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Big Budget Plan; Interview with Senator Mark Warner; Illegal Immigration; Interview with Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota; Interview with NBA Commissioner David Stern

Aired October 17, 2011 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: We're on the "Front Line" with NBA Commissioner David Stern. He says there may be no hoops for the holidays. What will it take to avoid that fate? And Herman Cain has been pushing the 9-9-9 plan for weeks, but he's singing a different tune tonight.

That's right. And the "Bottom Line" in the presidential campaign, lots of talk, but not a lot of ideas. Where will the big idea come from?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Monday. I'm Erin Burnett and OUTFRONT tonight, big ideas. Ron Paul wants to cut $1 trillion from the federal budget. Herman Cain wants to toss out the current tax plan and go to 9-9-9. Some people have laughed at the candidates for these big ideas, but the reality is a bold idea, not necessarily Cain's or Paul's, is what we need to break through the paralysis in Washington that's hurting Americans and America's reputation.

Paul, Cain, and the other Republican candidates are gathering in Nevada for tomorrow's debate. And Nevada is a place that needs a really big idea. The state's unemployment 13.4 percent highest in the United States of America, four percentage points above the national average. Housing is a bust. Nevada ranks number one in foreclosures.

Las Vegas prices down almost 60 percent from the peak. We need big ideas. We're going to be getting a Democrat's view in just a moment with Virginia Senator Mark Warner, but first let's find out if the nation is ready for a big idea and what the response is to the Cain and Paul plans. Gloria Borger is CNN's chief political analyst, John Avlon, of course regular here, columnist for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast" -- great to have both of you with us.

Gloria, since you're out in Vegas, why don't you give us the sense, what was the response to Ron Paul's plan today, which, of course, in addition to the trillion-dollar budget cut in year one also included getting rid of several federal agencies.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Republicans are very interested in hearing what Ron Paul has to say. He's been someone who's been on the scene for quite some time. But when you scratch the surface, Erin, you see that he wants to eliminate five cabinet departments. He wants to cut spending back to 2006 levels.

But when you look at that, that would mean severe cuts in things like Medicaid, children's health insurance programs, and, again, once you look at the details, people are going to start raising questions about it. One other thing, he doesn't touch Social Security or guess what, Medicare. And those, even to this libertarian, seem to be sort of sacred cows wouldn't you say, in an election year?

BURNETT: That's a pretty -- that's an interesting point. John Avlon, what do you think about what Gloria is saying, though? Is that you come up with a big, bold idea, whatever it might be, from whatever side of the political spectrum, and then it gets pooped all over, because it's too bold. Can anything really bold pass?

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well in a divided government, of course, it's more difficult. But I agree that there's an obligation to propose big ideas. Look, give Ron Paul points for philosophic consistency. He's been making these points for a long time --


AVLON: -- and that's why his libertarian followers really do admire him, in a time where Washington really has been gutless about proposing new ideas. The problem, however, is polarization. The problem is that what you get in these primaries are people playing to the base with bumper sticker politics. And no, those plans almost by definition don't have a prayer of crossing over into mainstream support or getting bipartisan support, which you need to divide in Congress (ph).

BURNETT: Gloria, what do you think these plans, the fact that we have two very bold ones from Ron Paul and Herman Cain will do to the Republican electorate? The CNN poll today sort of amazed me that two- thirds of likely Republican voters have not decided who they're going to vote for yet.

BORGER: Well, they're kind of fickle right now, Erin, I would have to say. You know these Republican voters -- you look at Mitt Romney, he's the only one who's kind of at 25 percent. He's everybody's second choice, kind of. And so they're looking around. And what these debates are, are really job interviews. And people haven't decided who they want to hire as the Republican nominee.

So I think it's kind of no surprise that right now, they're looking at the field and they're saying, OK, let's see what you have to offer. By the way, Mitt Romney had a complicated 59-point economic plan and he got taken on by Herman Cain, because it was too complicated. You know. But this is a complicated country with big problems that require very complex solutions.

BURNETT: I had an issue with that plan because I'm thinking you know 59 -- why not 60? At least he could have, Gloria, nodded, so you know even number or something.

BORGER: I'm with you. I'm with you. Couldn't they have thought of one more point, right? BURNETT: John Avlon, what do you think in terms of the three quarters of Republican voters that are undecided? Are they going to go bold or when push comes to shove, going to go more safe?

AVLON: Look, I mean it points to just how disaffected they are with the field, the limits on Mitt Romney's campaign, the fact that he's stuck in the mid-20s, and the fact that no one's made the sale because people are feeling so anxious, so frustrated, so fearful about the future. People want major change in Washington, but they want someone who at the same time can figure out a way to bring that change and bridge the divides that exist in politics. And that's a tall order, but it's the responsibility of whoever's chief executive.

BURNETT: Gloria, John, thanks so much to both of you.

Now if you're a Republican running for president right now, you have an advantage, right, because you can come up with these big, bold ideas because you're the guy trying to get the job. It's a little bit harder on the Democratic side where the person running is an incumbent. But we wanted to talk about Democratic big ideas and Virginia Senator Mark Warner is adamant that D's and R's can strike a quote, "grand bargain". He's got some ideas himself, obviously a member of the "group of six", and great to have you with us, sir. Really appreciate your taking the time.


BURNETT: Let me ask you, Senator Warner, I know you've talked a lot about infrastructure, but when you talk about a big, bold idea that comes from the "D" side of the aisle where you sit, what would it be?

WARNER: Well let me give you two or three ideas. And first of all, I think we need to acknowledge, we're coming out of the worst recession since the great depression, and government has already used its biggest tools. In any downturn, you use monetary policy to lower interest rates, we've done that, and you use government to stimulate the economy. We've kind of done that.


WARNER: So where do we stand now? We've got to look at what else we can do. Infrastructure investment bank, not a new Fannie and Freddie, but actually an infrastructure investment bank, similar to what has been used in many other countries could jump-start infrastructure. We've got -- we've turned from a competitive advantage into a competitive disadvantage.


BURNETT: Just to jump in quickly, number 23 in the world right now, the United States of America, on infrastructure quality. You see it in every airport you fly into anywhere else now.

WARNER: It doesn't make any sense to go to Shanghai to see the world's fastest train or airports, they're 21st Century. That makes no sense. We've got to figure out a way to bring in private capital. And I've been working on the so-called "Build Act", bipartisan, should be able to get through, that says, let's encourage private capital. It will help us reinvest in our infrastructure.

BURNETT: And quickly, Senator Warner, how big would you make this infrastructure investment blank -- bank?

WARNER: I think --

BURNETT: Because to be fair the president pushed for it when he started the stimulus, didn't get as much as he wanted. How big is big and bold when it comes to infrastructure today?

WARNER: One of the things about an infrastructure investment bank is that 10 billion to $20 billion of capital could be leveraged up, in effect, with private capital on top of that, using the kind of export/import bank model. And you could end up with 500, 600, $700 billion worth of projects that would get started on that. You're going to need also as well to look at additional funding to infrastructure in its traditional source. Right now the gas tax is a declining source of revenue and obviously nobody wants to touch the gas tax.


WARNER: But infrastructure would be one area. Another area would be I think it's time to take a fresh look at the housing market. In 2008, 2009, when TARP originally came out, it was supposed to be about fixing the housing market.

BURNETT: That's right.

WARNER: It didn't do that.


WARNER: And then I think the general consensus amongst the experts was let this housing problem just kind of work its way through. Well, in states like Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida, and the rest of the country, that's not happening. So there are some ideas out there about refinancing 20 million of the Freddie and Fannie owned mortgages at the current market rate of four percent or take a lot of the mortgages that are underwater and move to a rent-to-own program rather than the current, kind of simply having these folks go into foreclosure.

BURNETT: Would you put principle reduction on the table?

WARNER: Well listen I voted for principle reduction, as long as it was in a narrowly defined universe. That window has probably passed --


WARNER: -- but I actually think that vote looks better and better at this point, as a way to kind of staunch, to still the bleeding that's going on in the housing market, a broad, a bold idea around housing. But they're also I think you have to acknowledge a need for some smaller ideas, because there may not be the single silver bullet.


WARNER: So whether it's ideas about spectrum, ideas about reform of our Food and Drug Administration to get medical devices and pharmaceuticals to the market quicker, whether it's about making sure that we no longer continue to educate the best and brightest from around the world and then send them home instead of stapling a green card to allow them to start these businesses here in America.

BURNETT: Right. Before --

WARNER: There are ideas out there.

BURNETT: And it's nice to hear them, because your optimism and can-do attitude is what everyone wants to hear a lot more of. I know that you know you were part of the "gang of six" and you've hosted dinners for both sides of the aisle. Can you look the American people in the eye tonight and say there could be a grand bargain? That we're not just going to hear a -- it's all about taxes on one side, it's all about spending on the other, and we're never going to get anywhere in Washington.

WARNER: Unless we are willing to put entitlement reform and tax reform that raises revenues into the mix, we're not going to do the job that we were hired to do. And frankly, I understand why everybody is -- Congress is at what, eight percent approval rating at this point?


WARNER: I still believe we need a $4 trillion deal that is that grand bargain. And there are 44 senators at this point, and we're still growing that say if super committee goes large, we'll be there to support them, even if it's not a perfect situation.

BURNETT: Well I hope -- I hope that they do and I hope that you can get it done and thank you so much. We look forward to seeing you again, sir.

WARNER: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well OUTFRONT next, the number of GOP candidates propose building an electric fence along the Mexican border. Is this a big, bold idea that will solve America's immigration problem?

And then DSK, that would be Dominique Strauss-Kahn, caught up in another sex scandal. The top police officer accused of being his personal pimp and a Herman Cain clip that is even better than we imagined. We cannot resist playing it for you tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: The number tonight, 50. That's the percent of Americans who are now in favor of legalizing marijuana. That would be a record high. I love the opportunity to use these often. The new survey came from Gallup and found those in the Midwest and the West are most likely to support legalization. And I'm sure you can get a pair of glasses just like these, the number on that, $6.50 a pair.

All right, well in Arizona today, Herman Cain became the latest candidate to visit with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Now, he's the man who fought for Arizona's strict immigration law. You see him there with Michele Bachmann earlier today. He's meeting with Mr. Cain now. We will get footage of that soon. Met with her on Friday, sorry about that. The law allows police to stop anyone they suspect of being illegal. Now Mr. Arpaio has spoken to Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry. But it was Cain who over the weekend raised eyebrows for his comments on what to do about the problem.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I'm in charge of the fence, we're going to have a fence; it's going to be 20 feet high. It's going to have barbed wire on the top. It's going to be electrocuted -- electrified. And there's going to be a sign on the other side that says "it will kill you."


BURNETT: Now Cain later said that he was joking, but it's obvious that the frustration with illegal immigrants in America is very real. David Frum is a contributor and editor of the He joins us from Washington. Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist also coming from Washington tonight.

David, I wanted to start with you tonight, and just show you, I guess, this issue of the fence. Let's talk a look at who's for the fence or against the fence. It's actually interesting that every Republican with the exception of Rick Perry has said that they support a fence along the 2,000-mile border. Does that make sense?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I am someone who strongly supports stricter enforcement of the immigration laws, and I say that as somebody who was born in Canada and migrated to the United States. But a fence is the most expensive, slowest, and least effective way to do it. If you want to enforce the immigration laws, what you do is you -- every state requires every employer to check the status of employees through the federal E-Verify system with really harsh fines if you violate it.

Right now, if you violate the Clean Water Act, it's not an excuse to say, "I didn't know," but under the immigration system, it is an excuse to say I didn't know and the fines are desiry (ph). It was under the Clean Water Act. The fines are heavy.

That could be -- many states are requiring it. If all did, it would make a big impression by taking away the incentive to migrate illegally. But a fence, we built a fence on the border with Mexico between Tijuana and San Diego.


FRUM: It runs I think about 11 miles. It took a decade to build because of all the litigation. There are wetlands in the Rio Grande. There's going to be litigation. It will take a century of lawsuits. And by then, everybody will have moved who wanted to move. Use E- Verify. The fence is just a gimmick. It won't work. It's too slow.

BURNETT: Modern day Hadron's (ph) wall, Jamal?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. Let's just start from the beginning, which is let's be clear. What we're talking about is not just immigration reform. It's Hispanic immigration reform because people aren't complaining about Canadian nurses coming across the border to work in Michigan --

BURNETT: That's true. I was going to call David out on that, but I let (INAUDIBLE).

SIMMONS: Or eastern European waitresses working in bars in New York City, people aren't talking about them overstaying their visas. We're concerned about Mexican Americans, Hondurans, others coming across the border. We talk about that fence; some estimates have it at $4 million per mile for a 2,000-mile fence, which is about $8 billion for -- and by the way, we're not even having a lot of immigration come across right now because our economy is doing so poorly.

BURNETT: Fair point.

SIMMONS: So the immigration trickle has really slowed. So we just don't need to start spending $8 billion on something when we can do something much better with it.

BURNETT: One other thing that we kind of boiled it down to in terms of position on immigration, one was the fence, which is obviously a simple thing to imagine. The other was this whole idea of a path to citizenship, which becomes a little dicier and the candidates have danced around it a little bit. But pretty much, none of them have come out vocally in favor of any path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. David Frum is that pretty much just political posturing because practically I think we all know that a lot of those people aren't going to leave.

FRUM: I think, by the way, the candidates who oppose the so- called path to citizenship are completely correct. Because to propose such an inducement at a time when the enforcement is not yet effective is to invite more of the problem. And I think we need to take seriously why people are concerned about this. Immigration is one of those issues that creates winners and losers.


FRUM: The three of us on the show were winners. Probably everybody watching this program tonight is a winner. All the costs of immigration fall on the bottom third of society. Every economic study shows it's a wash and the cost and benefits net out zero -- at almost zero/zero. But with all the benefits at the top of society, and all the costs on the bottom and that's -- and the people at the bottom are not well represented by our political system.

Don't tell them they are wrong that because the fence is a bad idea. Don't tell them they are wrong to be concerned. They are right to be concerned. Give them a better answer. And effective enforcement at the workplace is that answer.

BURNETT: Jamal, will the president be able to avoid this issue, especially on this whole path to citizenship, which he had sort of addressed a while back. But I'm wondering whether you think it's smart for him or will he even be able to avoid going there again?

SIMMONS: Well the president's got kind of an interesting case to make.


SIMMONS: He's already -- he has more security -- he's done more to secure the border than George Bush had done at this point. He's already deported about 1.5 -- one million Mexican illegal aliens or unauthorized citizens, unauthorized immigrants to come across the border. He's already gotten rid of 1.5 million -- one million. George Bush did 1.5. At the same time, the president's got to be focused on a comprehensive solution that does have this pathway to citizenship.

One study by the Center for American Progress says that we could have $1.5 trillion in economic growth if we legalized these unauthorized immigrants. At the same time, we could have maybe about four to $5 billion in more tax payments over the next three years if we legalized them. So we have to be really clear that for those people who are concerned about the deficits, that we may actually have one additional solution, which is bringing people into the fold, getting them in the system, and getting those tax payments into the treasury.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Jamal, David, thanks very much. And viewers, please --


BURNETT: -- go on our Facebook page. Let us know what you think about this issue, whether you think employers should have to ask everyone whether they're illegal and get proof of citizenship or what you think of Jamal's idea about legalization and getting more tax dollars. We want you to be a part of the conversation ahead of our Vegas debate tomorrow.

And still OUTFRONT next Herman Cain imagines he will be elected president, but he might not be the only one. We can't resist looking at his performance.

Plus, baby Lisa's mother was drunk when she said her baby disappeared. We go back OUTFRONT in Kansas.


BURNETT: And now a story we can't resist. Every few years, a corporate music video is linked online, and frankly, they're surprisingly well produced, ridiculously earnest, and unintentionally hilarious (ph) to the public. And they frankly were never supposed to be seen by the public. But some of the most popular ones include the Chevrolet Sales Convention Musical. Oh yes, yes, or the Wendy's Grill Skill Wrap (ph), those are burgers.

And the Bank of America employee singing U2's "One" but as funny and embarrassing as those are, none of them featured an actual celebrity, until now, because presidential candidate Herman Cain has now officially joined past political pop stars like Mike Huckabee, Howard Dean, and, of course, Bubba. In this just-released 1991 clip, a former Godfather's Pizza CEO dressed in a choir robe performs a pizza-themed version of John Lennon's "Imagine" and if you thought his 9-9-9 plan was catchy wait until you hear this.



CAIN (singing): Imagine there's no pizza. I couldn't if I tried. Eating only tacos --


BURNETT: I'm sorry, but you know, what would America be without pizza? He's right. We just couldn't resist.

OUTFRONT next the president is accused of campaigning on taxpayers' dime. Is his job tour really just about his job?

And new developments in the Michael Jackson death trial, the toxicology reports may hurt Conrad Murray's chances of an acquittal.

And NBA Commissioner David Stern comes OUTFRONT with new information about whether we're going to get an NBA season. Will they play a single game? He's OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about. We focus on our own reporting and what we call find the "OutFront Five". It was a rough day for the markets. Stocks fell sharply, down about 247 points thanks to worries that Europe will not make a deal on its debt problem. We told you that was going to be a roller-coaster ride.

The DOW fell more than two percent. All 30 stocks in the index were down. David Lutz of Stifel Nicolaus told us to watch for data out of China overnight. The world's current growth engine has economic numbers that come out through the night. It's going to be a big deal for our markets here. We need China to grow. Number two, two Indy drives have been released from the hospital following yesterday's crash which killed Dan Wheldon. Dash cam video from Will Power's car shows the fiery crash, which involved 15 cars, was shocking to watch this live.

Wheldon was a 33-year-old father of two. He suffered un- survivable injuries.

Several fellow drivers have come out since and said the track was not suitable for 34 cars traveling more than 200 miles an hour. One such driver was Dario Franchitti. He said, quote, "We lost a good friend. I'm just thinking of Susie and the boys. When I think about them, I'm struggling to hold it together.'

I'm watching it yesterday, as I'm sure many of you did, like we did, there was a period of time when you had a lot of hope, especially when the helicopter left, that maybe Mr. Wheldon would make it.

Number three, the man behind President Obama's auto bailout has a new job, finding ways to expand the U.S. Postal Service. His name is Ron Bloom. He's been hired by the National Association of Letter Carriers. The acronym is rather nice.

A union spokesman tells OUTFRONT that Bloom is tasked with one big goal, keeping Saturday service. The postal service could soon run out of money. It's looking to cut $20 billion in the next three years.

And RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry, announced today it's giving users $100 in free apps as a way to say, hey, sorry for last week's service outage. Well, however, we spoke to a cell phone expert at "PC Mag" who says only a portion of blackberry users will benefit, because you have to opt in. It's not an automatic rebate. So, sign up if you want the bonus.

"PC Mag" also said the move is not just good customer relations, it's also self-serving. It may spark interest in BlackBerry's app world, which is the least use app store. It's not enough, BlackBerry, for the pain of last week. It is just not enough, sorry.

All right. Number five: it has been 73 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

President Obama began another bus tour, pushing his jobs proposal. This time, he was in North Carolina and Virginia.

Now, Republicans are saying the road trip is about saving one job, his own. And you know there is a reason that they are suspicious.

CNN's Tom Foreman has been looking at a map -- and what do you see there, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, you're right, there is a reason to be suspicious. Look, this is the 2008 result here. We know all the blue states went to President Obama, all the red states went to John McCain.

Look where the president's been since mid-August of this year. All of his travel except for one trip to Texas has been in blue states. And more importantly, look at the ones that have these lines on them. Those are the states that he flipped from Republican red to Democratic blue in that election, and there is a preponderance of travel in those states.

Clearly, the White House is looking very carefully and say, how do we triangulate the electoral votes coming up?

And I want you to look at one of the things here. Let's say all of these states that he flipped went neutral right now. That would put roughly 112 electoral votes up for grab. I say roughly because there's been a change because of the census, but nonetheless, that's based on the last elections.

If these changes started happening back to Republicans, North Carolina for 15, Virginia for 13, Ohio over here for 20, and then say Indiana, which was very close anyway, went back over here, then the Republicans picked up something big like Florida -- look at the raise in those circumstances.

Suddenly, the Republicans would have the edge. The Democrats would be on the defensive.

This White House proved, Erin, above all else in this last election, the president's team knows how to count votes. They did it in the primary very well. They did it in the election, the general election, very well.

And that's clearly what's happening now -- a lot of triangulating of all these electoral votes in all these states and saying, what is the magic combination that could get him the 270 that he needs. I think we're going to see a lot more of this from him and the Republicans over the next year -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much and the map says a whole lot about why the Republicans say the bus trip is much more than a sales pitch for jobs. Here's Mr. McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The president has taken to the road and -- I mean, he's spent a number of minutes attacking our plan and I understand that. I think the question might be, though, is that appropriate on the taxpayers' dime, since it is clearly campaigning?


BURNETT: All right. This is the White House announced it's pushing parts of the original jobs bill piecemeal.

Senator John Hoeven is a Republican from North Dakota, on the appropriations committee. Senator, I want to start first off with what Senator McCain just said, that the president is campaigning right now on the taxpayers' dime. Do you think that's a fair charge or too harsh?

SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, we're concerned that the president and the administration need to start working with us on a comprehensive approach that will stimulate private investment and get this economy going. So, he's out touring around the country essentially on what are sound bites when we need to be working of on comprehensive policy here in D.C. that will stimulate that private investment, get our economy going, and help create jobs.

BURNETT: So, let me ask you about how he's going to push this through piecemeal. When he was pushing a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires, three quarters of the American public were OK with that, with the so-called millionaire's surtax. Now, he's saying, I'll pay for $35 billion of my jobs plan, fireman and teachers with a 0.5 percent millionaire's surtax.

Is it going to be possible for Republicans like you to oppose that? It just won't seem like a lot of money to most Americans.

HOEVEN: Look, we think there are things in his overall package that we can work with him on and find a way to make work. But they've got to be structurally sound. He's still trying to provide short-term spending and then long-term tax increases.

What we need to do is to reduce the regulatory burden, to control spending, prioritize spending, so where we need to be provide funding for important priorities, make sure it's there. We'll work with him on that, but at the same time, control spending, reduce spending, find savings where we can, and then let's engage in the kind of tax reform that closes loopholes, that's pro-growth, and that we get growing revenue and job creation from a system that's fair and that stimulates growth rather than higher taxes.

We're ready, anxious, and willing to work with him on that type of approach, an approach that can work.

BURNETT: An approach that can work. Will that, in any way, in your view, allow for revenue increases? And I'm not asking you specifically on the surtax, just any kind of revenue increase?

HOEVEN: The key to revenue growth that is tax reform that closes loopholes and that is pro-growth. Then with a growing economy, that's where your revenue growth comes in, not from higher taxes.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me ask you an interesting question here. New CNN poll today, two-thirds of Americans, as I had indicated, were in favor of raising taxes on millionaires, but about 50 percent of them had favorable views of millionaires.

Is that something that should make us feel good? That the country isn't as split as some might have us believe right now, that we are not so divided by class warfare? HOEVEN: I think people recognize that the higher taxes that the administration is talking about hit small business. Four of five small businesses face higher taxes under President Obama's proposal. The key is the kind of tax reform that closes loopholes, everybody pays their fair share, it's fair. And then as you grow the economy, because you have a pro-growth, simplified understandable system, that's what generates the revenue, that along with controlling our spending and reducing the regulatory burden creates jobs and gets us out of this deficit and debt problem.

BURNETT: All right. Senator Hoeven, thanks so much for being with us.

HOEVEN: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Senator Hoeven, former governor of North Dakota as well, who had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Thanks again, sir.

Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper and a look at what's ahead on "A.C. 360" as he counts down to his big debate.

Hey, Anderson, looks pretty nice out there.

ANDERSON COOPER, "A.C. 360" HOST: Yes, I'm in Las Vegas, Erin, ahead of tomorrow's Western Republican Presidential debate, which I'll be moderating.

Herman Cain, one of the candidates we're focusing on tonight, keeping them honest, for comments made over the weekend about how to keep illegal immigrants out of the country, with a deadly electrified fence, he said. Cain then walked back those comments saying it was a joke. It's not the first time Cain said something controversial and said it was a joke. But Cain is a serious candidate now. He's at the top of the polls.

And, tonight, we're putting Cain under serious scrutiny, keeping him honest.

In raw politics tonight, a candidate in the political fight of his life and losing badly. Does Rick Perry may have -- does he have a plan to get his candidacy back on track by appealing to evangelical Christians? We'll look at that.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" -- that's at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And then I hope, you know, maybe five minutes for some fun at some point for you, Anderson. See you tomorrow.

All right. We've got a new sex scandal brewing tonight for the former IMF head, DSK, otherwise known as Dominique Strauss-Kahn. According to a French newspaper, police have linked the 62-year-old to an international prostitution ring and accused a top-ranking French police officer being DSK's personal pimp. This comes just days after French prosecutors dropped a rape case brought by a French journalist, against what was one a presidential hopeful in France.

It comes in the midst of his ongoing civil lawsuit with a New York hotel maid who accused him of rape last April, and he could pay millions if he loses that case.

Vicky Ward joins us now, investigative reporter for "Vanity Fair."

Sometimes you get great stories and great cases to cover, Vicky.

OK. Prostitution in France -- let us make it clear -- is legal, as long as it's not under age, which I know is may be a question here. What laws is he suspected of breaking as a client of this ring?

VICKY WARD, VANITY FAIR: It's not quite that simple. Erin, in France, it is not illegal to use a prostitute, but it is illegal to be in the business of organizing prostitution, of pimping. So --

BURNETT: Hmm, interesting.

WARD: Yes. So DSK finds himself in a gray area, if these newspaper reports are true, which we don't yet know.

If he had organized a man to procure certain prostitutes to choose certain girls for him, which were then driven by a French policeman, a senior French policeman from Paris to spend time with him, both in Paris and in New York, is that business, or is that just using the service of a prostitute? We will find out in days to come, Erin.

BURNETT: And in days to come, DSK has said he wants to talk to the police as soon as possible.

WARD: He does.

BURNETT: How soon? And what could he possibly tell them?

WARD: Well, I spoke to his lawyers today in Paris. They said he hasn't seen any legal complaint yet. He's just read the newspapers. He'd like to know what the evidence is against him, will he be a witness?

I asked, well, is he guilty? We have no comment. If he wants to use a prostitute, that's not illegal in France. That's the French.

BURNETT: All right. OK. Vicky Ward, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

And, of course, we're going to keep following this with Vicky, because this could have implications for the potentially millions of dollars DSK may have to pay if the civil suit in the U.S. goes ahead.

Well, coming up, the mother of baby Lisa was drunk the night her little girl disappeared. And even if Conrad Murray is found guilty, he may not have to go prison at all. How is that possible?

And the NBA strike -- the very real possibility that the season will be canceled. OUTFRONT with the NBA commissioner in a minute.


BURNETT: We do this just around the same time every night. Our "Outer Circle," we reach out to sources around the world and tonight, we go to Athens, Greece, where garbage is piling up after 16 straight days by strikes of government workers.

Now, these latest protests are over pay cuts and layoffs come just days ahead of a vote on austerity measures.

Becky Anderson is in London tonight.

And, Becky, why is this vote so important?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it is very simple. If the Greek government can't agree to implement increasingly stringent austerity measures, they won't get the money they need from Europe and the IMF to pay their bills. And, frankly, that means default and bankruptcy.

Now, this may just be the most crucial week for Greece and Europe. This is a deeply unpopular set of measures and Greece's two main unions, which represent about half of the 4 million-strong workforce are preparing for one of the biggest protests since this crisis began. A meltdown in Greece has an effect on banks just not in Europe, but across the entire world -- Erin.

BURNETT: That's right. Certainly here in the U.S., some banks could be very exposed.

And now we go to China, where people are reeling after a horrific video captured a 2-year-old being run over twice and left for dead. We want to warn you, this is very hard to watch.

Eunice Yoon is in Beijing.

And, Eunice, we're told the little girl is in critical condition, but this got a lot of coverage in China.

EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, people here are outraged by the double the hit and run, but they're equally disturbed by the indifference of the passersby. More than a dozen people just walked by this bleeding child without offering to help.

After about 10 minutes, a trash collector came and moved the child to safety. But this video has left millions of people here lamenting what they fear to be a decline in morality at a time when 1.3 billion people are all clambering to climb up the economic ladder -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Eunice, thank you very much. The video is very disturbing.

Well, two weeks and still no sign of 11-month-old Lisa Irwin. Her mother, Deborah Bradley, says she's vanished from her crib in the middle of the night. There are no leads yet for police. But suspicion continues to hover around Bradley. She says she's innocent. She's hired a high profile lawyer from New York.

Jim Spellman is working the story for us in Kansas City -- and it was a pretty busy day there, Jim.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure was, Erin. It started this morning on NBC News' "Today" show when Deborah Bradley admitted she was drunk and perhaps even blacked out on the night that Lisa disappeared. Her new attorney that she just brought suggested that that may be indeed be why if an intruder broke in, she wouldn't have heard it.

Meanwhile police, FBI, and even National Guard investigators over the weekend have been researching areas, going inch by inch, trying to find new leads in this story. But police still tell us they have had no breaks in this case, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you very much.

Well, jurors had the day off in the case against Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray.

But there was a development that could affect his defense. Prosecutors presented the judge with a new toxicology report that actually contradicts a key defense theory, which is that Michael Jackson was taking the drug Lorazepam without telling his doctor, in addition to the Propofol when he died.

Mark Geragos is a former attorney of Michael Jackson's. He's been following this case closely.

Mark, thanks for being with us. I just want to start off with this. How damaging is this development to Conrad Murray's defense in your opinion?

MARK GERAGOS, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't really think it's all that damaging. Remember, one of the things people have to understand about this case is it's a circumstantial evidence case. What that means is that this judge at the close of the case is going to instruct the jury, if there's two reasonable interpretations, one that points towards innocence, one that points towards guilt, you must adopt the one that points towards innocence and find him not guilty.

The defense is going to argue that this toxicology report is exactly what they would have expected, because the Lorazepam metabolite dissipates very quickly. I anticipate that's exactly what they're going to put on in the defense case.

This is nothing unusual for them. I think they expected it. All in all, I think the prosecution put on a good case, but I still believe this is probably a hung jury.

BURNETT: Wow. A hung jury. So does the defense need to do anything here to -- because some of the evidence we had heard, it appeared to be rather damning, but it's interesting that your take on this, especially on this, is not so dramatic.

GERAGOS: I don't think -- I don't think this is as dramatic as people are making it out to be. I think what once you see the cross- examine, that -- on the underlying toxicology report, it's not going to look all that damaging at all to the defense, because there's an explanation as to why it's not at the levels that people would assume.

That, having been said, does the defense have to do anything? I think they do. I think they've got to put on Dr. White. That's the self-professed father of Propofol that Ed Chernoff talked about in the opening.


GERAGOS: I think they've got to put him on and see what he says.

And the critical part of that is not what he says on direct. It's what he says on cross-examination when they get up there and start asking him about what about giving Propofol in the house.

BURNETT: Now, if Conrad Murray is found guilty, he faces up to four years in prison but we've learned obviously he may not actually serve any jail time. How is that so?

GERAGOS: Well, there's two things. First of all, the involuntary manslaughter carries up to four years. And it's what's called 50 percent time, which means even if the judge sentences him to four years, he only does two years. Then under realignment, that's this brand new thing that's happened in California as of October 1st, 30,000 prisoners are going from state prison to the county jails, and they rate the prisoners, depending on the crime. His is one of the crimes that, arguably, would be back to county jail and could be released woefully early.

BURNETT: Interesting take on the prison issue.

Quickly, before we go, I just want to ask you this since obviously you knew Michael Jackson for many years.

Was he sick for a long time in terms of his issues with all of these drugs?

GERAGOS: Well, you know, without violating attorney/client or anything else, the Michael that I knew was always fairly sharp, engaged, especially during the child protective services investigation and the early stages of the criminal case. He was focused like a laser. I remember one meeting in particular where he was asking all the right questions.

So, no, I don't see it. And it's interesting that you bring that up because I think that's the portrait that the defense has kind of painted during this trial. BURNETT: Certainly.

GERAGOS: And I think that only helps Dr. Murray.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. Appreciate your taking the time, Mark, and sharing that anecdote as well.

Well, NBA Commissioner David Stern comes OUTFRONT after this. Will we have a basketball season or not? It's a crucial 24 hour. He's OUTFRONT, next.


BURNETT: Countdown tonight to possibly no season for basketball fans. Preseason and the first two weeks of the NBA already canceled.

Can the players and the owners reach a deal over $4 billion in revenues? NBA commissioner David Stern met with the federal mediator and then came OUTFRONT today.


DAVID STERN, NBA COMMISSIONER: We spent two hours with him this morning, and he was heading over to the union to spend a similar amount of time with them.

BURNETT: Some may talk about the revenue split. You're at 47, they were at 53. I know someone said you were at 50, but they were at 57 percent. They came down to 53.

So, 53 is already sort of below other people, if you look at it that way.

STERN: We had a 57 percent deal. That's over. And under that deal, we lost over $1 billion, almost $300 million this past season. We need to reset our business model, which not only gives our teams an opportunity to be profitable, not mandated, but an opportunity, and -- and allows them to revenue share because, as the union has made, I think, clear, and I agree with them, we need a more robust revenue- sharing plan.

BURNETT: What about meeting them in the middle of where they are. I know you're saying 47, but you've sort of been at 50. What about 51 1/2?

STERN: No, that's what they're trying to do by their off-the- record comments. They had suggested and we had agreed that we'd go back and place a 50-50 deal in front of our respective sides, but then they interrupted the process and they won't do it. So they're at 53, we're at 47.

And even at 50-50, it would be a very thin deal for the NBA. We need a system that allows our teams to better compete. We need a system that allows small market and large market teams to tell their fans we can compete if we're well-managed. BURNETT: Why is it, though, in basketball, assuming everything you say is the case, that you have to go so low on the share for the players?

STERN: It's important to know that under the expired deal, the players managed to get to a $5.5 million average compensation on $2.2 billion worth of total compensation divided by all the players. And we have said we're going to try as hard as we can to get you over $2 billion and take you from that 5.5 million by year seven to 7.2 million if our projections are met.

This past year, under our 57 percent deal, with all of the, shall we say, imprudent contracts that people point to, we promised the players 57. We didn't get there. And so, at the end of the season, we wrote them a check. We wrote the union a check to make up for it.

BURNETT: And how do you feel about the overall concern here? I mean we saw it with Major League Baseball when they had their dispute that the ultimate fans that you have, that are the kids now, right? And that they miss games and they see a side of the sport that isn't that pretty.

STERN: It's never pretty. I mean, I've driven General Motors cars in my years, and the fact is that when General Motors allowed itself to get pulled away by excess costs, it filed for bankruptcy. And those cars would not have been available on a continuing basis but for government help.

BURNETT: So, it would seem that if you get a deal sometime even in the next week, you could still be playing by Thanksgiving. Is that fair?

STERN: Yes. I think we would aim for the shortest possible time. But somewhere between 28 days and a month is, with due respect to February -- I don't want to even think, I'm thinking about February, I'm thinking about a 28-day month.

BURNETT: Well, February would --

STERN: No, that would be bad. That would be bad.


STERN: No, we would push as hard as possible to be up and running in 30 days.

BURNETT: So if there's a deal, it could take 28, 30 days. But if there's no deal tomorrow, if there's no deal next week, what happens?

STERN: We keep negotiating and we keep losing games to the calendar.


STERN: OK. So maybe Thanksgiving. All right. We're OUTFRONT in Vegas tomorrow. The set has been built. We're counting down to the big event. We're very excited to join all our friends out there. GOP debate live from Sin City, live from Las Vegas.

Right now, Mr. Anderson Cooper.