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White House Shake-up; Daley Joins Obama Team; GOP Breaking Promises; Repealing Health Care Reform; Trump for President; CNN Exclusive Interview With Outgoing Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Aired January 6, 2011 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone. Wow, what another big day in politics. The new Republican majority got down to business today making some symbolic cuts to the congressional budget and preparing the legislation to repeal the Obama health care plan, but already Speaker Boehner is hearing complaints from Democrats who say he promised to be more open and from some Tea Party Republicans who say he promised to cut spending more boldly. Is this already the House of hypocrisy?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: Listen, I promised a more open process. I didn't promise that every single bill was going to be an open bill.


KING: And what's next for the Democrats and their best known leader in the Congress? Today, I can an exclusive conversation with Nancy Pelosi. She is the Democratic leader now, not the speaker. So the office, well it's smaller. She calls the Republicans pawns of the insurance companies and big business. And she is already thinking about the next campaign. Listen to this. She seems to be thinking about getting that bigger office back.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I have had other work to do then too, because I don't plan to stay here that long.


KING: More of that in a moment. We begin tonight with a big change at the White House in Pennsylvania Avenue.


WILLIAM DALAEY, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Mr. President, improving your strength, your leadership, your vision during a most difficult time for our nation and for the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Veteran Chicago businessman and political operative Bill Daley is President Obama's new chief of staff. And it is clear, the boss thinks this is the right guy to help him navigate the new politics of Washington and to wrap up for re-election.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy.


KING: But (INAUDIBLE) others on the left, well they are furious. Daley is tight with Wall Street, thinks the big health care reform law was a mistake and is on record saying the Democrats better abandon their liberal ways. So is this just new chief of staff or a major shift for the president and his agenda?

Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta is among those President Obama consulted as he debated his big staff shakeup, but first, let's get more of the behind the scenes maneuvering from our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. So, Ed, is it a new hire or a new presidency?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, it is feeling like a new presidency in some ways. This new chief of staff we are learning tonight from top officials is going to be moving in quickly, taking the reigns. I am told tonight he will be coming in before the State of the Union. That's what the president wanted. He wanted to hit the ground running with this new team in place.

And there does seem to be a seismic shift in terms of the reaction, some of which you alluded to. The fact that the business community over the last two years has felt that they have been at war with this White House in some ways on health care reform, regulations, taxes and what may affect our viewers most is sort of that tax cut deal we saw this president cut with Republicans. Certainly, the reaction from the business community because of Bill Daley's long service of Wall Street, former commerce secretary suggests that maybe there will be more of those kinds of bipartisan deals in the days ahead on taxes, on trade and other things.

As you noted, the Chamber of Commerce today saying basically this is a statesman, someone we can work with. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO saying, basically, look, the president is entitled to this pick. And he may have -- and I stress -- he may have confidence in him is the reaction from the AFL-CIO president, Rich Trumpka (ph), suggesting maybe organized labor does not have confidence in Bill Daley. But the White House when you talk to them privately is just fine with that divide.

Because they say look there are a lot of people believing that Rahm Emanuel was going to steer this president too far to the middle in the eyes of liberals, didn't want to do a big health care reform deal, for example. And in the end, the president is the one who pushed for a big health care reform and got it over Rahm Emanuel's objections. So they say, look, Bill Daley is going to have a big voice at the table. But ultimately, it is going to be the president that decides the course -- John.

KING: Well the president is the last -- president like to say -- he is the decider. Ed, stay with us for a minute. John is watching as well. I want to walk over to the "Magic Wall" for a minute because I want to play a little White House -- I'll call this chess. Some will say rearranging the deck chairs. I am going to politely call it chess. This is the team, the original very close team of the Obama administration when the president came to office.

David Axelrod, he is going over to Chicago to run the campaign. Robert Gibbs, I'm going to put him here for a second -- I'll explain why in a minute. Larry Summers, top economic adviser, he is gone. Rahm Emanuel, he was the first chief of staff. He is gone. Now we know this, David Plouffe from the campaign will come in. He will be a counselor to the president. Bill Daley will come in. He is the new chief of staff.

Gene Sperling (ph) will be named tomorrow to be replace Larry Summers. He will be the new economic adviser. Pete Rouse was the interim chief of staff. He stays as a counselor to the president. But, Ed, I know your reporting shows the same as mine. Mr. Daley was concerned, too many cooks in the White House. And so Mr. Gibbs wanted to stay on, move from press secretary to counselor. Mr. Daley I'm told is among those who didn't think that was such a good idea.

Mr. Gibbs will be leaving the White House for the private sector. Here is my question to you first and then we'll go to John Podesta, Ed Henry at the White House. Valerie Jarrett, she has been the president's liaison to CEOs. Bill Daley is a CEO. He has said he thinks he should be the guy talking to the business community. Gene Sperling (ph) is the new economic adviser. He says he also should be talking to the business community. Ed Henry, what happens now to the portfolio of Valerie Jarrett?

HENRY: Look, there is no question Valerie Jarrett when you talk to senior officials here is still going to have a lot of clout. She is not just close to the president. She's close to the first lady as well. But there is also no doubt that Bill Daley as well as Gene Sperling (ph) and others, David Plouffe, getting some of that political portfolio will be chewing into the portfolio she has had. She has had a wide swath through this White House and through their agenda.

And there's no doubt they're cutting into it and that's why one senior official told me that there were some difficult conversations, in this aide's words, to make sure that Valerie Jarrett understood that Bill Daley was going to be coming in and taking on a little bit more clout, a little bit more power. In the end, she is still going to have a lot of clout. Again, she is still close not just the president, but the first lady. That's very, very important, but at the end of the day Bill Daley is going to be getting a little bit more power and that's going to be a change around here. KING: Ed Henry at the White House, thanks for that. John Podesta, you have held this job. It is a very tough job. What does it say that the president after what he calls an election shellacking, going into what will be tough dealings with the Republican House, a more narrowly Democratic Senate and gearing up for re-election, what does this say to you? And is this a guy when you were meeting with the president and others at the White House, is this a guy you said this is your guy?

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CLINTON W.H. CHIEF OF STAFF: Well I'm not going to talk about my conversations with the president. But I think that Bill is a great choice. I think he has a unique combination of skills.

KING: So why are your friends on the left so mad? Move on --


KING: --, the announcement that William Daley who has close ties to the big banks and big business will now lead the White House staff is troubling, sends the wrong message to the American people --

PODESTA: Bill Daley is a guy who has been a cabinet secretary, he has run a national presidential campaign, he's been a successful business person, he has trust across the political spectrum. Most importantly the thing about Bill Daley is he knows how to build a team and get something done. And I think if I'm a person who wants to see this president succeed, get the economy rolling again, get jobs growing again, get wages growing again you want someone who can get something done, who has got the political skills, the leadership skills and the team-building skills to do it.

The president is going to set the agenda as you noted earlier, John. But Bill is somebody who can you know move the ball down the field. I think that when I was in the Clinton administration, President Clinton trusted Bill with major assignments to get the job done. And that's what President Obama is doing.

KING: All right, so you know the turmoil on the left about this. This is one of the reasons why. Bill Daley wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" a little more than a year ago. "Either we plot a more moderate centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come."

Now there are many in Camp Daley who would say he was right. Look what happened. I was up on Capitol Hill today. I had an exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi and she told me that during the day once this was announced liberal members of her caucus, other members of the Democratic base were coming to her saying, what do we make of this because of trade deals, because of his position on health care, because of his Wall Street ties. They don't necessarily like or trust Bill Daley. Listen to the former speaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PELOSI: I think the president is the boss and the president supported comprehensive health care reform. The president called for Wall Street reform with the greatest consumer protections in history. The president has made a tremendous difference in our country. And I just had a conversation with some of the base on this subject. So Mr. Daley, and he is my friend and I respect him, is an employee. The president is the boss. The president supported all of the initiatives. You said Mr. Daley. It's not a question of the president --


KING: You don't take --

PELOSI: -- Mr. Daley. It's a question of Mr. Daley yielding to the president.

KING: So you've been through a lot of this and you know politics better than I do. You don't take it as a sign that the president is recalculating his position or changing his position?

PELOSI: On those issues, absolutely not --

KING: What about on other issues heading forward into the reelection campaign to be more pro-business, maybe kinder to Wall Street?

PELOSI: It is not a question of kinder to Wall Street. All of the initiatives we have put forth, whether it was health care reform, whether it was issues that related to energy security for our country, whether it was Wall Street, health, Wall Street reform, any of them, were all about market-oriented solutions about private sector leading the way, public policy to set standards or have tax incentives or -- and the like but it was all about recognizing that our job creation would have to take place in the private sector in order for us to really thrive and be entrepreneurial as a country.

So that the labeling of the president as not being in that mode is not correct, that's who he is. I think that Mr. Daley does every job that he is assigned to do very well and being the president's chief of staff if he has the confidence of the president as he clearly has. But this, again, there is some level of confidence among people who know each other from Chicago or wherever it is and that's fine. And I think Bill Daley is -- understands each job that he undertakes.


KING: Now she is being a good team player there, but a lot of complaints to her about this. Why? Why? You say --


KING: -- he's the right guy for the job. Why is the left so anxious about --

PODESTA: I think it is hard to add to what Leader Pelosi said. I am still getting used to saying that.

KING: Right. It was hard for me to say too.

PODESTA: But I think that she had it just right. I mean I think the president is going to set the agenda and I think -- and I think --


PODESTA: -- Bill knows what he needs to do, which is to move --

KING: -- says something about where you are going, right?

PODESTA: He has got to move the president's agenda forward to get jobs growing and wages growing in this country and for a guy that grew up, you know bear with me because I'm an ex-Chicagoan at least. For a guy who grew up in Bridgeport (ph), he knows when he walks down the street whose side he is on, who he is fighting for and he's going to get the job done and I think all this stuff about trying to pigeonhole ideologically is just off base. I think that the president picked him because he's an effective leader and he's proving that in a wide variety of fields and he's got trust. I think he's also a very nice guy, by the way --

KING: He is a nice guy. He is a nice guy. I know him from the Clinton days and the Gore campaign days. One of the reasons Democrats are a little nervous is because Republicans are saying a lot of nice things. That's sort of a natural --


KING: -- the physics of politics. I want you to listen to Senator -- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who says you know what, this fills a hole he thinks was missing at the White House.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There was nobody down at the White House who had ever even run a lemonade stand. You know they were all college professors and former elected officials. This is a guy who has actually been out in the private sector, been a part of business.


KING: I know you don't agree with Leader McConnell much, but does he have a point?


KING: Did the president not have a guy who had actually hired and fired and --

PODESTA: No, look I think his business experience is important, but you know what I think is more important -- his experience as a cabinet secretary. I think the president has got to redefine his presidency to use all the authority and power that he has to move the country forward. And I think Bill gets that. He knows how to use the entire sweep and suite (ph) of the government.

He knows that the president has picked good people in these cabinet positions. It is not just about defining his relationship with the Republican majority in the House and the Republican minority in the Senate. It is about using all the tools the president has available to get the economy growing and to get jobs growing in this country.

KING: John Podesta knows what the job is about. Appreciate your coming in tonight, the former Clinton White House chief of staff. We'll keep in touch, John. Thank you.

Now Republicans are already finding out governing, well it is a lot harder than campaigning. When we come back, the new speaker defends his approach and the former speaker lays out where she sees instant hypocrisy.


KING: Keeping campaign promises, well that's hard. President Obama learned that lesson pretty quickly. Remember closing Guantanamo Bay within a year and quick action on immigration reform. Well now the new House Republican majority is being tested right out of the box. Here is a snippet from Speaker John Boehner's first news conference.


BOEHNER: Listen, I promised a more open process. I didn't promise that every single bill was going to be an open bill or as I said yesterday, we went through a whole Congress two years without one open rule. And as I said yesterday, there will be many open rules in this Congress and just watch.


KING: Another big question was about spending cuts. Republicans of course knew at the time they made a promise to cut $100 billion in the first year that they wouldn't get to take power until now. Yet, Speaker Boehner while promising eventually to make those cuts tried his hand at a bit of what, well I'll call it calendar revision.


BOEHNER: On September 24th, we made clear in the pledge that we want to go back to 2008 spending levels. And, if we had been able to move on September 24th, we would have been able to go back to 2008 spending levels. But we are halfway through the year. I will say this. We will meet our commitment to the pledge in this calendar year. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it.


KING: Instant retreat or much ado about nothing? Let's ask our exclusive political duo, Democrat James Carville and Republican Mary Matalin. Mary, people are already saying you know the Republicans said it would be 100 billion. They said it would be in their first year. Now they are saying well maybe we will get to 50 or 60 now and then we'll get to some more next year. A retreat, welcome to governing?

MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: When you say people, you mean demagogic Democrats --

KING: No, a lot of these are Tea --


KING: A lot of these are Tea Party people saying whoa, whoa, cut more, more, more --

MATALIN: But here's -- but here's -- well and we are going to cut -- they are going to cut more and more and more. If the Democrats hadn't left them without passing a budget for the first time, what since 1974, and passed (INAUDIBLE), which a continuing resolution which all the Republicans were against, they wouldn't be where they are today. But they will make that 2008 marker and they will exceed that 2008 marker and the Tea Party people should stand with them to reach beyond the goal that they have set for themselves. And this -- we're on day one. The demagogues are going to try to parse this and pull it apart, but watch them. Watch what they do and get done.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. You know they have got all this hoo-hah and they're going to spending this and spending that and the role of government. This $3.52 trillion budget, they promised to cut 100 billion. They are not going to do that. They are going to cut 50. They're not going to cut 30. They're going to jack up the deficit just like they always do. They are Republicans. They can't help themselves. Look at the record. They're the most deficit busted party in the history of the United States and that's exactly what's going to happen. (INAUDIBLE) Louisiana is craw fishing. A crawfish as you know moves backwards. There's a lot of craw fishing going on here --

MATALIN: You know what they call this in the real world, a parallel universe. The deficit is four times greater than it was when the Republicans left office. Those are facts. That's parallel universe.


CARVILLE: They are not going to cut 30, nothing.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) the new politics, I love learning the Louisiana language of politics from you two. It's one of my favorite things (INAUDIBLE). Let's listen a little bit to the former speaker, the current Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi. I had a conversation with her today and she says and of course she's a Democrat and I guess that what we're getting at. But she says already she sees hypocrisy. She says the Republicans aren't being as open and nice to the minority as they promised. She also says all these Republicans who campaigned against the Obama health care plan, their first question when they got to Washington is where do I sign and how quickly do I get my federal health care? Listen to this.


PELOSI: There is a lot of, shall we say, inconsistency. They are saying that we shouldn't be taking up bills unless we -- and we heard yesterday we are going to have these hearings and it is all going to be very open. And yet, they are bringing the repeal to the -- health care reform bill to the floor right now. I mean they are in the Rules Committee today. We'll go to the floor tomorrow and we'll vote on it next week with that in the hearings and they said, well we don't need hearings, because we talked about it in the campaign. So there's -- you know it is just -- it's the way it is. This is what we have to deal with it, but we're ready for it.

KING: You call it inconsistency. There are others on your side who call it hypocrisy. Is that a good word?

PELOSI: Well I think some inconsistency is hypocrisy, but not all, but we'll see as it plays out. What will be interesting is to see whether these members of Congress who have fully availed themselves now of the federal employees' health insurance initiative here in the Congress with full coverage for their children and their families will vote next week to repeal any opportunity for that kind of access. I think the American people think they want to have what members of Congress have. If they can't have it, we shouldn't have it. But the members here who've campaigned against it, who railed against it, who came here, couldn't be fast enough to repeal it, have said, how soon can I sign up? You know that. We have examples of that. How soon can I sign up --

KING: Is that hypocrisy?

PELOSI: That is hypocrisy and we will see next week how that vote goes. We had a vote yesterday and we saw signs of inconsistency. When we see the full repeal, well maybe some of them won't sign up for the federal employees' health insurance program. Maybe they won't.


KING: Mary Matalin, is that apples and oranges or does Leader Pelosi now have a point when she says if you campaigned against this, when you come to Washington, new Republicans you should refuse to take your health care coverage?

MATALIN: I really what -- another example of a parallel universe, the government does not so far providing health care for Americans. The insurance companies are supporting health care for Americans so far. This entire election was predicated on the egregious overreach of government Obama care being the center piece of that. And the two-page jobs killing repeal that Cantor is sponsoring has been out and will be out for many days before they have to vote on it. They have every chance to look at it. It is two pages. So we do two pieces of legislation which you can read far in advance and even they can read two pages and digest them in a week's time.

CARVILLE: Right. John, the former speaker being a gracious lady like she is actually understates the level of hypocrisy here. Representative Joe Crowley (ph) (INAUDIBLE) legislation that they would have to reveal what -- if they took the Cadillac plan that members of Congress get, none of the Republicans voted for this. They tell these Tea Party people one thing. They get them all gassed up.

They come to Washington. They don't even reveal whether or not they are getting free government health care. They don't want to cut anything from the budget. And this is just way it is going to be. And I just think that former Speaker Pelosi was being gracious and trying not to bring these real facts out here so early in this term.

MATALIN: Let's save the clip, John, and we will play it back in six months, OK, and then we will see who is in the parallel universe.

CARVILLE: Why don't they just -- why don't they just reveal whether or not they took this government health care so these Tea Party people can know this? Where is the Tea Party leadership on this vote? I think they're at all the cocktail parties.

KING: One of the things you do see and this is where government gets interesting is that the Republicans when the Democrats are passing programs would always go to the floor saying the Congressional Budget Office says it will cost this. It will run up the deficit. John Boehner, the new speaker, today was asked Mary, he says you know well, if you repeal the health care bill, the Congressional Budget Office says you are going to increase the deficit at least in the short-term. He says oh well I don't believe their numbers.

MATALIN: Even the CBO doesn't believe its own numbers. The director of the CBO said when they scored that, that the only way it would reduce the deficit is if they actually did enforce the legislation which would require massive cuts in Medicare, would require the doc fix, which they took out, which exceeds by double what they were saving. So they are not going to do -- enforce any part of the legislation that would keep those numbers intact. And the director of the CBO said that any smart honest person, including the director of the CBO, has acknowledged that those deficit reduction figures are phony.

CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) What I like is they have somebody posted all of the Republicans saying all those great things about the CBO. Now, of course the speaker says he doesn't believe their numbers. You know look, that is the typical thing here is that you are the biggest deficit creating party in history and then you say gee we go to Washington and cut the deficit, then next thing you know you're going to add $230 billion to the deficit, but what's new here, nothing. What's new here they won't even reveal if they get health care or not, nothing.

KING: All right, Mr. Carville, Ms. Matalin haven't seen you in a while. It's nice to see you. Happy New Year, first time I get to say hello this year --

MATALIN: Happy New Year.

KING: Let's keep up the conversation. You two stay well. And when we come back, a little bit later more of my exclusive conversation with Nancy Pelosi. That's later, but first a new report tonight says Donald Trump has firmly decided he is running for president. He joins us next. We will ask him the question.


KING: The calendar says 2011, but among Republicans, the 2012 presidential race is quietly and not so quietly taking shape. And it might include Donald Trump. The conservative "News Max" (ph) reports tonight that Trump is telling friends he has decided to definitely run and will announce after "The Apprentice" wrap-up this spring. Well let's go right to the source.

Donald Trump joins us on the telephone from New York. Mr. Trump, we talked about this about a month ago. You said you were seriously considering it. Ron Kessler (ph) of "News Max", he's a good digger. He says you are telling your friends you are definitely in, true?

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN AND PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via phone): Well I am seriously considering it. I see what's going on with the country. I see how other countries are just absolutely taking advantage of us like we're a whipping post. I see what OPEC is doing. You know John, when they talk about the economy is getting better, it can't get better because every time it gets better, OPEC raises the price of oil and they drain the blood out of the country, so I see what's going on and I am seriously considering it.

KING: That's it. He says you are telling friends now I can be a cynic and say the Donald wants to build up ratings for the final "Apprentice" show come spring and he is not going to tell me or anybody else. Is he wrong in saying you are telling friends that you are in?

TRUMP: Well I am certainly talking to a lot of people and a lot of people are actually talking to me I think even more so. They are asking me to do it. A lot of people want me to do it. And I am very much considering it and I am talking to friends, but I'm not saying I am doing it. I will say this, I am very, very seriously thinking about it.

KING: Are you more inclined to do it than you were when I talked to you a few weeks ago?

TRUMP: Well I'd rather not say that, but I will say that when I look at Korea where they don't want to sign a trade pact and they only sign it after we lobbed -- after some bombs (ph) get lobbed on to their land and frankly the pact is horrible for us. I mean it's a horrible agreement for us. So I look at that. They won't sign. You look at South Korea. They won't sign.

Then two weeks later, they sign it as soon as North Korea starts lobbing bombs and they start talking about what a wonderful ally we are as we sail the George Washington aircraft carrier over there to protect them. And this is an agreement that nobody from our standpoint should have signed. It's pretty sad, I will say. It's pretty said. When you look at China with the manipulation of currency, taking all of our jobs, building and making all of our products, I mean they -- virtually everything we buy today is made in China. So how are we going to build up jobs other than health care, which isn't the kind of job you are talking about, it's a pretty sad situation, John.

KING: Well you've got the campaign speech ready even if you won't give us the announcement today. Let me ask you this question. If Donald Trump were to run in the Republican primaries, who would you consider to be your greatest threat, the biggest rival?

TRUMP: Well, I think everybody is a threat. You never know what's going to happen. You never know who is going to come out. They are all very capable people and very different people, very different types, looking at it from the Republican standpoint. I think they are frankly all very capable. We'll see what happens.

KING: Let me ask you a couple of quick questions before I let you go on other topics. One of them is about your mayor, Michael Bloomberg right there in New York City. He just got a lot of criticism after this blizzard that he was slow to respond. That he's supposed to be the great manager and that the city didn't live up to its responsibilities. A new Marist poll out just tonight, just this hour shows his approval rating is at an all-time low, 37 percent, down from 50 percent just a couple of months ago. Did the mayor blow the storm?

TRUMP: Well, he got very hard hit. He was very hard hit by this storm. To be honest, he is a great mayor. He has done a great job, a fantastic guy. I'm not so sure it was him as opposed to people maybe saying they want to do a slowdown because of the unions, or whatever. I'm just looking at it. I have seen him handle other snowstorms flawlessly. It just doesn't seem like Michael. So I have a feeling there is more to what you see than what you are seeing. So let's see what happens. I heard and I see that it was a union slowdown for whatever reason. This is just not Michael Bloomberg.

KING: OK. One last thing. You have been very critical of President Obama in the past saying he doesn't get the business community, he doesn't get the economy. Today he named a veteran CEO, a guy who knows Wall Street, a guy who had been the Commerce secretary in the past, Bill Daley as his new White House chief of staff. Is that a good step in the right direction?

TRUMP: Bill Daley is a good guy. It is certainly a step in the right direction. I think it is wonderful. Bill Daley is a professional, good guy. And he likes my apartments, because he used to live in one of my buildings. So, he has a good sense of real estate.


KING: All right. Donald Trump, if you don't want to wait for the last episode of "The Apprentice" and you want to make that final decision, you come back here any time.

TRUMP: I will, indeed. Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you, sir.

More of our exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi ahead. And also, which Republican is our conservative contributor Erick Erickson trying to drag into the 2012 race? The answer when we come back.


KING: Let's talk some politics with CNN contributors Erick Erickson and Roland Martin.

I want to start-you know, these are big important, consequential days, gentlemen. But also the 2012 campaign is starting to heat up. People are moving around the country on the Republican side. You just heard, and the guy is a marketing genius, I don't know what kind of a president he would be, but Donald Trump saying-you know, Donald Trump- Ron Kessler, who is a veteran journalist. He works for the conservative news mags, he says he is told by friends of Trump that Trump is definitely running now. He will announce it on the final episode of the "THE APPRENTICE", which I could view as A, he is running, or B, he wants a lot of people to watch the final episode of "The Apprentice".

Erick Erickson, you are in touch with the conservative community. Just how big the groundswell for the Trump candidacy?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know now that he's talking foreign policy, it might grow. Who knew he would be talking foreign policy. I'm impressed.

The conservatives are really befuddled right now. And they don't have a candidate and there are a lot of them who really want to woo Mike Pence, congressman from Indiana, into the race. I've given voice to some of that angst on RedState. And I think you are going to see a lot of people line up behind him. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney have it easy. They can raise money with the snap of a finger. They can sit it out. But, you know, Donald Trump, I guess we can put him in that category too.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The only foreign policy he knows is the Miss Universe Pageant. Can we just go ahead and be honest.


Thank God I wore my cowboy boots today, because the BS that I'm standing in-forget the idea of Donald Trump running. He is not. This is a wonderful game we play every four years. But the idea of him being in the White House, if you thought Bill Clinton had a good time, let Donald Trump going to the White House.

KING: All right. We'll put Roland down as a measured skeptic on the Trump candidacy.

(CROSS TALK) KING: Thank you, that is my segue. I want to get to the Mike Pence conversation in a minute. This is a very, very serious conversation in the conservative community. But Roland just mentioned Michele Bachmann. She is making some trips to those states. And her people are saying well, she hasn't ruled it in, but she hasn't ruled it out. This is part of the ritual dance, if you will. Part of it is to get media attention, to have a conversation like this.

Erick Erickson, real or just a --

ERICKSON: You know, I'm not sure with Michele Bachmann. That's one of the great things about Michelle Bachmann, is you never really know until she actually does it. I am thinking that she actually does want to look. I'm struck by friends of hers who say she feels like she did a lot of campaigning for a lot of Republicans around the country and was kind of left holding the bag. Didn't get a leadership position out of it. She gave a lot of money to other candidates and I think she wants something. I'm not sure it is the presidency, though.

MARTIN: John, I can sort of help answer that question. Because she makes looney comments, OK? I'm sorry. They are not going to put you in a leadership position. The idea of her even trying to compete in the Republican primary is nuts. I guarantee you, your Republican leaders and major donors who are saying, Michele Bachmann, please, sit down. That's the last thing we want you to do is to run near any presidential campaign.

KING: All right. We can cross Roland off the Trump campaign and the Bachmann campaign. I'm doing my math here.

MARTIN: I'm listening to Thune, I'll listen to some other Republicans, not those two.

KING: This one is a lot more serious at the moment because running for president requires a lot of money. It is very hard for anybody to do. Especially if you are coming at it from the House and you haven't held office statewide.

Erick Erickson, want to read something you wrote on about Mike Pence. He was a member of the House Republican leadership. He resigned that position because he is thinking about running for president. He's also thinking about running for Indiana governor. It is a tough decision to make.

Here's what you wrote: "The odds are surely against congressmen. But I think Mike Pence could do it. He bridges the gap between the establishment of the grassroots. He is in the comfort zone of both. He has a private sector background that shines in comparison to anything that Barack Obama ever did before elected politics. He has the free market think tank background to reassure fiscal conservatives. He has the social conservative bona fides to reassure the social conservatives who this year feel marginalized."

And so the question is, before-what sounds to me like yourself, some of your friends, before he makes the decision, you know what, that's a lot of money, Romney, Palin, that's hard. I am going to run for governor, which would be a quote, unquote, safer for Mike Pence to take. Are you trying to say, let's se how much money we can raise for him. Let's come to him and say, here is the network, do it.

ERICKSON: You know, not myself, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't giving voice to a lot of people who are thinking that. And behind the scenes there are a lot of conservatives who are looking at the field and saying these are no ordinary times. The Republican habit of electing whoever is considered the heir apparent, whoever that might be, isn't going to fly this year, to be competitive. We knew to find someone new, someone fresh, someone who can give an articulate message to conservatism. And a lot of them are saying Mike Pence.

The fiscal guys are saying that. The social guys are saying that. The national defense guys are saying that. Now, their job is to go out and try to show to Mike Pence, we can put together an organization and help you raise the money to be competitive against a Palin or a Romney. And if they can attract Huckabee to try to steal some away from Palin, that might help, too.

MARTIN: This town loves conventional wisdom. Then, Senator Barack Obama destroyed conventional wisdom by being elected from the Senate. So this notion that you can't be elected president from the House, I think, has gone out of the window. It makes sense, I believe, for him to make the run for president, as Erick said, can you raise the money? Because again, coming from the state he is coming from, you are talking about Indiana. You are talking about how then Senator Obama barely won that state. I don't think it will be in play in 2012. It is an attractive state. We also look at how the electoral college has changed. So, I would say, you make the effort to see how much can you raise in the midst of all the noise of Palin and others. If you can show you can raise a credible amount of money, that can also scare some other folks who say, this guy is serious.

KING: All right. There we go. We'll end the conversation on that point.

No on Trump, No on Bachman, but give Pence a serious look from Roland Martin. I don't know if the Pence campaign will like that or not, Erick.

MARTIN: I hope so. If it helps to raise money, they will like it.

KING: Erick, Roland thanks for coming on.

When we come back, my exclusive interview with Nancy Pelosi. I went to her new office today. One of the things she said is she doesn't think she'll be there that long. What does she mean by that?


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

(NEWSBREAK) You have covered Capitol Hill for a long time. Erick Erickson is still with us, our conservative contributor.

Interesting moment today. The Republicans decided, and the Democrats, at the last minute decided to join them, reading the Constitution. As the House came into business today. And so they are reading the Constitution, and at one point, Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey, he is reading Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution, which outlines the requirements to be the president of the United States. Listen.


REP. FRANK PALLONE, (D) NEW JERSEY: No person except a natural- born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to be the office of president. Neither shall-


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Except Obama, except Obama.

REP. MIKE SIMPSON, (R) IDAHO: The chair would remind persons in the gallery, the chair would remind all persons in the gallery they are here as guests of the House.


KING: Now, that is a birther, someone who thinks the president of the United States, for whatever reason, was not born in the United States. He was born in Hawaii, of course, and we know that. That happened during the reading of the Constitution, a brief disruption, by somebody who was saying, except Obama, except Obama. Well, the new speaker, John Boehner, had an interview tonight with NBC News and Brian Williams. And Brian Williams brought up that disturbance today, and asked the speaker, what do you think?


JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me.


KING: Good enough for the speaker, Erick. I know you have said in the past, good enough for you. Why does this keep coming up?

ERICKSON: Because there are crazy people. I don't know who I want to punch more, the birthers or the 9/11 truthers. The nation has a bunch of crazy people. Some think the government was behind flying planes into the World Trade Center and some think there is some grand conspiracy that somebody raised up Barack Obama as a Manchurian candidate to become president of the United States. These people do crazy things and we like to talk about them, and it is a least a reminder that the rest of us are sane. KING: There you go for that. I'll take that. I feel reasonably sane at the moment.

All right. When we come back, my exclusive conversation with the former speaker of the House, now the Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi.


KING: It was a time of huge transition here in Washington. The person perhaps making the greatest or the second greatest transition, anyway, is the former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She is now the Democratic leader. I had an exclusive interview with her this morning in her still sparsely decorated new office in the capital.


NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Yes, we are in a little bit of a sparse mode right now. I didn't realize we would be.

I have had had other work to do than to-


Because I don't plan to stay here that long.


Anyway, this office, that is the leader's office, was the office used by Tip O'Neill when he was speaker of the House. I have a Waterford Crystal gavel that his family gave him when he became speaker, which the family has now given to me. And I'm very honored to have. Being Waterford Crystal you can't use that gavel more than once. We will just enshrine it there and have everything ranging from my picture swearing in my father as the mayor of Baltimore, my picture with President John F. Kennedy, before he was president, to other pictures that I love about the past. But what I'm crazy about are the pictures of my grandchildren because that's about the future.

KING: They call you Mimi?

PELOSI: Mimi, uh-huh.

KING: And when the events of yesterday were unfolding -- ?

PELOSI: They were here -- four of them were here.

KING: I was watching some of the pictures you had someone on your out in the chamber.

PELOSI: Oh, my gosh, my sweethearts.

KING: How did you explain all of that to them?

PELOSI: Well, the little ones really just knew some wonderful thing was happening. May we sit down? KING: Sure.

PELOSI: My granddaughter, who was 12, she was here. She understood what was going on. But they knew. It's not as if it is a surprise. The election had its consequences and that is reflected. It wasn't as if you were counting votes, as if the outcome is in suspense. But they're fine with it.

KING: Are you fine with it?

PELOSI: It's the give and take, the ebb and flow of politics.

KING: I know you would prefer to still be the speaker of the House.

PELOSI: Of course.

KING: Is it easier, technically, in some of these fights to do it from the opposition? Is it easier to fight that way?

PELOSI: Well, I have been the minority leader before. And I put forth a plan for us to win the House, for the American people, and we succeed. I know how to do that. And we intend to do that again. I would rather be writing the legislation and reaching out, as we did in our hearings, in a very bipartisan way. They didn't want to be a part of it, but it didn't mean they didn't have the opportunity to do so.

But it's two different jobs. But all of it with the same goal is to have progress being made by America's working families. And so we are here for them and we'll be back.

KING: You say you'll be back. Are you confident in two years you'll be the speaker again?

PELOSI: It's not about me. It's not about me. It's about President Obama being re-elected. It's about Democrats taking back control. You know what, politics -- I wish elections weren't so urgent. If the Republicans are able to work in a way to create jobs for the American people, to meet the needs of the American people, God bless them. This isn't about what party is in control. It's about what is happening in the lives of the American people. So I wish them every success. I hope they have something to offer more, though, than tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, and just say that's a job creator. Because it hasn't been.

KING: You just called this an opportunity. Your party just lost 63 seats.

PELOSI: Right.

KING: That's hard. You just lost a powerful office. That's hard.

PELOSI: But we won 55 in the two before.

KING: Right. So it's an opportunity why? PELOSI: Well, it's an opportunity because I think, as the Republicans now are in office with a Democrat in the White House, and the American people see they're here for the special interests, as their handmaidens, that they're here for tax cuts for the wealthy, that's their job creation initiative. That they see that they want health care benefits for themselves, but want to repeal the patient's bill of rights for all Americans, that if you are a working family in America, your interests are not served by their being there.

KING: I want to show you something that is in one way a high honor. In some ways, I think, sort of a great irony that as all of this unfolds and as Nancy Pelosi moves from speaker to leader. You have "MS" magazine, "The woman "TIME" and "Newsweek" won't put on their cover, and in the article and on the cover Nancy Pelosi, the best, most effective speaker ever.

PELOSI: Right.

KING: I hate to sound tough but obviously at least in this campaign the way it was portrayed you could make the argument, the American people disagree.

PELOSI: No, well, the American people -- if you are effective, if you give the public the special interests, if you defeat the insurance companies, they will come after you. If I were not effective, I would not have been an issue. But I was effective whether it was passing our initiatives on green energy jobs for the future, whether it was health care, whether it was Wall Street reform, those initiatives, the greatest of consumer protections in the history of our country, then you are a target by all the special interests. And they poured tons of money in.

But you can't get a message through a barrier of 9.5 percent unemployment, in my view and the view of many, that any-a year ago, I was told if you are anywhere near 10 percent unemployed, forget holding the majority. And that holds true whatever the party is. Whoever is in power.

KING: If you talk to your staff-let's walk around a little bit- if you talk to your very close friends, if you talk to any of the reporters who have covered you on a daily basis, they say when you go see leader Pelosi, don't try introspection, she doesn't do introspection.

PELOSI: I do introspection, but I don't do public introspection.


KING: How much different is the private introspection from what I get in public?

PELOSI: I'm a very, shall we say, brutally harsh in any criticism-I'm an Italian Catholic. You know, I carry every responsibility you can carry. How could we have-but I do know that what we did was important for our country to give leverage back to the people. And if we hadn't done it, if we hadn't done health care, if we hadn't done Wall Street reform and the rest of it, we still would have lost the election because we had 9.5 percent unemployment. Let's take it where that came from. The policies of George W. Bush and the Republicans support for his initiatives, tax cuts are for the wealthy, laissez, laissez, laissez, laissez faire when it came to Wall Street and the rest. Where recklessness-by some, I don't paint everyone with the same brush-caused joblessness on Main Street. And obstruction on the part of the Republicans in the Senate to do something about it.

KING: When you see the 19 Democrats who did not vote for you yesterday, what do you say?

PELOSI: I say that we're divided among seven people. I think it was sort of a fizzle (ph).

KING: Going to take it personally?

PELOSI: No. No, I don't take it personally. I think it was a small number. Really, I was very pleased with the outcome. I am very honored by the support that the members gave me but-no. That was-we had this debate in our caucus about how we would go forward. I have the support and confidence of my caucus. And for whatever reason whether it's domestic, local consumption, or whatever that people thought they had to vote that way, we may not have unanimity. But we have unity in our caucus about how we will go forward.

KING: Let me ask you, lastly: You voiced your skepticism about the agenda of the Republican Party.


KING: You handed the gavel, yesterday, to Mr. Boehner. You do have great respect and love of the institution. What's your relationship with him? And what's your advice to him?

PELOSI: Well, my-I have a good rapport with Mr. Boehner, a professional, good rapport with Mr. Boehner. And I don't think it's up to me to give him any advice about how he should be speaker of the House. But it is-I wish him success. He's the speaker of the House.

That is more than they wished me. But I do wish him success and I hope that he could come up with some initiatives that would create jobs. And that's the difference between the parties. If you want to see the clear difference between the parties, you only look at what they proposed in their tax bill. Tax cuts for the 6,600 wealthiest families in America, in order to get unemployment insurance for people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

So we have our differences. But, again, I wish them success and my advice to them is to keep thinking of America's working families and what it means to them around the dinner table. But how they do it, they don't need any advice from me.

KING: Thank you for your time.

PELOSI: Thank you.

KING: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.


KING: A little bit of irony as we finish, the current speaker walked through the same hall. We'll be right back.


KING: That's all for us tonight. Among our guests tomorrow, the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

"PARKER SPITZER" starts right now.