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Rehire Pelosi?; Democrats' Civil War; Political Ads

Aired November 5, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf. Good evening everyone.

Tonight a defiant Nancy Pelosi says she will run again to lead House Democrats even though she was a major issue in the midterm campaign that will force her to hand the speaker's gavel to the Republicans. Her announcement sets up a showdown with conservative Democrats who blame for big midterm losses and it suggests partisan warfare to come. Pelosi says she's driven by an urgency to fight Republican efforts to repeal health care and Wall Street reforms and to protect Social Security and Medicare. On those last two her fight could be with President Obama who's promising to make deficit reduction a priority and who knows the real money is in changing Social Security and Medicare.

Plus sobering proof tonight of that old saying the more things change the more they remain the same. The economy was the top issue in the campaign that led to those sweeping Republican gains and as Washington prepares for divided government word today that yes the economy is adding jobs, but not enough to budge the unemployment rate from 9.6 percent. Listen to the president's reaction, he knows he's going to have to do business with an embolden Republican opposition.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm open to any idea, any proposal, any way we can get the economy going faster so that people who need work can find it faster.


KING: Can Washington's warring factions work together on a jobs plan and what about the war within the Democratic Party over whether Nancy Pelosi should stay as leader or step aside and let a new face plan the party's comeback strategy.

Let's debate this breaking political news with Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, Republican strategist Bill McInturff and our senior political analyst Gloria Borger, but first let's go inside Pelosi's controversial decision with our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, the first question is why, why did Nancy Pelosi decide to try to stay?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The morning after the election somebody very, very close to Nancy Pelosi told me, look, she's a fighter, she's not the kind of person who would necessarily want to slink out with defeat and this person said she's no Sarah Palin -- a big dig there. But I just also spoke to somebody who she just talked to, somebody very close with her said look, she wasn't finished with the effects of what they have done, what she thinks that they have done right, whether it be health care, whether it be anything else that they have pushed forward and that she wants to stay to basically prove that look, in the long-term what they did was the right way to go.

KING: Well how's this going over there within the conference? We know some moderates and conservative Democrats don't like it. I guess the big question is does she have the votes?

BASH: The answer to that is yes. There is no question -- I have not talked to anybody, even those who staunchly oppose her doing this, who don't say look she's got the votes. And one of the big reasons is because her people, so to speak, the progressives or liberals, they are a huge, huge part of the Democratic Caucus now. The moderates really got crushed.

Having said that, there is definitely some mixed feelings, I talked to Democratic congressmen all day today, both progressives and moderates and they all say that they have been canvassing their colleagues and that there was you know, there was kind of a mixed feeling about whether or not this is the right thing for her to do. Because many of them say like her or not, and many of them do really, really like her, they understand that she is the face of the party and the Democratic Congress that was defeated. And many of these moderates are outwardly saying they are going to oppose her. Jason Altmire, for example, from Pennsylvania, I talked to him and he said that he doesn't want her to be speaker, unclear if somebody is going to challenge her, but even if they do, it will just show a civil war. It won't mean that she's going to lose.

KING: And what about just below Nancy Pelosi because she wants to stay as leader, it looks like it could set off a confrontation between her current number two, Steny Hoyer, and her current number three, Jim Clyburn who just happens to be the highest ranking African- American in the Congress.

BASH: This is going to be one of the most fascinating intra Democratic fights going forward over the next couple of weeks because you're right. And now there's a slot missing, so to speak, because the Democrats are in the minority, and Jim Clyburn said right off the bat, he wants that number two slot. He wants to be the Democratic Whip.

But that leaves Steny Hoyer who is currently the number two. He has not said explicitly he's going to run. All signs and people close to him say that he is going to run and it is going to be a very, very interesting race because not only is Jim Clyburn, as you said, the top African-American in Congress right now, he's also a liberal, Steny Hoyer is known as a moderate. Everybody in the Caucus likes both of them, but it's going to be a very, very hard fought race. It's going to again split the Democratic Party, which has already got very, very gaping wounds right now. KING: Dana Bash with the breaking news from Capitol Hill. Let's bring it inside the room here and have a discussion. To the Democratic pollster first, Stan Greenberg, after this campaign, in which Nancy Pelosi was such a front and center issue, in which your party lost 63 seats and the number could even go higher than that as they keep counting in a few races still to be called, why not have a new face to lead the party?

STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: There's nobody I would want to have more than Nancy Pelosi in this moment --

KING: Why do I suspect he's going to say the same thing?


GREENBERG: They can relitigate (INAUDIBLE) keep fighting the last battle. But she's strong, she kept a united caucus when it was a diverse caucus and it will be -- still be a diverse caucus going forward. You know you're going to have a tough fight against being the minority. I'd want to have Speaker Pelosi there --

KING: Does the Republican in the room want to have Nancy Pelosi there, too?

BILL MCINTURFF, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Here's the difference. Stan Greenberg more of the same, Bill McInturff --


MCINTURFF: That's what you're hearing. Look, Speaker Pelosi had a 50 negative on the NBC "Wall Street Journal" poll, that's a positive negative. We say neutral, 50 negative is huge, it's higher than Speaker Gingrich in 1998. With Independents her numbers were eight positive, 61 negative. That's a terrible number, and she became the emblematic face of a tubular (ph) Democratic Party.

And let's talk about what it means to be a, quote, "liberal". Congressman Clyburn is a well respected member, but 10 days before the election he said if you put us back into the majority, maybe we can get a single payer system for health care. And that is a disaster. And Stan Greenberg's poll the number one reason you vote Republican was a rebuke to health care and now they're talking about making a number two guy, a guy who wants government run health care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as you know --


GREENBERG: They don't -- again, you're making the mistake of wanting to keep fighting the last election. This is going to be a battle with the president, you're going to have the leader of the Senate, leader in the House, the House leader is going to play a very critical role in all this. But this -- her -- the face of the Democratic Party is going to change --

(CROSSTALK) GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Here's the most interesting argument I heard for Nancy Pelosi, which is, sort of Nixon going to China. As a liberal who has a lot of credibility with the liberals in the caucus who now outnumber the moderates as you well know she -- if she wants to compromise and move to the center, she has enough credibility with that base to say, OK, we have to do it this time and they will follow her. They would be less likely to follow a moderate. Now is that just rationale or is that --

GREENBERG: No, I think you're right. Don't -- you know don't believe the propaganda.


GREENBERG: She met endlessly with the Blue Dogs and the new Dems, she had a united caucus, she worked hard for a united caucus. The bills she supported were main stream bills. I know you describe health care as socialism --

BORGER: That's not my point --


BORGER: But my point is --


KING: Nancy Pelosi stays or goes is part of a bigger question about what lessons does the Democratic Party learn from this election? Does it move to the middle? Does the president say all right, Republicans let's see if you're serious. Let's cut some spending. Let's extend the Bush tax cuts. Let's try to reduce the deficit, which could involve putting Social Security and Medicare on the table, which would be dangerous for everybody. But which Nancy Pelosi makes very clear she wants to stand up and fight. Or is the message from the Democrats, you know we were right, the voters just don't see the impact of our policies yet and when they do, they're going to come back to us. What's the right answer?

GREENBERG: No, this moment -- this is going to be a moment, people want to get past this partisan gridlock and polarization, the president had (INAUDIBLE) opportunity on a whole range of issues from education to energy you know to -- and jobs --

KING: But you thought he ran --


KING: You thought he ran on the wrong message --


KING: In this campaign you were very critical and publicly critical of his message --

(CROSSTALK) KING: -- in this campaign. Are you convinced he's got it now?

GREENBERG: They had (INAUDIBLE) bigger message on the economy. I listened to him yesterday, I listened to him today, you know he's responding to his numbers I think with the right message, we have got serious work to do on jobs. It's a different message than what he ran for --

MCINTURFF: What the president said was we agree on education, we agree on energy. Look, President Obama in the State of the Union this year said jobs, jobs, jobs and he never got back to it. And Speaker- elect Boehner has done the right thing and he said it's all about jobs. Every party in power is going to be voted out until this economy improves until people believe that one party is dedicated to improving this economy.


KING: Let's stick on that point. I want to go over here. I just want to show some of these jobs numbers and come over here and take a look at them. If you come on over and take a peek. If you look here, this is the unemployment rate, and it just got stagnant -- it just got stagnant at 9.6 percent. It flat lined the last few months of the election which is one reason the Democrats got punished, without a doubt.

And you mentioned the jobs bill. Here's my question for you. If you look at this now, this is jobs over the past year, March 2010 here, it did gain a net gain of 151,000, the stimulus money is gone, so government is laying off workers, but about 151,000 jobs. That's a good number -- better number anyway, but it's not enough to lower the unemployment rate. So my question is as we continue the conversation over here, is this now -- is it still Barack Obama's economy or does it become in January Barack Obama and John Boehner's economy?


MCINTURFF: OK, I think what happens is the president inherits the economy for good or for ill. That's been the long track record of our 40 years of political polling and what people were saying and here's the other thing that happened this summer, consumer confidence took a nose dive between May and August. So there may not be a second economic recession by economists, there is in terms of public opinion and the Democrat party and the president took the full weight of that and I presume that will through 2012.

BORGER: Everybody has a stake in this success right now because the Republicans are actually running the House of Representatives, so they have a stake in economic success if they're -- if they're -- they're on probation --

KING: The big question is --


KING: The big question is does the president get it? I want you to listen -- this is the president, he gave an interview with CBS and if you listen to this part of it anyway, it still sounds like the president's message is, we got a good product, we just didn't market it very well.


OBAMA: I think that over the course of two years, we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that our leadership isn't just legislation. That it's a matter of persuading people.


KING: Gloria, you know a lot of Democrats think that if he sticks with that --

BORGER: Forget it. Right, forget it. And he didn't exhibit leadership. I do think he's right about that. And I think it's all about health care reform. It's about the economy of course. But on health care reform, he didn't lead. He let Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid lead and he didn't tell the voters where he was.

KING: You did pioneering work, Stan, in the '90s about Reagan Democrats in the middle of the country.


GREENBERG: There's no doubt we lost those voters --

KING: So how does the Democratic get them back?

GREENBERG: (INAUDIBLE) voters pull back this election --

KING: Why?

GREENBERG: Look, the president and the Democrats were punished because of their failure to deliver change on the economy. That is the number one reason, overwhelming reason why. I think the president understands that. But also tied to that is also having a vision about the state of the economy, the future of the country and you've got to have a framework, a narrative for where you're taking the country.


MCINTURFF: Well, look, this is actually now the Republicans won this election with a net negative image. The Republican brand still has its own troubles and so what I say to people is look, you know what, we have got an entire generation of new governors, Republican governors, Governor Christie and McDonnell in Virginia have done really well.

We have newly elected Republican state legislators. We have the highest number of Republicans ever. There is a chance for this party, the Republicans to rebrand themselves not in Washington, but around the country in a way that could improve and I think may improve the Republican Party's image over the next two years as people see Republican governance around -- in their states and country being responsible about cutting the spending and improving the state economy.

KING: All right, I need to call a time-out there for now, but this is a great conversation as we transition into divided government, we'll continue it over the next couple of years. Gloria, Stan, Bill, thanks for coming in.

Just ahead for us, this year's campaign ad wars featured record spending, slashing attacks, talk of witchcraft and lots of candidates showing off their guns. One of this campaign's most provocative (INAUDIBLE) helps us understand what worked and what didn't.


KING: One of the legacies of the 2010 campaign is the record breaking spending. Nearly $3 billion on advertising, you're probably sick of campaign ads, but odds are, they influenced your vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: He's one tough nerd (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Independent, Independent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: I'm Charlie Crist, an Independent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Ken Buck, he's too extreme.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Obama's failed stimulus plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Obama care, bailouts and failed stimulus plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Voting for unfair trade deals with China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: I'll take dead aim at the cap and trade bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Pamela Gorman is always right on target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Hey, get away from that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: A wolf in sheep's clothing.





KING: So what worked, what didn't, and what might be copied heading into 2012? With me Republican ad maker Fred Davis who won some, lost some and had some of those very provocative ads right there -- Fred, good to see you. In a sentence or two, do you come out of this with a lesson of what worked and what didn't in 2010 or is it different state by state?

FRED DAVIS, REPUBLICAN AD MAKER: I think -- I think it's always the same. I think it's always the same from my world if you get their attention first, and then get your message right, you're in good shape. If you try to go for the message, even -- most of those that you just showed were attention getting ads. So they probably worked. Now if they got the message right or wrong, that's a whole different story.

KING: Well let's talk about that because no matter which side of the West Virginia Senate race you were on, even the Republicans say this ad was a game changer. We played a snippet of it in there, but listen -- this is a Democratic governor, Joe Manchin, who was struggling because West Virginia voters are worried about the Obama administration, worried about spending in Washington. Here's a Democrat on TV.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: I'll cut federal spending and I'll repeal the bad parts of Obama care. I sued EPA and I'll take dead aim at the cap and trade bill because it's bad for West Virginia.


KING: Gets your attention and a lot of message in there.

DAVIS: Incredibly effective, I wish I had done it. I agree, got your attention instantly. The message was right and he cruised on.

KING: What do you do if you're the other guy -- if you're the other guy's ad guy and you see that on TV? Cringe?

DAVIS: I don't know. I would do some play on it. You know maybe that he was a few off the charts with the gun or something. I don't know. It would be tough to counter that. That was a good ad.

KING: And a lot of people in this campaign didn't think the Democrat, Jack Conway, could probably win in Kentucky anyway in a big Republican year. But he kept the Senate race pretty close against Rand Paul and then in the end, he ran this ad. And if you talk to any other Democrat except maybe the Conway people and the guy who made it, they said this ad backfired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a hoax that was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ? Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his God was "Aqua Buddha".


KING: The "Aqua Buddha" ad.

DAVIS: It got attention, a message horribly over the top. Big stretch, kind of like Obama in the U.S. he overreached. That ad overreached and didn't work. A terrible backfire, I would call it.

KING: How risky is it as an ad guy to bring God into an attack ad?

DAVIS: I have actually done it before and it's very risky. It's very tough. I'll probably never do it again.

KING: Really, never again?

DAVIS: It backfires.

KING: One of your ads, we showed a couple in the montage at the beginning, one was the now famous or infamous Christine O'Donnell ad where she looks straight at the camera and says I'm not a witch. Let's listen to just a snippet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, POLITICAL AD: I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you have heard. I am you.


KING: Now we talked about this during the campaign and you said it was your take that the only way she could get behind her, the Bill Maher clip about dabbling in witchcraft was to address it head on just like that. As you know, late in the campaign, she voiced regret for doing that. She said she thought it was a mistake that it didn't put it behind her. Why do you think those regrets?

DAVIS: Well in a nutshell it's very difficult to talk about a client, of course. She was 20 down, we ran that ad and its sister ad, that I didn't go to Yale, I think was the second one. We were only down 10, so we made up 10 points. She switched back to a normal strategy and we lost by 17.

KING: So you think --

DAVIS: I rest my case --

KING: You think it was working.

DAVIS: I do. I think that was the most sensible she looked in the entire campaign.

KING: But the client makes the call in the end?

DAVIS: The client makes the call in the end. KING: All right. There's a new web ad, it's a web video of Sarah Palin sent to (INAUDIBLE) her supporters and you know one of the big questions is, out of 2010, is she running in 2012. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, POLITICAL AD: We're going to stand up and we're going to speak out. It may take some renegades going rogue to get us there, it may take folks shaking it up to get there. We got to do this together.


KING: Now you are well aware of the debate about Sarah Palin, never mind the Democrats within the Republican Party. She's without a doubt a force. Many people are afraid of her because they think she might be able to win the nomination but could never win the presidency. When you look at something like that what do you think of the power of that?

DAVIS: I think it's wonderfully done. I think that and the other videos she did earlier in this election cycle where the mama -- whole mama grizzly thing is great. It's different. It's unique. It stands out. Nobody has called themselves mama grizzlies before, makes your hair stand up on the back of your head and charge forward. I think --

KING: Can she win the presidency on that message?

DAVIS: No, I'm not sure you can. That's the big question, but I'm not 100 percent certain that's where they're at yet. I think they're still building this incredible brand called Sarah Palin and it's off to a pretty good start.

KING: Let's close on the breaking news of today, which is that Nancy Pelosi wants to stay as the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives even after she hands the gavel off to John Boehner and the Republicans. Here's one -- here's one of more than 400 anti- Pelosi ads in this last campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Jim Marshall, he's taken $46,000 from Nancy Pelosi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: I'm thankful she contributed to me in the past; it helped me stay in Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: He repeatedly voted to make her speaker and voted with her nearly 90 percent of the time. He voted to increase the death tax, the Wall Street bailout, and raised the debt limit by trillions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: I appreciate Speaker Pelosi helping me stay here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: We don't.


KING: He lost. That Democrat lost, $45 million spent on ads with an anti-Pelosi message to it. I assume as a Republican you're happy she wants to stay?

DAVIS: I think it's perfect. It gives us a great starting point for the next cycle. She -- you know it was funny, it was -- it wasn't Harry Reid or Barack Obama in our polling in most areas that really captured people's hatred. It was Nancy Pelosi. I don't think anybody really hated Barack Obama. I don't think anybody actually hated Harry Reid. But there's something about Nancy Pelosi that just viscerally got people. And as long as she's still there, that's good for us Republicans.

KING: It'll be interesting to watch as this one plays out. Fred Davis appreciate your coming in --


KING: Thank you.


KING: I'm going to sneak over here, still a lot more to come in the program tonight, including a lot of new faces coming to Washington. And when we come back, you will meet one of them. He's making history. Tim Scott is a new congressman, he's an African- American. He's a Republican, and he thinks the Tea Party message can save America. You'll want to meet Tim Scott when we come back.

The president is off on a long trip to Asia. Four stops not China, Fareed Zakaria tells us just why and whether the president will be seen as weak in overseas because of the election.

And I need your help here, our Pete Dominick, well, he's got a little election withdrawal, he wants more attack ads, help me help Pete. Don't go anywhere.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back. I'm Joe Johns. Let's get a check of the latest news you need to know right now.

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay for making political contributions to three Democratic candidates without prior approval from NBC.

The center of Hurricane Tomas passed between Haiti and Cuba this afternoon. Late word from Haiti says there's one confirmed death, but the rain is starting to taper off.

A special ceremony marked today's first anniversary of the shootings at Ft. Hood, Texas. A granite memorial honors the 13 dead, so did a 7-year-old girl's song.

John King will be right back.



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

KING: Tim Scott is the first African-American Republican since reconstruction to serve in South Carolina's State House of Representatives and now he's headed to Washington as a congressman to join the new Republican majority thanks in part to big support from the Tea Party.

Mr. Scott joins us now. Sir, let me begin by first saying congratulations. When you come to Washington as a member of this new Republican majority and your leader turns to you and says, what is priority number one, what's the answer?

TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA CONG.-ELECT: It's got to be to stop spending money we simply do not have. As I have traveled throughout my Congressional district, the one thing I heard loud and clear was simply please stop spending money you do not have, rein in spending, live within a budget. Those are words I heard consistently, even as often as I heard we need to create more jobs in the private sector, I heard consistently, we need to stop spending the money that we don't have.

KING: Another big figure of your campaign and Republican candidates many of them successful across the country was to go after the Obama health care program. You said on your web site, the health care bill spends too much is bad for our health care and it's unconstitutional. The Democrats still control the Senate. The president has a veto pen. Do you think it is still worthwhile for the new house Republican majority to pursue a repeal or would that be a waste of time given the politics of Washington?

SCOTT: There's no question that the repeal process would take either two thirds majority in the House in the Senate to override a presidential veto. Obviously the numbers are not there for that, so probably the most pragmatic approach would be to find ways to defund aspects of the health care bill that have not been implemented yet.

KING: There would be some conservatives who say if the president has the votes in the Senate and the president has the veto pen, the only option might be some sort of a spending showdown, refuse to raise the debt limit, some other mechanism that would bring you to a stalemate. Would you go that far or would that be irresponsible?

SCOTT: It's a great question and one that I'll answer once I get there and see the process, it's hard to predict what will happen. But I do understand this from the American people, that this president and this current Congress has not been listening to the American people. It is our responsibility to listen to our constituents and then make the best decision we possibly can. You cannot consistently spend money you do not have.

KING: You come to Washington with that zeal for cutting spending, you'll encounter a Democratic president who says yes, I get the message of the electorate but I also believe it is critical from an economic development stand point and he'll be off on a trip to Asia this week. The president says the government still needs to make investments in infrastructure, some investments in science and research and development to help the next generation get the education and the training they need to be competitive in the economy. Are you open to some new spending on things like that as long as you get larger reductions elsewhere?

SCOTT: I'm open to prioritization. We do not have a revenue problem in D.C. or this county. We have a prioritization problem. When you create the priorities you fund the priorities of the country and you stop spending money when you get to zero. I will be very open to a conversation with anyone as it relates to what are the priorities of the United States of America and how do we fund those priorities? If the money runs out before we get through the priorities you have to stop when the money runs out.

KING: And you're going to come to Washington as part of this new Republican majority. Clearly a lot of the energy in the campaign was opposition to the president and opposition to Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic agenda but as you know very well, in the Republican and the conservative grass roots and they're not always the same thing, there's a great mistrust of establishment Republicans in Washington, too. Do you trust the leadership of the house Republican conference, Speaker Boehner, the potential majority leader Eric Cantor or do you think they're sort of on probation too?

SCOTT: I also believe that elected officials are on probation, to be honest with you. I think we all bear the responsibility of poor governance no matter whether it's Republicans or Democrats. In 1994, one of the figures that we had was we simply did not govern well after we won the majority. What the American people want, they want people they can trust. We don't always have to agree on the issues.

KING: I have a couple of questions about the message you think your election sends specifically, the first African-American Republican to serve in the House of Representatives in seven years. Is there a message there?

SCOTT: I don't necessarily believe there's a message in the fact that I'm an African-American Republican. I think there is a message that America as a whole, we are now awake. We are looking at a political construct and we're fairly disappointed. I think the message is no matter where you come from in this country, there is great potential. It's our responsibility as conservatives to take that message to every corridor of this country. My hope is that as a kid who almost flunked out of high school, I'll take the conservative message of entrepreneurship and private sector business opportunities and go to those schools and talk about the future is right if you study and apply yourself. I'm hoping that as a kid that was a raised in a single parent home that I'll have an opportunity to go into single parent homes in the communities that have a larger concentration of single parent homes and talk about that this country is your country that you have an opportunity and an obligation to make an investment of your time, your talent and your skills back into this country. If we do that, I think what we'll find is that a we'll be listening, b we'll be talking and c we'll have a great level of communication that is inconsistent with what exists today.

KING: And Mr. Scott, you're among the candidates in this country who benefited from the tea party energy at the grass roots level of the Republican primaries and through to Election Day. What now? How does the tea party transition the energy of the campaign into the challenges of governing?

SCOTT: The tea party lady, her name is Barbara, she told me, I'm going to be watching you, Tim, I'm going to be watching you. So I think what we'll have the a higher level of accountability that is necessary for those of us who have been given the trust of the people that we serve to do what we say we're going to do. I think the philosophy of the tea party is consistent with that of any conservative Republican. If you believe in entrepreneurship and capitalism, you believe in at least a third of what the tea party stands for. If you believe that you ought not spend money you simply do not have, you believe in another third. And if you believe that limiting the role of federal government in our lives is a way to return power back to the people, I think you might be a member of the tea party.

KING: And lastly, to that point, do you believe those activists including those who say Mr. Scott we'll be watching you, do you think they understand that there's a divided government awaiting in Washington. You won't be able to get everything done, you won't be able to keep your promises. Do they accept that compromise is part of the process and will the tea party candidates like yourself be on the hot seat?

SCOTT: I think what we have to do is set realistic expectations for the electorate. We all understand and if we don't understand, then it's up to the elected officials to continue to talk about the fact that without a 2/3 majority in both houses, you do not have the ability to override a presidential veto. So the question about stalemates and other challenges are sincere and real questions. I believe what will happen in the end is this, that we will have a tough time to go. It will be a challenging environment for all of us. But we will have to either figure out how to work together or we'll have to figure out how to deal with the consequences of the Midwest American people. They want people who want to listen to them and then implement policies that are consistent with their objectives.

KING: Tim Scott is on his way to Washington from South Carolina. Mr. Scott, congratulations again and thanks for your time.

SCOTT: Thank you.

KING: The president is off to Asia for the longest international trip of his presidency. Why isn't he stopping in China? Will other world leaders see him as weakened by the Republican midterm rally. Fareed Zakaria joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back, here's a check of the latest news you need to know right now. Score one more for the Democrats. This evening Connecticut secretary of state announced Democrat Dan Malloy defeated Republican Governor Tom Foley in the governor's race.

Former President George W. Bush tells NBC he gave up alcohol because it became in his words a love and started to compete with his love for his family. The former president also tells NBC's Matt Lauer he doesn't watch TV news but does surf the web.

FMR. PRES. GEORGE BUSH: Well, I read "The Wall Street Journal" every day for starters and I've got an iPad and I read bible "Wall Street Journal."

Now back to John King and a news story the former president may be reading about tomorrow.

KING: President Obama is off on the longest foreign trip of his presidency, visiting four Asian democracies but not China and that's no accident. What are the president's goals and how important is this trip? We're joined by Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." He's with us from New York. Fareed, the president wants to talk about economic development, economic partnership, he wants to talk about countering what many view as the threat from China or at least the emergence of China, but let's talk first about the political situation, he will talk to his counterparts in four nations after suffering a significant political set back at home. What will those leaders be looking for? Will they be feeling him out saying is he weakened?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well sure. People are always trying to figure out if the American president is strong, is confident. But his domestic fortunes don't necessarily translate, so that if he's weak domestically, it doesn't mean he's weak in foreign policy terms. Richard Nixon was at many points very weak domestically and was still able to accomplish a great deal. Bill Clinton was under impeachment in the second half of his presidency and was still able to complete a gate deal internationally. Foreign policy, as you know John, is one area where the constitution does give the president pretty broad unilateral authority and as a result, he's going to be able to meet with these people as the president of the United States, with all the powers that brings with it even though this has been, shall we say, awkward timing.

KING: Awkward timing. That's a very diplomatic way to put it. India, South Korea, Indonesia, and Japan, and yet at every stop a big issue will be the country he's not visiting, China, right?

ZAKARIA: Sure and in a strange sense, the timing is actually very good for the president. Over the last two months what you have seen in Asia is a real heightened concern about China, about the rise of China. You know, it used to be that people talked about the rise of China in the abstract. Now it's become a geo political reality by which I mean the Chinese are flexing its muscles and they've done it with the Japanese over this set of islands. You remember what happened they really pushed back when the Japanese arrested the captain of a China trawler, they cut off all meetings, they suspended shipments of a rare earth material, they're demanding a formal apology. This has rattled people in Delhi, in India, in South Korea, all over people are saying wait a minute, are we dealing with a new rising China that's going to be stubborn, assertive, is this kind of the new shape of Asian power and in that context, we need America.

KING: And we had a conversation last week before the election about how China was playing out in the campaign, with a lot of criticism from politicians for allegedly supporting outsourcing or not doing enough for keeping Chinese products from coming into the United States. You recently had a conversation with the Chinese premier and he made it clear to you that Chinese leadership closely follows American politics and perhaps knowing what was coming in this election, it seems like he's suggesting many leaders in our Congress simply don't understand China. Let's listen.

WEN JIABAO, CHINESE PREMIER (through translator): Some people in the United States, in particular some in the U.S. Congress do not know fully about China. They are politicizing the problems in China-U.S. relations in particular the trade imbalance between our two countries. I don't think this is the right thing to do.

KING: Does more Republican power exacerbate the China challenge and what the premier considers to be misinformation or disinformation or will it recede somewhat in the sense that with the Republicans the president might have more partners when it comes to open trade?

ZAKARIA: That has traditionally been the view and I would bet you that the Chinese are quietly celebrating the fact that the Republicans did well because the general view is Republicans are more free trade oriented, they're not going to go for punitive tariffs or protectionism. I think they will be wrong in that the anti-trade Chinese feeling on the trade side, on the economic side and we have to be very clear, it's just about trade and economics, it's not a geopolitical issue yet, is pretty bipartisan. There is a populous feeling in this country that is now widespread that the Chinese are stealing our jobs, they keep their currency artificially low. I don't think there's much difference between Republicans and Democrats on those issues. The saving grace, since I happen to think that this is unfounded in the sense that, you know, even if you had the Chinese currency more expensive, it's not going to bring more manufacturing jobs back to America. It might mean that Wal-Mart will start buying things from Bangladesh and Vietnam rather than from China. But those shoe manufacturing jobs left the United States long ago. There's not much Congress can do about it. But the protectionist sentiment and the anti-free trade sentiment is pretty bipartisan at this point.

KING: We'll continue the conversation with Fareed after a quick break. When we come back, who's the world's most powerful leader, the president of China or the United States?


KING: Let's continue our conversation with Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

You mentioned the awkward timing, your phrase of the president's overseas trip in the drubbing but he hopes to make it an example to his critics in the Congress. As you know the president wants to spend more on research and development especially in science and technology and wants more infrastructure structures for roads and bridges and high speed rail and knows this new Republican power doesn't want to spend more money so at his cabinet meeting the president said watch me when I go to these countries, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan. They get this, we don't. Listen to the president.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: All around the world, countries are moving, they are serious about competing. They are serious about competing with us not just on manufacturing but on services and they're competing with us when it comes to educational attainment, when it comes to scientific discovery and so we can't afford two years of just squabbling.

KING: Can he make that point overseas? Do you think his critics will see the examples and listen?

ZAKARIA: I would hope so because this is an area where the president is dead right. There is enormous investment taking place in science, research, technology all over the world. I was in South Korea three weeks ago, John, and this country of 50 million people is investing $35 billion in clean technology, in green technology. That's just South Korea and then there's China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, they're all doing it. Singapore is becoming a huge bio tech center. Singapore is a city of 5 million people and so you are in a new world where everybody is playing to win. If you put that issue squarely to the American electorate and said, shouldn't we be increasing our government investments in research, development, technology, those government investments that have paid off massively in the past, I would -- I would think this would be a winning argument politically, my greater concern is it's a winning argument so I hope it happens.

KING: He is still the president of the United States, the commander in chief and as American presidents like to say, the leader of the free world. But as the president makes this trip, if he picks up "Forbes" magazine, he will see the world's most powerful people, President Hu Jintao of China, number one, President Barack Obama of the United States, number two, any dispute on your part?

ZAKARIA: Sure it's nonsense. The president of the United States is far more important than the president of China. How they came up with that list -- I have no idea but whoever did it doesn't know how to add. The United State's GDP is $15 trillion. That's four times China's GDP. Our military spend something ten times that of China's. As I was talking about the geopolitics of Asia, if you look at Asia, we have a close relationship and close alliance with Japan, which is the third largest economy in the world, India, which is the second fastest growing economy in the world, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia. I mean you can understand why the Chinese might think they're conducting a nation in which the United States has them encircled. I don't believe that's true but I think you know this is one of the great dangers in America. We sit around doing nothing then we start behaving as though the rest of the world and our adversaries are 25 feet tall. We have serious problems but, you know, we're still the largest economy in the world with the largest military in the world and the president of the United States is still the most important political leader in the world.

KING: Fareed Zakaria, as always, thanks for your time.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.

KING: You know, I love campaigns but it's time now to transition to the challenges of governing. First, though, I need your help with our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick. He is having a severe ad attack withdrawal.


KING: Let's end the week and night by checking in with Pete Dominick. He's down there in Atlanta looking a little glum. What's the problem?

PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey, John, I just -- I just -- it's the end of the week and the campaign is over and I miss it. All the negative attack ads and the lawn signs and I just, you know, all your gadgets, everything about it.

KING: Pete, the new -- we do have to worry about governing but the campaign never ends. Nancy Pelosi will run for Democratic leader. It's causing a big controversy within her own party. We got more to do -- probably won't be any attack ads, sorry.

DOMINICK: Really? I mean, will the Democrats run attack ads against Nancy Pelosi.

KING: I suspect not but moderate Democrats are not happy but a lot of excitement. I promise you that.

DOMINICK: Are you sure John? When do we start talking about 2012?

KING: We could have started yesterday.

DOMINICK: Oh, really.

KING: Could have started the week before.

DOMINICK: When do we start building campaign ads and make me happen? When will there be robocalls?

KING: I'll get you some. Who do you want to attack? You don't want to attack me?

DOMINICK: Never you, sir. Never you. I don't know. I don't want to attack. I just want to watch people attack each other and eventually vote them off on some crazy reality political show. KING: Here's my real question tonight. Are you real Pete Dominick? I ask in the context of this guy who got on the plane and he's, what, 20 something?

DOMINICK: Yeah, the guy -- John, I guess he made a really special effects costume where he changed his whole race, but I mean, listen, John King, who amongst us haven't changed our gender to get into an event we might not otherwise be invited to.

KING: That would be me. This guy got on the plane and he wanted to go to Canada and escape and go to Canada. I went to this Have you been there?


KING: It's a mask site. You can look at these masks and special effects. I was trying to find a Pete Dominick mask.

DOMINICK: Under Chris Daughtry from "American Idol." I'm not kidding you, right before we went live here, a woman asked me for my autograph. She thought I was Chris Daughtry the singer and I'm not going to lie to you John King. I signed it keep rocking, Chris Daughtry. Is that legal?

KING: Pete Dominick, that's not right.

DOMINICK: Is that legal?

KING: I don't -- I think Mr. Daughtry's lawyers will be in touch.

DOMINICK: Fair enough.

KING: Have a great weekend, Pete.

DOMINICK: You too, John.

KING: That's all for us tonight. "PARKER SPITZER" starts right now.