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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview With Herman Cain; Interview With New Hampshire Union Leader Editorial Page Editor Andrew Cline

Aired November 27, 2011 - 09:00   ET

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


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Another shot of helium for the high-flying campaign of Newt Gingrich, the endorsement of a major conservative newspaper in New Hampshire.

Today, October's front-runner, Herman Cain, on trying to regain his traction.

And the air wars, dissecting political ads with the experts, Mark McKinnon, Kiki McLean, and Ken Goldstein.

The Newt endorsement from The New Hampshire Union Leader with editorial page editor Andrew Cline.

And then, all things political with TIME magazine's Mike Scherer and A.B. Stoddard of The Hill.

I'm Candy Crowley and this is STATE OF THE UNION.

'Tis the season for endorsements, or not. A big "not" this week in Iowa from The Family Leader, the influential social conservative group said it won't even consider backing Herman Cain, citing, in part, "a narrative of questions versus clarity on the key issues of life, marriage, foreign policy, and presidential readiness."

And joining us now from Atlanta is Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, thank you so much for joining us here. I want to show our audiences, we noted you were the front-runner in October. This is our latest CNN/ORC poll, which shows you running at about 17 percent. That's an 8-point drop since October.

You have The Manchester Union Leader coming out and endorsing Newt Gingrich, who's now first in some of these polls. You have The Family Leader saying they just don't -- they don't even want to consider you because they don't really think you are ready for it.

What do you think has gone wrong in the past month or so?

HERMAN CAIN, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, obviously false accusations and confusion about some of my positions has contributed to it. And that was to be expected. In terms of the campaign itself, nothing has gone wrong in terms of our strategy of spending time in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Florida. So in terms of the mechanics of the campaign, nothing has gone wrong. But as you know, Candy, some people are heavily influenced by perception more so than reality. The good news is, most of my supporters, they have stayed on the Cain train, as we say.

CROWLEY: And but let me talk a little bit about perception and maybe what you think you might have done to add to some of this perception. We have the words from The Family Leader today saying there just isn't some clarity in so many things they wanted to know from, you know, abortion and family issues, to foreign policy.

And there is a group called factcheck.org, a non-partisan group that kind of looks at what people say. They looked at your stories on -- your words on the allegations of sexual harassment, your explanation of your position on abortion, some of your answers on foreign policy, and took into consideration your 999 policy and what it would do to those below the poverty level, and they were even harder on you than The Family Leader. And factcheck.org wrote: "What's clear in all of this is that when Cain plays fast and loose with the facts and when he comes under attack, he exhibits a pattern of evasiveness and misdirection, changing his position and then blaming others for misunderstanding him."

Do you think that you've made some mistakes here in dealing with some of these things that have come at you pretty hard and heavy over the past month?

CAIN: Well, some of them, Candy, have been taken out of context. So let me just set the record straight. I am pro-life from conception, period. Secondly...

CROWLEY: And would you agree there was confusion there because you indicated in some interviews that that wasn't your position.

CAIN: No, I did not. See, that was taken out of context is what I'm saying. The interview where it was taken out of context was a highly hypothetical situation and they pulled that out without showing the entire segment.

So this is why I'm setting the record straight because confusion has been generated. I'm pro-life from conception.

Secondly, on foreign policy, my foreign policy philosophy is peace through strength and clarity. I've been real clear about that. And the other thing relative to foreign policy is that I've been real clear about how I disagree with President Obama on the draw-down of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, et cetera.

So I've been real clear. But a lot of confusion has been thrown my way and that's part of the -- part of politics, as they say. But it's real clear where I stand.

CROWLEY: You don't think you could be clearer? Because it does seem, like you said to our Piers Morgan, that when the question comes to life of the mother in abortion, that should be up to the family. But you're saying that was taken out of context. CAIN: Yes, Candy. I -- that whole segment I talked about my position on life from conception, no exceptions. They didn't show that. Then he basically raised a highly hypothetical situation relative to if it were my granddaughter, and that's when they took that part out of context because of a poor choice of words in retrospect that then got later blown out and it became the story.

CROWLEY: I mean, I guess that's what I'm getting to, is that you did say, well, that should be up to the family, in response to a specific question about your granddaughter.

And so I just wonder if you just...

CAIN: But, Candy, Candy, please. Please allow me. See, the issue of, do I believe abortion should be illegal? The answer is absolutely, yes. But see, when it is taken to another hypothetical situation, that's what was taken out of context.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me move you on to some issues here. As you know, in the foreign policy national security debate, Newt Gingrich caused quite a storm when he said that he thought there should be a humane way to somehow legitimize some of the undocumented workers that have been in this country for 25 years, paid their taxes, played by the rules, had family ties. Do you agree with that?

CAIN: My position has been real clear. The illegal immigration issue is four problems. Secure the border for real. Enforce the laws that are there. I don't believe we need another path. We don't need any special exceptions. We need to clean up the bureaucracy that's already there. Promote the path...

CROWLEY: But there are 8 million -- there are 8 million undocumented workers...

CAIN: Promote the path to citizenship that's -- nope, Candy, I'm not going where Newt Gingrich is.

CROWLEY: Why?

CAIN: I'm simply stating my position. My position is: Secure the border for real. Promote the path to citizenship that already exists. The problem is the bureaucracy in getting people here legally. Now then the fourth -- the way I would deal with those that are already here, which has been my stated position, empower the states to deal with the illegals that are already here. Not some big grandiose national one-size-fits-all.

I believe that the states should be empowered to deal with the illegals that are already here.

CROWLEY: So it would be OK with you if states said, all right, those of you who meet certain criteria can be put on a path toward legalization, towards citizenship?

CAIN: It would be up to the states as long as they did not break the federal law. CROWLEY: OK. So that -- in some ways, this is an issue you would leave to the states but you don't argue with Newt Gingrich's position even though his is -- seemed to be a federal position, that he would like the federal government to take that position.

CAIN: Right. His position has created some controversy. You know, here's another one of those, you know, gray areas that he has thrown out there that has created some controversy.

So I'm basically re-stating what I have stated consistently relative to that.

CROWLEY: Which is that it would be OK to you if states granted some sort of amnesty to those that are already living here.

CAIN: No, no, no, Candy... CROWLEY: OK. Let's change the word...

CAIN: ... I did not use that word.

CROWLEY: All right.

CAIN: This is how -- this is how misperceptions get started. I am not saying that at all. I am saying...

CROWLEY: But you're saying it is OK with you if states said to undocumented workers, if you meet certain criteria, you may stay here.

CAIN: No, no, no.

CROWLEY: Isn't that what you just...

CAIN: That's not what I'm saying.

CROWLEY: All right.

CAIN: Let me go back. Let's try this one more time.

CROWLEY: OK. All right.

CAIN: Please. Give me a chance one more time to state this...

CROWLEY: Go right ahead.

CAIN: ... because it is a package. Secure the border for real, promote the path to citizenship that's already there. And the path to citizenship that's already there doesn't say anything about amnesty.

Thirdly, enforce the laws that are already there. But make it easier for companies to be able to enforce the laws.

And fourth, empower the states. Don't give the states any, you know, special things to do. Just empower them to do, within the law, what the federal government is not doing. That's my approach to the whole issue. CROWLEY: I think I'm a little confused but we want to move on. We're going to take a quick break and when we come back I'll move to some other issues of the day. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Back with the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, because the super committee didn't get its work done, there are many things that are going to expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn't act on them. I wanted to get your opinion on a couple of them.

One of them is there is a payroll tax cut that is what you pay for Social Security in your paycheck that has been in effect, it is a little over 2 percent. If Congress does not act, that payroll tax cut will go away, meaning that about almost $1,000 to the average American will be gone from their paycheck.

Do you support extending that payroll tax cut?

CAIN: I could support extending it, but here's the problem, it didn't do any good the first time. That is a thimble of water in the ocean. The president...

CROWLEY: But isn't it something?

CAIN: Of course it is.

CROWLEY: I mean, if you've got millions of Americans that have $1,000 more in their pocket, that has got to help.

CAIN: Candy, I'm agreeing with you. A thousand dollars would help a lot of people, but it is a distraction from the big problem and that is a lack of effective economic policy to grow this economy.

So argument over whether or not we should extend it or not extend it or not extend it, that's not the issue. The issue is where's, the economic growth for the entire economy?

CROWLEY: Long-term unemployment benefits expire at the end of this year, that is, unemployment benefits for those who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or more.

CAIN: Right.

CROWLEY: Do you believe those unemployment benefits should be extended? CAIN: No. And here's why. Where do we stop, Candy, is the question? Here again, extending unemployment benefits, extending the cut in the payroll tax are just distractions from the bigger problem, which is lack of economic growth which has not been there.

Secondly, we're spending money we do not have. It's unfortunate that people are unemployed. This is one of the reasons that I have proposed a bold plan to get this economy going which you know is 999. People need to go -- want to go back to work. That's the good news.

But this economy is not producing the jobs in order to get 14 million people that are unemployed back to work.

CROWLEY: Well, and about 2 million of those will lose their benefits if long-term unemployment benefits are not extended. And there are lots of studies that show that one of the quickest ways to get money into the economy is through these unemployment benefits.

So if I read you correctly, you would not be for extending those for another year but you would be for the payroll tax cut.

CAIN: Candy, it's not that simple. And this is part of the problem. What we need to do to get this economy growing is to put fuel in the engine which is to cut taxes to businesses and individuals.

Rather than just cutting the payroll tax where people might have a thousand dollars, let's cut -- if the president wants to do something in the short term, cut income taxes, cut corporate taxes.

CROWLEY: Sure, but that's...

CAIN: This is something that I was proposing earlier. That would -- that would solve the problem. This is just tinkering around the edges. That's what I'm saying.

CROWLEY: Right. And it may well be in terms of not getting huge tax reform around not reforming Social Security or Medicare. But that -- none of those big things are going to happen by the end of this year.

So that's why I'm asking, these are going to come up incrementally and so I'm asking you whether you think, in the absence of these other things that you are talking about, those ought to be pass.

CAIN: But, Candy, if the president were to go to Congress and say, I want to lower personal income taxes and corporate taxes by a significant amount in order to do something such that next year will not be an economic flat line, I believe he could get that support. It simply is not in his DNA.

So, no, taking a position on extending unemployment benefits, or leaving that 2 percentage point reduction in payroll taxes, that's not working on the right problem. That's my point. CROWLEY: All right. Let me move you to some foreign policy issues. In the debate recently, you were asked about the TSA. And I just want to remind our viewers what you said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I believe we can do a whole lot better with TSA and I call it "targeted identification." If you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: "Targeted identification." Can you expand on that? Is that another word for profiling?

CAIN: I don't see it as another word for profiling. This is why I use the term "targeted identification."

CROWLEY: OK.

CAIN: If we go to...

CROWLEY: What's the difference?

CAIN: "Targeted identification" is a deliberate approach to figure out patterns associated with people who have tried to kill us. That's what that is. Profiling has been used in a lot of other situations and it obscures the whole issue. "Targeted identification."

If we go to the intelligence agencies and ask them to identify the people that have tried to hurt us, kill us, blow up our planes and things of this nature, they could do that. So "targeted identification," in my mind, is different from profiling because profiling has been used in a very negative way.

CROWLEY: And so -- but this sounds a little bit like "flying while Middle Eastern," not unlike, you know, "driving while black." Is that -- I'm just trying to get a handle on how you would do this.

CAIN: Candy, you are trying to pull me into the rhetoric that gets people in trouble, and what I'm trying to do is to not be drawn in to that. No. I am not trying to identify a particular religion, a particular color, a particular ethnicity.

I'm simply saying we should not be afraid to identify those characteristics that basically have been consistent in people who have tried to hurt this country. That's all I'm saying.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Governor Romney said, when you were talking about Israel and the Middle East during the debate, that the first country he would visit, should he become president, would be Israel, just to show the nature of that special relationship. Where would the first country be that Herman Cain visits?

CAIN: Israel would be one of the first countries. I might do a swing through Europe and the Middle East, and certainly Israel would be one of the countries that I would want to visit as part of my first foreign visit because I feel strongly that we should stand with Israel and we should basically strengthen that relationship. So it would be one of the first amongst many that I would include in an overseas trip.

CROWLEY: Herman Cain, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it. See you on the campaign trail.

CAIN: Thank you, Candy. CROWLEY: Up next, we'll examine the political ad wars.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Democrats aren't waiting for the formality of primary season to pick President Obama's Republican opponent, they're playing the odds and putting ads up in states they think will be in play next November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost half of Arizona homeowners under water. Foreclosures everywhere. And what's Mitt Romney's plan?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't try and stop the foreclosure process, let it run its course and hit the bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let Arizonans hit the bottom? Mitt Romney's message to Arizona, you're on your own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: This type of ad is known as "in their own words," reality ads, if you will, cherry-picking quotes to attack a rival with his own sound-bites. They are all the rage.

Mitt Romney, also ignoring his primary rivals, ran his first TV ad this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, New Hampshire! How's everybody doing today?

I am confident that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis.

We need a rescue plan for the middle class.

We need to provide relief for homeowners.

It has got to take a new direction.

If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Democrats cried foul because in that last statement, then-candidate Obama was actually quoting the campaign of his then- rival John McCain. The idea of reality ads is to break through to voters cynical of paid advertising, but do they work? Our panel of advertising and political experts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining us now to assess the 2012 political advertising landscape are Ken Goldstein, the president of Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group; Kiki McLean, who advised then-Senator Hillary Clinton on her 2008 presidential bid; and in Boston, Mark McKinnon, who was the advertising director for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

I want to start with a Web ad and it was very early on when Rick Perry entered the race. I think in the first couple of weeks. And here's a little bit of it for our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I love these folks who say, well, this is Obama's economy, that's fine, give it to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a single job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No jobs created. Zip, zero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are demoralized.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A great country requires a better direction. A renewed nation needs a new president. I believe in America. I believe in her purpose and her promise. I believe her best days have not yet been lived.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: OK, so Mark McKinnon, my first question to you, and that is, is there such a thing as going overboard? You know, clearly we have the pounding horse hooves and the Texas boots and there's this very clear differentiation between here's President Obama and there's all this confusion, the economy is bad, and in rides a guy on a white horse from the west. It just has a sort of "Legends of the Fall" feel to it at the end, I think. Can you go over the top on these?

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: It's pretty hard. I mean, these days to break through you have to push the envelope. And the whole "president zero" idea actually got a lot of attention. And one of the things, one of the evolutions that we're seeing is just how much focus there is on Web content as opposed to actual advertising.

And, you know, what they're trying to break through and get attention and this spot achieved that, it got a lot of attention.

CROWLEY: It really did get a lot of attention, Kiki, I mean, I was sort of mesmerized by it, and I thought great ad. But the more I watched it, I thought, whoa.

KIKI MCLEAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I can't decide if sort of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are going to come out, you know, "Men in Black," or it is almost like a movie preview that comes out. But Mark used an important word, and that was content. Right? So anymore these days, whether you are working in corporate America with private label brands or working in American politics, this is really about content now, not necessarily just advertising, because it's used in different ways.

And you're going to see the campaigns this year, it's not just digital advertising or social media special videos, but it is really about content.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Ken, the difference between a Web ad and a TV ad. Now obviously they can, if want to, turn this into a TV ad. It would have to be a little bit shorter, I think. But who sees these Web ads? Who are they aimed at? Are they aimed at just us playing it like we just did or what's the use of it?

KEN GOLDSTEIN, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYSIS GROUP: It is aimed at you and it is aimed at people who are going to give money. So what we've seen so far in this primary battle on the Republican side is very, very little broadcast advertising in spot markets. And we've seen some of these videos online.

And agreeing with both Mark and Kiki, content matters and trying to get through -- you think there is a noise now, wait until you see the noise that happens in 2012. And you're going to need a really compelling message to get through.

But, those are very cheap ways for them to try something out, maybe raise a little money off of it, and then get the free media to amplify their message.

CROWLEY: To pick them out and say, oh, look at this cool ad we just found on the Web.

GOLDSTEIN: Exactly, but the key thing...

CROWLEY: I wanted to say, does this make -- in some ways, does this make the Web the new Iowa or New Hampshire where you can really run cheaply and you don't have to be up against the big guns? It used to be all TV. You had to have money to put these kinds of things on TV. And now, not so much.

GOLDSTEIN: So I've been studying it for a number of years as these guys have been doing it for a number of years. And I always say, in the odd-numbered year I always have a bunch of reporters calling me up and asking, hey, this is going to be the year when it is not TV advertising. And then the same reporters call on the even- numbered year and ask me to give a quote on the record-breaking level of TV advertising. And I think that's again going to be the case here. These are targeted towards getting free media, earned media, and targeted towards fund-raising. We're still going to see a tremendous amount of advertising in 2012. And I think it is more the debates and the daily drama of the Republican primary that's churning up news cycle day after news cycle day.

And every day that the news cycle is churned up is a day Mitt Romney doesn't need to air an ad. CROWLEY: Right, right. Hey, Mark, I want you to listen to -- this is another Web ad, it's from the Bachmann campaign. And I think it is always interesting to know when these ads air. So this was released November 16th and it's around the time -- or actually a little later than that Michele Bachmann was saying to people, you don't have to settle for somebody who isn't a true conservative, you know, you can get a really true conservative this time because it is going to be easy to beat Barack Obama.

So here's her ad going after her fellow Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.

CAIN: It ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.

PERRY: If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there, I don't think you have a heart.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Hi, I'm Nancy Pelosi.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm Newt Gingrich.

PELOSI: Together we can do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: I love that ad, for some reason. I think it is just because Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich on the couch. But nonetheless, Mark, is that an effective ad to you?

MCKINNON: Yes, it is effective. And, you know, Michelle Bachmann has actually been -- had a pretty focused message. And sometimes it's been (INAUDIBLE). But she's got a clear, conservative message that she's the true conservative. I think that's actually pretty powerful.

The -- the problem for Bachmann, at this point, is that she can only do Web advertising because she's broke. But if she could put that ad on in Idaw -- Iowa, where she is really from, you know, she should -- she's the one that should be having the resurgence, not Newt Gingrich.

CROWLEY: Right. She can't go up on TV with that ad.

GOLDSTEIN: I absolutely agree with Mark on that. And what's interesting is, which we're seeing a lot more of this, candidates saying something in their own words and that being used against them. I think that is going to be the major thing we see in advertising that shines through in 2012. You know, when Mark was first working for, you know, George W. Bush in 2000, not every single thing that -- that then Governor Bush said in the lead-up of the year before was on tape. Now it is, either because.

MCKINNON: Thank God.

GOLDSTEIN: Now it is, you know, either because editorial board meetings are being taped. Plus the first job of the kid in politics now is taking a video camera and going and following the candidate around.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: And it's not just, you know, from a podium now. It's everywhere.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everywhere.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's going to show up in ads.

MCLEAN: -- make sure the route is covered in signs and now it's make sure you're the event with a flip cam. CROWLEY: Exactly. Exactly.

Let me -- I want to move you on, because there's -- there's this whole idea of outside groups that have tons and tons of money. One of those that's gotten a lot of attentions is Crossroads. It's a Republican group. It's Karl Rove is one of those. And they are already up and out with a lot of advertising. And this one's called Two Presidents, Two Visions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two presses, two visions.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Should you raise taxes on anybody right today, rich or poor or middle class?

No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A political stunt, not a solution. A bill full of tax increases.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Now, this one I thought was interesting for where it went -- Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- all -- every one of those states carried by Barack Obama in 2008, where he is now showing some weakness. So this is -- this is about geography, to me, in a -- in a lot of ways. What do you think, when you look at it and the amount of money that's out there -- I mean there's something like 240 super PACs out there that are going to collect money.

What do you think, Ken, is going to be the driving force in this election?

Is it going to be those outside groups?

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, that's the big story. Barack Obama is going to be well-funded with money he's raising for his campaign and money he's raising for the party. I would expect the eventual Republican nominee is also going to be well-funded. But let's see what those groups do. Those Republican groups that showed that they can raise that money and they raised it in 2010. And I think one of the big stories now is are those groups on the Democratic side going to be able to raise that sort of money?

And, with so many different players who can't speak to each other, are they going to get the message right?

Because you might have 10, 11, 12 different players and they could screw things up as well just as much for their enemies as for their friends.

CROWLEY: Because you end up answering for groups that you have no control over. MCLEAN: Well, this is the big point, right?

So everybody is going to be funded. There -- nobody is going to not have enough air time.

The question is, who's paying for that air time and what's the accountability on that air time?

That very piece that you just saw, where they're trying to pit Clinton against Obama, has come under a lot of scrutiny by the fact checkers.

CROWLEY: And I mean that's was going to -- and that was one of the things I was going to ask Mark about, because it got a D...

MCLEAN: It got...

CROWLEY: -- from one of the fact check people...

MCLEAN: Yes.

CROWLEY: -- that said -- he did say that.

But what he also said was, I think when the economy starts to recover, we need to...

MCLEAN: There...

CROWLEY: -- tax the rich.

MCLEAN: There was a slice and dice in it. That ad -- particular ad is under a lot of scrutiny and a lot of criticism.

So the question is, how are you going to track that? how do you hold accountable?

An ad that comes directly for a campaign, a lot of accountability. You can call them on it, stand up right in front of them. A group that's maybe here for two years, gone in six months, what's the accountability?

And I think that has a lot to do with it.

CROWLEY: Mark, when the -- when an ad is put together, you clearly put an ad together to enhance the guy you want to have win.

How much does it hurt when these fact checks come out? Sometimes I feel like it's just we're against so much headwind that you -- you can come out and say, listen, this ad takes Clinton out of context. Yes, he said that, but he also said he agrees with President Obama that the rich ought to pay more, et cetera, et cetera.

Is that just white noise? Does the ad always have more impact once it's out there?

MCKINNON: Yes, sure it does, because it's getting, you know, $2 million, $3 million worth of money behind it when there might just be a, you know, Web story or a fact check ad that -- that brings some accountability. And Kiki is absolutely right, these super PACs -- and you were right. There are 240 of them now. They're going to raise $1 billion collectively, it's been estimated, which is as much as Barack Obama and the Republicans will raise.

The -- the Crossroads run by Karl Rove and the PAC run by Obama's folks are both going to spend more than $100 million each, which is more than the public spending that the campaigns would qualify, if they took it.

So this is not just a race between Barack Obama and the Republican nominee, it's a race between the super PACs which -- which I think is just outrageous and it's unfortunate. It's not good for democracy.

And as Kiki said, the biggest problem is that there's no accountability, so if there is fact check problem, who's going to answer it, because there's no candidate behind it?

CROWLEY: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Mark, I want to start this -- this final question with you and ask you, if you're a TV viewer or you roam the Web and look at political ads, would you believe any of them?

GOLDSTEIN: No. That's the problem, that the -- the threshold anymore to break through on -- on the credibility component is so difficult anymore. I mean the voters just start of incredibly cynical and with the notion that whatever they see, they think that politicians are lying to them.

So the threshold to break through for the campaigns is extraordinarily high. And so to do anything effective these days is really difficult.

CROWLEY: Ken Goldstein, Kiki McLean, Mark McKinnon, thanks all.

And when we return, Newt, not Romney?

We'll ask the "New Hampshire Union Leader's" editorial page editor why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining us now is Andrew Cline, the editorial page editor of the "New Hampshire Union Leader".

Drew, thank you for joining us.

You all today endorsed Newt Gingrich. And said basically you don't always agree with him and he comes with a lot of baggage, but nonetheless, you're going to endorse him.

And I want you to read between the lines for me, a little bit, when you wrote, "We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear."

That sounds to me like a slam on Mitt Romney.

ANDREW CLINE, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, I don't know that I'd call it a slam, and I don't know that I would leave it just to Mitt Romney.

But, you know, you've got to -- you've got to look at all the candidates that are running and examine them very closely and listen very carefully to what they're telling you.

And in our assessment, if you were to balance it between Romney and Gingrich, Romney is a very play-it-safe candidate. He doesn't want to offend everybody -- or anybody. He wants to be liked. He wants to try to reach out and -- and be very safe, reach out to everybody, bring everybody on board.

And that's, A, not very realistic, but imagine what that would be like as president, somebody who plays it very safe. I don't think we're in the kind of situation right now as a country that that's necessarily the right kind of president at the moment -- perhaps in the late 19th century, perfect. Right now, we're in a lot of trouble in this country.

We need a candidate that is bold in his leadership, that has a vision for where he wants to take the country and knows how to get there.

(CROSSTALK) CLINE: Those two things are very important.

CROWLEY: Did you take into consideration electability? Mitt Romney has been leading in New Hampshire for, I think, probably -- since we starred taking polls here this time around. He consistently tends to be tied, be competitive with the president in places where perhaps Newt Gingrich is not, although it's been some time since we saw head-to-heads with Newt Gingrich.

Does electability fit in? It sounds to me like you're saying no.

CLINE: Well, yeah, of course electability is a factor. It's one of many factors. But I don't think you can look at this particular moment, this little snapshot in the polling, and conclude, therefore, that a year from now Mitt Romney will be more electable than Newt Gingrich. I think that's a very false assumption.

CROWLEY: Would you have picked Newt Gingrich a month ago, two months ago, when he was -- when it looked for all the world like his campaign was dead? Would you still have picked him?

(LAUGHTER)

CLINE: Well, we did that with John McCain in 2008 and it worked out pretty well.

CROWLEY: So you -- I mean, it did look a little bit -- but I think McCain was in a stronger position if New Hampshire than Newt Gingrich was in the single digits a couple months ago.

CLINE: I think we look at the candidates for their -- I'm sorry. We consider the candidate overall. I mean, we don't just look at the poll numbers.

And this isn't a game where we're trying to win the primary so we can have a record of X number of wins. I mean, we don't look at it that way. We're not trying to attach our name to a winner. I mean, that's not really leading. That's not...

(LAUGHTER)

That would do our readers a very big disservice. We're looking at who we would like to see as president.

CROWLEY: Drew Cline from the New Hampshire Union Leader making big news there today, I know, in New Hampshire, the only statewide newspaper endorsing Newt Gingrich.

Thank you so much for your time, Drew.

CLINE: My pleasure.

CROWLEY: Up next, our political panel on how the New Hampshire Union Leader's endorsement of Newt Gingrich could shake up the Republican presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining us now, Michael Scherer of Time magazine, A.B. Stoddard of The Hill newspaper. Thank you both for joining us.

I want to show our audience a couple of new polls from American Research Group.

This is Iowa, first of all: Newt Gingrich, 27 percent; Romney, 20 percent; Paul, 16 percent, on down the line in single digits, Cain, Bachmann and Santorum.

Moving to New Hampshire, Romney, 33 percent; Gingrich, 22 percent; Paul, 12 percent; single digits again, Cain, undecided and Huntsman.

OK, a couple questions. Is Newt Gingrich a serious contender at this point?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think the endorsement of the Union Leader makes him a serious threat to Mitt Romney, potentially, in New Hampshire, in ways that he might not have anticipated. And we'll see what happens to the polls in the next few weeks.

I think, in Iowa, it's easy to say Newt's on top, but that contest comes first. He has a lot of explaining to do on the immigration question. He has a lot of explaining to do on other issues, support for TARP, which he then took back; his position on climate change; his position on the Ryan Medicare plan; a mandate for health care; advanced directives for health care.

He has a lot of answering to do in Iowa before those caucuses are counted -- the votes are counted on a cold January 3rd night. And I think that, ultimately, Iowa could be a muddled picture where there is, sort of, an anti-Mitt Romney vote that's split by Gingrich and others, possibly even Rick Santorum, who is well-organized there, in a surprise showing. Ron Paul could be a huge spoiler there. And I don't expect Iowa to be so predictive.

So I think New Hampshire becomes the big battleground. I think Mitt Romney still has a lot of advantages there, but this really propels Newt Gingrich to the top of the race there and makes him a real threat for Romney.

CROWLEY: You know, Michael, certain people I talk to say, oh, well, he hasn't pushed the self-destructive button yet.

MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME MAGAZINE: Right, but everybody's waiting.

CROWLEY: .. that Newt does have a -- you know, everybody's, sort of, waiting for that to happen.

(LAUGHTER)

Plus, it's not just old baggage which has to be gone through again. It's the new baggage with, you know, his links to the health care industry, his links to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, et cetera, et cetera. So the question is can he survive that without imploding?

SCHERER: This is definitely an inoculation, this endorsement from the Union Leader. It's a conservative credential at a key time for him. We were all waiting for the Newt bubble to burst. We were waiting for him to be treated, sort of, like the other candidates, as reality show contenders -- you had Herman Cain on earlier -- you know, who go up and then go down the next week because the ratings change.

SCHERER: But this -- this says Newt Gingrich is a serious guy. He's -- he's a serious person for conservatives to take a look at. And I think this will inoculate him.

The second thing is it's a real hit for Mitt Romney. I -- I think, you know, you've had other establishment candidates not get the "Union Leader" union endorsement in the past, but you haven't had an establishment candidate who basically has been living in the state of New Hampshire for five years now not get the "Union Leader" endorsement.

CROWLEY: And they...

SCHERER: It's a real coup.

CROWLEY: -- they did take a -- a swipe at Mitt Romney...

SCHERER: A clear swipe.

CROWLEY: -- telling us -- it was a clear swipe at him.

So is there anybody when you look at this polling, is there anybody who's definitely like, forget it?

And can Herman Cain come back?

Can Michelle Bachmann come back?

Can Rick Perry come back?

SCHERER: Yes.

STODDARD: I don't think Rick Perry can come back and I don't think Herman Cain can. I think that Jon Huntsman, if he can't get traction soon in New Hampshire, also can't go anywhere. There is a chance that Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum, who are actively, aggressively identifying their voters in Iowa, come up with a good vote splitting showing...

CROWLEY: It's the caucus strength, yes.

STODDARD: Right. I think Ron Paul is tremendously organized there and could be a big spoiler.

But I would probably say of those people, I would count Perry and Cain out. SCHERER: I think all -- this -- this endorsement, they said it came down to Perry or Newt Gingrich. And -- and Rick Perry losing this lottery really is just another nail in what has been a historic collapse for him. It's really hard to see how he comes back.

CROWLEY: And the immigration issue that Newt said, look, we should probably take a humane approach...

SCHERER: Yes.

STODDARD: I think this is a real problem for him, because in trying to walk back these comments, he's saying that he was never for a path to citizenship for anyone who came here illegally. He's got a path -- for a path to legality.

CROWLEY: Legality.

STODDARD: So at what point is that OK for people -- for the -- for the border security...

CROWLEY: Legality, citizenship, amnesty...

STODDARD: Right. It's...

CROWLEY: It's just wording.

STODDARD: It's parsing words. And a -- and -- and I think that that, again, that's going to be a very tough issue with the very activist base of the party he's seeking to win over.

SCHERER: This is one of Newt's tendencies, that when he's cornered on a policy issue, he -- he reverts to complexity. He's very complicated.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHERER: He likes being complicated. He likes making the issues -- sort of -- the anti-Herman Cain here.

And, you know, what's interesting, I think, about the Newt immigration line is that this was his line in March. I mean if you -- I mean no one was paying attention to him back there...

STODDARD: (INAUDIBLE).

CROWLEY: Right.

SCHERER: -- back then. He was giving interviews with Univision. He was talking to Hispanics about how he would govern, as president. I mean so he has been actually very consistent in this.

The question is whether, especially in Iowa, where the immigration issue remains a huge issue among caucus goers, whether this is just another deal breaker for him.

CROWLEY: Let me move you to Capitol Hill, because I -- you know, the notion that somehow the next election will fix the problems that we've had, I know you wrote about that, Michael...

SCHERER: Yes, right. CROWLEY: -- a great article.

But let me ask you about the three things I tried to ask Herman Cain about.

One is the payroll tax cut, the 2 percent break that most Americans are getting on their Social Security taxes.

Is Congress going to approve that by the end of the year?

STODDARD: You really feel a sense among Republicans these last few days that -- since the super committee failed, that they really need some points on the board. They want to show some incremental accomplishments -- bipartisan accomplishments.

So I have a feeling, in the late hours of Christmas Eve, we are going to see some kind of a deal to extend UI, unemployment insurance, and -- in addition to payroll.

But I think that if you look at the other things they're looking at, it is almost $400 billion in new deficit spending. It's going to be very, very tough to beat.

SCHERER: Right. And it really will come down to how they're going to play the pay for, whether they're going to just look at things that are sort of gimmicky, to say, oh, we're actually paying for this, or whether they're going to have to find substantive cuts, which may be tough to get through.

And -- and Boehner here doesn't have a very good record. I mean there have been two or three times this year when Boehner clearly...

CROWLEY: He just can't deliver them.

SCHERER: -- has wanted to get points...

CROWLEY: Right.

SCHERER: -- on the board and he has failed, when it comes down to it at crunch time. So, I think, you know, it's not a sure -- a sure thing at all.

CROWLEY: And there also are some Democrats that have just sort of looked at the payroll tax cut, going I don't know that we've gotten enough bang for our buck for that, etc. But it's just a hard thing to do at Christmas. So I'm going to walk away and go, oh, yes, remember your unemployment benefits?

Gone.

SCHERER: And in politics, Obama has really set this up well for himself. I mean he really -- he's going to win either way on this issue and the White House knows it and they're very comfortable with where they are.

CROWLEY: It's just the -- the ideas just go out of -- go out of country, right?

SCHERER: That's right.

CROWLEY: One real -- real quick.

What about the Medicare payments for doctors, which will drop by 30 percent if Congress doesn't act?

Will they act on that?

SCHERER: I think, yes. We've got a whole other year until that trigger is pulled. And -- and it will be tied to the Bush tax cuts and not just Medicare, but -- but also the defense cuts. They're going to have to come up some sort of compromise.

What's interesting is they're going to be fighting along the same lines they're fighting along now.

CROWLEY: Yes.

SCHERER: I don't think 2012 is going to solve anything. You're not going to have huge majorities for Republicans or a Democrat. Change in the White House is not going to make it so you can't override a veto.

CROWLEY: And we've got to stop it there.

But thank you so much.

STODDARD: They.

CROWLEY: A.B. Stoddard, Michael Scherer, thanks for being with us.

STODDARD: Thanks.

SCHERER: Thank you.

CROWLEY: The top stories are next and then "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories.

Pakistan is calling a NATO attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers totally unacceptable. NATO's secretary-general says the deaths were tragic and unintended. The NATO attack, which wounded 13 others in a region bordering Afghanistan, occurred yesterday.

Nineteen of 22 Arab League countries have voted to impose economic sanctions on Syria for its deadly crackdown on protesters. Syrian government TV says sanctions would be unprecedented and contradict the rules of economic and trade cooperation among Arab countries. Britain's Prince William co-piloted a helicopter that rescued two sailors from a life raft in the Irish Sea today. Five other sailors are still missing. Their ship capsized in gale force winds.

Three American students who were detained in Egypt are back home in the US. Derrik Sweeney, Gregory Porter and Luke Gates were arrested last week after being accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during recent clashes in Europe. The three men were released from custody Friday.

Thank you so much for watching STATE OF THE UNION.

I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

You can find today's interviews, as well as analysis, Web exclusives and much more at our Web site, CNN.com/sotu.

Up next, for our viewers here in the U.S., "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS".