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JOHN KING, USA

Testimony in Penn State Scandal; Interview With Presidential Candidate Rick Perry; Barry Bonds Sentenced

Aired December 16, 2011 - 18:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening tonight from Cherokee, Iowa, a tiny town drawing the attention of two Republican presidential candidates today.

This hour, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is due right here in Cherokee. And just a short time ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry campaigned right here at the Copper Cup Cafe. While here today I got a fascinating first-hand taste of the split among evangelical voters.

That is a major subplot in this year's Iowa campaign and it's a major obstacle to Governor Perry's comeback hopes. Another obstacle is the other Texan in the race. Listen here. Governor Perry knows it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dr. Paul is just wrong on this issue. You can't make nice with the mullahs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In a moment, my exclusive one-on-one with Governor Perry and more from the campaign trail.

But, first, other major news today, including this. Sickening, sickening, there's just no other way to describe it. Penn State football coach Mike McQueary entered court today and for the first time public told his story and saying he believes he saw coach Jerry Sandusky molesting a boy in the showers.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti was in the courtroom. But I want to warn you some of the testimony in her report here is quite graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was his moment. Mike McQueary walked into court, took a deep breath and became the prosecution's star witness.

He methodically described what he called a horrifying alleged 2002 sexual assault between Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a Penn State locker room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "When I opened that first door, I heard rhythmic slapping sounds, two or three slaps, skin on skin."

CANDIOTTI: He says he moved closer and looked in the shower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The boy was up against the wall, facing the wall. Hands for shoulder height. Jerry was close to him with his hands wrapped around his waist. I believe Jerry was sexually molesting him."

CANDIOTTI: He says he was about five to six feet away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "There was no protest or yelling, so I can't be sure it was intercourse, but that's what I believe was occurring."

CANDIOTTI: When the alleged assault was over:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "They looked directly in my eyes."

CANDIOTTI: Neither said a word.

McQueary says he left, called his father, and met with head coach Joe Paterno the next day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I described it as extremely sexual."

CANDIOTTI: But avoided the words anal intercourse or sodomy because he said he didn't want to offend the legendary coach.

Nine days later, McQueary says he was called to meet with Penn State vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "There's no question in my mind that I conveyed to them I saw Jerry with a boy in the shower and that it was severe sexual acts going on and that it was wrong and over the line."

CANDIOTTI: McQueary testified he didn't call police because he felt by telling Schultz, who is in charge of campus police, he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "In my mind, it was like speaking to a DA."

CANDIOTTI: But McQueary's information never went any further, not to police or child and youth services.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Late this afternoon, the judge in that case ruled that the two ex-Penn State officials mentioned there in Susan's piece will face trial on charges of perjury and failing to report suspected child sex abuse.

For more perspective, let's bring in CNN contributor Sara Ganim, who was also in the courtroom today and has been covering this case, breaking big developments from the beginning for the "Patriot-News" newspaper.

Sara, let's just start with Mike McQueary in that graphic, horrible, horrible testimony. Was he a credible witness?

SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Very interesting, John.

He was an interesting witness because he came across as having -- he was very assured of himself. He was very confident in his testimony even when it didn't bode so well for him. He was very, very confident in saying that he definitely thought it was a crime, very confident in saying though that, yes, he left that locker room with that boy standing naked alone in a shower with Jerry Sandusky. He didn't hesitate at all to say, yes, that's what I did.

He didn't hesitate really for any of his answers. There were times on the stand where he sat there and stared at the defendants and they looked away, which is usually the opposite in court. Usually, the defendants stare at the witnesses who can't make eye contact. It was a very interesting dynamic in the courtroom.

I do think he came across as incredibly believable because he was so seemingly honest about things that don't necessarily make him look so great. But it was very interesting to see him up on the stand so confident, leaning forward, very self-assured.

And you have to kind of wonder if it's in his blood almost because his father got up on the stand and was the same exact way, had that same confidence, saying that he makes big decisions for a living and this is part of what he did. It was part of who he is was to make that decision to help his son make a decision to go to his coach, to his boss, Joe Paterno, instead of going to police.

KING: Sara Ganim for us tonight in Harrisburg -- Sara, thanks so much for that reporting.

Moving on to politics now, Medicare, Medicaid, what's the difference? Well, Democrats are pouncing on the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for this comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You wonder what Medicaid is, those that are not into all this government stuff. I have to admit I didn't know all the differences between these things before I got into government, and then I got into it and understood that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's get some perspective.

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger is with us now.

Gloria, the Democratic National Committee, Democrats are saying, aha, major slip-up for Mitt Romney. Is it?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think so it is in the Republican primary as much as it is that Democrats clearly have found something that they can use against Mitt Romney that plays into their narrative about Mitt Romney, which is that he is somebody who has made an awful lot of money and that he is out of touch with average Americans and with poor people and maybe even with seniors, if he didn't know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.

I should tell you that the Romney campaign went out of its way to say what he was talking about was when he was running for the Senate and that, of course, he does understand the differences between these two programs.

KING: He made that remark. And that video we were just showing was an event here in Iowa. But then he left Iowa, which is state number one in the voting, to skip ahead to state number three, South Carolina, to pick up a big endorsement. Tell us who it is and how important.

BORGER: You bet. Well, Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina.

This is an endorsement that Republicans were drooling over, probably most particularly Rick Perry, who would've loved to get this endorsement. And what's interesting is -- and, John, I don't know if you think that endorsements matter as much as they used to. I tend to think they don't.

But she has an organization. She's now put herself on the line to deliver this state for Mitt Romney. And also it's important because she's a key Tea Party person. And maybe this means that Mitt Romney has a real upside with the Tea Party. We're going to have to wait and see.

But as for an endorsement, you know, it doesn't matter what it did 20 years ago, but still important.

KING: We will see how that one works out.

BORGER: Yes.

KING: Gloria Borger, thanks for your time tonight. Fascinating day in politics beyond Iowa.

And it's a scary headline. Consider this international story. Russian customs seized radioactive material in the luggage of an Iranian passenger bound for Tehran. But there seems to be a lot more questions than answers so far.

Let's separate the fact from the fiction.

Here to help us out, international security expert Jim Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jim, so break this down for people watching this. We know this material not used in nuclear weapons, so why should we be concerned?

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, it's not clear why we should be concerned, but there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Folks should keep in mind that there are lots and lots of nuclear materials, materials that are radioactive. Some are used in medicine. Some are used for industrial purposes. Only a tiny number of those have any real application towards a nuclear weapons program.

This one, Sodium-22, is not one of those. But there are still some questions here and there are two sets of questions. One is, why was this guy carrying a radioactive substance, trying to get on a plane with it to go to Tehran? That's unclear. It's Iranians say he was a dental student and it had something to do with that.

The other question I think is actually is more compelling is what were the Russians thinking? Right? This happened a while ago. They only announced it today. Why did they wait to announce it? Why did they let the guy go? Why don't they tell us the name of the passenger so that we can begin to try to piece this together? They refused to do that.

And then why after letting him go do they now announce, you know, much later that they're going to open an investigation? So this raises as many questions about customs officials in Russia as it does about the Iranian on the plane.

KING: When you raise all those questions, why, why, why, especially why did they wait so long, what is your suspicion?

WALSH: Well, I wish I had a good answer for you. You know, part of it may be Russian bureaucracy. And here -- this is pure speculation on my part.

Russia has hundreds of these sorts of incidents every year with people trying to take radioactive material across their borders. And we had a whole flood of these right after the fall of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. And it may be that they were just treating this like anything else and, then, you know, it sort of gets gummed up in the works.

But then, for some reason -- and this is the question. What is it that then separated this incident out and made them revisit it a month or two months or however long it's been? That's the part that I don't quite get. But hopefully in the coming days, some details will leak out and we can get a better idea.

KING: Kind of put together the remaining pieces of a radioactive mystery.

Jim Walsh, appreciate your help tonight. Thanks so much.

Coming up here at 40 past the hour, more riveting testimony from the key witnesses in the case against Jerry Sandusky. Two legal experts right here weigh in on the evidence.

And coming up in three minutes, Governor Rick Perry right here in the Copper Cup Cafe.

Plus, we're counting down our top debate moments of the year throughout tonight's show.

Here, number five.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are people that stood up and said, well, he doesn't have the right throwing mechanisms, or he doesn't -- you know, he is not playing the game right.

And, you know, he won two national championships. And that looked pretty good. We're the national champions in job creation back in Texas. And so -- but am I ready for the next level? Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa Caucuses.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Looking at live pictures there of the Christmas lights. This is Cherokee, Iowa, a small town, just a few thousand people, one of the many communities where you find small-town conservative voters, evangelical voters.

Right before the break, you heard the Texas governor, Rick Perry, making the analogy to Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback, in last night's debate. As Governor Perry sees it, like Tim Tebow, maybe the beginning of the game hasn't gone so well. He expects, he says, through some retail politicking in small towns like this, to stage a comeback here in Iowa.

So, had a conversation right here in the Copper Cup Cafe with Governor Perry a short time ago. And I began with that Tebow comparison from last night's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Governor, thank you for your time.

I want to start with your Tim Tebow analogy last night. If you take that literally, that would mean essentially that you stunk the joint up for three quarters, but you're going to close and win it in the end.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Is that how you see it?

PERRY: There may be some after my first three debates that somebody said we stunk it up pretty bad. But we have got our feet back under us now. And we have had three really, you know, good debates. And last night, I think, we had the opportunity to really get our message home and hammered home about being an outsider, about getting this country back working. So, yes, that's my goal is to -- Tim Tebow, I have got great respect for him, both a man of faith and quite a talent, and a lot of people said he couldn't make it, couldn't do it, and he's showing them wrong.

KING: And when you make the reference to a man of faith, he's somebody who is an evangelical himself.

PERRY: Yes.

KING: And that's a very important constituency in this state, especially in small towns like Cherokee here. This is where Mike Huckabee did most of his business back in 2008.

If you look at the polling right now, you're struggling a bit. You're fourth among evangelical voters in our poll, Speaker Gingrich, Ron Paul, Governor Romney, and then Rick Perry, then you have Santorum and Bachmann just below you. I was talking to some women earlier here, and they're all saying we're torn between Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry, and we're trying to make up our mind.

Why, of those three, should they pick you?

PERRY: Well, obviously, I think you have three people that are strong Christians. There are three people that have strong leanings.

I'm the one that has the outside impact, though. I'm not a part of Washington, D.C. And I'm also 11 years of executive governing experience that has had a record of job creation that's unparalleled in this country. So, if you're looking for a person who has values, a person who understands job creation, a person that's all about freedom, then I will be the one they settle on.

KING: You just started your speech here, and the first candidate you drew a contrast with was not Speaker Gingrich, not Governor Romney, but was Dr. Paul.

PERRY: Yes.

KING: Is he a threat here?

PERRY: Well, the issue was that last night I was really taken aback by the -- just the power of his statement from the standpoint of allowing the mullahs and a madman to come into possession of a nuclear bomb, and somehow or another that we should not care about that, we should not be engaged with Israel, our longtime friend and the longest democracy in the Middle East. Absolutely, we should be.

Israel is our -- there should be no space between the United States and Israel. And I just was really taken aback by Dr. Paul's almost nonchalant statement about, you know, let the mullahs go, you know, there's not any evidence that they're getting a bomb.

And that's certainly not my information. And I'm relying on some pretty wise and plugged-in people. I talk to John Bolton on a regular basis, and the ambassador is greatly concerned about Iran. KING: You are known as a good closer, if you talk to your friends in Texas about campaigns. No more debates, 18 days until Iowa votes, now you get to do it the old-fashioned way, small towns like this, retail politics.

Where does Governor Rick Perry draw the line in Iowa? What's your test? Do you have to be top three, top four to keep going?

PERRY: Oh, I don't have a -- there's not a -- I don't have a line. My goal is to win Iowa. It's obviously an important state. It's the reason I'm spending the time in 44 cities right before Christmas and I will be back on the 27th and stay here until January the 3rd asking people for their votes and retail politicking.

I mean, that's -- I think that is going to be a formula that's going to be very successful.

KING: But you don't have a line, though?

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: No. I'm going to be in New Hampshire, and then in South Carolina, and then in Florida. So we're going to...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You mentioned South Carolina. Governor Haley endorsed Mitt Romney today.

PERRY: Yes.

KING: A fellow conservative Southern governor, did that sting a bit?

PERRY: Not really. Everybody gets to make a decision on who they're going to -- that's one vote. I will be real honest with you.

I have got Medal of Honor recipient General Jim Livingston who endorsed me on the deck of the Yorktown last week. And, no offense, but I like those guys that have that type of longtime record's endorsement. And I greatly respect Governor Haley, but if I have to pick between the two, love having those veterans stand up and say, this is the guy, this is the man for the job.

KING: You were just talking about your record in Texas and the economy. There's a big debate in Washington right now about this payroll tax holiday extension.

PERRY: Right.

KING: And there are some people who have been for it in the past who say you know what, we haven't seen evidence it's doing enough to stimulate the economy and that money comes out of the Social Security trust fund. If you were president today, would you extend that?

PERRY: No. (CROSSTALK)

KING: So would you let taxes go up or would you do something else...

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: Listen, the permanent -- or, I should say, temporary tax reductions aren't doing anything.

What we need to be doing -- this president, if he's serious about getting this country back on track, he'd be lowering the tax burden, he would be pulling back these regulations, he would be standing up and saying, you know what? We're going to build the XL pipeline, we're going to create these jobs.

If I'm a blue-collar union guy, I'm not happy with this president, because he's killing jobs that they could be having access to. So if this president is serious about getting the country back on track and about creating the environment for job creators, it's not about giving these, I would suggest to you, rather gimmicky temporary tax cuts.

Give real confidence by cutting these regulations. The regulations are what are killing the job creation in this country.

KING: You had an ad that is airing here in Iowa. I'm going to read you a bit from the script.

"You don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in our country, in this country, when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school."

That went viral on the Internet and a lot of gay rights' groups raise questions about your tolerance. How would you answer that?

PERRY: Well, I think the president made a huge mistake when he, during a time of war, when we have troops in two different theaters, using them as a political tool to address an issue that is important to his political base.

Don't ask, don't tell was working, should've left it in place. But he, again, responded to his political base, just like he's responding to his political base on this XL pipeline issue with the radical environmental movement. I don't think that's good public policy. I don't think it's good for the military.

And it doesn't have anything to do with tolerance. I just think it's a bad public policy.

KING: Would you switch it back now it's been switched?

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: Absolutely, I would switch it back. I would switch it back to don't ask, don't tell.

KING: Governor Perry, thanks for your time.

PERRY: You're welcome. Yes, sir.

KING: Eighteen days of fun.

PERRY: Merry Christmas.

KING: Merry Christmas to you.

PERRY: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Up next, we got our first look today at Private Bradley Manning. He's the soldier accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks. He was in court and we will have the details.

Plus, throughout the program, we're counting down our top debate moments of the year. Here's number four.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Your rival is standing right there. If it was Obamneycare on "FOX News Sunday," why isn't it not Obamneycare standing here with the governor right there?

TIM PAWLENTY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It -- President Obama is -- is the person who I quoted in saying he looked to Massachusetts for designing his program. He's the one who said it's a blueprint and that he merged the two programs. And so using the term "Obamneycare" was a reflection of the president's comments that he designed Obamacare on the Massachusetts health care plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

If you're just joining us, here's the latest news you need to know.

Right now, it looks like the federal government will not -- not -- shut down at midnight tonight after all. The House passed a $1 trillion spending bill today to keep the government running and the Senate is expected to pass it as well, possibly tomorrow.

Deadly violence in Egypt. At least four people were killed today in central Cairo during clashes between pro-democracy activists and security forces.

Opposition leaders in Syria say that at least 17 people were killed across that country today, adding to the growing death toll in the months-long protest against the government of Bashar al-Assad. A short hearing today for Bradley Manning. He's the soldier accused of passing classified government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning's attorneys asked the presiding officer in the military case to recuse himself. That request was denied.

And former Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd can be released from federal custody if he posts $100,000 in cash bail. Hurd was arrested this week and charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. Today, the Bears cut Hurd from the team.

Tonight's "Number" nothing to do with politics. It's 762. Any guesses? If you're a baseball fan, you know 762 is the number of career home runs hit by home run leader Barry Bonds. For Barry Bonds, it was a day of reckoning today.

The infamous former Major Leaguer was sentenced for giving evasive testimony to a federal grand jury investigating doping in sports. Bonds learned his sentence in a courtroom less than two miles from the ballpark where he broke Hank Aaron's Major League home run record four years ago.

CNN's Dan Simon was at the courthouse when Bonds learned his fate. Dan joins us now.

And, Dan, you could make the case here Barry Bonds got off pretty lightly. Tell us the sentence.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's pretty light. You know, he's got to do a 30-day home detention. And if you're Barry Bonds, that's not too bad. He lives in a 10-bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills. On top of that, he's got a two-year probation he's got to fulfill and pay a $4,000 fine. To Barry Bonds, that's just a speeding ticket.

But, look, he doesn't have to actually do this for quite a while because the judge stayed her sentence because Barry Bonds is appealing his conviction. So when ultimately he fulfills his sentence, that's basically unknown. The wheels of justice turn pretty slow here in San Francisco as it relates to this case. So he could be looking at maybe a year or so before this case is finally over -- John.

KING: Did he say anything at all about this, Dan?

SIMON: No, he didn't.

And as a matter of fact, in court, when the judge announced her decision, he basically had, you know, sort of this pleasant demeanor on his face, really sort of expressionless. He walked out of court. By the way, he looks a lot thinner than he did back in his playing days, walked out of court surrounded by his attorneys, hopped in his SUV, and he took off.

But he will probably be back at the appeals court which is just a block or two away from here in the next month or so as that appeals process gets under way, John.

KING: Dan Simon live for us tonight -- Dan, thanks so much.

Up next, we will analyze the graphic testimony given today against Jerry Sandusky. He's the former Penn State football coach, of course, accused of sexually molesting young boys.

But, first, we're counting down our favorite debate moments of 2011, and here's number three.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: No doubt about that.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: But you can't name the third one?

PERRY: The third agency of government, I would do away with, the Education, the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commerce.

PERRY: Commerce. And let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: Oops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Major developments today in the child sex abuse case against the former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky.

Assistant coach Mike McQueary, perhaps the only eyewitness to an alleged incident between Sandusky and a young boy back in 2002, gave graphic testimony during a preliminary hearing.

He told the court he saw Sandusky molesting a 10- or 11-year-old boy in a Penn State locker room in 2002, saying, quote, "The boy was up against the wall, facing the wall. Hands were shoulder height. Jerry was close to him with his hands wrapped around his waist. I believe Jerry was sexually molesting him."

What does this mean for the case against Jerry Sandusky? Joining us now is Stacey Honowitz. She's an assistant state attorney and Florida supervisor for Broward County sex crimes unit. Also with us defense attorney Ann Bremner.

Ann, I want to bring up first a point for you. And I wonder how powerful could this be for anybody defending Sandusky in this case.

McQueary today described what he saw between Sandusky and the boy back on March 2002. He said it was of a sexual nature, but he couldn't say 100 percent certainty. Couldn't say with 100 percent certainty that it was intercourse. "They were as close as you can be," is what he said. Compare that to this from the grand jury report. "McQueary saw a naked boy, victim two, whose age he estimated to be 10 years old with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky."

Somewhat different testimony today than to the grand jury. How could a defense lawyer perhaps exploit that?

ANN BREMNER, ATTORNEY: Well, any time there's an inconsistency, John, as we know, you can try to undermine a witness's credibility, especially in a case like this where there's going to be multiple statements from McQueary.

And the fact of the matter is either you saw it or you didn't. I mean, something that graphic and that shocking which he has said was shocking to him and upsetting, you would think that he would say the same thing each and every time.

So that's the way they're going to use it, but you know, this is a tough case beyond tough case right now.

KING: Stacey, in your view is it enough of an inconsistency to be a problem for the prosecution?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Listen, I've tried these cases for a long time, and I would have to say that I don't think it's enough.

Quite frankly, without getting extremely graphic on the show, there was a reason why he said what he said the second time. He said he believed they were having intercourse, and it was based on the positioning of the bodies.

Then it was asked later on, followed if he actually saw the act of penetration where he said, "No, I couldn't see that." And that's why he then changed the story to, you know, "I don't know if it was exactly intercourse because I wasn't standing right there to see any kind of penetration."

So the fact of the matter is, it's graphic, John, but that's the kind of testimony you're going through in this case as a way of him trying to really rectify why those two positions are different.

KING: One of the big questions about Mike McQueary that will likely come up in the Sandusky trial also could come up in the case against the two ex-Penn State officials, who are essentially accused of not doing enough to act on this quickly, is what exactly Mike McQueary did after that incident. We were just discussing it right now.

He says he did not directly call the police, but he did -- this is an e-mail obtained from Mike McQueary. He sent this to former classmates, because there was an outrage about why didn't he go directly to police? Why didn't he do more to try to bring Sandusky to justice beforehand? He said this in an e-mail: he did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police. "I did stop it, not physically, but made sure it was stopped when I left that locker room."

When asked today if he called police, he said no. He said instead of going to police, he went to his father, saw a family friend, his name Jonathan Dranough (ph) and he told Coach Paterno the next day.

Is that, again, Ann to you, is that an inconsistency? Or is it not significant? Because Mike McQueary's position is while he talked to the university official in charge of police, he took that as the same thing.

BREMNER: You know, again, it's the kind of thing as a defense lawyer that you just want to grab on to and use, because the fact is, you have to ask him at the end of the day, when nothing happened with Sandusky, you know, Sandusky, did you wonder?

You know, because you obviously thought you went to the police. You obviously said you went to someone that oversaw the police. But the inconsistency is if, indeed, your statement before was you went to someone that had the connection with the police and, thereby, you felt you were informing the police indirectly, why would your lawyer say you didn't at all?

And so these are the same kinds of things the defense attorney can use as inconsistencies, and it can be very important in sex assault cases, because these are generally not witness crimes. And in this case, there are multiple accounts, as I understand it, ones that are just not witnessed by anybody but the victims themselves.

KING: We're in the preliminary phases of this case here. I want you both to listen to one of Jerry Sandusky's lawyers was on "In Session" today. He says, "Look, Mike McQueary's testifying now. You might read what's in the grand jury report, but there's been something missing from this case. He hasn't been cross-examined." Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROMINGER, ATTORNEY FOR JERRY SANDUSKY: I know for a fact that the prosecution did not allow him to be cross-examined by Dr. Dranough (ph). The prosecution did not allow him to be cross-examined on the e-mails. So to the extent that your producer or anybody else thought that he was credible, he hasn't been subject to full and fair cross-examination yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Ann, what's the most interesting thing you are learning about how this will play out in court from the preliminary back and forth?

BREMNER: I guess the most interesting thing right now is I think everyone thought that McQueary would have the exact same testimony that he had in front of the grand jury where the grand jury found it to be credible. And that was talking about, you know, rape and then talking about very graphic and specific things.

But what we're hearing now, at least, from what's been reported on his testimony, is that he said he described things that were quite different and were arguably different in terms of what the acts were. And it seems like he didn't want to upset people or say too much in terms of what he saw. So it's a different type of feel from his testimony today.

And we've seen the headlines, which are, you know, it's really different testimony. And cross-examination would bring in even more different testimony presumably, but it's not as hard and fast and clear cut as we first thought it to be in terms of what he, quote unquote, "reported to others."

KING: Stacey, same question to you, what have you learned so far that raises questions in your mind about how -- where this case is going?

HONOWITZ: Well, I mean, I don't think there's so much of a difference between his grand jury testimony and the testimony we heard today.

I mean, certainly the defense attorney is 100 percent correct. He has not been cross-examined as to what he saw. Because in the preliminary hearing, it's really not a matter of his credibility. It's a prima fascia case to get him over to trial.

So if there are major inconsistencies, if he told someone a completely different story, then certainly, that's going to make a difference at trial. But you have to remember something, John. I mean, quite frankly, someone is going to have to say what would be the benefit of him or his motivation to come forward with this kind of graphic, disgusting testimony? What did he have to gain by going and reporting what he saw?

And I think that's going to be the biggest hinge for the prosecution. That's what they're going to ask a jury at trial. Why would this gentleman come forward, risk all that he had, come forward with the university he's working with and make up these allegations?

So we'll have to wait and see what happens during the cross- examination, but at this juncture, I don't think the testimony is so inconsistent.

KING: Stacey Honowitz, Ann Bremner, I appreciate your insights on this case. We'll stay on top of it moving forward.

Up next, we shift back to politics and tonight's "Truth." Have you had enough of debates? We'll answer that question. and we hope not, because we're also, as we finish the program tonight, counting down our top debate moments of the year. Here's No. 2.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You were for individual mandates, my friend.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what? You've raised that before, Rick.

PERRY: It was true then, and it's true now.

ROMNEY: Rick, I'll tell you what, 10,000 bucks? Ten-thousand- dollar bet?

PERRY: I'm not in the betting business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Erin is with us now. And Erin, since you're with us, let's do. We're counting down our top debate moments of the year, and I want to share with you No. 1.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century, and I'm prepared to take the heat for saying let's be humane in enforcing the law. Without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Governor...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you make of that? A brave moment for Speaker Gingrich, given the anti-immigration sentiment right now, especially Tea Party voters.

BURNETT: It sure was brave. And as he has done in all those debates, John, we know articulately and graciously delivered, but perhaps that's part of the reason we saw yesterday. Right? The anti- Gingrich on the National Review Web site in giant red letters. It's moments like that that have contributed to the now backlash against Newt Gingrich that's been hurting him in the polls.

KING: And so give us a sense of what's coming up next.

BURNETT: All right. Well, we're going to talk about this payroll -- payroll tax. Talking about left and right coming together. Right now, I can tell you, John, and this is literally happening as I speak, Senate Republicans are in a huddle, and they're meeting and potentially could come out with news of real movement towards a big deal on a payroll tax cut extension. Democrats right now are telling us that this could be extended for 11 months, which obviously is much better than there have been talks of, of last night where it was thought it could only be a two-month extension.

So Senator John Thune of South Dakota going to come right out of that meeting, top of the hour. Hopefully, I'll break some news for us on whether we can get a deal here and what it would be on this payroll tax cut extension. That's coming up.

Plus, we're going to talk about what happened on that flight from Moscow to Tehran. Those 18 steel cases that seem to have some sort of radioactive material in them. How significant is this story? We're going to talk about that, also, coming up top of the hour.

Happy Friday, John.

KING: Happy Friday it is, Erin. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

And Erin was just mentioning the payroll tax cut extension negotiations. Let's go up to Kate Bolduan on Capitol Hill. Kate says there's some news on the negotiations. Kate, what have you got?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, John.

Yes, we're learning this now. It's happening as we speak from two sources that the leadership that has been negotiating this, they have reached an impasse on this larger deal to try to -- they've been negotiating for -- intensely, especially over the past few days, to negotiate a deal to extend the payroll tax cut and other items for a year was the target.

Well, the leaders have reached an impasse, we're told, according to sources, and so they're moving towards this fallback plan that we started reporting on last night that has to do with their going to move towards a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, the unemployment assistance that we've been talking so much about, as well as a two-month extension having to do with the so-called doc fix, John.

Importantly also to note that the Keystone Provision, that controversial provision the Republicans have been insisting on, the Keystone Provision will be part of this short-term two-month extension, John.

KING: Kate Bolduan, tracking the sensitive negotiations, live for us on Capitol Hill, Kate. Thank you.

The packed 2011 presidential debate season is over, and for some veteran Republicans, not a moment too soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think they've had too many debates, because I think it's now who makes a mistake rather than who articulates his or her vision for the future of the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, it's not often that John McCain and Karl Rove see eye to eye, but the man George W. Bush called the Architect also believes 13 debates, in his words, "is too much of a good thing."

Listen to this from Karl Rove. Quote, "Debates have nearly crippled campaigns," he writes in a "Wall Street Journal" essay. "For good or ill, this year's record-breaking mass of debates has made the contest the most unpredictable, rapidly shifting, and often downright inexplicable primary race I've ever witnessed."

Karl, what's wrong with unpredictable and rapidly shifting? Tonight's "Truth" is that what you think matters more than what the political class thinks. And there are more than 60 million reasons to think the debates were helpful.

Sixty million. That's a ballpark figure for the total viewership of the 13 nationally-televised debates these past eight months. You now know a lot more, not only what the Republicans stand for but also about how they react under pressure.

It's true these debates have had outsized influence on the Republican race. One timid debate moment tanked Tim Pawlenty's campaign, and one helped "can't count to three agencies gaffe" helped send Rick Perry from front-runner to endangered status.

On the other hand, the three most consistent debaters, Gingrich, Romney, and Paul, are the three candidates atop the polls. Too much influence? I think not.

That said, I'm glad there's a break now. No more debates before Iowa votes in just 18 days. That's a good thing. Because if there is a downside to so many debates, it has been that there's been less emphasis on old-fashioned retail politics.

Now we'll see more coffee-shop visits and bus tours over the next 2 1/2 weeks, more chances for the voters to kick the tires up close.

And when the debate season resumes in January after Iowa votes, here's a truth you can bank on. There will be fewer candidates in the race, and therefore, fewer candidates on the debate stage.

Let's discuss the debates and more with two former members of Congress are here. Susan Molinari, who supports Romney, and former senior Bob Livingston, senior adviser to Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Livingston, I want to begin with you in the sense that you're here in Iowa. We've been here all week. And what they like to call Newt-mentum in your friend's camp has stalled some, stalled some. You can feel it when you're here. Part of that has been because of all the attacks, no question about it. The attacks in media interviews, the attack ads on television.

And Newt was responding to one of them last night. I want you to listen. Mitt Romney interviewed at the "New York Times," says that Gingrich sometimes is zany. Listen to Mr. Gingrich's response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I sometimes get accused of using language that's too strong. So I've been standing here editing. I'm very concerned about not appearing to be zany.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Funny moment, Congressman Livingston, but can your friend withstand these attacks without firing back a little bit more forcefully himself?

BOB LIVINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISOR TO NEWT GINGRICH: Sure he can, John. And by the way, I totally agree with you -- with you about the debates. I think Karl Rove is wrong.

I think the debates have been great. And one reason is that Newt Gingrich has been able to get his message out. He had a horrible start last spring when I started to support him. Worst start perhaps in the history of American politics.

But he looked at me in early August, late July, looked at me right in the eye and he said, "Bob, watch the debates. I'm going to do well, and by December, I'll be on top." He is.

And when he got on top, everybody and their mother started attacking him for one reason or another.

The fact is, Newt Gingrich has a record to rely on. When he was speaker of the House, he actually performed in a conservative fashion. He balanced the budget, cut programs, eliminated programs, brought in welfare reform, and when it was all over, when he left 13 years ago, we had a $5 trillion debt.

Today we have a $15 trillion debt. I'd like to see a little bit more of Newt Gingrich, and I hope we will for the next four years.

KING: Congresswoman Molinari, your friend is making the case for Newt Gingrich. You support Mitt Romney. I thought it was striking last night. A lot of people thought that the debate -- the overall debate would be more combative. And it wasn't. Maybe because it was the last one before Iowa votes.

Governor Romney clearly decided to let a few opportunities to take thumps at Speaker Gingrich pass. What do you think was behind that strategy?

SUSAN MOLINARI, MITT ROMNEY SUPPORTER: Well, I think, No. 1, he didn't have to take the shots because so many of the other candidates, some of whom, you know, served with Newt, as I did, and find him zany, have decided that, you know, they really needed to stand up and talk about what it was like during the revolution when a conservative group of members of Congress who knew brought into power decided that he could no longer handle the leadership.

So I think that Governor Romney decided that it was best, particularly at this last debate, to continue to find himself as the businessman who created jobs, as the governor who lowered unemployment, as the man who made some really substantial changes in the bluest state that we have, to be able to put his focus on President Obama.

And I think at the end of the day, what you really saw was somebody who looked presidential and could go toe-to-toe with President Obama next year in these debates.

KING: I want you both to listen and then get a quick response. Congressman Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann had a little back and forth over Iran last night. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The greatest danger is that we will have a president that will overreact, and we will soon bomb Iran...

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With all due respect to Ron Paul, I think I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security than the one that we just heard from Ron Paul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're a little short on time because of the breaking news. Just if I could get a quick observation from each of you. Mr. Livingston, to you first. You know, Ron Paul used to be way out there. More and more people are attracted, even a possibility of winning Iowa. Why?

LIVINGSTON: Well, he's got a great economic policy. I can subscribe to a lot of what he says about domestic politics and about the need to cut spending and that sort of thing, but his foreign policy is still way out there. He's just, frankly, a fellow who has never really supported defense appropriations. He doesn't want a Defense Department. He doesn't want us to engage abroad, and I think he's flat out wrong.

KING: Well, I unfortunately need to cut this off there. Congresswoman Molinari, I owe you a little time next time you're up here.

MOLINARI: Great.

KING: My apologies, because of the breaking news on Capitol Hill.

Up next, a look ahead to where the road will take us next and the highlights of our week here in Iowa. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we go tonight, a few takeaways from our week crisscrossing Iowa.

Everywhere we went in this state, local Republicans told us they expect big turnout for this year's caucuses, including among younger voters. Well, in Ames, for example, in Iowa State University, we met Caitlyn Hentzel, a Republican. Now she's studiously neutral, because she's helping to organize her local caucus site. But listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you think that on campus next November Republicans will give Obama a run for his money?

CAITLYN HENTZEL, STUDENT: Based off the running start that obviously the Republican students have had and how much organization and getting people out there, it's not just last-minute where "Oh, we better throw something together." It's been going on for some time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We logged about 800 miles from Davenport to Cedar Rapids to Ames to Sioux City. We're in tiny Cherokee, Iowa, tonight. I met a lot of great voters along the way. Again, the republicans expect turnout up. They're also happy. Most Iowans are happy the debates are over because they want to see more candidates in places like this coffee shop.

Rick Perry was here today. Michele Bachmann's up the street right now.

Quick memo to the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, if you want to protect your lead here, you've got to shake some hands. He spoke for about five minutes and then he quickly left the room. A lot of the people who gave him money, who were there to hear him, wish he came by to say and greet them personally.

You've got to do that, Mr. Speaker, if you want to hang on here in Iowa.

A lot of Mitt Romney supporters in this state disappointed, too. They think if he would come here more, he would have a better chance. We'll see if Governor Romney invests in the final days.

And one last footnote: Ron Paul is for real. There are some people who think he could win the state of Iowa. Everywhere you go, you find Ron Paul voters. Eighteen days left. Fascinating state, we're grateful to the people of Iowa for having us here this week. We're going to be on the road to New Hampshire, South Carolina to come.

Have a great weekend. We'll see you Monday. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.