinians and Obama with Netanyahu.
YELLIN: Right. Does it strike you, there's a bit of a shadow government vibe here?
TANDEN: Well, it is interesting, because Senator McCain has criticized others for getting -- other senators, to other Democrats, the Bush administration, for getting involved in foreign policy issues to the detriment of the president. I just hope he is not doing that ahead of his primary that is going to be so difficult.
YELLIN: OK, let's turn to a lighter topic, somewhat lighter, Britain's queen. She spoke at the United Nations today. It has been quite a while since she has done that more than 50 years to be exact. Let's listen first to what she said back in 1957, when she was still a very young woman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: Time has, in fact, made the task of the United Nations more difficult than it seemed when the terms of the charter were agreed at San Francisco 12 years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: OK and here she is today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH: For over six decades, the United Nations has helped to shape the international response to global dangers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Whit, pretty remarkable what she has seen over her lifespan. It's always interesting when she comes.
AYRES: It's fascinating when can she comes and it's fascinating to see the two different speeches separated by 60 years.
YELLIN: And I got to say, I mean, maybe it's not PC, but the outfit? You can't -- you can't look at the queen without commenting, floral? Did it surprise you?
TANDEN: Yes, you know, if anyone can pull it off it is the queen of England. Many of to us wouldn't, but she can. Go ahead.
YELLIN: The other thing I found striking is both, we didn't see it, but both back then and this day, she carried her pocketbook with her as she gave the speech.
TANDEN: I know, it is remarkable, but I think what actually is amazing, I'm sure 60 years ago, she never thought there would be an African-American president in the United States. We have seen dramatic changes that is something she talked about and it is amazing, the role of women today, the changes we have seen. It was remarkable that way.
YELLIN: Has changed a lot.
AYRES: Neera needs a hat like that.
YELLIN: We will work on that. We'll work on that. Whit, Neera, thanks so much both of you for being with us.
All right, well, Queen Elizabeth on that rare visit to New York. Pete on the street has the regal reaction, next.
YELLIN: Finally tonight, Britain's queen was in New York today to address the United Nations. Our offbeat reporter, Pete Dominick, went out to see how New Yorkers were preparing for the royal visit. Hey, Pete.
PETE DOMINICK, JOHN KING, USA OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey, Jessica Yellin. That is right. The queen here in New York for the first time and my British flag. And I went down to visit some British- themed stores and asked people who they could be the queen of America.
You know, the queen's in town. We were hoping to talk to a British restaurant owner. You are British, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not really interested, mate.
DOMINICK: You're not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
DOMINICK: This is a royal toilet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A royal toilet? I'm afraid we can't allow cameras in the toilet because somebody in there.
DOMINICK: The queen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Not the queen. She doesn't go to the toilet.
DOMINICK: The queen does not use a toilet? I didn't realize that. I apologize again. What is with these people? In America, you think America should have a king and queen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certainly not. No queen?
DOMINICK: Madonna? Lady Gaga?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lady Gaga.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody but Lady Gaga. Hillary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Jessica Yellin would be a great queen of America.
DOMINICK: Queen Jessica Yellin what do you think? Would you like to be queen? Pay homage, we used to be their royal subjects or something. You think it is a little too soon for the queen to be visiting after July 4th? A little bit stomping on our --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is fine.
DOMINICK: Hi. Cheer cheerio. Chill chill a roo. Sir, as a tribute to the queen of England visiting today, we're going to need you to drive on the other side of the road for the rest of the afternoon, is that OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DOMINICK: So just make sure the rest of the day, you and your dog drive on those. Thank you very much, sir. It is really just that hot.
Are you excited for the queen's visit?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes? I think she nodded.
DOMINICK: Well there you are, Jessica. I think all Americans are really happy that we don't have a king and queen, but it was fun to do anyway.
YELLIN: Did you get the guy who wants me to be queen? Did you get his phone number?
DOMINICK: No, but I hear he is on Facebook which -- hey, I heard a weird thing. I don't know if this is true, apparently she doesn't get as much money as she used to from the government, he paid her own way, which is why she flew in and out of New York on the same day, and I don't know why she didn't stay in a Holiday Inn in Jersey.
YELLIN: I don't believe that. Did you see the swank dress and hat? That had to cost a pretty penny.
DOMINICK: Jessica, if you wear that hat like that tomorrow night, we will make you queen.
YELLIN: I think I deserve to be queen if I wear that hat.
DOMINICK: There you go.
YELLIN: Thanks so much. All right, that's all for us tonight. "CAMPBELL BROWN" starts right now.