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Oil Cap Test; White House Meeting; Cheney Heart Surgery; Economic Stimulus Plan

Aired July 14, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening. A number of important late-breaking stories tonight, a White House showdown with House Democrats who increasingly believe the Obama political operation is more worried about the president's standing than their survival.

Also tonight Dick Cheney is hospitalized after major heart surgery. We will show you the new device the former vice president hopes will allow him to resume an active live.

But first the critical test of BP's new capping device in the Gulf of Mexico. The government tonight gave its blessing for that test to begin. But only after a lengthy delay because some government scientists are worried this new effort to cap the spill might instead cause a catastrophic rupture at the base of the BP well -- CNN's Ed Lavandera has been tracking the dramatic developments on this day 86 of the BP spill and joins us with the latest -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey John, well the preparations for this integrity test have started in the Gulf of Mexico. Significant because over the course of the next 48 hours, in six-our increments, we could begin to get a sense of whether or not this containment cap system is going to work the way BP officials and federal government officials hope it will.

And that means as all of the events and everything is shut down, they will begin pressure readings to determine whether or not this containment cap will be able to withstand that pressure. And they hope that it works in one of two ways. That either this containment cap can work by itself or that they hope that it will work well enough so they can reconnect riser pipes to it and begin the process of collecting the oil.

And they feel they have enough capacity and ability to hold enough oil to capture almost all, if not all of the oil that is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, so critical hours. It was delayed, as you mentioned, for 24 hours because federal government officials and scientists had more questions about what this would do to the integrity of the well casing that bores deep, deep into the earth, so there was concern that all of that pressure would do some damage to that well casing and cause further damage. Admiral Thad Allen who is in charge of the federal response spoke with reporters just a short while ago and talked about -- and talked about why this is such a crucial moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN (RET.), NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: We're going to be watching very closely the pressure readings. If the pressure readings stay low, that will tell us that the oil is probably going some place else and we need to consider the fact we may have a breach in the well bore (ph) or in one of the casings.


LAVANDERA: So basically, what that would mean is that if that pressure drops that there is oil escaping from somewhere in that long well casing bore into the earth and that would be something that would be much more difficult to control. So we're told over that over the course of the next 48 hours that in six-hour increments they will stop and analyze these pressure readings. And then we'll wait how all this plays out. And whether or not this is going to be the moment we've been waiting for, John, for almost three months.

KING: Ed Lavandera for us on the scene and Ed will be with us throughout the hour. If there are more significant developments we will go back to him.

Now, we want to take a closer look at this delicate operation. Go through some of the big questions the government scientists have. Bill Nye, The Science Guy", you know him, as he joins us from Los Angeles. So Bill, as we begin the conversation, I'm going to walk over to our "Magic Wall" here because I want you to help me understand, when you listened to Thad Allen today, this of course is what they have put in place.

And as we've seen some of the pictures and the control room should feel free to put them up over me if necessary, we've seen some of the flow of oil stop out of the middle. BP says that's part of the beginning. They say officially not the start of the integrity test, but they're getting to that point.

They will shut down the oil there. I'm going to use different colors here if I can. Then they will shut down the oil from these other valves and ultimately they will shut down the oil from all the valves in this new cap they've put on. But one of the concerns, Bill that the government scientists raise, that when they do that, the goal is to build up the pressure and stop it, they're worried first some could come out down here, where the seal, where this new cap was placed on, where the old BOP (ph) is, some pressure could come out there.

That's one concern, but the bigger concern I was told today by people involved in this is this, that if you cap it here, the pressure comes back down, and that you'll get down here at the base of the well, this is the old well essentially that down here, right along the seabed floor, there could be problems. And if that happens, they're worried about some sort of a catastrophic rupture down here. Walk us through the big questions here.

BILL NYE, "THE SCIENCE GUY": Well, this thing -- thank you, John. The thing exploded 86 days ago; 11 people were killed. And you don't know what sort of shockwaves, what sort of pressure waves went up and down this long drill string, the riser and so on. And so bear in mind that in the earth's crust there in the seafloor, you have a big pipe casing.

Then you put in a smaller one then a smaller one and it gets down all the way to seven inches in English units, down very deep, almost two miles down, in the earth's crust. So that whole drill string below the earth's surface may have been rattled and I had this model rigged up. Here's the new cap which has a relief valve on it.

This would go to the surface. But you've got to think of things below the seafloor. If this were the seafloor, this drill string goes down, down, almost two miles. So anywhere along this string, in the earth's crust, what you might think of as solid rock, after you give it a jolt big enough to explode a drilling platform, there could be cracks down there, so what you would end up with is oil coming out all over the place in the seafloor.

Now, everybody's hope is that when this valve is closed, this valve up here or this series of valves up here is closed, that indeed this thing will hold the pressure. That's everybody's hope. But if there are cracks down here below the seafloor, then the oil will just seep out all over the place. Now, there are natural seeps, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.

And the ecosystems around those natural seeps over the last tens of thousands of years have come to deal with it. There are bacteria that eat the oil and stuff that eats the bacteria and so on. But this is catastrophic. I mean 10,000 PSI. It's 600 atmospheres of pressure. It's just -- could be a big mess.

So the main information that we can get is as we close the valves, what happens to the pressure in the cap, what happens to the pressure in the bottom of the cap, the top of the cap, all the places where oil is coming out? You can use the pressure to infer how good the seal is. If you've ever tried to pump up a tire that already has a hole in it, like a bicycle tire, it won't pump up. The pressure won't increase; the same with this rig.

KING: And let's go through that because I was told today by someone that they're going to take this slow on purpose because again of their concerns of causing a big rupture down here. And so I was told that when they close these down, they want to take the pressure up maybe to 6,500 PSI. Then take a breath, test and check, do some seismic readings, not just pressure readings up here, but seismic readings down here.

And then if they feel good, go higher to ultimately where they think they need to be, 8,300, 9,000 PSI to cap it, letting the pressure come up here. What's the significance of the difference?

NYE: Well the deal is that you -- the thing is dynamic. This is to say you might not have ever thought about it, but when you have that much fluid of any kind in that long of pipe, waves can develop in the pipe. If you were to close those valves suddenly, to slam them shut, it's possible -- I'm not saying this would happen -- it's possible you would develop a pressure wave which could constructively interfere with itself and get a resonance, like hitting a tuning fork, and you'd make any crack that you have, any leak that you have worse.

And the other thing is there is a rubber seal between the base of this new cap and the riser itself, the old riser. And if that rubber seal doesn't seat, if you shake it loose with a sudden pressure jolt, it will be very hard to get it back on there. So everybody's trying to go slowly to make sure that they get things to seal well, top and bottom. Now just everybody -- I'm not trying to defend the oil industry, but this thing's been going on for 86 days. So to take a few extra hours or a few extra -- a day and a half, say, to make sure they close this carefully in all -- with all things considered is really probably the way to go.

KING: Appreciate that perspective from Bill Nye and Bill we'll keep in touch over the next 48 hours as they go through this operation. And I want to show our viewers once again these pictures undersea. I want to show them to them right now because we're in touch with BP constantly and they say you will see -- you're also seeing there some dispersant.

Sometimes it gets hard to see this because there are dispersants, but BP tells us as you watch these pictures, and remember, there are several valves off this new cap down there. You may see no oil coming out of one valve and oil coming out of the other valves. When you see the oil stop flowing out, at that point, BP says that so-called integrity test. Of course they're constantly testing pressure, constantly looking at this.

But it is the process officially called the integrity test that we are most concerned about at this moment. BP says when you see no oil flowing out of those valves in the top that is when you will know that key test, that critical test that the government gave the go- ahead for just a short time ago is under way. We will stay in touch with BP.

We will stay in touch with the government and we will keep our eyes like many of you glued to those pictures throughout this night and this hour and the next several days. When we come back, though, moving on to a major developing political story, a senior Democratic official telling CNN House Democrats are hot, hot, hot about a White House prediction they may lose control of Congress. Guess what, Democratic leaders just met with the president tonight -- a showdown at the White House. We'll talk about it next.


KING: Just moments ago a big White House meeting broke up. House Democrats led by their speaker Nancy Pelosi going down to see the president and his political team at a time of some deepening tensions between the House Democrats who think maybe the Obama White House is more worried about the president's political standing than their hopes in the big November midterm elections. In a moment Bill Bennett and Paul Begala -- they're right here to help us weigh in on this -- first let's listen to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she left the meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Just had a very productive meeting with the president. Any opportunity to sit down with the president of the United States is a great privilege. And it gave -- afforded us an opportunity to talk about the issue of most concern to the American people, the issue of job creation and growing our economy.


KING: My compliments to the speaker's diplomatic skills. Paul and Bill, as you join us you know she was white-hot in a meeting with her own members last night. They are hot overall in what they think is the White House not tending to them enough, but incredibly hot at the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for going out this weekend and saying you know what, I've look at the map, counted the races and they might lose control of the House.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, you know, first off, I've seen White Houses at war with their own party and this is not one of them --

KING: Didn't you work in one?

BEGALA: You can remember a time when President Clinton's chief political adviser Dick Morris was also advising the Republicans on the Hill so this is nothing. But I do think that Gibbs stated the obvious, and that's always dangerous in Washington --

KING: He's not supposed to.

BEGALA: Right --

KING: You and I can talk about what we know to be in politics but he's not supposed to undermine moral or undermine the team, is he?

BEGALA: Well, see what I think they ought to do is seize that and use it. In other words, make the election referendum on how Republicans would govern rather than a referendum simply on the Democrats and all of their wonderful ideas, OK? In other words, I would embrace it. You have it anyway. I would embrace it and say OK, now what would Speaker Boehner do?

What would -- Congressman Barton would chair the energy committee -- he's apologizing to BP. In other words, I would say yes, actually, they might win the House and the truth is they might.


BEGALA: I mean baby, it's cold out there Bill --


BEGALA: But it's cold out there for my people.


KING: You just want to let the Democrats --

WILLIAM BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, I mean this family's having a fight. I'm not going to step in the middle of it. No, I mean look, it's interesting. This happens. I mean this happens when you're in trouble and they have got some trouble. They know that. These are midterms.

The numbers aren't good. Every day another pollster comes out and says this. But I agree with Paul. There's a way to turn it. I hope they don't. I hope they keep you know shooting each other inside. But there's certainly a way to turn it. And I don't think there should be a problem in either party anytime in telling the truth. I don't know why the truth couldn't motivate them. You know this is a serious thing and if they think the Republicans will be the reign of Satan, you know, right --


BENNETT: Then I mean that may motivate --


BEGALA: The White House --


BENNETT: -- everything's fine is nonsense.


KING: So the White House political operation you know sneaks out a memo saying well wait a minute; we've done 187 political events, a lot of them helping your House members. We're going to raise $50 million to help the DNC (INAUDIBLE) campaign. If we're talking about who's helping whom, who's mad at whom, they're not talking about what the speaker said was the most important issue, creating jobs for the American people.

BEGALA: That's exactly right and David Axelrod, the person maybe more than anybody except Barack Obama, who got Barack Obama elected, chief adviser to the president of the United States, has said from the beginning he wants these midterm elections to be a choice, not a referendum.

OK, so execute on that. In other words, the speaker talked about jobs. How will they create jobs to privatize Social Security, Mr. Boehner, when you take control? How will it create jobs to privatize Medicare, as you want to? How will it create jobs to cut more taxes for the rich and blow up the deficit even further?

In other words, put them on trial. You know this is allowed. You are actually allowed to criticize the other side in a campaign.


KING: Can they successfully do that? Are most first-term midterms a referendum on a new president's first two years?

BENNETT: Yes, but I mean you always try to shift terms in a debate. And I don't think it's a bad thing to tell the truth. And if it's a likely prospect then tell it. But look, I have only one rule in Washington. The only thing I learned all those years, you're either on offense or you're on defense. They're on defense and they need to get off defense. I hope they stay right where they are, but that's where they are.

KING: Paul Begala, Bill Bennett thanks for your advice --


BENNETT: Take my advice --

KING: There you go --

BEGALA: Listen to Bill Bennett --


BEGALA: I got to say that again.


KING: We'll see if we can get Bill invited to the next meeting with the House Democrats and the president.


BENNETT: Nancy and Barack, I'll go.

KING: All right, great. Former Vice President Dick Cheney just revealed he had heart surgery involving a new technology. We'll discuss it with the former president of the American Heart Association next.


KING: In "Wall-to-Wall" tonight the former vice president, Dick Cheney, had another heart operation. In a written statement revealed this afternoon Cheney told us he's begun to experience increasing congestive heart failure, so doctors implanted something called a Left Ventricular Assist Device, a relatively new technology. A source close to Mr. Cheney tells me it's apparently not guaranteed to work although he's doing fine.

I want to read a statement from the former vice president. He said "a few weeks ago it became clear that I was entering a new phase of the disease when I began to experience increasing congestive heart failure. After a series of recent tests and discussions with my doctors, I decided to take advantage of one of the new technologies available and have a Left Ventricular Assist Device implanted".

Joining us by telephone is Dr. Tim Gardner. He's the former president of the American Heart Association and a director for the Center of Heart and Vascular Health (INAUDIBLE) Care Center. Dr. Gardner, I want to walk over, I want you to help me understand why at this point, this is a man who has had heart disease for more than 30 years. Why at this point would the doctors recommend this?

DR. TIMOTHY GARDNER, HEART SURGEON (via phone): Well, basically, his own heart is not pumping sufficiently strongly to maintain supportive circulation. So this assist pump had to be placed to keep his -- keep him alive basically.

KING: I'm showing our viewers a diagram -- this is courtesy of the Mayo Clinic of one of these pumps. And I want to circle a bit of it up here and show. The pump comes in; it goes back up to the aorta and has a control unit and a battery. Can you explain to us how this works?

GARDNER: Yes, it's a very simple pump that takes blood from the left ventricle and through this very simple mechanism pumps it back into the aorta and -- or forces (ph) it back into the aorta and can provide from -- anywhere from a third to nearly 100 percent of the required cardiac output. It is an assist pump in most instances and I bet in Vice President Cheney's instance, it's providing perhaps 30, 50, 60 percent of the required blood flow from his heart to his body.

KING: His statement was relatively optimistic, saying he hopes this new device allows him to return and resume an active life. He is still hospitalized now, even though the surgery was last week. "A", is that length of post-operative hospitalization is that about normal and "B", this is someone who first had a heart attack back in 1978 at age 37. He has had five known heart attacks for them to take this step. So what does it tell you about his overall condition?

GARDNER: Well he -- his heart is at the -- at its end stage. His heart is not able to function adequately. He needs this heart assist pump. For many years, these pumps were only put into patients as a bridge to heart transplantation. And I don't know whether that's the strategy here or whether his doctors and Vice President Cheney expect to have this device as a permanent addition to his life support and function in sort of what we call destination therapy mode.

But up until just a short while ago, these devices were only approved for use as bridge to heart transplantations. There are now indications with this new smaller device, which is better tolerated, and does allow an individual, under the best of circumstances, to be ambulatory and active. So for some people this is the final stage of support for their heart.

KING: Dr. Gardner, greatly appreciate your help and your insights tonight as we track this, again, statement earlier today from the former Vice President Dick Cheney that he had this ventricular assist device, this procedure to have this attached to his heart. Dr. Gardner, again, appreciate your time tonight and we may check back in with you as we learn more about the vice president's condition.

When we come back, we shift back to the politics of the economy. Gloria Borger, Jessica Yellin join us here to discuss new indications from the Federal Reserve that the economy is not as strong as it thought just months ago. What does that mean this midterm election year?


KING: A new push from the White House to suggest to try to convince Americans, especially voters in the midterm election that the stimulus plan is actually creating jobs and helping the economy, but on the very same day the Federal Reserve issued a report with a more pessimistic view of the future of the economy. Let's talk about those numbers and the politics of the economy with our senior political analyst Gloria Borger and our national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. Welcome both.

The vice president has been the lead guy in pushing the stimulus and the Republicans say it's not working. And more importantly when you look at public opinion polling, most Americans don't think it's working at a high level. So Vice President Biden today saying, people, look more closely at the numbers. Maybe this isn't perfect. But it's helping.


JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: GDP is between 2.7 and 3.2 percent higher because of one thing, the recovery act. Put it another way, we would be barely growing at all were it not to have passed in the first place and been implemented.


KING: They're going to say this over and over and over again and for good reason. "A", it is their legislation. And "B", they think it has been more effective than they're getting credit for.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Right and there are lots of Democrats you talk to who say that they should have been doing this for months and that they shouldn't just be starting this now, but better late than never, but their fundamental problem right now is the job market. You know unemployment is still high.

People aren't feeling this. Lots of stimulus money still has to be spent. It's not so easy to identify what job was saved as a result of the stimulus plan. So it's not as tangible as a lot of people would like. You haven't seen Barack Obama in a hard hat going around to a construction project saying these are the 100 jobs that we are creating today because of this stimulus package.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The challenge is, is you can't prove a negative --

BORGER: Right.

YELLIN: -- saying what jobs did they save. The truth is, is that job creation under President Obama has outpaced job creation under President Bush at certain points. But the challenge is that there are just so many people looking for work. The one thing that's worked for them is pointing out some of the hypocrisy on the Republican side among those members who have said I oppose the stimulus, but then go out with their hard hat and say look at all these jobs I brought.

KING: Hypocrisy in politics --

YELLIN: Both sides do it, but when they can point that out that seems to be more effective.

BORGER: And they will do that in races. They will say OK, you're bragging about this job, but by the way, how did you vote on the stimulus package?

YELLIN: Right.

KING: I want to show you some numbers because these came out today when we were studying the new White House report, looking at economic data. This comes out and this has to be very, very, very discouraging to the president and the Democrats. This is from the Federal Reserve. An unemployment report looking at projections, the economy going forward, back in April they said the unemployment rate for this year at its lowest would be 9.1 percent.

Now they say a minor adjustment. They don't think it will go below 9.l2. 2011, in April, they thought it could fall as low as 8.1 percent. Now they say 8.3 percent. But this is what jumped out at me. 2012, that's the president's reelection year.

In April the Fed thought unemployment would drop to 6.6 percent. Now it says the lowest it believes it will go again in the presidential election year, 7.1 percent. If you're the president of the United States, boy, you hope the Fed is dead wrong.

BORGER: Right, but you know what? You also think back to Ronald Reagan, OK, and you think OK, in the midterm elections Ronald Reagan lost 26 seats in the House. Unemployment was up. This is in '82 -- to 10.8 percent. When he was re-elected, unemployment was just over seven percent, so if you're Barack Obama and you're not thinking about the Congress -- that's a whole other story -- thinking about yourself, well, that might be low enough.

YELLIN: Right. The bottom line is the numbers look bad for re- election for Democrats running this year.

BORGER: Right.

YELLIN: But by the time the president's up again, it's looking a lot better, so he might be able to save his own hide, not necessarily his -

KING: You're making the point that as long as the line's going that way, you can at least try to have a better situation.

BORGER: Right, but it's not going to go that much lower before the midterm elections, so, you know, that train's already left the station.

KING: OK, let's take a look at another photo the White House released today. Now, this meeting was not on the president's schedule, but we learned, because Pete Ross (ph), the White House photographer, puts out this photo. And, again, this is a White House photo.

So, in a way, this is propaganda. You know, the White House puts this photo out. That's Warren Buffett. That's the oracle of Omaha, meeting with the president of the United States. Apparently they talked about energy legislation and about the economy.

But if you're out there, and we talked about the poll numbers last night, people don't think the president's doing such a great job heading the economy, this is a clear effort by the White House to say, well, he's sure as - he's trying.

YELLIN: It's not just what the people are saying, but also the business community has been disappointed, upset with the president lately. That's no secret. It's been well reported. And having Warren Buffett in, obviously, helps burnish his credentials and try to turn things around, which the White House knows they have to do.

One of the things that's going on is the business community in particular has felt like after all these years when many of these agencies weren't enforcing the regulations in the same way a Democratic administration sometimes does, they're feeling the squeeze from agencies. Add to that all this populous rhetoric from the president. A lot of reasons the business community starting to feel put upon and is slowly turning against this White House. I think this is one of the efforts to try to win them back over.

BORGER: You know, and they're about to get more regulation when financial reform passes. But when you talk to folks at the White House - I spoke with the senior adviser today who said they always talk about wanting stability and certainty. Well, now they're going to know just what the regulations are.

KING: Stay with me, because I want both of you to weigh in on today's most important person you don't know. He could give Democrats one more crucial vote in the U.S. Senate. He's West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.

He has the power to appoint a replacement for the late Senator Robert Byrd. The trouble is, Manchin said he wouldn't appoint himself, but, oh, boy, does he really want that job. He's called West Virginia legislature into session tomorrow to clarify whether the appointment lasts until a special election this November or all the way until November 2012. And the governor has left the door wide open to running himself.

Manchin's from coal country, Farmington. He lost family and some friends in a 1968 mine explosion. Historic football player back in high school but an injury ended his playing career. Tomorrow could be a critical turning point in his political career.

Is the governor a future senator?

BORGER: I think he'd like to be.


BORGER: And we'll know by the name of the person he chooses to replace him, because - and - and when that date of the election is, because if it's pretty quickly, you'll know that this is just a temporary person -

KING: And the deal he's trying to cut is to just get a caretaker. Get someone to take the job, whether it's for a few months or a couple years.

YELLIN: Yes. A Democratic Cheney, somebody who wants to do the job but doesn't want to run in the future. And - and that's what President Bush was able to find. He has to find that sort of person so that he could get this job himself (ph).

KING: That's what they did in Florida, though, with George LeMieux and look what happened there. We got a crazy Senate race out of that, didn't we?

BORGER: That's what Joe Biden did, right? With - with appointing Senator Kaufman -

KING: Kaufman, (INAUDIBLE) -

BORGER: -- so his son could - could run, and that didn't happen.

YELLIN: Doesn't always play out the way you expect.

KING: Sometimes that planning just doesn't always work.

Jessica, Gloria, thanks for coming in.

Fair or accurate for the NAACP to call the Tea Party Movement racist? That debate - it's a spicy one - up next.


KING: A lot of angry buzz today about the NAACP convention resolution condemning what members call rampant racism in the Tea Party. One of those who begs to differ is South Carolina Congressional candidate, Tim Scott, a Republican and a Tea Party favorite. He will join us in just a second from Charleston, South Carolina.

First, though, from Kansas City, where the NAACP convention is still underway, it's Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton.

Sir, a lot of people in the Tea Party, and you'll hear from Mr. Scott in just a moment, pushing back, saying, wait a minute. Maybe there are five people at a rally of 5,000. maybe there are 10 people at a rally who have objectionable signs, who have horrendous and heinous views, but you can't call a movement and paint a broad brush and say we are racist. We are Americans who are mad about something or protesting something, and don't call us racist.

How do you answer that, sir? HILARY SHELTON, DIRECTOR, NAACP WASHINGTON BUREAU: Oh, you're speaking to me?

KING: Yes, sir.

SHELTON: I'm sorry. You didn't call my name.

Well, they're correct. You can't paint with such a broad brush, nor is NAACP's resolution. Our resolution points to those racist elements that you just described, quite frankly, in the Tea Party Movement that should be repudiated.

Quite frankly, all we're saying is is that when you have those kind of problems, when people show up with those types of signs, when those types of messages come out, actually using the "N" word to describe the president of the United States, we find that organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens have taken over one of the six segments of the Tea Party Movement, then indeed they have to repudiate those very racist elements and call for that change. That's all our resolution calls for.

KING: Mr. Shelton, though, the Tea Party leaders we have spoken to say, well, we do that. We do call them out. They're not welcome here and we don't need an organization that isn't involved with our movement, that doesn't maybe come to our rallies, to tell us what to do when we're doing that.

SHELTON: Well, those particular signals are not just held at those rallies. Those messages sent out beyond those rallies. When you have people associated with the Tea Party calling Emanuel Cleaver, a representative from Kansas City, Missouri to the U.S. Congress, the "N" word? When they spit on John Lewis, one of the stalwarts of the civil rights movement, who is a U.S. congressman from - from Atlanta, Georgia, when they actually call Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of the U.S. Congress, the "F" word, then we have a problem.

They're not just saying that personally. They're saying that to the public at large. That kind of discontent has led to some violent actions. We've had offices, like, for instance, Congressman Scott's office, from - from Georgia, actually painted with a swastika on the side of it, with those who see themselves as being part of the so- called Tea Party Movement.

We should make sure they're very aggressive about weeding themselves of these racist elements, and, again, that's what our resolution calls for.

KING: And one of the controversies in the last 24 hours has been you've adopted a resolution - the convention has adopted a resolution but they wouldn't release it publicly until the board of directors approves it. If you're going to say these things, why can't we see the copy of exactly what you want to say as an organization?

SHELTON: It's simply NAACP's standard operating procedure. Our constitution requires that after resolutions are passed at our national convention, the resolution has to be actually confirmed by the NAACP board of directors in the October meeting. It's been part of our policies for the last almost 100 - 100 years, as a matter of fact.

So there's nothing extraordinary about it. There's no secret. We're happy to share with you what's in the resolution. It's just that the resolution in its full amended context is not shared until the board of directors has had an opportunity to actually confirm it.

KING: Mr. Shelton, I want you to stand by. We're having a technical issue with Mr. Scott. So we're going to take a quick break. Hopefully we can work that out during the break and we'll come back, continue the conversation in just a moment.


KING: Let's continue our conversation about the NAACP's resolution condemning racist elements within the Tea Party.

We're having a bit of a technical issue, but I want to introduce you to Tim Scott. He's from South Carolina. He's a Republican Congressional candidate. He is a Tea Party favorite. As you can see, he's an African-American. At the moment, he's being very patient with us and continuing this conversation on the telephone because of some technical issues.

Mr. Scott, we've been having a conversation with Mr. Shelton who says there are rampant elements of racism within the Tea Party Movement. Do you see it that way, sir?

TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely not. I would - I would invite him to come out and attend some Tea rallies, Tea Party rallies. I've been to more than a dozen of them on the campaign trail. I won the Republican primary nominee with 68 percent of the vote where most people who were voting consider themselves a part of the Tea Party Movement, and that in and of itself is indicative of the fact that the Tea Party Movement is a party movement focused on limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets.

KING: So I want to ask you a question, Sir, because here's - here's where I see the rub. What is the responsibility of the organizers, and as yourself now, as a Republican nominee for Congress, when you do see - there have been some pictures, and I'm going to ask our producers to show some of them, there have been some visuals and some protests at these rallies that I think 99.9 percent of all Americans would find offensive.

Some of them would say they are racist. Some of them say (INAUDIBLE). When you have, and I will say that it's Tea Party rallies I've been at, they are very limited and very isolated when it comes to the larger universe of people. What is the responsibility of the leadership of the party when you see something like that? Do you turn them away? Do you take their signs?

SCOTT: I think it's our responsibility as an average American to fight against everything that brings our - our country down. Ultimately, I think what we need to do is focus on the fact that what the Tea Party has done is brought to the forefront the issues that bring us back to being the strongest country possible.

When you have folks on the fringes that show up at rallies, how you respond to those folks is less important, in my opinion, than is what your focus on your issues are. I think we all repudiate racism. We all should repudiate racism, and racists. We do not want them a part of the Tea Party Movement.

I'm a part of the Tea Party Movement. We have a number of folks of African-American - a number of African-Americans who are involved in the Tea Party, and we will continue to be involved because the issues are absolutely necessary to move our country in the right direction.

KING: Mr. Shelton, when you hear Mr. Scott make this case, that he's been at these rallies, he is supported by Tea Party Movement supporters, and maybe there's one or two or three people there, but it is not rampant, as you suggest. What's your answer?

SHELTON: I'd - I'd have to agree with him in many ways, and he's actually agreeing with us. We're actually saying exactly what he's saying, that when these kind of incidents happen at these rallies, that it is up to the Tea Party organizers, those in leadership, to repudiate, to separate themselves from those kinds of people -

KING: But Mr. Scott -


KING: Mr. Scott just did repudiate them.

SHELTON: Yes, he did, and that's exactly - we want to see the other Tea Party leaders do as well. As Mr. Scott's very well aware, there are six national Tea Party constructs -

KING: Mr. Scott - we had a problem earlier, so let's Mr. Scott -

SCOTT: It is like saying that the - the Democratic Party ought to repudiate all members of the Klan that have served as part of their party. The truth is that each of us -

SHELTON: If they do these kinds of things -


SCOTT: -- core values we believe in --

SHELTON: -- if they showed up on Capitol Hill with those kind of -


KING: Mr. Shelton, I want to ask you to let Mr. Scott finish because he - we did - he could not join the first part of the conversation. Go ahead, Mr. Scott. Please continue. SHELTON: Sure. Go right ahead, please.

SCOTT: Certainly. And ultimately, the Tea Party stands on the values of limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets. This is a party that helped me win 68 percent of the vote, to earn the Republican nominee. To talk about the Tea Party as a racist group of folks is wrong, and it's repress - it's just regressive, as Sarah Palin said today.

KING: Mr. Scott, what do you - Mr. Scott, what do you think of the NAACP?

SCOTT: Well, I think the NAACP has been skewing to the left for far too long. Ultimately, we ought to be having a conversation about - if we're going to find a way to fix what ails us, we have to talk about the high school dropout rate. We've got to talk about the unemployment rate, and we have to talk about free markets and its impact on the unemployment rate.

When we've released the free market to do what it does best, we find ourselves in the best position to prosper as a country, to prosper as a community. So I'd love to engage in the conversation around the issues that will under gird our success in the future.

KING: And Mr. Shelton --

SCOTT: This, in my opinion, is a rabbit trail.

KING: A rabbit trail to Mr. Scott.

Mr. Shelton, answer the critic who would say the NAACP knows that right now if you look at the polling data, the intensity is on the Republican side. There's not a lot of intensity among African- Americans, and that this was done in a way to motivate African- Americans on the left, largely, to get out and vote this fall.

SHELTON: Well, I can tell you this, this resolution was actually brought forward to our national convention by our Kansas City branch of the NAACP, and we were certainly inviting Mr. Scott to join us at a national convince because, quite frankly, every issue he just raised were issues that were discussed in depth at this convention.

So we have an awful lot of agreement, and we also agree that when this kind of racist behavior happens at a Tea Party event, that it should be repudiated by its leadership. We support you in taking that position, and it sounds like we agree.

KING: Mr. Scott, I want to give you the last word.

SCOTT: Well, ultimately, I'm not telling the Tea Party leadership to look for the fringes within the crowd in order to get them out, to purge them from the crowd. That is to take the focus from the issues.

What we're talking about today is how do we find a way to defuse the Tea Party Movement because it's been impactful and successful at the voter's box. We must continue as Tea Party members to focus our attention on limiting the size of our government, to slow the growth of government, and then to stop the insanity of spending $14 trillion of deficit, is absolutely too much, by the end of this fiscal year, and to free the private sector to return our economy to prominence.

KING: Mr. Shelton, Mr. Scott, I want to thank you both for you time tonight. I also want to thank both of you for your patience, especially to you, Mr. Scott, for dealing with the technical issue. It is a conversation worth continuing --


KING: -- and we will do so in the next coming days and months, between now and the election. Again, please, gentlemen, thank you both.

Is big government a roadblock on the path to salvation? One Congressional candidate thinks so. We'll listen to what he has to say, next.


KING: If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know right now.

The U.S. government has told BP to proceed with its integrity test on its new well cap. BP said it's made some initial moves in that direction. National Incident Commander Thad Allen says testing will continue up to 48 hours. We'll be closely watching the pressure gauges for any signs of capping the well is allowing oil to leak from somewhere else along the drill casing.

ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play By Play".

KING: Here to help us break down the tape tonight, Democrat Paul Begala, Republican strategist Greg Mueller.

I want to start with a Congressional campaign ad in Missouri. Ed Martin is running against Mr. Carnahan, and he went on the radio show and he talked about - there is an interesting connection that he say, he says if you get more government, which he says that's what the Democrats are giving us, you end up with less God. Let's listen.


VOICE OF ED MARTIN (R), MISSOURI CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: When you take a government and you impose and take away all your choices, one of the choices you take away is to find the Lord and find your savior. And that's one of the things that's most destructive about the growth of government, is this taking away that freedom, the freedom - the ultimate freedom to find your salvation, to get your salvation, and to find Christ for me and you, and i think that's one of the things that we have to very, very aware of, that the Obama administration and Congressman Carnahan are doing to us.

(END AUDIO CLIP) KING: Now, I'm all for a good debate about taxes and spending in government, the size of government, but how does government take away God?

GREG MUELLER, PRESIDENT, CRC PUBLIC RELATIONS: Christian Coalition is back again, John. Now, look. I think what - what Ed's trying to communicate here is a concern a lot of Americans have is that too much government, too much intrusion on our freedom and liberty.

We're talking a lot about the economy on - on a lot of shows, your included, done a great job covering it, one of the problems, John, is people are also concerned they're losing their freedom. We see attacks on free speech. We see intimidation if you go against this administration.

I think what Ed's getting to is that how far is government going to go in our lives? And I think that's a real concern. I think that's one of the reasons 49 million people say they're affiliated with the Tea Party.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I mean, that's a nice try, but it's - it's just crazy, I mean, come on. I mean, surely (ph), God bless him. I'm sure he's a lovely man, a person of faith, but that's lunatic stuff. A notion that like social security somehow erodes your belief in God?

By the way, Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, render unto God's -

MUELLER: He didn't say -

BEGALA: -- unto God's what is God's. Because Jesus is for separation of church and state.


BEGALA: This is - this is lunatic stuff. And I feel sorry for the guy. Maybe it's taken out of context. Oh, I'm sure he'll go to some re-education camp and some professional consultants like us. But that - that's loopy stuff.

KING: All right. Let - let's move on to different ways - I'll call it of how to handle a debate invitation. Harry Reid is on the premier political show out in the State of Nevada. Jon Ralston is a good guy, a great political journalist. So he says, why don't we have a debate between your opponent right here? Let's listen.


JON RALSTON, HOST, FACE TO FACE: We're out of time. But we'll see you back here for that debate on "Face-To-Face" with Sharron Angle.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: I can't hear that.

RALSTON: Senator Harry Reid, thanks for coming on the program.


KING: I try that all the time around here, "I can't hear that." That's what we do.

Now, wait a minute. That - there's a different approach. I had Jerry Brown on -- attorney general running for governor of California again the other night, and -


KING: Governor Brown, we'll see you out there on the campaign trail in the near future and we'll invite your opponent on as well. Maybe the two of you can come on together some time and have a little debate right here.



KING: Which - what's the right answer? Or does it depend on the campaign?

BEGALA: It depends on the campaign. I mean, Harry Reid, right now, very vulnerable incumbent Democrat, but I think most people think he has the upper hand there. And he - you know, he got that from Ronald Reagan. You know, Ronald Reagan used to drive the reporters crazy by saying, "What - what, I can't hear you." He could hear well. He just don't want to answer. So, God bless Harry Reid. That was very -

MUELLER: I think it's funny. It is funny. I don't - I don't know if it's helping Harry Reid with his image. I mean, people want to hear a discussion and a debate. I think one of the problems is there's a huge disconnect, even more so from the days of Ross Perot, after the first Bush administration. People want to hear about issues. And when their leaders in Washington are saying they don't want to talk about them with other candidates, that's a problem.

BEGALA: I - we will see, I'm sure, a debate between those folks.

KING: You think?

BEGALA: Oh, sure. You know, I'm just guessing. I don't work for Harry Reid. I love him. I support him. I don't know if I've given him money, I probably should. But you'll see that, because -

KING: Save your money, Paul.

BEGALA: -- but no. What he - what he wants is that contrast. He wants it out there. I mean, he4 feels like he's on the -

Miss Angle recently said it wasn't a senator's job to save jobs in Nevada. Harry Reid stepped in to save thousands of jobs at the city (INAUDIBLE). Biggest job generator in his state. She attacked him for that. I think he would want that debate.

KING: All right. I'm going to call a quick timeout because of the BP news. We're short on "Play-by-Play", but Greg Mueller, Paul Begala, we'll bring you back later.

"CAMPBELL BROWN" is just a few minutes away at the top of the hour. Let's check in for a preview. Hi, Campbell.


Coming up in this hour, the proposed mosque. We're going to talk about that. It is just two blocks away from the World Trade Center has enraged many New Yorkers. The words flying fast and furious. You're going to get to hear it all tonight.

Also, expectations rising in the Gulf of Mexico. As you know, we're going to update you on the test that just may finally stop the gushing oil well.

And the Palin family is back in the national spotlight. Sarah Palin's daughter makes a surprise announcement with Levi Johnson. We have that as well just ahead.

Back to you, John.

KING: It's a question maybe you've asked yourself, if there were a movie about you, who would you want to play you? Well, it's a question our off beat reporter Pete Dominic is checking out tonight. Hey, Pete.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey, John King. That's right. This all started because this guy, Alvin Greene, the Democratic nominee for Senate in South Carolina who, by the way, is a comedian, is the gift that just doesn't stop giving.

He apparently said Hollywood screen writers have contacted him to make a movie about his life and he wants Denzel Washington to play him. I went out and asked people who would play you.


DOMINICK: Who do you think should play you?


DOMINICK: Your friend.


DOMINICK: Beyonce?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gwyneth Paltrow. DOMINICK: Gwyneth Paltrow.

Sir, who's going to play you?


DOMINICK: George Clooney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be a mixture of L.L. Cool J and a little bit - you know - (INAUDIBLE), you know what I'm saying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone unattractive.


DOMINICK: Is that what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say Chris Tucker.

DOMINICK: Chris Tucker?


DOMINICK: All right. Who would you want to play you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stanley Tucci or Chris Malone. Come on, boys, bring it on.


DOMINICK: Tatyana Ali.


DOMINICK: You got it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Goldie Hawn's daughter.

DOMINICK: Who is for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a younger Brad Pitt.

DOMINICK: A young - you look like a young Brad Pitt.


DOMINICK: Alec Baldwin works for you.


DOMINICK: Eddie Murphy. Thank you very much, sir.

What do you, Cate Blanchett? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, of course.

DOMINICK: OK. Cate Blanchett is very attractive.


DOMINICK: Julia Roberts, of course.


DOMINICK: That's what I'm going to say.


DOMINICK: Will Smith? How about this? Ashley Judd?


DOMINICK: Yes. Can she play you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She could definitely play me.

DOMINICK: All right. Thank you very much.


DOMINICK: All right. What dog should play you? Oh, that is one conceited dog. He said Lassie.

Who do you think should play Tom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Peter from "The Family Guy."

DOMINICK: Peter Griffin. Peter Griffin. Can we get a split shot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, I (INAUDIBLE) on the street.


DOMINICK: John King, I think Bruce Willis should play me and I think you're a Richard Gere type.

KING: You know, my son turns 17 today and he is growing into the role to play me. But I want to show a shot here. You say - I say you'll Yul Brynner. Let's take a look. Can we show that? Can we get that up on the screen real quick? There we go. There's Pete on the Street, Yul Brynner.


KING: Have a great night, Pete. We've got to go.

CAMPBELL BROWN starts right now.