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JOHN KING, USA

Underwear Bomber Sentenced to Life; Romney Trailing Santorum in Michigan; Interview With Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

Aired February 16, 2012 - 18:00   ET

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


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John King, as you can see, is off this evening.

Tonight, before sentencing the so-called underwear bomber today, a judge sees what would have happened if the bomb had worked as planned.

Plus, the presidential race hits full-throttle in Michigan, as Mitt Romney finds his home state is no longer a sure thing.

And in a close call just this morning, authorities stop a pilot they say was just about to fly his airliner drunk.

We start this evening though with the so-called underwear bomber. He will spend life in prison for trying to blow up a plane on Christmas Day, 2009. We all remember it so well. But this is what the blast could have looked like if he had succeeded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two, one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Wow. That's a reenactment from federal officials.

But thankfully the bomb fizzled in real life.

Our Deb Feyerick was in the courtroom today.

Deb, how did Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab react when that very video was played?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's so interesting.

The FBI had put together that bomb, that demonstration, a bomb very similar to the one that Abdulmutallab had sewn into his underwear. And it's what the explosion would have looked like if all 200 grams of PETN explosive had successfully detonated.

As Abdulmutallab watched the video, Kate, he said "Allahu akbar" three times, "God is great, God is great, God is great." It's for that reason that prosecutors described him as an unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired and blessed. It's why the judge said that life in prison was in fact a just sentence. And it's why his own lawyers, standby counsel, knew that the sentence would likely be life and had already planned the appeal. Now, Abdulmutallab did give a statement in court. And in it, he also said, "The mujahideen are proud to kill and that's what I did."

When the judge sentenced him, she said the thing about bars, the thing about life in prison is that you are serving time. You will live the same day over and over and over again for the rest of your life.

And, Kate, his family actually came to Detroit. They had hoped to be in the court. But for whatever reason, they decided not to come. They are hoping that they do get a chance to at least see him before they return to Nigeria, his dad a very prominent banker. They want to see him, because they understand that it could very well be the last time they ever do -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

And, Deb, if you could, just because that video is so amazing, you were in the courtroom. You were there when he got that sentence of life in prison. But walk us through that video. What could this have done in that plane?

FEYERICK: Well, it's very interesting.

What you're seeing there, you see that bright light, that flash, that explosion. That is the bomb placed on a thin piece of aluminum. Now, this could have looked very different had it been placed, for example, let's say on something the thickness of an airplane wall. Remember, when the bomb ignited inside the airplane -- or the chemical ignited, flames shot up the side of the wall. So that created the fire.

But what you're seeing is the explosion that would have happened had all 200 grams of PETN actually detonated, very bright, very powerful. Again, he was sitting over the fuselage. His intent was to bring down the plane and to kill all 289 people on board the plane.

And, ironically, Kate, he argued for leniency, saying, well, it's not as if he really succeeded, so he didn't really kill anyone, did he? So it was a very almost bizarre argument being made by his lawyer. But his lawyer was trying to save his client the best he could, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I think -- calling that a bizarre defense I think is probably the best way you could put it. Deb, thanks so much. Thank you so much for your great reporting.

In another big story just this evening, the United Nations has a message for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Stop the slaughter. The U.N. passed a resolution just a few hours ago condemning a bloody government crackdown that claimed over 70 lives today alone.

Foreign journalists are not allowed into Syria, but our Ivan Watson has managed to slip into the northern part of the country, where government forces appear to be losing their grip.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The countryside here in northern Syria is in open revolt. And this is a rebellion of farmers, of carpenters, of high school teachers, entire communities, villages and towns and stretches of northern Syria that tell us they have not seen presence of central Syrian government authority in months.

They have effectively been governing themselves. And they have clearly established militias, as well as pockets of what's been called the Free Syrian Army, defectors from the Syrian army who have come and joined these villages and rural communities in opposition to the Syrian government.

As we have traveled across this region, we have gone from village to village, from small council to small council where young men and old sit on the ground, chain-smoking next to Kalashnikov assault rivals, weapons, light weapons that they say they have gotten within the last couple of months.

The residents of these communities say they haven't seen any presence of the Syrian government in months, not since deadly incursions were made by convoys of Syrian armored vehicles.

And in those cases, nearly everybody you talk to can show you photos of loved ones, of neighbors, of cousins, of brothers who they say were killed in those attacks.

They tell us that they're trying to protect their communities, their families, their villages, by laying rings of improvised land mines but they are fully aware that they don't have weaponry to match the tanks, armored personnel carriers and airpower of Bashar al- Assad's army.

The inhabitants here, they are enjoying what they say is self- rule. They are calling this pockets of liberated Syria. But they're fully aware that the bulk of the Syrian army is currently being held down in the siege of the much larger city of Homs.

They say, if that siege lifts, if the Syrian government forces are victorious there, that will free them up to then attack these areas, and they warn that that would lead to a massacre.

Ivan Watson, CNN, reporting from northern Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Today, General Motors announced it earned record profits in 2011, $7 billion $600 million, pretty amazing.

And thanks in part to the nine million vehicles it sold worldwide last year, GM is the biggest automaker in the world in terms of sales. Tonight, that made in America pride is bumping up against Mitt Romney's opposition to the multibillion-dollar government bailout and bankruptcy that kept GM going. Let's talk about this with CNN chief business correspondent and my very good friend Ali Velshi.

Hey there, Ali. Thanks for staying and talking to me.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Great to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: On this whole issue, these numbers are really amazing. What does it mean? Does it signal that big auto is back?

VELSHI: Yes. Yes, and for a number of reasons, the greatest of which is that the financial crisis is behind us, the recession is over, and credit is available.

A lot of people didn't buy cars over the last few years. And that's created pent-up demand. The average age of a car in the United States in December was 11 years. People have been holding onto these cars. They're ready for them. And because of sustained high gas prices, they're turning away from trucks and SUVs, at least those that are not hybrids, and going to cars.

So the average price of a new car is now $25,000. It doesn't mean that car prices have come down. What it means is that there are a lot more cars available to buy now in the $16,000, $17,000, $19,000 range. And they're actually not bad cars.

Through the recession and through the financial crisis, these automakers learned they're going to use the same platforms that they used to sell cars in Europe and increasingly into China and India. So, yes, the auto industry is back.

And, by the way, Kate, I know you didn't ask me the question, but those people who fought against the auto bailout a couple of years ago kind of have egg on their faces right now.

BOLDUAN: Some would say that that's true.

I think a big question and probably a question that anybody that's struggling in business right now is, how did they pull this off, really? How did GM make such a dramatic turnaround?

VELSHI: Well, first, there are a few things.

The first -- the biggest one is that they did get the bailout. GM was in very, very serious trouble if they hadn't gotten that bailout. They also declared bankruptcy, if you recall. And that allowed them to cancel contracts, very expensive contracts, cut new deals and close some dealerships, things that in the fair pursuit of business, you can't do.

So it's not that they did this all on their own. If you look at Ford and Chrysler, they're all profitable. Ford did it on its own without any bailouts and without having to do that kind of thing.

The bailout helped. The fact that the recession is over helped, and the fact that that crisis made all of these carmakers retool and do what they had to do in order to actually make cars that people wanted to buy. Some of these GM, Ford and Chrysler cars, not so many with Chrysler these days, but the GMs and Fords are actually very good cars.

Look at those profits, up 39 percent compared to 2010. So they did it with a little help, but the bottom line is, they did it and it saved a lot of jobs.

BOLDUAN: It's really amazing when you kind of look back with hindsight, because there were so many skeptics, Ali, when we were covering this when it was happening back in '09.

VELSHI: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Ali Velshi in New York, thank you, my friend.

VELSHI: Good to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: See you.

Researchers at Dartmouth College say there is a worrisome amount of arsenic in some baby formulas. We will tell you what they think is the source of the poison coming up.

Also, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel asks Mitt Romney to denounce the Mormon Church's practice of baptizing dead Jews. He's our guest coming up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIE WIESEL, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: This man is running for the highest office probably in the world. And that man has responsibilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: The Mormon Church is facing criticism for baptizing dead people. Now, because Mitt Romney is Mormon, it's getting political.

Holocaust survivor in -- survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, wants Romney to denounce the baptisms of Jews, and, in particular, a recent controversy surrounding Holocaust victims.

The Huffington Post revealed that the names of Wiesel's relatives were also added to a list as, quote, unquote, "ready for baptism by proxy."

I spoke with Professor Wiesel a short time ago and started by asking him what he would say to Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WIESEL: As for Mr. Romney, I have respect for him. I -- I don't involve myself in politics. I am neither for the Democrats nor for the Republicans. And I -- I don't have any illusions that I could have an impact.

But one thing I -- I do know, this man is running for the highest office probably in the world. And that man has responsibilities, not only of -- of -- of what's happening here in America politically, but also what is happening in other areas.

And such a -- a -- a -- a lie could be distorted and propagated. He -- he, as the man who wants to be the leader of the world, of the free world, should have an opinion on everything that is happening in this country.

BOLDUAN: Well, Professor, let me ask you, then, you talked about not being -- not getting into politics.

Then why is it important for you to bring Mitt Romney into this?

Because you well know, especially in a political season, that many -- that people will say you are either intentionally -- or unintentionally, by bringing Governor Romney into this, politicizing a very sensitive religious issue.

WIESEL: Well, because I am a Jew and Romney is -- is a Mormon. Nothing is wrong for a Mormon to come and say they made a mistake and they shall not do it again. I am saying that he personally was involved in all that. Maybe he didn't even know what was happening. But now he does.

Now the whole country speaks about it.

So why not saying, look, I learned it, that's not my field, I am -- yes, I'm religious and I'm a Mormon and I respect my religion. And, by the way, I respect his religion, too.

But when it comes to this, the -- you know, the Holocaust memory is something that we have been working for since the end of the war. That is our -- our obsession. That's our ideal now, not to allow the world to forget what happened.

BOLDUAN: Now, and we did reach out -- we should say that CNN has reached out to the Mitt Romney campaign. And the campaign refers -- has referred us to any questions on this issue should be referred to the Mormon Church.

And speaking of the Mormon Church, the Mormon Church has respond, Professor, telling "The Salt Lake Tribune" the following in a statement, that the church's "policy is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors. Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited."

And they go on to say that "In this case," in your case, "the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptism, but simply entered into a genealogical database. Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted."

And that's from a church spokesman.

So are you satisfied with that explanation from the church?

WIESEL: Well, it's for them to say. I am -- I am not satisfied with the idea that some Jews -- that Jews could be converted, no matter how. But, you know, the -- we -- again, in the first condition, we don't have that. When a man or the person, when a woman is dead, leave him alone. Leave him in peace.

BOLDUAN: Now there -- as you well know, there have been a number of stories in the news recently that have really brought to the forefront the question of religious liberty. And it often is asked and -- and I will ask you here -- when is it OK, is it OK for one person to tell another person how to practice their religious beliefs?

WIESEL: No, I think I am -- I -- I practice my religion and I don't want anyone who is not Jewish to do that. And I'm not saying to anyone how to practice his or her religion, of course.

But when it comes to other people, my religion would be to convert another person to -- to my religion, I would say, come on, really. It's silly.

BOLDUAN: Professor Wiesel, thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you for your time.

WIESEL: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Coming up: Iran's nuclear negotiator says his country is willing to resume talks about its nuclear program, but there might be a catch.

And Linsanity -- yes, my first chance to actually say that -- Linsanity is spreading to the Magic Kingdom. We will tell you what Jeremy Lin will be doing in Orlando at the NBA All-Star weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Developing story we want to bring to you right now.

A pair of F-16 fighters from the North American Aerospace Defense Command intercepted a small plane that violated the no-fly zone imposed for President Obama's visit to L.A. today.

CNN's aviation correspondent, Lizzie O'Leary, you have been tracking this. What's going on here?

LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION AND REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Any time the president goes someplace, often when there are major events as well, there's something called a temporary flight restriction that goes into place. Essentially what was going on here is a Cessna 182, private aviation plane, violated that flight restriction. It was shortly after noon. Two fighter jets were scrambled from March Air Force Base. They intercepted the plane. And basically they tracked it for about half-an-hour, made communication with the plane, forced it down to land. The person was arrested -- or -- I'm sorry -- was intercepted by law enforcement when the plane landed.

It's still a little bit unclear where all the major players were at this point. Obviously, one of the concerns is when the temporary flight restriction was violated, where the president was, where various folks who travel with him were. That's one of the things that what we're looking into.

But TFR is very common when the president travels. They are automatically set up in that airspace. And you certainly see why.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: And, obviously, a bit of an investigation to happen now of what that plane was doing, why it was there. But, obviously, you will be tracking all of that in this developing story.

You will be coming back and we will be talking to you in a little bit. Thanks, Lizzie.

(NEWS BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Also, coming up: A suspected drunken pilot nearly makes it to the cockpit, but one call helps keep him on the ground.

And we're talking about GM's record profits with Michigan's mayor. He's a Romney supporter. So how does -- sorry -- Michigan's governor, rather, I should say. So, how does Governor Rick Snyder feel about his candidate bashing the auto bailouts?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: It's not right to armchair- quarterback the history of that situation. The more important thing is, is, it got done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Coming up this half-hour, a pretty amazing story -- a pilot suspected of being drunk is stopped just steps away from boarding the plane -- the call to police that kept him out of the cockpit.

And aspirin between the knees as birth control? What? Raising eyebrows, a big Santorum supporter floats the idea. His selling point? It's cheap.

Plus, "The Colbert Report" unexpectedly in reruns now -- questions tonight about why production of the satirical newscast was halted.

First, let's get one story that had us talking. A pilot suspected of being drunk almost made it onto a passenger plane for his 6:00 a.m. flight out of Omaha -- 6:00 a.m. He was stopped near the gate by police. CNN's aviation and regulation correspondent Lizzy O'Leary is here with this.

Lizzy, how were authorities tipped off to this?

LIZZY O'LEARY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were tipped off by a hotel shuttle driver who was driving basically this pilot from the hotel to the airport. And they notified airport police. This guy had actually already gone through security, and he was stopped before he got on the plane.

This is something there's a rule that pilots exist under called bottle to throttle. You can't drink within eight hours of flying. And this is something that happens every now and then. And usually the tips come from either co-workers, crew members, sometimes TSA screeners or passengers.

BOLDUAN: First off, scary to hear that. And also, just makes me think, you know, this is not the first time I have heard a story like this. How frequently does this happen?

O'LEARY: On average you're talking about a dozen or 13 a year or so over the past decade. And you can sort of see the trend. This is something that the airlines look out for, that obviously regulators look out for.

What is considered drunk in FAA speak is a lot lower than, say, some police department that might pull you over for a DUI, DWI. So we're talking about 0.04 blood-alcohol level. And obviously, if you're flying, that's something you'd probably like to see. The lower number is better. And even in the U.K. it's lower than that.

So this is certainly something that authorities watch. Because it's not something they want to see happen, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And not someone [SIC] anyone that's boarding a plane tonight wants to hear. Going to be thinking about that. Sorry, everyone, if you're in an airport tonight.

Lizzy, thank you so much. We'll talk to you later.

So we've been talking tonight about G.M.'s record profits. The Motor City may be back. But Mitt Romney, who says he's a son of Detroit, he's no longer leading in Michigan. A Detroit news WDIV poll shows Rick Santorum is in front with 34 percent, and Mitt Romney with 30 percent. And the other candidates? Far back from there. Let's talk this -- let's talk all this over with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, so why is Santorum in the lead? Wasn't this kind of a done deal for so long for Mitt Romney? GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple months ago. But you know, nothing's been a done deal in this Republican primary process.

BOLDUAN: So true.

BORGER: And I was talking to a senior Santorum adviser today, raised that question. You know, what's going on here?

He makes the case that people can relate to Rick Santorum in this state, that they like him more than they like Mitt Romney, that he's got a more populist story to tell, that he once represented steel workers, for example, and also that he's got a plan to zero out the tax rate for manufacturing, which is really a big deal in the state of Michigan.

But there's one other thing that's really important. That is conservative and evangelical voters. We think of Michigan as a blue state; Barack Obama won it.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

BORGER: It's a state that could be in play this time. Do not underestimate how conservative the Republicans are in that state. Way back in 1988, Pat Robertson had his best showing in the state of Michigan. So keep that in mind when you think of Rick Santorum.

BOLDUAN: You and I were talking before that Michigan is going to be very important.

BORGER: Oh, yes.

BOLDUAN: I wanted to ask you, though, how important is the auto bailout to Michigan voters?

BORGER: Oh, it's -- well, it's interesting. We talk about the auto bailout all the time.

BOLDUAN: Right.

BORGER: And we say, it's going to be important. State of Michigan, Detroit. Well, "The Detroit News" asked that very question to voters in the state. And they asked, "Are -- would you be more or less likely to support a candidate who opposed giving government loans to the auto industry?"

Look at this: 51 percent said absolutely no difference. Now, why is that? Well, first of all, both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum opposed the bailout.

BOLDUAN: Right.

BORGER: This is a Republican primary. But now Rick Santorum has a good sort of campaign line. He said, "Look, we both opposed the bailout. But I also opposed the Wall Street bailout. And where was Mitt Romney when it came to Wall Street? Wanted to bail them out." BOLDUAN: They've got to find one way to differentiate themselves.

BORGER: It might have some resonance out there.

BOLDUAN: We will definitely see. You will be there, covering it all. Gloria, get some sleep. Thank you so much. Talk to you later.

So Romney got some help today in Michigan picking up the endorsement of the state's Republican governor, Rick Snyder. We spoke with the governor earlier this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Governor, General Motors today reported record profits, $7.6 billion. And back in '09 President Obama was criticized really from the left and from the right on his decision to bail out the auto industry. So is today's news a vindication of sorts for that controversial move? You're on the ground.

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: Yes, well, I don't look at it that way. The way I view it as is, it's not right to armchair quarterback the history of that situation. The more important thing is, is it got done, and the auto industry is going great. So it's great to see the success. I'm very proud of the auto industry in Michigan. We're the auto capital.

The big question I would hope we'd be asking our political people in this election is, is what are we going to do to reduce the unemployment rate by half, rather than rehash what went on with the auto bailout.

BOLDUAN: On that very -- on that very point, the other big story of the day I want to now turn to the race for the White House. You announced that you're endorsing Mitt Romney today.

But, you know, you have a couple of things going on here. You have your endorsement. You also, as you well know, had Romney really slamming that auto bailout back when it happened. I want to read to you his words, which I know you have heard before. "Crony capitalism on a grand scale. Even worse," he says, "than bankruptcy. It would make -- it would make G.M. the living dead."

So how do you square that criticism coming from Governor Romney with your endorsement? I mean, you said it yourself. This is really the industry in your state.

SNYDER: Well, I don't have an issue with that. Because again, I'm not going to go revisit the past. I want to look towards the future.

And I'm excited to endorse Governor Romney because of his stand on jobs and economic growth. The biggest issue in front of us is how do we create more jobs in our country.

Michigan is one of the comeback stories in the United States right now. We're doing really well because we didn't spend our time on divisiveness. It's about coming together, finding common ground and moving ahead. And Governor Romney has got a great background for that and good plan, so I'm excited to support him.

BOLDUAN: Do you think, though, those words could come back to haunt him in this primary?

SNYDER: Well, that's always within of the challenges. Again, I trust his judgment on that. As a practical matter again, I look forward to the future. Because that's what our constituents really care about. Too much time spent on the past. We've got a very troubled national government.

Again our state's doing well. And one of the things holding us back is what's going on in Washington between the budget, the deficit, all those kind of questions. We need to get that straightened out, and there'll be more jobs for all of us.

So I just encourage Washington to move forward, and let's get the right leadership there.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about some important numbers today. Mitt Romney, he calls himself a son of Detroit. His father was governor there for six years. Yet Romney is, surprisingly right now, trailing Rick Santorum by four points in the "Detroit News" poll. Why isn't this plain and simply a slam-dunk for Mitt Romney?

SNYDER: Well, you never take things for granted. And it's great to have Mitt in the state campaigning. I think you're going to see that turn around. I think people are really going to respond. Because it should be about more and better jobs and the future for our children. And he's got a very strong plan. And that's why I'm very supportive. And I think that's going to resonate well with Michiganders.

BOLDUAN: I have to ask you probably the most important, crucial q question of the day, Governor. Mitt Romney was asked yesterday about your Detroit Tigers. And here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tigers or Red Sox?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, Red Sox I'm afraid. I've lived in Massachusetts for how many years now? Forty years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Governor, I have family that live in Detroit. My husband is from Detroit. How can you stand for that kind of an answer with the man you have endorsed?

SNYDER: Well, no one's perfect. We all have our challenges. And on the common ground issues we agree. But as a practical matter, Detroit's the sports city in the country. I mean we've got the Tigers, the Lions, the Red Wings, the Pistons and we're just going to keep going. So if you want great sports, Michigan's the place to be.

BOLDUAN: I'll tell you, my husband very excited about prince fielder. That pickup for the Tigers, that will take on the Red Sox any day. Thank you, Governor, so much for your time.

SNYDER: I like that passion. Thanks. It was great to be with you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. We'll see you at the primary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Great conversation with the governor.

But heading back to the northeast, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is standing by his decision to fly state flags at half-staff for Whitney Houston's funeral this Saturday. Christie says he's disturbed by critics who, in his words, "believe Houston forfeited the good things that she did in her life because of her history of substance abuse."

The governor calls the New Jersey-born singer a cultural icon in the state's history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Whitney Houston was -- was an important part of the fabric, cultural fabric of this state. And as I said, on the night of her passing, I think, you know, she belongs in the same category, from a musical perspective, in New Jersey history with folks like Frank Sinatra and Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen. She was a cultural icon in this state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Jason Carroll is in Newark.

Jason, you've been follow this. It seems that not everyone in the state agrees with the governor. What are you hearing?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's got a lot of critics out there, Kate, who are basically saying that when it comes to lowering flags to half-staff, that is something, critics say, should be reserved for veterans, people who have fallen in the line of duty or state dignitaries, something to that effect.

When I spoke to a little -- some folks earlier today, especially those from veterans, they had the exact opposite opinion. But first I want you to listen to what some of the critics have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was a little bit too much. Because where do you draw the line then the next time somebody from New Jersey dies who was in the entertainment field?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: Now again, a little earlier, Kate, I was out speaking to some veterans at a V.A. hospital. And surprisingly, they had the opposite opinion. They basically felt the same way that the governor did, basically saying that this is a woman who did a lot for the state, did a lot for her community. And in their eyes, at least the veterans that I spoke, to they say that she deserves to be recognized -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: It really is amazing. The issue of the governor, anytime he says anything there are people talking about what that governor has to say.

Now, Jason, I do also want to ask you about Saturday's funeral. We're hearing more about the plans for Houston's funeral service. What do you know?

CARROLL: Well, right, Kate. It seems with every passing day the list keeps growing of notables who will be attending. We do know that Aretha Franklin will be singing. Stevie Wonder also will be performing at the service. Roberta Flack will be attending. Kevin Costner, of course, her co-star from "The Bodyguard," he will be speaking at the service.

Also I spoke with Kim Burrell. I don't know if you know that name. But anyone in the gospel world knows Kim's name, Kate. She was friends with Whitney Houston for 13 years, performed with Whitney last year.

Kim told me a little earlier today that she, too, will be performing at the service here on Saturday. She will be singing a song called "I Believe in Me -- You and Me." This was a song that was near and dear to Whitney Houston's heart. And Kim Burrell telling me that the family actually chose that song. So she will be performing during the service here on Saturday -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: As you well know, CNN will have coverage of all of that. Thank you so much, Jason, for your good work. Talk to you soon.

Also ahead, after much anticipation, Rick Santorum has finally released his taxes. What do they tell us about the Republican presidential candidate? We'll find out more next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Finally, we're getting a look at Rick Santorum's tax returns. After weeks of promises he released his forms for the years 2007 through 2010, years after he lost his re-election bid to the U.S. Senate.

Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is here to take us through these numbers.

So Dana, Santorum's done pretty well for himself since leaving Congress, eh? DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, he sure has. I mean, how would you like to quadruple your salary in one year? That's exactly what he did after he was defeated from the Senate in 2006.

His very first year -- check this out -- in the private sector, nearly $670,000. And by 2009 he earned $1.1 million.

His effective tax rate, I should tell you, was between 25 and 28 percent. That's relevant, because you remember, now famously Mitt Romney paid about 14.5 percent effective tax rate, because that was just on investments.

BOLDUAN: Right. But Dana, he may be surging in the polls, but Santorum still trails his opponents when you want to talk about net income, right?

BASH: It's all relative. He made a lot but not as much as his opponents, exactly.

Check this out. Mitt Romney's income for 2010 was $21.7 million. Newt Gingrich 3.1 million. Rick Santorum $930,000.

Another interesting thing, Kate, is charitable giving. Santorum, if you look at all four years that they've release combined, he gave a little more than $81,000 of his $3.6 million. That's about 2 percent. That's far less than what Mitt Romney gave, percentage-wise, and just a little less than what Newt Gingrich gave.

BOLDUAN: And, you know, Santorum constantly, as they all try to, refer to their humble roots. And he has done that quite a bit. Are these earnings, are these tax returns, are they going to hurt him in any way, do you think?

BASH: You know, he is the grandson of a coal miner. I don't know if you've heard him say that before.

BOLDUAN: Really?

BASH: Yes. That is definitely a big part of his pitch. And as you well know, Mitt Romney is making the case over and over again, as he's trying to pull Santorum down, that he's just a Washington insider.

And when you look at the way Santorum made his money, he actually did use some of the contacts that he made in Washington. He made his money on healthcare interests, on energy interests, media contracts.

And I also want you to look at this picture. This -- I believe we have a picture of his home in suburban Washington. There you go. You see it. His home that he bought right after he left the Senate. Now, he needs a big home for -- for seven kids.

BOLDUAN: No kidding.

BASH: But that -- that takes a good chunk of change to buy there. And by the way, it's again in suburban Washington, another point of controversy if you're the Romney campaign. Because he didn't go back to Pennsylvania. He stayed, you know, in and around the Beltway.

BOLDUAN: They do like to talk about being the Washington outsider, though.

All right, Dana, we'll talk to you soon. Thanks so much.

So let's continue the conversation of money and politics with none other than Nancy Pfotenhauer, Republican strategist and president of Media Speaks Strategies. James Carville. He doesn't even need an introduction. A Democratic strategist and a CNN contributor.

Let's talk about -- talk about Rick Santorum's tax returns. There has been a lot of hoopla over tax returns and taxes, in general. In the end when you talk -- when you think about it, is anyone voting on this information, do you think, Nancy?

NANCY PFOTENHAUER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think so. Although I do believe that, particularly for someone like a Romney, who's got an income that far exceeds most of -- most normal people's expectations for their lifetime, that it's really incumbent on them to be for tax reform.

And what's interesting is, both Romney and Santorum really are the Republican contenders who have never embraced, in my opinion, enthusiastically, tax reform.

BOLDUAN: From the Democratic perspective, are Democrats waiting for these tax returns, too?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, you know, I don't think so, so much. In his rate he paid 28 percent. The interest is how different -- different sources of income are taxed at different rates. I think that's sort of a teaching moment for the country.

The interesting thing is, is in their culture there's this sort of idolizing entrepreneurs and everything. Rick Santorum was anything but an entrepreneur. He was a guy that scammed the government. I'm not saying he earned a dishonest living. But I mean when he left, he didn't go out and create a bunch of jobs. He did that and, apparently, did pretty well at it. I'm sure he did people a decent job.

So I think that's the only thing Romney would have a little bit of an opening there. How many votes it's worth I have no idea.

BOLDUAN: I think probably there might be a couple of people who might have issue with the "scam government" part.

CARVILLE: OK.

BOLDUAN: But we can leave it there.

CARVILLE: Why would they pay him that kind of money? PFOTENHAUER: President Obama didn't exactly create a lot of jobs in the private sector, either. So you know, in a weird way, though, that might be emblematic of the challenge that we're facing. Because you've got an economy that's -- you know, that's on its back.

BOLDUAN: Right.

PFOTENHAUER: And the question is who's got the capability to turn that around.

I agree with James. I think Romney has a slight advantage there.

CARVILLE: It would be a common law professor versus a lobbyist. Let's see how it turns out.

BOLDUAN: Or whatever. Let's talk about one of the big states. Let's talk about Michigan. All eyes are on Michigan. Romney not looking so much like a frontrunner anymore. Santorum's leading in the polls. But we found this sound bite, and we thought it was pretty interesting. And I want you to -- I want you to let me know if you think that Santorum is kind of squandering the lead with this comment. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney assumed the bailout of Wall Street and decided not to support the bailout of Detroit. My feeling was that we should not support -- the government should not be involved in bailouts, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Is he giving Romney too much room there? Shouldn't he have jumped at the opportunity, you know, to not support any bailouts? Is he giving him too much room there?

CARVILLE: Look -- look, he -- that was just sort of his position, if you will. I want to point out that GM announced earnings of $7.8 billion last year and I saw the JD Power thing that ranked Cadillac third in quality of all car brands in the world. So they're doing pretty good.

But if he said that -- if he tried to go in Michigan and reverse his position. I mean, he'd have been subjected himself to ridicule like you've never seen, and that's been his sort of consistent position. It's a much more popular position within the Republican Party. And I was even (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BOLDUAN: I want to get to one final topic because I know you guys will love talking about it. So Gingrich has not been in the headlines of the papers very much recently.

CARVILLE: Darn.

BOLDUAN: Darn, exactly. Not from a moment (ph). But there is one person that is telling you to not count him out. Gingrich himself. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This thing has had a wild rhythm. It resembles riding Space Mountain at Disney. I've been frontrunner twice. I suspect I'll be the front-runner again in a few weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Any chance it's going to happen?

PFOTENHAUER: Well, my goodness. It's been so volatile all along, but I -- it doesn't surprise me at all that the former speaker believes he will be the frontrunner. He is his biggest fan. Maybe that's not true; maybe his wife is his biggest fan. But it's -- I think it's fascinating to -- to see people who self-select into politics and just the hubris that seems to go along with that.

CARVILLE: You know, Romney and -- and Santorum could go after each other. He hasn't totally -- 17, 18, he hasn't totally collapsed. And if they go after each other, who knows? He might -- he might see an opening.

PFOTENHAUER: Well, see, although I like -- I like Rick Santorum's approach to the Romney machine by going with humor. I thought that was very, very wise, particularly since he can't go dollar for dollar.

I mean, there's no question that Santorum is punching above his weight, if you will, right now, if you look at the dollars invested and the votes returned.

BOLDUAN: Well, if we've learned anything, we know that we can't count anybody out at this point, right?

CARVILLE: Stay tuned.

BOLDUAN: Stay tuned. And we will love it, right? Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, James.

PFOTENHAUER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is coming up at the top of the hour, and Erin is here with a preview.

Hey, Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. How are you?

We're going to be talking about whether Iran. The national intelligence director, James Clapper, talking about whether Iran actually could be planning and could be able to attack on American soil. We're talking about lone-wolf-type of attacks. We're talking about attacks against American civilians. How real is this? And what actually was in the behind-the-scenes intelligence briefing? We're going to get to the bottom of that as we continue to focus on the Iranian threat, how real is it, how severe is it and what the United States can do about it. Representative Peter King is going to be our guest, top of the hour.

That and a lot more coming up. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Sounds great. All right, we'll see you in a few minutes. Thanks, Erin.

So there's a new mystery on the Comedy Channel. Nobody's telling what happened, but "The Colbert Report" will be in -- in an unexpected rerun tonight. We'll tell you more in just a moment.

Also a conservative congressman and Tea Party supporter as you've probably never seen or heard him before.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Alison Kosik is also back with the latest news you need to know right now.

Hey, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate.

An anti-crime group in Washington state is rallying to block Josh Powell's relatives from burying him next to his two sons. Powell killed Charles and Braden in a fiery murder-suicide earlier this month. Crimestoppers and a local sheriff actually bought the plots on both sides of where the boys are buried. Crimestoppers asked for donations to help cover the cost.

An attorney for the boys' maternal grandparents plans to seek a temporary restraining order to block the burial.

And no new episode of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central tonight. The network abruptly suspended production for at least two days because of, quote, "unforeseen circumstances." The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting an emergency in Colbert's family, citing people familiar with the show.

And some White House visitors got quite the surprise today. They ran into Michelle Obama and the first family's dog, Bo. Now, this was intentional, though. The first lady tweeted that she and, quote, "the White House's biggest celebrity" would be greeting tourists.

See, if they were reading their Twitter feed, they would have known ahead of time. But it's good they weren't, because it was a nice surprise, I'm sure.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely a good surprise. I know. Who's the bigger celebrity? Probably for the adults, seeing Michelle Obama, and if there are any kids in that line, I know any kid that I've talked to is obsessed with finding out if I've ever met Bo. It's the sweetest thing. KOSIK: You know what? Who doesn't love man's best friend?

BOLDUAN: That's so true, Alison.

All right. Finally, today's moment you missed or may have missed. Florida Republican Congressman Allen West has a reputation for being a fiery supporter of the Tea Party. But we bet you didn't know he's also quite a singer. Check out this YouTube video of him doing "Pretty Woman."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA: (SINGING "PRETTY WOMAN")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He could even hit the "mercy." That's a deep one.

KOSIK: You know, at first I was chuckling, but he's really getting those notes. You know what?

BOLDUAN: You chuckle and then you're like, actually, that's pretty good. Apparently, this has to do with his 51st birthday party. He was singing there for himself last weekend here in D.C.

Alison, have a great night. Thank you.

KOSIK: You, too.

BOLDUAN: And that is all for us tonight. Thanks for sticking around.

Erin Burnett starts right now.