Return to Transcripts main page


Battle for the GOP Nomination; Cindy McCain Interview

Aired March 7, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, GOP death match. Mitt Romney says he's in it to win it.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're counting up the delegates for the convention. It looks good. And we're counting down the days until November and that looks even better.


MORGAN: Rick Santorum says he won't drop out.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're in this race and we're in it to stay.


MORGAN: But what will it take for somebody to nail this down? I'll ask campaign insiders how far they'll go to get the nomination.

Also a woman who knows exactly how tough it is to run for the White House.


CINDY MCCAIN, SEN. JOHN MCCAIN'S WIFE: Anything and everything can happen in a political race. Having been there ourselves, don't count anybody out until the race is over.


MORGAN: Cindy McCain, her take on the race, and her life outside of politics, and this hot new movie, "Game Change."

Plus, "Only in America." Nap time for Newt Gingrich. The long campaign has really taken its toll.


Good evening. The "Big Story" tonight why can't the GOP make up its mind? Yes, Mitt Romney won the key state of Ohio last night but barely. He took the top spot in the total of six Super Tuesday states but he's still quite a long way from sewing up the nomination. He put a positive spin as you'd expect on this endless road to the nomination race on CNBC this morning.


ROMNEY: I'm prepared to fight all the way to become the nominee, and, you know, I was pleased with our success last night. Obviously we've got a very strong lead in delegates, a very strong lead in terms of the number of people who've actually voted for our campaign. We've organized a very effective team.


MORGAN: Joining me now is a top member of Mitt Romney's effective team, as he put it. His press secretary, Andrea Saul.

Andrea, welcome.


MORGAN: So here's the big conundrum, I think, for the Romney camp. By any normal yardstick, you've won six out of the 10 states on Super Tuesday. You've got more delegates than the other three candidates put together. And yet you're still waking up to headlines going well, he's not really the frontrunner yet. He hasn't really got it in the bag.

Are you a bit mystified that people aren't really galvanized yet into Mitt Romney being the nominee?

SAUL: Look, we're focused on getting the delegates we need to get the nomination. Governor Romney had great night last night. As you said, he won six of the Super Tuesday states. You know, last time Senator McCain won 40 percent of the Super Tuesday states so to win 60 percent of them last night was a tremendous feat and we're walking away with over 50 percent of the delegates last night which is the true prize in this battle for delegates. And if you look at the long fight ahead --


SAUL: Senator Santorum will have to win about 65 percent of the remaining delegates and Speaker Gingrich would have to win 70 percent of the remaining delegates. Ad so far they've only been able to win, you know, about 22 percent, 13 percent for Speaker Gingrich. And so it just doesn't look like that's a trajectory that they can change at this point.

MORGAN: But geographically you could -- you could see this dragging on for quite a while, yes, several months. Is that really helpful to either Mitt Romney or to the party itself?

SAUL: Well, we always knew that this would be a long fight. And the good thing is, you know, as we go to these states and you look, Governor Romney has won from Maine to Florida to Alaska, literally every corner of the United States. And so as we go to these different states we're building organizations, we're reaching voters, we're being able to spread Governor Romney's message of, you know, repairing that government, getting Americans back to work.

And as you see when you look at the exit polls from Ohio, for example, people that think that, you know, the most important factor is the economy and the budget and deficit, Governor Romney is the overwhelming pick for those people, and you know, voters who want Obama out of the White House, he's the overwhelming pick for them.

And so this is just all part of the process and the longer that, you know, Governor Romney is out there on the trail, he's going to be talking about his message and why he's the best candidate to beat President Obama. He has been doing that and he'll continue to do that until November.

MORGAN: I mean, it seems like one of his big problems is getting to that real kind of hardcore conservative voter, if you like. You know, the southern states, the rural voters, the evangelicals. What's he going to do about that? Because he's not really seen as a true conservative in the old conventional sense which may not be what he needs to be when he takes on Barack Obama so it's -- again it's an interesting positioning time for you, isn't it?

I mean how far do you take on Rick Santorum in that kind of territory?

SAUL: Well, at first we challenge the statement that he's not a true conservative. If you look again at where we've won voters, Governor Romney has won among Tea Party voters. He's won among Catholics. So there are a lot of different factions of the Republican Party. And I think when you look at some of the places where he's won, it's the states that we need to win in November and I think that we're going to win those rural areas. We're going to, you know, consolidate the base. I'm not worried about winning in Georgia in November.

But Governor Romney can win in Michigan and Ohio and these other important states that it's going take to unseat President Obama.

MORGAN: I mean, the governor said last night, I thought it was an interesting speech he made. He indicated that he'd learned from mistakes. He'd learned his lesson. What do you think have been the main things that he's learned so far on this campaign trail?

SAUL: You know, I think just getting his message out is the most important thing. He loves having town halls where he can take questions from voters and explain his actual record. You know for instance, you know, there's a misconception that since he's from Massachusetts, a blue state, that he's not conservative which is just completely untrue.

If you look at what he did, he balanced the budget. He took a budget deficit and turned it into a surplus. He did it all without raising taxes. He came down on the side of life. He cracked down on illegal immigration. So these are all conservative values that he's out on the trail talking about and most importantly talking about, you know, his 25 years as a conservative businessman and entrepreneur, and what he learned in the real world economy that can translate in Washington and shake things up because he's actually, you know, made payroll, he's actually hired people. And so he understands what it takes -- what it's going to take to get Americans back to work.

MORGAN: And final question, Andrea. I mean, do you think it's time that one of the contestants, maybe more than one, consider whether to pull out?

SAUL: You know, that's going to be up to all the individual campaigns, and I'll let their campaigns decide that. But at some point, you know, you are going to see that the only odds that are increasing as this goes on are for President Obama. And so while we have a clear path to the nomination, and we're excited about the momentum we're gaining, I do think that the other candidates are going to have to, you know, realistically evaluate if they have a path.

MORGAN: Andrea Saul, congratulations on a good night for the Romney camp. And I hope we can talk again soon.

SAUL: Thanks so much.

MORGAN: The competition is taking Mitt Romney's Super Tuesday victories with a predictable grain of salt. Listen to candidate Rick Santorum having a bit of fun on the frontrunner's expense today.


SANTORUM: We've proven we can win out west, the upper Midwest, the heartland, the south, and of course the areas of my own home state. I can't -- well, you know, everybody has had their own state. Now Mitt Romney has about four or five home states because --


SANTORUM: I guess it comes with certain privileges.


MORGAN: Joining me now is Rick Santorum's senior campaign adviser, John Brabender.

A little bit of humor there, John, I like to see creeping in.

JOHN BRABENDER, SENIOR SANTORUM CAMPAIGN ADVISER: You sound surprised. Rick Santorum can be very funny when he wants to be.


MORGAN: I've seen that. It's the least surprising aspect of the whole thing and also I think one of his key assault weapons against Mitt Romney is that, again, you see the humorous personal side of your man. And he is a guy that is resonating, I would say, very well with the core voters. And that is a problem for Mitt Romney.

BRABENDER: Look, I think what you're seeing is a great American story. You have somebody, Mitt Romney, who is supported by Wall Street, supported by Washington lobbyists, who's spending more money than anybody ever thought possible in a presidential campaign. You've got Rick Santorum who doesn't have that type of money. Blue-collar roots and so forth.

And in state after state, Rick Santorum is either beating or right there with Mitt Romney. And I think that's a great story to tell that you can be a good messenger and have a good message in this country and not just lose because somebody else has more money than you do.

MORGAN: I mean, look, it's a classic David and Goliath story given where both candidates began back in January. But what is your catapult? How are you going to actually go from this position right now where you're way behind on delegates? How are you actually going to win this?

BRABENDER: Well, first of all, there's a couple of things that the Romney people, for some reason, always seem to fail to tell anybody and that is that many of the delegates that are already there are not binding delegates. So, for example, if you are a conservative who supported Newt Gingrich and you're a delegate, in the end if you want, you could move that to Rick Santorum.

But I will say this. What is critical is we're seeing that Mitt Romney cannot get over 40 percent in any state. That means even despite all the money he's spending, the vast majority, 60 percent or more of our party do not want him as the nominee. What's happening, though, is the Tea Party vote and the conservative vote have too many places they're going. I think we've reached a point that Rick Santorum has proven particularly last night with three big wins and some photo finishes that he is the true conservative that can beat Mitt Romney, and it's time for conservatives and Tea Party supporters to unite.

If not, a minority part of the Republican Party, particularly the moderate part of the Republican Party, is going to pick the nominee and when that typically happens for Republicans, we lose in November.

MORGAN: I mean what some conservatives are saying is that if Newt Gingrich, for example, was now to step down and put his support behind your guy, that could be a serious threat to Mitt Romney and could end up with Rick Santorum actually winning the nomination. Is that a likely scenario? Could you see Newt Gingrich doing that?

BRABENDER: Well, look, Newt Gingrich is going to have to do what Newt Gingrich has to do. It's not for us to tell any candidate what to do. However, there's a lot of committed conservatives and Tea Party supporters out there that do not want Mitt Romney. They want to make sure that whoever our nominee is somebody who shares their values, and if they're serious about doing that, it's very important that they unite behind somebody. In the last six weeks, Rick Santorum has had six wins and a bunch of photo finishes that he could have beat Mitt Romney with. In the last six weeks, Newt Gingrich, other than doing well in his home state, the next best he had was next to last in any of those states. And so I think Rick Santorum has proven that he has a right to do this. He's earned it.

A good example is Missouri. Newt Gingrich did not make it on the ballot there. It was Rick Santorum going up against Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum won by 30 points and won every single county in Missouri when that happened.

MORGAN: And finally, John, and briefly if you don't mind, can we assume that we will not be seeing Rick Santorum uttering the word snob again in this campaign, or actually college education, and that he will desist from saying John F. Kennedy made him throw up?

BRABENDER: Well, you know, the interesting thing, I will say this, this probably the first campaign in the history of political -- of presidential politics in recent history that we do not have a pollsters, we do not have wordsmiths always telling the candidate what to do. Always when that happens, you're going to have some words that you probably wish that you could have pulled back after you said it.

But if you have a genuine candidate who is not being told what to say but is speaking from his heart, people see that genuine nature. I think it's endearing over time and I think people see that he's a real candidate, not somebody just with a pollster telling him exactly what to say.

MORGAN: Well, I'll be looking forward to listening to Rick Santorum talking to me from his heart tomorrow night. But for now, John Brabender, thank you very much indeed.

BRABENDER: And thank you for having me, Piers. It's always a pleasure being here with you.

MORGAN: Always is for me as well. Thank you very much.

BRABENDER: All right. Take care.

MORGAN: Coming up, a woman who knows more than most about the battles and bruises of a campaign trail. Cindy McCain.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Sooner or later, Assad will fall. I don't disagree with that. Meantime, he's gaining momentum, he's regained Homs, the death -- the death count goes up and the atrocities continue, yet the president says a core national security interest of the United States is a prevention of mass atrocities.

Mass atrocities are going on. I would hope that America could lead and exercise the options necessary to stop these atrocities. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Testy exchanges today with the use of force in Syria between Senator John McCain and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Senator McCain is calling for U.S. airstrikes. His opinion are forceful and typically direct. But what does his wife, Cindy McCain, make of her husband's tough talk? Because let's face it, Cindy McCain, you two often disagree, which I like. It's refreshing.


MCCAIN: We do. We -- nobody in our family agrees on anything. So it's great. I mean that's --


MORGAN: Just like my family.

MCCAIN: It's wonderful.

MORGAN: So come on, airstrikes on Syria. I mean I actually admire the fact that he's calling for some action.


MORGAN: Because at the moment there seems to be a general -- not apathy, but a reluctance to say anything constructive about Syria.


MORGAN: And yes, it's complicated. Yes, it could lead to all sorts of different scenarios.


MORGAN: But you know, you've been to Rwanda, which was ignored by the world until it was too late.

MCCAIN: Exactly. Exactly.

MORGAN: And there is a growing sense of that in Syria.


MORGAN: What do you think of John's suggestion?

MCCAIN: You know, people say, well, is it humanitarian? We should go in there -- how should we do this? It is always a humanitarian crisis when civilians are being killed, slaughtered, the way they are there.

I agree with my husband on this. And I think it's the right -- the right tenor and the right way to go about this. I mean the one thing we have to remember with my husband is that he has experience in this arena. And he's been there. And like all of us, who like you said I was -- I was in Rwanda during the genocide, and watched what happened when we stood by and did nothing.

We can't do that. We simply can't do that in this case. And I completely agree with my husband.

MORGAN: I watched "Game Change" this morning.


MORGAN: Which I know you'll be dying to see like a lot of people.


MORGAN: It's a fascinating film. I really enjoyed it. A few things struck me. One was that the portrayal of Sarah Palin is harsh. I don't think she's -- how can I put this? As slow perhaps as they portray in the film. You don't get to be where she is by being as slow as that.


MORGAN: Having said, there's a vulnerability to her which is quite touching and you do end up feeling sorry for her. But most glaring of all, I guess, is the portrayal of your husband because he comes over actually as a -- well, he has a lot of bad language, which I think we probably wouldn't contest in the movie.


MORGAN: But let's move on from that to actually a very considerate side to him, and a very caring side, and the fact that he is a maverick. He is a risk taker. And he took this huge gamble with Sarah Palin. I know it didn't work out. But at the end there's a very moving scene where he gives her a hug and thanks her and everything else.

What was your memory of the whole process?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, let me say, I am not going to see "Game Change." I just -- I lived this. And from what -- from everything I've read and heard, it doesn't even resemble what took place. So I can go to Disneyland for fiction.


MCCAIN: And secondly, I will say Ed Harris is not nearly as cute as my husband. So --


MCCAIN: But with that said, Sarah Palin is a remarkable individual and whether you agree or disagree with Sarah, she has served our country loyally. She has been a good stalwart for many, many years, and I think any depiction of any woman particularly that is unfair in that way is just -- it's wrong. It's wrong.

MORGAN: So what it showed me was -- I think she's incredibly impressive character.


MORGAN: And whether you agree with what she says or not, I think the passion she brings to the political world, I think the energy, the enthusiasm --

MCCAIN: And the courage she had to do that.

MORGAN: The courage and the --


MORGAN: -- that she had to have.


MORGAN: I mean it was a brutal --

MCCAIN: It was brutal.

MORGAN: -- rip up of a woman in the end. And you know a lot of her views are very contentious. And I certainly don't subscribe to a lot of them. But I think that what comes out of the movie certainly is how brutal modern day politics is, particularly for women, I think.

MCCAIN: Particularly for conservative women. Because if you'll notice on the other side of the aisle, the harshness was not there. And even female candidate on other side of the aisle. I think what happened to her was totally unfair. And with that said, I think that she does have a -- she has a stalwart group of people that follow her. They are loyal to this country and to what they do. And I'm truly sorry if they have depicted her in any fashion other than a strong independent woman.

MORGAN: Talking of strong, independent women, Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, is an old friend of yours.


MORGAN: You will know better than anybody in the world what she's going through now. What is it like at this stage of a long, bruising battle? What goes through the mind of a wife in this situation?

MCCAIN: It is day by day. You get through -- with the 24-hour news cycle the way it is now, you are forced into a situation where you have to be on -- absolutely on tap every minute of the day. So not only do I understand how tiring this is for them but also how fun it can be. Because I mean nowhere else do you get to be a legitimate contender for the highest office in the land and --

MORGAN: Well, the prize is so great, isn't it?

MCCAIN: It is great. And that's the beauty of this country is that we can rise from this and run for president. Like my husband said, he was sixth from bottom of the class at the Naval Academy, and look what he got to do.

MORGAN: Yes. It's always an amazing story. I'm a huge admirer of your husband. He's a classic American dream story himself.

MCCAIN: Let me say about Ann, though. Ann is a good friend of mine. And I find her to be not only strong but well spoken. Very genuine, loving, and very, very courageous in terms of what she's had to overcome to get here.

MORGAN: She sat where you did with Mitt Romney. I interviewed them a while ago. And she struck me as like a real lioness.

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: You mock with her family or her husband, she will hunt you down.

MCCAIN: I totally get that.


MCCAIN: I join her on that one. I will find you.

MORGAN: Yes. It reminded me of you actually. I would imagine you do get very protective of your family.

MCCAIN: Yes. Well, you're protective any way. And placed in a situation where on an hourly basis they are criticizing somebody in your family, I mean it's hard. And it's hard because she's in the same position I was. I couldn't respond all of the time. It wasn't appropriate. And it wasn't -- you know, although I maybe would have liked to pluck someone's eyes out, I couldn't do it.


MCCAIN: It wasn't feasible. So I mean, I admire her and I know that -- you know, that when I do talk to her and I do talk to her quite often, I just, you know, one day at a time, we'll get through this.

MORGAN: I was listening to John, I think, on Anderson Cooper's show earlier talking about maybe it's time for some of the other candidates to step aside, let Mitt Romney now seal the nomination. John and you obviously have supported Mitt Romney. But do you think it is time that one or two of the candidates pulled out?

MCCAIN: Well, let's step back just a little bit. This political season is far different from '08 in this. The -- at our convention, we are rewarding states for pushing their primaries further out. We had 22 on Super Tuesday. They had 10. So this by nature and by devise is going to be a longer season for this.

With that said, it will come down to money. You know those that are -- you know, with Romney being in the lead, and I truly believe he's going to be our nominee, he'll have most of the money and it does take money. MORGAN: Let's take a little break, come back and talk about two people in the news this week, very, very different reasons. But I think you'll have a strong view about both actually. Kirk Cameron and Joseph Kony.




MCCAIN: Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't get married.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't donate our blood.

MCCAIN: They can't serve our country openly.


MORGAN: Cindy McCain taking on one -- taking one of the big social issues of the day which is of course the whole issue of gay rights, gay marriage. It all blow up on this show last Friday with Kirk Cameron who got into hot water with some comments he made.

What do you make of this debate? It's so fast moving it seems to me. Eight states in America now legalizing gay marriage. A real sea change in public opinion. And yet you can't leave behind respect for people's religious beliefs.

MCCAIN: Right.

MORGAN: Guide them in a certain way of thinking and have done so for thousands of years. It is -- it's a difficult, tricky movement that's going on, I think.

MCCAIN: It is. But it's also a lesson in tolerance because what you're finding now are people like you just said, maybe not agreeing but realizing that this is the right thing to do for people.


MCCAIN: I got into this issue because of adoption. And it was -- it seemed ludicrous to me that a gay couple could adopt and couldn't be married. So I approached it differently perhaps than other people. And I found that it was -- it's time. It was time.

MORGAN: I mean did you think that he was being bigoted, Kirk Cameron?

MCCAIN: You know --

MORGAN: Is it too harsh to say that? MCCAIN: It is too harsh. He has -- he has his views, he has his beliefs. I respect that. I strongly disagree with him. But isn't it wonderful here that we can agree to disagree.

MORGAN: Yes, it is --

MCCAIN: And not go to jail for it.

MORGAN: Yes, I felt strongly that he should have his rights and his opinions. What I don't like is some of the rhetoric.


MORGAN: He used against the gay community. And whether you agree with him or not --

MCCAIN: I don't like the rhetoric.

MORGAN: You know, whatever you believe about, you know.

MCCAIN: Yes. No, no.

MORGAN: Gay marriage and so on, just don't use the abusive rhetoric which --

MCCAIN: I agree.

MORGAN: Which in my view sort of dehumanizes them in the community. I find it ridiculous.

MCCAIN: Well, abusive rhetoric in any stance, with gay -- on the gay issue, with regards to women that just occurred this week, with regards to --

MORGAN: And what did you think of Rush Limbaugh's comments?

MCCAIN: I -- I am -- I'm strongly -- I strongly disagree. I was horribly offended. And --

MORGAN: Thank goodness somebody on the Republican Party says this.

MCCAIN: I mean --

MORGAN: Because everyone (INAUDIBLE) would say, well, it's not language I would have used. Nobody damn well isn't.

MCCAIN: He does not speak for the Republican Party. Let me say that. That is not how -- what we believe as --

MORGAN: But that's the sense that came through, wasn't it?

MCCAIN: Yes, I know.

MORGAN: That no one would criticize Rush Limbaugh because he runs the party. MCCAIN: He does not run the party.

MORGAN: He doesn't.

MCCAIN: He does not run the party. He's an entertainer. So he said -- he has said that and obviously it's had a huge backlash. Now whether or not, you know, I know he sent an apology up, but I think he was kind of forced to.

MORGAN: Is it enough? I mean should he stand down? Should he be forced out, do you think? Should someone like him be on air after saying something so offensive?

MCCAIN: Yes. And with that said, I think Bill Maher should do -- I mean the things that he said this week, as well, it's abominable but yet we -- but yet somehow the Republican side of it gets all the coverage.

MORGAN: We got criticized a bit, saying why did you make such a fuss about Rush Limbaugh when you didn't about Bill Maher. Well, I wasn't here when the Bill Maher thing -- I would certainly have taken him to task over what he said.

I don't think it's good on either -- no one should talk about women in that way on the airwaves, full stop.

MCCAIN: Exactly. Not only full stop, but -- but how can you as a country be the beacon of hope and light around the world if we cannot respect our own? It starts -- in my opinion, it starts -- at least in my house, it started at home.

I think my husband and I have done a good job on teaching tolerance to our children. And they live it. I think that's -- whether you agree or disagree on the issue, we can all be tolerant.

MORGAN: Another big issue blew up today on the Internet. And it involves Joseph Kony. He's this Ugandan guerilla leader who has basically (inaudible) 200,000, maybe more, young children to be his army, slaughtering whoever they come across.

You have done so much good work over in Rwanda and the Congo and so on. It was extraordinary to me to see Twitter, Facebook, social networking deciding we're going to get this guy.

MCCAIN: Wonderful. Finally. I mean, we -- obviously those of us that have been involved in this issue for so long, this guy -- he is -- he's a criminal. He's the worst kind of human being.

And finally we're getting the kind of coverage that we need on this. He not only, as you know, to the child soldier issue, but two out of every three women in Congo have been raped.

MORGAN: That's shocking.

MCCAIN: It's directly related to this guy. So it -- it -- I am so glad that this issue is taking off. MORGAN: Yes. It's social media at its best, isn't it? It's where, for all the people who scorn Twitter and so on, it brought the world together today. This guy was getting hammered all around the world. And most people who were doing it had never heard of him.

Now they're like, who is Joseph Kony? If anyone hasn't seen the video, just Google Joseph Kony. Look at it on Youtube. Watch this video they've done. They hash tag is -- is #Kony2012, I think. So you can find it.

But it is incredibly powerful. It's half an hour long of your life, but it's half an hour that you will never regret watching it.

MCCAIN: It's remarkable.

MORGAN: You have also done this land mines campaign, Halo. It's the one that Diana -- Princess Diana did, because I remember covering that for a British newspaper, and the amazing pictures of her walking through the land mines in Angola.

Just tell me quickly about Halo.

MCCAIN: I -- I started to work in land mines, I experienced the first time, during the first Gulf War. I was in Kuwait right after the end and they -- the Iraqis had mined the playground. And so we wound up treating the children that were being blown up by sitting on the teeter-totters.

So I went out. I sought Halo out. They do remarkable work around the world. And it's going to be a never ending job, obviously, clearly. And she was such a lovely lady. She was such a beacon for us.

MORGAN: She was a one off, Princess Diana. I knew her well and she was an amazing woman.


MORGAN: Finally, I must clear something up, because you clarified in the break why you looked so surprised when I said in "Game Change" they have your husband swearing like a trooper. You say he doesn't use bad language at home.

MCCAIN: No, he does not. I'm really surprised with that.

MORGAN: In the movie, he's Fing and blinding every ten minutes.

MCCAIN: I tell you, my kids are far worse at that than he is. We have a problem with that at home.

MORGAN: At home, the senator is a -- he is well spoken.

MCCAIN: Yes, he is. And he's -- he gets after our kids.

MORGAN: Excellent. I'm glad we cleared that up. It's been a real pleasure to meet you. MCCAIN: Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

MORGAN: Thank you very much. Keep up all the good work that you do.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having us.

MORGAN: Cindy McCain.

And the video that's getting a lot of attention outside of the other one I just mentioned is a young Barack Obama at a protest rally at Harvard. We'll show you what all the fuss is about when we come back.


MORGAN: Joining me now to talk politics, our superstar political panel, Amy Holmes of Glenn Beck's "The Blaze," Carol Roth, author of "The Occasion," Ben Smith, editor in chief of Buzz Feed, and Dana Loesch, the editor of

Welcome to you all. I want to start with a story that's getting a lot of attention tonight. Buzz Feed, your little organization, has released A tape of a young Barack Obama speaking at a Harvard protest rally in 1991, demanding diversity at the law school.

The tape's been speculated about for years, mostly on conservative websites. Let's take a listen about what all the fuss is.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And one of the persons who spoke at that orientation was Professor Bell. I remember him sauntering up to the front and not giving us a lecture, but engaging us in a conversation and speaking the truth and telling us that he (inaudible) to learn at this place that I carried with me ever since.


MORGAN: Ben, you're the editor in chief of Buzz Feed, a website obviously set up with Andrew Breitbart, who so sadly died and was on this very panel actually, the last thing he did, and is much missed by many people.

Tell me about the significance of this video clip of Barack Obama. Because it's all been built up for a long time.

BEN SMITH, EDITOR IN CHIEF BUZZ FEED: Just to clarify, Breitbart's website, -- we also -- both posted this video today. We were a bit earlier. It's really -- it's an interesting video.

It's an incident that we have known about. But video often is revealing. It was -- it's a moment of Obama sounding exactly like himself, and sounding very conciliatory, while at the same time really taking sides in this very divisive fight at Harvard about -- about race and tenure and whether -- and the number of African American tenured professors, and very much, you know, standing with Professor Bell, who was very much on the left of that argument.

MORGAN: Dana Loesch, let's bring you in, because you have an opinion about this. What do you think of this video clip?

DANA LOESCH, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: Well, it's a very interesting video clip. I wish that Buzz Feed -- I don't know whether it was something that they did or when they went to the Boston Network to obtain -- to license this footage -- whether or not it was edited by Buzz feed or edited by the Boston Network. But I wish that they would have showed the actual full video footage.

Because at the very end, one of the things that Ben Smith does not get into at Buzz Feed -- and I'm so glad that he was provoked into actually going and looking for this footage after Andrew's speech at CPAC.

What it doesn't get into is it doesn't get into how Barack Obama, when he finished his speech, he went over and he hugged Derrick Bell. Now Derrick Bell, he sounds as though everything that he stands for is a great thing. He fights for civil rights. He was fighting for diversity at the college campus.

But what this really shows is that the president is actually kind of aligning himself here with a well known campus radical. Derrick Bell wrote this essay. It was called "Space Traitors."

It was based upon his thought that the civil rights movement was very moderate. It didn't go far enough. And so he posited this theory. He thought what would happen if aliens came to the United States and they offered to absolve us of our national debt if we sell them black Americans, as Jews stood by, and for selling them black Americans as slaves, they would give us gold and we would pay off our national debt.

And of course Reagan was depicted as a slave trader. That doesn't sound really moderate to me. And it sounds really polarizing to me as well.

MORGAN: OK, let me jump in with a bit of balance here. Because what I would say to that is this is 17 years ago. So he wasn't president at the time. He's a young -- like many students probably trying out all sorts of radical thoughts and ideas. And Harvard is known, like many of these universities, for coming up with all sorts of crack pot hypotheticals.

That's the point of being at somewhere like Harvard, isn't it? Why are we all making such a fuss about Barack Obama getting a little bit radical at college? Who cares?

SMITH: Law school. Law school.

MORGAN: Law school, college, university, it's all the same thing.

AMY HOLMES, "THE BLAZE": If I may jump in here, I was a little radical in college. I went to Princeton, another Ivy League institution. I was a vegetarian and an animal rights activist. I emailed this to your producer.

MORGAN: Shameful.

HOLMES: Yes. And today I eat as much prime rib as I possibly can.

MORGAN: You shameless hypocrite.

HOLMES: So I -- in looking at this video, it's not an indictment necessarily of President Obama, because we really don't know enough about his transformation from then to now, which -- what it is is an indictment of the media. Why are we not seeing this -- why are we seeing it in 2012? Why didn't we see it in 2007 or 2008?

MORGAN: It's an indictment of Ben.

SMITH: I basically agree with Dana. We dug it up. We I think were basically racing the Breitbart folks to get it up. When we -- Andrew -- my reporter Andrew Kazinski had been digging for it and talking to the station in Boston that had it.

When we heard that they were also looking for it, we moved a little faster. But no, I think it's a really interesting video for exactly the reason that Dana says.

MORGAN: Carol, we got to bring you in here. What's your view of all this?

LOESCH: I have to correct Ben real quick, because we actually had the footage. We've had the footage the entire time.

SMITH: So why didn't you air it?

LOESCH: Well, why didn't you show the full clip? That's what I'm curious about.


CAROL ROTH, BEST SELLING AUTHOR: I have to jump in here to be the voice of reason.

MORGAN: Let's leave the squabbling duo to one side. You both got involved in this grubby little process, so you're both equally to blame. Let's turn to Carol.

What do you make of this? Is it a valid thing to whack the president with or is it a lot of hot air about nothing, do you think?

ROTH: I am just worried about it becoming a distraction. I don't think we need to become all Cher and go turn back time, because President Obama has enough of a track record in the present that already indicts him, so to speak. We have 13 million people unemployed. We've got millions more underemployed.

We've got people under water on their mortgages. We have a bunch of people whose net worth has gone down because neighbors are underwater on their mortgages.

The price of gas is going up. We have plenty of things to focus on. So I just don't want this to become a distraction. I think that his current track record speaks volumes. And that's what we should stay focused on.

SMITH: I think Americans are really interested in where this guy comes from. I think that's a real and legitimate thing. And there's very -- it's remarkable this wasn't out before. I do think it's totally legitimate --

MORGAN: I agree it's remarkable it has come out. I think it is interesting. I don't think it's anywhere near as explosive as we had all been led to believe for a long period of time.

But I don't think, also, it's not nearly as important. I think Carol is absolutely right. It's another of those weird issues at the moment, like all the social issue debates and so on, contraception, gay marriage and so on. Actually, I suspect most Americans right now are listening to all these debates and crisis, thinking what about jobs? That's what I care about.

HOLMES: I would certainly agree with that. And in terms of its impact on this election, I think it will only just confirm to people who are opposed to President Obama that yes, he's a left wing radical, always has been. He was a socialist in college.

For those who are looking at the election with maybe a broader perspective in terms of their choices, it's not going to weigh in.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break and come back and see what it says for the Mitt Romney situation. Is he going to be the front runner that wins the nomination? It looks likely. If so, will this help or hinder him? Does it matter? And who is going to win the election, more to the point? Let's discuss that after the break.



MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For this administration, the unemployment number is just another inconvenient statistic standing in the way of a second term. But those numbers are more than data on a spreadsheet. They are worried families and anxious faces.

And tonight, I would like to say to each of them, you are not forgotten. We will not leave you behind. Our campaign is on the move. And real change is finally on the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: -- Super Tuesday, where he won six out of 10 primaries. He has a commanding lead in the delegate count too. But will it hold? Will he win?

Back now with my panel, Amy Holmes, Ben Smith, Carol Roth and Dana Loesch.

Let's start with you Carol, because you were last time. What do you make of Super Tuesday? I mean, it is a bit odd that a guy can win six out of 10 primaries and be so far ahead on delegates that you can add all the competitors up together and he still dwarfs them, and we're still agonizing over whether he is going to win the nomination.

It would seem, from an outsider, that Romney is going to walk this, wouldn't it?

ROTH: I think it's not a question of if. I think it's a question of when, Piers. I think that that's the critical question, because I think if you go down and you do the math, most of the contests coming up are proportional states.

So I think that Mitt Romney is going to keep limping along, keep picking up delegates. And eventually he will get to that magic number. But I think the thing that we need to be focused on is when does this happen?

If this happens in like June or July, it's perfect in terms of momentum for him to then start going after Barack Obama. If this goes on until August or September, then we're in big trouble, because then they're not going to have enough time to really focus on Barack Obama, get the money together, get the organization sort of refocused on this one-on-one race.

MORGAN: That's a good point. Let me bring Amy in there. I mean, that is a good point on timing, isn't it? It's all about timing in modern day politics. They have got to get this right, the Republican party. They've got to work out the moment when they are going to press the button on the nominee, haven't they?

HOLMES: I don't know if there's the moment, but they certainly don't want it to go all the way up to the convention. And as Carol was saying, with each sort of limping step toward that convention, it's been hurting Mitt Romney. If you look at the polling data, for independents, their view of the GOP candidates is going down.

So clearly, from the point of view of the Republican party and certainly Mitt Romney, they would like to have this over as soon as possible. But I would remind viewers that we saw this in the Democratic primary back in 2008, again, with the proportional -- or proportional delegates, that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vying and vying.

Neither was going to make it to that delegate count at the convention. Someone would have to drop out or the Super Delegates would have to swoop in. MORGAN: But let me -- the big debate sort of I guess debate is whether a protracting campaign helps somebody like Mitt Romney, who hasn't been the best of campaigners, I would say, historically. Does it toughen him up for the real battle against a very good campaigner in Barack Obama?

Or does the constant mudslinging by his competitors now in his party kill the brand a bit?

SMITH: He seems to be -- I agree with Amy. It's doing him enormous harm. Every week, there's another fight, another distraction. This is time he could be raising money, focusing on President Obama. Instead, he's getting dragged into issues, particularly these women's issues lately, that really he doesn't want to talk about at all.

He would like to talk about jobs. He would like to tack to the center. That's what he started to do actually today. His advisers are saying, you know what, this thing is over; we're inevitable. And for the same reason that we're weak among Republicans, the independents are going to love us.

HOLMES: Very quickly on the women's issues, that was something that hurt Santorum. And Mitt Romney got the women's vote significantly over Santorum.

MORGAN: It's very interesting. I'm going to come to you, Dana, again. I mean, the interesting thing about the strategy of the Santorum camp has been to hammer these social issues very hard.

But you could see when he went slightly too far on the college and snobbery remark, attacking John F. Kennedy, that if you take it too far, then you move from galvanizing the conservative base to alienating quite a few of them.

LOESCH: True. I mean, there's a point in taking certain things too far. But one of the things with Santorum, you know, he has spoken at length about his economic plan and foreign policy. But you say one thing about birth control -- and he was speaking from a personal perspective, not -- he actually explicitly said that it's not something that he would support legislation there of.

You have -- that becomes the headline. And that headline tends to overshadow absolutely everything. It's a fascinating way that the media plays a part in this, like with this tape. It's about the media. It's not about the president. I see this happening with a lot of these candidates as well.

MORGAN: I'm going to ask each one of your for a one word answer to this question. That is which month is the nominee going to be selected? Let me start with you, Carol?

ROTH: July.

MORGAN: July? OK. Amy?

HOLMES: The month when it is exactly right.

MORGAN: No, that's not good enough. One month.

HOLMES: One month. May.

MORGAN: May? Dana?

LOESCH: July probably.

MORGAN: July. Ben?

SMITH: I think they'll lock it up in May, maybe confirm it in June.

MORGAN: Interesting. Well, it's going to be fascinating to see what does happen. My guess is somebody in the next couple of weeks may pull out. And then it gets really interesting.

But I don't know much about it. So who knows. When we come back -- thank you, first of all, to my star panel.

When we come back, Only in America, Newt's on camera nap, and what he said when he woke up.


MORGAN: Tonight, Only in America, just how exhausting is it being a presidential candidate? Debates, photo ops, pressers, speeches, interviews, rallies, quietly briefing super PACs, kissing babies. It's a relentless 18 hour day, seven days a week, 18 month assault on every sense.

And none of those running for the Republican nomination are exactly spring chickens. So little wonder then that the candidates try and sneak some crafty shut eye whenever they get the chance. There's no shame in that whatsoever.

Sir Winston Churchill won the Second World War, with a little help from the Americans, taking 10 minute naps in the afternoon. The problem comes if somebody happens to have a camera trained on your dozing face at the time, as with Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was caught cat napping this week as he waited to speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

And the problem with falling asleep in those circumstances is it just makes it a hell of a lot harder to remember what on Earth you're supposed to be doing.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look forward to -- I understand that you have a panel. I look forward to any questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, there is not a panel.

GINGRICH: Which is why Speaker Gingrich woke with a start and asked to take questions from a panel that sadly didn't exist, leading to a moment of quite exquisite awkwardness to everyone concerned.

But this is where 40 years of experience kicked in brilliantly and why Newt Gingrich should never be underestimated, because he did what all good politicians do when tracked in the headlights of a potential nightmare.

He just thought of the first even possibly relevant thing that came to his head and pronounced on it firmly and with utter conviction.


GINGRICH: We need a fundamental reassessment of our entire understanding of the threat of radical Islam.


MORGAN: From semi coma to slamming radical Islam in a matter of seconds. Sensational recovery, Mr. Speaker. And no less than I would expect from the comeback kid of American politics.

And look on the bright side. At least you didn't doze off during an interview with me or anything. That would be 10 times worse, and cause possibly irreparable damage.

Well, it was a pretty boring question, to be honest.

Tomorrow night, celebrity talk show host and passionate political animal Montel Williams on keeping America great. That's all for us tonight.

"AC 360" starts now.