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JOHN KING, USA

Arizona's Controversial New Immigration Law; Rangel Corruption Allegations; President Obama Goes on "The View"

Aired July 29, 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 Suzanne and good evening from Phoenix. Tonight a dramatic day in politics including a stunning set of corruption allegations against the Democratic lawmaker who until recently was among the most powerful members of Congress, plenty of drama here at the Arizona State Capitol as well.

Some of Arizona's controversial new immigration law took effect today and hundreds of demonstrators who didn't like it took to the streets in protest. Hundreds, not thousands, organizers say, because the most controversial parts of the law did not take effect, blocked by a federal court injunction issued yesterday. Tonight, Arizona's Republican governor has filed this appeal, insisting she needs new powers to fight illegal immigration because, she says, Washington won't do its part. I spoke with Governor Jan Brewer a short time ago, and she was defiant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I am going to be relentless. I'm going to do what two-thirds of America wants us to do. And hopefully, we will proceed through the court system. And in the end, we will be victorious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: More from the governor in a bit, but first, what next in the battle for public opinion and public policy here in Arizona and across the country in the big immigration debate? With us tonight, Latino progressive blogger and radio show host Mario Solis-Marich and libertarian radio show host Jim Sharpe -- gentlemen, thanks for joining.

Two competing views on this bill, I want to start with Governor Brewer. The proponents in the legislature and then Governor Brewer when she signed this law said Washington was failing to secure the border and Arizona needed this new tool to help. But when I asked her about what it would do to help with border security today, she didn't have a great answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What in that bill would have improved border security?

BREWER: Well you know (INAUDIBLE) bill 1070 is just another tool in our tool box in regards to trying to address the issues that we're facing here.

KING: But you concede it wouldn't do much along the border --

BREWER: Well you know I'm not quite sure about that. I think -- well, not along the border. I think it would help in telling people that it is illegal to come into the state of Arizona, which it already is but it's just not being enforced and so if they knew that the states themselves were going to enforce it that certainly would maybe give people pause before they came running across the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So Jim Sharpe, as a supporter of this law, not much along the border, not quite sure about that, but give people pause. Is the point of this law more message than law enforcement?

JIM SHARPE, RADIO HOST, "SHARPE IN THE MORNING": Yes, I think it is. That's exactly what it is. And I think this is more than just protecting Arizona citizens. It's more than just protecting American citizens. This is trying to protect those who cross the border illegally, send them a message this is not the way to enter the United States.

The Pima County Coroner's Office has had a -- over the last two years, they've had a record number this six months that's higher than the last two years of dead people put on slabs in Pima County because they tried to cross the desert. It's a human tragedy --

KING: That's horrible, but you need to pass a state law to deal with that or just keep kicking the White House door?

SHARPE: Absolutely and what really was interesting about what the judge ruled yesterday is that it shines a light on what the federal government is not doing and continues to not do and actually goes and says that the federal government is not in a position to handle this problem, therefore, Arizona can't handle it. That makes no sense to me.

MARIO SOLIS-MARICH, LATINO PROGRESSIVE BLOGGER: This is astounding -- I mean absolutely astounding. First she said that this was going to -- she alluded to the fact that this could stop the drug cartels. She says it's going to stop beheadings in the desert. Then, turns out that there's no beheadings in the desert and she's basically sending a political message which is basically what her critics were saying in the first place.

This is obviously a politically ploy and she's basically copping to it. She also said that none of this would be thrown out. It's clear that there are several parts of this that are unconstitutional. Jan Brewer has absolutely no credibility on this issue any more. And the fact of the matter is that tape -- I have to tell you -- that was astounding to me because she can't even put together four coherent sentences in a row to describe the reason why she pushed for this bill.

KING: As the legal debate goes on, the question for the law enforcement officials in the state is what to do with the parts of the law that did take effect. And Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known nationally as very aggressive in combating illegal immigration, he said he's going to still do what he was doing last week and the week before. And he was asked at a news conference today, he says about 60 percent of the people he rounds up are illegal immigrants. He was asked a fascinating question at a news conference today. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does an illegal look like? Who are you going after?

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: We're going after everybody. OK? I don't know what an illegal looks like. We're -- I'm an equal opportunity law enforcing guy. We lock up everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jim, he has many fans in this state. He has many critics as well. But his point is I'm going to keep doing what I was doing and if somebody wants to take me to court too, so be it.

SHARPE: Well you know it's interesting, what he's been doing is supported by law. And this is what you do across the country. When you get somebody in your jail and you think they might be in the country illegally, you contact ICE. He's going to continue to do that, not in defiance of what the judge did yesterday. Of course, Joe Arpaio, as we say in the business is unavoidable for comment, so he's you know playing to his strengths.

But what's very interesting about this is that he's just going to continue to do what he's doing he's been doing, including supporting an Arizona law which made it all the way through the appeals process. The interpretation of our human smuggling law which says you can lock up people who are co-conspirators in their own smuggling.

KING: I want you to listen to one of the law enforcement voices, before you weigh in. Roberto Villasenor is the police chief down in Tucson. He opposed this law from the beginning. He said his resources were better spent facing other crimes. But one thing he challenged when I talked to him today, he said, sure, the federal government should do more, but he said when he hears supporters of the law saying Arizona is under siege, he disagrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF ROBERT VILLASENOR, TUCSON POLICE: I agree the federal government has failed. There is no objection from me on that part. The reason this law was written was because of the frustration of Arizonians dealing with the impact of illegal immigration and illegal immigration that is not being controlled, so there's no argument there. I disagree that we're under siege and that Arizona is an unsafe place to be or that crime is going through the roof, you know.

A lot of these things have been said over the course of this SB 1070. All you have to do is look at the numbers, the stats. Crime in Arizona has gone down for the past three or four years. Our violent crime rate has gone down for the past three or four years. Auto theft, one of our biggest precursors of being close to Mexico because a lot of our cars have been stolen, taken to Mexico, has gone down the past three or four years.

I don't understand why people are just saying this, that crime is going through the roof here, and saying this is all because of illegal immigration. Do drug cartels in Mexico affect us? Absolutely, they always have. Nothing's new on that. But crime overall is going down. So I don't follow that.

KING: How much of it, do you think, is born of fear? This is a state that does not have a huge African-American population, relatively small compared to much of the other country and if you look at the demographics of this state, you've had a majority white state that is becoming more and more Latino. And at sometime in the next 10, 15, or 20 years Latinos actually will pass Caucasians in the population. Do you think that fear, resentment can spark some of this?

VILLASENOR: You know I've heard that argument said as well. I've lived here my entire life. And growing up here as a child, I didn't feel as much ostracism and separation as I do now as an adult. I've never been one to wave the race card. I've never been one to say that you know this because I'm this or that. And I still don't want to do that, but I do sense there is a growing -- I don't know what word I'm looking for here, but a growing separation almost.

And I would hate to say that that's the reason. But it concerns me that I read the papers, the stories. I listen to some of the blogs and the radio shows. And I think that there is an underlying feeling there that it could be an anti-Hispanic wave that's pushing some of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I spoke to the governor. She disputed that fiercely, an anti-Hispanic wave in the state.

SOLIS-MARICH: Well there's one thing I do have to clarify that I do disagree with him on. Number one, crime has gone down throughout Arizona except for in one jurisdiction and that's the jurisdiction under Joe Arpaio. He holds -- Joe -- in his jurisdiction, crime has shot forward while it's gone down everywhere else. So not only is Jan Brewer the failed governor but Joe Arpaio is a failed law enforcement official.

The second part of what he talked about, whether Jan Brewer agrees with it or not, you know, who knows what she's going to say next, but the fact of the matter is, is that we saw today hundreds of Latinos risk arrest, risk deportation, many of them undocumented, young people going out there, because they do feel the same thing that the sheriff is feeling.

SHARPE: I'm sorry, Mario's wrong actually. If you look at the FBI statistics Maricopa County, crime is down. They're right. Pinal (ph) County crime is down, but if you look at the border counties, crime is up.

SOLIS-MARICH: Once again, Maricopa County, it's down except for in the jurisdiction --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You work in the state --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is Joe Arpaio's jurisdiction --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Maricopa County --

SOLIS-MARICH: He's not over -- he's not over all the Maricopa County.

SHARPE: Yes, he is.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPE: He's the sheriff of the county.

SOLIS-MARICH: In his jurisdiction, crime has gone up. I'll show you the statistics. You can go to Americasvoice.org.

SHARPE: I'm talking --

SOLIS-MARICH: Go to Americasvoice.org --

SHARPE: I'm talking about FBI statistics. I'm not going to argue this.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPE: That's fine, Mario. I do think it's unfair, being as my children are Latino, we embrace the Latino culture we have here in Arizona. This has nothing to do with this. This has to do with drug runners. This has to do with human smugglers. And the people who claim to be on the side of illegal immigrants, who want to continue to see things go the way they're going, they continue to see -- then they're going to continue to see people dying in the desert and deputies and police officers shot.

The police officer that was killed in Chandler (ph) yesterday by drug dealer, he was a Latino. This is a problem for all of us. It has nothing to do with whether you're white or Latino. This is a big problem for all of us --

KING: I need to end the conversation tonight but we'll continue on this point for many months throughout the court battle, I suspect. Mario and Jim, appreciate it tonight. When we come back, we'll take our political conversation back to Washington, major charges today against Congressman Charlie Rangel, the former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, once one of the most powerful people in Washington, now his career and legacy at risk. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back in Washington today, the House Ethics Committee charged 20-term New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, a Democratic, with 13 violations. Rangel did not attend today's hearing. Among the most serious allegations, failing to report more than $600,000 on financial disclosure reports, improperly soliciting construction money for the city college of New York, using a rent subsidized apartment as a campaign office, and failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic. Just moments ago, Congressman Rangel spoke to reporters outside his office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Even though they're serious charges, I'm prepared to prove that the only thing I've ever had in my 50 years of public service is service. That's what I've done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's discuss the high stakes for Congressman Rangel and the Democratic Party with our senior political analyst Gloria Borger and our senior correspondent Joe Johns. Joe and Gloria, Congressman Rangel had a chance to negotiate a settlement. Democratic leaders were pressuring him to negotiate a settlement, but now that this trial essentially has begun, it is clear that Republicans, knowing the election is a few months away, and knowing that these charges are serious want to play this out. I want you to listen to Michael McCaul, of Texas, a Republican, on the Ethics Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Let me be clear that Mr. Rangel under these rules was given opportunities to negotiate a settlement during the investigation phase. We are now in the trial phase.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In the trial phase, Gloria Borger, and I assume that means no chance to settle and potential embarrassment not only for Congressman Rangel.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think what you heard from the congressman there, John, is that it's just too late to settle. That they had given him the opportunity to settle before and that he decided not to and now this is going to go ahead. And this is something, as you know that the Democrats in the House don't want.

I mean, they say, look, we tried to drain the swamp, as Nancy Pelosi put it, when she became Speaker. But it's been -- this is very, very tough for them because suddenly Charlie Rangel becomes a poster child for a corrupt Congress that the Republicans are going to want to run against.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: John, we do know, also, that there's talk that the Ethics Committee is still meeting right now, and so hope springs eternal in some quarters over there because there's a realization, particularly for the Democrats, that these things just do not end well. The last trial of course with Jim Traficant -- we all know what happened to him -- he went off to prison.

BORGER: But, you know, Charlie Rangel --

KING: Let's listen to the House Speaker because --

BORGER: OK.

KING: Let me jump in for one second, Gloria, because I want to listen -- get the House Speaker's voice in here because the Democrats know they ran against a Republican culture of corruption back in 19 -- 2006 -- excuse me. Now Republicans are prepared to do it the same. I want you to listen to how careful the speaker was today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is Congress' business, holding a high ethical standard is a serious responsibility that we have. The process will work. It's bipartisan. The chips will have to fall where they may politically. But upholding highest ethical standard is a top priority for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A tough one because Charlie Rangel is a close friend and for a long time a very close ally of the speaker.

BORGER: Yes and what you saw there was she had to distance herself from Charlie Rangel. Not only did she have to distance herself but she had to distance congressional Democrats from Charlie Rangel, which is something I'm sure he understands because they cannot be perceived to be defending the former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who didn't pay or least it's alleged who didn't pay an appropriate amount of income taxes.

JOHNS: The other thing that's really interesting, too, is if you listen to some of the Republicans on the committee, they're being pretty careful. You know, one Republican saying, well, he's probably one of the most well liked members of Congress. Another one saying, this is really about the credibility of the ethics process. So they're not driving the train off the cliff here. They're trying to seem as reasonable as possible because they know the public's watching during an election year.

KING: Gloria and Joe, appreciate it -- both keeping an eye on this high stakes case back in Washington. We'll stay on top of it. And when we come back much more to go in the program tonight -- the president in an unusual place today on "The View", complaining about politicians who campaign all the time. Then what does he do, well he heads off to a fund-raiser.

We'll go "One-on-One" with the Republican governor, Jan Brewer of Arizona. She says the new law is about border security. She's appealing tonight and getting very defiant about the White House.

On my "Radar" tonight, Lindsey Graham takes on birth rights. We'll explain that.

And three's a crowd. Tom Tancredo, a strong opponent of illegal immigration, makes it a three-way race for governor in Colorado.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're live in Phoenix outside the State Capitol of Arizona, you see the shot right there. It is in that building where Governor Jan Brewer works and there you see in the foreground a small group of protesters still here. Parts of the state's controversial immigration law went into effect. There have been dozens, sometimes hundreds of protesters around the building all day long.

Lots of other political news though in the country including a very rare event -- the president of the United States going on daytime talk television, ABC's "The View" program -- let's talk that one over with Anita Dunn. She's the former White House communications director, and our CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger is still with us.

Now millions of people watch this show, the women sit around everyday and they debate the issues, but for a president of the United States to do this is rather extraordinary and I'm not the only one who wanted to know from the president just why. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've gone through a little bit of a beating the last month. Do you really think that being on the show with a bunch of women, five women, who never shut up is going to be calming?

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is the -- look, I was trying to find a show that Michelle actually watched --

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: -- and so I thought that --

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: -- this is it right here.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: I don't know. All those news shows, she's like let me get the clicker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever watched us?

OBAMA: Of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Anita Dunn, you used to give the president advice on which interviews to do, what shows to appear on. Why this one?

ANITA DUNN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: Well, John, I know that news shows across the country are upset to hear that Michelle only watches "The View". But obviously it's a show that's got a huge viewership. Women watch it. They're important. It's an opportunity for him to talk you know with some pretty tough questions.

As you recall, John, during the presidential campaign, then candidate Barack Obama did "The View", as did John McCain, as did Sarah Palin. This is a show that has a wide viewership, where people can discuss the issues. And you know frankly answer some tough questions. It's a good thing to do.

KING: Well, and Gloria, Anita mentioned that Sarah Palin went on the show during the campaign. Sarah Palin was clearly watching today, or at least somebody told her because a couple of hours after the president's appearance Sarah Palin tweeted this, "President with no time to visit porous U.S./Mexico border to offer help to those risking life to secure us, but lots of time to chat on 'The View'."

BORGER: You know I mean that's an easy shot to take. You know personally, John, it's funny, five years ago I think as a political journalist I would have been completely aghast and shocked that a president would have gone on a show such as "The View." Now I've done a total turnaround on that because I believe that it's easy to caricature someone -- if I were advising him politically it's easier to caricature someone.

Until you actually get to see him sitting down on a couch with a bunch of approachable people who, as Anita points out, actually asked him a bunch of tough questions. So if I were advising the president, I'd say this kind of a venue, particularly if you want to be watched by those women voters, this isn't a bad thing to do. And Sarah Palin herself, if she runs, I guarantee you she'll be back on that couch.

KING: And to that point, the president knows his approval ratings are down a bit. He knows he's an issue in the midterm election year and he knows sometimes four million people watch this program and so he went through a list of achievements that he said he believes are pretty big deals but maybe he's not getting a lot of credit for them because the economy is tough. And then the president bemoaned what he says is the constant campaign cycle in politics. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The one thing that does frustrate me sometimes is the sense that we shouldn't be campaigning all the time. You know, there's a time to campaign. And then there's a time to govern. And what we try to do over the last 20 months is to govern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Anita, right after that event, which was taped yesterday, the president did two political fund-raisers -- any hypocrisy there?

DUNN: Absolutely not. I think there was a lot of governing for the first 18 months of this administration. There's nobody in the country who wouldn't think that the time to campaign was three and a half months before the midterm election, of course not, John. It's an appropriate time for him to campaign and he'll be out there campaigning in August and also this fall, which is what presidents do.

BORGER: You know, John, I want to ask you this, have you ever met a president who said to you, you know, I think what we need to do is more campaigning from the White House and less governing. This is something every president will say. You know? I used to be one of those political types, but now I'm running the country and I don't think about politics. Come on. They all do it.

KING: Amen for that, it's a midterm election year. He's the party's best fund-raiser. Anita, Gloria, thanks for coming in.

When we come back "One-on-One" with another prominent woman in American politics, increasingly prominent, Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer has become the defining face of the immigration debate here. When we come back we go "One-on-One".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

KING: Governor, thank you for your time. I want to start with the appeal you filed today because you're hoping to reverse the decision you lost yesterday. In your statement after filing the appeal you say America's not going to sit back and allow the ongoing federal failure to continue. As you know, the administration says, look, we're not perfect, but we're doing a lot more than the previous administration. Why don't you work with us, not fight us in the courts?

BREWER: Well, you know, and they are working. I know they are working. And we appreciate that. They're not doing enough. We need more help. We need our federal government to do their job and they haven't done that. And so we have no other recourse than to pursue some other alternative to solving the problems that we're facing here in Arizona. And the problems that we're facing here in Arizona are a problem for the whole United States.

KING: As you know, they have voiced some exasperation, saying the governor of Arizona, and they add, in the middle of a political campaign, keeps moving the goal post. After the rancher was killed, you asked for 250 National Guard troops. The president didn't respond right away but when he did respond with the 1,200 for the border region, Arizona gets about 524 of those, more than twice what you asked for, and then you say, thanks, Mr. President but it's not enough.

BREWER: Right.

KING: Their criticism is Governor Brewer keeps moving the line.

BREWER: Well, and I'm sorry that I have to do that but unfortunately, the drug cartels keep moving the line. We are experiencing and we have seen the violent behavior of the drug cartels south of our border and that danger and that threat is coming across. We are having the spillover. Texas is feeling it.

Arizona is feeling it. And so as time marches on, you know, the situation worsens. And we are not going to sit here -- as a governor I'm not going to sit here as a governor and not do everything in my power or request everything in my power from the federal government that is needed to protect the people of Arizona. That's my job, is to protect the people of Arizona. And it's the federal government's job to protect and secure our borders.

KING: One of the things they would say, show me something in SB 1070 that actually improves border security. Your intention may have been, and if you had been allowed to implement it fully, you may have dealt more aggressively with immigration enforcement, interior. But what in that bill would have improved border security?

BREWER: Well, SB 1070 is just another tool in our toolbox in regards to trying to address the issues that we're facing here.

KING: But you concede it wouldn't do much along the border?

BREWER: Well, you know, I'm not quite sure about that. I think -- well, not along the border. I think it would help in telling people that it is illegal to come into the state of Arizona, which it already is, but it's just not being enforced. And so, if they knew that the states themselves were going to enforce it, that certainly would maybe give people pause before they became running across the border.

KING: Is that part of it?

BREWER: But the sanctuary city issue, portion of it, that was held intact is going to play an important part also because, you know, they're going to not be able to have sanctuary cities here in the state of Arizona, which is going to make it easier for law enforcement to enforce the federal law. So that's going to help. They're going to realize it. The federal law is going to be enforced by our law enforcement officers.

KING: You have the country's attention right now. You have the White House's attention right now. Any chance that there could be a circuit breaker now, that people in Arizona decide if we have a willing partner in Washington, let's try to talk to through, let's not try to leave it to the lawyers and the court, let's try to talk this through and maybe get a tiered process where you get border security first, and then you have a process where you discuss the other things? Is there any chance, or is this one going to go probably to the Supreme Court?

BREWER: Well, you know, I don't know what the administration's going to do. Certainly it's their job to move forward and say to me, I believe, that they're going to secure our borders. They're going to do what is necessary.

They're going to build a fence. They're going to put the National Guard down there. They're going to give us the equipment that's needed in order to enforce the laws in the state of Arizona and those of the United States.

And then possibly forget their lawsuit, mind you, against the state of Arizona. And then maybe we can come to the table and discuss just exactly how the people of the United States are going to resolve this issue.

But in the meantime, I am going to be relentless. I am going do what two-thirds of America wants us to do. And hopefully we will proceed through the court system. And in the end, we will be victorious.

But the people of America, I really truly believe, come election time, are going to react in an interesting manner in regards to the federal government not behaving and not upholding their responsibility that is bestowed upon them as our federal government. They have let us all down.

KING: Let me ask you, lastly, there's a Facebook page that says "Jan Brewer 2012." As I mentioned, a lot of conservative activists and influential conservative thinkers around the country have applauded you in this fight. And some out there, many of your critics, to be fair, say she's enjoying this too much, that this helps you turn around the dynamics of the primary here, the gubernatorial primary here, and that you're enjoying the national spotlight. And those critics would say, you know, adding emotion to an already very volatile debate for your own political benefit.

How would you answer?

BREWER: I would say, well, you know, that's unfortunate they believe that. I know I operate in the political arena. But first and foremost, as a trusted public servant for the past 28 years, I have always done what I believed was right.

And I've been on the immigration issue before SB 1070. I implemented the first voter I.D. legislation and led the nation in that reform, and was proud of it, without any hiccups or any problems. And at that time, it was all supposed to be racially motivated, too, but once it was implemented, it went smooth and that was the end of that issue. And before SB 1070 was signed, we had already crossed the line. We were already on an upward turn. We had over 50 percent of the people supporting it and approving of Jan Brewer as governor of the state of Arizona. So it just is the way people want to perceive it.

KING: Governor Brewer, thanks for your time.

BREWER: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Governor Jan Brewer, a short time ago.

Now, one of Arizona's congressional districts is bigger than some states. And four Republicans have lined up to challenge a vulnerable first-term Democrat. We'll take a closer look next when we go "Off to the Races."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Joe Johns for the news you need to know right now.

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get ready. We're going "Off to the Races."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We've started working our way through the CNN 100, this year's 100's most crackling congressional races, maybe because of a vulnerable incumbent, or perhaps because those races are in important bellwether districts. But we have another goal. We want to turn these names and numbers into people and places you'll care about, maybe connect them to your community.

So let's go to the races, "Off to the Races" right here in Arizona and its 1st Congressional District.

The first thing you notice, it's huge -- deserts and mountains sprinkled with ranches and mining towns. It includes the Navajo Nation, the university, the city of Flagstaff and the new age Sedona. That's quite a mix in a big district.

The incumbent is Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, a prosecutor-turned- state-lawmaker. She made the jump to Congress only two years ago in a big Democratic year, and where here district votes Republican for president. Well, she's voted with the Democratic majority only roughly three-quarters of the time.

There's a four-way Republican primary. That tells you the Republicans can win that seat.

Attorney Bradley Beauchamp; former state Senate majority leader Rusty Bowers. Paul Gosar a dentist, but he has Sarah Palin's endorsement. And Sidney Hay lost to Kirkpatrick two years ago.

As we go "Off to the Races," let's talk them over with our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, and anchor and reporter Jorge Ramos from Univision.

Jorge, in every race in this state the issue we're seeing playing out behind us -- demonstrators at the capitol, still, protesting the immigration law -- in every race, whether it's Jan Brewer's race, Senator McCain's race, these congressional races, a tough economy, but immigration is front and center.

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION: Yes. And something that is really interesting, remember we are in an economic crisis. Many politicians and candidates tend to blame immigrants for all the problems that we have in the United States.

And I understand, for example, what happened yesterday here in Arizona for Latinos and for immigrants. It's really important. And maybe that's a way to try and get the Hispanic vote, if you were against SB 1070.

However, it is simply not enough. Latinos are waiting for much more from candidates and from the president.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And she is in a very tricky position. As you pointed out, she's in a Republican district, it went to John McCain last time. It went Republican before, but she's a Democrat.

So she came out against SB 1070, but then she's trying to split the difference, saying she's also against the federal lawsuit, she's against the boycott. She says it's a distraction, trying to beef up border security.

Her problem demonstrates some of the problems the Democrats face in general taking on this issue. It's politically dangerous for both sides.

KING: When I talked to Governor Brewer just a short time ago, she said she's confident she'll win in the courts. Legal people are a little iffy on that. But she said she's confident, too, that people who share her views will win at the ballot box in November.

Do you see any evidence -- we do have a crowd behind us. Several hundred people. Not the bigger crowd that if -- any evidence that in terms of voter registration, activism, mobilization, the Latino community will come out and prove those people wrong?

RAMOS: I think something really interesting is in the polls. You see that most Americans support for SB 1070, most Latinos oppose SB 1070. So that definitely is going to show in the polls.

But this might go to the Supreme Court, but it really has to go to Washington, but not to the Supreme Court. But it has to go to Congress. This could be resolved in Congress.

I mean, Democrats don't have the political will to resolve it. Republicans don't have it either.

YELLIN: The Pew Hispanic Center says that 50,000 Hispanics turn 18 every month. And that means they can register to vote. There are voter registration drives.

One of the people running these voter registration drives says SB 1070 say is the Waterloo for the Latino community, and they plan to register as many of them as possible to oppose these kinds of amendments.

RAMOS: If I may say something --

KING: Go ahead.

RAMOS: -- if Republicans want to make peace with Latinos, I mean, they better understand that if they don't support immigration, they're going to lose election after election after election.

KING: One of the many fascinating dynamics, as we'll go "Off to the Races" every night.

And when we come back, among the items "On My Radar," a prominent Republican senator says it may be time to change the 14th Amendment. You know what it's about? Hint: citizenship.

And before we go to break, on this first day of the Arizona immigration law, a look at what it's like rolling the streets and patrolling the streets of Tucson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SGT. JAMES STOUTMEYER, TUCSON POLICE: We have a family fight. We're going to respond to that.

We were trained, and we're ready to enforce a law no matter which way it went. Whether we like a particular law or not, if it's a law that's on the books, we're going to have to enforce it.

My wife was born and raised in Mexico. And she's a naturalized citizen now in the United States. And I have two Hispanic children.

KING: And how often does the term "undocumented" or "illegal immigrant" come into play in what you're doing?

STOUTMEYER: I'd have to say in an average day, you may run into that once or twice throughout the day. It's not a common occurrence for us.

We are limited in resources right now. The economy's poor. They're not replacing officers in the field.

I struggle every day to try to keep our call load down to a minimum. And where you face this lawsuit, if you don't react to this person's complaint that there's illegals over there, the fact that the officers could be sued one way or the other kind of -- you know, we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's the dispute between?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Him and the girlfriend or wife.

KING: In the case of this, a domestic violence arrest, if the law were -- the new law were in effect, would there be anything different about how you would handle this?

STOUTMEYER: Pretty much on this particular incident, both people were English-speaking. So there would be no reason to question whether or not they were here illegally. We would have been required to verify their citizenship.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back outside the state capitol in Phoenix, Arizona.

Look here at some demonstrators here. These are opponents of the state's new immigration law.

Remember, a court blocked the most controversial provisions from going into effect, but some provisions did go into effect today. These demonstrations voicing their opposition.

A modest number, several hundred people. This is the end of a march across the city of Phoenix throughout the day.

We're back with Jorge Ramos of Univision and our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Let's run through some stories "On My Radar." And immigration is high on the radar today.

I want both of you to listen to something. I was down in Tucson today. The police chief, Roberto Villasenor, he gave me a long conversation, an interesting conversation about the politics of immigration here, and he said this about a political figure -- well, I think you can make the connection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF ROBERTO VILLASENOR, TUCSON POLICE: What I think I've seen is that -- I see politicians just flip and flop over this topic. You can look at one politician that's saying something today, this year, and you go back in their record two, three years ago, and they were saying the exact opposite. I think that's just the nature of politics.

KING: You don't have a senator in mind, do you?

VILLASENOR: I'm not naming anyone, sir. I'm kind of blending everything about all politics.

But that's something I just can't understand. You have to pick a course and you have to stay the course. And I would say to politicians, just don't change with whatever you think the wind is going to bring you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He says he has no particular politician in mind. But there is a pretty prominent one here whose tone on immigration was a lot different not that long ago.

RAMOS: I spoke with John McCain during the campaign, and I clearly remember that he told me during an interview that he was for a path to citizenship. And I'm quoting here, and he even (INAUDIBLE) "God's children."

What's going on right now/ Just because he's in a very tight primary, that he's changing his position? I mean, that's flip- flopping that Chief Villasenor was referring to.

KING: Now, John McCain would say, well, a majority support this new law and maybe times have changed. But it's really hard when you were the McCain/Kennedy immigration bill and you were the McCain guy down at the White House trying to get it done in the Bush days.

YELLIN: It's the political reality of running to the right during a primary and having to contend with J.D. Hayworth's very hard on immigration position. But the bottom line is that police chief was absolutely right. I mean, this is one place where we can definitively say, Americans want immigration reform, they want the government to act, and Washington is being politically spineless.

KING: Now, John McCain was one of three amigos. We're going to bring in another one of the amigos.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution been around since 1868. It automatically grants U.S. citizenship to any child born within the borders of the United States. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, John McCain's close friend, says maybe it's time for a change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules. If you have a child here, birth right citizenship I think is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child is automatically not a citizen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's a fascinating statement because you have states like Arizona pushing to change immigration laws.

Now, this, another guy who not long ago was for a big comprehensive package that had at least a path to status, maybe citizenship.

RAMOS: Not only that. I mean, he was supporting a framework, an immigration framework, just a few months ago.

So, I mean, we're only managing the immigration story, but that is not a long-term solution. I mean, even if he wants to change the 14th Amendment, what is he going to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country? He's just managing the problem. Where is the solution?

YELLIN: And the problem with that is all the people who are protesting here, everybody who supports comprehensive immigration reform, is going to say that that's just a veiled form of bias and bigotry, and it just polarizes -- it just shows how polarizing this debate has become.

KING: All right. Both of you know the old saying, "Two is company, three's a crowd." Well, the Colorado governor's race now has three.

Conservative Tom Tancredo says he's going to get in as a member of the American Constitution Party because he doesn't think the two Republicans in the primary can beat the Democrat, John Hickenlooper. Tom Tancredo, of course, when he was in the House of Representatives, and when he tried to run for president, I put him around Sheriff Joe Arpaio here, one of the most aggressive, tough voices when it comes to fighting immigration.

YELLIN: I love this story, because Tom Tancredo was one of the very people who told the Tea Party people get behind Republicans, don't form a third party, don't break off. And now he is doing exactly what he advised them not to.

RAMOS: And also, there is simply repeating misinformation. It is not true that immigrants are criminals or terrorists. I mean, it is not true that undocumented immigrants are taking the jobs of Americans.

KING: And it guarantees this debate goes into another state.

RAMOS: Absolutely.

KING: I mean, it's everywhere anyway, but with Tom Tancredo running, we're likely to talk about this in Colorado, Arizona.

RAMOS: Immigration is becoming, because of Arizona, a big issue nationwide.

KING: Jorge Ramos, Jessica Yellin, thanks for coming in.

Up next, "Pete on the Street." He's on this story as well. He visits a vibrant West African community for their take on the immigration debate still playing out right here in Arizona.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Our intrepid offbeat reporter Pete Dominick has been checking out immigrant communities. Last night, it was the Merengue music from the Dominican community. Tonight it's the drums of West Africa. The music they listen to may be different, but the conversations are the same: Will Arizona's immigration battle affect me?

What are they telling you, Pete?

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, John King.

Yes, I am here at the Senegalese Community Center in what is called Little Senegal in West Harlem. And I'm wearing a sabador (ph). And I'm not going to lie to you, John. I could get used to this.

To my right here is Asatus (ph). She is the president of the Senegalese Association, Women's Association. This is the secretary, Abdulhi (ph), of the same association for men.

And these people have taught me in the last hour and a half so much not only about Senegal, but West Africa, their culture, of course, and why they came to America originally, and the immigration issues that they face.

Also, Asatus (ph) marched to Washington. She was there for President Obama's inauguration.

Obviously, the significance of a first generation African means a lot to them. But most importantly, they come here, John, for the same reason anybody ever came to America, right, everybody to find work, to seek opportunity. And they do everything from driving cabs, to home care, to business.

Sheik (ph) is here visiting on a business opportunity, franchising restaurants. And right here is my West -- my Senegalese Tom Cruise right here. I've just been calling him "Maverick" all night -- John King.

KING: Pete, I see the picture. Mayor Bloomberg has been among those who says you are never going to kick all people out, you have to have a system.

Do these people, your new friends, do they think the system is fair?

DOMINICK: John is asking, of course, do you think the system, the immigration system, is fair?

Asatus (ph) -- this is her in the picture with Mayor Bloomberg -- is it hard to gain citizenship here when you come to America?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. It's very, very hard to get a U.S. citizen to the United States, because some people have been here for long enough, like 20 to 25 years, never went back home. Not even have a green card, not even have a citizenship. It is very hard for the immigrants to stay in this country.

DOMINICK: And as we learned yesterday, John, 40 percent of illegal immigrants didn't sneak in. They came in legally, and they have overstayed their visa.

I'm guessing some of these people here might be doing that. They're trying to seek opportunity.

They can't go back home. But they're not actually, really willing and open to always talk about that either. And if you ask them, it's a very, very private issue, your citizenship.

You have come here to seek opportunity and work, and you are trying to find that and a pathway to citizenship as well, too.

So, John, it's been great. I'm having a good time. I'm going to party all night at the Little Senegalese -- you got it.

KING: Well, please thank all your friends for joining us and for helping us understand their side of this important story.

As we prepare to leave you, we can show you one last picture. Demonstrators gathering here outside the Arizona state capital. A much smaller crowd that was anticipated. In part, the organizers say, because the most controversial portions of Arizona's law were not allowed to go into effect.

But still, these people making clear they don't like this state's tone on immigration. It is a debate we will follow form now until November and beyond.

But for tonight, thanks for stopping by. That's all the time we have.

But "RICK'S LIST" primetime ready to take it away right now.