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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Sandusky Courtroom Shocker; Syracuse Sex Abuse Scandal

Aired December 13, 2011 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight courtroom shocker. Disgraced Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky ducks his accusers in court and says he's not guilty of child rape charges.

JOE AMENDOLA, SANDUSKY'S ATTORNEY: This is a fight to the death. This the fight of Jerry Sandusky's life.

MORGAN: I'll ask one of his lawyers why the ex-coach didn't face his accusers today.

Plus fighting for their day in court and another college sports scandal.

BOBBY DAVIS, ACCUSES BERNIE FINE OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: Coming forward was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life.

MORGAN: My exclusive interview with two men who say Syracuse's coach sexually abused them when they were children. Their blockbuster lawsuit against the school.

DAVIS: I want to help children to have the courage to tell adults if they are sexually abused.

MORGAN: Also battle for the heart and soul of the GOP. Newt Gingrich calls for a positive campaign. But is that really any way to win an election? I'll ask two men who are no strangers to the rough and tumble of the campaign trail, Howard Dean and Tom Ridge.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. A dramatic day in a Pennsylvania courtroom. Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach who is charged with child sexual abuse was expected to come face-to-face with his accusers. Then at the last minute Sandusky dramatically waived his right to a hearing leaving the packed courtroom in shock.

He's under house arrest tonight and not due back in court until this trial begins some time next year.

Joining me now exclusively from Jerry Sandusky's defense team is co-counsel, Karl Rominger.

Mr. Rominger, a fascinating decision by the defense team today. Almost unprecedented certainly in Pennsylvania. The big question everyone is asking, why did you waive Jerry Sandusky's rights to have this hearing today?

KARL ROMINGER, JERRY SANDUSKY CO-COUNSEL: Unprecedented in large cases, normal in almost everyday cases, I have to point that out. But the biggest issue here was what we got in exchange for the waiver. What we got was an assurance that the bail would not be moved no matter what happens. So basically the Commonwealth gave up their ability to raise the bail even if they bring new charges.

We don't believe there's anything in the pike right now. But they had hinted that that was a possibility. They also conceded to give us discovery early. In Pennsylvania we get no discovery at the time of the preliminary hearing. Other states you get extensive discovery at this stage. So that was very important to begin digesting it.

MORGAN: But the key thing about Pennsylvania's process, which has always been seen as advantageous to a defense team is that you get to see potential witnesses against you and you get to examine them, see how credible they are, and perhaps use their evidence in these prehearings in the real trial to show contradiction and eliminate them as witnesses.

You've taken a big gamble, haven't you, in removing your client's right to have all that?

ROMINGER: We have. But it was a close call. And Joe Amendola, who is the primary attorney, made that call in conjunction with the client. And they chose it -- and in consultation with me briefly, but they chose it between them. And I don't disagree with their decision to take the certainty and give up -- because we do have extensive information that we've developed on our own.

We've actually interviewed some of these witnesses through the defense investigator. We have already seen that McQueary's testimony is falling apart. He's basically said by the grand jury to be an incredibly credible witness and has now turned out to be discredible. So with all that in mind, we short of made a meeting of the minds with the prosecutors that we wouldn't generally have made if they hadn't made the significant concessions on future bail issues.

MORGAN: Of course, the cynic would say that the reason you've done this is that 11 people were going to take the stand today and potentially tomorrow and make a series of horrendous allegations against your client including child rape. Many of those would have been people who were very young at the time they say these accusers -- and I repeat, they are accusers, it's not been proven -- that Jerry Sandusky committed appalling crimes on them.

ROMINGER: Right.

MORGAN: Two days of that and you're ability to do any kind of plea bargain down the line could well have been eliminated by furious public opinion.

ROMINGER: There is an argument in that case. I can tell you, however, there's been no exchange of information for a plea bargain. There is no discussion of a plea bargain. And frankly, given Jerry's advanced age, I doubt that the Commonwealth would offer a plea that he would find palatable. So it's a case that's probably headed to trial anyhow.

That said, I can see why people would think that, but I would say again we will get the grand jury transcripts eventually which will give us their sworn statements. So what we lost at the preliminary hearing stage, we will get their sworn statements eventually.

MORGAN: I want to play you a clip from an interview that Jerry Sandusky did on NBC's "Rock Center" and talk to you after this.

ROMINGER: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, NBC'S "ROCK CENTER": Are you a pedophile?

SANDUSKY: No.

COSTAS: Are you sexually attracted to young boy, to underage boys?

SANDUSKY: Am I sexually attracted to underage boys?

COSTAS: Yes.

SANDUSKY: Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I -- I -- but no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean, that to any impartial observer was quite an extraordinary exchange. I mean the simple answer to that question for most people is no, and yet it took your client a considerable length of time to even work out whether it was yes or no.

I mean, do you see to, again, an impartial observer just how awful that sounded?

ROMINGER: Taken in a vacuum, I can't disagree with you. The problem is you have to meet Jerry, sit down at his kitchen table like I did, and talk to him for an hour and you'll realize that's how he answers all his question. I know that sounds trite of me to say it. But that's how the man talks.

And he did get to the absolute answer of no. But I think it's very important to remember also that it's unfair because many guilty people who sound very convincing often convince prosecutors and jurors of their innocence. And people who are innocent but not articulate get the short end of that stick.

And so keep that in mind as you go forward that that's how that man communicates and how he processes information. MORGAN: But tell me this, when you hear a man of Jerry Sandusky's age talking about having horseplay with naked 10, 11, 12- year-old boys in showers, don't you think to yourself, this is very, very strange behavior for a man of that age?

ROMINGER: I do think it's strange behavior for a man of that age. And by his chronological age, I agree. By his mental or emotional maturity, however, that's a separate question. And a lot of psychologists tell me that there is a distinction between a person's chronological age and where they may be mentally. And some people are stunted at a young age.

And I think if you met Jerry, again, you would see that he has a very juvenile affect and I believe that mentally and emotionally he's much more on par with a teenager than he is a 60-year-old.

MORGAN: I mean, finally, Mr. Rominger, it's the position of the defense that every single one of these people who's come forward and made allegations against Jerry Sandusky is a fantasist?

ROMINGER: I don't know the answer to that because -- is it a fantasy, is it a mistake, is it a misstatement, is it an embellishment? Where that lies, I don't know because I don't know what each of those people have said. I only have what the grand jury put down. And the grand jury found McQueary highly credible. But we know, for instance, that McQueary didn't say the things that he said to certain people.

So if you look at the process in the grand jury presentment, does some prosecutor think that these 10 people will say these things? Yes. Will they say them in a court later? I don't know. But I know we already have some contradictory evidence and we have statements from one of the accusers as well that's contradictory to what they told the grand jury if that's in fact what they told the grand jury.

I need to see the transcripts because the synopsis just does not adequately tell us what we have to defend nor does it line up again with what Mr. McQueary has told other people. So you can already see chinks in the armor of a presentment. And we -- there's no cross- examination in that presentment, there's no fair process. So no -- are they all fantasies? But I don't know what the 10 people are going to say. So until I know that, then I can get back to you on that.

MORGAN: OK. Well, clearly part of the strategy is to put Jerry Sandusky out there to the media. If he wants to come on this show for the hour and talk through this and show us a side of his character that you say is unusual and more enlightening perhaps than the portrayal that we have of him, then we'd be very welcome to have him as a guest.

ROMINGER: I will talk with Joe because he's the chief attorney in this situation, but I would certainly encourage it.

MORGAN: OK. Karl Rominger, thank you very much indeed.

ROMINGER: Thank you, sir, thank you very much. MORGAN: How strong is the case against Jerry Sandusky? I want to talk to Lisa Friel now. She was the chief of the Sex Crimes Unit in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and she's the vice president at TNN Protection Resources where she handles sexual misconduct investigations. Also Mark Eiglarsh, who's a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecution.

Lisa Friel, what did you make of that little exchange there with the defense counsel, because it is almost unprecedented in a case of this high-profile in Pennsylvania that a defense counsel team would simply renounce their right to what is usually seen as a very, very advantageous thing to do, which is have a prehearing so he can get at the witnesses and see what they're made of.

LISA FRIEL, FORMER MANHATTAN SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: I have to say, in short, I don't buy his attorney's explanation for why they decided to waive the preliminary hearing. He says that there are two reasons, one they're going to get early discovery.

Keep in mind all they're getting are things they're legally entitled to. They're just getting them a little earlier. And the prosecution is just going to turn around and go, Judge, we want an earlier trial date because they got this discovery earlier. So I don't see that as a big advantage to the defense.

They talked about the bail situation. Perhaps the prosecution said if you waive the preliminary hearing we won't ask for an increase in bail based on what we know and what's in the pipeline now. But as a former prosecutor I find it impossible to believe that they bound themselves to never ask for a bail increase.

What if other victims come forward? What if other victims come forward with horrendous charges against him? It's impossible for me to believe that the prosecution said no matter what happens in the future we won't move to raise his bail. So I don't think they got that much out of it.

What did they give up? You pointed it out. They gave up significant things. They gave up getting to see these witnesses live and see how they testify, they gave up getting to cross-examine them and see whether they can move them on cross-examination. And they gave up creating a whole another record that they can cross-examine them with at trial. So I think they gave up significant things.

Why do I think they really gave all that up? I think they realize that if they put all these victims through this that as much as they're not -- Mr. Sandusky may be hated now by the public, if he makes all those victims testify in this preliminary hearing when he has the ability to waive it, he was really going to be hated even more.

And I think the other thing, too, if you think about it is if each of these witnesses testified, all the media would have been covering the detail of their testimony again, just as they did when the grand jury report came out. Now that's kind of died down now, but if they testify in this hearing today and tomorrow, all that coverage of the details of what they say happened to them is going to be out in the media again. I think they decided that those two things were not worth going forward for.

MORGAN: OK. Let me turn to Mark Eiglarsh. Now you've been a criminal defense attorney, you've been a former prosecutor. From the prosecution point of view, what would they now be thinking? They probably wouldn't have been expecting this move. So put yourself in their shoes.

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, my understanding is they did expect it a day before. According to the defense lawyer there were allegedly meaningful discussions, as he called them, that took place the day before. And the only reason why the victims were present in court is because Sandusky could always change his mind. So prosecutors wanted to have him there, as what's typically done.

Now let's understand something very clearly. The only reason why the hearing was canceled by Sandusky is because Sandusky believed that it benefited Sandusky. So in his mind, maybe through the support of his attorneys, the thought is that a better plea bargain, one that he could live with, can be reached at some point.

I disagree with defense counsel when he suggests that it's, you know, definitely not going to happen. I think in all cases generically, and even ones like this where you have some victims probably reluctant to testify, there will always be plea bargain discussions.

Had they've gone forward with the hearing, that would have been a declaration of war on a case that they know that only David Copperfield can win.

MORGAN: How important, Lisa -- let me come back to you here -- is the testimony of Mike McQueary? Because clearly to start with it seemed absolutely vital. His grand jury testimony seemed to be very credible. But there is a point that defense counsel made there which is that slowly but surely a lot of what he's been saying has been on the face of it slightly contradictory.

FRIEL: Well, it's certainly extremely important to the counts that involve that victim that he witnessed the incident occurring with the crimes occurring with. But you're right, it goes beyond that because it gives credence to what the other victims say happened, that an adult watched that happen.

I've heard some of the inconsistent statements that Mr. McQueary is said to have made. And they will certainly hurt him at the trial. But I still have to pose the central question that the prosecutor is going to say, what motive did Mr. McQueary have to say he saw a Jerry Sandusky committing this crime, that he saw it with his own eyes? What motive did he have to say that to the prosecution and to the police when he said it? He was still working at Penn State. He had a great job there. He -- it's not like he's fired and he has some reason to hurt about Penn State or to hurt Jerry Sandusky. I don't see any motive for him to perjure himself under oath and to say that about --

MORGAN: That's a very good point. Let me bring Mark back in there.

If you were prosecuting this, given the sheer wealth of allegations and the volume of people making them, would you feel pretty confident of at least some form of conviction here?

EIGLARSH: Absolutely. If there was just one and you've just got McQueary, like anybody who could be cross-examined and can be impeached, maybe I'd find, look, it's a tough case. When you've got this many and the volume and the detail and the fact that McQueary really doesn't have a motive to lie, in fact he kept it quiet, talked to the higher-ups, they didn't do anything. And he continued to golf with Sandusky.

It didn't look like there's any apparent motive that the defense has. So they definitely have challenges, the defense does, the prosecution feels very confident about a conviction. I think it's for the defense to try to convince the prosecutors with this discovery process that the case isn't a slam dunk so maybe you want to get a certainty of him admitting his guilt by offering maybe, five, six, seven so maybe he can get out while he's still alive.

FRIEL: Never going to happen.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: We will wait and see. Thank you both very much indeed.

FRIEL: You're welcome.

EIGLARSH: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: When we come back, another explosive college sports scandal. My exclusive interview with two men who say a Syracuse University basketball coach abused them when they were children and their blockbuster lawsuit today against the school.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Dramatic new accusations of child sexual abuse by college sports coach this time in Syracuse University. Two men who say an assistant basketball coach abused them. And now suing the university for defamation after they were accused of lying.

Joining me exclusively now is Bobby Davis is and Michael Lang along with their attorney Gloria Allred.

Thank you both very much indeed, all three of you, but both gentlemen for coming forward here. Clearly a very courageous thing to do, not an easy thing to do. Let me ask you first, Bobby, why have you done this?

DAVIS: I believe I'm coming forth to help children, to give them the courage to talk. You know, because I was afraid all my life to talk about this, and I need to stand up for myself and let people know that it's OK to talk about it, and bring awareness to this. And I just believe that we can allow things to go the way they did. There needs to be change and I believe that the way to do that is by speaking up.

And we can't allow people and institutions to handle this the way they did. In regards to why -- what Boeheim said and Coach Boeheim, you know, it hurt very much. That's why we're filing this lawsuit because the damage he did to us and what he said and calling us liars is very hurtful.

And I just believe he needs to be held accountable and the way the university handled it also needs to be held accountable. And I just believe that the way Boeheim went about it was totally wrong. And he --and we need to do something about it. We need to create some change. And he really --

MORGAN: Let me -- let -- Bobby, let me jump in there. I mean obviously Bernie Fine has denied all the allegations. We must make that clear.

Let me turn to you, Mike. I mean what was the nature of the abuse that you both went through? In simple terms describe what he did to you or what you say he did to you.

MICHAEL LANG, ACCUSES BERNIE FINE OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: He just touched me in the wrong way and made me feel like -- that I was -- I don't know. He just made me feel angry around him. And I just -- the way he kept touching me and you'd tell him not to touch you and he'd still do it again. He just -- he just wouldn't be -- he couldn't be told no. And you felt bad telling him no because he was like a god to you.

MORGAN: I mean that's a very interesting point you make there.

And Bobby, let me turn back to you. Was the real problem here, as it seems to have been at Penn State as well that these kind of coaches at college level in America are put on to this kind of god- like plinth, you know, they're almost untouchable, and they start to believe they're untouchable?

DAVIS: That is true. They are built up so much in the community, and people -- you know, they just -- they have this aura about them. And they're just pretty much, you know, think they're untouchable and they think they're god-like in a sense. And that's how we look at them in a sense. And -- you know, and it's very hard to get away from it, and very hard to tell this person no for the things that the person who he is and the things that he could do for you.

And you know, it's just -- it was very hard situation to be in. You know, and it's hard to explain how much it hurts and how much you went through, but the position they're in, they have a -- they have a power and authority to be able to manipulate little kids and that's why we're trying to talk about this to bring awareness so they won't be able to do this any more.

MORGAN: Let me play you, Bobby, part of a recording of a phone conversation that you had with Bernie Fine's wife Laurie in 2002. And we'll talk about it after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURIE FINE, BERNIE FINE'S WIFE: I said to him, you know, Bobby and I talked and I know some things about you that if you keep pushing are going to be let out.

DAVIS: Yes.

FINE: He didn't even flinch.

DAVIS: I know. That's what I'm saying. He doesn't --

FINE: HE says, beautiful, let him go ahead. Sure, let him go right ahead.

DAVIS: He doesn't think he can be touched like --

FINE: He thinks that - I think he think he's above the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean there you have it, you know, from the horse's mouth, I mean, his wife basically conceding that her husband thought he was above the law and appearing to seriously implicate him in what was going on with you.

When you -- I mean why did you make that tape? Let's start with that.

DAVIS: Well, first, I went to the police, and I had a short conversation with them. They basically told me that the statute of limitation has ran out. So I then went to the local newspaper and a reporter came out and interviewed me and you know and everything, and talked to me and I told him what happened.

And he gave me the suggestion to -- you know, first, asked me, do you know of anybody that knows for sure? You know, and I said, well, his wife, you know, she told me that she's seen it happened. You know? What he was doing to me. She saw through a basement window him grabbing me, you know, going down my pants and, you know, grabbing my penis, and she -- I said, she definitely knows. She's told me she saw it.

So he goes, well, what about you calling her and talking to her about it? And I said, OK. You know, so, it's basically a number of conversations because we've talked about it before and you know how she's seen it. And you know so it was kind of easy to do. And I pretty much knew she would talk about it because we talked about it many times. And she's very open about it with me.

And you know, and she would always tell me, be a man, step up, you know, and tell him to stop. You know and I would tell him to stop but -- and hope it would the next day, but it would always keep happening. No matter what. He'd always keep coming back trying to do it again and again and again. And he just --

MORGAN: Well, Bobby, let's just -- let's take a short break. I mean, I suppose the obvious question is, why is she telling you to tell him to stop, why didn't she tell her own husband to stop?

Let's talk about it more after the break. And also ask Gloria, you know, why the legal action against the university. What you hope to achieve by this. And what you feel about the statute of limitations implication of this. Whether it's just too late. Whether there should ever be limitations on this kind of action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVIS: I was afraid to go out in the public for fear of being labeled a liar who caused the university problems. I want to help children -- I want to help children who have the courage to tell adults, their families, their teachers, their coaches and the police if they're sexually abused.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Bobby Davis today, an emotional moment from a news conference. He's back with us, along with Mike Lang and their attorney, Gloria Allred.

Gloria, let me turn to you now about what is going on legally here. Today you launched on behalf of these two men a lawsuit against -- not against the man that they're accusing of the abuse, but his effective boss, which is Jim Boeheim. Explain to me what you're up to here. Why go after him?

GLORIA ALLRED, REPRESENTS BERNIE FINE ACCUSERS DAVIS, LANG: Well, Piers, because Coach Boeheim was the coach of -- and is the coach of the Syracuse men's basketball team. And he made these statements. These false and injurious and inflammatory allegations about Mike Lang and about Bobby Davis, calling them liars, saying that they're essentially motivated by money.

Those statements were completely false. They really have harmed the reputation of both of them. And especially to call Bobby Davis a liar, that's really accusing him of a crime. Because Bobby Davis reported this allegation of child molestation to the police. And to make a false statement to the police is a crime in the state of New York.

So --

MORGAN: Gloria, let me just -- ALLRED: -- using the power and the prestige of Syracuse University, making these statements at the Dome after a basketball game is held, brings in the university, because under the legal concept of respondia superior (ph), he is acting as an agent, as a spokesperson for the university.

MORGAN: I get that. Let me just read you what he said on December the 2nd, which was "I shouldn't have questioned what the accusers expressed or their motives. I'm really sorry I did that. I regret any harm that I caused."

Does that apology make any difference to you?

ALLRED: Too little, too late, Piers. And the damage has been done. Because what he said has been carried by nationwide media. And it not only has an impact on Mike and on Bobby, but what about other persons who are child victims of sexual abuse? Doesn't it send them a message that if they dare to step up and tell the authorities, the police, their coach or the university or their school, that they have been the victims of child molestation, that they're going to be having their worst fears realized, that they're going to be attacked by adults publicly and called liars.

We simply cannot allow this. The university needs to be accountable for what the coach said. And we are within the statute of limitations to bring this lawsuit. And we have brought it.

MORGAN: Obviously, Bernie Fine has said that -- you know, again, he's not been charged with anything. He denies any wrong doing. He says the allegations are patently false in any aspect. In relation to the crimes he may have committed against your clients, the statute of limitations does apply. What do you think of that?

ALLRED: The statute of limitations does apply in New York to bar Mike and Bobby from any criminal case prosecution of Mr. Fine. In addition, they are unable, because of the statute of limitations in New York, to file a civil lawsuit against Mr. Fine. It's time barred.

However, the legislature in the state of New York could change the law and make the law in New York similar to what it is in other states. In other words, it can extend the statute of limitations, or it could open up a window of one year, as California did, wherein others who are time barred but are victims of child molestation would have an opportunity to file a civil lawsuit and prove their claims.

That's important, Piers, because often victims don't want to speak out. They are afraid to speak out. And sometimes they're even living in denial until they come to terms with it years later and discover that their injuries are, in fact, caused by the child molestation that they suffered.

So yes, we're going to be there in the legislature in New York, if legislators ask for our assistance, to help change the law to be more protective of child victims.

MORGAN: Let me bring back in the two gentlemen. Let me talk to you, Mike Lang. Do you think that Jim Boeheim, given what he's said about you guys -- do you think he should be fired, given he's now tried to retract his comments?

LANG: That's not for me to say. I certainly hope not. But he did a lot of damage by calling us liars when he didn't know the facts.

MORGAN: Yeah, I mean, Bobby, he's the coach of the number one rated team at the moment. Do you think this has come into play here? Do you think this goes back to that sense of they're just to powerful to touch these guys?

DAVIS: I think they do feel like that, in a sense. You know, these coaches, their ego's fed for so long, and they just don't believe they can be touched. And what Boeheim's comments -- what he said really had effect on not just me and other victims. He just didn't understand -- I mean, he really hurt us.

I mean, I wish one day he could be in my shoes one day and feel the pain that I felt all those years that Bernie did to me. Then he would understand and be able to feel that pain. And he had a profound effect on what he said to me and to potential other victims that might want to come forward. He could have hurt the case overall.

MORGAN: OK. Bobby Davis, Michael Lang, Gloria Allred, thank you all very much.

LANG: Thank you.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich is asking his supporters to play nice. But is that any way to win a presidential campaign? Coming up, two men who know exactly how the campaign trail works from the inside out, Tom Ridge and Howard Dean.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The real difference I believe is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how the economy works.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney locking horns in Saturday's Republican presidential debate on ABC. Is that an inevitable sign of things to come in the hard fought campaign?

Joining men is two men who have done their fair share of tough campaigning, Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and former homeland security secretary, and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Gentlemen, welcome. Let me start with you, Governor Ridge. I had Rudy Giuliani on yesterday, who was strongly suggesting that Newt Gingrich may have a better chance at beating President Obama. You yourself have suggested that Jon Huntsman shouldn't be overlooked and is still your preferred choice.

What do you make of the way this race is now unraveling as we head towards Iowa?

TOM RIDGE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: I appreciate the fact that you indicated to your audience that I'm not terribly objective. I do think Jon Huntsman would be and is the best candidate, the most electable candidate, according to "the New York Times." the one with the most experience, the one with the best economic plan, according to "the Wall Street Journal." And frankly, I think at the end of the next three or four primaries, we may actually have three or four different winners.

As the things set up themselves in New Hampshire -- first of all, in Iowa, then New Hampshire, then South Carolina and Florida. I think Governor Huntsman's going to play well in the latter three. But frankly, nobody bumps their head above 30 percent in any of those four races.

Piers, this thing could go on all the way to the convention. So fasten your seat belts. It should be a very interesting campaign season.

MORGAN: It certainly could. And I agree with you about Jon Huntsman. I'm amazed he doesn't get better traction than he's been getting. He's a very impressive guy to meet and interview. His credentials speak for themselves.

Governor Dean, you're obviously a Democrat. Who would you rather President Obama face, when push comes to shove?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT: First of all, I like Jon Huntsman, too, which probably isn't going to do Jon Huntsman any good in the Republican party.

MORGAN: He wouldn't want to hear that.

DEAN: I would actually agree with Tom. I think for the sake of the country, an Obama/Huntsman race would be very good for the country. You'd have two very capable candidates.

Look, I've never seen anything like this on the Republican side in my career in politics. Usually they're much better organized. This is a real brawl. IU will say, it's fascinating. These debates are fascinating.

The last debate, the front-runner, which has alternated between Perry, Bachmann, Cain and so forth and so on, this time with Gingrich, you've got a real debater. This is the fight that I think is probably going to go all the way. And it could go to the convention, which is a stunning thing, to ever think about a Republican primary going to the convention.

Usually that's over by Florida. That's the conventional wisdom that we've always had about the Republicans. I think this time it may go further.

MORGAN: Yeah, I mean, Governor Ridge, the reason for that is the way that they have set this up. And the theory is that the Republicans have done this deliberately, having watched the way the Obama/Hillary Clinton battle played out. All it meant was for most of the year until mid-summer, all the American public were being presented with was a choice in their heads of Obama or Clinton. And the president was being left out of the mix.

RIDGE: Well, one of the things that I think is rather unique about the present list of candidates is literally the staying power of most of them. As you see and as I said before, there's not a poll that I think reflects anyone with a serious or insurmountable lead in any particular primary, which means that from my point of view, it is still virtually undecided.

And some of the more interesting poll numbers suggest that although people have expressed preferences in many of the polls, 70 or 80 percent, even though they've expressed a preference, have said that we're not 100 percent certain that we're going to back that particular candidate. So that's one of the reasons I think Jon Huntsman is going to show and demonstrate far more traction after New Hampshire than the rest of the candidate.

He's got that broad appeal to Republicans. He is the most conservative candidate to independents. He has great credentials as a governor. I think, if you think in terms of foreign policy, if you've been in the USDRs Office, the trade office, if you've been ambassador to Singapore, you think about China -- he speaks Mandarin, been ambassador over there. And you take a look at what our challenges and the opportunities, both from an economic point of view and a political point of view, it's that point of the world.

At the end of the day, it's a hotly contested primary season. I think this baby's going to go on for quite some time.

MORGAN: Yeah. And Governor Dean, you've been a front-runner and, you know, I don't want to be too harsh about it, but self- imploded in a rather memorable way. How do the front-runners like Newt Gingrich now, who's a -- he's a player. He's been around the block. He knows how it works. How does he avoid the banana skin?

DEAN: First of all, I wouldn't say I self-imploded. I made a lot of mistakes. But the tape you're showing was -- I think most people would agree that was media malpractice, which is certainly not uncommon. But I know what these guys are now going to go through, both Romney and Gingrich, at the hands of both the media and of each other. I've been through it myself.

It's very, very tough. My view about this is, look, if you think it's tough to deal with the American media who does -- you know, doesn't really do their job terribly well, or the other candidates who gang up on you, what are you going to do when you face across the table with Vladimir Putin? It's a tough process.

I think it's good for it to be a tough process. This is the toughest job in the world. As Gary Hart once said to me, no wimp ever got elected president of the United States. And I think that's a good thing. But these guys are really going to go through a very, very tough time over the next few weeks.

MORGAN: Governor Dean, when we had David Axelrod saying this yesterday, just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you see his butt, which he was talking about Newt Gingrich.

DEAN: That sounds like James Carville, not David Axelrod.

MORGAN: -- chief guru. What did you make of that comment?

DEAN: Well, it's very colorful, obviously. As I said before, it was like hearing James Carville, not so much David Axelrod.

But look, the media has a natural tendency to want to focus on the person that's on top. And they do. They build him up and then they take him down. That's just part of the cycle.

You know, it's tough. But again, you have to have a very tough process for nominating the person who is going to be one of the two people who are going to contend for the toughest job in the world. So it's a very tough process.

It's distasteful to a lot of Americans. But it is a very tough process and you got to be able to withstand it.

MORGAN: OK. We'll have a short break. When we come back, we'll talk to you both about your views on Iran, Iraq and a certain missing drone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was told that the president had three options on his desk. He rejected all of them. He didn't take any of the options. He asked nicely for them to return. And they aren't going to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Former Vice President Dick Cheney with CNN's Erin Burnett last night, getting in a dig at President Obama over that downed drone in Iran. Back now to talk about it, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Before we go any further, Tom Ridge, I've got ask you about this Tweet that's just come in to me, which says, "you guys are always banging on about Gingrich and Romney and Huntsman. What about Ron Paul? He might win in Iowa?"

RIDGE: I must tell you --

DEAN: It could be.

RIDGE: It could very well happen. Listen, one thing I know about Ron Paul, he's been a consistent individual. He's espoused that philosophy for a long, long time. And his support is -- it's very strong. I don't know how large it is, but we're going to find out.

He's playing well. One reason he plays well is he's consistent. That's one of the reasons I like Jon Huntsman. What Jon says on Monday he says on Friday. And on both occasions, he means the same thing.

MORGAN: Let's turn to Iran. Obviously, Dick Cheney there doing his usual position on this kind of thing, go in, blow it all to pieces, no holding back. Did he have a point, do you think? Should America just allow this drone, with all of the technology, to be sitting there in Iranian hands?

DEAN: Look, that's what's got us into Iraq, go in and blow everything apart. And it's a mess. Our -- I'm glad we're leaving Iraq, because I didn't think we should have gone in in the first place. But the truth is we're leaving a mess behind. We're leaving a prime minister who is basically a -- has participated in war crimes and is being investigated for that.

We have 3,400 unarmed Iranian dissidents who the United States promised that we would keep out of harm's way, who are likely to be massacred when we leave. This is a very messy withdrawal.

And I'm delighted we're leaving. But I don't think that the American people are going to be very happy when they see what we've left behind.

One of the challenges --

MORGAN: Governor Ridge -- sorry. I was going to ask you specifically, Governor Ridge, about Camp Ashram, which I now you're both concerned about. This is effectively a kind of ghettoized area in Iraq that is full of Iranians who are supporting the opposition party in Iran and are being severely mistreated. What can you tell me about that?

RIDGE: Well, there are 3,400 men and women at Camp Ashram, which is about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, surrendered their means of self-protection to the United States Army in 2003 and 2004. When I mean they surrendered their means of self-protection, they are a Democrat resistance group. They've been a thorn in the mullah and Ahmadinejad's side for a long, long time.

They surrender tanks and anti-aircraft and artillery pieces, thousands and thousands weapons, small weapons to defend themselves. We made, Piers -- the United States government -- the United States government promised individually, every one of them, after they were vetted, after we determined they were not terrorists -- and, by the way, since that time, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and a court in Washington, D.C., concluded they were not terrorists.

We promised to provide for their protection, their security and their safety. It was fine until we withdrew. Since that time, the Iraqi government, under the direction of the prime minister, Maliki, with a strong, vocal, public support of the Iranian regime, has attacked that camp twice, have killed over 40 people, wounded hundreds.

And they've set a date that they're going to close that camp at the end of this month, ironically or coincidentally the date our last soldier's to be withdrawn. And then they're going to relocate them.

Let me tell you this. I think Howard and I agree, this is a precursor to -- relocation is a precursor to a human rights genocide the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time. They will relocate them either to Iran, because a third of them are dissidents, and already in Iranian prisons

Twenty five percent of them are women. And it's just a -- this administration unfortunately, for whatever reason, has chosen to ignore that plight. It's our integrity. It's our word. It's our bond. It's our credibility. And we ignore it.

DEAN: Let me just add to that. The FBI screened all of these people. The FBI counterterrorist folks screened all of these people in 2006. Not one of them is a terrorist, according to our FBI.

This is your outrageous what is going on. It's outrageous behavior by the State Department, and frankly, the administration has direct responsibility form making sure that the promises were kept.

We kept one promise. That is we kept George Bush's promise to get out by the end of 2011. We need to keep the promise of the people at Ashram. We ought not to be complicit in human rights massacres.

MORGAN: Governor Dean, just -- just to finish off here. There is a sense that the president is being not weak, but certainly not that strong with Iran, holding back a bit. We've seen the incident with the drones. We see what's happening with this camp.

DEAN: Well, I think that's unfair. We don't know. You Know, it's also possible that we might have had something to do with blowing up the solid fuel facility. So we don't really know what's going on behind the scenes in Iran. I'm willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not willing to give anybody the benefit of the doubt if 3,400 people are murdered, who are unarmed, who we promised to defend and then welched on our commitment. That I will not forgive.

MORGAN: Governor Ridge, let me just give you the final word on Iran. In simple terms, how should the president deal with Iran?

RIDGE: Well, I mean, every time we go to the U.N. to try to get a sanction, we -- they end up building a couple more centrifuges. This is the single greatest terrorist organization in the world. They support Hamas, Hezbollah.

They're responsible for killing our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. You need to delist. These men and women at Camp Ashram have -- are on our foreign terrorist organization list. The president, by picking up the phone, calling Secretary Clinton, take them off that list, go to the U.N., get blue helmets to protect them, and tell Maliki you're not closing the camp until the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has a chance to review them all.

They've all -- they're all protected under the Geneva Convention. They're all looking to be resettled outside of Camp Ashram. The president has to make it happen.

MORGAN: Stop you there, governor. I think we've gotten the point loud and clear. Thank you both very much. Governor Dean, Governor Ridge, pleasure talking to both of you. Thank you.

We'll be right back after this break.

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MORGAN: Tomorrow night, the man who not only had a front row seat to history but also wrote the book about it, Tom Brokaw, anchor man's anchor man, one of my journalistic heroes, and author of "The Greatest Generation." He's speaking out on what he thinks American needs now. That's Tom Brokaw tomorrow.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.