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JOHN KING, USA

Iowa Straw Poll; Republican Presidential Candidates

Aired August 12, 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: Good evening, everyone.

The butter sculptures and the deep fried Twinkies had a little competition at the Iowa State Fair today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what we need to do is this, tell Barack Obama he had his chance (INAUDIBLE). I love the Constitution. I love the Constitution and I love the Tea Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people have an appetite for a non-politician. I have never held public office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is where Barack Obama got his start. This is where he's going to come to his end, in Iowa. Did you get the change and the hope you believed in?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Well, it turns out those Republican candidates they had a little competition, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I'm stealing anybody's spotlight. (INAUDIBLE) spotlight go, go find the other folks and say hello.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, Sarah Palin wasn't in the big debate last night and she is not on Saturday's Iowa straw poll ballot, but she rolled into the state fair, nonetheless, even working at a little dig at the newest candidate, the Texas governor, Rick Perry, as he let everyone know she may yet join the Republican dance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: There's a lot of contemplation that needs to go into such an earth shattering life changing decision for a family.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: A lot of feisty politics and a packed hour tonight, including putting several debate statements to the truth test, like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. I was very vocal against that tax and I fought against that tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's begin live in Iowa on the eve of the Republican straw poll that has no official role in the GOP nominating contest, but has a history of derailing once promising candidacies. At the state fair in Des Moines tonight a long time Iowa Christian conservative activist Steve Scheffler and our chief political correspondent and the anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley, Candy Crowley. Candy, I want to start with you and, yes, I want to start with the not so surprised visit I will call it of Governor Palin today. After the debate before the straw poll she says oh shucks go pay attention to the others but she was clearly, clearly trying to say, I'm still here.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And as a matter of fact I talked to (INAUDIBLE), who is a long time observer of Iowa. He knows a few things about Iowa politics and he said listen, I think she's going to get in. I mean why else would you show up here? I would only say to that because right now Sarah Palin's job basically is you know speeches and raising money for her PAC and staying visible certainly helps that. But she gives out all the signals that she's going to run and that she sure is thinking about it. I think most of the betting is that she won't, but she likes to leave that door open for a lot of reasons I think.

KING: Steve Scheffler, I know you were watching last night and one of the big dynamics is the Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty needs to win Iowa. The Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann probably needs to win Iowa. So the state motto is "Minnesota Nice". I want you to listen to a bit of the debate that we'll call "Minnesota Spice".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM PAWLENTY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's an indisputable fact that in Congress her record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Governor, when you were governor in Minnesota, you implemented cap and trade in our state and you praised the unconstitutional individual mandate.

PAWLENTY: It's not her spine we're worried about. It's her record of results. If that's your view of effective leadership with results, please stop because you're killing us.

BACHMANN: You said the era of small government was over. That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now you might be surprised there. You hear Michele Bachmann saying Tim Pawlenty said the era of small government is over. Before we get to Steve Scheffler, we wanted to check. Did a Republican really say that? And yes he did. In an interview in August 2006 with the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" Tim Pawlenty said "the era of small government is over. I'm a market person, but there are certain circumstances where you've got to have government put up the guardrails or bust up entrenched interests." He went on to say "Government has to be more proactive, more aggressive, so Congresswoman Bachmann was telling the truth when she said that. Steve Scheffler, one of the Minnesota candidates, do we lose one of them tomorrow at the straw poll?

STEVE SCHEFFLER, CHAIR., IOWA FAITH & FREEDOM COALITION: I think they both have to do very well tomorrow. I don't think that if they come in third place, that it's necessarily a death knell (ph), but I think it would be very helpful to their candidacy if they come in first or a close second, so yes, there is a lot at stake here, but I would say they have to probably end up in at least the top three, that's for sure.

KING: At least the top three you say. Candy, you talked to Senator Santorum today. He's one of the lesser known candidates. But he said he has to come in the top five. Explain to our viewers, this event has nothing, nothing to do with delegates, nothing to do with who gets to be the nominee officially. Yet it has a pretty good history. Anything you say, it is a bit of a circus act maybe, but yet it has pushed some credible candidates off the cliff.

CROWLEY: Right. It doesn't pick winners but it can choose some losers here. I talked to somebody and I said this is the most meaningful, meaningless event that I think we covered in politics because everybody sort of trashes and he said this is a fundraiser for the Republican Party and it is indeed that. But it also shows you, can these people, some of whom have been on the ground for quite some time now here in Iowa, can they get their supporters together on you know a Saturday and to spend a full Saturday listening to speeches in August, in Iowa and get them to go to this straw poll.

So there's a certain amount of coordination and how is your campaign doing test to it. But on the other hand, the votes don't count toward the caucuses. They don't count toward anything. Everyone has to pay $30 in order to get in so that they can go vote. So there is a lot of sort of markers in here that tell you that this is not an exact test. But it's become a very important test and quite a good fund-raiser for the Republican Party here.

KING: Quite a good fund-raiser. I'm going to ask Candy and Steve Scheffler to stand by just a minute. The former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman, isn't on the straw poll ballot and says he'll likely skip the Iowa caucuses to focus on New Hampshire's lead-off primary. But he was in Iowa to make his debate debut before moving on to New Hampshire. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Governor Huntsman is with us from Manchester, New Hampshire tonight. Governor, it was your debate debut last night in Iowa. I want to read to you a bit of the review from "The Des Moines Register". "He was a scoop of vanilla in a dish of rocky road. Smooth, a little bland and different from the rest. Huntsman isn't campaigning in Iowa and his position such as defending civil unions for same-sex couples would scuttle him with most GOP caucus-goers." I guess not the greatest review. Are you vanilla, a scoop of vanilla and a dish of rocky road?

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, all you can do is be yourself. All you can do is run on your record, not from your record. We're very pleased to be in this race. We are a blue sky people here in America. We want solutions. We want to find ways to get out of the most difficult economic circumstances we've been in since the Great Depression and sadly in debate formats like that you know so much of it is based on drama, so much of it is based upon interpersonal politics.

You rarely get a chance to talk about the things that really need to be done in this country, things like our ability to articulate a record from the state of Utah where we had historic tax cuts, created the most business-friendly environment and took that state to the number one creator in terms of jobs, same thing that needs to happen in this country. Didn't get around to talk about, for example, where we are in Afghanistan.

We fought the good war for 10 years. This should not be about nation building. We should bring our folks home and recognize the reality of the situation which is a counter terror effort.

KING: You did repeatedly say in the debate last night, I'm running on my record. You mentioned tax cutting. You mentioned you defended your position on civil unions. Some GOP voters won't like that, but you explained your position. There was one issue where in the past you have said on illegal immigration, secure the border. Get tougher there, but also deal with reality. There are, whether it's 12 million or 20 million people, people dispute the numbers here in the country illegally. Your position in the past has been we have to deal with that. We're not going to pick them up and kick them out, but here's what you said last night.

HUNTSMAN: Correct.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN: I'm simply going to prove to the American people that we can secure the border. That's what they want done. And I'm not going to talk about anything else until we get it done. Secure the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's what John McCain did in the last campaign. He was someone who said you know find a path to status, in one case citizenship for them, but then it became so controversial on the right he said secure the border first, then we'll deal with everything else. Isn't that in a way running from your record?

HUNTSMAN: No, I still stand by everything I said in the past. All I'm saying is, we've got to prove to the American people that we can take one step initially that will build a sense of confidence in this broader discussion about immigration and there's nothing more important to the American people right now than just proving the point that we can secure the border.

KING: Eight candidates up on stage, Governor Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is perceived as the national front-runner right now. Everybody knows the economy is issue one. And as the candidates press their case and press their case against the incumbent, President Obama, Governor Romney said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand how the economy works. Herman Cain and I, the two on the stage here, who have actually worked in the real economy. If people want to send to Washington someone who spent their entire career in government, they can choose a lot of folks. But if they want to choose somebody who understands how the private sector works, they are going to have to chose one of us because we've been in it during our career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Governor Romney understand the private sector and the economy better than Governor Huntsman?

HUNTSMAN: Well, all you have to do is look at the record, John. In Massachusetts you had a lot of people leave that state because of the economic circumstances. You had a state that was 47th in terms of job creation. Our state was number one. You had a state that basically foisted a mandate to healthcare reform plan on people (INAUDIBLE) costs escalate and quality drop. In our state, we basically relied on the free market approach to connecting people with the insurance policies. You saw tax increases, fee increases in the state of Massachusetts.

In our state we had historic tax cuts. I believe when you go up against somebody like President Obama who has zero record to stand on as it relates to expanding the economy and creating jobs, our party is going to want a nominee who basically comes from a background that speaks the success. That's not 47th, that's first.

KING: And yet if you're running on your record and you believe you have this stronger record to compare to Governor Romney, for example. "Salt Lake Tribune" poll out just today, sir, Utah Republican voters -- that's your state -- Utah Republican voters' choice for president, Romney 71, Huntsman, 13. Why do the folks back home think Governor Romney is a better nominee?

HUNTSMAN: Well, he's been running for president for 35 years out there. I was governor of the state, I carried every single county. If you're going to switch from being governor and I think a well respected governor that won close to 80 percent in our reelection to running for president where someone has been doing it for a lot of time. You know it's going to take awhile to transition into that position, but the poll that I like best, John, was out just a few weeks ago and it had a head-to-head against President Obama and I came out number one by a long shot in that poll and I think that's the poll that matters most to the people of Utah. And that's the poll that will matter most to the people of this country.

KING: Governor Jon Huntsman is campaigning in New Hampshire tonight. Governor we'll see you soon on the trail.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you, John. I appreciate it.

KING: Take care, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Still ahead a closer look at the Palin factor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: (INAUDIBLE) a sexist notion to consider the two women would be kind of duking it out. No, if I'm going to duke it out, I'm going to duke it out with a guy (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And next back live to Iowa. How the straw poll works and how the debate reflected the high stakes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back live to Iowa in a moment, but first let's take a look at how this quirky straw poll works. It's in Ames, Iowa. Republicans have been doing it for a long time, as Candy Crowley noted in the last bloc, it's a fund-raiser. These are the candidates who have paid for space. You pay for space here. Ron Paul has the premium space right here.

Mitt Romney paid for that a few years ago, $30,000 to get right in front, people coming in. Now these candidates you see, Mr. Cain, Congresswoman Bachmann, Thad McCotter -- he's a congressman from Michigan -- Senator Santorum, Governor Pawlenty, Congressman Paul, they have paid for premium space here. These are candidates who are on the ballot. Speaker Gingrich, Governor Huntsman and Governor Romney, they're not paying for space. They say that they are not really playing, but they are on the straw poll ballot.

So what happens here? How does this work out? Well folks can show up. They come to the tents in the morning. They all show up from all over Iowa. Candidates pay to bus them in. They buy their tickets in a lot of cases. Candidates all give speeches and people cast ballots. You get the picture. It's a straw poll. That's how it works. Now if you go back in time look at the winners. George H.W. Bush in '79, Pat Robertson in '87, Bob Dole and Phil Gramm -- I remember this one -- I was there -- they tied in 1995. George W. Bush wins in '99, Mitt Romney in 2007. So does the winner of the straw poll, boom, do they go on to be the nominee? No. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole did do it here. George W. Bush did it here. John McCain was the nominee in 2007.

(INAUDIBLE) so what happens Saturday doesn't necessarily mean there is your winner in the race, but here's what it can do. This is the impact of the straw poll. He was a governor then. He's a senator now. Governor Alexander, former Vice President Quayle, former Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole -- she would go on to be a senator, but their presidential candidates ended in the days or hours immediately after straw polls because their performance was so week.

That was in the 2000 cycle. In the last cycle former Governor Thompson, former Senator Brownback, boom, gone because of poor low expectations, straw poll performances. So what do you look for in 2012? Number one, Governor Pawlenty has to have a strong showing. He's from neighboring Minnesota. Number two, Congressman Paul has a very strong grassroots network. Do they show up to give him a win or at least a top two or three showing?

And there's a write-in option. Governor Perry is announcing tomorrow he won't be in Iowa. Will Iowans be mad that he's not there for their straw poll or might they write him in? Watch that for conservative support. And I'm just going to do this in the end just for fun because it is a bit of a circus atmosphere. It really doesn't count. What you don't want to be though is somebody who was expected to be in the car when it leaves to be left behind.

Let's get back live to our guests out in Iowa, Candy Crowley of course and the chairman of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, Steve Scheffler. Steve Scheffler, even evangelicals are very important in Iowa. Some parts of the country people complain about that, but even evangelicals like yourself very important in the Iowa caucus process, very important in this straw poll potentially tomorrow because of organization skills.

There was a question in the debate last night -- Michele Bachmann was asked about an interview a few years back where she said her husband at one point said you should be a tax lawyer and she said oh god no, that's the last thing I want to do, but then she decided to take his advice to be submissive because the Lord wanted her to be submissive to her husband. Here's her answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I'm in love with him. I'm so proud of him. And both he and I, what submission means to us, if that's what your question is, it means respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful godly man and a great father and he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I was having a couple of phone conversations and e-mail conversations with friends in evangelical community or with ties to the evangelical community, she obviously has support in the community, but she got pretty good reviews for that answer last night. A lot of people are probably saying, what is this all about. Explain why it matters.

SCHEFFLER: I think she did an excellent job in answering that question. I think it's pretty disgusting though that the press even asked her that question. I can't imagine in a million years that a liberal Democrat candidate running for president would ever be asked that question. And I think she gave the perfect answer and it's what most of us evangelical, the non-evangelicals would agree with that answer that she gave us last night.

KING: So Candy, you have this Pawlenty-Bachmann I think is the biggest drama tomorrow. One of them probably will have their candidacy wounded by this. What other sub plot should we be looking for?

CROWLEY: Well, you know, I think there are actually a lot of things, a lot of people who have their fate tied up in this. And it may take a month, it may take two months because, remember, it's not really that you lose the Iowa straw poll, it's that people see you losing it and that's when the money dries up. And you just can't get from August in Iowa to January in Iowa -- I'm sorry -- February of this year in Iowa or New Hampshire without money.

So who is kind of on the ropes? Rick Santorum who has said he has to place at least in the top five. Herman Cain, he hasn't really put -- he says he has to do well. They don't want to sort of -- most of them, at least put a number on it. But he does have to do well because they need that money to move forward.

It's not enough as you move on not to have the ability to put ads on the air, not to have the ability to have paid staff on the ground. So you are looking at -- you know Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich can get along on a shoestring as he has shown, but nonetheless there are some times what if you do really poorly. As Santorum said to me, you know listen, if I don't do well, if I don't place in that top five it says something about the structure I've got.

It says to me I don't have the vehicle I need to go from here and win the caucuses. So I think there will be a lot of gut checks, as we say, a lot of looking at the numbers after this Iowa straw poll comes in because the numbers are directly tied to the money and the money is directly tied to the ability to move on.

KING: And Steve Scheffler, to Candy's point about organization, when we go through this every four years, some people say it doesn't count why does it get so much attention. But we often do learn, either about a surprise candidate who has a deeper organization than we might have thought or more appeal or a surprise issue that is motivating people to turn out. What is unique, in your view, about this year? SCHEFFLER: What's unique about what now?

KING: About this campaign -- what makes it different from years past?

SCHEFFLER: This -- you mean this straw poll cycle, is that what you're talking about?

KING: Yes, sir.

SCHEFFLER: I think this is the first year in many, many years that has been this fluid this late in the race. It's not late for the country per Senate, but it's late for Iowa. And so I think that brings some excitement to the air and I think those candidates -- this test tomorrow is absolutely crucial. Because it shows their organizational muster and so I think you know the widow (ph) me out process is not necessarily a bad process. Because these candidates need to show their organizational muster before they get to the caucuses in February.

KING: Steve Scheffler, Candy Crowley, appreciate you live at the Iowa State Fair. Enjoy the fair tonight while you're doing your jobs out there. Appreciate it very much.

When we come back still ahead the Sarah Palin factor, will she run? We'll talk to somebody who knows her well and a rock and roll week on Wall Street comes to an end. We'll check in on that, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A lot of you complain that Sarah Palin gets so much attention, even those of you who aren't actually running for the Republican presidential nomination. Here's the thing, if you're covering this race, you cannot ignore her potential impact and it would be easier to ignore her if say, she did not show up in New Hampshire during Mitt Romney's announcement tour. Or in Iowa just ahead of a straw poll critical to several of her potential rivals.

The media circus was inevitable and to watch is to see a politician deliberately ignoring some questions and eagerly answering others. For example, today she was asked about the Tea Party, was it the reason for the government's credit rating downgrade, and she jumped right in and said no actually the Tea Party deserves credit for keeping the conversation about the debate going here. So when will she tell us if she's in or out?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: That I'm not the only one who has not decided yet and not ready to announce one way or the other yet because there's still -- you know there's still a lot of contemplation that needs to go into such an earth shattering life-changing decision for a family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's Peter Hamby is as good a Palin tracker as you can find and he's live at the Iowa State Fair tonight. Sorry to take you away from the corn dogs and the chocolate wrapped bacon or whatever it is out there. Peter, she comes to this state fair today. You were on her bus tour, the "One Nation Tour" when it made its way up the East Coast and said hello Governor Romney during his tour. It was striking, obviously she picked the timing on purpose and then one of the things she said, and you can't see her in the media scrub, but I want people to listen closely.

She was the former governor of Alaska, obviously. Rick Perry is the governor of Texas now. The governor of Texas as we learned in George W. Bush days doesn't have as much power as many governors and Sarah Palin decided to point that out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: You have different functions in the state of Texas and the state of Alaska in terms of governing powers in the governor's office. So kind of tough to compare what the executive duties are. You have a very, very strong governor's office, form of government up there, so -- but he's a great guy and I look forward to seeing him in those debates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Maybe, Peter, I'm making too much of this. But we have a very, very strong governor's office in Alaska and he's a great guy.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean that was not just the only gentle criticism she made of -- of -- excuse me -- Rick Perry. They have a close, warm friendly relationship but she also said that Perry has sort of flip-flopped. She said she was surprised that he changed his position on whether or not he's going to run. I think what you're seeing here, John, is Palin is really trying to keep alive the prospect of her candidacy and she realizes that Rick Perry and her have a lot of similarities.

You know their appeal to Tea Party activists and social conservatives, also the potential to raise a lot of money. So she's trying to kind of keep a little bit of a window open there by kind of gently pressing Rick Perry. You know that's her prerogative. She's here in Iowa today, as you said, kind of making a splash, stealing attention from the rest of the candidates.

KING: And we know -- we know the other candidates grumble privately about that, Peter, but what about the Iowa activists? You're out there talking to people who turn out for straw polls, who help organize for the caucuses, who send the e-mails, who pound on the doors, who show up outside the churches with the leaflets. Are they annoyed at this or do they think she can take as long as she wants?

HAMBY: Yes, you're right. I mean there are some private you know grumblings among sort of the operative class out here, but two things on that front, John. One just minutes before Palin arrived here in Iowa, Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, was walking around with a handful of aides. People didn't even recognize the guy. Literally 30 minutes later Sarah Palin is mobbed not just by reporters, but honest voters, well wishers, people coming up, they wanted to get their picture taken with her with Todd Palin.

That kind of just natural grassroots support that some of the other candidates just don't have. And people also question whether or not Palin is sort of laying the ground work for a campaign, doing those traditional things that you do when you run for president, line- up steering committees and donors and that sort of thing. But Palin promised today that if she did run, she would build (ph) out a very grassroots oriented campaign and she was kind of being shepherded through this crowd by an Iowa political operative and she met with activists privately after she left us, so she is doing a little bit of work on the side just in case she does decide to run -- John.

KING: Just in case. Peter Hamby live at the State Fair tonight. Thanks Peter. And ask most political pros what Governor Palin is up to and most shrug. That's because she keeps a very tiny inner circle and makes clear she doesn't trust the political establishment.

One exception is Fred Malek, whose role in Republican politic dates back to the Nixon days. Malek is with us from Aspen tonight.

Fred, it's good to see you. You've been Sarah Palin's escort. You've had meetings with her in Washington. Here, you've introduced her to people.

Is she going to run?

FRED MALEK, CHAIRMAN, THAYER LODGING GROUP: Sarah Palin is a friend and I think she does a great job of energizing people and in getting people interested in voting. I think we owe her a great deal of gratitude for helping with the Tea Party to get people focused on shrinking government and not expanding it. I don't think you can see her on a ballot. But at the same time, I think she'll continue to have an influence because she does suck up a lot of oxygen in a room and she does really bring a lot of attention to wherever she goes.

So, I think she will be influential. I think she'll be a part of the process but I don't expect to see her on the ballot. Having said that, I do believe, John, that our nominee, the next president of the United States, is going to be a governor or a former governor, but I don't think it's going to be Sarah Palin.

KING: Well, then, why do this? You know her well. You've been through this with George H.W. Bush. You've been through this with John McCain. You've been through this with others.

You know what it's like, especially those candidates who desperately need a good straw poll showing. The last thing you need Sarah Palin rolling into the state fair today.

Why does she do this, then?

MALEK: Well, I can't answer that. You have to ask her. I think John did ask her in a previous interview. I think why she does it was that she feels that she belongs to the center of activity. She wants to have an influence on this race. I think she wants to bring more attention to it and bring more people out and assure that the Tea Party and other members of the center right are out there supporting the candidates.

I think it's a good thing. I think she brings people out. And I'm all for it.

But I do not believe that she's going to run. I don't know then. I haven't talked to her in a couple of moths. She hasn't told me one way or another. But I think it's highly improbable that she's going to run.

Fortunately, we have four other governors or former governors who are running and all of them are really qualified to lead the country.

KING: I think the fact that she hasn't called you and asked you to help raise money, I think that speaks volumes, although I'm never quite sure if the rules apply when it comes to Governor Palin.

Let me ask you lastly, you mentioned governors and former governors in the race. Who do you think, at this early moment, based -- you see the debate last night, Governor Perry wasn't there. But at this early moment do you think is the best person, both from a records standpoint and from an energy standpoint, a debating skills standpoint stand up against Barack Obama?

MALEK: Yes. We really have four of them. But let me just mention a couple of things. One, what this country is searching for, John, what this country really needs is leadership. We are in an absolute economic quagmire. We need somebody out there and lead, has a proven record of leadership -- and it's only the governors that have done it.

Mitt Romney did a great job last night at the debate. He has led in the private sector. He's led as a governor and he's led the Salt Lake Olympics.

Rick Perry, as governor of Texas, has created more jobs in the state of Texas than the rest of the country combined over his tenure as governor.

And Tim Pawlenty has governed highly successfully in a blue state over eight years and demonstrated that a conservative can balance the budget and create jobs.

So, we have great candidates out there -- any one of whom will match up well because they are leaders. The man (INAUDIBLE) is not a leader. And our next president, I believe, is going to be one of those three.

KING: Fred Malek, appreciate your time from Aspen. And if Governor Palin does call, give me a shot, OK?

MALEK: Sure will. Thanks, John.

KING: Take care, friend.

Still ahead here: is it constitutional to block cell phone service for everyone because you think protesters might be texting to organize?

And next, he was once George W. Bush's lieutenant governor. Now, Rick Perry wants to bring cowboy boots back to the Oval Office.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

Here's the latest news you need to know right now:

An Oklahoma man is under arrest tonight for allegedly placing a pipe bomb under a gas pipeline. A robot disarmed on Wednesday. The FBI says the suspect had similar bombs in his home. But isn't a disgruntled worker or connected to any terrorist group?

Tanks and troops from Syria's military moved into to yet another town today to put down anti-government demonstrations. While government thugs in plain clothes opened fire on demonstrations after Friday prayers in Hama, the city military pulled out of early this week.

An important but not definitive ruling in court fight over health care reform. A federal appeals court in Georgia says Congress doesn't have the power to force you to buy insurance. That's the exact opposite of an earlier ruling from an appeals court in Ohio, at a similar case still before yet another court in Virginia.

Keep an eye on the Atlantic this weekend. There are four areas of disturbed weather that could develop into tropical storms. One near Bermuda already is a tropical depression.

And after a while, a week of ups and downs, Wall Street had an up day today. The Dow industrials closed nearly 126 points higher. But for the week, they are down 1.5 percent.

A wild week in global markets, too.

So, let's talk things over with Richard Quest of CNN International's "Quest Means Business."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: So, Richard Quest, you're a pro at this. This is what you do everyday. We just ended one of the most volatile weeks at least in my memory.

What did we learn? Are we going to stay on the roller coaster? Or is there a flat stretch?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": The second part of the question I simply have to say I don't know.

The first part of the question, we learned I think this week that we're in a new a paradigm, that the market, which did something that we've never seen before, four successive days of 400-point moves, from open -- from close to close, and that tells us that we are in a new era. We have to get used to it.

We've always known volatility was increasing, especially as a result of high frequency trading strategies, more powerful computers.

But the ability of major markets, mature markets to make such dramatic swings, does give us cause for thought and pause for reflection.

KING: And at the end of the week, here in the United States, we get some encouraging retail sales numbers. We get encouraging downward slide in first-time claims for unemployment. So, that's the reason I think maybe, maybe some building blocks.

But still a lot of uncertainties on your side of the pond about the Euro zone and the debt crisis.

QUEST: Yes, you are a glass half full man tonight, and I could just as easily point out to you the consumer sentiment numbers from the University of Michigan, which were the worst for three decades. Consumer sentiment and consumers are two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

Now, I don't say that just to pour water and to be going into the weekend. I say it because it shows the uncertainty of what's taking place.

KING: Volatility ahead, likely as well.

Richard Quest in London tonight -- I appreciate it, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Let's take one quick look at how this could impact you. Imagine an average 401(k). It's about $75,000, invested in the pretty predictable S&P 500 funds. Remember July, that's when the debt debate took off here in Washington. You had $75,000 then, you'd have about $63.000 today. That is what has happened over the past few weeks of volatility. Ouch!

When we come back, Texas Governor Rick Perry joins the 2012 presidential race tomorrow. Next, we'll talk to the man who's introducing him when he makes that big announcement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "ANDERSON COOPER 360" begins at the top of the hour. Anderson here now with a preview.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": John, thanks very much.

We're keeping them honest tonight in the program.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is running for president obviously. But tonight, we examine his track record of saying one thing and doing another when it comes to taking money from Washington. His supporters call his economic policies the Texas miracle. They failed to mention, as his critics will quickly mention, the billions of dollars in federal money used to support it. Tonight, we're keeping them honest.

Other Republican candidates facing the big test tomorrow in Iowa. Tonight, we'll tell you which candidates say this weekend might be break or make for him. It's the Iowa straw poll.

Michele Bachmann is one of the frontrunners is taking part. Mitt Romney is not. We'll explain why. We'll talk to John King and Candy Crowley.

And in crime and punishment tonight, just stunning tapes these audiotapes that were used to convict polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs. The tapes brought many of the jurors to tears. They have finally been released, Jeffs instructing underage girls how to pleasure him. We'll play some of the tapes for you tonight, talk with two former members of Jeffs' sect.

Those stories. We'll also have an update on Somalia. And tonight's "Ridiculist," I'm going to make you laugh before the evening is done.

All that at the top of the hour -- John.

KING: That's a good thing especially on a Friday night and we'll see you in a few minutes, Anderson. Thanks.

And as Anderson just noted, Rick Perry is getting a lot of attention because Rick Perry, the Texas governor, makes it official tomorrow. He joins the Republican race for president. He decided to make his announcement at the annual conservative Red State gathering. Red State, of course, is led by our CNN contributor, Erick Erickson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Is he your guy or are you just being nice and introducing him?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm just introducing him. I'm trying very hard to stay neutral in this and just try to get people my objective feedback on what I think of the candidate.

Do I like him? I like him a lot. He's a good friend.

But I like Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain as well and several of the others.

KING: We've talked a lot about some grumblings and some of it happens every four years. Some of it seems a little bit higher volume this year about we don't like this field. I want you to listen to Governor Perry. this is an interview with our affiliate WMUR in New Hampshire.

He says: give me four years as your president and you'll get this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: My hope is that in four years, people can take a look at what we've done in Washington, D.C., and they know that I have made Washington, D.C. less consequential in their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Soft spoken there, but that's an important message to conservatives, no?

ERICKSON: It very much is. And that's what you hear a lot. George Bush wanted to go to Washington to change the tone and was largely a failure at changing the tone of Washington.

Rick Perry just wants to go to Washington and make it less consequential.

It's very interesting, one of the common threads I hear among social conservatives and libertarians who don't really social conservatives is they both just want the "leave me the heck alone" caucus to win. They want Washington out of their lives and none of the candidates seem to be sending that message.

John, I'll tell you the most profound thing about this, is in the past 48 hours, I've been literally inundated with emails from members of Congress using their personal email accounts, state legislators around the country, wanting to see if I can get them into having face time with Governor Perry. I can't do it by the way. But a lot of these guys, some of them who have pledged other candidates in the past and seem to be pledging to other candidates now, it seems like there's just a profound lack of excitement about the other candidates.

If Perry can hold on and not be a paper tiger, then I think he gets some real traction.

KING: Day 90 and day 180 will matter a lot more than day one. But on day one, Governor Perry hurts who in the field the most?

ERICKSON: I think that Governor Perry probably hurts in the field the most on day one, Tim Pawlenty, who was really running to be the alternative to Mitt Romney, the conservative evangelical, who has also got a good fiscal record.

But I really do think it hurts Mitt Romney as well. Mitt Romney has had this perception, really, I think the perception is healthy more than the reality. The perception that he would be the winner.

If you look a lot of the polling though, who do you think will win, whether or not you support him, a lot of people have said Mitt Romney, that number has been going down, down, down -- and once he crosses the psychological threshold of most people thinking he won't be the nominee, I think with Perry being the fresh face in the race, a lot of people will flood towards Perry.

KING: Erick Erickson, joining us tonight on the Perry candidacy -- good luck with the Red State gathering. We'll see you next week. ERICKSON: Thanks very much.

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: So, is Perry the great new conservative hope or will he fizzle?

Let's talk to Democratic Donna Brazile, Republican consultant Alex Castellanos. They're both CNN contributors.

Let me put on the table, here's one potential. As governor of Texas, he had what I call the George W. Bush and early John McCain position on immigration. He actually signed legislation saying the children of illegal immigrants go to schools in Texas at the state resident rate.

And here's what he said to describe the support for that. "You must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, we don't care where you come from but where you are going. And we are going to do everything we can to help get there. And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers."

Alex Castellanos, in a Tea Party-driven Republican Party, might that be a speed bump, if not a road block for Governor Perry?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think in a very conservative Republican Party, that might be a speed bump, along with Governor Perry happened to spend a lot of money in Texas. It's a large state. He tried to expand something called the Trans Texas Corridor, which is a new highway system for the next 50 years in Texas that would have taken a lot of Texas land, big government grabbing private land.

So, there are a lot of things that he's going to have to deal with. One of them is that some of the growth in jobs in Texas have been government jobs. So, he's got a little bit of explaining to do there.

But right now, this election, John, unlike the last one that was about hope and change, this election is about strength and certainty, and Texas strength may sell this election.

KING: Alex says Texas strength may sell. Immigration is one question, we deal with conservative critics. Some Tea Party people occasionally get so mad at Washington they say their state should leave the Union.

I want you to listen to Governor Perry at a Tea Party rally, whether Texas should leave the Union is on the table.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: Since the U.S. Constitution was first ratified, the federal government has slowly, steadily, and successfully eroded the notion of state's rights. The Founding Fathers understood something. They understood one size fits all doesn't work. It sure doesn't work in a country as big in America and it darned sure doesn't work in Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Size him up.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I knew him when he was a Democrat. That was back in the 1980s, when he ran as an agricultural commissioner.

He is someone who is quite personable. He can relate to a lot of people. He's from west Texas. Comes from --

KING: Does he worry you more than any of those other Republicans you saw up there on the stage last night?

BRAZILE: You know, I'm not worried, John. I'm just trying to let Democrats know that this is one Texan that they better take seriously just like they took, you know, George W. Bush seriously.

Look, he knows how to run. He will run to his right. He will run as you saw with that clip, to try to out-Tea Party even the most extreme Tea Party members. So, he will be a crowd pleaser, initially.

So, but once you get to see his record as Texas governor, I think people will run away from him.

KING: In a sentence, how would you run against Rick Perry?

BRAZILE: Oh, I would just totally take him on -- take on the so- called Texas miracle, because once you get away from the myths, you'll see that Rick Perry is a big government guy.

KING: Alex Castellanos, in closing, quickly, will we be talking about Rick Perry in three months? Or he be this campaign's Fred Thompson?

CASTELLANOS: I think he's not yet demonstrated he can last. I think Governor Romney has been around this track and you saw that presence on the stage last night. I still bet on Romney but could be.

And, by the way, John, if you were here, I'd buy you a fried beer. They sell everything fried here.

KING: Have that one for me, Alex, all right? That way I don't have to go to the gym to work it off.

Alex, Donna, appreciate your time on a Friday night. Enjoy the fair, my friend.

Just how far can police go if they think there will be trouble in the streets? Should they shut off everyone's cell phone? It just happened. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Is this the right call or wrong call? To head off a planned demonstration against police brutality last night, authorities for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, BART for short, shut off all of the cell phone service at one train station, figuring it would disrupt the protest organizers. Well, a lot of people think that's going too far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you can't get cell phone service and something happens, what are you going to do? Absolutely nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us now from San Francisco, the BART deputy police chief, Ben Fairow, and Michael Risher, he's an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Chief, to you first -- that's a pretty extraordinary step. How did you reach the judgment you could do that? What if there was a pregnant woman on the platform who needed urgent medical attention, or some other emergency, and without warning they pick up their cell phone and it's not working?

DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF BEN FAIROW, BAY AREA RAPID TRANSIT: We had adequate staff there present at the station as well as I had actually staffed each train going through that area in both directions with BART personnel. On top of that, we already have in each car, there's two intercoms, one at either end of the train. If that's a 10-car train, there could be 20 intercoms with people communicate with train operators.

On the platforms, there's courtesy phones, as well as station agents.

And we also keep in mind that the cell service was just limited to that small area, a simple couple steps up a staircase would have given them access to cellular service

KING: So, Michael Risher, does that meet the test? The chief had a problem. He was worried about a disruption. He says there was emergency personnel and intercoms and the like available, is that all right?

MICHAEL RISHER, ACLU ATTORNEY: Well, of course, we have become accustomed to use our cell phones when we need to come in touch with a loved one and have an emergency and people need to be able to do that.

But more importantly, all over the world right now, people are using mobile devices to organize, to demonstrate against repressive regimes. And we as a people rightly condemn it when the regimes turn around and cut off the cell service so they can't demonstrate.

What does it mean that's happening here in San Francisco, right here in America, where we hold out the promise of the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly? Whether or not --

KING: Mr. Risher, no circumstances, or is there some circumstances where the chief -- maybe you disagree with the threshold here -- but is there any circumstance where it would be the right call?

RISHER: To stop a mere demonstration? No, I don't think so. People have the right to demonstrate, people have the right to assemble. That's what our First Amendment and our state constitution guarantee.

We're not talking about bomb threats or anything like that here. That would present a different question. We're talking about people who wanted to demonstrate against the government because for whatever reason, there was a police-involved shooting, a man was killed. That obviously makes people very angry.

KING: Chief, were you trying to disrupt just a demonstration, which -- this is America, sir -- or did you have intelligence suggesting there would be something more than that.

FAIROW: Oh, I can tell you, I've spent an entire career trying to protect people's rights to do exactly what they were talking about doing.

But in this case it went well beyond just a mere demonstration. There were layers upon layers of information leading us to believe that there was going to be serious safety issues. And when it comes down to it, I think what I want my loved one, my wife, my daughter or someone else close to me on one of those platforms in a dangerous situation -- and the answer is no. And I think the vast majority of people would agree if they knew all of the facts going on. It was much more than just a mere demonstration.

KING: Mr. Risher, this is evolving, with so many people texting, social networking, you can use it for good things. But you can also use it for bad.

Do you concede a point that at least there needs to be a dialogue about this, wherein police should have that power?

RISHER: Absolutely, there needs to be a dialogue and there needs to be transparency. We don't know exactly what BART's motives were for doing this. We don't have that information, we don't know exactly what BART did to cut off cell service or how much was cut off.

What I think we can all agree that we need discussion, we need transparency, because this really -- otherwise this really seems like big brother.

KING: All right. Gentlemen, unfortunately, I need to end it there. We'll stay on top of this issue. I need to end it there. We need to stop, though.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.