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JOHN KING, USA
Interview With Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell; Illinois Votes; Earthquake Hits Mexico
Aired March 20, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm John King.
Tonight: Mexico's earthquake. The country's president calls it a big scare that brought -- quote -- "scenes of panic."
Also, new revelations and new demands for an arrest in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin.
And we're counting down the final hours of today's crucial Republican presidential primary in Illinois.
A 7.4-magnitude earthquake strikes Mexico. And we have got the very latest. The center hit close to Acapulco near the southern Mexican city town of Amatepec, Mexico, where about 50,000 people live. The pictures of the damage just keep coming in. You can see here a bus completely cut in half by a collapsed bridge.
And that's 200 miles away from the quake center. And check out this video of the moment the quake hit, also in Mexico City, and what is so remarkable about this footage is remember just how far away this was from the quake's center.
Chad Myers is tracking the very latest for us down in Atlanta.
Chad, just how many people felt this hit?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Some sobering numbers now, John, coming in really here.
We will talk about strong shaking -- 600,000 people in Mexico felt strong shaking with moderate damage -- 2.3 million people felt moderate shaking, but I think the number here that may really surprise us tomorrow is the U.S. Geological Survey has the new computer model that will tell them how many fatalities are estimated.
There's a 42 percent chance that somewhere between 10 and 100 people died in this earthquake. There's a 30 percent chance of up to 1,000 people dying in this earthquake, and now we know, this is just the very latest, Igualapa, we just got in, CNN just confirmed this town is now reporting 800 structures have collapsed, mainly homes, but this is very close to the epicenter of the 7.4.
Now we know that it didn't shake nearly as much into Mexico City or to Acapulco, but when you talk about right under the shake, right under this 7.4 violent ripping of the earth, right there at the epicenter, we know that this town was hit the hardest. There are some other bigger towns with up to 45,000 people in them that we haven't heard anything from yet -- John.
KING: Chad will continue to track all of this for us as we continue to track the fallout and get the new images in. Chad, thanks so much. We will get back to you as developments warrant.
Now to the day's big political news, we're less than two hours away from tonight's poll closing in Illinois.
Our Jim Acosta is with the Santorum campaign in the former senator's home state of Pennsylvania. CNN chief political correspondent and the host of "STATE OF THE UNION" Candy Crowley is with the Romney campaign in suburban Chicago tonight.
Candy, let's go to you first. You're in that state. Senator Santorum is not because the Romney campaign is expecting a win. What is their biggest expectation there bottom line tonight?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The bottom line is they'd like to win the state. They do believe they are going to win this state.
The margin they think could help them enormously, if it's a big margin. This they think would be a signal to the folks they'd really like to have help them wrap this up. We began to hear Mitt Romney after Ohio talk about bringing the party together. They really would like some outside help on that, but then we had the Southern primaries in Alabama and Mississippi where he didn't win and so there's the big question mark over his head.
They would like to take that question mark down here with a big win in Illinois, and that is certainly what they're hoping to do. We're not seeing a heck of a lot of turnout up here in the Chicago area and sort of the collars they call it around Chicago which is where most of the Republican votes come from, which should be the friendliest of Romney territories. Turnout matters, as you know, John, but that will be something you watch later tonight.
KING: I will be watching it very closely.
Let me actually go to the map. Jim, stand by just one second. I want to show what Candy is talking about. Illinois a big state right in the middle, but this is the most important part -- if you're Governor Romney you care about this top corner of the state right here. Why? Let me take this out and show you because in Chicago alone, let me turn this off, in Chicago alone, you have 23 percent of the population.
Now it's a Democratic city but there are a fair amount of Republicans. These are the color counties, the Cook County suburbs right here and 20 percent of the population right here, and Lake County also critical to Governor Romney. If you remember previous states Senator Santorum tends to win in the smaller rural communities and Governor Romney does well in the urban areas, in the suburbs.
Let's check in with Jim Acosta right now.
Jim, the senator is not in Illinois. He's home in Pennsylvania, and that's a battleground next month. But what is the expectation? Just the other day, he was saying, wow, if you give me an upset in Illinois that changes everything.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that the fact that the Santorum campaign is holding its primary night party in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a sign they don't feel particularly good about Illinois.
They probably would be in the state if they thought they would be doing well tonight. And as we know, Illinois is sort of an upstate/downstate equation and it just doesn't seem like there's going to be enough support for Senator Santorum in that southern part of Illinois to put him over the top.
And there's another sign that things aren't going to be going well tonight for the Santorum campaign. They held a conference call on the delegate math earlier today. We have seen the Romney campaign do that when that particular primary day might not have been going in their direction and we're seeing the same thing from the Santorum camp today.
And, frankly, John, they said on the conference call they still see a path to the GOP nomination, but they conceded at the same time it might be a difficult path for any of these candidates. And then one very interesting development emerged at the end of that conference call. They were talking about the fact they'd been in contact with their own super delegates about the possibility of a contested convention.
And they feel like they're already starting to put together a strategy in the event that something like that occurs. And then one final indication that today is not really going their way, Rick Santorum was on a conservative talk radio show earlier today still trying to clean up that comment he made yesterday about not being all that interested in the unemployment rate, that it doesn't matter to him.
He was still talking about that earlier this morning. It's not a good sign when you're playing catch-up and cleaning up at the same time, John.
KING: A lot of catch up and clean-up. Jim Acosta with the Santorum campaign and Candy Crowley with the Romney campaign, both will be with us throughout this very important night.
Stay with us. The results come in starting at 8:00. Special coverage begins at 7:00.
Now to new revelations today in the shooting death of an unarmed Florida teenager and new demands for the arrest of the man who shot him -- 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman, and you see Mr. Zimmerman on the right. He says he fired in self-defense after he says he was threatened by someone he described as "a black kid with a hoodie on.' This morning a lawyer in the case revealed Martin's girlfriend was on the phone with him when the incident started. Here is an audio clip from her explanation on "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on.
Trayvon said, what are you following me for? Then the man said, what you doing around here? Somebody pushed Trayvon because the headset just fell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Local police won't say specifically whether the department has contacted or spoken with that young woman, Martin's girlfriend.
The U.S. Justice Department today said it's now investigating the shooting. This afternoon the Martin family attorney demanded Zimmerman's arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF TRAYVON MARTIN: We don't want the buck passed agency to agency. We want to have George Zimmerman arrested for killing Trayvon Martin in cold blood. He had a .9-millimeter gun. Trayvon Martin had a bag of Skittles. Where is the self-defense in that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin with us now.
Sunny, let's go through the number of new developments today. Let's start with the fact that you hear the recording there, the young woman saying she was on the phone at the beginning of this incident. Trayvon said he was being followed. He pulled up his hoodie. In terms of the value of that as evidence, what is it?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It cannot be underestimated because the police, John, in Florida have said that the reason that George Zimmerman has not been arrested and was not arrested is because he claimed self-defense under the Florida stand your ground law.
There is an exception to that law and that is if you are the first aggressor, if you are the pursuer. You cannot avail yourself of that defense. The police have said that they have no evidence to dispute the self-defense claim.
Well, this young girl's story, her depiction of what happened while she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin, if taken as true, disputes entirely the self-defense claim, because it proves, I think, certainly in conjunction with the fact that George Zimmerman also says that he pursued and followed Trayvon Martin, it shows that he was pursuing him, that he was the first aggressor, especially if it is true that he indeed sort of tackled Trayvon Martin or pushed Trayvon Martin.
And so I believe after speaking with one of the family attorneys, they believe that this call in particular, this discussion with this girl is why the state attorney's office has now sent this to the grand jury. It will be heard in front of the grand jury on April 21.
KING: And that was my next question. Now you have a grand jury process in this state.
HOSTIN: On April 10, I'm sorry.
KING: You have a grand jury process in this state. You have the United States Justice Department saying we're going to take a look at this too, at how the police handled this and obviously keep an eye on the state investigation as it goes forward.
The family has what it wanted in terms of the attention. You're a former prosecutor. To have the attorney out there now demanding the arrest of Mr. Zimmerman, does that cross the line or is that fair game?
HOSTIN: I think it's fair game. Certainly the family has asked for justice for Trayvon Martin for some time.
Let's remember that this happened February 26 and it's almost a month. Let me correct myself. It's April 10 the grand jury will be hearing this, not April 21. So we do know as you mentioned the Justice Department is also investigating the shooting, the Civil Rights Division. The FBI is also investigating. I don't believe they will be taking over the investigation because this is very much so a local law enforcement matter, but they will be working in tandem.
And we now know the considerable talent at the Justice Department will also be looking at this. And so the family has what they wanted. They not only wanted some attention, some media attention. They wanted another investigation. They say they don't trust the police department and in fact they have turned over that taped interview to the federal authorities as opposed to the state authorities.
After again speaking with one of the family attorneys, my understanding is that the police have not interviewed -- at least that's what the family attorney is telling me, they have not interviewed this witness, and in my view, she is a crucial witness, John, to this event.
KING: It certainly makes no sense, especially now that they know she's out there. We would assume they'd contact her soon. We certainly hope so.
Sunny Hostin making clear a lot of questions in the investigation and the mistrust complicating things as well. Sunny, thanks for your help.
KING: Illinois voter have less than two hours now to finish casting their ballots. Stay with us for more of what they're telling our exit pollsters.
And a new poll out in Virginia, get this, has President Obama beating Mitt Romney and all of his GOP rivals, any of the GOP candidates. And when you add Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell to the ticket, that doesn't seem to help. We will ask Governor McDonnell about those numbers next.
KING: Breaking news from the White House tonight, a source telling CNN the president is about to announce his administration will fast track the permits for construction of the Southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline connecting Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast. This has been a very controversial, more than that, more than controversy.
Let's go straight to our White House, Brianna Keilar.
What's happening here?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have learned the president -- as you know, he's going on this energy tour over the next couple of days, and when he's in Oklahoma on Thursday, his plan according to a source familiar with his announcement is to say his administration will be expediting the permit process when it comes to moving along this portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
As you will recall, back in January the administration objected to the entire 1,700-mile pipeline that would have brought fuel down from the oil sands of Canada all the way down to the Gulf. This is a segment of that pipeline, as right now TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, tries to rework basically the route on the northern part, so this is a segment of this original pipeline route that would go from Cushing down to the Gulf.
No doubt going to be met by criticism from some environmentalists and already being met by some criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill, John.
KING: Brianna Keilar with the breaking news at the White House tonight, thank you very much.
Big states -- big stakes today in Illinois for Mitt Romney. And if he can pull off a win, you'll likely see him talking more about President Obama and looking ahead to the general election.
But some signs of trouble in one of the big battleground states. That would be the state of Virginia.
President Obama -- look here -- beats Romney there in a hypothetical match-up by eight points. In fact, the president beats all four of the Republican contenders.
And is the Romney campaign concerned?
Let's turn to the governor's biggest surrogate, the Virginia Republican governor, Bob McDonnell.
Governor, I want to get into the politics in a moment.
But you just heard Brianna Keilar at the White House. A lot of Republicans, including Republican governors, have said, hey, Mr. President, approve the entire Keystone Pipeline.
Is approving the southern half of it, is that progress?
GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Well, it's progress, but it's -- it's not a coherent energy strategy. John, I can tell you, from being our state produces a lot of coal and natural gas and nuclear, we've had nothing but three years of -- of tough regulations coming out of the EPA and this Obama administration.
He turned it down once. The Senate, under Harry Reid's leadership, turned down the Keystone Pipeline. And now, you know, eight months before an election, we got a little bit of progress.
So, yes, that's great, that they're going to expedite that. But this is oil from Canada that will help us and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of oil. We ought to do the whole thing if we're really serious about reducing gas prices.
KING: Well, we'll ask about the northern half, trust me, Governor, if we get a question to the president and his team.
I want to move on.
KING: -- we just showed the poll up there. We just showed the poll up there saying President Obama, one of his big accomplishments in 2008 was winning Virginia. It was -- it was one of nine red states he turned blue.
We just showed the poll showing he would carry the state if the election were today. They also asked the question, well, what if the Republicans and Governor Romney added Bob McDonnell to the ticket?
Look at this. Obama by 50, Romney-McDonnell, 43 percent. So the numbers don't change much. Does that bother you, sir?
MCDONNELL: No. Nobody cares about V.P. right now. In fact, we're just still trying -- we've got four candidates. We're trying to find a nominee, John. So nobody's paying any attention to that yet.
And guess what?
The election is not held today.
MCDONNELL: It's going to be held in eight months. And I think once we go head-to-head and it's Romney against Obama, I think those numbers change.
John, there's been other polls. Look, I would rather be up than down right now, in all honesty, absolutely, in a swing state like Virginia. But this -- this is going to change quite a bit as we get -- as we actually get the head-to-head match-up.
KING: I was down to see you not that long ago and we had the conversation then...
KING: -- about why -- why can't Governor Romney close the deal here?
Here we are, oh, a month, six weeks later, and I ask the question, why can't Governor Romney seal the deal here?
You know, Santorum wins in Mississippi and Alabama, people say wow!
Then Romney wins in Puerto Rico, has a chance to make a statement in Illinois tonight.
If the governor wins in Illinois tonight, what does he have to do, what does he have to do to convince people this is over?
Or are we going to June?
MCDONNELL: Well, he's going to get 1,044 votes, John. That's what he's got to do. There's four talented people in this race. They all want to win. Nobody is giving up.
But Mitt Romney has got twice as many delegates as any other candidate. He's won 18 states and territories. He's won all over the country. He's the only candidate that's got a message, that's got the money and has got an organization, permanently in every state. He's getting more and more endorsements from key people, conservatives, Independents, moderates.
I think he's going to be the nominee. And I think it will be by June. So, of course there's a spirited contest right now. President Obama and Hillary Clinton were in it until June 7, 2008.
So I'm not really worried about it. I would rather be done now, John, but it's got a ways to go, I still think. And I think he will be the nominee sooner rather than later.
KING: Governor Romney tries to keep most of the focus on the economy as he campaigns, but as you know, if you have a town hall...
KING: -- voters can ask whatever is on their mind.
I want you to listen here.
KING: A couple of women had some questions for Governor Romney last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what made me happy?
Free birth control.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're looking for free stuff you don't have to pay for, vote for the other guy. That's what he's all about, OK?
ROMNEY: -- that's not what I'm about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The specifics are different in different conversations, whether it's about whether contraception should be covered in a health care plan.
Governor, you've gone through this with the personhood debate and the ultrasound bill in the state of Virginia. If you look at your Facebook page right now, there's a feisty conversation going on there.
In terms of, the Democrats are calling this a war on women.
Do Republicans need to be -- is it more careful in their language?
What is it?
MCDONNELL: Well, on that dialogue that I just heard, I don't think this is the heart and soul of this campaign.
Are we a nation of guarantees or are we a nation of opportunities to achieve the American dream?
That is a fundamental difference between what this president has been selling and I think what Mitt Romney is going to talk about.
And, secondly, I would say this -- this war on women argument is -- is very unfortunate. It's false and it's -- it's been the political theater for the Democrats for a couple of months. John, the war I'm worried about is the war on the taxpayer that we've seen coming out of the White House -- more taxes, more regulation, more class warfare, more separating and dividing people and more unwillingness to be able to control spending so that we can get our -- our nation out of this horrific debt.
Listen, if I had Obama's record on jobs, on spending, on debt and deficit, on energy, I would want to talk about something else, too.
And, John, that's really what's going on. And it's just very unfortunate that this politics of division, separating men from women, rich from the middle class, continues to be the theme of this campaign. It's just not right.
KING: Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
Sir, appreciate your time tonight.
We'll stay in touch as the campaign goes down the road a bit.
MCDONNELL: OK, John.
KING: Good to see you, sir.
MCDONNELL: Appreciate being on with you.
KING: Thank you.
So far, Mitt Romney has collected about half the delegates he needs for the Republican nomination. Well, what about the other half? We will do the delegate math in just a little bit.
But next, some questions Michelle Obama decided not to answer.
KING: Coming up: new exit poll information from Illinois.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, joins me to run the numbers.
Plus, we're following developments in the investigation of the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
I will speak with the Florida congresswoman who represents his district.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one has been arrested. And what does that mean? He still has a permit and still has a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In this half hour, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer shot and killed an unarmed teenager. The congresswoman from that district says it should be a hate crime.
Just 90 minutes now from tonight's poll closings in Illinois, a big state with major expectations for Mitt Romney.
Plus the colorful and somewhat mystifying Secret Service code names for the Republican presidential candidates.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is with us in New York as we await the important poll closing in Illinois.
Gloria, I'm going to walk over to the wall and map this out. I'm going to make the case here. First, let's just show folks: you have Santorum has done very well in the Midwest, except Michigan and Ohio went Romney. As we look for Illinois tonight, I'm going to circle a little area up in the northern part of the state, the Chicago area and the suburbs right around it. Tell our viewers why that is so critical to Governor Romney tonight.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's very important, because those traditionally, John, are where you have the more moderate Republican voters, urban area, of course, but also the suburbs.
This election probably is going to be one in the suburbs, when you get to the general election. And it's really important for Mitt Romney to win in the suburbs, and also to win with suburban women, I might add, John. So I'm going to be looking at the gender question tonight also.
KING: The gender question very important. We'll look at that. I want to pull out the map and just show. I'm going to pull up, for example -- we'll pop over here to the state of Iowa. And you see in Iowa, Governor Romney won in the urban areas. Senator Santorum won in the small rural counties. So now we'll move over next door.
Gloria, how critical is it, not only that Senator Santorum win in places here, Springfield, and these down here, the more rural counties, not only win but win big to offset the numbers up here?
BORGER: Well, right. He has to win big, because there aren't the numbers in the rural areas. Look, it's been the pattern, John, as you know better than anyone, that we've seen throughout these primaries.
In a state like Ohio, for example, you saw Mitt Romney win in the areas that you would presume Democrats would win in, in a fall campaign, and you had Santorum winning in the rural areas. Now, fewer people, so you need to win bigger, and you need to win more of them in order to offset Mitt Romney's natural advantage in the suburbs. KING: And what are we going to learn tonight? I'm going to switch maps and show it and put up the delegate chase. Let me clear that off so it's not confusing. The state of Illinois.
Fifty-four delegates to be allocated tonight. This is a complicated process I should tell our viewers. Unlike many states, you actually vote for your individual delegates when you go in to vote here, so it's going to take us a while to allocate them.
But Governor Romney is favored, Gloria. Senator Santorum doesn't have delegates on some of the ballots. Some people think Governor Romney gets two-thirds or more of the 54 that will be allocated tonight. What different would that kind of make you? Already, he has a more than 2:1 lead; still got a ways to go to the finish line.
KING: How important is this for the psychology of momentum?
BORGER: It's important for the psychology but as you know, John, this race has been up and down and up and down. This is an important win for Romney, because we expect him to do well here. If he didn't do well here, it would be terrible for him.
But if he does well, he goes on, on Saturday, to run in Louisiana, where we don't expect him to do so well. So you'll see the Santorum campaign looking south, saying, "We'll do better in the next day. This wasn't a natural home for us."
But in the end, this is about delegates. I can say that. And the Romney people feel that they'll do very well in this state, that they'll win, you know -- if they do as well as they think they'll do, they might win 40 plus delegates out of -- out of 54. And then people start talking about OK, how does Santorum do it and also by the way, what happens to Newt Gingrich? He's nowhere in this race in Illinois.
KING: Not a factor at all. We'll see if Speaker Gingrich can come back this weekend in Louisiana.
KING: Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, will be with us all night long as we find out where the Republican roller coaster presidential race takes us next. Thanks, Gloria. We'll see you in a bit.
Back here in Washington today, House Republicans released what they're calling a blueprint for American renewal. It's a budget plan that among other things changes Medicare as we know it; repeals health-care reform and lowers the federal deficit but doesn't eliminate it.
Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee and key architect of this plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: We are sharpening the contrast between the path that we're proposing and the path of the debt and decline the president placed us upon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bring back CNN congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan.
Kate, wow. This one set up a pretty fierce debate today. Let's focus first. What else is in this?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and of course, there's a ton in this, John, but some of the headlines really where a lot of the controversy, a lot of the fire is coming from.
One big one is you're talking about some very deep spending cuts, so one element of it is cutting spending by about $5 trillion over ten years, compared to President Obama's budget. That's a big number.
Also talking about an overhaul of the tax code: eliminating deductions and credits, a host of them, but also taking it down to just two individual tax brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent.
And probably the most controversial element of this whole thing, as it was last year, is we're talking about significant changes to Medicare. To kind of broad stroke it for you, it would give -- it would give future seniors a subsidy from the government to purchase health care, be it private or the traditional Medicare program.
Not surprisingly, Democrats are jumping all over this, specifically the Medicare element of this budget proposal, even before the budget came out, even before it was formally announced, John. And we're hearing the, you know, familiar refrains from budget fights in the past from both sides, from Democrats and Republicans.
But big important to note here, the House, while they are hoping to pass this and the House next week, this is going nowhere in the Senate, in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
KING: And that's because of policy difference but also because this is a high-stakes election year, so the volume is turned up a bit. Let's listen to the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They have made it clear they want Medicare to wither on the vine, to die, and this is an important step for them in that direction. Bless their hearts, they don't believe in Medicare; and they act upon their beliefs, the Republicans do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Pretty straight glimpse there, Kate, at the raw politics of this debate. BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And we were hearing -- we're hearing that more and more, I mean statement after statement coming from Democrats on -- as this proposal was coming out.
Look, because this is going nowhere in the Senate, it is widely known that this is more of a campaign political document than anything else. Paul Ryan himself this morning, when he was unveiling it, said they're doing -- they want to draw a sharp contrast, a sharp distinction between Republican priorities and President Obama.
And they are laying this out in this document. It's not only an important political document for congressional Republicans, as they're trying to maintain a majority in the House and win the majority in the Senate, but it's also even beyond Washington, getting out on the campaign trail, important for the 2012 Republican presidential contenders.
Paul Ryan said that he'd spoken to all of the leading candidates and that they are on board. And in fact, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich shortly after it was announced, the budget proposal, they released statements praising the proposal. We haven't heard anything from Rick Santorum. But you can see that this is a way of showing the Republican priorities, and they're trying to draw a contrast here between them and President Obama and where they want to take the country.
KING: Big fight in Washington. Will that go across the campaigns this fall?
KING: Kate, thanks so much. We'll see you a bit later.
Several new developments in the investigation of the fatal shooting of that Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin. The Justice Department now launching its own investigation into the police handling of this case and into the question of whether charges should be brought against the Neighborhood Watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who says he shot Martin but in self-defense.
The shooting happened last month in Congresswoman Corinne Brown's district. Today she's asking the Justice Department to consider this a hate crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CORINNE BROWN (D), FLORIDA: I am not satisfied with how the case was handled. I think there were many instances that -- you know, people need to feel that the system is fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Congresswoman Brown joins from us Capitol Hill. Congresswoman, let me just start with the basics as you're meeting at the Justice Department. Are you now satisfied they will dedicate the necessary resources to find out just what happened and just how the police handled this?
BROWN: Yes, I am. We had a very good meeting today. We met over an hour today with the Justice Department, and the mayor of Sanford and the city manager. And several members came by and met with us also.
So I've got to tell you the outrage that I've experienced on the floor from many members, both Democrats and Republicans, the concern about what has happened. It makes me feel good about, you know, the process. People feel that there should be a feeling that, a perception that the system is fair, and of course, no one feels that today. No one has been charged.
KING: And yet for the system to be fair, I want to be clear, Mr. Zimmerman also gets the presumption of innocence.
BROWN: That's right.
KING: Now that you have the Justice Department involved, now that you have a grand jury being assembled in Florida, would it be best for all -- everybody and maybe especially the politicians -- forgive me, Congresswoman -- to step back from this now and let the process run its course?
BROWN: Yes, I want the system to be fair for everyone. We talk about the young man's rights that was violated. OK, let's look at the fact that he was drug tested. The person that shot him was not drug tested, you know. And he can never give his side.
And so yes, let's have the system be fair, but let's verify the fairness. Let's be fair on all sides.
KING: And you say you want the Justice Department to consider hate crimes charges. What makes you believe that that could be the case here?
BROWN: Well, if you listen to the tapes, it's -- obviously he was profiled, when you listen to the tapes. And keep in mind, when I say, when I spent over five hours last Friday going through everything that happened with the officials, I'm not convinced that the system has been fair to the young man that is no longer here to give his side.
I don't have any problems stepping back. I just want to make sure that the system is fair. Keep in mind, no one has been arrested, and what does that mean? He still has a permit and still have a gun.
KING: When you mentioned that -- the outraged conversations with members on the floor, how nervous do you get when something like this becomes political? I understand if you didn't kick the system, maybe you wouldn't get the Justice Department involved, so it serves a purpose. Does it serve a purpose up to a point?
BROWN: Well, you know, when people look at the system, and they don't feel it's fair, I mean, John, I'm talking to you. But let's be -- let's be fair. Do you think anywhere in America, certainly not in my district, that if the reverse, if it had been a young white male and a black man that shot him, that he would not have been arrested? Not even arrested? Drug tested? You know, it just -- lie detector -- whatever you do, whatever procedure you have, let's follow the procedure.
KING: I think those are the questions being asked in your community, Congresswoman, and we appreciate your time today, after that very important meeting at the Justice Department. We'll keep our eyes on this as we go forward in the weeks ahead. Thank you so much.
BROWN: Thank you.
KING: Coming up, how Illinois' 54 delegates will change the Republican race for the White House.
And later, some Secret Service trivia. Do you know President Obama's code name? No Googling. Our answer coming up in our "Moment You Missed."
KING: Tonight's "Truth" is a bit of a math study lesson, you might say, for the candidates not named Mitt Romney. Let's look at the delegate map, going into the Illinois primary tonight.
Governor Romney has around 520 delegates. You need to get to 1,144 to win. Senator Santorum, who says he can still win, he's second but a distant second. Speaker Newt Gingrich, who hasn't really been campaigning in Illinois, is running a distant third. The question is, can they catch up?
Well, let me take you another way to look at this. I'm going to bring this over and come back to the national map. You see the purple states are Santorum states so far. The dark red are Romney states. Speaker Gingrich has won South Carolina and his home state of Georgia. Illinois is up tonight, Louisiana this weekend. Here's what the other guys have to do for the rest of the race. I want you to look at this real quickly.
Governor Romney has been winning more than a majority of the delegates. He needs to win about 49 percent of the delegates from today on out, and then he'll get to the 1,144 and clinch. Senator Santorum to clinch would have to win 70 percent of the delegates from here on out. He's been winning about 20 percent of the delegates, so he would need a dramatic turnaround, and he would need it fast.
Speaker Gingrich -- this is the speaker here -- 78 percent of the delegates he would need to win from this day forward to get to 1,144. He's been winning only about 9 percent of the delegates.
So how does Santorum or Gingrich stop the Romney campaign? Let's talk truth right now. In New York, Speaker Gingrich supporter Kellyanne Conway; in Columbia, South Carolina, the communications director for the Santorum campaign, Hogan Gidley.
Now, Hogan, I want to go to you first. Your candidate's in second place. Otherwise, it would be ladies first. Apologies, Kellyanne. Do you really believe you can get to 1,144, or is the true Santorum goal to stop Romney from getting there and have momentum at the end heading into a convention?
HOGAN GIDLEY, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: First of all, I am a little offended. I'm from the south, and I would expect her to go first. But I'll just answer your question.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, GINGRICH SUPPORTER: I'll go longer.
GIDLEY: There you go. There you go. That's a good trade-off.
No, look, I think that math is a little bit flawed, and I think that one of the things that Mitt Romney has been talking about from the get-go is that math and money and spreadsheets are going to win in this election. That's just a flawed strategy, because first of all, you have to operate within the rules of how this election is conducted. And quite frankly, Mitt Romney is putting up numbers on the board that he hasn't won yet, he hasn't scored yet.
We outlined a pretty good memo on this a couple days ago and had a conference call again about it today. And our delegate expert, John Yaw (ph), who worked for Bush and also for McCain, outlined exactly how we could get to that number. It's going to take a while, and we're not saying we're promising we're going to get there. But it can be done because of the bound delegates, the unbound delegates, the delegates still to be elected at these local levels.
We're doing very well. In fact, we're picking up a lot of delegates in some of the areas that Mitt Romney won. Washington state is a good example of that. Alaska is a good example of that.
So we think we have a chance, and we think we can get to that 1,144, but some things have to happen. But you know, we have a good candidate, a good message, and we're out there trying to get as many delegates as we can. And we have confidence we're going to do that.
KING: Kellyanne, I want your perspective. First, I want to say the Romney team has zero to do with our delegate math. We have a great team. They're independent of any of the campaigns. They go state by state, and they check their numbers every single time. But I understand your point about the hill (ph).
Kellyanne, how can Speaker Gingrich say, "I'm a credible candidate in this race" if he didn't even bother competing in a pivotal Midwestern battleground like Illinois?
CONWAY: Well, when your resources are slimmer than so the so- called front-runner, John, at this stage in the game, you really -- you need to pick and choose the places of strength and the places where we deploy our chief resource: Newt and Callista themselves. And then the other time and treasure on the ground.
And the question here is very simple. Will Mitt Romney, the inevitable front-runner, get to 1,144 by the end of June, by the end of all the contests? I believe you told us the last one. Or will he fall short?
If he falls short, this man, who has had all the king's horses, all the king's men, all the money and mendacity, every advantage you could imagine, if he falls short, it's going to be very difficult for him to walk into Tampa and convince the same grassroots voters who have rejected -- allowed him to fall short get there.
Look, open conventions don't happen often, but that doesn't mean they can't happen. And if an open convention happens, it's because this electorate wants this to be another 1980, 1994, 2010; it does not want it to be 2006 and 2008 all over again.
I can tell you from Newt's perspective -- you know, we had a big campaign meeting yesterday. I can tell you from Newt's perspective, we're already having a two two-person race. You've got Santorum and Romney focusing on each other; and you've got Newt engaging the president, who mentions Newt by name now on energy prices. So he's trying to elevate this to a national conversation on the way to Tampa.
KING: I want to jump in. He can elevate the conversation, but to have leverage in Tampa, with all due respect, he needs delegates. And let me ask each of you in closing, let's assume you can stop Governor Romney from getting to 1,144. Kellyanne, your point was he spent all this money. He's been running for years. He didn't get there.
But unless you can dramatically change the math you would get there, and he would still be second and third. So Hogan, to you first, how would Senator Santorum -- if Romney doesn't have enough, why wouldn't the convention look for a new voice? Why would they look for somebody who still came in underneath Romney?
GIDLEY: I mean, it's tough -- it's tough to know at that point. But I mean, look, they want a candidate who's been vetted. They want a candidate they've gotten to know over this -- this election.
And let's be honest: some of these states you typically are force-fed an establishment nominee at this point, are getting to see the campaign up close and personal. They're going to get to see Speaker Gingrich. They're going to get to see Mitt Romney. They're going to get to see Rick Santorum. And of course, we'll see as we move into that convention just who the people are gravitating behind.
But you know, I go back to the point that the establishment wants Mitt Romney. He's the establishment candidate. He's got the establishment money and the establishment support. But I doubt very seriously that, if we get to a convention, those voters will lap up what the establishment feeds them.
They're going to want to have their voice heard. They're going to want to express who they want to be the nominee. And I'm very doubtful that it is going to be Mitt Romney at that point.
KING: So Kellyanne, where on this map will it fill in next with Newt Gingrich's color? You've got to win to have an argument in this. CONWAY: Well, he's campaigning very hard in Louisiana this week, John. You're probably aware. And they're headed to Wisconsin next week, which is close to his home state. They'll be competitive in North Carolina. He's going to compete in D.C., where Senator Santorum is not on the ballot. So again, we're picking and choosing.
But back to your original question: you're right. I think as Governor Romney goes into the convention, any way you cut it now, he will be limping into the convention. We're not -- you're not supposed to be talking to Santorum and Gingrich advisors on March 20. It's supposed to be wrapped up a long time ago for him.
So he'll limp into the convention. He doesn't have the requisite delegates. People may go for option D, none of the above, but that conservative alternative will have the backing and the support of Gingrich, of Santorum, and people like that probably, Palin, probably all those who have dropped out.
And that -- there's something to that. There's something to the people really taking over the convention and the party and deciding they don't want any of the above, but they certainly don't want the front-runner.
KING: That's every political correspondent's dream, to get to an open convention.
CONWAY: That's right. Let's go!
KING: We'll see where the roller coaster takes us tonight.
CONWAY: See you in Tampa.
KING: Kellyanne Conway, Hogan Gidley, thanks for coming in tonight. We'll cover results tonight and see, have this conversation again, I'm sure.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. In addition to presidential politics, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled his $3.5 trillion plan tonight. You had a chance to talk to him.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I did. We had -- we had an extensive conversation, and as we count down to the polls closing in Illinois, we're going to let you hear what Paul Ryan had to say.
And interesting, John -- I'm going to talk about whether Grover Norquist really read this or not, but when I look at it, it looks like we could have nearly a trillion dollars in additional revenue, that Paul Ryan is open to doubling the revenue coming in. And he says that would mostly come from wealthy Americans. We're going to talk about what's politics, what's real.
Also going to talk about Medicare, which as you know, has been from the left, a real, real issue with the Ryan plan. Here's a little snapshot of what he said on Medicare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: We leave the benefit exactly intact as it is today for people in near retirement. But in order to cash flow this commitment to those current seniors, which we think we should do, you need to reform it for the next generation, for your generation, my generation. You and I are about the same age, same generation. It's not going to be there for us when we retire.
And so that's why we're saying there's a bipartisan idea out there called premium support. Just like the plan the members of Congress have, that says let's give Medicare beneficiaries a choice of guaranteed coverage options, traditional Medicare service included.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Of course, John, as you know, 70 percent of Americans support Medicare the way it's structured now. So does Paul Ryan have a response to that? All that coming up top of the hour. Back to you.
KING: Fascinating guy in the middle of a fascinating debate. Erin, we're looking forward to that. We'll see you in just a few minutes.
Coming up here, the latest news on the Illinois primary.
Plus, we're testing your White House knowledge. Every modern president had a Secret Service code name. You know what they called JFK? Richard Nixon? Get your notepad out. The answers in a moment.
KING: And now the "Moment You Missed." Kate, you ready?
BOLDUAN: I am very ready.
KING: Three Republican presidential candidates have Secret Service protection, which means an entourage of agents, tighter security at events. Very nice guys with guns around you as well as code names. "GQ" reported that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum's code names are Javelin -- that's Governor Romney -- and Petrus for Senator Santorum. Not exactly obvious choices, but Rick Santorum explains his.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Petrus is the Latin word for Peter. And you've heard me talk repeatedly about my grandfather, whose name -- his name was Pietro. And I just didn't think Pietro would work. So I just -- it's a name, and I didn't want a name. So I thought Petrus, which is -- which is a Latin word for Peter and for "rock."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He also explained the theory behind Governor Romney's code name and couldn't pass the opportunity to... BOLDUAN: Give him one.
SANTORUM: I understand he named it after an American Motors car. I remember the Javelin. So it was a -- a very, an unusual car. So I think it sort of fits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Earlier in the show we asked you if you knew -- and Kate, no cheating -- some other famous code names. President Obama? Given the code name Renegade in 2008. President John F. Kennedy's code name Lancer, a wink to the Camelot. That's how some -- did you guess President Nixon's? No, it wasn't Tricky Dick. It was Searchlight. You can make your own Watergate reference there, maybe.
BOLDUAN: I don't know how they come up with this stuff. I honestly don't -- and let me ask the obvious question then. If we all know these secret code names, are they so secret? I mean what do they -- why don't they just say, "President moving"?
KING: It's for the communication. You can say "president moving" or "FLOTUS, POTUS" and "FLOTUS" and everything else. You know, it's important -- it's important to those guys...
BOLDUAN: I'm waiting.
KING: Eight and a half years -- eight and a half years covering the White House, one thing I learned...
KING: Never question the Secret Service.
KING: "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.