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JOHN KING, USA
Tea Party vs. NAACP; BP's Well Cap
Aired July 16, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone. Wow, what an eventful Friday in the world of politics. Utah suspends two state workers it suspects of generating a controversial list of alleged illegal immigrants living in the state. Utah's governor will be right here to take us inside the investigation and his state's immigration debate.
Tonight, the first family is vacationing in Maine. Something some find at odds with the emotional appeal to both the president and the first lady for people to help a Gulf state, Gulf Coast tourism industry devastated by the BP oil spill.
But we begin tonight with a dramatic twist in the raw debate over racism between the NAACP and the Tea Party movement. One of the movement's most visible spokesman, Tea Party Express Leader Mark Williams today pulled a blog posting that even many of his supporters considered counter productive, if not outright racist.
The posting was a satirical letter addressed to Abraham Lincoln from NAACP Chief Ben Jealous and in it Williams called Lincoln quote "the greatest racist ever" and referred to Jealous as quote "Tom's Nephew" and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (INAUDIBLE) colored person (ph).
Today, Williams wrote that he removed the posting because Jealous had expressed a desire to cool the heated rhetoric of recent days and to open a dialogue with the Tea Party Movement's leader. Mark Williams joins us tonight live from Sacramento. Mark, I read this satirical posting over and over again. Satire is supposed to be funny. It wasn't funny. What were you thinking?
MARK WILLIAMS, TEA PARTY EXPRESS SPOKESMAN: Funny wasn't even in the room. I was making a very serious point about the hypocrisy that was involved in that whole NAACP thing. And I'm so very glad that Mr. Jealous has decided to put that behind us and move forward. And I sincerely hope he takes me up on my offer to come along on the Tea Party Express, as well as just to talk with us because he really does need to get out and come to some tea parties and see that we are working exactly for the ideals that the NAACP was allegedly founded to work for and that is --
WILLIAMS: -- individual rights and freedom for everybody.
KING: Let's talk about that. But first let's focus, you say you were trying to highlight what you consider to be their hypocrisy. You have every right. You have your belief and your opinion. You have every right to argue your point. But it's how we argue our point in politics that often get us in trouble. And reading the postings on your own Web site today, a lot of your own supporters didn't like it and they thought you set the movement back.
I want to read a couple of things in your original, again satirical letter. This is from you, but you're saying here that you're Ben Jealous. "Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government stop raising our taxes. That is outrageous. How will we coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-colored get to keep what they earn? Totally racist. The Tea Party expects coloreds to be productive members of society."
Here's one more, Mark. You also wrote this. "And the ridiculous idea of reducing the size and intrusiveness of government. What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life. As coloreds we must have somebody take care for us, otherwise, we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions."
How could you ever possibly think using this language, trying satire is something that would clearly offend so many people would help you make your point?
WILLIAMS: Well again, the phrase colored people is not my language. And for whatever reason, I was taught it was racist. But for whatever reason, it's OK for other people to refer to themselves that way. And I have no idea even what color they are referring to. All I know is that we live in a country right now led by an administration that is doing its darnest to separate us by race, social status, by economic status, by geography. You name it, by social class, and that's what that sentence refers to. The division of social class.
WILLIAMS: I have no idea what is in somebody's head when they refer to a colored person. I know in my mind --
KING: But a lot of people, Mark, are trying --
KING: A lot of people are trying to understand what was in your head when you decided to go so far in responding. Again, you have your beliefs, but was it a mistake? Do you apologize for trying this tact? Read your own postings and your own blog. People who say Mark, thanks for everything you have done in the last few years. You've been so great for our cause. Some of them flat out say they think what you wrote was racist.
WILLIAMS: And when reasonable people -- or that could be construed as such -- when reasonable people soberly approach me and sat down and actually talked with me about it, I reread and re-thought some of it and I agreed with them that it was -- it could be misconstrued and probably inappropriate and more important to the point, getting in the way of discussion and dialogue, which is the reason why it was written in the first place, was to spark that.
As you can see, Mr. Jealous has responded appropriately. And I have responded in kind and in reciprocal gesture and very happily, happy to make that reciprocal gesture. Because I would have far preferred to be on stage at the NAACP Convention explaining to the assembled membership why it was so important for them to join with the Tea Party Movement rather than to stand there, listen to squeeds (ph) from race baiters about what racists we were because that was a complete lie.
And now that Mr. Jealous is willing to sit down and talk with us, I absolutely applaud that, so I pulled the piece. And if there are those to whom I did apologize because they made the very, very sincere arguments --
WILLIAMS: And the way I said it was getting in the way. And it was my intention, successful intention to get the dialogue going and to get this nonsense, the lies and the charges of racism behind us.
KING: We'll learn if it's successful or not. You have certainly generated some controversy, some would -- some say throw a log on the fire that people had hoped to be put out, but I want to read you -- one of our producers just had an e-mail exchange with Mr. Jealous. And here is what he just told us moments ago.
"I have not reached out to Mark Williams nor have we made any statements against the Tea Party. We have simply called on the leaders to repudiate racist elements in their ranks. If Mark Williams does so, I would be happy to sit down and talk to him."
WILLIAMS: Well, guess what? From the very beginning of the tea parties, we have been repudiating that very thing. And Mr. Jealous, I'm very glad that you are taking me up on my offer. My -- you have my contact information. You have my private telephone number, Mr. Jealous. You've got my e-mail. You know where to find me. And if for some reason you don't have that sitting it on your desk in front of you, you should. The producers at CNN I'm sure will be more than happy to give it to you. And I will buy the first round of beers at our summit.
KING: Let me try this one last time. Do you think in hindsight now that you made a mistake in trying to use satire, in using language that Mark, I grew up in the days of force busing (ph) and I think I understand this issue pretty well --
KING: And I read it over and over and over again --
KING: And I thought this is not the way to make a point.
WILLIAMS: You and I went to school at the same time in Boston or near Boston I believe is where you are from. And I was there for the bussing rides and I was one of the people on the streets between the school buses and idiots with the Molotov cocktails as a kid. And absolutely what I did, if it opened the door to ending the vitriol that we saw coming out of Kansas City and opening the door to a genuine acceptance of my offer to talk or Mr. Jealous' offer to talk to me. However, call it a beer summit, whatever you want, what I did was successful. And I'm glad it was successful. I'm sorry I had to go to those lengths to slap some sense into a lot of people who are so afraid of politically incorrect language that we can't get a conversation started.
KING: Here is the problem. Again, you say you are trying to have a dialogue. You're trying to turn down the volume and then you say you are glad you slapped some sense into some people.
KING: Those are your words. You just said. They don't think you slapped some sense into them. They think and again, I'm not going to take sides here, but they think they are in the right position. You think you're in the right position --
WILLIAMS: I don't know what they think.
KING: Why can't we just say -- why doesn't everybody quiet down. No more talking about Massa or race or slapping anybody in the face and maybe you have a few things they have said that you find objectionable.
WILLIAMS: Well that's exactly what Mr. Jealous said yesterday and to what I responded to with the reciprocal action today. We have done exactly in the last you know few hours exactly what you are suggesting.
KING: I don't know if saying slapping --
WILLIAMS: You just read his e-mail. He accepted my offer. I'll be happy --
KING: He said only if you would repudiate.
KING: All right, well let's see if that -- let's see if that works out. I will say I appreciate you coming in and talking about this tonight and if you do have that meeting, whether it's over beer or coffee or tea, maybe we hope after you have that meeting you can come in here and maybe the two of you can join us right here and we'll have a civil conversation about what divides the two of you and perhaps find some -- a few things that you like, the two of --
WILLIAMS: I think we'll find that there's very little that divides us.
KING: All right, Mark Williams, thanks so much. And I will actually -- WILLIAMS: Thank you.
KING: I like a cold beer every now and then. I'd be happy to (INAUDIBLE) I'll buy the second round if you buy the first. Mark Williams --
KING: -- appreciate your time tonight. I don't think this controversy though is going to end. And on that point, let's continue our discussion here with Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher and our national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. He says and he says with emotion that he wrote this in an effort to calm things down. I don't think that is the result.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: It is absolutely ridiculous. I mean that whole conversation is unbelievable. What Ben was talking about was sort of the racially verse elements that are there in the Tea Party, which we have all seen and you all have covered. Now what he did is double down on the dumbness by putting out one of the most disgusting, racist piece of garbage I've seen in quite some time and reinforcing that the very narrative that Ben was talking about. And quite frankly, elements of the Tea Party and elements of the GOP that are aligning themselves with the Tea Party ought to be asking for that guy to step down because that guy is in fact the point that Ben Jealous is talking about.
KING: I don't do this easily. But you know me well. Let me play devil's advocate for just a second. It was satire. It wasn't meant to be racist. It was meant to be provocative, but not racist. I've -- you heard me.
BELCHER: You don't use --
KING: I have read it over and over and over again. I can't find it, but that's what he says.
BELCHER: You don't use terms like colored and pick up on every historical nasty racial stereotype that has been used against black people over the last couple of centuries here in this country to make satire. That's not the way to go about doing it. He should step down and the GOP should repudiate it because that is not the way forward. If the Tea Party is going to be a mainstream movement that brings people together, that element of it has to go away.
KING: Where does this go when the rawness, this is -- it's the ugliest of our issues in the history of our country. And now we have people crackling about it in an emotional way. Where do we go?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly hasn't helped the image of the Tea Party at all, John. This is an astonishing letter, but the one thing I can say is having covered enough of these events, these Tea Party gathering, it is such a decentralized movement. There is no single spokesperson for what the Tea Party stands for that this one person is doing a disservice to everyone else in the Tea Party who doesn't share these views.
And the problem is that a lot of the people that I'm in touch with who are in the Tea Party do not share these views and they do want to stand for fiscal responsibility. And so somebody I suppose who stands for those values needs to stand-up and say we are really about fiscal responsibility and limited government and maybe repudiate Mark Williams is what might have to happen. You have been to the events where they stand up at the Tea Party and say we are not racist. They really have to prove it.
KING: I want to continue this conversation and I want to -- take a quick break here. We'll come back with Cornell and Jessica. Maybe we can rewind some of this now from Mark Williams, continue this conversation. We'll be back in just a minute.
KING: Let's continue our conversation with Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher and our national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. Trying to get to the idea of what is at the root of this? Now, the Tea Party, some of them take genuine offense. They think the NAACP went way overboard. Frod Brosh (ph) essentially saying there are all these racist elements and the Tea Party went -- I have only been to a few rallies, so I can't speak for it nationally, but when you go, you see some signs that are clearly objectionable, heinous, reprehensible.
Some you could say are racist. The overwhelming majority of the people are, they're just mad about something in their government and many of them actually holding signs saying no, I'm not a racist. I just want my government back or things like that. So the Tea Party thinks it has a point, but is that the way to get it?
BELCHER: Well the image here is horrible for the Tea Party. And most of the images that we cover happen to be those images that stand out and we should say those images and that conversation should be repudiated. However, I'm not one to sort -- to back off from this conversation and say that the Tea Party is all about deficits and taxes because clearly it's not. There is a cultural element to this also and variant (ph) language and ideals that we are going to take our country back. Take the country back from what? Who's taking your country? There's clearly a cultural element that's just as powerful in the Tea Party as the taxes and deficit element of it.
YELLIN: It's always been my observation that there is a core mission that people who came to the Tea Party were frustrated about the bailout, for example, and then other people came along and you see others who are motivated by this protest. They see protest and that's the expression they can find. They can vent their rage there and that's where some of the really overt racism comes in on the fringes, outsiders, not the core. But when you see something like this you have to question how essential it is to what they are doing. KING: And one of the hard things here is there's no Tea Party. There are tea parties and there's a Tea Party Movement maybe and Tea Party activists. We had on the program the other night the African- American Republican congressional candidate from South Carolina, Mr. Scott, who says you know what, he's a Tea Party favorite. We know that. They helped him win the nomination and he says it's ludicrous to suggest rampant racism or any broad brush racism in the movement.
BELCHER: Well I'll tell you what. That letter just sent that sentiment back quite some time. Because every African-American, every person of color, every person sort of either white of color conscience (ph) looks at that letter and they paint with a broad breast stroke, sort of the racism that's in elements in the Tea Party. That's not to say that all the Tea Party is racist because I've had conversations with them as well, but we cannot sort of remove the ideal that there are certainly racist elements of it and it gets in the way for them having a mainstream conversation.
KING: If Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination, not Barack Obama and gone on to win the presidency, would we have a Tea Party Movement if we did not have an African-American president?
BELCHER: That's an awfully good question and I'm going to get in trouble because I'm going to be awfully honest with you about it is that the election of Barack Obama as opposed to sort of tamping down certain sort of racial elements has actually heightened it in a way that is unfortunate. But it's a way that you know this country has a racist history. We have got to deal with that. I mean (INAUDIBLE) said you know the problem of the 20th century is the problem with the color line. We are still dealing with that.
KING: But and again, being careful, in my words, if you go out to these rallies and a lot of these people are out there, they are mad at what they perceive to be big government, higher taxes and some of them are fighting mad at the Republican Party. They are just as mad at the Republicans who they think you know walked away from their conservative, small government label.
YELLIN: And one of the challenges is because of the very reason you point out because it's so diffuse, no one can sort of say this isn't what we stand for because no one speaks for the whole movement. In one given state there are three or four Tea Party leaders, so we are describing this as a movement as if it's something coherent. It really is just a bunch of protests that are going on out there. And it's come to something really, really --
BELCHER: And I don't buy the ideal -- because look, if they were so angry about deficits and taxes, they should have been marching on Washington when George W. Bush took us from a surplus to a debt and they did not.
KING: All right, I'm going to ask you both to stay with us. Cornell will be back a bit later in the program. Jessica will be back with us in the next block.
The pictures tell only part of the story, but it's an important part. Still no oil, thank you, leaking in the Gulf of Mexico. But engineers do have a concern they are trying to figure out. We'll try to explain their questions, next.
KING: For 27-plus hours now, no oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. And the government's top man in the crisis says it's been a day of quote "generally good news". But briefing reporters a short time ago Admiral Thad Allen said pressure in the sealed off well is building so slowly and incrementally, government scientists want to figure out exactly what's going on. The president also addressed the new capping effort before leaving the White House this morning for a break with his family up in Maine. Caution was the president's watch word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The new cap is good news. Either we will be able to use it to stop the flow or we will be able to use it to capture almost all of the oil until the relief well is done. But, we are not going to know for certain which approach makes sense until additional data is in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Lets consider the stakes for the president with our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry, senior political analyst Gloria Borger and national political correspondent Jessica Yellin back with us. Ed, he was cautious when you tried to get him yesterday, he's still cautious today, which leads me to believe there is something going on that has them at least a little nervous.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, I can tell you that behind the scenes White House aides are really to tamp down all the optimism they are hearing from the Gulf region. They think, from talking to the scientists that this is not clear at all that the oil is going to stay in its current state.
They are concerned that it could start flowing out and flowing out at rapid speed at any point. They are not predicting that. But they're just saying there's really no upside for them to be overly optimistic. They have already taken a beating on this story. All this week, if you think about the politics the infighting with House Democrats, I talked to a senior White House aide this morning early and he basically said yes, it's been a brutal week. It got a little better yesterday. But he stressed a little better. They are not out of the woods yet and they don't want -- they don't want to celebrating.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: You know the last thing you want to do in politics is raise expectations, we know that. And they don't want to do that with this. And you know the oil spill has been such a huge political problem for them for three months. It's kind of become a metaphor for government and for the Obama administration, they can't plug the well. And you know, so cautious and hopeful, right? HENRY: It was interesting because it was the president's daughter some time ago who had said daddy, when are you going to plug the leak.
HENRY: And today, when he was walking out to go to Marine One, he was walking with his daughter. Maybe he was saying --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you done it, yet, dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting a little better --
KING: Saying, hang in there. I want to get to a point that some see a little irony in this. You mentioned the president leaving this morning, he is tonight enjoying one of the most beautiful parts of the country. He's in Arcadia National Forest up in Maine, been there many times, it is a gorgeous place. I highly recommend it.
But some people see a little bit of -- I don't know what the right word is for here -- inconsistency perhaps in that a month ago when the president was in the Gulf Coast, he was trying to help out an economy that has been devastated. Not just the oil industry but the tourism economy and the president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: People want to know what can they do the help folks down here. One of the best ways to help is to come down here and enjoy the outstanding hospitality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Then just a couple of days ago, the first lady was down in Florida and she offered an echo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: And I know that there have been lots of questions lately about how we can best help people here on the Gulf Coast who have been affected by the oil spill. And to be honest, truly, one of the best ways that fellow Americans can help is to come on down here and spend some money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is there a risk of a bit of a disconnect?
YELLIN: I know that that's a conventional wisdom and in Washington we think that oh they have to rush to the Gulf as often as possible. But we've all been on presidential trips. And one thing we know about them is they are terrible for the local economy. The president comes, they have to shut down streets.
They have to shut down stores. People have to go out of their way, they are not spending money. It's a disservice in some ways to have them there for too long, especially when they need help. And who knows where he ends up vacationing for his long break later this summer.
HENRY: Jessica is right and the flip side though is that the president going down there even if it's for a few days of a mini vacation would bring so much attention to the region that you would think on the backside of it, it would bring a lot of people in. But you are absolutely right. I think the bottom line is average Americans have the freedom to go down there if they want, but vacation wherever they want, so does the president. He can go, if he wants to. I don't think it's necessarily hypocritical for him to say hey it's a good idea to come down here but not go himself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a weekend.
KING: As he gets a well-deserved rest. We can debate about where he is in a minute. You see a picture of the president right here in Maine just earlier today and again you can tell from the pictures, hey they have good ice cream.
KING: It's a beautiful -- it's a beautiful, beautiful place --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you had that ice cream?
KING: What is the biggest challenge around the corner when he comes back? There's a very short period of time left in this election year for this town to do anything.
BORGER: Right. He's got a -- he's got a closing window of opportunity here. They have their August break. They want to take it because they have got to run for re-election. I think he's going to take a look at energy. He's going to figure out what he's going to do on energy. And you know there's big sticking points about whether you have a carbon tax in that energy plan and I think that's something he's going to --
HENRY: All next week short term, this White House is going to be beating up on the Republicans about not extending the unemployment insurance --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They will vote --
HENRY: And they will eventually probably get that. And the other thing to watch is the war supplemental on Afghanistan --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The supplemental, a big deal.
HENRY: -- and Iraq.
HENRY: It hasn't gotten done yet. And if the Democrats want to go home for the August recess and the president's own party without funding the troops --
BORGER: And watch out for those liberals, some of whom are going to vote against it. But they are going to be sure that it gets passed.
KING: All right, we'll keep an eye on all those things. Thanks for coming in guys. And as part of our commitment to bring you into the conversation, we always read our Facebook postings, our Tweets and the comments sent to our blogs, even the ones we don't always like.
And every Monday we ask you a question. We give you a week to "Make Your Case" by posting a video at our Web site, CNN.com/JohnKingUSA. This week's question, should President Obama take a family vacation during a crisis? Here is a sampling of your answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRA WEISS, ROCKVILLE, MD: (INAUDIBLE) for a million crises he's dealing with -- been trying to dealing with many of them are not in his power to solve.
ERIC SPENCER, PHOENIX, ARIZONA: It's important that he present an image that is reflective of the seriousness of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq right now.
TAKOR TRINA: We will always have crisis in the United States. I think he should take a vacation, get his head cleared in Maine and come back and face the world (INAUDIBLE) problems.
CHANI ROGERS, CHESAPEAKE, VA: As a mom of four, I get pretty stressed out and I know he has a lot of responsibilities and he deserves a vacation.
EARL, ATLANTA, GA: I don't see an issue with President Obama taking a vacation. You know other presidents before him have taken vacations.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: So what are the challenges facing the president and his party when he comes back from a brief vacation up in Maine? Let's talk it over with CNN contributor Erick Erickson. He's editor-in- chief of the conservative RedState.com and Robert Kuttner, author of a book, "A Presidency in Peril," and the co-editor of the "American Prospect" magazine.
Jobs, obviously, is the No. 1 challenge for this president. And I want to show a graphic on our screen. It's a little hard to understand, but if you put it up, if look at how this is -- how long will it take to get us back to where we were before the recession. At the rate the economy is currently producing jobs, that's the far left of that sign up there, producing jobs at roughly 130,000 job as month, it would take 12 years, 12 years or more to get to the point where we were when the recession began. You have to create, if you look to the bottom right, there, more than 500,000 jobs a month, then get back in about two to three years. Still not an easy path for us to take.
Bob Kuttner, when you watch this administration, do you think they are taking the right steps to get there as soon as possible?
BOB KUTTNER, AUTHOR, A PRESIDENCY IN PERIL": Well, I think they are in a trap, because the steps that they need to take would be blocked by Congress and so that creates a kind of defeatism. What I have urged is that they need to fight for a tougher jobs program to stick up for ordinary Americans, even if they know the Republicans are going to vote it down, at least they make it clear that they are trying to put Americans back to work.
Tougher jobs program that involves more government spending, stimulus?
KUTTNER: In the short run, absolutely. I mean, during war, this is what you do and this is like a war. I mean, when you have 10 percent unemployment, which is really 15 percent, if you measure it right, we need to be putting people back to work and if that requires higher deficit spending in the short run, that eases the pain down the road. That's what you do in a deep depression.
KING: I assume, Erick, that's not the conservative prescription, as you see it.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, probably not. I mean, the first stimulus hasn't worked very well. If you remember, back when the Democrats were debating the stimulus, last year, they had this wonder chart of what unemployment would be if they didn't pass the stimulus and how much lower it would be if we did pass the stimulus and yet, it's actually, unemployment is higher than in either of those scenarios with the stimulus passed. The president, I think, is ideologically unable to come to grips with the fact that small businesses generate 69, I think, percent of the jobs in this economy and he's not targeting small businesses, he's targeting government jobs and jobs dependent on government.
KUTTNER: Well, the fact is, you know, small businesses are being strangled because banks were being let off the hook. You talk to small business men who have perfectly good credit ratings, they can't get bank loans. There's been too much favoritism for banks, not enough for...
ERICKSON: You know, I think it's actually a myth, though, because I've talk to a lot of small businesses and most of them, they don't go to the banks for loans and it's not an issue for them. Their issues are regulation and now a lot of them fearing this health care bill, what are the burdens that are going to be imposed on them. Credit, I think, for small businesses in Main Street, we talk about that. but, I know very few small businesses that are really impacted by that.
Oh, I think that's absolutely wrong. I think the Congressional Oversight Panel, I think a number of hearings, you talk to the National Federation of Independent Businesses You talk to other small business groups, I'm not talking the mom and pop businesses, I'm talking business that is employ 50 to 100 people, they are starved for credit. You can see it on the testimony on Capitol Hill.
But look, that's only part of the story. I mean, yeah, small businesses create jobs, but when you have this kind of recession and people don't have paychecks and people aren't going to the stores, you can have all the entrepreneurship in the world, but small businesses are not going expand production capacity because people aren't going to buy the products. That's why government has to step in and that's why the administration has to be more aggressive about that.
KING: Erick, as the president takes this break and we prepare for a very short legislative window for the rest of this summer. Is your anticipation, as you try to rally the conservatives most likely to oppose whatever they do, that the president will be bold or will he be timid because of the caution of many in his party in this political environment?
ERICKSON: I think the president probably is going to be timid. We have Chet Edwards out there now, Democrat from Texas in a Republican leaning district who actually is very good friends with and councilor, I guess you could say, to Nancy Pelosi who is starting to speak openly about these policies and the trouble they are causing for the Democrats. The president doesn't have a lot of wiggle room within his own party, he doesn't have to worry about the Republicans, he's got to worry about the Democrats and they've got to worry about the Independents who really don't like the policy prescriptions coming from Washington.
KUTTNER: Well, I think most of the votes, and that's what has to be front and center in this campaign, for the Democrats, most of the vote that is block everything the president tries to do are Republican no votes. So, if he can pick up his game and define the Republicans as the party of no, he'll do better.
ERICKSON: But you see, I think that's kind of a great myth because in 2006, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats were the party of no and we don't talk about that. She ran against Bush, she ran against the war, she ran against the Bush economy and they were the party of no and it worked quite well for them. KING: All right, I need to call a time out on this debate, but I like it, so we'll continue it on another day. Erick Erickson, Bob Kuttner, thanks for coming in, tonight.
A lot more to come tonight on the program. When we come back, there's been a fascinating debate all week long about a memo out in the state of Utah suggesting there were illegal immigrants in the state publishing their name and their social security number, two state workers suspended today. The governor will join us to take us inside that important investigation. In "Play-by-Play" tonight, we will introduce you to West Virginia's new senator, that's if the governor will let us. We'll explain what we mean in a minute.
And Sheila Jackson Lee, she's on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House, does she remember what happened in Vietnam?
And Pete on the Street tonight asking a very simple question: Does crime pay? We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One."
KING: In Utah today, authorities announced a break in a case in a disturbing case where the media and law enforcement officials received a list that claimed to have the names, social security numbers and personal contact information of some 1,300 illegal immigrants. Now, two workers from Utah Department of Workforce Services, state workers, have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues. With me from Salt Lake City, Utah's governor, Gary Herbert.
Governor, No. 1, do you believe that these two state workers who have been put on leave, do you believe that's it, that they are the sole source of the list?
GOV GARY HERBERT (R), UTAH: Well, it's on ongoing investigation and it would be premature to say that they are the final two. I think there may be some others involved. I don't think it's a large number. It could be another one or two individuals. We hope to have that figured out by the first part of next week.
KING: Is it what they purport it to be? Is it a list of 1,300 illegal immigrants living in the state of Utah?
HERBERT: No, it's not. It's a list of 1,300 people with Hispanic names, that part is correct, but as we've had some pulmonary investigation, we find many on there are legal. In fact, one is going to be naturalized this next week. So, it is people who accessed our Department of Workforce Services and have accessed really only two areas. And people who are undocuments illegal aliens only have access through our workforce services, the two kinds of services, one is prenatal care for pregnant women, they are entitled to access that and the other is for children, but the children have to be American citizens to access any kind of welfare assistance. There is a provision for some emergency services, but that's all. So, these people are accessing, what under the law, they're entitled to. They're not receiving something that they're not entitled to and again, many put of them have been put on the list or in fact have a legal status.
KING: As you well know, this issue, the whole issue of illegal immigration is one of the most, if not the most divisive and emotional issue in our politics, right now, and there are some who would say that if some of the names on that list are in fact illegal immigrants, that even if these two state workers perhaps crossed the line and even broke a law, now that you have this information before you, you are compelled as the state's chief law enforcement officer to act and if these people are here illegally, you are supposed to do something about it. How would you answer them?
HERBERT: Well one, it is not a state responsibility to do this, in fact, we are precluded from using the information by federal law to turn it over to ICE, so the federal law is clear that as we gather information in the course of work and find out that somebody may be in an illegal status mode, we can do nothing with the information. This would be information that's gathered illegally. It would be like having a search and seizure without having a warrant, the information would probably be thrown out of court as not being worthy to use as evidence.
KING: Come back to the broader issue and the emotions here that you believe are at least the root cause of these state workers, perhaps more, taking this upon themselves, even though it is illegal, even though it is, as many would say, reprehensible, there is the frustration, as you mentioned, that illegal people are living among us. Some people think they're taking jobs, right now. What do you, as a governor, do you see as the step that should be done so that you don't end up having the frustration spill into a situation like this?
HERBERT: Well, we are taking steps in the right direction, really based upon a need to do something, because the federal government has really not done anything. We've observed what's happened in Arizona and a border state, which is having a very significant and acute impact on their state. I think other states are starting to wake up to the fact that the federal government isn't going to do something. We are going to be compelled to do something.
KING: Among the proposals being kicked around there's one now endorsed by Republican Senate nominee from your state, and that is legislation that would either take away or significantly scale back the rights of children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States, denied many of them, if not all of them, citizenship by revisiting the Constitution. What do you think of that idea?
HERBERT: Well, I haven't heard Mr. Lee talk about that, so I don't know all the issues on that regard. I know there are concerns that have been raised and it probably is a worthwhile discussion about the fact of being born on American soil, you automatically become an American citizen. It's probably worth discussion. KING: Let me ask you lastly, you have this criminal investigation ongoing. You have said that you view this as reprehensible conduct. Answer those out there who would see this happening and say amen to these people saying the federal government has failed, the president has failed, the Congress has failed, governors have failed, state legislature has failed, as you know, there are a lot of people out there, rightly or wrongly, who think if the politicians can't handle it, if our elected officials can't do this, then amen to these people?
HERBERT: Well, a vigilante approach is never served us long term very well. I understand the frustration. But it is not probably very intellectually honest to say we're going to solve a violation of law by breaking the law. We have to do it within the confines of the law. If we don't like the laws on the books, let's change them. And again, that's what's happening in Arizona, that's what we're going to be addressing here in Utah.
The federal government has constitutional responsibilities that ought to be enforced by themselves. Securing the borders is the very basic thing. If they are not going to enforce the laws, they are going to force the states to say, if you are not going to enforce the laws, you're not asking to repeal the laws, then we will take it upon ourselves as a state to enforce the laws. It won't be a comprehensive approach, because the states can only do certain things, that's why it's going to take the federal government finally stepping up to do what they are constitutionally required to do. So, I hope this is a wakeup call. I think people are frustrated from coast to coast in the country, certainly they are here in Utah. We've seen what's happened in Arizona. It's time for the federal government to step up and take hold of the responsibility which is singularly theirs.
KING: Governor, appreciate your time, tonight. Thank you.
HERBERT: Thank you.
KING: Next in the "Play-by-Play," West Virginia's governor introduces his state's new U.S. Senator, but just to keep himself in the spotlight.
KING: If you are just joining us, here is what you need to know, right now. On this program, tonight, the Tea Party Express spokesman, Mark Williams said he opened the door to ending a victory, his words, between the NAACP and the Tea Party. Williams took down a blog posting that mocked the NAACP's criticism of what its members see as racism in the Tea Party. Williams also agreed to meet with the NAACP president, Benjamin Jealous. Jealous, though, tells CNN he has not reached out to Williams and his organization has simply called on Tea Party leaders to repudiate racist elements in their ranks.
ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play-by-Play."
KING: With us for Friday night "Play-by-Play" Democratic strategist, Cornell Belcher and Republican strategist Rich Gaylen. West Virginia's governor introduced his choice today to replace Robert C. Byrd who passed away in the United States Senate, is name is Court (ph) Williams, he's a Democratic lawyer in West Virginia. And, the Governor, I think, tried to steal some of the spotlight.
Let's look as some of this event as we go. That's Governor Joe Manchin, right here. He introduced, that's Court Williams, he'll be the new senator, the interim senator. Seven minutes from when he was introduced to when Court Williams got to speak, instead we got a lot of the governor speaking. The governor speaking. You know, that's the governor, speaking. And that's the governor speaking. So, let's hold on. Time out, one sec, we'll get back to it in a minute. Now, to be clear to our viewers, the governor want to run for the Senate seat and he's hoping Mr. Williams just holds it through the election. Is that the way you do it?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: One of the worst kept secrets in all of the land, that guy wants to be senator. The young guy's to learn quickly in the Senate how grab control of the mike.
RICH GAYLEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Just follow Chuck Schumer. By the way, he is a graduate from Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750, which has other great alums, including me. Although they may sue me for saying that.
KING: So, let's watch a little more video. Carte Goodwin is actually at the podium, here you can see Mr. Goodwin, there. Young guy, he's going to be a senator. We'll see him on the Senate floor, he's giving a speech, then whoa, wait, wait, wait, there we go. Joe Manchin pops into the picture. A little not, he looks happy to be there. That's Jay Rockefeller the senator up...
GAYLEN: Williams got older just waiting.
BELCHER: The governor's working it. The governor is working it. Lurking.
GAYLEN: Well, that's what happens when you're the appointee not the senator. After he's sworn in, that's not going to happen again. Then he'll get elbows into the hoop (ph).
KING: He's what, 35 years old, I think and if he only stays through the election like he's promised, he'll be a former senator at 35 or 36, not so bad. People have to call him senator the rest of his life.
BELCHER: What will be hilarious if he says, you know what? I'm going to run.
KING: Never mind. Speaking of never mind, Sheila Jackson Lee is a democratic congresswoman, she's a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she was on the floor the other day and I want you to listen to this, because she seemed to get a little bit confused about the history and maybe even the geography of Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: I stand here asking us to do what we did not do in Vietnam, was to recognize the valiant and outstanding service of our men and women, and to understand victory had been achieved. Today, we have two Vietnams side by side, north and south, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that north Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. This nation did not listen to the mothers and fathers who have bird -- who born the burden of 58,000 dead and did not declare victory. The mounting death, the violence continued going up and up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now we reached out the her office about this, and her office says she meant Vietnam, I thought maybe she meant North Korea, South Korea at some point, but her office says she meant Vietnam, but neglected to say it's one country now.
GAYLEN: And we lost. She neglected to say that too.
BELCHER: Well look, they're tired. They've had a lot of work done.
GAYLEN: They've been here for two days in a row.
BELCHER: I mean, she's actually a brilliant legislator, but I got nothing, I have no idea what she is talking about.
GAYLEN: She's not a brilliant legislator; she's on the Foreign Affairs Committee, if you need to know, and she's not a...
BELCHER: She is a solid legislator.
GAYLEN: Right. And that's why people that are on those committees you would think would at least have the barest high school knowledge of what they're talking about.
BELCHER: Rich, they've been passing reform after reform. Cut them a break.
GAYLEN: They just came off a week off. I wonder if she thought that we lost the war for independence on July 4.
KING: All right. All right, let's not beat up on Sheila Jackson Lee, too much. Let's move on, Senator John McCain, we all remember, he was the Republican nominee for president not that long ago. He's an incumbent Republican senator right now who seems to be pretty far ahead in the polls, but he does have a primary challenge and he's emphasizing border security and immigration in what many would say is a somewhat different tone than he had not too long ago. But in this ad, he's not talking about his primary opponent, he's got another target.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama has made protecting our border incredibly difficult. But Arizona has a senator with the courage and character to stand up to a president who is wrong, John McCain. A president versus a senator. It doesn't seem like a fair fight unless that senator is John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Character matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, there you have it.
BELCHER: You know, what happened to the John McCain, the maverick, the independent voice that we all love? You know, the Tea Party has taken that John McCain away. By the way, I will give you that in a Republican primary, that's an effective ad to take on the president, but in the general I think we lose something larger because the maverick independent spirit John McCain who was for immigration (INAUDIBLE), but now is against immigration reform, that John McCain is gone.
GAYLEN: This is what happens when you have a president who's at 44 percent in the polls. We saw it when George Bush was the president.
BELCHER: Actually, it's 50.
GAYLEN: In your polls. In everybody else's polls, he's now trading between 44 and 46. But the fact is that that it has become OK to run against Barack Obama and I think this is the first time we've seen it, and we'll it a lot more.
KING: Even if you're running against Barack Obama, you're criticizing him for purposing your immigration plan?
BELCHER: Exactly, I mean, that's my point. You know, the biggest casualty in Tea Party is the Independent John McCain and by the way, when has it, you know, I don't care how popular the president is, if in a Republican primary going after Barack Obama is a good idea because it...
GAYLEN: I don't think he was, in this ad, he's criticizing the plan. He's criticizing the enforcement of the plan, which neither Obama nor Bush nor Clinton anybody else...
BELCHER: This guy was for it, now he is against it.
GAYLEN: No, he's not against it. He is against not enforcing it.
KING: Now, I'm going to send you guys to the green room to study the Arizona, Mexico border and Vietnam, North Korea. Study your maps, see you guys. Up next, our offbeat reporter, Pete Dominick, tackles the age old question, does crime pay?
KING: Candy Crowley is sitting in for Campbell Brown tonight, let's head up to New York and get a preview of what is up at the top of the hour.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hey, John. We have an amazing story of an American reporter who dared to go into the heart of Taliban country in Pakistan and barely escaped with his life.
And antenna gate. Apple comes clean about the big problem with its newest iPhone. We'll see what that means for the tech innovator's future.
And we'll look at a stunning new admission by the British government surrounding the release of the Lockerbie bomber, that and much more coming up at the top of the hour. But first, John, back to you.
KING: You've probably asked yourself this question. Does crime pay? Well, our man on the street, offbeat reporter Pete Dominick asked it today.
Pete, what did you find?
PETE DOMINICK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John King, I found out that for some people it pays, and for some people it doesn't. Yesterday Goldman Sachs got fined $550 million. We found out today that was two weeks of profit. So, should they do it all over again? I went out to ask people on the street what they thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINICK: Does crime pay?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It pace if you're a billionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wouldn't be good on your conscience.
The phrase "greed is good" was coined by character Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crime is certainly paying off on Wall Street.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you learn a lesson from some crime you did.
DOMINICK: Did you just steal that coffee?
Gekko also said: "What's worth doing is worth doing for money."
DOMINICK: Goldman Sachs just today paid a $500 million fine. That's two weeks of their profits.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're making lots of money, right? So that crime does pay.
DOMINICK: Their stock is up today five percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the stock market is doing today and what it will do tomorrow...
DOMINICK: You want to give me a sound bite or no? This is a sound bite society we live in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sound bit society that you live in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That crime pays. Hallelujah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't ever see the guy that heisted the jewelry store or the bank living really well.
DOMINICK: Well, where would you see them? Is there a reality show called I just heisted the jewelry store?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You might have an idea for me.
DOMINICK: Watch me living on the high life?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
DOMINICK: Have you committed a crime recently?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nope.
DOMINICK: Too bad there's not a crime for hotness, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm (INAUDIBLE)
DOMINICK: Come on, did you buy those glasses?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yep.
DOMINICK: Fashion crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's only money.
DOMINICK: It's only money (INAUDIBLE). DOMINICK: Well, if you say it that way, can I borrow 20 bucks?
DOMINICK: John King, I think the system is really rigged. If you're really, really wealthy, sometimes crime can pay.
KING: The Goldman Sachs thing, it is stunning. I read that 19 days or 16 days and they pay the whole fine off and they're profits and they're having a good year.
DOMINICK: I also read, and people should look up on this and John maybe you know, but when the fine that they have to pay, $550 million, it's a tax write-off. A lot of it gets kick backed.
KING: Well, crime not only pays, you its deductible. Crime is deductible.
DOMINICK: Yeah, crime is deductible.
KING: Only in America, my friend. You have a great weekend. We'll see you back here on Monday.
And you have a great weekend out there too. Thanks for spending some time with us, this week. We'll see you back here on Monday. Right now, though, Candy Crowley is standing by in New York, and she takes it away.