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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Josh Romney; Former Candidate Michele Bachmann Speaks Out; Interview with Lewis Black

Aired March 5, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, just hours away from Super Tuesday, can Mitt Romney seal the deal? I'll ask a member of his real inner circle, his son Josh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: He's the guy to beat President Obama next November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Also, an exclusive interview with Michele Bachmann on her own failed run for the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: It literally just beats the snot out of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: On Rush Limbaugh calling a law student a slut?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I have gone through myself an experience more things said about me and I have never seen this level of outrage on the left.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And the controversial things that Kurt Cameron told me about gay marriage on Friday. Let's just say things get a little lively.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: Well, that's rude.

MORGAN: Is it?

BACHMANN: That's absolutely rude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And keeping America great with the angriest man in America, Lewis Black.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Super Tuesday tomorrow. What are your overall thoughts about this Republican race.

LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: I think it's one of the most spectacular races I have ever watched if it was maybe 1958.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: If I was watching this in black and white, I would be really thrilled about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus, "Only in America," political growing pains.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Our big story tonight Super Tuesday. Ten states across the country are voting tomorrow. But all eyes are on the make- or-break state of Ohio. The latest CNN/ORC poll has Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in a dead heat there, but listen to a confident candied Romney today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I get the nomination and --

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And then we can start -- then we can start organizing our effort to make sure that we replace President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight, I'll talk strategy with Mitt Romney's son Josh Romney. Also a rather heated conversation with former candidate Michele Bachmann. Her views on Rush Limbaugh and gay marriage and of course Kurt Cameron. And later the irrepressible Lewis Black weighs in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: You don't even make the choice to be gay. I mean, when did they catch on to that? Why do they not -- what is their problem with science?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: But our big story tonight is Super Tuesday. Does Mitt Romney have the momentum he needs to nail down the nomination tomorrow? There may be no better person to ask than his son, Josh. And Josh Romney joins me. Josh, welcome.

J. ROMNEY: Hi, Piers. Thanks for having me on.

MORGAN: Well, my pleasure. Tell me the mood in the Romney family camp.

J. ROMNEY: You know, I think we're pretty excited about how things are looking so far. We've had -- we have a lot of momentum heading in to Super Tuesday. Polls are looking good and the delegate count is looking good. And that's really what it's all about at this point, is picking up the right number of delegates and it looks like, you know, things are -- are pointing in the right direction for us tomorrow to pick up a lot of delegates.

MORGAN: I mean the key one would appear to be Ohio and the latest poll out just now says that a dead split, 32 percent for you, your father, and for Rick Santorum. What do you make of that? How important strategically is winning Ohio?

J. ROMNEY: You know, we'd definitely like a win. We don't need a win by any means and we're just hoping to pick up a lot of delegates there. And I think that's really the key to us, just making sure we continue to pick up those delegates and -- ride those numbers up.

MORGAN: Is your father a bit frustrated with the pace of his campaign? I mean, does he feel like he takes two steps forward then two back and so on, that it's been a real uphill battle when he wasn't maybe expecting it?

J. ROMNEY: No. I think we actually expected it to be just like this. We weren't sure who was the final three or two who was going to come down to, but we knew it'd be a tight race. We knew we had to prepare to be in for the long haul, and that's why from the very beginning we set out to put a long -- a long-term campaign in place to raise enough money to be able to compete through March, April, May, and, you know, continue to slog this out. And this is what we expected. So not a lot of surprises.

MORGAN: One of the issues that your father's had, because I've interviewed him a couple of times and your mother who's delightful, and you know, he's always come across to me as very personable, charming, very nice guy. All the rest of it. And yet, he seems to have a problem -- I mean, you or may not agree with this -- in relating to the average American voter.

Why do you think that may be? Why do they're not getting the real Mitt Romney, do you think?

J. ROMNEY: I think he's not on the PIERS MORGAN show enough. That's part of the problem but --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. J. ROMNEY: Yes. No. I mean, as I talk to voters and as I go to places -- you know, I just came from North Dakota, and people who saw him, I came just after he did an event there. People who saw just said wow, we could not believe how passionate he was, how connected we were to him, so I think as people see and hear him and are able to see what he really stands for, that that's not the case.

And we see that in the states that he's competed best in, where he spends the most, people really get to know who he is, they feel connected to him, they see that he's a guy who's going to be able to turn the economy around. I mean they really recognize my dad is a good businessman, he's a turnaround guy, and he's the guy to beat President Obama next November.

MORGAN: I mean the biggest charge against him is always that he's flip-flopper. What do you as his son make of that?

J. ROMNEY: You know what? People are going to throw labels at you all over the place and that's one that worked for John Kerry and I think they're trying to make it stick to my dad. But people who know my dad and know him well know that he's a man of true character, of true principle, and know that he really sticks to his positions. He really does understand, you know, the issues that we face. And what the real solutions are.

I mean he brings a different perspective than anyone else that's in the race right now, and I would say he's incredibly consistent. I mean you look at how he's lived his life. The way he governed at the state of Massachusetts. I mean he's been married to my mom for 42 years now and his family is the important and central thing in his life and that's what really keeps his grounded and principled.

MORGAN: Now you yourself has become a bit of a media star culminating in a stunning appearance on "Saturday Night Live." Let's watch a little clip of this, Josh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney's five adult sons. Why should people get excited and not terrified by your presence on the campaign trail?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we connect with the younger voter. Our average age is 36 while our median age is 35. And we like the same things as young people, such as sport. Cinema and Duop. See? We're just like you, America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean to be fair, Josh, just when they did me two weeks ago, it bore no relation to the real thing. I want to make that absolutely clear.

(LAUGHTER)

J. ROMNEY: Yes. You know, I think it's funny because it's so true. You know?

(LAUGHTER)

J. ROMNEY: I'm going to have to -- I tweeted out that I'm going to have to throw away my blue shirt and khaki outfit. I can't wear that on the campaign trail anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

J. ROMNEY: But no, it's funny. You've got to get into this thing and be able to laugh at yourself and you got -- you develop a thick skin. We -- I think it's a lot easier for me to laugh at me than it is to laugh at my dad. It's tougher when they attack your dad, particularly the media. I think "SNL" is a lot of fun. I love watching them.

MORGAN: Josh Romney, thank you very much and best of luck with Super Tuesday.

J. ROMNEY: Thank you, Piers. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

MORGAN: Michele Bachmann made her own run for the White House. She won the Ames straw poll in August of last year but suspended her campaign in January after finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses. I've been trying to get her on the show for the last year. Finally.

BACHMANN: And here we are.

MORGAN: I've lured you in to my lair, Michele Bachmann.

(LAUGHTER)

BACHMANN: So be happy.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I am happy.

BACHMANN: Be happy. We did it.

MORGAN: Why have you resisted me for so long?

BACHMANN: I haven't resisted your charms at all. I just had a very full dance calendar. That's all.

MORGAN: Tell me about the reality of being a presidential candidate because it's incredibly hard work, isn't it?

BACHMANN: It is, it is. I have tremendous respect for anyone on either party who decides they want to do it. I will tell you quite frankly it's the most difficult thing I've ever done but I think the men in the race would say the same thing. It's probably the most difficult thing they've ever done. Physically it's very taxing. It's about 18 hours a day every day without a day off. And it's just one continual challenge. It's a marathon. MORGAN: Super Tuesday tomorrow. Obviously, the big one for many of the candidates. What are you thinking? How do you reckon this will play out? Will it be a determining day, do you think, or are we going to be here in a month with things still undecided?

BACHMANN: My opinion is, I think it will be a determining day because there's so many delegates up for grabs. About a third of all delegates, 400 delegates up for grabs. Ten different states. I think we'll be up virtually all night because Alaska is involved, as well. And I think it will be highly determinative.

Maybe not dispositive. We may not know for sure the final result but I think we'll see a trend line that may take us to the end, but actually, this is very typical of campaigns historically that they continue to go on. But I think that we'll know this spring who our nominee is.

MORGAN: Is it helpful or unhelpful the longer this goes on for the Republican Party? Because there are two schools of thought. One is that when Obama went up against Hillary Clinton that actually it helped him to have this long battle with somebody formidable. And it maybe that if Mitt Romney was to prevails here or Rick Santorum, it helps them to have this long battle?

BACHMANN: Well, the process is very good. It is -- it literally just beats the snot out of you, if you will, but that is a good thing because it's important for our nominee to be at the top of their game because there is no larger stage than debating the president of the United States. There'll be well over 100 million people that watch those definitive debates.

Our nominee has to be ready to do it. They will be after this process. I have no doubt. And never forget Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had a fairly bloody battle up until June of 2008 and I think that our nominee will be decided, my guess, is probably before then.

MORGAN: There are two key areas, I would say, tomorrow at Super Tuesday. One is a higher when Rick Santorum, I think, needs to win and if Mitt Romney was to win that it would be a major, major plus for him. And secondly, Newt Gingrich really has to win in Georgia, otherwise, I think his own admission, his campaign may be over.

BACHMANN: Well, it looks fairly positive that Newt Gingrich will win Florida and fairly decisively.

MORGAN: Georgia.

BACHMANN: I'm sorry, Georgia. And fairly decisively. At least that's what the polls say. And Ohio is a very unique state. All roads to the White House travel through Ohio.

MORGAN: Are you disappointed that there is no bona fide Tea Party candidate left in the race?

BACHMANN: I am very happy to get behind any of these candidates because I want to have a unifying voice. We will unify as a party. We -- very shortly we'll be battening down the hatches behind whoever our standard-bearer will be. I will be happy to back that candidate, but I also want to reach out to independents and disaffected Democrats. We need a wide net to be able to prevail in November. I'm absolutely confident our positive pro-growth, pro-job message will do exactly that.

MORGAN: My guess is, if you all sat down for dinner, the person you would be nodding with most would be Rick Santorum. Would that be a misreading?

BACHMANN: I like Rick Santorum a lot but I like Mitt Romney, I like Newt Gingrich, I like Ron Paul.

MORGAN: Who do you most agree with?

BACHMANN: I think -- I think my opinions were fairly forthright throughout the debate and I felt, quite honestly, I was the perfect candidate for America.

(LAUGHTER)

BACHMANN: But that didn't happen. And so, really, quite honestly, whichever candidate it is, I will be happy to back. And you know there are some issues that we are more alike on than others with various candidates. I'm very strongly aligned with Ron Paul when it comes to the Federal Reserve and the economy. So I'm closely aligned with the candidates on different issues.

MORGAN: I mean it's disappointing that there are no women in the final four, I think.

BACHMANN: I wish there was. I absolutely do. But I think that it was very important. Our party fielded a woman and fielded an African-American as serious presidential candidates. I was the first Republican woman ever to win the Iowa straw poll. That had never happened before and I made some very important distinct contributions to this race.

When I got in, our candidate said that they would issue waivers and executive orders on Obama care. There's only one right answer now on Obama care and it's full scale repeal. I'm the chief author of the bill to repeal Obama care and I'm the chief author of the bill to repeal Dodd-Frank.

MORGAN: Did you fell --

BACHMANN: Dodd-Frank wasn't an issue in the campaign. I made it an issue and now for our candidates they also will repeal Dodd-Frank.

MORGAN: I mean if you're so vehemently in the vanguard against Obama care, presumably Mitt Romney is the least of the four candidates that you would personally endorse, right?

BACHMANN: Well --

MORGAN: Because of his own health care plan wasn't that different.

BACHMANN: I think that's the positive difference that I made in this campaign. Now Mitt Romney's answer is that he will get behind a full-scale repeal so no matter who our nominee is, they've all committed verbally to repeal of Obama care and now it's up to us to hold our nominee's feet to the fire.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break. I want to come back and talk to you about sex, contraception and Rush Limbaugh. Three words I never hoped I'd never have to say on national television.

BACHMANN: Then don't.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke who goes before congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Rush Limbaugh in his radio show last week blasting Georgetown law student, Sandra Fluke, for arguing in favor of health care coverage of birth control.

Michele Bachmann, were you as appalled as I was by Rush Limbaugh's rhetoric?

BACHMANN: Well, what I thought at first is that this is a 3D example of what Obama care is going to mean in every America's life from now on because essentially for the first time in the history of the country we have one person who will be a health care czar, who will not only dictate what we get in health care but more importantly what we won't get in health care. That's going to be the future of health care in the United States.

MORGAN: I'm going to slightly -- we're across purposes here because that wasn't the question.

BACHMANN: I'm sorry.

MORGAN: The question is, what you thought of Rush Limbaugh calling this law student a slut and a prostitute? What did you make of that? I thought it's the most offensive thing I've heard on the air waves since I've been in America.

BACHMANN: Well, Rush had a change of mind himself. He issued an apology and he said that he was wrong because he descended to the level of those people that he considers his critics. And I think, again, when you look at the crux of this, I go back up to the 50,000- foot level because we kind of focus on what happened the last 24 hours or 72 hours.

I'm looking forward to what Obama care's going to look like for the average American and right now, this discussion has been about the federal government mandating that every woman has free contraceptives or free morning-after abortion pills or free sterilizations. But it won't be --

(CROSSTALK)

BACHMANN: Let me just -- let me just say. Obama care will never be about what benefits we're getting. It will be about what benefits government will take away. Because there's simply not enough money to provide everything for everyone. So the big untold story is that some day people will be told you're not getting the rotate or cuff surgery, you're not getting hip replacements, you're not getting knee replacements.

That's the bigger story because we don't want to have politically correct surgeries, politically correct pharmaceuticals, politically correct diseases. Those diseases get funded and other diseases don't. That's wrong.

MORGAN: Why is so -- why so many Republicans unwilling to call out Rush Limbaugh on what he was when he said those words which was disgusting? Why can't you just say, what he said was disgusting and indefensible? Because I haven't heard that from any senior Republican.

BACHMANN: I think there's a lot of people that have weighed in on it but more importantly the people who were involved made an acknowledgment and that was Rush Limbaugh. He made his acknowledgment.

MORGAN: But he's apologized again today and mainly I suspect because advertisers are quitting in their droves. AOL has quit on him today. So he's losing money hand over fist. But I found it extraordinary that the leading commentator on radio in America, conservative commentator, could say this about a young woman and nobody, and I have to say --

BACHMANN: Well, I'll tell you, quite honestly --

MORGAN: In your case --

BACHMANN: Quite honestly, Piers, I have gone through myself an experience more things said about me and I have never seen this level of outrage on the left about what left-leaning commentators said about me.

MORGAN: Those are unjustifiable.

BACHMANN: No really. I mean, honestly. If you're a conservative woman, it seems like there is no level of vitriol that's beyond the pale. I've been on the receiving end of it. We all know Governor Palin has been on the receiving end of it. You don't see this level of outrage. You certainly don't see advertisers cutting back and I think that maybe that's what we should learn out of all of this, is that on both sides, we want to pay attention to what we're saying but more importantly, don't miss in the middle of this, this issue's about Obama care and what it's going to mean for our lives.

MORGAN: Let's talk about contraception for a moment, because her battle, Sandra Fluke, was to get the right to have contraception, the birth control pill, or other forms of prescription --

BACHMANN: Every woman has the right to get that. That's not --

MORGAN: Yes, but to have it on --

BACHMANN: That isn't the issue.

MORGAN: To have it on, you know, health insurance plans. Ideologically what is the difference --

BACHMANN: But it is. But it is. It's already available. See, what the difference is now one person, the president of the United States, has power to designate one particular drug or one particular service and at what price. That's phenomenal. That's never happened before. Tomorrow the president of the United States could say, well, now, we are not going to allow a health insurance company to even sell contraceptives.

We don't want any president to be able to have that kind of power. The president tomorrow could say, we only will pay for two births of babies for every woman for their hospital expenses. We don't want women -- I don't want to see women have one president or one individual be able to tell them what they can or can't have in health care. That's exactly what President Obama is doing now. That's the level of power that he has and it's frightening.

MORGAN: You're accusing the president -- you're accusing the president of wanting to have some form of state control over people's sexual behavior. Right?

BACHMANN: No, what I'm saying is that --

MORGAN: That's what the argument leads to.

BACHMANN: No, what I'm saying is that the president now has an unmitigated level of authority never before seen over health care and that's amazing when you think one person -- we don't know how that power will be used. But we have seen it now.

MORGAN: On the issue --

BACHMANN: That the president has said for instance --

MORGAN: On the issue of contraception, should women, you know, many, many women between the ages of 20 and 35, are sexually active, and they want to have birth control in America, millions, tens of millions, are they wrong to want that? Just ideologically.

BACHMANN: Right now, women have that right. They can have contraception if they want it but I want women to have that choice. Not one government --

MORGAN: Rush Limbaugh's point was very, very clearly that he didn't want taxpayers, and this was factually accurate. He didn't want taxpayers to fund women like Sandra Fluke having contraception on their insurance plans. What he knows and you know and I know it's the employer and insurance company that funds it.

BACHMANN: But, Piers, we are now looking at coming to the point where we will be over 16 trillion in debt this year, and Barack Obama has made it the highest priority to make sure that at no cost a certain drug is given to a certain part of the population. That's Barack Obama's highest priority. What about breast cancer drugs? Women need that, too. But that's not given for free to women. Think about that.

MORGAN: Yes. I'm thinking --

BACHMANN: See, that's what we're talking about.

MORGAN: No, I understand that argument.

BACHMANN: What is political salable? In election years we'll see presidents in the future saying, now I'm going to give you this procedure or this drug for free because it sells politically. I mean, come on, really. Is that what we're going to? Because that will come at a tremendous price, the cheapest way to have health care is all Americans buy any health insurance policy they want anywhere in the United States, pay for it with their own tax free money, and have true medical malpractice reform.

That's what Barack Obama should have done. He failed to do that. That's what we need to replace Obama care with. We don't need socialized medicine. That's Obama care. We need true free markets in health care because I want women to have access to health care and the best way they can have access is lower the cost then they can choose whatever they want to have.

MORGAN: OK. Let's take a little break, come back and talk Kirk Cameron and homosexuality.

BACHMANN: Why, you're up with a lot of interesting things today.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Do you think homosexuality is a sin?

KIRK CAMERON, ACTOR: I think that it's -- it's unnatural. I think that it's detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: That's from my controversial interview with former "Growing Pains" star Kirk Cameron last week, an interview that well, trended worldwide on Twitter for 36 hours. Quite extraordinary reaction around the world to what he said.

I want to ask my guest, Michele Bachmann.

I mean, yes, he made it pretty clear there that his religious beliefs determine the fact that he believes homosexuality is a sin, it's unnatural, it's destructive, it's detrimental to the foundations of civilization. And because he said that, he's taking a pretty big public kicking now. All over the world. What do you think of his comments?

BACHMANN: Well, I'm not -- I'm here as a member of Congress. And I'm not here as anybody's judge. That's what I have to say.

MORGAN: But do you agree with him?

BACHMANN: I am not here as anybody's judge.

MORGAN: Well, you've been pretty judgmental in the past. Come on. You have to have a view?

BACHMANN: Me?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Yes, you.

BACHMANN: Hardly, hardly, hardly, hardly, hardly.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: One of the judgmental people in America probably.

BACHMANN: Well, that's rude. That's absolutely rude. I'm not a judgmental person.

MORGAN: Really?

BACHMANN: No.

MORGAN: I'm not being rude but I mean you've been very, very outspoken.

BACHMANN: I believe in traditional values. I believe in marriage between a man and a woman.

MORGAN: Well, excuse me, I'm not being rude. If I read you --

BACHMANN: But I don't think that's bigoted.

MORGAN: Well, let me read what you said in 2004, that being gay leads to the personal enslavement of individuals because if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage, personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. That's why it's so dangerous.

That's fairly judgmental, isn't it? I don't want to be rude.

BACHMANN: I'm not here as anybody's judge. I mean quite honestly, I'm here as a member of Congress and a former candidate who ran for the presidency of the United States, and I believe very firmly that we have got to get the nation back on the right track. We're at pains right now to try to even keep our country together and free from terrorist attempts here in our nation. That's what I keep focus on.

I'm a member of the intelligence committee and we spend at least -- I probably spend 25 hours a week just on this issue alone. This is a very serious issue.

MORGAN: I will -- I will come to that because you're doing some important work there. But you have been very, very outspoken about gay marriage, about homosexuality, in the past and people will view it whether you think it is judgmental or not as very judgmental. So I'm surprised that you think that I'm being rude by asking you about views that you very, very vociferously espouse.

BACHMANN: I'm very adamant and very clear that I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and I stand for that. I don't think that's bigoted.

MORGAN: Well, look at this poll says, you've got March 2004. Thirty percent in favor of gay marriage, 62 percent against. A poll just now, 49 percent in favor, 40 percent against. This is one of the fastest sea changes in public opinion that people can remember in America, isn't it?

BACHMANN: Well, there is still -- every state in the country that has put this up to the vote, people have voted for marriage between a man and a woman. When people are allowed to vote on the issue, that's what they do. So really the issue has been activist judges and whether judges are going to impose their morality on the people. And I'm in favor of the people having their say. This is a fundamental issue and the people need to decide and the people need to vote.

MORGAN: Michele, isn't it this, that you can have a position that's based on religious belief -- and I have total respect for that. I really do. You know, I was raised a Catholic. And I have members of my family who are very strong about some of these things, too.

What I don't like is the rhetoric that is used against the gay community by those who don't agree with them.

BACHMANN: Actually, I would tell you, Piers, the rhetoric is far worse against people who stand for traditional marriage. If anyone gets attacked in this country, it's people who stand for traditional marriage.

You just brought up Kirk Cameron right now and his comments. He's the one who is getting trashed right now. And he's the one --

MORGAN: But hang on. He is the one --

BACHMANN: I think that's something --

MORGAN: He's the one who originally said it was unnatural, destructive to civilization.

BACHMANN: -- religiously inspired beliefs.

MORGAN: Shouldn't you respect their --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: I do.

BACHMANN: There are people who claim Islam is their religion. They do not believe in this -- in the issue of marriage between anything other than a man or woman. They aren't bigoted. Or Hindus, they aren't bigoted because they take that religious view.

MORGAN: Shouldn't gay people be given the same respect for their sexuality as you wish to see given to you in your religious beliefs? Just equality of respect?

BACHMANN: I believe that everyone under the law here in the United States has the right to the same level of protections under our Constitution. Everyone is entitled to that.

The difference is, in this issue of marriage, we all have the right to do -- to enter in to marriage. And it's up to the people to define what those characteristics of marriage are. We have those characteristics.

MORGAN: On Kirk Cameron's comments, I mean, he said that being gay is detrimental, ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization, and it's unnatural. Would you agree with those comments, personally?

BACHMANN: Honestly, I think I have had enough of the conversation. I think it's time to move on. I think we have beaten this horse to death.

MORGAN: Really?

BACHMANN: Yeah.

MORGAN: It is a lively horse, though, isn't it?

BACHMANN: For you. Quite honestly, I think what I see people more interested than anything is what in the world are we going to do to get the economy back on track.

I spent two days in my district on Saturday and on Friday. That's all people care about, because they're nervous. They're scared to death.

For the first time, people told me they fear their government, because they've never seen this level of unprecedented government power before over their lives. That's what people are afraid of.

I had a guy who had 105 employees. And in the last year, he's down to 62. He's barely treading water right now. He said Obamacare is a big issue.

MORGAN: Let's take a break and let's come back and talk about the economy. Let's talk about the battleground for the next election, and also whether you think this whole debate, actually, about social issues is detrimental now to the Republican party's chances in an election battle with President Obama, because it may be.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I look forward to the next chapter in God's plan. He has one for each of us, you know. If we will only cooperate with him, he has always had something greater around the corner, far beyond what any of us have ever thought or imagined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Michele Bachmann dropping out of the presidential race after her sixth place finish in Iowa in January. And she's back with me now. "Core of Conviction, My Story" is your book. And I think even your toughest critics would say the thing about you is that you do -- you do believe in what you say.

BACHMANN: I do. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I think part of that is I grew in Iowa and then in Minnesota afterwards. And I came from a middle class family. But like millions of people, my parents divorced when I was a very young teenager.

We went to below poverty. And my mom did the best she could. But I needed to get jobs, babysitting and odd jobs, just to buy clothing, just to buy my glasses, just to buy my lunch at school. And it formed my character and it taught me the value of the dollar. And it taught me the principles to lead to success. So --

MORGAN: And there's also lots to admire, I think, about you and your story, because, you know, anyone that has -- you have five children of your own. But you also -- you have these 23 foster kids.

BACHMANN: Yeah.

MORGAN: And the ones I have seen interviewed in bits and pieces over the last year or so have always been incredibly complimentary about the influence that you and your husband had on their lives, and taking these kids who were really in trouble and saving them.

So I really admire that about you, and the fact that you have come from, you know, a pretty humble upbringing to get to where you did today.

My only question, I am not going to labor the point I made before the break. We've discussed that. BACHMANN: They're beautiful children. And I think for us, it was a matter of we -- we didn't forget the challenges that we came out of. And we had broken hearts for at-risk kids. That's why we wanted to open up our home to foster children.

We were a little afraid to do it. We didn't know if we would be good at it or not. But we took one child. Then we got a call, would we take another, and would we take another. And over the years, we had 23 children in the home.

It was a great experience for us as parents, for our biological children. They learned they aren't the only people in the world, that the world is a lot bigger. And it was good for our foster children, too. They got -- we're not a perfect family.

But they got to see what an intact family looked like.

MORGAN: What do you teach them about -- well, two things I'd throw at you. One, Rick Santorum came out with this comment about President Obama pushing people to go to college is kind of elitist snobbery, you know, that's being snobbish.

I can't imagine that you wouldn't have wanted all these kids that you brought through this foster system to, if they could get to college, right? I mean, isn't that part of the American dream, to be better educated as you can possibly be

BACHMANN: I think as a parent, you just want the very best for a child. And every child is so completely different from each other. And we had children who went on to become medical doctors. We had other children who struggled terribly with school.

And I think the point from Senator Santorum was on manufacturing. He was talking about how the backbone of the United States is manufacturing. My dad was in manufacturing. There is nothing wrong with being in an honest profession, a blue color job. We need more of those. I think that was the comment.

MORGAN: I totally agree, by the way. If that's all he said, I would have totally agreed with what I was saying. I just thought it was silly of him to use this the word snob about somebody who was encouraging people to go to college, particularly at a time when America is being left behind in higher education by China and other countries.

I mean, America needs more people at college, doesn't it? It's not snobbery to want people to go to college.

BACHMANN: The point is we need more jobs in the United States. That's been the --

MORGAN: On that point --

BACHMANN: That's been the terrible thing that's happened under Barack Obama, because under Barack Obama presidency --

MORGAN: I get that. Michele, you have to occasionally answer some of my questions.

BACHMANN: I am! I am! I am!

MORAN: You're not.

BACHMANN: I am!

MORGAN: Is it snobbery to want your kids to go to college?

BACHMANN: Everyone wants the best. As a parent --

MORGAN: Was he wrong to use that word?

BACHMANN: Listen, Piers, I have been a mother of 28 children from every level of capability. Some of our children, it was -- college was not what they wanted. And I wanted the best for those children. And for some of those children, maybe a direct link to a job right after high school was what they wanted for their life.

As their mother, I wanted them to have what they wanted. And I wanted their happiness. And so it isn't snobbery to help a child get exactly what they want in life. That's what I wanted.

I don't look like down on anybody in life.

MORGAN: Taking that argument -- I agree with you, by the way. We are in agreement here.

BACHMANN: See? It's possible. We can forge the bonds.

MORGAN: Michele, I am with you. I am with you. We can help each other.

BACHMANN: Hey, I just passed a bill this last week with Democrats and Republicans. We finished and completed the longest unfinished bridge project in the history of the United States by bringing Democrats and Republicans together. See? We can do it. Fist pump. Right there.

MORGAN: President Obama fist pump. You shouldn't be doing that. That's his trademark.

BACHMANN: Listen, we can do that. Hey. That's not proprietary.

MORGAN: Yes, we can.

(CROSS TALK)

BACHMANN: You don't want to fist bump with me? What's wrong? You can do it. Yes, you can.

MORGAN: The president's watching, and I'm sure he is, he will have enjoyed that moment.

BACHMANN: Of course he will, with Michelle. MORGAN: Do you think generally, if you had become president -- you see, this is the contradiction of Michele Bachmann. That's why you're a fascinating person, in many ways, to interview. Because there's so much strength of character that comes through this book, so much to admire about your life path, especially these kids.

BACHMANN: See, now we're getting somewhere with this. Now we're getting somewhere with this interview. This is great.

MORGAN: There is a but.

BACHMANN: I thought so.

MORGAN: I can't imagine, when you have all these foster kids and stuff, that a key part of your, I suppose, life lesson to them would involve tolerance of people.

BACHMANN: Of course.

MORGAN: I find this weird streak of dramatic intolerance to certain groups of Americans.

BACHMANN: This is what's so odd. This is what's so odd. No, it's so odd about people on the left that they absolutely are so --

MORGAN: I'm not on the left.

BACHMANN: They're -- oh, really, Piers?

MORGAN: I'm not on the left or right.

BACHMANN: Really, they're so intolerant. Oh my word. OK.

MORGAN: -- no horse in the race.

BACHMANN: Listen. I won't judge. I won't judge. But I think it's very important, though, that people who have sincerely held religious beliefs -- I do. I think that it's important that we respect those people's beliefs and those of entire faith.

MORGAN: Michele, don't misunderstand me. I was raised a Catholic. All right? I understand the power of religious beliefs completely. I had spiritual guidance from nuns for two years. Right? Don't think I don't understand --

BACHMANN: Aren't you glad you did?

MORGAN: Yes. But you see, I was also taught to respect and be tolerant towards people who didn't agree with those beliefs. And I think that America, with this movement on gay marriage and so on, just has to come a time when people who have strong religious beliefs, like you, like Kirk Cameron, actually show people like the gay community tolerance and a bit of slack, and say, I don't agree with it, but nor am I going to demonize you.

That's all I'm getting at. BACHMANN: I would like to see the lack of demonization for those of us who stand on sincerely held religious beliefs. It's overtime. That's where you see the demonization of people who stand on their beliefs.

MORGAN: So respect on both sides is what we need to get to?

BACHMANN: Of course.

MORGAN: Let's come back in a year and see how far we can get this.

BACHMANN: Good.

MORGAN: Michele Bachmann, thank you very much.

BACHMANN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next, the equally shy and retiring Lewis Black.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS BLACK, COMEDIAN: When I was young, you would -- you could be pro-abortion or anti-abortion. And now, 62 years later, you can be pro-choice or you can be pro-life. And that is what we've accomplished.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Clip there from Lewis Black's newest comedy special "In God We Rust," premiering on March 17th on Epix. Funny and ferociously honest, I can't wait to see what you have to say about Kirk Cameron, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh. What a week it's been.

BLACK: It's been -- it's been -- and then the -- on Friday, it all started to kind of break down. I was watching the news on Friday and it was just one thing after another.

And then Virginia basically saying -- like, a couple of days after the Virginia attack -- you know, memorial, you know, another year of it, those deaths. They say, well, we're going to see -- we're going to lift the ban on only selling one gun per person. What planet are we on?

MORGAN: Lewis, I just had Michele Bachmann on, who called me rude and was indignant because I had the impertinence to suggest that she was judgmental, when some would argue she's the most judgmental woman in American politics.

BLACK: Well, she's been -- you know, she uses -- you know, on that -- she says in that thing, you know, that she basically believes in family values. But they -- much like Santorum, they believe in family values. But they use it like a sledgehammer. So like if you don't believe in their family values -- and how do you know what family values are?

I mean, my mother couldn't cook. Does that mean I'm supposed to pass on --

MORGAN: I think even if you have strong religious values, which I totally respect in people, but it's the fact they try and equate that with a similar position of I want total freedom for people. So I want you to be totally free, particularly from the government.

But actually, what I really want to do is whack you over the head with my religious beliefs, ban you from doing all sorts of things. I find that a contradiction.

BLACK: It's a total contradiction because they're the ones who screech -- it's freedom with -- freedom within their limitations of what the freedom can be. So that if you make a choice that is outside their -- so you make a choice to be -- and you don't even make the choice to be gay. I mean, when do they catch on to that?

Why do they not -- what is their problem with science? It -- to live -- we're the future now. This is the 21st century. It should be science fiction at this point. And they've -- all they will deal with is fiction. Were they beaten by nerds in chemistry classes? Did they burn their hands on Bunsen Burners?

MORGAN: I thought it was quite interesting, the reaction to the Kirk Cameron comments on my show, because I must say, I didn't expect it to erupt the way that it did. But there's been a lot of reaction from people.

I said, they're all sort of I think shocked by the fact that this sweet, nice boy from "Growing Pains" has come out with what he clearly felt were perfectly normal comments, but actually in the cold light of day are transparently offensive.

You can't just call a body of Americans unnatural, you know, going to wreck civilization, all the things he said. He said it so calmly. In the moment, I was like, really? That's interesting. What?

BLACK: It's that whole thing of, you know -- it's -- you know, being Jewish, you know, you kind of -- I know enough about Christianity to know you're not being a Christian. You are not supposed to -- this is not supposed to be -- you can think it. You can think it.

MORGAN: You can personally believe it.

BLACK: Yes.

MORGAN: I have total respect for Kirk Cameron's right to have any beliefs that he wants.

BLACK: Yeah.

MORGAN: I've got no problem with that. I just don't think you can sit there with a straight face and say, I'm a Christian, God-fear, all-around good person. But by the way, I hate these people who were born the way they were.

BLACK: Yeah. And that -- the -- the and he does it with that, and then the -- and the thing about the rape and the, you know -- to talk about, you know, if your daughter was, you know, raped and the abortion. And the whole abortion issue -- once again, here's what I don't understand about that -- the way the Christian deals with -- the way they deal with it, is that if you really believe it, then these people are going to hell.

So why are you working so hard --

MORGAN: Why are you worried about?

BLACK: It's already done. The deal's done. Let them make their choice.

MORGAN: What did you make up of the rush Limbaugh furor?

BLACK: Wow. Well, there's so many levels to it. First off, it reminded me of what you'd expect somebody who maybe was like 15 years old to say.

MORGAN: Final question, Super Tuesday tomorrow. What are your overall thoughts about this Republican race?

BLACK: I think it's one of the most spectacular races I've ever watched, if it was like maybe 1958. If I was watching this in black and white, I would be really thrilled about it.

MORGAN: I actually should think some of their views may be pre- '58.

BLACK: No, no, they are. But I didn't want to send the audience way, way back.

MORGAN: Lewis, always a pleasure.

BLACK: Really a pleasure, thank you.

MORGAN: Take care. Always entertaining, Lewis Black.

Next, Only in America. The surprising relevance of that '80s sitcom "Growing Pains."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, Kirk Cameron and the unlikely new plot twists from "Growing Pains."

It all seems frozen in time, the picket fence, the cheesy smiles, that unbelievably annoying theme tune. Back in the '80s, the smash hit sitcom about the Seaver family offered us a shockingly amusing insight into the travails of rearing teenaged children. It's now been 20 years since "Growing Pains" ended its run. The show turned out to be quite an extraordinary spring board for budding superstars. Recognize this cheeky young lad? That's Leonardo Dicaprio. He played a homeless orphan who was adopted by the Seaver clan.

Other Hollywood names you may recognize, Matthew Perry, Heather Graham. As you can see here, yes, Hilary Swank. But the biggest of them all was this guy, Brad Pitt. In this episode, he played the incredibly handsome new student at school, a more ridiculously inappropriate story line it would be hard to imagine Mr. Pitt playing.

He, of course, is an activist, as well as an actor championing causes he believes in, including the drive against California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage, which would, one assume, put him squarely at odds with his former "Growing Pains" colleague Kirk Cameron.

Brad so far hasn't commented on Cameron's anti-gay remarks on this show last Friday. Just about everybody else now has, including Tracey Gold, who played his sister Carol. She responded by Tweeting, "I'm a strong supporter of the LGBT community and I believe in equal rights for all."

Only in America would a long-defunct '80s sitcom be at the vanguard of a national debate on religion and morality. If there's one thing that America learn from "Growing Pains," it was surely that tolerance, understanding and compassion are pretty well always better things to aspire to than intolerance, lack of understanding, and plain old bigotry.

Tomorrow, CNN has all the latest Super Tuesday results, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. On Wednesday, I'll be back with my stellar panel, plus a woman who knows what it's like to go through a presidential campaign, Cindy McCain.

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