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JOHN KING, USA

Two United Airlines Passengers Arrested; President Obama and the Economy; Glenn Beck Rally

Aired August 30, 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. We begin with breaking news tonight. Here's what you need to know right now. Two men who boarded an airliner in the United States today were arrested in Amsterdam when their plane landed.

According to ABC News, Dutch authorities have charged them with preparation of a terrorist attack. Let's check in with our CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve for the latest -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, at the moment this is something of a mystery. We do not know very much about this case from official sources. The spokesman for the Dutch Justice Ministry does confirm that these two men were arrested at Schiphol Airport after disembarking from a flight from Chicago, Illinois. They said an investigation was under way.

In addition, an airport press officer said they were taken into custody after a request from the Netherlands National Detective Department. Now ABC News is reporting that both of these men flew from cities in the U.S., one originated in Birmingham, the other in Memphis.

According to ABC News, the individual flying from Birmingham raised suspicion because of bulky clothing. They then looked more carefully at him. They found some suspicious items in his luggage, according to ABC, including a Pepto Bismol bottle strapped to a cell phone, a couple of other cell phones taped together and also couple of watches taped together. But they didn't find anything apparently that would have kept him off the flight. He was allowed to continue forward.

Now in Chicago, according to ABC, he checked luggage that was going through Dulles Airport here in greater Washington and onward to Dubai, but the individual didn't board that flight. According to ABC, he flew from Chicago to Amsterdam, having joined up with this second individual who was taken into custody with him.

Now what do we make of all of this? Was this some sort of potential run through for a terror attack? I have to tell you, we have talked to a couple of law enforcement and other sorts of officials here in Washington and elsewhere, who do not seem terrifically spun up about this situation but they aren't giving us any information as to why they are not and whether we should be or whether we should not.

We're continuing to report it out, John. When we get more information, we'll bring it to you.

KING: Jeanne, as soon as you get it, we'll get back to you. And to reinforce what Jeanne just said, I've been in touch with two White House officials tonight who say their early information is often reliable. They're trying to sift through fact and what might not be fact. Jeanne Meserve will be on stay on top of this and we will get back you as the hour continues.

Now shifting though to the other day's big story, it's a word I use a lot, maybe too much, is disconnect. It is I believe one of the reasons you don't like politics or trust many politicians. There are examples every day. Here's one.

On Sunday, President Obama told NBC's Brian Williams, it is critical that the American people know how optimistic he is about the future, especially when it comes to the economy.

Then today, one of Mr. Obama's top economic advisers said that while he doesn't think we will have a double dip recession, we've got to be mindful it is quite possible. Score that as truth telling but hardly optimistic.

One more example, not exactly from the world of politics, but then again not so far removed. In his big rally this weekend Glenn Beck said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST & RALLY ORGANIZER: We must be better than what we've allowed ourselves to become. We must get the poison of hatred out of us, no matter what anyone may say or do, no matter what anyone smears or lies or throws our way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That, the same Glenn Beck who said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: The government is a heroin pusher, using smiley faced fascism to grow the nanny state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: Communists, revolutionaries, socialists, Marxists, followers of Chairman Mao, appointed by Obama to the executive branch in positions of the government call, call me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: A big disconnect to say the least between Beck the Kumbaya rally Beck the combative talk show host. We'll debate whether that matters in a moment, but first the president and the issue that matters most to you, the economy.

Here with us Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings and CNN contributors Ed Rollins, John Avlon and from New Orleans, James Carville. I want to begin with that apparent disconnect. And I want you to listen to the president first in the Rose Garden today. The president met with his economic team.

He knew just back from vacation it was very important that he talk about the economy 64 days from the election. And the president says today yes, it's been tough but things are going to get better.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no doubt we still face serious challenges. But if we rise above the politics of the moment to summon an equal seriousness of purpose, I'm absolutely confident that we will meet them. I've got confidence in the American economy and most importantly, I have got confidence in the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Trying there to project an image that yes, it's tough but things will get better. But then listen -- this is Austan Goolsbee, one of his top economic advisers I think talking to Wolf Blitzer earlier today and I would say being honest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: I don't think we will have a double dip recession but it's clearly something we have got -- we've got to be mindful and we've got to prevent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congressman, your safe is -- your seat is relatively safe, I assume so you're not all that worried this election season. But when you talk to your friends, your colleague in the party around the country, how hard is it in these tough economic times, at a time when if you look at the president right now Democrats use the term that he's like a mortgage under water right now in the sense that his disapproval rating is higher than his approval rating. And it's hard to be optimistic about the economy.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Well you know the president, I think, is basically saying that things have gotten better. It could have been worse. And I think he's also saying, if you listen to his speech today, he was basically saying that Congress has got to get off of its butt and begin to help him, to push some of these policies that will improve the economy faster. We've come a long way.

KING: Do they need to do more in your view than what's on the table?

CUMMINGS: Oh no doubt about it. In other words, when you say what's on the table, I think that this $30 billion bill so that we can get money out to businesses -- because most of the businesses, small businesses in my district are suffering because of lack of capital. And we've met -- we had to meet with the Federal Reserve a few weeks ago and they basically begged for help.

They have got opportunities. They just don't have the funds. So I mean if you've got my Republican friends standing in the way of something like that, something that Republicans would normally be supportive of, then you have to be concerned and I think basically what the president is saying, if I can get this cooperation and keep moving on the path I'm going we can get something done.

KING: James Carville, I want to continue the question of the disconnect, because the president was just down in your neighborhood this weekend. He was there to tell the people of New Orleans, it's been five years since Katrina, I'm with you. We're going to fix this.

We're in for the long haul. We're going to get this right. Harry Shearer wrote a blog posting. He just did a documentary on Katrina five years later and he wrote this blog posting. He was upset that the president number one, the way he talked about Katrina and number two, the president said, I'm going to help you, but in Harry Shearer's view they're not asking for nearly enough money to get the job done.

And he wrote this. "The president has left New Orleans now, once again, as last October finding it inconvenient to spend more than a few hours here. Probably a good idea. He'll get a better night's sleep back home on his planet." Is that your sense of the president's visit there, James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I wouldn't say that and I love Harry Shearer. And the president did call Katrina and New Orleans a natural disaster and that very appropriately got Harry's dander up, because Harry knows as everybody knows about this, it was not. It was an engineering failure in 2005, not a natural disaster.

You know we -- I think we have got some things that are going well here. And we're looking at this, particularly September, active storm season here and we're still some time away from having the kind of protection that we need, although it's much -- I have to admit -- it's much improved over where it was five years ago.

But I love Harry and I understand where he's coming from, but I'm not quite there with him on that. I think the president's come down here and I think he's activated people pretty good here. There's a lot more to do.

KING: As all of you, I think know, there's the conversation, if you read your e-mails, if you pick up the phone, if you have lunch in this town or a conversation in this town, it is -- I don't mean any disrespect to the president, but people talk about the incredible shrinking presidency in the sense that he does not have the bully pulpit he had, the bullhorn he had.

And I want to show you the Gallup poll numbers out tonight. This is startling. This is the biggest gap in the history of the Gallup poll. If people were voting for Congress today, if the American people were voting today, the Republican candidate, 51 percent, the Democrat candidate, 41 percent. Ed Rollins, you know from your days working alongside Ronald Reagan if those numbers are anywhere close to right that the Republicans will pick up the 39 seats they need and they will take back the House of Representatives.

ED ROLLINS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It could not be a better environment for Republicans today than this environment and I'm glad you're safe, but a lot of your colleagues obviously aren't. Part of the problem here is there is a real inconsistency in message. No matter how good a communicator this president is, you can't talk about the economy today, talk about the war tomorrow night, and basically host the Israelis and the Palestinians later in the week and not have an inconsistent message.

All those messages may be important but right now all anybody cares about who is a voter is how are you going to get me out of this economic mess and get people back to work, whether it's small business or what have you. And my challenge to you, you have the biggest majority you're going to have basically for the next couple of years. You know there's going to be more Republicans in the Congress and whatever you can get you ought to try and get now with your members, not with our members, you have done everything else without our members so far, so don't blame us.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) 64 days left, John Avlon, even if the president is right, and Congressman Cummings is right, I'm not taking sides here, but even if they're right that the Republicans are blocking whether it's the small business bill or something else, that's all fact, in 64 days, can you change the big narrative and sense of the country that we're in this ditch?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. I think that's been baked in the cake. I mean the issue of small business bill being blocked by Republicans is good in the framing of it because small business is exactly who has been felt left out of this recovery, doesn't feel like they have anyone looking out for them. The problem is the electorates really have two minds here. Jobs, the economy issue number one, but a lot of anger at spending, deficit and debt. So it really is a -- you know Democrats bet a lot on Keynesian economics and I think the American people really bought more in the Reagan vision and that's where the disconnect is. People are angry about the economy, but they don't necessarily believe federal spending is helping the economy stimulate.

KING: All right everybody stand by --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan wasn't a Keynesian?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he was not a Keynesian.

(LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would fall out of my chair if Reagan wasn't a Keynesian. He increased spending, cut taxes. That's as Keynesian as you can get --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to your wife. Listen to your wife, James.

KING: All right, a quick time out here. When we come back --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: -- the president has a big speech on Iraq tomorrow night from the oval office. What do you want to hear from the president? He's keeping a big campaign promise. Is this mission accomplished? A reminder, he will give that speech tomorrow night, focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our complete coverage on CNN starts right here on JOHN KING, USA at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Stay with us. When we come back, what the stakes are for the president and more on that weekend rally hosted by Glenn Beck.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN BREAKING NEWS.

KING: Our Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent has some new information about the arrest of two suspects who got on a plane here in the United States and were arrested when they landed in the Netherlands. Let's get the latest from Jeanne.

MESERVE: John, not a wealth of new information in the statement from the Department of Homeland Security. It does say that suspicious items were located in the checked luggage associated with two passengers that were on United Flight 908 from Chicago O'Hare to Amsterdam last night. The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves and as we share information with our international partners, Dutch authorities were notified of the suspicious items.

This matter continues to be under investigation. That's the end of the DHS statement. In addition, a law enforcement official tells us that many of the details in the current news stories are based more on rumor than on fact. The individuals did not have prohibited items on their persons or on their carry on luggage. And also, we're told that there were federal air marshals on board that flight from Chicago to Amsterdam. John, that's the latest from here -- back to you.

KING: Jeanne, we'll check in with you more as developments warrants. And a very important point Jeanne made there at the end, especially early in these investigations, a lot of what you first hear isn't what turns out to be fact but Jeanne is leading our coverage and we'll stay on top of it throughout the hour and throughout the evening.

Now let's get back to the challenges facing the president and our political panel. Tomorrow night in the Oval Office, the president will address the American people. He will tell them that he's keeping a major promise. He made it in the campaign and he made it after being inaugurated to get U.S. troop levels in Iraq down below or below 50,000 by the end of this month.

They are now below that mark. So promise kept for the president but what next in Iraq? Congressman Cummings, you have led the opposition to this war. You have been among the leaders in Congress saying we shouldn't have gone in the first place, should have got out a long time ago.

There will be roughly 50,000 troops left after this. Iraq does not have a functioning government right now. Do you worry, as much as you want to get out, that the political uncertainty in Iraq might make this too risky of a moment to get too low?

CUMMINGS: I'm extremely concerned about that. I always said that I thought exit (ph) should be in a reasonable way, a fashion so it didn't undo everything that we've done. I'm hoping the president doesn't say mission accomplished, like President Bush did.

But I do hope he says that we have now put them in a position -- that is the Iraqis in a position to now do the political portion. In other words, we've done the military. Now it's up to you to do the political because that's how this thing is going to be resolved.

Everybody knows that. The other thing that I pray that he says is that although we've lost 44 great men and women, there are thousands upon thousands who are living with all kinds of injuries. And I am hoping that he will make it clear that we're going to take care of them, because after combat is over, they've still got to fight the things that are troubling them.

KING: Amen for that, the PTSD, the traumatic brain injuries, and many other things that is a generational challenge for this president and the country. You're dead right on that. Ed Rollins, what is the challenge for the president as he tells the American people I'm keeping my promise? We're getting out of Iraq, but at the same time, he's increasing the American foothold in Afghanistan right now and he needs to convince the American people to stay with him on that one.

ROLLINS: I hope the congressman is giving him advice because that was the perfect tone for the speech. The president can't pat himself on the back, saying -- what he can say is thanks to the efforts of the Iraqi people, thanks to the efforts of our troops, the men and women who have served there, given their lives, given their limbs, given their time that we are basically -- have created, we hope, the beginning of a stable government.

But we're not there yet and he has got to leave a little wiggle room here because in case those 50,000 do get engaged or something else happens. But I think a little humility, thank Gates, thanks the generals, thank the troops most of all. KING: It's not just the left, John Avlon. The middle of America doesn't like these wars.

AVLON: No, that's right. Time has dragged on. But I do think that one of President Obama's great achievements in office is that he managed very early on to depolarize what had been one of the most polarizing facts of American political life very quickly, the Iraq war. And I think part of the message tomorrow needs to be whatever you think about how we got into this war, this is a time for promises kept.

This is a time for peace with honor. We need to ensure stability in the region. We are still engaged in a wider war, we understand that and that we need to restore that idea that Americans used to hold dear, which is that partisan politics ought to end at the water's edge and try to create a new unity around the 50,000 troops that are going to be there and probably for some time and a new focus on winning the war in Afghanistan as well.

KING: James Carville, what's the single most important test for the president tomorrow night?

CARVILLE: You know, I think he has got to convince people that you know that we're doing the smart thing. What sort of strikes me about this, and I think it's kind of sad in one sense, is for all of this and everything (INAUDIBLE) consumption with this war, and it was the central front on the war on terror (INAUDIBLE) it seems, I don't know, we're ending combat operations and no one talks about it.

It doesn't seem to be sort of topic one. I guess the economy is just overshadowing everything else. I don't think anything that's happened over there has really surprised anybody. I've been a, to put it mildly, a skeptic of this war from the beginning and I'm skeptical that you know much is going to come good come over there. I hope I'm wrong.

Unfortunately, I've been right for too long about this thing. But I don't have a very good feeling about -- they can't form a government, they're the biggest violators of the embargo to Iran. (INAUDIBLE) just you know trucks are all going over there everyday. You know there are stories now we're reading where you know they blame us for the troubles they have. And I just think it's not been a -- it's not been very good so far. I hope it's better. I wish the president and the troops well.

KING: Breaking news is taking a lot of our time tonight, but I want to give you each in a sentence or two, please, so we don't lose too much time, what did the Glenn Beck rally say to you, mean to you if anything this weekend -- James, to you first.

CARVILLE: I'm just befuddled by it. The guy is unbelievably popular over there. We've done research and focus groups and just count me as somebody that just flat doesn't get it. I think he's nuttier than a fruitcake, but a lot of people don't.

(CROSSTALK) KING: Top that.

AVLON: Hypocrisy -- I mean you can't make money everyday off fear and division and then to go to the Washington Mall one Saturday and call for unity and decry hate and division of politics when you're one of the prime causes of it.

KING: But he's a force, Ed, on your side of the spectrum, isn't he?

ROLLINS: Absolutely. But more important than him or Palin or anything else is that you had more hundreds of thousands of people show up on a hot August day, whether it's a civil rights march, an anti-war march or whatever. When Americans come and participate and travel across the country, it's a good thing. I think it shows the anger and a frustration that a lot of Americans have though.

CUMMINGS: I just don't think (INAUDIBLE) for 18 months you can talk negativity and then suddenly have a come to Jesus moment. I just didn't understand it and I think if we are about taking away rights from people like the 14th Amendment, 17th Amendment, things of that nature and you talk about going back, I don't want to go back. I think Martin Luther King didn't stand for that. He wanted to go forward and I hope that that's what Mr. Beck is doing now.

KING: A bit later on the rally later in the program -- Congressman Cummings, Ed, John and James thanks for coming in tonight -- a lot more to cover.

Ed just mentioned a crowd estimate. He said several hundred thousand people. Well we're going to go "Wall-to-Wall". We're going to take a look at that. We'll test the numbers game and counting crowds it's a difficult business. There's science, there's guessing, there's pictures. We'll break it down for you and give you a good look at what happened out there.

And on my "Radar" tonight, Tom Coburn, conservative senator, popular on the right, who's the last person he'd vote for? And is Governor Sarah Palin fit to "Lead" -- some new numbers for you tonight.

And in the "Play-by-Play", what does the president say he won't wear around plastered on his forehead. And remember hope from the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin talks about hopey-changey, well we have a new candidate -- I talk new candidate tonight talking about hope and change and hope. We break it down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Brianna Keilar for the latest political news you need to know right now -- hey Bri.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there John. The first contingent of 1,500 new National Guard troops began deploying along the U.S.-Mexico border today. Troops will continue to arrive over the next two months. And she hasn't asked, but Alaska's Libertarian Party says it will not give Senator Lisa Murkowski the libertarian line on the ballot if she ends up losing the Republican nomination. Murkowski trails Joe Miller by 1,668 votes with just some 25,000 absentee early and challenged ballots yet to be counted.

And the candidates for Massachusetts governor have agreed to a September 21st debate right here on CNN moderated by -- this just in -- our own John King -- John.

KING: By who?

KEILAR: I know who's that -- I know him I think. That will be great.

KING: I get to go home --

KEILAR: Exactly.

KING: It's actually a very interesting race back home in Massachusetts. I'm honored to be asked to do it and maybe we'll drop in, it's right during this program so someone's going to have to fill in for me. But maybe we'll drop in if we are allowed and get a little snippet of the big issues in the state of Massachusetts, Brianna.

KEILAR: I'm sure we will.

KING: All right, thanks, Bri. We will see you a bit later in the program.

So how many people -- how many people were at the Lincoln Memorial and stretched along the Reflecting Pool and the National Mall on Saturday for the big "Restoring Our Honor" rally that Glenn Beck led. Well that depends on who you ask.

I think we can show you a picture here -- up here -- here's the numbers game. Let's look at it this way. CBS News using -- (INAUDIBLE) balloons up and some photographs say 78,000 to 96,000 people. The "NBC Nightly News", they said 10,000 to hundreds of thousands. That's a big gap in there, isn't there?

ABC News said 100,000 or more. FOX News said 500,000 or more. Mr. Beck himself says 300 to 650,000. Conservative Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann says there were a million people there and anyone who says there were any less, well they're lying to you. So how many people were there? Again, you see the range of numbers here. The information you received over the past 24 hours or so, well it depends on where you click.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to a tally commissioned by CBS News, roughly 87,000 people attended the Beck events.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By some estimates more than 100,000 people showed up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen estimates 500,000. NBC News estimated the crowd at 300,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's be on the low end, 300,000. It may be as high as 650,000, but there were hundreds of thousands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those hundreds of thousands or 100,000, however many there were.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Here's a picture here. As you see it pull out, this is CNN video I believe taken from atop the Washington Monument. You see the larger crowd down here. People spread out along the side there, it's a pretty good crowd. How many people are there?

You know this is crowd picking, crowd guessing and guestimating I guess you might use the word is an inexact science. That's called a pretty big crowd. I wouldn't say that's a million people. I feel pretty safe saying that, despite what somebody might say. I just did, but that's not a million people, but it's a pretty good crowd. Exactly how many? Well, like many other things this political year, people will disagree and debate.

When we come back, a revealing new poll for the midterm's elections, our reporters discuss what it means and what they're hearing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: 64 days to a consequential mid-term election. Maybe you don't think so. If you don't, you should think again. Taxes and spending, the Obama health care plan, the broader Democratic agenda all at stake in the midterm elections 64 days from tonight. Let's go off to the races with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin and our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. Titles. Everybody in Washington, partly because of the nudging of Republicans because they're very happy are talking about these numbers tonight. I want to show you these numbers again. This is the Gallup poll asking people who will you vote for for Congress. 64 days from now, Republicans, 51%, Democrats, 41%. That's not only a 10 point gap, that is, Gallup, says the largest gap in the history of the Gallup poll. If those numbers hold true on Election Day, hard to believe, that a national number, it doesn't go state by state. There are 435 races for the house, 36 races for the Senate. If there's a 10 point gap nationally and that holds, hard to see the Republicans not picking up the 39 seats they would need to make John Boehner speaker.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very hard not to see. In fact in releasing this Gallup poll, the Gallup people said they predict if this doesn't change, there will be a wave election. Based on their history, they think that will happen. Talking to Democrats about this, here's their defense. You mentioned national versus local. What Democrats are saying is that they are trying so hard to continue to make this local. Congressman versus the person who's challenging them. It's a very difficult to do. Very difficult to do, when there is a national environment that is so bad, particularly when you're talking about the economy.

KING: Again, there's 64 days, a lot can change. Team Clinton said that back in 1994, local race by race, the numbers were not this big, Republicans gained 52 seats in the house.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the problems Republicans are facing right now is something I'm out covering stories on the trail, I was recently in Colorado and went to, in Denver, right where you find a lot of Democrats, tried to interview people for hours about the Senate race, couldn't find anybody, found very few people, I should say who even knew who was running because they said I'm so disengaged, I'm so frustrated and upset, I don't want to participate this year. I asked them did you take part in 2008? They said, take part, I worked for President Obama then. These are people who were engaged in the process then and disconnected now. That's what Democrats are challenged with.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Here's their problem. They have a structural problem. The Democrats own every swing district. They have to win half of all the swing districts if they're going to keep control. It's real problem for them right now. They've been so successful in the last couple of mid-terms.

KING: Because of 2006, they won all the tough ones, 2008, they won all the tough ones. A lot of those Democrats are in districts McCain carried or Bush carried back in the day and now they have to defend them.

BORGER: 40 of them are in districts McCain won.

KING: Another thing that Democrats talk about and lament, they think the president can't seem to catch a break. I want to show you a snippet from the rose garden today and yes, he got his point across in the end, when this happened at the very beginning of the event, a lot of Democrats started talking, not again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What we did know was that it took nearly a decade -- what we -- how are we doing on sound, guys? Is it still going to the press? Okay. What we did know was that it was going to take nearly a decade in order -- can you guys still hear us? Okay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Come back to the conversation.

BASH: The teleprompter was still working.

KING: He may have been reading from this. The president, in the end, made his point, criticized the Republicans for blocking small business legislation but that's kind of a metaphor for a lot of people where here we have this guy who was the candidate in 2008, the great communicator, the Democrats so happy to have him and now the term Democrats use, like a mortgage under water, his disapproval outranks him, so hard for him.

BORGER: Today, he looked angry. This is a man, by the way, first day back from vacation.

YELLIN: I can relate.

KING: Nobody here knows what that feels like.

BORGER: Gets back from vacation, trying to sort of turn the conversation to the economy because it will be a foreign policy week, he has a speech on Iraq in the oval office tomorrow and can't catch a break. You could hear it in his voice.

BASH: To that point in talking to some Democrats about this new poll today and how bad it is for them. I gotten an e-mail response from one Democratic strategist listing state by state places they're doing better than Obama trying to prove we're actually not that bad, by way maybe this person didn't realize they were doing it, showing me how poorly President Obama is doing in some of these key states, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, proof of what they have to overcome, this guy whose coattails they were riding two years ago, just the opposite.

YELLIN: The incredible irony is he within in part because he's such a phenomenal communicator on the trail. We said it a million times but it is still fascinating that his biggest challenge right now is getting traction on the things he's accomplished, communicating making it connect.

KING: He also won because he had a big semi wave year and the Republicans think this might be their turn. Thanks for coming in.

BORGER: Maybe they're right.

KING: Maybe we should do Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and figure this out. What do you think?

BASH: On the bus.

KING: Yes, there is a road trip in our future. When we return, we'll take a look at two big storms that east coast residents might want to keep an eye on. Don't forget complete coverage of the president's speech tomorrow night begins right here at 7:00 p.m. eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: If you live along the east coast, you need to keep an eye on that man on the left of your screen and the weather forecast. Hurricane Earl is on the way and there's another storm a bit farther out. CNN's severe weather expert and meteorologist Chad Myers is in our hurricane headquarters with the latest. Hey Chad.

CHAD MYERS, METEOROLOGIST: Hi, John. Another storm popping up today, Fiona. Worry about the Earl first, quite a storm in the Virgin Islands in Puerto Rico. You can see the eye of the storm very strong, 135 miles an hour right now. And forecast to be even stronger. In fact, forecast to be 150, 145, then 135. Now, the good news is there's not one computer model that brings this on shore in the U.S. but the bad news is all the computer models three days ago were out here. Now, they're all over here. Will they continue to move to the left or to the west and maybe make a run at the U.S. east coast? Maybe. It's a possibility and it's a major storm to keep watching. The problem is, it will keep turning and turning and turning away. So that makes North Carolina, Washington D.C., New York City, even the Cape Cod area all in play. We'll have to keep watching. It will be a long week. John.

KING: We'll keep watching, Chad and we'll bring you back as the week progresses.

Now let's look at some stories on our radar. Here to help tonight Republican John Brabender, journalist Dayo Olopade and Democrat Maria Cardona. Here's an interesting one. A Newt Gingrich spokesman tells CNN there will not be a response to conservative Senator Tom Coburn's put down of the former house speaker. Asked about a possible Gingrich presidential bid, during a town meeting in Oklahoma, Coburn called him quote a super smart man but doesn't know anything about commitment to marriage. Gingrich has been married three times. Coburn continued he's the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president. Ouch.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's a tough one. I thought he would have trouble clearly with Democrats, with independents, with moderates, with mainstream voters who know he doesn't have public policy solutions to lead this country but with leaders of his own party, that's a tough one for him to get over.

KING: No response, is that the right thing to do?

DAYO OLOPADE, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: I think so considering he's not an elected official. He's a public figure within the Republican Party but he's not someone who makes policy decisions or is a lawmaker like Coburn so perhaps stepping out is the best thing for him to do.

KING: A, he's influential, in the Republican Party and whatever you think about Newt Gingrich on the left or right, he is an ideas guy.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He is. But you've got to understand every candidate who is thinking about president or will run for president has to face some tough questions. All along everyone knew the one thing that Newt Gingrich has to figure out an answer to is this hole background that he has that he brings to the table particularly because in the Republican primaries you have the value voters that come out. He can ignore this from Tom Coburn right now but he can't ignore this for much longer.

KING: Another fascinating story, one thing people are guessing how many people attended the Glenn Beck rally. And another way to look at it is by all the tons of social chatter and the reaction goes all the way across the spectrum. Our friends at Crimson Hexagon tell us 26% of chatter came from people who think Beck is a racist or a fascist and 22% were critical of his rally, 18 percent called the rally disrespectful of Martin Luther King, 20% supported the rally and 14 percent of the chatter was from people at the rally or people who wished they were there. As for the volume of Tweets, Beck's rally didn't generate anywhere near as many as the proposition 8 same sex marriage ruling out in California this month but it generated, look at the numbers there, more than July's ruling on the Arizona immigration law and way more than Al Sharpton's counter rally here this weekend. What does that tell this is social network buzz or lack thereof about a big event?

CARDONA: What it tells us, Glenn Beck, no matter how much you dislike him or like him, what he does do is incites emotions on all sides across the spectrum. You see it in those kinds of responses. You see clearly, the majority, over 60% were the ones who either didn't approve, who thought he was a fascist or racist or not ones that liked what he was doing. It does tell you that he does incite people no matter what you think of him.

OLOPADE: The real question is whether or not this translates into political outcomes. The number of people that came is almost irrelevant because all those people are going back where they live. The question is whether there is actual organization around a political issue or enough to elect a candidate. We're not sure. The whole rally was much more religion and oriented around military service than it was about a specific political message. That's what we'll look for next.

BRABENDER: The real benefit is hat we're sitting here talking about this now. News broadcaster talked about this all day today. That's much more important than the number of people that showed up or the number of people there. I can't help but point out the number of people that Glenn Beck is a fascist is the same number last week thought the president was a Muslim. My point is there's people on every side of the spectrum that dislikes somebody. I mean name a popular figure in this country that doesn't have some unfavorables. I don't think we can measure by what people thought or tweeted. I think what we have to measure is how many watched today and what the results were.

KING: We've got to stand by. I want to check in right now with our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve. At the top of the program we told you about breaking news, an investigation of two people who boarded a plane in Ohio, arrested when the plane landed in Amsterdam, some talk of a potential terror investigation. Jeanne, what's the latest?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well they boarded in Chicago actually John and they originated in two different cities, one in Birmingham, according to a law enforcement source and the other originated in Memphis. The luggage of the man in Birmingham was x-rayed at the airport and according to a law enforcement source, inside, they found several cell phones strapped to bottles of medicinal liquid. So this we have from a law enforcement source. There have been reports from other news outlets, specifically ABC saying there were knives and box cutters and things of that ill. This law enforcement source saying he's not aware of that at this point in time. He could just tell me cell phones strapped to bottles of medicinal liquid. This law enforcement source also saying that these individuals were in the U.S. legally. We do not yet know their country of origin. That's the latest John. Back to you.

KING: Jeanne Meserve, all over this story for us. Jeanne thanks so much. We'll check back in as you get more. When we come back, we'll break through the play by play and of course Jeanne is keeping on top of this breaking news tonight. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Little Monday night break down to tape. In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams while he was in New Orleans marking the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Brian asked the president about some people who think he is not born in the United States. And the president, well he said this.

OBAMA: I can't spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead, right? It is, the facts are the facts, it's not something that I can spend all my time worrying about.

KING: Hard to argue with that answer. The president is still being asked about this almost two years into his presidency has to frustrate him.

CARDONA: That is what is actually more telling and more frustrating to the white house. I think it should be worrisome to American public and specifically to the Republican Party who are the ones who are pushing this, and more and more people are believing it if especially in light of like he said the facts. There are facts that prove that he was born in this country and people mostly Republicans just do not want to accept that. I think it shows how out of touch they are.

OLOPADE: I think it is actually fine for the president to continue addressing the issue when asked about it just in order because of the enormous platform he has to squash the rumors once and for all. I think joking about it, the president maintained a remarkable sense of humor about the absurdity of the issue is actually a way to cut through the choose your own adventurer media landscape and let the people know what the facts from position of commander-in- chief.

BRABENDER: The good news is it's one less time he has to talk about job numbers or housing sales. But with that said, you know it is a nightmare scenario when the president has to answer questions like this.

KING: Bob, a while back, Glenn Beck, Fox News host, said that he thought President Obama had a deep-seated hatred of white people. Some people said Glenn Beck was calling the president racist. Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Glenn Beck took it back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST: Racist, first of all, it shouldn't have been said. It was poorly said. I have a big fat mouth some times and I say things, that's just not the way people should behave. And it was not accurate. It is liberation theology that -- shaped his world view.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I don't assume the white house is going to issue a statement saying apology accepted I'm not quite sure.

CARDONA: Yeah, no. And I think he said it best himself when he said that he had big, fat mouth. What was interesting about his big, fat mouth is that he can say whatever he wants today and then take it back tomorrow, but it is out there and we continue talking about it. And that's exactly what he wants. He wants that. He knows what he is saying. He is not a dumb guy. He knows he can say things like I have a big fat mouth but yet it's still out there.

OLOPADE: I think what's also unfortunate about this sort of rhetoric coming from Beck is that it forces the president into a defensive position where it's perfectly obvious he is not comfortable talking about race. When he has been labeled as racist in some ways it is difficult for him to go out there and talk about what is happening in New Orleans, it's difficult for him to talk about the issues affecting the black community. It boxes him in a way, it's quite clever, but probably wrong.

BRABENDER: There is some danger on our side too as Republicans when we do start going after the president on a personal level. I think that is a big mistake. It's legitimate to ask about capabilities and competence. Independent voters people like that when they see us attacking the president personally are somewhat offended by that. It doesn't help our cause this November frankly.

KING: John, Dayo, Maria, thanks for coming in. When we come back, the president is back from holiday. His nice Martha's Vineyard vacation. Tough the first day back. I know that feeling. Are you having trouble with your vacation hangover. Pete on the street he is investigating

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Top of the hour fast approaching. Let's check in with Rick Sanchez for a sneak peek at "RICK'S LIST PRIMETIME."

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: It's going to be one of those wild nights. We've got two big stories. First of all it looks like Earl is now a category 4 storm. Chad Myers will be following that loop it seems to be taking across the United States. You know what else we are doing? It sounds like we nailed down at least where one of the suspected terrorists comes from that was stopped to day. Memphis, of all places. We'll be all over that. Back to you, John.

KING: Millions of Americans, maybe including you have something in common with the president this Monday. Back at work after a vacation. So how do you get back in that work frame of mind? Well, we sent our intrepid offbeat reporter, Pete Dominick out to find out. Hey, Pete.

PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey John King. It's a very important issue not only how do you get back after vacation, how do you come back on a Monday? I asked people how they make that transition from vacation back to real life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINICK: How did you jump back in that uncomfortable suit after vacation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well it wasn't really hard at all. Vacation is a plus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say the first thing you need to do is have your Starbuck's card ready. Second thing you need to do is have the flask in the back pocket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To meditate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine the water. Imagine the beautiful lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just put your nose to the grindstone and get back at it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It takes time, little time for you to get back with the mind and spirit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of Congress should have stayed in Martha's Vineyard this week.

DOMINICK: I actually had the same haircut. And look what happened. I remember that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, get back on the wheel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suck it up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need a couple days at home. You can't come back from vacation and back to work right away. It's like a shocker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's like moving from the world of sanity into the world of insanity. I don't know how to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hopefully you will be more relaxed. You take a vacation like me after that you need a vacation.

DOMINICK: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Partying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A massage. DOMINICK: Massage. Still hard to get to adjust. I think this is helping.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINICK: John King, my question for you, is how do you transition from a Justin Bieber concert back to work on Monday? I just outed you, sir.

KING: You did, you just outed me. You got a nice job getting a massage on the clock. I want to show everybody. I got the Monday. See if you look in close, get a little picture. Bieber fever there.

DOMINICK: Dear lord.

KING: I took my daughter and two of her friends to see Justin Bieber on Saturday night. They got to meet him beforehand. They, had these great speeches planned about will you marry me? I love you. And everything else. They walked in and were star struck.

DOMINICK: You, you go and got to meet them. Because you are John King on CNN you get to meet Justin Bieber.

KING: You know I had great help. Worked it extra, extra hard. Got in a meet and greet line. Lot of people in line. Great. He was very, very nice. He's a very sweet kid.

DOMINICK: What did you say to Justin Bieber John?

KING: I said it's nice to meet you. Thank you for taking time to say hi to my daughter.

DOMINICK: You said can I get an autograph. I'm a huge fan. I have all your albums.

KING: I said Pete Dominick wants hair tips from you. We'll see you tomorrow night Pete. That's all for us tonight. RICK'S LIST PRIMETIME starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow night for a preview of the president's big speech in the oval office.