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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Christine O'Donnell Walks out of Interview With Piers

Aired August 19, 2011 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PIERS MORGAN, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, she just won't let it go. Christine O'Donnell calls me rude, she says I'm creepy, and she accuses me of borderline sexual harassment, all because of this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), FORMER U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, don't you think as a host, if I say this is what I want to talk about, that's what we should address?

MORGAN: Not really, no. You're a politician.

O'DONNELL: Yes. OK. I'm being pulled away. You know, we turned down another interview for this.

MORGAN: Where are you going? You're leaving?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Absolutely extraordinary, dare I say it, rather surreal moment.

Christine O'Donnell, one-time Tea Party darling, walks out of my studio rather than answering straightforward questions.

You've heard all about the fuss. And if you missed it, tonight, we're going to re-air the whole interview all over again.

I'm going to get some of the smartest people in politics and media to weigh in with their verdict. Was it Christine's day? Or was it mine?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: All right. Are we off? Are we done?

MORGAN: I'm not. I'm still here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Decide for yourself.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Good evening. I'm here in San Diego where I'm doing an interview with presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman. And that will air at Monday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

But right now, tonight, it's all about the scandal involving me and Christine O'Donnell and that interview and that walkout.

We thought it'd be a good idea to bring you up to speed by getting correspondent Joe Johns to do a wrap-up of what's been going on over the last 48 hours since she memorably left the studio.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: It would appear that the interview has just been ended.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's amazing what walking off the set of a national primetime TV show can do for someone who is trying to sell a book based on a losing Senate campaign.

MORGAN: I'm just asking you questions based on your own public statements and now what you've written in your own book. It's hardly rude to ask you that, surely.

O'DONNELL: Well, don't you think as a host, if I say this is what I want to talk about, that's what we should address?

MORGAN: Not really, no. You're a politician.

O'DONNELL: Yes. OK, I'm being pulled away. You know, we turned down another interview for this.

MORGAN: Where are you going?

JOHNS: For one thing, after Christine O'Donnell walked off the set, she didn't have to talk much more about the campaign or the book. But now, she's trying to make it all about the talk show host, telling a FOX station that what got her upset was not Piers' question about gay marriage but the line of questioning about sex in general.

O'DONNELL: He had a decidedly inappropriate line of questioning leading up to that, that, you know, many people, what the bloggers were saying was just, you know, borderline creepy. I was not there to talk about sex and he would not stop trying to talk about sex.

JOHNS: Then there are the tweets. "Piers, thanks for the invite. Schedule is already packed. Maybe another night. No hard feelings, you cheeky bugger."

The whirlwind media blitz peaking today on NBC's "Today."

O'DONNELL: You know, he put me in a position that was very awkward and very uncomfortable and we were late. I'm getting the wrap-up signal off camera because we had a roomful of Republican women and C-Span waiting for me, and the interview was over and he wasn't letting go because he needs the ratings, which is why he's exaggerating what happened. I didn't storm off. His sound person is the one who took of my mike.

JOHNS: And who was that that stepped in front of the camera? She says it was one of her staffers.

For all the tension here, this is plain old-fashioned buzz building, the likes of which O'Donnell probably hasn't seen since the political ad that propelled her to fame, or perhaps infamy.

O'DONNELL: I'm not a witch.

JOHNS: And while she claims it's all about the ratings for the talk show host, few would deny the real ratings boost would only come after Christine O'Donnell's call to take off the mike.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: And joining me now to explain all this if they can is Rachel Sklar, editor at large at Mediaite and founder of Change the Ratio, take sexism in the media, James Poniewozik, who is senior writer for "TIME" magazine, and civil rights attorney Gloria Allred.

Let me start with you, Rachel. You are an apparent expert in sexism in the media. I've been charged with this offense. Am I guilty?

RACHEL SKLAR, EDITOR AT LARGE, MEDIAITE: Piers, in this instance you are definitely not guilty. I thought your questions were appropriate, certainly germane. And I still can't understand why Christine O'Donnell chose that particular moment to walk out.

But, in this case, no. You're doing OK.

MORGAN: Well, it's a relief, obviously.

And when you watched it -- I mean, it seemed to me she was perfectly comfortable and was joking and laughing about the earlier exchanges, which she now claims were so offensive. It was the direct question about gay marriage, which got her to leave the set. And I got the distinct feeling in that moment it's because she felt uncomfortable giving any kind of answer. Did you think that?

SKLAR: That was the impression I got as well. You showed the clip, referencing her former stance against masturbation. She seemed to engage on that point. And it was the gay marriage thing that she didn't want to address because it would have engaged actual policy.

MORGAN: And let me bring in James.

I mean, what was your view as a man? I mean, we've all been guilty, I guess, in the past of sexism in some form. Did you think I was crossing a line?

JAMES PONIEWOZIK, SENIOR WRITER, TIME MAGAZINE: Speaking for all men, I absolve you from sexism on this as well. We had a conclave and reached that agreement.

You know, I will say that, you know, I can understand if Christine O'Donnell were sensitive on this point, because, you know, from what memories of her campaign that I haven't repressed, you know, there was a fair amount -- there was some sexist coverage back then. You know? And I don't think that the general point about the way that women candidates are sometimes treated and treated on gender issues and sex-related political issues, you know, there are elements of that. And, you know, there have been in the past around her.

MORGAN: Yes. What I would say to that is, I interviewed Mitt Romney recently. I'm here in San Diego today having just interviewed Jon Huntsman. I asked both of those gentlemen about their view on gay marriage and had they made public statements on television shows about dabbling in satanic witchcraft or saying that masturbation is a sin and should be avoided, I think I would have asked them if they'd written this all in a new book and covered it again, I would have asked them the same questions.

I mean, just to remind everybody, she was on this show to promote a new book, an autobiography, in which she talks about all the issues I raised. I don't see how you can possibly promote a book and then simply refuse to answer questions about the content of the book, and more than that, accuse a host, who has the audacity to ask you, of being creepy, sexist and harassing you.

What do you think, James?

PONIEWOZIK: I -- I think that's probably -- I think it's probably true, that if you're going out to promote a book you should be willing to talk about the book. And I, you know -- you know, I join the members of this panel that you have accepted in approving your behavior in that interview.

I will say this -- it's a bit bizarre we're now on the third day of round the clock intensive Piers Morgan coverage of the Piers Morgan interview of Christine O'Donnell.

MORGAN: Yes. I suppose, James, my response would be she was on "The Today Show" this morning making pretty serious allegations about me and my integrity as a host and journalist, calling me creepy, sexually harassing her and all this kind of thing.

I think under those circumstances, I've got no choice but to respond and to fend my honor and that of CNN, because I felt the questioning was completely appropriate.

SKLAR: I think the larger issue here is the way Christine O'Donnell has torn a page from the playbook that Sarah Palin made famous which is -- the media exists to promote the platform that I want to advance. I do not have to answer questions that I do not wish to address. I do not have to say anything specific about policy, and when I feel like I've been backed into a corner I will lash out against the media.

That is sort of textbook Sarah Palin. Christine O'Donnell took a page from that during her campaign, and she's doing it again here.

So that, to me, is the larger danger of blowing this of as just one small specific example. It's a rather new phenomenon of public figures thinking that the media only exists to provide them with a platform and not to actually vet them and kick the tires.

MORGAN: I agree. And, Gloria, you've been worrying quite here. You're the one I'm really fearful of because you are the legendary attorney here. Did I breach her civil rights? Was I a sexist pig? What's your damning verdict?

GLORIA ALLRED, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Piers, I do represent probably more sexual harassment victims than any other attorney in the country, and I will say this. Not guilty. You are not guilty of sexual harassment.

First of all, I'm really, really upset with her. I practically lunged out of my seat and into the television screen when I was watching the interview and the time in which, by the way, later that she accused you of so-called "borderline sexual harassment."

First of all, it's not severe, it's not pervasive and it was not, most of all, unwelcomed, which is what is needed for sexual harassment. She not only welcomed it, she has begun the conversation many years ago, continuing in the book, about sexual behavior. So, this is nonsense.

And I really resent, and I'm angry, when anyone claims sexual harassment when they were not truly a victim of it, because it's like the boy who cried wolf. And then when true victims of sexual harassment are sexually harassed and say that they were, no one's going to believe them, because the turmoil had been so diluted.

So, Christine, you need to take that back. That was wrong. Even if you were saying it to promote your book, you shouldn't be trying to make a profit out of increasing your numbers, your profit by accusing Piers Morgan of sexual harassment. That's wrong.

MORGAN: Yes, I actually do feel it was a bit of a cheap shot, and under any other circumstances, borderline actionable, to quote one of her phrases. I mean, I think that to accuse someone of sexually harassing you when they're actually asking you about stuff you've written in a book that you are there promoting I found just completely ridiculous.

Let me come back to you, James, the man here --

ALLRED: Also, yes -- also, you're not her employer.

SKLAR: Well, that's sexist, Piers. Frankly.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: -- very unlikely to be.

James, back to you.

PONIEWOZIK: Yes, you know, I'm not going to dispute anything that was just said there. I will say I think somebody has to make the point that, yes, Christine O'Donnell was promoting a book here.

I think it's also possible for, you know, a couple of parties in this action to benefit from this promotion, and I think there's a certain -- I think it may be redounds a little bit to Piers Morgan and CNN's benefit that we're all on here talking about, you know, this controversy that apparently everyone's talking about, Piers Morgan, he's dangerous. He's cheeky, watch out. Who's going to walk off next? Well --

MORGAN: Well, I'm not going to deny that.

PONIEWOZIK: This isn't quite the Nixon/Frost moment, you know, it's being played on this channel presently.

MORGAN: Let me -- let me take it on the chin.

(CROSSTALK)

ALLRED: -- the public as well, to have this conversation, because the public then needs to have an understanding and has a better understanding of what truly is sexual harassment or is not sexual harassment. And knows who is doing it and who is accusing people of doing it without any true basis whatsoever.

SKLAR: And more broadly, to have a recognition that not just harassment but that there are double standards, that there are instances where women are treated differently in the media and are, you know, treated as sexual objects or there are lines that are crossed.

And in this case, it's very clear that Piers did nothing wrong. But, you know, in terms of covering the media and certainly flashbacks of the 2008 election and primary and coverage of Hillary Clinton are coming up -- so, there are often issues. And it's good to be aware of them and to address them as they come up.

MORGAN: Well, it's a good talking about it. I think there are good issues to come out of this, I agree with Gloria. You've got to be careful when you start using phrases of sexual harassment over such trivial issues as this. I think there's a bigger issue about politicians who want their cake and eat it, too, choose what they can talk about and not to talk about. That's unacceptable.

And I will plead guilty to the fact that this has been very good for me, for my show, for ratings -- and if there are any other politicians who want to come out and walk out in ridiculous circumstances like these, I'm your man.

So, thank you all very much for coming on, and long may we all be talking about me. When we come back, we're going to re-air the entire interview between Christine O'Donnell and me. For anyone who missed it the first time or is still unsure about exactly what was said and the context in which it was said. Here it comes, warts and all, unedited, for your eyes only, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: I've been conducting interviews with public figures for more than 25 years. I've never ever had anybody walk out on me until Wednesday night when Christine O'Donnell left the studio stage left. We thought it'd be a good idea, given all the controversy this interview has caused, to re-air the whole thing in its entirety, unedited, so that you can make your own mind up to whether I was -- as she claims -- creepy, inappropriate and bordering on sexually harassing her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Christine O'Donnell, how are you?

O'DONNELL: I'm doing well. Good to see you, Piers.

MORGAN: I can't help but notice you did the sign of the cross as you sat down there. Was it -- is it because you're nervous about the interview? Or --

O'DONNELL: No, it's something -- you know, I do that off camera. I didn't realize you were watching. I do that just because before -- ever since my very first TV interview, I just pray, you know, and ask for God's blessing on what I'm about to say.

MORGAN: Well, I got relieved. I was expecting some kind of devil-worshipping sign.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Look, here's your book, "Troublemaker." And what I was struck by is a little description on the back where -- it's a quote from you. "They call us wacky. They call us wingnuts. We call us the people."

I mean, I have met lots of people who are wacky and wingnuts. You can be both, can't you?

O'DONNELL: Oh, yes. And it's an exciting time right now what's going on in the political establishment and the political process right now. But that's a quote from my introduction, which is a quote from a speech that I gave, reminding the reader, reminding the audience, you know, that as the establishment pushed back and say, they are extremist, don't listen to them -- I remind them that they said the very same thing about our Founding Fathers, they said the very same thing about the abolitionists who wanted to end slavery, that they are extremist, they are unrealistic, they're naive about the establishment in the political process. But these folks were committed to a vision. They were committed to the greater good and they sacrificed and they didn't give up, and they turned, you know, these bad times in American history into major breakthroughs and, you know, the foreign press corps has called this time the second American Revolution and we need to keep moving forward and remember that if we want to enjoy the same fate as the first American Revolution, we have to not listen to the name-calling and the harassment and malignment that they might throw our way.

MORGAN: Well, you certainly got plenty of that. You were this star of the midterm elections. You were the hottest thing the Tea Party had produced -- I don't know, probably ever at the time. It all went horribly wrong, didn't it, and you got hammered all over the place.

O'DONNELL: Yes. And --

MORGAN: When you look back on it, what was the catalyst, do you think, or -- not your downfall but your hiccup?

O'DONNELL: Well, I think -- I like the way you say it's a hiccup. Thank you for minimizing that.

MORGAN: My pleasure.

O'DONNELL: I think that it's a combination of things. And you can't point to any one thing but rather a perfect storm. And it started with the fact that our party wouldn't unite.

The day that I won the primary, you had major national Republican figures going on national television slamming me when instead what we needed to do was what they did in Kentucky where Mitch McConnell railed against Rand Paul, that as soon as he won the primary, thy were arm in arm saying, let's take this guy to the finish line. And the strength of that united party is what ultimately won a victory.

We had none of that in Delaware. Instead, as soon as I won the primary, you had -- you know, the White House, Barack Obama personally came to Delaware to campaign against me. You had, of course, the whole Democratic machine coming against me, slamming me, and then I had my own party. You know, some of those ousted leaders were actually telling people to vote for my Democratic opponent.

So, it was a very heavy lift for a grassroots, mostly volunteer- based campaign. And without the strength of the united party, it was difficult. And the, of course, as I admit in the book, we made certainly a lot of mistakes. Some of those were self-inflicted wounds as I admit that I definitely regret.

MORGAN: Let's -- why don't we -- why don't we just jump in there and remind you.

O'DONNELL: OK.

MORGAN: I'm sure you'll be thrilled about this. We're going to remind you of one of the self-inflicted wounds. So, have a little look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: I dabbled into witchcraft -- I never joined a coven. But I did, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute, you are a witch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she was a witch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute. If you were a witch, you are going to --

O'DONNELL: I was a witch. That's exactly why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you be a witch?

O'DONNELL: Because I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I'm not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do. I mean, one of my dates -- my first date --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait. I want to hear about this.

O'DONNELL: One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar and I didn't know it. I mean, there's little blood there and stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your first date was in the satanic altar?

O'DONNELL: Yes. We went to a movie and like had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: My first date was in a satanic altar with blood there. What were you thinking?

O'DONNELL: Did Bill Maher pay you to rerun his show?

You know, well, at the time -- at the time as I, again, painstakingly detail in the book, it was a different time in my life, and perhaps I was a little too candid for television.

But my goal wasn't to go on the show just for the sake of going on national television. I went on the show to try to reach a younger audience with a message that, you know, when I was 16, by the way, this was 25 years ago, you know, I too was trying to find my way in the world, and ultimately I did.

And, you know, people have said -- do you regret making those comments?

And I go into detail about what my thinking was. But the more self-inflicted wound was how we chose to respond and the ad was a big mistake.

MORGAN: Well, that brings me -- that brings me neatly to --

O'DONNELL: Oh, don't tell me you're going to play that ad.

MORGAN: I'm afraid we are. Yes.

So, let's have a look at how you made a small problem 10 times worse.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you.

None of us are perfect but none of us can be happy with what we see all around us. Politicians who think spending, trading favors and backroom deals are the ways to stay in office. I'll go to Washington and do what you would do.

I'm Christine O'Donnell, and I approve this message. I'm you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You see, the weird thing to me watching those two clips is on the first clip, you seem like a fairly naive -- you don't me mind saying -- slightly silly young woman who is having a bit of fun about witchcraft.

O'DONNELL: Right. Right.

MORGAN: In the second one, you look like a witch. You look really creepy.

O'DONNELL: I know.

MORGAN: And so ugly. I even started to believe you might be a witch when I saw this creepy commercial.

O'DONNELL: It was -- you know, as I -- as I write in the book, as soon as I saw that line, I said I don't want to do this. This is the wrong direction. What our campaign ads should be doing instead is highlighting who I am now, what my platform and position is, the reason why Democrats, independents and Republicans are getting behind my campaign, and we didn't go that route.

And we should have gone on the offensive and started to expose the many lies that my opponent was saying about his own record. But instead -- you know, I didn't listen to my gut. I tell that story and I relive it as embarrassing as it is to watch it.

But I do so, so that perhaps the reader can relate and might have confidence in their own gut because the mistake that I made was that, you know, it was my gut and the instincts of many disenfranchised voters in Delaware who got us through such a tremendous victory in the primary -- and then what did I do after we won the primary? I listened to the so-called experts who had been losing election after election.

So, again, I try to tell that story so that the reader might have confidence going forward propelling the second American Revolution to listen to your gut and the experts aren't always experts.

MORGAN: Well, here's the thing. You and I had a -- we had a little tea party in New York soon after your departure from the political stage. We had a breakfast where I told you how to make proper English breakfast tea --

O'DONNELL: Right.

MORGAN: -- making the tea party tea had a certain irony to it. And I remember thinking at the time that at least you were pretty positive about all this. You seemed to work out where you had gone wrong and I thought -- we're going to see more of that lady going forward.

And now, we have a situation where the Tea Party is becoming ever more credible, ever more popular. We have Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and others leading the charge here.

I would have thought there was a pretty good chance that you can make a pretty big move back into the political stage, isn't it?

O'DONNELL: Well, I hope to stay in the political arena -- maybe not necessarily as a candidate or in an elected office. But I wrote this book so that it can be, you know, not just a tell-all or setting the record straight -- well, trust me, there's plenty of juicy gossip in it.

But I close the book with what I hope to be a practical application about how people can get involved and with what I think are the policy solutions we need to engage moving forward. I have a whole chapter that I call the "freedom food chain" where I talk about what the proper role of government should be and I call for a radical, ideological reawakening of the principles that made our country great. And it's Republicans and Democrats who have had a grave departure from those principles and we need to get back on track.

And I'm glad that you see that the Tea Party is credible because I believe that the Tea Party is at a crossroads. And the fact that the balanced budget amendment was such a huge part of the debate and we didn't just raise the debt ceiling blindly as we have done in the past is completely credited to the impact of the Tea Party movement.

So, what do we have as a response instead of congratulating them for this wonderful impact and bringing common sense solutions back to the political process --

MORGAN: The problem, Christine, if I may just jump in there?

O'DONNELL: Yes. MORGAN: I mean, is the problem is yes, you are credited with not having the debt ceiling raised. But at the same time, you are credited with total paralysis in Washington. I think there's an emerging credibility for the Tea Party --

O'DONNELL: Right.

MORGAN: -- but there's also an emerging issue about if you're going to continue as a party to be ever more forceful but don't do anything to compromise. That is going to paralyze America.

O'DONNELL: Well, that's why I say that the Tea Party is at a crossroads. And I don't think that compromise is the issue. I think that we have to not -- not take the bait as we have Joe Biden calling us terrorists and extremists.

Again, remember, they said that about the abolitionists. That it was naive to think that we can end slavery. They said that, you know, our whole economic system rested on the slave trade. And they were wrongheaded, establishment-minded arguments.

And we have to remember that again -- they tried to say the same thing about our Founding Father at the birth of our country.

And they are trying to do the same thing now, because the reality is: our country is going bankrupt. Our country is on the brink of collapsing. Our economy, our currency is being devalued.

This is a very grave situation unlike any time. We need real solutions. We need to get back in a very radical way to the principles on which our country was founded.

If your family got in such a difficult economic situation, such -- you know, such an overextension of your finances, you're not going to continue to go to the country club. You're going to not -- you're not going to take these elaborate vacations to Martha's Vineyard. You're going to have drastic cuts in your family budget so that you can get back on track.

And it means downsizing and that's exactly what we have to do right now because this is very serious. We might not continue in the next couple of years. It's a very serious situation that we're in.

MORGAN: OK. We're going to discuss this further after the break. We're also going to talk to you about sex. You'll be pleased to know.

O'DONNELL: Great.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: When we come back, it will be part two of my extraordinary with Christine O'Donnell. And this -- trust me -- is where the real fireworks start.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: We need to addresses sexuality with young people. And masturbation is part of sexuality, but it is important to discuss this from a moral point of view.

The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can't masturbate without lust.

The reason that you don't tell them it's the answer to AIDS and all these other problems that come with sex outside of marriage is because, again, it is not addressing the issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was from the MTV special "Sex in the '90s."

I'm about to ask you a question I don't ask most of my guests, I have to be honest with you. Do you still think masturbation is wrong?

O'DONNELL: Let's not even go there.

MORGAN: Why? You went there.

O'DONNELL: Well, again, like I said, I address it in the book. At that time in my life, my goal was to reach out to young people and there was a show "Sex in the '90s" on MTV where it pretty touted the philosophy that anything goes. And, you know, there's no doubt I don't think anyone would disagree that there's a little bit of a crisis when it comes to whether it's AIDS or sexually transmitted disease or teenage pregnancies.

So, my goal at the time was to reach out to young people and try to present a view of sexuality that they weren't getting. And again I go into detail about where I was at that time in my life and why I chose to go on that show and do that interview.

MORGAN: I get all that. I mean, your views on sex and stuff are relevant if you're going to be a politician.

O'DONNELL: Well, they're not because there aren't laws outlawing sex. And if there are, they should be on the local level, as I make the case for local control as opposed to federal control.

MORGAN: So, am I right in assuming your views have evolved over the years?

O'DONNELL: Well, I am a practicing Catholic and I support what the Catholic Church teaches. But, you know, would I as a -- I was about to say my age, but as an older woman, go on that show again, no. I wouldn't go on that show again and nor would I choose to do an interview about that subject again.

Again, it was a different time in my life. I was -- I was excited and passionate about this new belief that I had, this new faith that I found. I was eager to share it with my peers. MORGAN: Are you still a supporter of total abstinence even if you are on your own?

O'DONNELL: Are you the pro-masturbation talk show host?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Yes. Why not? Yes.

O'DONNELL: Good for you for taking that stand. You know, right now --

MORGAN: If the option is to be the anti, I think I'd be in the pro department, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

O'DONNELL: OK. MORGAN: And I'm not afraid to say so. So, over to you, Ms. O'Donnell.

O'DONNELL: Well, what I'm going to do and what my goal is now is to fight for the freedom of speech in America that allows to you say that. I mean, that's what's my focus right now is to fight for the constitutional principles that made our country great because we do have a movement in Washington that is completely abandoning it.

MORGAN: Can I ask you, have you -- have you committed lust in your heart and therefore adultery?

O'DONNELL: Let's not even go there. Let's get the conversation back to the book. That's why I'm here.

MORGAN: Yes. But this is -- to me, it's a natural extension to ask you, for example, a very relevant question of any politician. For example --

O'DONNELL: I address it all in the book.

MORGAN: -- what is your view of gay marriage, for example?

O'DONNELL: I address that stuff in the book.

MORGAN: You can't -- you're on here to promote the damn book. So, you can't keep saying it's all in the book. You got to repeat some of it.

O'DONNELL: I'm here to talk about the book.

MORGAN: Yes. I'm talking about the book. You keep saying it's all in the book. So, tell me what's in the book.

O'DONNELL: Well, why don't you ask me questions about what I say in the chapter called "Our Follower in Chief" where I criticize Barack Obama? You know, why don't we talk about --

MORGAN: Because right now, I'm curious -- right now, I'm curious about whether you support gay marriage.

O'DONNELL: You're borderline being a little bit rude. You know, I obviously --

MORGAN: Really?

O'DONNELL: -- I obviously want to talk about the issues that I choose to talk about in the book.

MORGAN: Do you answer that question in the book?

O'DONNELL: I talk about my religious beliefs, yes. I absolutely do.

MORGAN: I mean, do you talk -- do you talk about gay marriage in the book? O'DONNELL: What relevance is that right now? Is there a piece of legislation? I mean, I shouldn't be voting on anything.

MORGAN: It's obviously one of the most -- it's obviously, as you know, because Michele Bachmann's views and others, it's obviously a highly contentious political issue. I'm just curious what your view is.

You keep saying it's in a book. So, I'm bemused as to why you wouldn't just say it in an interview if it's in the book?

O'DONNELL: Because I don't think it's relevant. It's not a topic that I choose to embrace. I'm not championing it right now. I've been there, done that, gone down that road.

Right now, what I'm trying to do is to promote a book that I hope to be a very inspirational story to people who are part of the Tea Party movement so that they can continue, you know, in this movement to bring America back to the second American Revolution. That's my goal. That's my focus right now.

MORGAN: So, would you agree with Michele Bachmann that we should maybe repeal "don't ask, don't tell"? You should restore that?

O'DONNELL: I'm not talking policies. I'm not running for office. Ask Michele Bachmann what she thinks. Ask the candidates who are running for office what they think.

MORGAN: Why are you being so weird about this?

O'DONNELL: I'm not being weird about this, Piers. I'm not running for office. I'm not promoting a legislative agenda. I'm promoting the policies that I lay out in the book that are mostly fiscal, that are mostly constitutional.

That's why I agreed to come on your show. That's what I want to talk about.

I'm not being weird. You're being a little rude.

MORGAN: I'm baffled as to why you think I'm being rude. I think I'm being rather charming and respectful. I'm just asking questions based on your own public statements and now what you've written in your own book. It's hardly rude to ask you that surely.

O'DONNELL: Well, don't you think as a host, if I say this is what I want to talk about, that's what we should address?

MORGAN: Not really, no. You're a politician.

O'DONNELL: Yes. OK. I'm being pulled away. You know, we turned down another interview for this.

MORGAN: Where are you going? You're leaving?

O'DONNELL: Well, I was supposed to be speaking at the Republican women's club at 6:00, and I chose to be a little late for that not to be -- you know, yes, not to endure rude talk show hosts, but to talk to you about my book and to talk about the issues that I address in my book. Have you read the book?

MORGAN: Yes, but these issues are in your book. That's my point. You do talk about them.

O'DONNELL: OK. All right. Are we off? Are we done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's still there.

MORGAN: I'm not. I'm still here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he still wants to talk to you.

MORGAN: It would appear that the interview has just been ended, because I have the audacity to ask questions based on stuff that's in this book. Anyway, it's a good book. It's called "Troublemaker," I think we now know why it's called "Troublemaker."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: Troublemaker, indeed. When I come back, I want to talk about the one issue which I think triggered her meltdown and departure. And that was gay marriage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: I'm joined now by Frank Bruni from "the New York Times," Frank, am I missing something here? It seems to me that Christine O'Donnell walked out of the interview at the precise moment I confronted her about a big issue of the day, the issue of same-sex marriage. And she's now pretending it was something else. But when you watched it, what did you think?

FRANK BRUNI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I mean, I thought it was odd that she walked off. But what I saw was someone doing what I see too many politicians doing today, which is deciding at this moment in time a kind of thing I've talked about in the past no longer serves me, no longer interests me, so I'm going to divert the conversation in a completely different way. We've recently seen Michele Bachmann say that my views are known about questions like gay marriage that she's engaged in the past, because it's not convenient for her to talk about them now. That's what Christine O'Donnell was doing. She was saying, this isn't convenient for me now. It's not what I want to do now. And so I'm not going to do it.

I was particularly amused when she said you're the host, I'm the guest, I get to do what I want to do. It's not a dinner party. It's a news show.

MORGAN: Well, exactly. And I felt that was a particularly fatuous argument of many fatuous arguments. I totally agree with you. I felt in the moment that she really didn't want to give any comment about same-sex marriage for the precise reason that it's no longer quite a big vote winner for a Republican Tea Party candidate as it may have been two years ago.

And I think they're beginning to realize this, that bigotry is beginning to go out of fashion, I'm afraid.

BRUNI: Right, but you can't just decide something that I've crusaded about -- not that Christine O'Donnell has crusaded about gay marriage in particular, but she is certainly associated with sexually conservative positions.

And you can't decide, well, that doesn't serve me so well anymore, so I'm going to wipe clean that part of my record and say let's talk about other things. If you're in the arena of politics, you have to answer for your entire record over time. And in Christine O'Donnell's case, one of the reasons she is famous or notorious or whatever word you want to use is because she has taken such sexually conservative positions like about masturbation.

So that's why she has an invitation on your show. That's why she's a news maker. She can't cut that whole part of herself off from the discussion and expect to sit in those news programs and have an invitation.

MORGAN: Frank, just to remind everybody, Christine O'Donnell has said in the past that gay people suffer from an identity disorder. Today, when she was asked again about gay marriage, she said that her position on same-sex marriage is that states churches have the right to decide how to handle such issues for themselves.

What do you make of those two comments?

BRUNI: That doesn't sound entirely consistent. I think we're seeing in society the opinions about gay marriage changing so rapidly that I think politicians who once got a lot of traction with a very anti-gay, anti-gay marriage stance are now softening, changing the discussion. I think it's no longer convenient and so they no longer want to sound as strident about it.

MORGAN: I think that's right. I think the interesting debate is wider than me just having a spat with Christine O'Donnell, is the Tea Party candidates or politicians who now seem very, very -- I wouldn't say unwilling, but certainly wary of repeating comments they have said in the past on these issues, because they can sense the changing mood that you alluded to.

BRUNI: Yes. I think the person to bring up here, the important analogy here is Michele Bachmann. A lot of her political career before she was a presidential candidate was a crusade against gay marriage. She was famous for that in Minnesota.

And now when she gets the question on news shows, now that she's trying to tack to the center a little bit, and actually get the Republican nomination, she says my views are known. I don't want to talk about that.

You can't do that. When you're in the political arena, when you're asking people to give you an important leadership position, you have to own up to everything you've done in the past. And you have to explain why you feel the way you do.

MORGAN: I completely agree. Thanks very much, Frank.

BRUNI: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up after the break, an exclusive preview of my sit-down interview with presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MORGAN: Coming on Monday, my exclusive interview with Jon Huntsman, the Republican candidate. We conducted it here in San Diego and it's pretty explosive. Hear his views about his other Republican candidates, particularly what the Tea Party members are up to and what he thinks of how they behaved over the debt deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it was the height of irresponsibility, the height of irresponsibility. We're 25 percent of the world's GDP, the United States of America, that has never defaulted before, just let it go over a cliff. You can imagine what the marketplace would have done in response.

Then the marketplace is trashing everybody right now. I mean, assets are underwater, 401(k)s, retirements. You can only imagine what this country would look like today if we had defaulted. It was complete lunacy.

MORGAN: Do you have sympathy for Barack Obama, who's been a friend of yours personally? Do you have sympathy for him in the position he found himself in, where you have such an intransigent part of the Republican party really just refusing to compromise?

HUNTSMAN: He appointed me and I stood up and took the appointment to serve my country. I love this country. You serve her. But in terms of any personal relationship, there's not a personal relationship. You work for your president when you're asked to serve. He had two and a half years to get this country right. He had two and a half years to do the most important thing demanded by the American people, fix the economy, create an environment that is conducive to job growth.

And he's failed us. He's a good man. He's earnest. But he has failed us on the most important issue of our day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Jon Huntsman, a surprisingly revealing interview on Monday. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: The pictures coming out of Somalia these past few weeks have been absolutely shocking. Tens of thousands of children starving to death, victims of famine and war. Drought is also spreading now to Kenya, to Ethiopia. One group founded by a 2010 CNN Hero is working to reach thousands of the youngest victims there.

And Anderson Cooper has more on this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As millions struggle across the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa in what the U.N. Refugee Agency is calling the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, CNN Hero Magnus McFarlain Barrow's organization, Mary's Meals, is in the middle of the crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been working in Northern Kenya for about four years now. We've seen the separation worsen steadily. Today, around one-third of the children are malnourished.

So we have a real situation of life and death. And because of that, we're trying desperately to expand our program to reach more children at risk.

COOPER: Since 2006, Mary's Meals has been feeding thousands of young children in school across the region.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mission of Mary's Meals is about linking food to education, for that education to be the ladder out of poverty for their whole community.

COOPER: In recent weeks, Magnus' organization has responded to the drought crisis by feeding an additional 6,000 children daily, 24,000 in all.

The kind of important global work for which Magnus was named a top ten CNN Hero last year and received an order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth. But Magnus remains laser focused on the critical work in Africa. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As part of our East African emergency response, we intend to reach many more thousands of children. And we'll do that as funds allow us to.

COOPER: Many more thousands of children to be supported by an organization already feeding half a million children daily in 16 impoverished countries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's so much just about the will of people to share a little of what they have in order that these children can be fed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORGAN: You can get more information on CNNHeroes.com. And that's it for us tonight. Now "AC 360."