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JOHN KING, USA

Interview With Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich; U.S. Troops Head to Central Africa; Health Care Reform Setback

Aired October 14, 2011 - 18:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Important breaking news tonight: The president sends U.S. troops into Central Africa against a foe most of us have never even heard of.

Plus, one of the nation's toughest and most controversial immigration laws faces a major setback tonight.

And here in Washington a significant concession and retreat by the Obama administration in the health care reform debate. The White House told Congress this afternoon it is unable to go forward with a long-term care plan that is a big part of the giant Obama health care law. The administration now says the law as written does not allow the long-term care program to be implemented in a way that would make it financially stable. Congressional Republicans say good riddance. They wanted to repeal that program anyway.

Now shifting to major new developments in the Occupy Wall Street protest and rage in cities across the country today. Protesters vented their anger and frustration and as you can see police responded in riot gear, 41 people arrested in Seattle, 24 in Denver. In New York City, police detained 14 people for blocking traffic, overturning trash bins and throwing bottles.

A major clash between protesters and police barely averted in Manhattan today. The company that owns the park where hundreds have been camped out for the past month decided not to kick the protesters out today. Occupy Wall Street protesters say it proves their point is getting across.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really catching on and the more the city pushes back or the owners of the park push back, the more the people will come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had a very different take.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Protesters have -- the bottom line is I don't necessarily agree with their message or their targets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Take a look at this. A scuffle between a police protester was recorded by a phone camera. It appears to show someone on the ground, his foot apparently caught under the wheel of a police officer's motorcycle. The man appears to be screaming in pain and possibly yelling what's your badge number? Then seconds later the man is dragged five or six feet and subdued face-down with a police officer's baton at the back of his neck. New York City police have not yet commented on this incident.

Is this an important political movement or as the mayor suggests, a growing public safety problem?

We're joined by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, and Mary Kay Henry, president of Service Employees International Union.

You have both been very supportive of these protesters. How do you deal with -- President, to you first -- how do you deal with the idea that, yes, they have free speech rights and, yes, they are making an important political statement but in some cases they are starting to get mayors and police chiefs more than a little annoyed?

MARY KAY HENRY, PRESIDENT, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION: Well, I think the answer to the question is that it is a growing political movement and that you just talked about one incident, but consider that there are hundreds of these occupations happening all across the country that are completely peaceful.

And they are speaking to the conscience of our nation because it's no longer possible to work hard for a living and support a family and 50 million people are looking for work. I think this Occupy movement is an incredible inspiration to people who don't believe that things are fair any longer and that this gross inequality in our economy has to be addressed.

KING: And, Congressman, as they protest in the streets against inequality and against what they consider too much corporate greed, some of them are complaining about college costs, if you go to different places some of the complaints are a little different. But how do you see it playing out as we move from this odd-numbered year into the even-numbered election year? I say that in the sense that obviously the anger is focused on Wall Street. That's where you see the biggest protest protests.

But if you go around the country where you have seen crowds, Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, those are areas traditionally controlled by Democrats. Are you concerned that all their strength and their "throw the bums out" anger is in places where your party is strong?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: First of all, this is what democracy looks like. And an economic democracy is a precondition of a political democracy. This isn't just theory. It's fact. The wealth is accelerating to the top. There are more people unemployed, 14 million unemployed. People are still losing their homes -- 6.5 million people will lose their homes in the next round of foreclosures, 50 million people without health care, people losing their retirement security, and young people not being able to afford to go to college.

We need this. America needs a response and the response has to come from the streets frankly because it's not coming from Washington.

KING: And so this has captured everyone's attention, us in the media, whether you are a union leader, whether you are a Democrat or Republican.

Herman Cain, who is skyrocketing in the national polls to the top spot in the Republican race for president, if you pick up "The New York Post: today, he writes this: "It's ironic that protesters who have uniformly attacked the rich and corporate CEOs happen to sport iPods, iPhones and other innovative technological tools that entrepreneurs have worked so hard to invent, build and distribute to consumers. Rather than protest against Wall Street, those camped out in the streets should examine their own failures and take a hard look in the mirror"

HENRY: I think he's speaking to the question of what kind of country do we want to be? Are we a country that's going to be everybody for themselves or we're all in this together?

I think what Occupy is trying to tell us is let's get in this together, that this gross inequality doesn't have to be. We are a great nation. We can make 50 million people get back to work in January if we made a decision between the government and the private sector to make that happen.

KING: Between the government and the private sector.

But, Congressman, we see these protests in the streets here. We don't know what it means politically yet because we don't have an election right in front of us. We saw Tea Party protests all around the country. We saw giant Tea Party protests here in Washington. And then we did see a result. Neither of you liked the result but we did see a result in 2010 at the ballot box.

How do we know that what we're seeing today will mean anything when it comes to November 2012?

KUCINICH: John, I think it's important to remember that the concerns which motivated many of the Tea Party movement that people were worried about losing their jobs, losing their homes, their retirement security.

I met with Tea Party people from the Cleveland area. And frankly they have a lot in common with the people who are occupying Wall Street around the country. And so what I look for are commonalities. If we unite people around economic issues about getting America back to work and about frankly changing our monetary system where Wall Street and the Fed isn't always calling the shot, about making it possible for our young people to go to school and assuring the America people they will have their retirement security, I think we can put everything back together again.

But let me tell you something. The hold that corporations have on our government right now is pretty severe. The Citizens United case and the Buckley vs. Valeo case before it put the power in the hands of the corporations who then essentially make of our elections an auction. We need to change that.

The message from the street is that this system isn't working, and people are determined to see a new system come forward. And frankly this is what founders anticipated in order to create a more perfect union. This is what democracy looks like. That perfect union continues to evolve.

KING: Well, then how then? You are both in the organizing business. You ran a campaign for president. You have -- you were a mayor. And you keep your seat in Congress.

You run of the nation's largest and most politically powerful unions. How do you get them off the streets? I know you want them on the streets protesting, but how do you take that energy and the bodies and get them involved actually in campaigns? In working to do the business of changing things? Because all of the things you just mentioned to get them done, you have a Democratic president. Obviously if you want to do campaign finance, Citizens United, you need votes in Congress and you don't have them right now.

How do you take them and get them involved in the system when they don't trust the system? Frankly, they may not trust either of you?

HENRY: Well, we think it's our responsibility as working people to be a part of that campaign and get in the streets. And we think the Occupy protesters can continue to shine a light on this problem while we also get organized for the political system. We intend to have 300,000 of our members out in the street with the rest of working people making the case that we have to make this next election a mandate for addressing this terrible inequality.

KUCINICH: You raised a very important point and that is how do you motivate people? I think the Democratic Party has a big responsibility here. I don't trust the system, John. I have fought it my whole career.

But I will tell you this, that we're going to get people to move from the streets to the polling place. The only way you're going to do that is for the Democratic Party to articulate a true program for change. We're not there yet.

But you know what? I think that politics being what it is, we will look at this movement and we will say the only way we can get it to be attracted towards what we're doing is to put it in our platform and then have our candidate, probably Barack Obama, go out there and work for it. This is going to change things.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You say probably. I don't think there's any doubt about that. Do you?

KUCINICH: Well, I think he is the probable nominee.

KING: One of the hard parts for progressive politicians in these cities -- I had a conversation with the mayor of Boston the other day. He says, I share their goals. I'm a blue-collar guy. I'm a middle- class guy. But you can't mess with my police department. When they say stop, you have to stop.

Mayor Bloomberg has had some issues. He says, look, I agree. You have every right to speak. I agree with most of your goals. But the mayor also said -- listen here -- he thinks, I get your point but perhaps you're directing it in the wrong way.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG: Half of the people that work on Wall Street earn something less than $72,000 a year. And if you look at DiNapoli's report yesterday or the day before, 10,000 more job losses in finance here in the city, that's not good for our economy.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: The mayor is making the point that I know you're mad at the big guys on Wall Street but a lot of little guys work on Wall Street too. Does he have a point?

HENRY: Yes. I just think the notion that he's linking that to what the Occupiers are doing is not the right linkage, because what the Occupiers are trying to say is that the top 1 percent in this country need to think about the common good and how is it that kids who played by the rules, went to college are drowning in debt and can't find a job?

What are we going to do about that problem as a nation? And what is it that we can do collectively to require that it's possible to play by the rules and expect that we're going to be able to support ourselves? That's a very simple question that's getting asked that we need to answer.

KUCINICH: You have to look all across this country the struggles that labor is having right now state by state, like in Ohio. Public workers are trying to defend their basic rights.

This is an economic fight where the right to organize and the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike and the right to decent wages and benefits, a secure retirement, a safe workplace, these all have an economic component.

The mayor -- and I have been a mayor. I understand what his concerns are. The mayor had to keep in mind that New York being the great world city that it is has to be hospitable to this kind of powerful movement that is born -- being born all across this country. It needs to stay nonviolent.

But the fact that people are in the streets protesting the economic conditions today, I say good for them and keep it nonviolent and you will get a lot more support.

KING: Congressman Kucinich, Mary Kay Henry of the Service Employees International Union, thank you both for coming in. It is a fascinating movement. We will keep watching.

And another controversial remark from the wife of presidential candidate Rick Perry. Did President Obama cost her son his job? That's tonight's "Truth."

But up next, Alabama's controversial immigration law hits a rough patch in court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tonight, major blow to one of the country's toughest immigration laws.

A federal appeals court has put on hold parts of Alabama's controversial legislation. As of today state officials cannot check the immigration status of students in the public schools and they cannot file misdemeanor charges against immigrants who fail to carry an alien registration card.

Among the provisions the court did allow, police officers can still to check a person's immigration status during a lawful stop or arrest. Since that law was signed in June, many illegal immigrants have left Alabama out of fear of arrest.

CNN's David Mattingly spoke to one couple who did not want their identities revealed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If could you speak to the people who passed this law, what would you say to them?

"ARELI," UNDOCUMENTED IN ALABAMA (through translator): Don't be selfish. We all have and want an opportunity. We are not stealing anything from them, simply asking them to let us work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're joined now by Alabama State Senator Scott Beason, who helped push that law through the state legislature, and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also with us.

Jeff, I want to go to you first. Just help us understand why did the court say no to many of these provisions?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I got to say, John, it's a very peculiar decision because they don't explain anything at all. They simply veto those two decisions from going into effect and say we will hear the full case later.

But I think you intuit what they're saying, which is these laws that sweep so broadly, every single student has to prove his or her citizenship and every possible illegal immigrant has to prove and carry papers at all time, that was so broad that the court said that was a violation of some provision of the Constitution probably due process of law, but again they didn't explain it.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Senator, did you go too far? You're too sweeping? Did you go too far here?

SCOTT BEASON (R), ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: No. I don't believe so.

I think that what he said was a misrepresentation. The first provision dealing with schools simply deals with the fact that we're asking for a birth certificate. It's the same thing that we ask from every citizen in the state of Alabama just so we can begin to get a handle on the numbers of finding out what the impact really is on our school system.

I don't think it went too far. But to say it was asking for citizenship, that is a little off. The other provision that was stayed was simply a mirror image of what the federal government already asks for. If you're in this country legally, you're supposed to keep documentation with you and we were just mirroring what the federal law already has in place.

KING: You heard that woman in the introduction, Senator Beason, saying why don't you just leave us alone and let us work?

What's your answer to her?

BEASON: Well, it's a lot bigger issue than that. We have a high unemployment rate in our state, just as so many states do around the country, and it's a job issue. When you have an illegal work force that is growing by leaps and bounds in your state and we have so many people unemployed, it's a jobs issue.

We want to replace that illegal work force with Alabamans and put those into those jobs and keep the dollars here, will make our state better for years to come.

KING: Jeff, the Arizona law has started this. The Alabama law is in the news today. A bunch of other states have been involved here. Utah, Arizona, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina among them had to pass laws. I believe Arizona was first and other ones coming in. What's the sense that -- all of these are being challenged in the courts. What's the sense of when does the Supreme Court get involved and decide is this federal purview, period, or the states can do some things? TOOBIN: You're right that there are so many laws and they are all being challenged. This is why we have a Supreme Court. They need to establish what the rules are.

This area is so new. The United States Supreme Court hasn't even issued an opinion that really deals with these issues in many years and these cases are at various steps in the process, but I think in the new term the one we're in now that they are going to have to find a way to address at least one of these laws so all of the states have guidance. It's really -- the law is just a mess and very confusing at this point.

KING: It is very confusing, Senator. How would you answer say for example the national Senate Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, who said tonight this is proof to him that states need to get out of this and leave it to the federal government, we can't have 50 state immigration laws and there has to be one national standard? How would you answer that?

BEASON: Well, I think that's interesting for him to say that because we have a national standard now. There are immigration laws on the books and the federal government has failed to enforce them.

So it really doesn't matter what he says about what he wants to pass or what his policy might be. If the federal government is not going to enforce the law and it will leave it up to states, that's what we're trying to do and that's what a number of states across the country are trying to do. They're just trying to look out for their own citizens, the people who elected them.

KING: And, Senator, what do you do now that the court has put on hold some provisions in your law? Will you go back to the legislature and try to fine-tune it or will you just wait and fight this out higher up in the courts, hoping you win?

BEASON: I think it will go through on the court system. We feel very, very good about the law that we passed here. We think we will be successful in the court system and we're very sure about that.

But we're going to see what happens. I think it's important that people realize we are trying to do what's best for the people who elected us. There's been a lot of misconceptions about what this bill does. We're simply trying to play on the field that we're allowed to play on and we're looking out for the Alabamans and the good of our state.

KING: Alabama State Senator Scott Beason, a sponsor of this law in Alabama tonight, appreciate your insights on this big day, also our legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin. I will get the title right, Jeff, I promise you.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: That's all right.

(LAUGHTER) KING: All right. Thank you both tonight.

Up next, putting the "Truth" test to something said on the campaign trail today. Is Anita Perry's claim about the Obama administration fact or fiction?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Sometimes candidates' spouses say the darndest things.

I was there on a chilly Chicago morning in 1992 when Hillary Clinton, then the first lady of Arkansas, took issue with questions about her work as a high-powered attorney while her husband was governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FIRST LADY OF ARKANSAS: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had tea, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Priceless and for a time a campaign distraction. Our current first lady had a memorable campaign moment at a key point in the 2008 nominating process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: She spent a lot of time later trying to clean that up but some took it as rather dismissive of some pretty big flag-waving events during her adult lifetime, like maybe winning the Cold War or even beating the Soviets in Olympic hockey.

Now fast forward to this cycle and it's Anita Perry's turn in the spouse spotlight. Last night we talked about this doozy, a suggestion that somehow her husband Rick's rivals were attacking him because of his Christian faith.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA PERRY, WIFE OF RICK PERRY: We're being brutalized by our opponents and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him because of his faith. He's the only true conservative -- well, there are some conservatives perhaps, and they're there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them, too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Brutalizing Rick Perry because of his faith?

Well, not exactly -- actually, not even close. But let's not dwell in the past. Mrs. Perry is at it again today. Speaking at a diner in South Carolina she told an unemployed man she shared his pain. Mrs. Perry said her son was also out of work and added -- quote -- "My son lost his job because of this administration."

Well, here's tonight's "Truth."

Wrong again, Mrs. Perry, and again not even close. Griffin Perry did have to give us his job at Deutsche Bank. That's because he's been raising money for his father's campaign and the Securities and Exchange Commission has rules governing political activities by investment advisers.

The rules are designed to prevent conflicts of interests, or what those in the business call pay to play, in other words to keep people who might want to get some of the investments in a state pension program, for example, like the one in Texas from trying to buy political sway through campaign contributions. Those rules were tightened effective last year because of shenanigans too many to mention related to the 2008 mortgage mess and broader financial meltdown.

Griffin Perry, the son in question, told ABC News recently, he decided to put his career on hold to help his dad. He said it was his choice. So for Mrs. Perry to say -- quote -- "My son lost his job because of this administration" doesn't pass the truth test, or to borrow from the Texas lexicon, you might say it's all hat and no cattle.

Just ahead, breaking news over the scandal involving the Obama's administration's multimillion-dollar payment -- loan to the Solyndra company.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: More important breaking news tonight, this involving a showdown between the White House and Congress over a company called Solyndra.

Remember, we have reported in the past it was a big controversy. That company went bankrupt -- $535 million loan from the taxpayers, you are now left holding the bill. Congress is investigating, trying to find out, A., if the White House ignored warning signs and, B., if any political contributions had any impact on that controversial decision.

Tonight's breaking news involves a showdown over documents.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is here with the latest. What do you know?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. We just found out that the White House counsel has responded to requests from Congress. Congress asked for the White House to turn over all internal documents related to the Solyndra loan. And they have said, no, they are not going to turn over all internal White House documents related to this loan.

Now, let's put this in context: what does it mean? The Obama administration has turned over 70,000 pages of documents. Can you imagine going through that? It would not be pretty.

About 900 pages from the West Wing itself. As you know from covering past administrations this is traditional. It's not a surprise. White Houses generally do not turn over these documents because the president wants to protect their conversations with advisers.

But what's different about this this time is this is the first president who has a BlackBerry. And they wanted BlackBerry, all the e-mails on the president's BlackBerry. And because the White House is not turning over any of these internal communications, it means also nothing from the president's BlackBerry. None of his e-mails will be turned over to Congress.

KING: Well, let's break down this little bit of it that you've obtained. This is to Fred Upton, who's the chairman of the Energy Commerce Committee and Cliff Stearns who heads up the subcommittee. And they're essentially saying, "Your most recent request for internal White House communications from the first day of the current administration to the present implicates long standing and significant institutional executive branch confidentiality."

So essentially, the executive privilege, no.

YELLIN: Right, and remember from the Bush administration there was a time when they -- Congress wanted Vice President Cheney's energy committee was meeting on energy policy. They wouldn't even turn over that.

So this is not an unusual development. But it just intensifies the clash. It's going to be an ongoing political battle. This is not the last we're going to hear of this.

KING: And sometimes cooler heads prevail, and something is negotiated, and they offer up some documents, saying, "See? This proves our point." This seems to suggest they're not going any further.

YELLIN: They say, "We'll continue to work to ensure that there will be more documents and more communication." So I would not be surprised, actually, if we do see more documents coming in the coming weeks, just not internal White House documents. More documents could come from the agencies, energy, treasury, OMB, maybe.

KING: So the question of political. What Congress is trying to say is we need these documents to see if some donor who backed Solyndra somehow convinced you to give this loan when OMB and other agencies said not ready for prime time; don't do it. They're pretty clear in here. They say such documents don't exist.

YELLIN: That's right. They say that that's just -- you're not going to find it, A, and, B, you cannot get everything that happened inside the West Wing because the president has to have protected conversations with his advisers, like every other president has had before.

KING: Likely to see more of these as congressional House Republicans ramp up oversight and investigations. Here's the marker laid down by the White House.

YELLIN: Battling (ph) on, right.

KING: Jessica, thanks for that breaking news.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Erin is here with a preview, and I hear you went to summer camp in China. What did you learn?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I did. I went to summer camp in China. Met with a whole bunch of kids, John, to try to find out whether they were, well, not just working hard and learning by rote but also learning creativity and having fun.

We found out some amazing things. And by the way, I'm holding this up, John. She says this is the battle hymn of the tiger mother. Amy Chua, the best-selling author that many people are watching or familiar with now. Well, this is, of course, the book in Chinese. Bestseller there.

Big topic of conversation over who is raising smarter, better, more well-adjusted kids. We have a special piece on that.

Also, you were talking with Jessica about the Solyndra case. I guess it all links to this conversation about energy independence and whether it's really achievable. We have done the numbers and got the bottom line on that, whether it makes sense and whether we can get there. That's also coming up "OUTFRONT." Back to you. Have a great weekend.

KING: Just a few minutes. You do the same. But you've got an hour of work left before you get that weekend. We'll see you in a few minutes.

When we come back, Governor Rick Perry lays out his jobs plan today. It begins, he says, by drilling more and other exploration for energy here in the United States. Will it sell? I'll talk to one of the governor's top allies, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: On the trail today, new energy exploration was the dominant theme in a major economic speech by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're standing on top of the next American economic boom, and it's the energy underneath this country. And the quickest way to give our economy a shot in the arm is to deploy the American ingenuity to tap American energy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Governor Perry says his plan would create 1.2 million jobs, expand energy exploration in Alaska, permit more offshore drilling, and approve use of new pipelines, and dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency. The proposal is part of an urgent Perry effort to stop a major slide in the polls and to stop conservative chatter he's failing to prove himself a viable national candidate.

A bit earlier I discussed the plan and the stakes with a top Perry supporter, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Governor Jindal, thanks for your time.

One of the questions we're hearing today not only from the Obama White House but from some of Governor Perry's Republican rivals is where are the rest? They say, yes, he lays out this energy plan. He talks about 1.2 million jobs.

But there are 25 million Americans who are either unemployed or underemployed, and they say Governor Perry is late to the game with a broader jobs program. How would you answer that?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Well, a couple things. I think first of all, I would look at not only what Rick is saying but what Rick has done in Texas. In Texas in the last two years, they created over 40 percent of all the jobs created in America.

At the same time, under President Obama, the country has lost -- has lost 2 million jobs and Texas they've actually created over a million jobs.

So he's not just talking about a plan. He's showing how to actually implement a plan. He showed in Texas that, if you cut taxes and enact tort reform, you cut government spending, you provide a predictable business environment, you can grow private sector jobs. And I think he'll outline a very specific set of plans to do that for the country. The energy plan is a great first step. Over a million jobs.

KING: If this is a good down payment, in your view, from Governor Perry, how urgent is the challenge for him? You've seen him slipping in the polls. You know, Governor Romney has 160-page book out. Herman Cain is getting a lot of attention with his 9-9-9 tax plan. I don't want to debate the specifics of their approaches, but how urgent is the political pressure on Governor Perry to fill in the rest of the picture? JINDAL: Well, a couple things. One, I think this is going to be a long campaign. And I think that this is not going to be decided by a couple of debates or polls or pundits. This is going to take several months. And that's the way it should be. Too often, in Republican primary politics, there's a rush to preselect, preordain the nominee. This is an open debate. I think that's good for the candidates. I think it will be good for the voters.

Secondly, I think he's got plenty of time to outline his specific proposals. One of the reasons I'm supporting Rick, one of the things I think makes him such a strong candidate is every candidate is going to put out specific proposals. Rick is not just talking the talk. He's walked the walk.

He can actually point to what he's done in Texas. He's been governor there for over ten years. While he's been governor, their economy has grown. They have surpassed New York to be the second largest economy. They're adding jobs while the country is losing jobs. They're growing the private sector. Under President Obama we're losing private sector jobs.

KING: The Obama campaign was quick to say this about Governor Perry's plan today, quote, "Governor Perry's energy policy isn't the way to win the future. It's straight out of the past. Doubling down on finite resources with no plans to promote innovation or to transition to a nation to a clean energy economy," and to back up that statement they would say that, to them, Governor Perry sounds a lot like this from the last campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN, FORMER VIDE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You bet you we'll drill, baby, drill; and we'll mine, baby, mine, because we need American energy resources brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Wasn't enough to sway things last time. What makes you think that focus on energy will make a big difference this time?

JINDAL: A couple of things. You know, when you look at Texas largest -- not only largest producer of oil and gas; largest producer of wind energy, as well. Governor Perry is advocating an all of the above approach, including wind, biothermal, nuclear, without governor distortion.

So you've got two alternative visions. You've got the president, who he and his senior advisers explicitly said they want to drive up the cost of energy. They want to make it more expensive to produce energy in this country.

And you've got Governor Perry, who understands affordable, reliable energy is good for American utility payers, good for American drivers and good for American manufacturers. KING: As you know, your friend's debate performances have been panned, even by a lot of conservatives. They're shaky debate performances. People close to the governor say, "Well, we've got a tired puppy on our hands. We need to get him more rest heading into these future debates."

What do you tell him when you get to a point in the campaign where he came out and he rocketed to the top of the field? Now he's had a bit of a slump period. What do you tell him to keep his spirits up?

JINDAL: Well, I'd tell him a couple things. Campaigns are going to be ups and downs. You can't believe your best press; you can't believe your worst press. You stick to your convictions, you stick to your principles.

I think he's offering a clear conservative choice to American voters. I think what's going to resonate for American voters, more than anything, they're not looking for the best, most polished speaker. They're looking for somebody with proven results and a proven conservative record who will stick to his principles. Governor Perry has done that. He will do that.

This is going to be a long, long campaign. This is a marathon. It's not a sprint. There's a lot of campaigning left to go. I think he's going to do very well, the more he talks about what he's done in Texas and what he wants to do for our country. Today is a good first step. No one policy proposal is going to win this -- this election. But today is a good step in the right direction for the Perry campaign.

KING: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Governor, thanks for your time tonight.

JINDAL: Thanks, John. Great talking to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Dana Loesch, David Frum and Gloria Borger now here to close out a busy week in politics.

David, I want to start with you. We had a conversation the other night after the debate. You were very tough on Governor Perry. This is his first entry, if you will, into the policy debate. The biggest policy debate in the country over the economy.

Was it big enough and bold enough?

DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's a really good start. And I agree with a lot of what Governor Jindal has said, that this is -- this is a marathon. It's not a sprint. And we have a lot of people in the Republican establishment that I think are very, very eager to go ahead and crown a nominee, but the race has just begun.

And I think it's a really good start for Rick Perry. I'm glad to see someone put so much focus on energy. I hope to see more mentions of the Keystone Project and the jobs that could be created with that. I think this was a good start.

KING: David Frum, on the one hand, you could argue you are an energy-state governor. This is what you know best. Start in your wheelhouse. If you're trying to prove to people "I get it," start in your wheelhouse. The only thing you could say, "Well, we know that about you. What are you going to do about the tax code when Herman Cain is doing all this other stuff?"

DAVID FRUM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know what Governor Perry proved today is he knows nothing about the energy industry. Right now, 2.1 million Americans work for oil and gas. Another 80,000 work for coal. The idea that there are any set of regulatory changes that are going to produce a 50 percent increase in oil and gas employment is just -- it's not talking the talk. It's talking the gibberish. It was a very ignorant speech. And when you look at...

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What do you really think, though?

FRUM: When you look at the economic modeling...

BORGER: Wow.

FRUM: ... and when you look at -- when you sort of take apart the plan and say what economic model brought you this? You are working with people who do not know what they're talking about. And it's just -- I don't think it's very complementary to Republican voters that they will buy this.

KING: But it's interesting, because we can have disagreements about policy, but you're a serious policy Republican and serious policy conservative. And you're saying this is not a serious policy?

FRUM: It's not a serious policy. I mean, you could -- there are ways -- there are ways it's possible you could increase employment in the oil and gas sector. But you're not going to get a 50 percent increase from regulatory changes, given also that total output in the oil and gas sector in the United States is probably, at best, going to remain about stable and may rise only very slightly.

BORGER: Here's my problem with what Governor Perry did. It wasn't enough. He keeps complaining that Mitt Romney has had years to come up with policies and plans and ideas, and he's just been in this race, you know, six or eight weeks.

The reason you get in a presidential race is because you have ideas that you want to sell to the American public. You don't get in the race first and then decide you need to get some ideas that you can sell to the public. I think he's got it a bit backwards.

KING: You think he's got it a bit backwards.

We're off to a feisty start. Everyone stay put. Dana, David and Gloria stay put. When we come back, two of the wealthiest candidates for president, maybe they want to be associated with Occupy Wall Street. They claim they're unemployed. We'll explain next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Texas Governor Rick Perry was all over the morning news shows today, sitting down with all the networks to promote that big energy, the economy speech we just talked about. That's what he wanted to talk about, but he couldn't avoid questions about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA PERRY, RICK PERRY'S WIFE: We're being brutalized by our opponents and our own party. So much of that is that they look at him because of his faith.

R. PERRY: Family members always take these campaigns substantially more personally than the candidate. Well, I do have one of the finest women in the world that I could be married to, and she is passionate.

My wife said two things yesterday. She said, "He's the most conservative man in the race and he's a Christian," and I can't argue with either one of those facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Dana Loesch, David Frum, Gloria Borger are here. Gloria, it's interesting when the spouse becomes a distraction or an issue in the campaign.

BORGER: Bad.

KING: I understand her frustration. And I don't mean -- you know, it is hard on family members when they watch their husband, their wife, or whatever being -- having struggles. But to say that he's being beat up by his opponents over his faith, nobody has -- nobody has beat up Rick Perry because he's a Christian.

BORGER: No. And, in fact, Rick Perry's the one who has gotten into the controversy over religion with -- with Mitt Romney.

I think, look, this is a presidential campaign. You're going to get brutalized, is the word she used, by your opponents. That's going to happen. It's never a good idea to turn the candidate into a victim, because that makes him look weak and she's complaining about it. And this is the race they got into for whatever reason. And then he had to defend her.

Personally, I believe husbands should always defend their wives, but it doesn't put him in a good spot.

KING: With a campaign, it's always hard to go to the spouse, isn't it, and say, "Please, please don't do that again?

FRUM: God bless her for feeling so strongly. That's a good thing. And if Mitt Romney had been introducing a speech by somebody who had attacked Rick Perry's religion, I would say she had a point. But this was the guy who introduced Rick Perry who attacked Mitt Romney's religion. I would say she doesn't have a point.

KING: How does play out, Dana, among conservatives in the blogosphere and the like? We talk about it. And I was being somewhat critical of Mrs. Perry tonight, saying that's not exactly right. Nobody has criticized her husband because of his faith. They've criticized him for a lot of other reasons. They haven't criticized him because of his faith.

And today she said that President Obama cost her son his job. And that's not true. I mean, what Sarah Palin would call the lame stream media. How has the reaction to Mrs. Perry been among conservatives at the grass roots level?

LOESCH: I don't think that it's had much of an impact. And I haven't really seen much criticism of Rick Perry's faith. In fact, the thing that I've seen the most is the exact same people who went after Mormons over the Prop 8 issue are now in the very interesting position of defending Mormons with Mitt Romney. So it's been a very kind of interesting situation.

And I would have to disagree with Mr. Frum. I don't think that Rick Perry speech was ignorant. I'm glad to see that someone went after energy in terms of the economy. And I think, too, when you want to talk about their plans and whose record is what, Rick Perry's record as governor far, I think, outweighs the records of a lot of candidates, especially Mitt Romney, although he does have his own problems. I had to clarify that. I had to put that out there.

KING: That's all right. Well, a spicy debate is a good thing. We've all watched with some fascination and some sort of "where is this going," question mark, the Occupy Wall Street protest. And they're complaining about inequality, complaining about corporate greed.

But interesting, on the campaign trail, to see how the Republicans react. And we're going to have a little bit of fun here. Listen to two candidates here. Here's No. 1. He's at the top of the national polls, Herman Cain, about his job stance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't do radio anymore, folks, because when you run for president, you have to be unemployed. I think that's a silly rule. But I'm unemployed. But that's OK. I'm not in it for the money right now.

You know, the teleprompter fell off the bus on the way over here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's Herman Cain in Tennessee today. The guy has got a sense of humor about him. This is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney back in June.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe I should also tell my story. I'm also unemployed. And I'm networking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot better than what we've known.

ROMNEY: But I have my sight on a particular job I'm looking for. So I know exactly what I'm aiming for. It's certainly a career, but it's a lot of work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: OK. Dana Loesch, are we supposed to shed any tears for these guys? I want to show our viewers. Mitt Romney's net worth estimated between 190, $250 million. Herman Cain is in the estimate, somewhere in the ballpark of $18 million. So maybe they're unemployed, but I'm not supposed to cry, am I?

LOESCH: No. I think they were being facetious with it. I think Herman Cain had a good point, in that, if they continued working, their jobs would come under fire. Their employers would come under fire, or their business, they being their own employers, really in most cases. So I think it was just a joke. I wouldn't take it too seriously. I didn't when Mitt Romney said it at the time. I laughed at Cain's remark.

KING: We like humor in politics, right?

FRUM: We like humor. I think those jokes would be funnier if the unemployment rate were 5 percent than they are at the current rate.

KING: So you have to be a little more careful. If you're trying to make fun of it, you have to be careful.

So you guys give advice. That's why you're here. You give advice to the candidates. You give advice to me. Here's a guy, all of the Republican candidates are out here. Some of them are struggling. Some of them are doing well. It's a long campaign. Would you take advice from this guy?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, you know, it sounds rather simplistic, Wolf, but my one advice to him would be two -- two things to do.

One, get some rest. When you're tired -- every time I made a serious mistake, I've made a serious mistake politically, and I've made them, it's been -- it's been when I'm tired.

And the second thing is, get somebody in there who will really give it a good scrubbing, who will be -- will play these individuals, who will play Romney, for example. And really put it to you so that you're prepared for any question that comes up. I think both of those probably would help him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was debate advice to Rick Perry: get some sleep and have somebody come in and spar with you.

BORGER: Do your homework.

KING: From John McCain. Do you think the Perry campaign is scribbling down what...

BORGER: Well, I think they should. Because I think it's really good advice. I remember Bill Clinton saying that the worst mistakes he made in his political career were always made when he was tired.

KING: I was around him for a lot of those.

BORGER: Right. And he was tired. And I remember John McCain: "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." I remember being told he was really tired when he said that.

So I think -- I think it's very good advice, and this was his way of saying to Rick Perry, you know, "You've got to prepare for these debates. It's not Texas."

FRUM: No one is in a better position to advise Rick Perry than John McCain, who was in a similar kind of situation. At the top he collapsed and then, through sheer grit and guts, he came back to win the nomination.

And what he was doing in those weeks before he won the New Hampshire nomination, he had no money. And he was the oldest candidate in the race, and yet he was the hardest working. I mean, it was -- it's an inspiring story. And he's a guy that, if I were in Rick Perry's shoes, he would be a guy I would want to listen to.

BORGER: Yes, because he beat Mitt Romney.

LOESCH: I would almost do the exact opposite of anything John McCain said, although I do think his advice there was probably the smartest thing that I've heard. I'm not a huge McCain fan. He seems like a lovely man, though.

BORGER: Yes, but don't forget, he did -- he did beat Mitt Romney. So...

LOESCH: Well, I like to -- I like to chalk that up to McCain- Feingold being worse than Romney care. He was -- he was the lesser of the two evils at the time.

KING: To the broader point Senator McCain was making. Dana, to you first on this one. We do have a debate coming up on Tuesday night in Nevada. Governor Perry has been struggling.

On the one hand, people say it's silly. They don't vote in Iowa for 80 days. It could move up if New Hampshire moves its primaries. But these debates aren't that important. But when a guy gets in like that and rockets to the top, and then goes down, how important is it, after being panned in three consecutive debates now? Did Governor Perry have a home run performance? LOESCH: He needs to have a Red Bull before this debate. Maybe -- maybe two Red Bulls and a cup of coffee on top of it. He needs to have a lot more energy. He kind of came alive a little bit the last debate, and then it -- it sort of fizzled out.

This is really important because you have to remember, too, a lot of people, when Michele Bachmann first got into this race, nobody outside of the Tea Party really knew who Michele Bachmann is. Nobody followed her. It was her first introduction to the country.

And Rick Perry is sort of the same way. He's governor of Texas. Everybody knows him in Texas, but a lot of people outside of Texas aren't familiar with Perry's record on jobs. They're not familiar with the some of the missteps that he's taken on immigration. So this -- these debates, this is when the rest of America can really vet these candidates. And this is when these candidates can sell themselves to the American public. They're hugely important.

KING: This one's our debate. So it's not usually important; it's galactically important.

GLORIA: The most important thing ever.

FRUM: ... sleep. I saw him interviewed by George Stephanopoulos. That's a morning program, so that's immediately after you wake up. And he could not intelligently talk about his jobs plan. This is -- there's a problem here of mental nimbleness. And people are seeing it on television. Rick Perry -- Rick Perry is asked a question for which he does not have a written answer, he doesn't know what to do.

BORGER: I think he just needs to have ideas. I think he needs to have things to say so he can establish a kind of breadth of experience that people would say, "OK, he's presidential."

FRUM: There are a lot of things to say. There are a lot of criticisms of this administration to make. There are a lot of -- a lot of smart economists out there with alternatives. If you can't master that as the governor as the governor of the second biggest state in the country for ten years, the choke point is not your lack of sleep.

BORGER: This is a job interview. Debates are job interviews, and he's -- he's got to brag about himself.

FRUM: It's not a rhetorical problem.

KING: Dana, David is saying that he's not intellectually capable.

LOESCH: See, I disagree with that. I've heard Perry speak numerous times without a teleprompter. And he's done -- he's done very well. I think it's just -- I think it's perhaps maybe the pressure of the national stage. He's horrible at debates. This is something that he's got to get better at.

FRUM: ... not seeking a job with a lot of pressure.

BORGER: But if he wants to win a presidential campaign, he's going to have to get a lot better at it.

LOESCH: Not everyone can be gifted with the power of the teleprompter.

KING: If he wins, he gets the job.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: And with the job comes the nuclear football.

You have a great weekend, everybody. That's all for us tonight. You have a great weekend, too, and stay safe. We'll see you Monday. We'll be live from Las Vegas. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.