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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview With Chris Van Hollen; Interview With Kevin McCarthy; Interview With Michael Hayden

Aired October 10, 2010 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Here's what passes as good news for Democrats these days: A new poll showing Republicans are ahead by seven points when likely voters are asked how they'll vote in their district. That's good news for Democrats because last month, they were down by nine points. Cue the optimism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: If we see the generic ballot that's closing pretty dramatically...

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: For all those that are already dancing in the end zone and celebrating, they don't realize, this is what is happening everywhere I go.

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think we're definitely going to keep the Senate, and I think we have a chance to win the House because I believe the Democrats, including the base, are starting to come back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Polls almost always tighten up in the final weeks before an election. But in this climate, Democrats are happy to find any port in the storm.

Today, 23 days to the election, two key strategists in the battle for the House, Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Kevin McCarthy.

Then, measuring the mood of the electorate with Democratic pollster Celinda Lake and Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

And then, what to make of the continuing terror alert with former CIA director, General Michael Hayden. I'm Candy Crowley and this is "State of the Union."

The struggling economy dominates the minds of voters this November, and nothing speaks to the heart of the economy like the jobless rate. 95,000 jobs were lost in September, worse than expected, leaving the unemployment rate at a stubborn 9.6 percent. Still, while the public sector lost jobs, the private sector added some. As it happened, both President Obama and House Republican Leader John Boehner were visiting small businesses when the Labor Department released the jobless figures, giving us this opportunity to offer you the campaign trail in a capsule.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO: This morning, we got the latest national jobs report from the Department of Labor. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This morning, we learned that in the month of September, our economy gained 64,000 jobs in the private sector.

BOEHNER: The private sector job creation remains flat.

OBAMA: So we've now seen nine straight months of private sector job growth.

BOEHNER: High unemployment, a bigger government, and an economy struggling to create jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Joining me here now in Washington, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is a way to say that it's your job to make sure that the House stays majority Democrat.

VAN HOLLEN: Yes, indeed. And I'm very positive and bullish about those prospects.

CROWLEY: Let me play you -- we have a little montage here of some of your candidates and the ads that they're running in their districts. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): I don't work for Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or anyone else.

(UNKNOWN): I like that Jason Altmire's not afraid to stand up to the president.

(UNKNOWN): And Nancy Pelosi.

(UNKNOWN): When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi pressured Chet Edwards, Chet stood up to them and voted no against their trillion- dollar health care bill.

(UNKNOWN): And voted against Nancy Pelosi's energy tax on Hoosier families.

(UNKNOWN): I'm an independent member of Congress. I try to bring people together to make good things happen for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Now, in that last one, you have a congressman who's a Democrat; an ad in his district showing him next to John Boehner, the Republican leader, saying, look, I voted 80 percent of the time with John Boehner. Is this the sort of way you're going to keep the majority?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, here's the thing, Candy. We're very proud of the fact that we have an ideologically diverse caucus. We have a whole range of different political views.

CROWLEY: But they're talking against the speaker.

VAN HOLLEN: No, what they're doing is talking about their independence on certain issues. There are issues where they stood with the speaker and the president, and there are issues where they opposed the speaker and the president. That's their job. As opposed to on the other side, where you have this ideological purity test, and it's being moved even farther to the right by the Tea Party candidates, which are moving the Republican Party way off to the right.

When Mike Castle, a moderate centrist in Delaware, loses, it sends a message that there's no room for moderates, no room for pragmatists in the Republican Party.

We have a big tent, and we're problem solvers. And that is, I think, what voters are looking for.

CROWLEY: Is that a way of saying you have said to your members, you guys go out and win your district any way you can?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it's not a matter of saying this to our members. Our members ran their first races by being independent individuals. They share the philosophies of the Democratic Party in terms of making sure that we provide every citizen access to opportunities and the great opportunities this country has to offer. But the fact of the matter is, when they ran the first time as they're running now, they have talked to voters about the issues that are -- they care about and are priorities to the voters in their districts.

CROWLEY: By our count, there are about 30 Democrats out there in swing districts or conservative districts that are running either away from the Democratic record, or saying, you know, distancing themselves from the president and/or Speaker Pelosi. Assuming what you think will come true does, that you hold on to the House, I'm assuming that you wouldn't disagree that it's going to be a little more Republican, and probably the people right now with the best chance of winning and that seem to be holding their own in their districts are those conservative Democrats. Would you agree with that premise?

VAN HOLLEN: I'm not sure that's the case. I think you find a whole range of members who are facing different kind of challenges in their districts. And while you're emphasizing some of the issues where they are separating themselves from the president and the speaker, there are a whole lot of issues where they're very much in support of that agenda. For example, and this goes to the Republican policies as well, the Republicans say they were listening to the American people when they put together this so-called pledge. We find out that it's simply more of the same. One of the most popular items was to end the tax incentives that reward corporations that ship American jobs overseas. Our members are very focused on making it in America, on making sure we keep jobs here in the United States. Republicans totally ignored that aspect of the public, because it didn't fit their agenda. So if you look at a lot of our ads around the country, they're focused on our opposition to privatizing Medicare, which was a Republican budget proposal. They're focused on making sure we protect Social Security against (inaudible) -- but my point is, Candy, yes, there are going to be examples where members are taking a position that's different than the position of the speaker, or of the president. But there are also lots of cases where they're contrasting themselves very clearly to the Republicans and the special interests.

CROWLEY: I guess what I'm saying here is that you are most likely to come back in January to a House that may not be a Republican majority, but that is more conservative than it is right now, at least along the political spectrum. Doesn't this mean that the Democratic Party and the more liberal side of it is going to have to make more compromises? Because you do have a block of conservative Democrats and you're going to have more Republicans.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, if you look at the nature of our caucus today, it is one that results in more compromises because of this broader spectrum.

CROWLEY: Within the caucus. I think people would argue that you actually compromise with Republicans.

VAN HOLLEN: But if you're asking whether if you have a different shaped Congress with the Democrats in the majority, with smaller, smaller majorities, it may well be the case that there are some issues that we would have gotten passed last time that would not be able to pass this time. And I think the president himself has said that we may need to look at, you know, smaller items on certain issues.

But again, I want to emphasize the fact that we are going to continue to focus on making sure we eliminate things like these perverse tax incentives to ship American jobs overseas.

CROWLEY: I want to play you a quick sound bite from the president, who was campaigning in Illinois. Something he said caught our attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So 20 months later, we no longer face the possibility of a second depression. Our economy is growing again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: A strategy memo, Democratic strategy memo went out. Stan Greenberg, pollster, James Carville, Democratic operative, that said stop saying the economy has gotten better. This works against Democrats. It doesn't work for them. In fact, it shoves people into the Republican side. And the go forward-go backward thing doesn't work either. What's your best message?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, our best message is that the Republicans want to take us back to a time when the special interests ran the show. And if you look at their agenda, that's what they're saying. For example, continuing to provide multinational corporations with these tax incentives to ship jobs overseas, saying that we're going to undo the restraints that we finally put on Wall Street when we ended the Bush- Paulsen TARP fund and said we're no longer going to allow Wall Street to run wild at the expense of the American people. They want to turn that around.

And what we're finding now, Candy, is that these special interests are spending millions and millions of dollars of secret money to try and buy a Congress that does their bidding and caters to their special interests, and they won't disclose who's paying for these ads. And I think it's a wake-up call to the American people, because that's what's going on right now. These special interests like the way the economic policies of the Bush administration's worked because they serve special interest agenda very, very well, at the expense of working Americans and taxpayers.

CROWLEY: And quickly, because I'm told we're running out of time here -- in New Jersey, you have a congressman in a county that -- a congressman who's running for re-election. And the charge is, and it's been pretty well documented, that the Democratic Party in the county with Congressman Adler funded and put up a Tea Party candidate in order to split the Republican vote so your congressman could get back in. Is that fair game?

VAN HOLLEN: I'm not -- I'm not familiar with that.

VAN HOLLEN: People should be...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN HOLLEN: No. People should be focused. People should be very focused on their own elections and getting out their messages in these campaigns. And that's what our candidates are doing across the board.

And what is very clear and the reason I'm heartened as we get toward Election Day is people do not want to go back to the same economic policies that created the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Are we satisfied with the pace of the recovery? Of course not. But why would you go back to a set of economic policies that served the big banks, the big oil companies, and the insurance industry at the expense of working Americans? That is not a direction that people want to go.

CROWLEY: Sounds like the populist message is the winning one you're going with. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, thanks so much for being here.

VAN HOLLEN: Candy, thank you.

CROWLEY: Appreciate it.

Up next, we size up the Republicans' chances with Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now from California, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy. He is in charge of helping recruit Republican House candidates.

Congressman McCarthy, thanks so much for being here.

MCCARTHY: Thanks for having me.

CROWLEY: We are now seeing the polls closing on Republicans. The Democrats seem to be gaining traction. They're interpreting this and saying that voters are putting aside their anger, which clearly there's a lot of anger out there, and now they're looking at the choice. And the choice moves them into the Democratic column.

Tell me why you think these polls are closing.

MCCARTHY: Well, I don't see them closing on the Democratic side. I see 80 seats held by Democrats, or Democrats' held seat, where the incumbent or the candidate's below 50.

I think what's happening here, and you look at the enthusiasm gap, much stronger on the Republican side, even than it was in 1994, much stronger on independent voters voting for Republicans, stronger than 1994.

There's because Democrats have been in power for four years. And they've looked at this job-killing legislation; they've looked at these unemployment numbers that have not been this case consecutively since the 1930s and the Great Depression, and I don't believe they think they deserve another two years.

CROWLEY: So you -- you're going to take the House?

MCCARTHY: I think there's a great chance that we take the House. When you look at the number of races from incumbents that are upside down; when they look at unemployment for the 14th consecutive month above 9.5 percent, you have to go back to 1930 when we were in this situation again.

You look at what has happened with the Speaker Pelosi continuing to push job-killing legislation, and every single Democrat that's running right now for re-election voted for her to be speaker, and not one of them is running on the issues that they passed, from Obamacare to cap-and-trade, to the economy being pushed. They're running from it. CROWLEY: You bring up Speaker Pelosi. I wanted to read you something, in fact, that she said to reporters a little earlier this week, and get your reaction.

She said, quote, "Any political party that can't exploit 9.6 percent unemployment ought to hang up their gloves. And David Plouffe, who, as you know, was instrumental in getting the president elected, has said, listen, if they can't win the majority in the House, perhaps the majority in the Senate and the bulk of the governorships, they've failed.

Is that where you set your bar?

MCCARTHY: No. I think any -- any -- any majority party that's been in power for four years that has taken the deficit this high, that's had unemployment numbers this high, maybe they shouldn't even run for re-election.

Look, it is a tough race to try to get to 39 seats. That's a major climb. It is...

(CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: You just talked about the 80 seats where they've got congressmen, or candidates, at least, under 50 percent. So success by any other name has to be majority for you, doesn't it?

MCCARTHY: Well, I think success is getting the country back on track. Success would be sitting a new tone in Washington, and quit creating a new culture there, as well. That's what the pledge lays out to do. But we're running to win the majority. We're not running to be a minority party, no.

CROWLEY: So let me ask you also about a Washington Post poll that appeared this morning that I found interesting.

The majority blame the government for an off-course country. They believe the country is off-course. They are -- they believe that the government is not in touch with their values or understands people like them.

However, almost 60 percent in this Washington Post poll said they want their representative in their district to fight for more government money to get jobs. And they would prefer that over worrying about lowering the deficit, which is exactly the opposite of what you all are preaching. What do you make of that?

MCCARTHY: I think what they're saying is they are frustrated with government. The government has not been listening to them. They don't want government greater imposed upon them. They want to see in their own district jobs created. And the way you create a job is through the private sector.

That is what I've been hearing across the country and the uncertainty. Unleash the small business to actually be able to go out and create jobs. I believe that's where the -- America's been talking about and wants to see happen. And that can happen after November. CROWLEY: There's been some talk about Republicans looking around in the House for some conservative Democrats that they might be able to lure into the Republican Party after the elections, either to bulk up a majority or to bulk up the minority.

Do you know of any conversations or any outreach to Democratic members of Congress who might be looking to jump party?

MCCARTHY: I've always heard those rumors, but I don't see that being the case. And it's -- it's a little more difficult when you look at the Democratic make-up of Congress today. It's much more liberal than it's ever been. Every single one there has voted for Nancy Pelosi. They've been in power for four years. I don't think the American public is looking to more members of Congress to stay in Congress. They're looking for people across the country to actually change Washington.

CROWLEY: Well, you're a member of Congress. So -- and you want...

(CROSSTALK) MCCARTHY: Yes. I'm a member of Congress that...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: Well...

CROWLEY: ... vote you back in?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCARTHY: I've only been there four years, from one standpoint. And I'm an individual that was running against Republicans and Democrats when I went to get into office. And they want to see a different change.

When you look at the pledge to America that the Republicans have laid out, there is a cultural change in there.

There is something that opens up the floor that hasn't been done for quite some time, where bills won't be written in the back of the room, where the bills have to be laid out for 72 hours, where bills actually have an open rule, where people can bring amendments up on the floor, which any freshman congressman that's sitting there today has never even seen that happen under the rule of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.

CROWLEY: Congressman Kevin McCarthy, thank you so much for joining us and for getting up early this morning. We appreciate it.

MCCARTHY: Thank you for having me, Candy.

CROWLEY: Up next, some intriguing polls that have us scratching our heads about when will happen November 2.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: Polls are curious things. Every answer spawns another question. Here are a few of ours. The enthusiasm gap. Most Republicans are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year. Only a third of Democrats feel the same way. How come?

And this -- 45 percent say George Bush was a better president than Barack Obama. 47 percent of Americans picked President Obama. When did that happen?

And finally, 41 percent of Americans say Republicans are more responsible for the current economic problems. 47 percent think Republicans are more likely to improve the economy. Huh?

Answers and more questions coming up with pollster Celinda Lake and Whit Ayers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now here in Washington, Whit Ayers, Republican pollster and the president and founder of Ayers McHenry & Associates. And Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and president of Lake Research. Welcome both.

AYRES: Thank you.

LAKE: Nice to be here. Thank you.

AYRES: Good to be here.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you for some of the questions we raised earlier. And that is why now -- I mean, it is astonishing to me that right now, you can look at the polling and basically President Obama and former President Bush are tied when the question is, who was a better president.

AYRES: The reason is people are really upset with the direction this president and the Democratic leadership have taken the country. They're worried to death about the spending. They're worried that we're mortgaging our children's future and bankrupting the country. And that's the reason that the Republican prospects are so good going into November.

CROWLEY: Celinda, does that stun you? That poll just actually -- because George Bush left and he was very unpopular. I mean, he had approval ratings in the low 30s.

LAKE: That's right.

CROWLEY: Did that --

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE: Well, I think that's what happening really now is that the country's very divided. And mostly it's frustrated. And if you see incumbents of both parties are being thrown out, because people are very frustrated about where the economy's going, what's right about that. But if you notice, the other data that you showed, people actually blame the Republicans more than the Democrats for the direction of the economy.

CROWLEY: Well, except for one of the things that also sort of confused me more than stunned me is more people say that Republicans are to blame for the current economic condition of the country, and more people say that Republicans are better able to fix it.

AYRES: Candy, the Democrats are in charge. Independents are driving the numbers this year. A majority of independents think it's bad for the country to have the presidency and Congress controlled by the same party. They think it's bad for the country to have one party governing everything, and they want more Republicans in the Congress to act as a check and balance on the Obama agenda.

CROWLEY: Celinda, do people think that kind of globally in their district, going, you know, I really want a Republican House? I always find that hard to believe.

LAKE: I agree. And that's the most important question I think that was asked here. These aren't national contests. These are local contests. And it's Democrats that delivered jobs to their districts, who oppose outsourcing jobs going overseas, running against Republicans who are for privatizing Social Security, call Social Security illegal, support the tax credit for jobs going overseas. So this is going to be a real contest here. Not among some global ideals, but among individual candidates. And there are a lot of disagreements with the proposals of a lot of individual Republican candidates.

CROWLEY: Whit, talk to me about the enthusiasm gap. What is the practical application of the enthusiasm gap? Does that mean -- to me, it could mean Democrats going, no, I really don't like this slate, but fine, I'll get up and go vote anyway, or I'm going to stay in bed?

AYRES: A lot of it means that Republicans cannot wait to get to the polls. And the Democrats are disenchanted. They're --

CROWLEY: But will they not come to the polls then?

AYRES: Some of them will not come. Some of them will come reluctantly. But the Republicans are champing at the bit to get to the polls. Our polling is showing the same thing that yours is showing, a 20-point difference in enthusiasm gap. If you ask people on a one to ten scale, with ten being the most enthusiastic, 53 percent of Republicans say they're a ten. 43 percent of independents say they're a ten. Only 35 percent of Democrats say they're a ten. So there's going to be a huge Republican turnout advantage.

CROWLEY: What is the -- is it more that -- it means more Republicans will come out? Or more that Democrats won't vote? I'm trying to figure out what the practical effect of the enthusiasm gap is.

LAKE: It's really the question, and it's the most important question of this cycle, I think. Certainly more Republicans are coming out. There is no question about that. The question on the table is, will Democrats show up to vote?

Now, what's good news from the Democratic standpoint, three things. We have Michelle Obama and Barack Obama and our entire Democratic field out there saying, you know, vote your values, not your fear. Vote, or there will be an alternative that you don't like in power.

LAKE: Secondly, we have the apparatus on the ground. This party knows how to get out the vote. And we have to operationalize that.

And the enthusiasm gap, which still exists, as Whit was saying, is half of what it was a couple of weeks ago.

But the most important thing that Democrats have to do in the next three weeks is get our vote out.

CROWLEY: And let me talk to you a little bit about the tightening in the polls as Celinda was referring to. A, is there a tightening in the polls?

AYRES: Candy, I've seen very little tightening in the polls. But if there's been a tightening, it's been from an absolute unmitigated disaster for the Democrats to only a really, really horrible year for the Democrats.

(LAUGHTER)

AYRES: Your own polling shows a seven-point generic preference for Republican candidates. We normally consider an even generic ballot to be really good for Republicans. A seven-point generic preference for Republicans is enormous, and it's indicative of the wave that's coming.

There's no longer any question about whether or not there's going to be a Republican wave. The only question that remains is the size of the Republican wave.

CROWLEY: You size that up that way?

LAKE: Oh, that's a big question, though, what is the size? Certainly there are going to be some Republican gains, but I think the report of our demise is very premature. And I think you're going to see us hold on to the House by a couple of seats. In really hard- fought local contests, we're going to knock out people who say that they are for privatizing Social Security, who took special interests, foreign corporate money, and who support jobs going overseas. It's a real alternative out there. And we've got to frame up the choice. We've got to make sure it's not a referendum but a choice.

CROWLEY: Because in the end, the -- these national polls are sort of impressionistic, right? And the various districts and states are kind of the small picture thing. And that's where it really counts. I mean, the national polls tell us something, but they don't tell us about, yes, but what about this race, because they're all different. AYRES: Exactly. And Celinda's right, the Democrats are going to try to make it a choice. The problem is that when the Democrats control the presidency and the House and the Senate, it is a referendum. And there's nothing much they can do about changing the fact that this is a referendum on Democratic governance, and that people are really upset with the direction of the country. They're upset with the auto bailout, with the stimulus, with the health care spending, the health care bill. It is a referendum, and the Democrats are going to lose that referendum.

CROWLEY: In the end, I think what he's saying is that Republicans nationalize the race. The Democrats localize the race.

LAKE: That's exactly right. And if you look at those individual polls, whether it's gubernatorial races or Senate races or congressional races, they are dead even or -- and we're pulling back. And in races that were written off a couple of weeks ago, we're now coming back, and that's in part because we are getting out the records of our opponents. And the Tea Party may be the best favor that the Democrats have. Some of these people that have been nominated are insane, and it's very likely that we will beat them. And then if you look at our Democratic voters, they're coming out to vote now in better numbers.

CROWLEY: There's a Democratic strategy memo out that I mentioned earlier in the show that says that whole thing about, you know, Republicans look back and we look forward isn't working. It drives people to Republicans. The whole thing about how we've made progress in the economy ticks people off. It's driving them to Republicans. Now we're hearing -- we heard Congressman Van Hollen, we're hearing the president saying things like all this foreign money is coming in, we don't know who these donors are. Is that a potent argument?

AYRES: People don't care where you get your money as long as you get it legally. The fact is that those arguments about how we're going to go back to the failed policies of the Bush administration aren't working. And your own numbers showed it. People were -- would be just as happy with President Bush as president than Barack Obama. So the Democratic message is trying to make bogeyman of the Republicans is simply not working this year.

CROWLEY: Celinda.

LAKE: I think what's important is to tie the money to the policies. The point is those corporation, those foreign corporations that are funding campaigns, they want jobs for American workers. And when we tie it to that policy, we have a winning contrast. We have a winning alternative. So I think the point is, it's not a question of going backward. It's a question that the Republicans want to take us in the wrong direction. Do you want policies that privatize your Social Security and ship your job overseas? If you do, you have a great choice in the Republican candidate.

AYRES: Candy--

(CROSSTALK) CROWLEY: I got to cut you off. I could go with you all day. Celinda Lake, Whit Ayers, thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it.

LAKE: Thank you very much.

CROWLEY: Up next, we turn to terrorism and the threat of an attack. What's behind the State Department's newest travel alert?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Last Sunday, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Americans going to or living in Europe. It advised them to, quote, "take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling." A pretty large land mass and a pretty general advisory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is not a warning, travel warning telling people not to go. This is simply to raise awareness and alertness of those that are there. Report suspicious activity, be very aware of your surroundings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Though the European Union initially questioned the U.S. about the reasons behind the alert, soon after other countries, including Japan, France, and the U.K. issued their own alerts or raised their terror warnings. Sweden had already raised its alert.

This week, 12 men with terrorist ties were arrested in France, and U.S. officials revealed the travel alert was triggered primarily by information coming out of an interrogation of a German militant with Al Qaida ties. Travel companies reported little to no change in planned trips to Europe. The U.S. alert does not expire until February, but the head of a company that monitors risks of worldwide travel said "largely, travelers can ignore this."

What's the likelihood of another attack on the U.S. or overseas in the near future? We'll talk to the man who led the CIA during the Bush administration, retired General Michael Hayden, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now, Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general in the United States Air Force, former director of the CIA and currently a principal with the Chertoff Group, a security firm in Washington. Thanks for being here.

HAYDEN: Good morning.

CROWLEY: So let's just start out with what struck me when they issued this alert. What is the practical value of saying to people, listen, keep going on your trips but be alert? HAYDEN: It -- it's a personalized warning. I mean, if you look at the view of government, who actually know these things, who know that the threat conditions have actually changed, there's, kind of, a moral responsibility to let your citizenry know.

It's very difficult, though, Candy, to...

CROWLEY: It looks, kind of, CYA, though.

HAYDEN: Well, it -- it could be viewed that way, but I think, frankly, that's unfair. I think the administration handled this well. They put the alert out. They let folks know that there was something different. But they also tried to simultaneously calm fears, tell people they shouldn't cancel travel to Europe.

Frankly, it's an imperfect science. It's -- that's about the best you can do, in term of letting the people know how the danger has changed.

CROWLEY: And how bad does the information have to be to trigger an alert?

HAYDEN: We -- we did this a lot during the Bush administration. And we would have meetings on it. And we would have very frank and honest discussions as to whether or not this met a threshold.

It's, kind of, in the eye of the beholder. You know it when you see it. And, frankly, from what I've been able to read in the public discussion about this, I think it's quite appropriate that the alert was issued. When you see what was going on, what we knew -- and then -- then they arrested those individuals in France, it, kind of, gives meat to that reality. CROWLEY: I want to show you a poll that we took between October 5 and 7, so a recent poll. And the question was, "Will there be acts of terrorism in the U.S. in the next few weeks? Forty-nine percent said it's likely. Forty-eight percent said not likely. What does the former head of the CIA say?

HAYDEN: I'm not surprised that people are on edge. I'm a little surprised at the spread, particularly since you gave it a time frame in the next few weeks. I don't think any of us inside government who have a chance to see the variety of information would attach that imminence to the -- to the attack. But the probability, I think all of us would agree to. We've been quite good since 9/11. We've worked very hard. We've taken the fight to the enemy...

CROWLEY: You mean the probability eventually...

HAYDEN: Eventually it would happen.

CROWLEY: ... but not in the -- you would -- you wouldn't...

HAYDEN: It's the imminence that I would...

CROWLEY: Right.

HAYDEN: ... that I would challenge. That's right. CROWLEY: I want to turn you to Pakistan because, first of all, this latest terrorist plot was hatched or appeared to have been hatched in Pakistan by some Germans and a couple of Brits, as far as we can tell.

Do you think Pakistan is a reliable intelligence partner for the U.S.?

HAYDEN: Pakistan has been an incredible challenge and reward for American intelligence cooperation. I can comment on my time working with ISI, General Kayani, who's now chief of army staff with the head of ISI at the time.

We had some tremendous counterterrorism success with the Pakistanis. And at times, that was balanced with some tremendous counterterrorism frustrations. It's -- it's very difficult for the Pakistanis to do some of the things that we think they have to do for our mutual benefit.

CROWLEY: Well, for instance, going into Waziristan and getting rid of some of these Taliban and Al Qaida that keep coming across the border into Afghanistan.

HAYDEN: That's exactly right. And that's in north -- north Waziristan.

CROWLEY: Right.

HAYDEN: And I have to commend the administration for their report to Congress this past week that was both sober and somber, very candid in its assessment of what Pakistan is and is not doing. And it attributed it not just to Pakistani capacity, which is always stretched but also to Pakistani policy and willingness. I think that, kind of, laid down a challenge to the government in Islamabad that we expect them to do more.

CROWLEY: We of course, in order to make up for the lack of action in northern Waziristan, have been sending these drones in, record number in September.

There is a cost to it, of course, because the Pakistani populace, which in general doesn't like the U.S. -- the Pakistani government has to make sure that they don't -- there's no uprising from them because it looks like the Pakistani government is cooperating too much with the U.S.

Do you think these drones have been excessive, and do you think they're always helpful?

HAYDEN: Well, as you know, I'm not here to confirm or deny any specific operational activity.

CROWLEY: Right.

HAYDEN: But I do know that taking the fight to the enemy, being able to take Al Qaida's senior leadership off the battlefield, as we say, and that began about July of 2008, in the current effort has been, I think, the single greatest factor in keeping America and our friends safe. I know all activity...

CROWLEY: The drones...

HAYDEN: All activity that we do...

CROWLEY: Right, right.

HAYDEN: ... to take the enemy off the battlefield is done very carefully. It's great precision, high confidence in the intelligence. So I think it's an appropriate course of action. In fact, it's one that, in conscience, it would be very difficult for any administration to stop doing.

CROWLEY: You sound as though you believe President Obama is doing a good job on the terrorism front.

HAYDEN: There are some things that I disagree with, and I've disagreed with publicly.

CROWLEY: Such as?

HAYDEN: Making the CIA Office of Legal Counsel interrogation memos public, stopping the CIA interrogation program and not really replacing it with any other interrogation program, even to this date.

But, by and large, there's been a powerful continuity between the 43rd and the 44th president, and I think that simply reflects the reality that both President Obama and President Bush faced in terms of the threat and the tools that are available to them.

CROWLEY: B+, A?

HAYDEN: I'm -- no president needs me to give them a grade.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: OK. Let me ask you a couple questions that arose out of Bob Woodward's new book that mentioned you, among them that you had a meeting with President Zardari here in the U.S. when he was here, where you told him that some of those drones had, in fact, killed Westerners, or people holding Western passports, including U.S. passports, to which he is said to have replied, you know, "You all worry about collateral damage. I'm not."

First of all, did that conversation take place?

HAYDEN: Again, it's difficult for me to comment on various specific activities. I will say in general, though, when we talked to the Pakistanis privately they seemed to be far more comfortable with the actions we were taking for our mutual benefit. And it was beyond tolerance; it was up to and including, from time to time, support.

CROWLEY: Was Wali Karzai -- again, this from the Woodward book -- what was his relationship with the CIA? HAYDEN: I'm not at liberty to -- to comment on that. I'm sorry, Candy.

CROWLEY: It was -- it was described as perhaps being on a payroll. You can't deny or confirm that?

HAYDEN: No, I won't talk about that. I'm sorry.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me ask you about -- take you to another part of the country (sic), Iran. How concerned are you by what appears to be growing influence of Iran in Iraq?

HAYDEN: That's a natural phenomena, given the border, the size of Iran, the size of the Shia population inside -- inside of Iraq. There are certain Iranian interests that are legitimate in Iraq. But what's going on now and what I saw there when I was director of CIA is beyond legitimacy, and frankly is an item of concern.

I -- there was a conclusion I had reached during my last year or so in government that it had been the policy of the Iranian government, approved at the highest levels of the Iranian government, to facilitate the killing of young American and other coalition soldiers in Iraq. That's the kind of behavior that cannot be tolerated.

CROWLEY: General Michael Hayden, it's been a pleasure again. Nice to see you.

HAYDEN: Thank you very much, Candy. CROWLEY: Up next, a check of today's top headlines. And then, is the president leading or being led? The dog whisperer wants to know.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. This morning, Pakistan reopened a border crossing into Afghanistan. The Torkham Pass is a key point of entry for NATO supply convoys. Pakistan closed the border in response to U.S. helicopter strikes that killed two Pakistani soldiers. On Wednesday the U.S. apologized to Pakistan for the attack, saying the pilots mistook the soldiers for insurgents.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il made a rare public appearance with his youngest son today at a massive military parade. Officials say 20,000 soldiers took part in the spectacle marking the 65th anniversary of the Worker's Party of Korea. The United States believes Kim Jong Un has been tapped to replace his ailing father as North Korea's leader.

President Obama is hoping to energize Democrats at a rally in Philadelphia today. Democrats are trying to close that enthusiasm gap that could lead to landslide Republican victories November 2nd. Vice President Biden and Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak are all expected to be there.

New York police have arrested an eighth suspect in a series of brutal anti-gay hate crimes. Authorities say the series of attacks began when members of a street gang heard a rumor that one of their new recruits was gay.

After more than two months trapped deep in a Chilean mine, 33 miners are close to rescue. Drillers have completed an escape shaft, and Chile's mining minister says the walls are firm enough to allow the men to be hoisted out as early as Wednesday. They could all be out by Friday.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut docked with the International Space Station Saturday. The final shuttle mission, scheduled for November and February, will complete U.S. assembly of the station, which has been under construction since 1998.

Those are your top stories, here on "State of the Union."

Up next, has Bo gotten the upper hand on the commander in chief?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Bo Obama turned two this weekend, a teenager in dog terms, and we wish the Obamas good luck with that.

We thought we'd celebrate Bo's big day with a look at canines and felines in political terms. In the New York governor's race, Tea Party-backed tough guy candidate Carl Paladino has made Duke, his pit bull, a campaign staple, both in ads and on the trail.

Unfortunately, this week Duke, by all accounts a swell and laid- back guy, attacked a yellow Labrador at a campaign event. All parties are apparently fine, but blood was spilled. No word on any votes lost.

As for the birthday boy, life in the limelight turned cruel this week when professional trainer Cesar Millan, known as the "dog whisperer," described Bo's first outing with the first family last year, quote, "not a good scene."

These days we think Bo is looking less "crazy," as the first lady once called him, but canine beware; there can only be one alpha male at the White House, and it better be the president. Otherwise, he's late-night fodder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": This is real. Millan says the president lets the dog lead him on walks, when the dog should follow him.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, give the guy a break. Obama can't even get Democrats to follow him.

(LAUGHTER)

Forget the dog. Give the guy a break. (APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The only thing less alpha male than a dog leading you around White House grounds is, well, cats. The president's new chief of staff, Pete Rouse, has two, giving "Saturday Night Live" an opening to parody the president's farewell to his fire-breathing chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED ARMISEN, CAST MEMBER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": ... a man who knows no fear but knows how to make others afraid.

(LAUGHTER)

You know him as Rahm Emanuel, but to me, he will always be Rahmbo.

(LAUGHTER)

Rahm will be replaced as White House chief of staff by Peter Rouse.

(LAUGHTER)

Pete hails from Connecticut and is a lover of cats.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, a friend of Rouse, says, "He loves cats, and the way to suck up to Pete is to get him, sort of, a cat gift of some kind."

From here on out, the road to the Oval Office goes through Pete Rouse. For those looking for a little time with the president, we suggest a scratching post or a little catnip.

Thank you for watching "State of the Union." I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.