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JOHN KING, USA

House Passes Health Care Repeal; Crossing the Line; Obama's 2012 Opponent; Representative Giffords' Progress

Aired January 19, 2011 - 19:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone. Tonight at the White House, the pageantry and trappings of a state dinner after a day of at times difficult diplomacy President Obama continues the red carpet treatment for his Chinese counter part Hu Jintao. There are big differences over human rights and over the expansion of the Chinese military, but the issue that came up most this day, was jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're now exporting more than $100 billion a year in goods and services to China, which supports more than half a million American jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We'll dig deeper into this complicated relationship with Fareed Zakaria, Donald Trump and the CEO of Coca-Cola and we'll keep our eyes on the White House to see what happens when the state dinner festivities turn a bit later tonight to the traditional toast (ph).

Also today, new details of just how the Tucson shooter walked up within a few feet of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and opened fire and Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us a bit later with this breaking news.

The congresswoman, according to a new report tonight, stood on her own two feet. We'll follow that. She's also scrolling through family photographs she's due to be transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility as early as Friday.

But we begin with a promise quickly kept by the new House Republican majority. Just a short time ago its proposal to repeal the Obama health care law was passed on a near party line vote. As you might expect, the debate was feisty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama-care as we know is the crown jewel of socialism. It is socialized medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we'll hear some of the same rhetoric about repeal of patients' rights that we heard regarding voting rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Poignant but for the most part the debate was about policy and ideological differences for the most part.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie. Just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually people believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Comparing House Republicans to the Nazis, we'll ask Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen if he thinks he crossed the line. First though the vote and its impact from our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana, Nancy Pelosi lost three Democrats on this vote, so the first big vote of the new House Republican majority, a party line partisan showdown.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure was, 245 to 189. It was a lopsided vote that does reflect the Republicans' lopsided hold on the House right now. As you mention there were three Democrats who broke with their party. That's only out of 13 who are left in Congress who last spring actually voted against the health care law.

But you know you mentioned that for the most part the debate was rather tame in terms of the tone personalizing this. Republicans did for the most part avoid terms like job killer and really focused on the philosophical issues. They certainly talked about the economic issues and the fact that they do believe that this health care law will take jobs away from Americans.

But I think what was most interesting was the Democrats. It was almost as if they were making up for lost time, John. We heard them talk about things that they pretty much avoided, studiously avoided many of them during the campaign, defending the health care law and also not just that, explaining it.

They tried very, very hard to explain why this health care law is important for real people and giving stories over and over again about personal effects that this have -- has on people, especially their constituents.

KING: And so, Dana, we know the House Republicans said this was a promise they would keep and now they have passed repeal, but we also know they can't get it through the Senate. The president would veto it even if they could. What next on the House side?

BASH: Well remember the mantra for Republicans was repeal and replace, so we've got the repeal part at least in the House. The next thing that they're actually going to do is at least show that they're going to try to replace it. So what we're going to see tomorrow, John, is the House Republicans pass a bill that will instruct five committees that have jurisdiction to start to hold hearings about how, in fact, they're going to try to replace this health care law.

Anyways though, it's kind of like living in a parallel universe. Because as you said, they know, everybody knows that this has no chance of passing the Senate. Parallel universes though here are also political universes and everybody knows, particularly Republicans as much as they're making -- making good at campaign promises from the past, they're also setting up the next campaign in 2012.

KING: The next campaign in 2012. All right, Dana Bash, we'll keep track of the next phase of the debate both in the House and the Senate. Now though to the tone of the debate and specifically this comparison from Democrat Steve Cohen of Tennessee who's making the case here that Republicans in his view are lying about the details of the health care bill and in doing so he invoked the name of an infamous Nazi propagandist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie, just like Goebbels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congressman Cohen is here with us live. Sir, does that cross the line? You contend the Republicans are lying about this bill. That's a point you can make with examples and details, but comparing them to a man who was used to incite the German people against the Jews, to incite the German people at a time when Hitler was killing six million people and not only that marching across Europe.

COHEN: I didn't compare the Republicans to Nazis. I compared the big lie and the fact is PolitiFact --

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: PolitiFact -- wait a second, sir. PolitiFact Pulitzer Prize winning group out of St. Petersburg called that the biggest lie of 2010, that government takeover of health care. That was a big lie. It was repeated over and over again. Goebbels was the master of political propaganda. He said repeat it. Make it short. Make it simple and repeat it over and over. And that's what they've done. It's not a -- you just heard Michele Bachmann call it socialistic. That's just -- they're lies.

KING: Well we can have Michele Bachmann and we have had her on the program to say what do you mean and break down parts of the bill itself, but in any case, in particularly post-Tucson and I want to get to some of your writings in just a minute. Why can't you just make the argument PolitiFact -- as you just did -- PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Web site, says Republicans, when you say this, it's a lie. Says Republicans, when you say this, it's a lie. It has a debate there. Like Goebbels. Like means -- like is a comparison. It's a simile and you're talking about -- you say the Republicans are lying like Goebbels. Most reasonable people would say you're comparing the Republicans to a Nazi propagandist. COHEN: Well, if people -- I don't think reasonable people would do that, but some have in the press and they seem to want to jump on anything. I have been for civility. I've been through a lot of negative campaigns. I've always responded plausibly and I always will. But I will not stand for lies. And, you know, the ninth commandment is pretty good, thou shalt not bear false witness.

And when a national group names it the biggest lie of the year and they continue to do it today, to call health care, which 32 million people don't have, which Martin Luther King said of all the inequalities the greatest injustice, the most morally, outrageous was health care, then that's wrong, and you know, I'm not suggesting anybody's a Nazi, but I'm suggesting that continuing to say the same thing over and over and over again -- and we saw it from Karl Rove the same type of thing in different areas and that's what they've been doing.

KING: PolitiFact did not say like Goebbels, it's a lie. They said it's a lie and I could see (INAUDIBLE). I want to read you something you wrote yourself in "Roll Call" magazine just a little more than a week ago. "For some time I've been troubled by the hateful and often patently untrue words that enter the American mind via the Internet, talk radio and even mainstream media and the effect that they have on our society at large and on the fringe element particularly." So let's say there were fringe elements on the left and the right, no dispute there, correct?

COHEN: True.

KING: So how about somebody on the fringe element on the left saying that's right, Steve Cohen, the Republicans are like the Nazis. When you say that you invite that, don't you?

COHEN: I don't think I invite it and I think that people are looking for something. I think the press was hypersensitive. Certainly I didn't intend to do that, but the way they lied has been the same way that the master political propagandist of all time Goebbels said to lie. Keep it short. Keep it simple and do it over and over and over and eventually the people will believe it.

And people now think it's socialized medicine when it's not. They think it's a government takeover when it's not. They believed in the death panels, which it wasn't. It's been lie after lie after lie and I think the lies should be stood up to and if you don't stand up to the lies they become the truth.

KING: I want to read one more thing that you wrote just to make sure that you don't believe -- and you make your case that you don't -- do you believe that what you say about like Goebbels, like Goebbels is inconsistent with this. "Reckless and hateful speech often has a terrible human cost. If the horrific events in Arizona are not enough to modulate our public discourse it is likely there will be more violence, more deaths?" Would modulating our public discourse include not just using words like Goebbels or Hitler or anybody like that or if you want to go after Michele Bachmann, fine, but just why can't we just take that stuff out and say it's a lie, here's my proof, let's debate the facts.

COHEN: Indeed you can do that and maybe it would have been simpler, but the fact is it was the big lie and it was an independent group that said it, and when you compare it, I don't think there's any problem with comparing something to somebody who was the best or the worst at it and it doesn't hurt to remind people --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: The Nazis killed six million Jews and marched across Europe --

COHEN: And I'm Jewish and I'm Jewish --

KING: As am I.

COHEN: And I think it's something that we understand and how awful it was and that's why when you need to remind people that when you have countenance lies that's what it can lead to and countenance lies here can lead to problems too, but people shouldn't lie and we should not permit it to go on and on and on.

KING: I think some would make the case in making your case which you have every right to make, sir that maybe we could not compare or leave in the minds of some that you could be comparing to the Nazis, but we'll leave the --

COHEN: I certainly didn't want to and I don't think --

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: -- that Mel Brooks was trying to be nice to the Nazis either.

KING: Mel Brooks was making a comedy movie. There's a difference with a serious political debate, but we'll leave it on that point. Congressman, I do appreciate your coming in to talk about this tonight.

Still ahead, the question President Hu of China didn't answer at the White House today, at first anyway. But next is this man sitting right there smiling in the front row at the president's news conference today angling to oppose Mr. Obama in the 2012 election?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Of course it's no surprise the U.S. ambassador to China is at the White House today as part of the Chinese state visit. And Ambassador Jon Huntsman was in the front row when President Obama and President Hu staged a joint press conference. The first question was, of course, about U.S./China relations, but listen to this big-time 2012 twist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'd like to know what you make of the speculation that the gentleman in front of me, Ambassador Huntsman, might run against you in 2012.

OBAMA: The fact that he comes from a different party, I think, is a strength, not a weakness because it indicates the degree to which both he and I believe that partisanship ends at the water's edge and that we work together to advocate on behalf of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president went on to say he thought Ambassador Huntsman would be successful at whatever he decided to do. Now quick background here -- Huntsman was the Republican governor of Utah when he decided to head off to Beijing for a Democratic president. And there have been some rumblings of late he might come home and enter the 2012 fray. Really, let's begin there as we break down the day's big political news with CNN contributors Erick Erickson and Paul Begala.

All right, Erick, to you first because John Huntsman is a Republican. Any sense that this is real or is this just fun?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think this is just fun. If anything, I suspect the odds are greater that he would be going to the Senate than to the White House. Number one, I don't see him as a viable candidate and two, I don't think he even wants to do it just from what I hear from people close to him.

KING: All right --

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Erick, are you breaking news here that Erick, as John knows, very well plugged into the conservative movement. Are you suggesting maybe that Ambassador Huntsman would challenge Orrin Hatch, the veteran Republican senator from Utah?

ERICKSON: Maybe. There are some polls out in Utah where Huntsman has a wide lead over Orrin Hatch going into a convention in 2012.

BEGALA: Wow, that could be -- of course Robert Bennett was the senator --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got beat --

ERICKSON: I'll go for a twofer.

KING: Go for a twofer --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right, all right, well then we'll watch -- we'll watch Ambassador Huntsman. He's an interesting guy. We'll see what he decides to do. Let's look at some more big political news today including our new polls, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, favorable or unfavorable opinion of Sarah Palin. Her favorable right now is 38 percent among all Americans, unfavorable, 56 percent. That's up seven points from October.

Fifty-six percent of Americans have an unfavorable view. Why the jump? Look at this among women and Independents. Sarah Palin's unfavorables have jumped significantly since October. Erick Erickson, there are some who make the argument that the more she involves herself in these political debates the worse she is doing in terms of public opinion.

ERICKSON: I am one of those. You know my friend Mark Tapscott, who's the editor of "The Washington Examiner" has an editorial up this evening that her time has come and gone largely because of this. If you look at the people who are running ahead of her now, they all have in common one thing.

They've kept their head down. They've been out of the spotlight from Mike Huckabee to Mitt Romney to Tim Pawlenty. Sarah Palin continuing to be in the spotlight is doing herself no favors and as much as there are a lot of people who would like her to run, the more she stays in the spotlight, the more Independents in particular become tired of her.

BEGALA: No, no, no, don't shut her up. You saw her interview (INAUDIBLE) comedy channel the other day, this fake news channel that Rupert Murdoch owns and she said they're trying to shut me up. I'm not, Mrs. Palin. I don't want to shut you up. We need more Sarah Palin. She should have her own network like Oprah, the "Everything Sarah Palin Network", ESPN --

ERICKSON: I think it's called the learning channel, Paul.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right, all right, all right --

BEGALA: Seriously though, here's the problem and this is why Erick as a Republican doesn't want her out there more. Her favorable among Republicans in that same poll, 68 percent, very good, that's as good as any other Republican, Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or anybody. Among Independents her favorable is only 33, so she could just be popular enough to win the Republican nomination to take on Obama but then get slaughtered by Obama --

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: My working theory is -- my working theory is continuing that there is going to be one presidential candidate for the Republican Party whose sole purpose in life is going to be to hurt her politically and drive her poll numbers down, knowing they're not actually going to get through the primary, but will get rewarded if the Republican gets the nomination that's not Palin and wins the election.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right, gentlemen, I'm going to sneak this in before the break here. Piers Morgan has Condoleezza Rice on tonight. He talks a lot of substance with her about going to war in Iraq, her job as secretary of state. But he also tries a little personal twist. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was going to woo you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- which isn't you know completely crazy --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- but if I was going to.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would I --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Convince me that you'll spend Sunday afternoons watching football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you -- I couldn't imagine you ever being a (INAUDIBLE) subservient wife. I'd imagine you being quite tough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, I -- not tough but I believe in marriage is of equals. My parents were, and that's how I would see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I think the guy's married but I guess (INAUDIBLE) looking for a plan B, Erick?

ERICKSON: You know maybe so. You know Condoleezza Rice and my wife remind me of each other, they play the piano well. They cook well. They love football and I'm scared of both of them.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You want a quick last word there?

BEGALA: I think I'll leave it at that. I want to watch the rest of the interview, but I'll look forward to it.

KING: All right, when we come back some dramatic news about the recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- our Dr. Sanjay Gupta next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There's major news tonight about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' remarkable recovery. Just a short time ago one of her doctors told reporters she's now able to stand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PETER RHEE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UMC TRAUMA CENTER: Today we were getting her out of bed again and we were able to stand with assistance on her. She's got the strength to stand on her own, lift her head up and these are -- I see improvements every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's talk this over now with our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Gupta, this is your business, treating the brain injury. The fact that she can stand on her own two feet and the doctors say they see other signs of progress too, what does that tell us?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well every single day, as Dr Rhee said, there has been some improvement. You know when -- I was talking to her husband, Mark Kelly, he said when he first met with the doctors they said, look, she's going to have some backward days, days where she's not only does not make improvement but things slide backwards. And you know it really has not happened, John, so that's I think a really important thing just in term of her recovery.

The reason standing is so important for her specifically is because this injury to the left side of her brain, one of the things they're most concerned about is what is the effect on the motor strength, the power on the right side of her body, the fact that you can bear weight on your right leg shows that she has a significant amount of strength in that leg. And that's why that's so significant. We're going to obviously want to know about her arm -- how her arm is doing now and in the future. But this is a significant development for that reason where this injury was located.

KING: And we're told now that as early as Friday she will leave the hospital in Tucson and be transferred to a longer term rehabilitation center in Texas, I believe in the Houston area. Her husband is an astronaut obviously and he is stationed at NASA in Houston. What happens then and what is the regiment she will face and sort of what is the threshold for knowing if she continues to make progress?

GUPTA: Right, good question, you know when it comes to brain sort of rehab, there are some pretty specific protocols, and they vary a little bit from institution to institution but sort of think of you know cognitive, behavioral, and emotional rehab. And think about that in terms of the brain. So cognitive, that one's easy you know, doing things to make sure that she's able to cognitively improve. It could start off simple, showing flash cards, making sure she recognizes, and is able to communicate that she recognizes this in some way.

Right now we have pretty good evidence, John that she is receiving communication well. She hears something and she can follow a command, but that's only half of speech. The other half of speech as you might guess is expression and obviously speaking, but writing, making gestures, all that sort of stuff, that's part of speech as well, they'll work on that. Behavioral therapy, making sure that she doesn't have periods of time where she becomes agitated or not responsive and emotional.

For obvious reasons people can lapse into depression, have post- traumatic stress problems after this, but it's that physical rehab, John that we were just talking about that will obviously be a big component of that. Not only the leg but the arm and really her whole body, considering how long she's, you know been in bed, just now getting up to a chair. Her swallowing, her --her, you know that's difficult to coordinate all the muscles for swallowing, especially after you've had a tracheostomy, as we know she had a few days ago.

So those are going to be some of the big things. They think of it in terms of baby steps, small steps every single Day. But also think of it, John, in terms of the way that a baby starts to learn activities again, rolling over for the first time, standing up, beginning to take steps, and eventually tending to yourself, combing your hair, being able to feed yourself. That's the progression, John.

KING: And so, Sanjay, you mentioned your conversation with Mark Kelly. You were the first reporter to talk to him. He gave an interview to ABC and Diane Sawyer asked him the question that many people are asking. Number one, can she go back to Congress and, number two, would Mark Kelly want her to go back. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you really want her to go back?

MARK KELLY, REP. GIFFORDS' HUSBAND: That's a tough, tough decision. Probably not, but I know that's probably not going to matter to her. I think -- I think she's such a devoted public servant that she's going to come out of this and be more resolved to fix things, you know, to make things better for people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With your experience, Dr. Gupta, and knowing how she is now, she can stand on her two feet; she's going into this long-term rehabilitation. When -- and let's pray that things continue to go well -- when is it possible that she and her family could even consider that question?

GUPTA: I think it's still several months away, John, and that's not to be evasive. But I think it's really hard that anyone could tell or should be able to say at this point because every patient is so individual. Let me say two things.

First of all, the quicker someone improves immediately after an injury the higher sort of their outcome will be overall. That's one of the things we know in neurosurgery. If they had quick improvement right after their endpoint is going to be much better, much higher.

But this point that I was bringing up earlier about her ability to express herself through speech, through written communication, through you know just simple things as gestures, we haven't seen clear evidence of that yet. I mean she can understand. I think that's been pretty clear now. She was even reading cards, we hear. But this expression -- we're going to need to see how well she can to that. And certainly as a member of Congress, you know, giving speeches, being able to give extemporaneous talks, all of that a big part of the job. And she's got to you know rehab probably a significant amount of it before she can do that well on her own.

KING: It is fascinating stuff. We of course wish her the best. Dr. Gupta, thanks for your insights and your help tonight. When we come back --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: -- a state visit at the White House. One of the big questions is jobs and the business environment. We'll talk with the CEO of Coca-Cola and Donald Trump just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A constant refrain from President Obama in and around his meetings with his Chinese counterpart is that better relations means more American jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Together we've shown that the United States and China when we cooperate can receive special benefits. The positive, constructive cooperative U.S./China relationship is good for the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: But the administration also has a long list of complaints about Chinese government behavior and it brought in a group of American CEOs to press for better access to Chinese markets and fairer treatment of U.S. companies operating in China. Among those on hand the chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, who is also the chairman of the U.S./China Business Council. Mr. Kent joins us from the State Department -- sir, thank you for your time.

I'm fascinated to get your experience. Your company has operated in China for 80 years and yet even Coca-Cola faces these bumps and hiccups. Back in 2009, you wanted to buy a Chinese juice company. You thought you had a deal. The Chinese government said no. Does the Chinese government unfairly treat international companies, specifically U.S. companies operating in its -- within its borders?

MUHTAR KENT, CHMN. & CEO, THE COCA-COLA COMPANY: I thought the mood there was very frank, very friendly, very open, dynamic, and positive mood in order to improve conditions for investment in both countries for businesses, innovation policies, improved innovation policies in China. Also, lift some restrictions on M&A. Some of those things that are still a lot of opportunities about.

And we still feel that as China brings more and more people into middle class, it is going to be great for China, it's going to be great for the United States as we export more, because let's also remember the last 10 months, Chinese -- exports to China from United States have been growing at a clip of about 30 plus percent, highest rate of growth of exports to any country.

KING: I appreciate the point, but you're being very diplomatic. Answer the question of an average American who's sitting maybe in Michigan, maybe in Wisconsin, maybe in North Carolina who's looking around and saying, we used to make toys here, we used to make furniture here, we used to XYZ here and my manufacturing plant is gone, and yet those products are coming in from China, but the president of the United States complains, other CEOs complain, and they would sit there and say, if our companies are not being treated fairly in China, why don't we slap tariffs on Chinese products coming into the United States just to make a point, just to get that level playing field?

KENT: I think what we have to look at is a new dynamic relationship, not just one where everyone is producing their own goods, but one where Chinese companies can come and invest here and create jobs for the United States. I'll give you an example, John, of Coca-Cola's investments in China, how those investments are also creating jobs right here in the United States.

One example, our -- we have a large, dynamic, growing juice business in China because there's more Chinese middle-class consumers. We have set up new $100 million plants in Auburndale, Florida, last year, opened it. And that has created an additional net 165 new jobs in that town in Florida, and creating many more indirect jobs because we're processing all our oranges from Florida growers, processing pulp and oranges concentrate, and shipping it exclusively to China to satisfy the needs of our growing business in China.

That's a great example of how an investment in China, an overseas market is a win/win both for China and the United States.

KING: That is a positive example, and yet, you also hear many not-so positive examples. The president himself raised the concerns of Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, who says for every 10 copies of Windows sold to China, one of them is actually manufactured by Microsoft, the rest are rip-offs, copycats.

Did you see in the meeting today a commitment to do a better job with what we call intellectual property protections?

KENT: Yes. I think we saw a commitment in mid-December when the Chinese Vice Premier Wang came here for the USCPF discussions. There were some progress made and we saw -- we heard again today a lot of further understanding of those issues that were being raised by both the U.S. administration as well as U.S. companies.

KING: When you travel the country, as I did a lot over the last couple of years for my work, a lot of people think we get the short end of the stick, that China gets most of the benefits in this economic relationship. Do you see evidence, and if you do, please be as specific as possible. For somebody out there watching, saying, here we go again, the Chinese president comes to the United States, they're talking about economics, I'm going to get screwed here and they're going the benefit -- explain to that person how this might get better.

KENT: Well, there can't be a better metric than 30 percent-plus growth in exports in the last 10 months of last year. That is the highest growth rate of exports that we do to any country. So, there couldn't -- that couldn't be -- there couldn't be anything better than that as a proof point.

KING: Muhtar Kent is the CEO of Coca-Cola -- sir, thank you for your time today.

KENT: Thank you.

KING: And as you just heard Mr. Kent acknowledges some problems. But he's largely upbeat about the state of economic ties with China, publicly anyway. I talked recently to someone who has a very, very different take, the real estate mogul, Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRES., THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I don't smile because there's nothing to smile about, but I do listen to the economists in the various morning shows and they talk about jobs.

And they say, how do you create jobs? They say, well, job growth, job growth. But how do create jobs when China is making our furniture, when I order curtain walls and the glass is ordered from China, curtain walls for buildings, when so many other products are made outside of the United States?

Toys are made outside of the United States. They used to be made in the United States. Furniture is made -- tremendous amounts of furniture coming in from other countries, in particular China.

And we're rebuilding other countries and nobody seems to do anything about it and nobody really picks up the mantle. I mean, I'm very strong on it. I'll do your program. I'll do other programs. I'll talk about how China is taking advantage of this country.

And I deal with the Chinese and I want to tell you, it's not necessarily fun. They're very smart. They're very cunning.

KING: What do you do about it? If whether it's your view that they're cheating or just that they're eating our lunch because they're faster, more nimbler, smarter? What do we do about it in this country? I assume you don't support protectionism. One answer would be just to wall off the country. But where does that get you?

TRUMP: Well, no, I would tax Chinese products.

Now, when you say cheating, they are cheating because they're manipulating their currency. It's very hard for the country to compete -- companies within the country -- to compete with Chinese companies and the nation because, in many cases, some of these companies are the nation because of the manipulation of the currency. Now, save something. The American product is better. I buy Chinese furniture and it's breaking all over the place.

You know the famous case of the Sheetrock. It's a disaster. It destroyed many people, the lives of many people. It's toxic. It's horrible.

KING: So, if that's your very sober, somewhat ominous message, what is your --

TRUMP: It's actually not ominous because it's easy to stop. It's easy to stop.

KING: Easy to stop here.

TRUMP: You start taxing Chinese products. It's very easy to stop.

I do business with them.

KING: So, why does the political system --

TRUMP: They pulled some tricks on me that are pretty bad and I get the whole deal, you know? And I will tell you that they're pulling in a much bigger way tricks on this country.

Now, I have Chinese businessmen that are friends of mine. They can't believe what they're getting away with. They can't believe it.

And you know what? All power to them. If the Chinese representatives are smarter than our representatives and if they can get away with it, hey, I'm a free enterprise guy, they should do it. But something has to be done because our country is going down very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's just look at one data point people point to when they're worried. Some are worried, some are more optimistic about the state of play. But as early as the beginning of the decade, the United States is blue, China is red. The United States is well ahead of China in terms of manufacturing output.

But watch the line through the last decade. Here's where we are now. China is slightly behind the United States. But here's the projection through the next decade -- China passing the United States in terms of manufacturing output. That is one of the concerns as the president discusses this relationship.

When we come back we'll talk U.S./China relationships with the man who has studied them deeply, Fareed Zakaria.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The night of celebration, pageantry and people-watching at the White House. The president and Michelle Obama dressed formally to honor President Hu Jintao of China with an official state dinner. He arrived in a simple business suit.

The guess list is a combination of Washington and Wall Street power players, with the sprinkling of Hollywood star power. Tonight's celebration comes after a long day of sometimes difficult diplomacy. And a bit earlier, I discussed the China challenge with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Fareed, let me just start with this threshold question. By what standard would you judge this summitry, a success or failure when it's over?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: I think the most important test is going to be -- has the United States been able to get China to agree to a sustained strategic conversation?

In other words, there are going to be problems between the United States and China. These are the two global giants in the system. But is there an agreement that we need to have a constant dialogue communication so that, at the very least, misperception, miscalculation, misunderstandings are minimized, you know? And that needs to happen at the military to military level, the economic level, and the political level

Is there some kind of understanding that this is going to now be the new summit diplomacy of the next 25 years? Just as the Cold War summits between the United States and the Soviet Union were the central decision-making points that would dominate, you know, world events and would keep the peace in the world? U.S./Chinese summits are going to have to be the place that problems are solved in the world.

KING: Well, let's go through some specific challenges and issues then. And I want to begin with human rights. First, I want you to listen briefly here. This is the president of the United States when the issue came up during the news conference. Listen to Mr. Obama's answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have been very candid with President Hu about these issues. Occasionally, they are a source of tension between our two governments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This is one of the great dances of diplomacy we go through all the time. In public, the United States is always very vague. They say they raise the human rights issues, there's more or less a form letter, the State Department sends over, the president read as his opening statement about the Dalai Lama and the rights of the Tibetan people, but no specific mention of a Nobel Peace Prize winner kept in prison, no specific mention of increased censorship, no specific mention of the hassles Google had recently with the Chinese government, Chinese diplomats, Fareed. And you know this, when you're talking to them and they'll say, well, if you do that in public, then you will make matters worse. But if it is such a recurring issue, such a recurring trouble, should the United States rip up the playbook and essentially raise these issues specifically and publicly?

ZAKARIA: I don't think so. Look, at the end of the day, you've got to ask yourself what is the benefit to the United States and what is the benefit to the cause of human rights? The United States, in terms of its national interest, gains nothing by annoying, provoking, angering the Chinese government with which it needs to work on every serious global issue, on every serious issue affecting the prosperity and the security of the American people.

Secondly, does it really help the cause of human rights in China for the president to needle Hu Jintao more aggressively with regard to this? Are they going to let more political prisoners out because of that?

All evidence we have suggests that when the Chinese are publicly confronted with something like this, they get their backs up. And they're -- you know, if you look at the currency issue, you will notice time and time again, when we pressure them to deal with their currency, to let it appreciate it, they don't do it.

When you use private pressure, they will quietly allow things to happen because they cannot see themselves as crying uncle to American pressure. So, they're very sensitive on that issue. So, you say to yourself, well, it's not really serving American interest. It's not really helping the cause of human rights. It's self-indulgent. It makes us feel good but it's not clear to me that it does much good.

KING: A fair explanation on that. But let's lean forward into the security issues. Again, all of the words were mostly vague. President Hu did say he hoped for more cooperation on the Korean Peninsula and other big global challenges. President Obama at one point leaned in to a little bit of the friction saying he believed the forward presence of the United States in Asia was one of the reasons of stability -- and we all know the Chinese don't necessarily see it that way when there are U.S. naval vessels and other operations in that part of the country.

Did you see anything, read anything between the lines that makes you suggest whether it be Korea, whether it be other issues, that they will have a more adult, a more cooperative relationship now based on these conversations?

ZAKARIA: John, I picked up on -- I picked up on exactly what you did. The president very clearly and unambiguously said the United States' presence in Asia is stabilizing. It is viewed that way, by the way, by almost other Asian country, from Japan to India to South Korea, to Australia.

Here, we have the real potential flare-up, which is that the Chinese military, the People's Liberation Army, the largest army in the world, very, very powerful, player within China politically, clearly views the United States as its enemy, as the country -- does war games against, the country that's trying to build up, to deter, whether it's with regard to Taiwan or something with regard to the South China Seas.

So, how this relationship plays out and whether or not the Chinese will ultimately be able to convince themselves or whether the civilians in China will be able to convince the military that the U.S. is actually a stabilizing force is going to be the central drama geopolitically that they (INAUDIBLE), because we're not going anywhere. We will be a central player. We are, at this point, the most important Pacific or Asian military power in Asia, even though we're not really an Asian power.

Will China accept that we are a power that's here to stay, or is it going to rub up against us constantly?

KING: And as we try to answer that question, one of the fascinating things we have learned in recent weeks is when Secretary Robert Gibbs is part of the advanced trip, was Beijing, and he was meeting with President Hu. He says and I spoken to several people who were around him at those meetings, that President Hu seemed genuinely surprised when Secretary Gates said you just tested a stealth fighter while I'm right here in your country. And I'm told that President Hu turned to his military aide, asked for an explanation. Now, there's no suggestion that President Hu is not in charged.

But are there rival factions within his own government that complicate this security challenge you're talking about?

ZAKARIA: Look, there are two things to be said here. You put it exactly right. One is, when we think about the United States, we're able to discuss our decision-making process with a lot of nuance and complexity. And we understand there is no such thing as the U.S. government. There are many different entities within it, factions within factions.

What China is becoming more like that, so that you can clearly see the difference between the People's Liberation Army, the military, and some of the civilian government. And, by the way, that has grown over the last 10 years because it used to be when Mao was in charge, when Deng Xiaoping were in charge, that they were the supreme civilian leaders, but they also had military credentials because they have led China through the battle of the 1940s that allowed the communist party to triumph.

Well, these guys currently running China, Hu Jintao, is a technocrat. Wen Jiabao is a geologist. They have no military background. They have no military credentials whatsoever. So, they have no formal military sway over the military.

That's I think the very important piece of this that we need to understand. So, there's more politics in China than we realize, and more complexity to their decision-making, and the military is more independent and less under control of the civilian authority than it was in the past. And that new development, that second development is one to really watch. KING: Fareed Zakaria, as always, thanks for your insights.

ZAKARIA: A pleasure, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This CNN breaking news.

KING: This breaking news just in to CNN.

This release from the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona. The suspected Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner has been indicted tonight on three counts of attempted assassination. The grand jury returning what the prosecutor calls a preliminary indictment, charging Jared Lee Loughner with attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman, and two of her aides. Those charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Now, of course, six people, including a federal judge and a 9- year-old girl, were killed in that shooting. The U.S. attorney explaining, as he releases this preliminary indictment, that death penalty charges require a more thorough process to go through Justice Department regulations, stressing that additional charges are likely in this case, including in the six murders there.

But three charges, today, right now, attempted assassination.

I want to bring in our senior analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, obviously, the prosecutor wanted to go on the record with some of these charges. But explain why he would do three now when we know obviously this suspected shooter is likely to face six counts of murder and also some additional shooting counts as well?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): That's right, John. He had to do something within 30 days because Loughner have arrested. Under federal rules, he would have had to have filed charges within 30 days. Those are just the beginning undoubtedly of a significant grand jury investigation.

None of the current charges, these three attempted murder charges, carry the potential for the death penalty, but as the accompanying statement makes clear, additional charges could be added that would carry the death penalty, because you can -- these are only attempted murder charges. And attempted murder does not carry the death penalty in any state or in the federal law, under federal law.

KING: And explain the status. And it's understandable. There's a higher threshold for a prosecutor to make a death penalty case and the U.S. attorney, Dennis Burke, makes that clear. He says, you know, to pursue the death penalty, the United States attorney's office must provide information to the capital review committee, capital punishment obviously, being the form or term for the death penalty.

Explain that process and why and the good reasons for it that a prosecutor faces a higher threshold? TOOBIN: There are a lot of charges all related to murder that have the potential of carrying the death penalty. But the United States has decided, the Justice Department, that there has to be consistency in how it's applied. So, any time any U.S. attorney's office is considering applying the death penalty, they have to go to Washington, to the Justice Department, and get an approval. There's a committee that deals with these issues and that is the beginning of the process that's described today.

It takes a considerable amount of time and this case is not going to be tried any time soon, that's for sure.

KING: An excellent point there.

Before I let you go, Jeff, I want to raise -- obviously, you make a very good point. It will take some time for the capital punishment cases, the murder charges most likely because of the higher standard and the process necessary. Interesting in reading a release from the U.S. attorney's office, again, Jared Lee Loughner, if you're just joining in, breaking news tonight, is he's been indicted on three counts of attempted assassination of federal officials. One a congresswoman and two are her aides who were shot, Ron Barber and Pam Simon. The U.S. attorney stressing additional charges are likely as the investigation continues.

But, Jeff, he also noted these three counts, as I noted, carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine or both. But then -- I would say the press release does not, but I think is a reflection of the high intensity and the politics of this case -- the U.S. attorney goes on to note that the judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence. I'm sort of struck. That's in the release.

TOOBIN: That's right. The judge is not -- he can't go -- he can't do more than is authorize by the statute. He can do less. But I think by the time Loughner goes to trial, the charges are likely to look very different. This is really a place for indictment. There's a 30-day deadline. He was arrested a little more than a week ago. They had to have some charges in place before the 30 days.

But the grand jury investigation will continue. There's a long way to go in this case. So, I think certainly, these charges will be there when he ultimately goes to trial. But I am certain there will be more as well.

KING: Jeff Toobin, I appreciate your hustle to join us tonight on this breaking news.

Jared Lee Loughner, again, if you're just joining us, the suspected shooter in the Tucson shooting, has been indicted tonight on three accounts of attempted assassination, including attempting to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the other two involved shooting two of her aides. The other charges, the U.S. attorney says are pending, continuing the investigation.

Jeff Toobin, appreciate your insight. We will stay on top of this case here at CNN.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, though, back to the president's high-stakes diplomacy with China. And what Democrat today and it's a leading Democrat called the president of China a dictator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A live picture at the White House there, a state dinner under way for the visiting president of China, Hu Jintao. But many prime politicians aren't there. Let's talk that over though with our senior White House correspondent Ed Henry and senior political analyst Gloria Borger.

Reflection of the daily politics with China, the Speaker of the House John Boehner is there, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, is not there. Harry Reid, in a recent interview in Nevada, called Hu Jintao a dictator.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and Boehner is not there. Right.

KING: Boehner is not there.

BORGER: Boehner is not there and I spoke with someone on the staff today. I said, well, why is he not going? He's now the speaker of the House, right? And he said, well, I actually checked with him and he said he hasn't been to a state dinner since Queen Elizabeth came since 2007, and he's not really a state dinner kind of guy.

ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's a little less controversial --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And so, he said don't read anything into it. But, of course, you have to read something into it.

KING: The first state dinner since he's been speaker. You read something into it.

BORGER: Right. Yes.

HENRY: And the bottom line is, I think CNNMoney.com had the best line of the week in all the commentary about this state visit, which was: if China and the U.S. had Facebook accounts, relationship status would say, it's complicated and it is.

You know, and it's also complicated for the congressional leaders who -- you know, John Boehner has some people in his conference who today, Republicans on the Hill, Chris Smith, who's big on human rights, from New Jersey, who said, why is the president standing against someone who should be, he said, in the Hague, for human rights abuses and crimes, you know?

And so, there are people on his conference and there are people as well in Harry Reid's caucus who think that this is a little bit over the top all the red carpet.

BORGER: And don't forget when George W. Bush hosted Hu, he just did a lunch and they were insulted beyond all belief. So, I think we have to say this is about business.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: It's about business and jobs and the president was pretty bald open about that today, saying jobs, jobs, jobs. But Nancy Pelosi is another one. Now, she has long -- being California, San Francisco, the Asian American community, she has long pressed -- she mentioned union rights as well, she mentioned Tiananmen Square massacre, bipartisan concern in Congress about the human rights situation in China and Tibet. She said, "It's my hope that they address these issues.

The president was relatively muted in public today. Now, that's the way they used to do it. They say they're stern in private, muted in public, because the Chinese get mad if you call them.

HENRY: Yes, he made clear like, look, we disagreed, we've had candid, frank discussion, (INAUDIBLE) we've disagreed about this. But he also made very clear that you've got to balance this out a little bit with the economy. It's all about jobs for this president.

When he said -- it was pretty funny actually when he said, look, I'm ready to sell you cars, I want to sell your planes. He was salesman in chief. He wants China to invest more money.

BORGER: But talk about walking a fine line. Here's the president, who's a 2009 Nobel Prize winner, the 2010 Nobel Prize winner is in prison in China.

KING: That's a tough one for the president.

BORGER: Right.

KING: We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Breaking legal news, Jared Loughner indicted on three preliminary counts in Arizona. We'll be on top of the case in the days and hours ahead. That's all from us tonight. We'll see you right here tomorrow.

"PARKER SPITZER" starts right now.