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JOHN KING, USA

Lottery Fever; Interview With Rick Santorum

Aired March 30, 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, the largest lottery jackpot in history, $640 million. Well, it could be a long wait in line if you still want a chance at the Mega prize.

President Obama escalates sanctions on Iran, a move that could add to your pain at the pump.

And is Wisconsin Rick Santorum's last stand? The GOP presidential candidate joins us as his rival, Mitt Romney, scores yet another big-name endorsement.

We start with a quick look at something everyone's talking about today, a country in the grip of lotto fever. Tonight's lottery drawing worth a world record $640 million. So from New York to San Francisco, people in long lines outside grocery, convenience and liquor stores waiting to buy Mega Millions tickets. Wait

Times hit two hours outside the Bluebird liquor store in Hawthorne, California, near Los Angeles. Why are people waiting there? Well, it has sold $20 million worth of winning tickets over the years. And St. Mary's, Georgia, population 17,000, bursting at the seams today thanks to people driving across the border from Florida. Florida's one of eight states that don't take part in the Mega Millions lottery.

But in 42 states, it's a day for big dreams.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new house for my family and my kids and my grandparents.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people would benefit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people would be happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Our Mary Snow tracking lotto mania in New York City.

Mary, what's it like there?

SNOW: Well, John, so many dreams of early retirement and people pondering the what-ifs. There's been a steady stream inside this 7- Eleven on West 42nd Street here in Manhattan.

And, you know, this store alone has sold nearly 8,000 tickets. You compare that to an ordinary day when they sell about 800. It just gives you a sense at just how many people are just shrugging off the long odds to buy tickets. And in New York State, we just got an update from lottery officials in the state. And they're reporting sales of $4 million an hour. And they expect to that to keep up until tonight's drawing.

KING: Wow, $4 million an hour just in New York State.

Everyone thinks they have the one winning ticket. They're going to win the prize all by themselves. The odds though actually against a single winner, right?

SNOW: They are. We talked to a couple of economists. They say because this jackpot is now so big, the odds are they expect at least three to four winners in tonight's jackpot.

Right now, they say the chances are about 5 percent that there will be no winner at all. Then, of course, that would roll over to Tuesday's jackpot.

KING: Three or four winners are OK, as long as I'm one of them, right?

SNOW: Exactly. And me, too.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You have got a deal there, Mary. Mary Snow on the scene in New York, Mega Millions mania. We will keep on tracking that throughout the evening.

Moving now to a developing international developing story. Today President Obama OKed actions that could push gas prices even higher. He's hoping to increase economic pressure on Iran and persuade its leaders to give up their quest for nuclear weapons.

So the president gave the go-ahead for possible U.S. sanctions on any country that buys oil from Iran.

Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin.

Jess, China is a big buyer of Iranian oil, India, a friend of the United States, a big buyer of Indian (sic) oil. Is the administration really ready to stand up and impose sanctions and have a standoff with countries with which it's very important to do business?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The answer right now is yes. They are officially on the list of 12 countries that have to give up either their policy of getting oil from Iran or stop doing business with the U.S. by June 28.

Now, I should say, John, that there are 11 other countries that are exempt from this policy. And we're told that that list could grow. And in the meantime, senior officials say they will be studying how these other countries are working to wean themselves off of Iranian oil, and they will be examining whether they should add to that list.

But as of now, both China and India are on that list. Still, you and I both know that it seems very unlikely that the U.S. would say to China, we're going to stop taking your money. So we will see what happens on June 28.

KING: We will keep an eye on that one.

Take us inside the deliberations. The president knows there's a lot pressure to increase these sanctions. But at the same time, if he does so, he may hurt himself here at home. Gas prices could go up even higher. Why the decision to go forward?

YELLIN: First of all, this was a requirement by law. Congress passed this 100-0 in the Senate. And he was mandated to make a decision by today.

He did decide. In a letter, he said he assessed, after talking to many oil analysts, that the market was ready to bear this. And in this letter, he said -- quote -- "There is sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the supply of oil from Iran."

He added that he will -- quote -- "closely monitor the situation to assure that the market can continue to accommodate a reduction in purchases of oil and oil products from Iran."

But, John, it's worth pointing out that Iran is the third largest oil exporter in the world. And even though their production is up in the U.S. and there's enough around the world in the White House's assessment, it is hard to imagine that taking this much oil off the market would not have a negative impact on our prices at the pump -- John.

KING: Very important story to watch here at home and the reaction around the world as well. Our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, Jess, thanks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Getting tougher with Iran is a constant theme of the Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum.

Senator Santorum joins us from the campaign trail today in Wisconsin.

Senator, the president's deciding to go ahead with the next wave of sanctions against Iran hopefully will reduce its ability to sell its oil on the international market. On this day, does the president deserve some credit?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a positive step in the right direction.

But in the last couple weeks, he's taken some backward steps. He's agreed to negotiate with the Iranians, really outside of the conditions that have been set forth by the U.N. resolutions, which have said that there should be no negotiations with Iran until they cease the enrichment of the uranium.

And the Obama administration has set aside those preconditions, allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium as they talk. This is exactly what the Iranians want, which is time. They're buying time. And the idea that you can convince a radical theocracy that they're going to give up this quest, this irrational quest from the standpoint of what they say publicly that they're using it for, which is nuclear power, this irrational quest of this country that has hundreds of years of oil and gas, that they would somehow need nuclear power any time soon, this is the Obama administration not doing what's necessary to stop them from developing these weapons.

KING: As you know, in part because of the showdown with Iran, the uncertainty about the region, that's one of the reasons gas prices in the United States are going up.

The administration is now talking to France, to Great Britain, to Japan about the possibility of a coordinated release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves of those and perhaps a few other countries, an effort to drive prices down perhaps at least a bit in the short term. Good idea or bad idea?

SANTORUM: You use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and I have said this consistently under Democratic and Republican administrations, when there is an interruption, when there is something that is a serious supply interruption.

We are not at that point. Using it right now would be, I think, unwise, particularly given the fact that even under the Obama administration, we're ratcheting up things against Iran. I think it would be unwise for us at this point in time to tap into that reserve.

KING: I want you to listen to the president in the Rose Garden yesterday. He was saying that the Congress should act, and he wanted them to act yesterday to take away the tax subsidies that go to big oil companies. He also said something about the current consternation about prices. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the economy is growing, the only time you start seeing lower gas prices is when the economy is doing badly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He wasn't saying higher prices are good, but he was almost saying higher prices are somewhat understandable because in his view the economy's getting better.

On the subsidy issue, is he right or wrong?

SANTORUM: Look, I'm for eliminating all tax subsidies, special tax subsidies, oil, gas, but also to the folks he wants to take this money that's -- quote -- "saved" by -- or taxed on oil companies and redistribute it to his friends in the green energy business.

Meanwhile, American consumers right now are -- of those states that have green energy requirements are paying a third higher energy prices than states that don't have these requirements. It is all part of President Obama's and the left's radical environmental ideology that is driving up electric costs, driving up oil costs and gasoline prices.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: More of our discussion in just a moment, including whether Senator Santorum thinks his campaign can survive a Romney sweep in next week's primaries.

And later, the latest in the Trayvon Martin investigation. We will be joined by Florida's top law enforcement official, the attorney general.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's get back to my conversation with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. He knows the stakes couldn't be higher for him in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: As you know, Senator, at the moment as you're campaigning in Wisconsin, there's a bit of what I will call a rally around Romney movement in the party, former President George H.W. Bush, on the other end of the generational spectrum, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the past 24 hours or so.

And today in the state where you are in Wisconsin, a man who's quite popular among conserves, the House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan, let's listen to Chairman Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: What we need is a leader who sees this moment for what it is. What we need is a leader who has the courage of conservative principles and conviction, who has the integrity and the tenacity to do what it takes to get America back on track.

And in my humble personal opinion, as a guy from Janesville, What we need is Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator, Chairman Ryan right there just said Mitt Romney is everything you say he isn't, a man of conservative principles and conviction.

SANTORUM: Well, he said it's his own personal opinion, and he has a right to that personal position.

But I think the facts bear out a very different story on Governor Romney. And we have laid that out and laid it out very clearly, and we have laid out the importance of having someone who can present a strong contrast and will not be the focal point of this election.

As you know and we have seen in the last week, the centerpiece issue in this election is Obamacare and the enormous burden it is on our economy, what it's doing to drive up unemployment, what it's doing to explode the federal budget, as well as to explode the deficit, and, of course, the impingement upon liberty, liberty both economic liberty and our religious liberties.

This is a colossal issue. And it's the issue that Governor Romney is the least qualified to make because he was the author of the blueprint of Obamacare. So I respect Congressman Ryan, but I think on the most central issue of the day, he has it all wrong.

And this is a -- this is a major problem when the huge Achilles' heel of this president, where three-quarters of the American public disagree with this mandate, and that yet Governor Romney started the ball rolling in Massachusetts and then advocated for this mandate at the federal level.

Frankly, I think he will be destroyed by President Obama on this issue come the fall. And it should be the biggest issue that helps us win this election. It will be turned into a negative under Mitt Romney. So I, you know, obviously couldn't more strongly disagree. I respect Paul and the work he's done for the conservative cause, but I think on this issue and on this vital issue, he's got it wrong.

KING: And yet he gives Governor Romney his endorsement in the state you're in today, Wisconsin, which is viewed as your best chance on Tuesday.

The new NBC/Marist poll out today, Governor Romney at 40 percent, Senator Santorum 33 percent, Congressman Paul and Newt Gingrich down at the bottom of the pack.

If you are zero for three on Tuesday, Senator, can you continue?

SANTORUM: Well, our plan is to take this all the way.

We believe that a conservative will be the nominee of the party coming out of the convention and that if we don't have a conservative, we will end up with the same situation we have had over the past 100 years. There's been over 100 years now. There's only one Republican that's ever defeated a sitting Democratic incumbent president, one.

And it's the one time we ran a strong conviction conservative, in the face of the party saying no, no, no, we need a moderate. We need to win. We need to win. They always say that. And we always lose. And the one time we didn't listen to the establishment, the Washington insiders, we had Ronald Reagan. And not only did we win. We changed the country.

KING: As you know, though, Governor Romney does have a pretty convincing lead in the delegate chase right now.

If he won all three states on Tuesday, many people say it would be impossible. That's why some conservatives, even allies of yours say this is Rick Santorum's last stand. Do you agree?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, they have been saying that about me -- my epitaph has been written many, many times throughout the course of this campaign.

So I'm just going to take it a day at a time, and we're going to keep working very, very hard and go out there and articulate the principles that I think will win this election in the fall.

KING: Governor Romney and his allies are not letting up on you. I was watching a basketball game here in D.C. last night. Obviously, Maryland and D.C. both vote on Tuesday. It was an ad by the pro- Romney super PAC beating you up pretty good during that sporting event.

And I want you to listen here. Governor Romney has a robo-call to voters in Wisconsin calling you a friend of big labor.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't normally make these calls, but I was shocked to find out that Rick Santorum repeatedly supported big labor and joined with liberal Democrats in voting against right-to- work legislation during his time in Washington.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: Are you a friend of big labor, Senator?

SANTORUM: Well, the head of the AFL-CIO in Pennsylvania said calling Rick Santorum a friend of big labor is like calling Mitt Romney a conservative. Neither are true.

I mean, for Mitt Romney to suggest that he's the conservative in the race and that I'm not is actually a little laughable. But, you know, when you have millions of dollars, you can go out and try to paint a picture that isn't -- that's surreal, and we will wait and see whether the voters of Wisconsin are going to buy it.

KING: Senator Santorum, appreciate your time tonight.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

KING: Take care, sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Coming up, the "Truth," a dramatic step the president could take to help lower gas prices. But next, a school bus caught in a tornado. See what happened to the driver and the children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Coming up: the latest on the Trayvon Martin shooting. We will speak with the Florida attorney general about the controversial case.

And a former CIA director looks at why there's such concern about North Korea's plans to join the space race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Literally, John, this is rocket science. This is hard to do. And the North Koreans have not had a history of very successful high-end activity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This half-hour, the brother of the man who admits to shooting Trayvon Martin calls the story he's hearing a myth. I will ask Florida's attorney general about that.

Most Americans say high gas prices hurt their bottom line. The "Truth" about how the president can try to bring prices down.

And this shaky video shows President Reagan the day he was shot. That was 31 years ago today. We reexamine the moment that could have changed the course of history.

It seems just about every day we get new details trickling out about the investigations into just what happened the night George Zimmerman shot Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Now some are raising doubts about whether the state investigators can do a better job than the local police.

Here's the suspect's brother sounding skeptical in an exclusive conversation with our Piers Morgan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR., BROTHER OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Ms. Corey's investigation has been compromised. Some details have been leaked, and that's why we can talk as a family more about now what George told us was the truth.

This fantasy or this mythology of that he chased a person is just absolutely false.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining me now is the Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi.

General Bondi, I know you can't get into details of the specifics of the case. But you appointed the special prosecutor. When you hear the victim's brother essentially questioning her credibility already, how much does this public debate from both sides, frankly undermine the integrity of the investigation or at least public trust in the investigation?

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it completely undermines the integrity of the investigation.

And you know what we care about is justice for Trayvon's family right now and for both sides. And what's happening, John, is -- just to let you know what happened was, originally, I spoke with the local prosecutor on the case. And he believed that he should -- just the appearance, based on appearances, should remove himself from the case, and he did.

And it's actually Governor Scott who appointed Angela Corey after discussing it with me. She is ethical. She is honest. She is tough as nails. She's compassionate. And if any leaks are coming out of this investigation, it is certainly not from Angela Corey's office.

Also, instead of the Sanford, the local police department on the case, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, they're also looking into this, as well as the Justice Department and the United States attorney, who I have been in constant contact with as well.

And, you know, my office, we don't have jurisdiction over this case unless it crosses county lines. And so that's why the governor appointed Angela Corey. But, you know, John, I can tell you, whenever you have a 17-year-old boy shot walking home and all you have are questions, we had to have answers.

And we have to have an ethical -- like you said, protect the integrity of the investigation. And that's what Angela Corey's doing, and that's what the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's doing. And they're going to conduct a thorough investigation.

I've spoken to Trayvon's parents. They're amazing people. And his lawyers, who are friends of mine. And that's all that -- that's all that we can wait and let happen now.

KING: You say wait and let happen, but then you also have the public interest in the case, global attention it is receiving, and public record laws in the sense that the police have released what I'll call a surveillance video. It's essentially the video of Mr. Zimmerman arriving at the police station and getting out of the cruiser.

And if you look at the video, General Bondi, again, I know it's not your job to get into the details of the case right now, but this has led people to say, wait a minute. This is a man whose family says, his account is that his life was threatened. That he thought he was going to die, and that's why he used his gun. And if you look at the video, yes, I know he received first aid at the scene, but he doesn't look like a man who just escaped life- threatening injuries.

BONDI: Yes, and John, let me tell you, I prosecuted for over 18 years before I ran for attorney general. And -- and that's why we have an excellent state attorney on the case.

And all these questions that you raised are very valid questions, and I can guarantee you Angela Corey and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Justice Department, they're all looking at those questions. And they're going to be sure they're answered.

And here's the problem. You don't want to make an arrest too soon. You never want to make an arrest too soon. We need justice, but you never want to make an arrest without having all the answers, because speedy trial starts running. And a defendant can demand a speedy trial.

So what the state attorney's doing, what law enforcement's doing -- and they've stopped talking about this publicly, which I think is very wise. They're going to conduct their investigation as fast as they can, because they know we need answers. And the family wants answers. And that's going to be done in a timely fashion but also in an ethical way.

KING: General, I want to change subjects. You were in Washington this week. You're one of the attorneys general in the country who are challenging the Obama administration's health-care law.

To anyone in your state who's watching, what happens to somebody who, say, 25 years old and is on their health insurance now because they can stay on it longer because of their parents, or somebody who has coverage now that has a preexisting condition, the supreme court says adios, has nothing. Should Congress, in your view, be planning for a transition, or are those people out of luck if the court agrees with you and says it's unconstitutional?

BONDI: Well, John, let me tell you. I'll be one of the first ones to say, we need health-care reform in this country. I firmly agree with you that we need health-care reform.

But as a chief legal officer for the state of Florida-- and 27 other states agree with me -- we -- 26 in our lawsuit and two others separately, we believe that it has to be done in a constitutional manner. And this was not done in a constitutional manner. 2700 pages of documents were read. You've heard admittedly many members of Congress didn't even read it before they passed it.

And the bottom line is the federal government cannot force us to purchase this product by doing nothing. If they were able to do that, their power would be limitless. And we cannot have -- we operate under a constitution, and that's our last line of defense. And we operate also under a federal government with limited powers. And that's what this is about. And, of course, we need health-care reform, but we've got to do it in a constitutional way.

KING: Pam Bondi is the attorney general of the state of Florida involved in a very major federal lawsuit and controversy about health care at the moment and watching over a very controversial investigation as well.

General, thanks for your time tonight and best of luck in the days ahead.

BONDI: Thank you, John.

KING: Be sure to join CNN tonight at 8 Eastern. Our Soledad O'Brien hosting a very important town hall, "Beyond Trayvon: Race & Justice in America."

There's an important new threat today ahead of North Korea's upcoming test of a long-range missile. Japan's prime minister says his country will shoot it down if the missile violates Japanese airspace. The U.S. military is rushing its most advanced radar system to the region just in case. Pentagon officials call next month's scheduled test troubling, provocative and dangerous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER LAVOY, ACTING ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't know if we have any confidence on the stability of the missile or where the actual impact will be. A number of countries are potentially affected. This could fall on -- the debris could fall on their countries, could cause casualties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With me to talk about the latest threat from North Korea, the former CIA director, General Michael Hayden. General, it's good to see you. Let's zoom in on the region and take a peek.

You see a launch site. It's pretty barren. The tower here. But then you see some new activity. If you pull the slider across, you see all this. What are we seeing here?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, we're seeing, apparently, preparations for a launch. They're bringing equipment in. They've got to stack the missile. That's going to take a while. But you can see clearly from the activity, and they know we can see. So this is being done for our benefit, as well as trying to meet their schedule to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kim Jong-Il's birth.

KING: So they want the attention. North Koreans say it will fall harmlessly here and here. But how advanced is their technology? How much do you trust that they can do what they say they're going to do?

HAYDEN: Well, I can see why General Thurman and Peter Lavoy yesterday in their testimony were a little bit doubtful and an awful lot nervous. This is rocket science. This is hard to do.

The North Koreans have not had a history of very successful high- end activity. They've had two nuclear tests. Our assessment is neither of them quite worked as planned. They've had missile launches. They claim they've put things in orbit. We are very confident that that did not happen.

KING: Let's look at one of those. This is a launch they had -- close this one down -- launch they had back in April 2009. The Taepodong-2 was a failure, according to the United States. The North Koreans say it was a grand success. But what kind of technology are we talking about?

HAYDEN: This is very old technology for us but not easy technology for a third-world impoverished country like North Korea. I think they can get the raw energy needed in each of these stages. But they've had difficulty managing the separation and ignition of subsequent stages after the first stage. I think that's what failed in their last missile launch.

And clearly, John, whatever it is they claim this is, what they need to do is to test their technology. So they can claim it's for peaceful purposes, but fundamentally, they're perfecting the technology of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

KING: And you say "they." They have a new leader. We don't know much about him. He's the young son of the former leader. Is this him? Is this the military showing that it's in charge?

HAYDEN: We don't know. And what follows now in my commentary is going to be in the form of an assessment.

One theory -- could be a good one -- is that this acorn hasn't fallen very far from the tree. And what you're seeing in Kim the younger is what his father and his grandfather did in order to protect this syndicate -- crime syndicate state of North Korea, which is to conduct a periodic provocation to get the attention of the world.

KING: When do you think they'd be able to launch a missile that could reach?

HAYDEN: I -- John, I don't know. And they may not know either, but that's why these events, these kinds of events are so important. Each time they do this, they learn. They perfect their technology. And that's why I think we are quite appropriately reacting so strongly to this peaceful launch.

KING: General, thanks for your time.

HAYDEN: Thanks, John.

KING: Thank you.

You know what you're paying, around $4 a gallon now for a gallon of gas. Is there anything the president can do about it? Tonight's "Truth" next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It is as predictable as, well, deficit spending. When the price of gas goes up and you get mad, the politicians start debating tapping the Strategic Oil Reserves. White House officials I talked to just this evening insist no decision has been made. But tonight's "Truth" is, it could happen quite soon. And if it does, you can thank election-year politics in France.

Yes, like President Obama, President Sarkozy is on the ballot this year. And like President Obama, rising gas prices are making a tough political climate even tougher for the French leader.

Consider yourself lucky, I guess. We're mad because gas here is bumping the $4 a gallon mark. Already past that in some states. In France, 10 bucks a gallon.

So the United States, France, Britain and Japan are working together on a plan to tap their reserves. Remember, there was a similar move last spring when the crisis in Libya caused a price spike.

Supporters say even a modest impact on prices will help working families. Critics say those reserves are supposed to be for major supply crises like a war or a natural disaster.

Now, that's a valid policy debate. The truth is, this is a debate right now gaining steam for purely political reasons.

More than seven in ten Americans say rising gas prices are causing a financial hardship. That's a staggering number. And it's not lost on the president or his re-election team. There's not all that much any president can do to impact short-term gas prices. Tapping the reserves is one of the few levers a president can pull. And trying beats doing nothing, from a political standpoint anyway, which is why the political advisers both to President Obama and to President Sarkozy say tap the reserves.

Let's talk truth, see if this is a good idea tonight with Republican consultant and our CNN political contributor Alex Castellanos; Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland; and Rick Tyler. He's a senior adviser for a pro-Gingrich super PAC.

Congresswoman, a lot of working people in your district not happy with gas that's over $4 just about everywhere you go in Maryland. Should the president tap the reserves?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I'm not quite sure. I mean, I think we should wait to see that. What I do know is that when I went to fill up my tank last night, it was $4.04 a gallon, and I know about 84 cents of that was attributable to the fact that people are speculating, Wall Street is speculating on oil prices. And that that is causing the steepest rise in gas prices. Not demand, not supply but speculation.

KING: But that's the market. Should the government do anything about that?

EDWARDS: I think we can do a couple of things. One, we can stop the speculation and allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to actually crack down on Wall Street speculators. Two, in Congress, we could actually pull away some of those oil subsidies. The oil companies clearly don't need them. And three, if it's necessary, we could tap the strategic reserve.

KING: Alex, if you look at our polling -- you're a Republican here -- but do you blame the president of the United States for rising gas prices. A great deal, 24 percent; some, 40 percent; not much, 15; none, 20.

So 64 percent blame the president some or a lot. If it were a Republican president, those numbers would be just about the same. Is that fair?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes.

KING: Because it's a Democrat or because he's the president?

CASTELLANOS: Not just because I'm a Republican. One of the things attributing to gas prices is that we've been printing a lot of money. The dollar has been devalued all over the world. You know, there's a reason gold prices have doubled since Barack Obama's been president.

What that means is that the price of gasoline, really, has -- and oil has gone up. Not because it's more expensive but because our dollars are worth less. That does fall on the president's desk, plus, you know, the Keystone Pipeline, he said no. He really hasn't expanded exploration on public land. And long-term uncertainty does make people hoard, raise prices of what we have today.

So yes, you can fault Barack Obama for that.

KING: One of the criticisms, Rick, is -- of any president, but of this president from Republicans in an election year, is he does everything for political expediency. Couldn't you make the case on this day, when he's toughening sanctions on Iran, knowing that it could drive up the price at the pump, he's got a little courage because it could hurt him?

RICK TYLER, SENIOR ADVISOR, PRO-GINGRICH SUPER PAC: Look, the president's got to do something. The -- you know, the first thing he goes after the oil companies because he says they don't need these tax subsidies. Truth is, they don't have any subsidies that are extraordinary to any other corporation in America.

Second, if you do raise the taxes on the oil companies, that's only going to be more money at the pump. The president keeps telling us a factual error, which is we don't have 2 percent of the world's reserves. The fact is we have a lot more. The fact is we don't actually know how much, because we are not allowed to take an inventory of the reserves. But he's got to do that. So yes, he might have to, for political expediency, release some from the reserves. But the fact is, if Barack Obama did some things like open the Keystone Pipeline, like open up federal lands -- not the National Mall, obviously -- but federal lands to drilling, that does have an impact on speculators.

And it is the commodities market, after all, all these years that have kept prices fairly stable, not wildly fluctuating.

KING: This year the energy debate seems to be left/right, meaning Democrat/Republican. In years past, it was often not so partisan; it was much more geographical: where you live, what's under the ground. Why has it become -- it seems more -- am I right? It seems more political this year on party level, as opposed to just where you live. If you live in a coal state, for example, you like coal. If you live in a gas state, you're fine with gas.

EDWARDS: Well, I think part of the reason is because Republicans want to protect oil companies. They want to protect Wall Street speculators, and they don't want to clamp down on what really is driving the market.

The reality is that under President Obama, we're actually drilling more. We're exporting more oil. And the demand is not driving up this market. I know last night when I filled up my tank, instead of paying $4.04, I should have been paying $3.16, and I blame it on Wall Street.

CASTELLANOS: I think the congresswoman is right in taking a more reasoned approach to tapping the strategic reserve. That makes all the sense in the world. It is an asset we save for that rainy day.

However, the reason oil production is expanding is because of decisions made before Barack Obama's president. He has not expanded exploration on public lands. It's private lands that are driving the growth in oil production here in the United States. And he's made decisions like the Keystone Pipelines that, in fact, shut it down for the future. So giving him credit for what others did is not exactly good politics.

EDWARDS: Everybody here at this table actually knows that, if we were to start a Keystone Pipeline today, we wouldn't be producing oil to drive the market down.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: That's what I call the psychology of the market could change, some say. I want to change the conversation to what I'll call the man who I'll call the Rorschach test of American politics. He's the House Budget Committee chairman, Paul Ryan. He is the architect of the House budget. Republicans love it. Democrats not only don't like it, but they think it will help them politically.

He endorsed Mitt Romney today. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We have the right kind of leader we're going to need to get this country right and to get this country back on track. And I want to ask you, fellow Wisconsinites, to join me in welcoming who I hope becomes the next president of the United States, Governor Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why dis Democrats -- why are they so gleeful about this? Why do they think, aha, Romney-Ryan, we win?

EDWARDS: I don't know, but I'll tell you, if Mitt Romney is signing onto a Republican budget introduced by Mr. Ryan and passed by Republicans in Congress, that actually is going to end Medicare as we know it. It's going to slash Pell grants, student loans, school nutrition programs and virtually everything that really supports the American people. And that's Mitt Romney's game?

Well, they're peas in a pod, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. And so I think that, you know, this makes perfect sense to me.

KING: Is that just today's world, that if you're a demon to the Democrats, you must be a hero to Republicans? Why is it when Republicans look at Paul Ryan, they say yes?

TYLER: I think Paul Ryan is a rising star. I actually hope he doesn't take the vice-presidential nominee, because I don't think -- you know, I think his prospects go down. I think he's great for a rising star in the future. He's actually smarter, you know, than -- he's a very smart person.

So, you know, I hope he has the political smarts to hold his fire, because he has a bright future. And I don't want to see him get wrapped up in this.

CASTELLANOS: I think Rick's right. In many ways, Paul Ryan is the new Newt Gingrich. He's the new ideas guy in the Republican Party. And so that is somebody you do want to have on your team.

TYLER: And he's the only guy who's laid out something, a path forward. I mean, it's too far for me. I'll be dead when his budget comes.

CASTELLANOS: By the way, he hasn't cut Medicare. The only one who actually has cut Medicare that is running for president is this fellow named, oh, Barack Obama.

KING: It's an election year, isn't it? All right. I'm going to call a Friday truce. Everyone, be friendly.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Erin, what can we look forward to?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Well, we've got a show of dreams tonight, John. Not just dreams of the lotto, although we have broken that down from every angle. One bottom line: if you haven't bought a ticket, you still have just enough time as you probably should. We'll explain why.

Plus, we have a lotto winner and the man who will be calling out the winning numbers tonight. So we have fun with that.

And the show of dreams continues, because something that many have always dreamed of is about to become a reality. That is literally a flying car. And we will take you in it.

All that top of the hour. John, back to you.

KING: I want the flying car, I think, more than the -- is that wrong, or is that a guy thing? I want the flying car more than the $640 million? Or if I have the $640 million, I can buy the flying car, right?

BURNETT: Exactly, exactly.

CASTELLANOS: Take the money.

KING: Take the money.

BURNETT: Exactly. They're not cheap. They're not cheap.

KING: Everyone says take the money. I'll take the money. See you in just a few minutes here.

KING: Firefighters scramble to safety when a roof starts collapsing beneath them. Unbelievable video. We'll show you what happens next.

And 31 years ago today, a gunman tried to kill President Ronald Reagan. How his recovery helped shape his legacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's take another look at tonight's Mega Millions frenzy across the country. People in 42 of the 50 states lining up to buy chances for tonight's drawing, and why not? It's a jackpot worth at least $640 million. Live pictures there, Hawthorne, California, on the left, New York City on the right. New York officials say tickets were selling at the rate of $4 million an hour.

Well, I'm sorry, folks. We don't call it the magic wall for nothing. I'm going to win. Sorry. You see the balls turning. People say, why is this so hard? Why is it so hard? Take a look. See, why are the odds? There's 56 numbered balls in bin No. 1, 46 in No. 2 here. All right? So here we go here.

How do we get the math of how this works out, your chances of winning? Remember, for 56 balls then 55 balls then 54, then 53, then 52. That's the first thing there. And here's the calculation.

Then there's 46 balls in the other bin, so you multiply that by 46. That gets you 1 in 175,711,036. So when I win tonight I know I have bet -- beat some pretty big odds. The winnings, the average American, the average American -- to earn the amount of money this jackpot is, the average American would have to work 10,800 years. However, your government would spend it in about one hour and 15 minutes. How about that?

Do that again. Remember, you would have to work for 10,800 years to earn this much money. Your government, happy Friday, would spend it in one hour and 15 minutes. That part's kind of depressing.

Here's Kate Bolduan with the latest news you need to know right now.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, John.

And hello again, everyone. More headlines to catch you up on.

French police arrested 19 people with suspected ties to radical Islam, an early morning raid seizing several assault weapons. The sweep comes a week after a young French gunman killed seven people, then took his own life after a long siege. Police have not said if any of the arrests are linked to that gunman.

And rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas all used against Palestinian protestors in Gaza and in the West Bank, and the protesters fought back with rocks. One man died, and dozens more were injured in a face-off with Israeli police. The protest marked Land Day, an annual rally against what Palestinians call discriminatory Israeli policies.

And searchers in New Mexico are trying to find one of the nation's elite runners. Micah True never returned from what was supposed to be a 12-mile run last Tuesday. True, who is 60 years old, is the director of an ultra-marathon that goes 50 miles. He's also featured in the best-selling book "Born to Run."

And take a look at this. Three firefighters in Dearborn, Michigan, had a very close call. The video is really amazing. When the roof of the building they were working on started to give way. You can see them there. The firefighters who got -- the firefighter who got across the short wall was able to pull the others, the other two to safety. No injuries were reported in Thursday's fire. An extremely dramatic moment, indeed.

And Canada's phasing out pennies, if you believe it. Officials say the one cent coin costs 1.6 cents to make, and eliminating them will save $11 million a year. U.S. pennies, by the way, cost 2.4 cents to make. Who'd a thunk it, and why do we keep having the penny, John?

KING: So this is worth -- that's 4.8 cents, or is it two cents?

BOLDUAN: That's two cents. That's two cents at the market, but it costs the federal government a little bit more to make it. Time to phase that one out, you think?

KING: Making millions just making more cents. No. BOLDUAN: Lots of money talk today.

KING: That tells you something. You know, I'm not an economics genius, but if it costs 2 cents, 2.4 cents to make 1 cent, Houston, we've got a problem.

BOLDUAN: Houston, we may have a problem. And a lot less change clunking around in that pocket.

KING: I'm going to put my change out here.

Finally, instead of a "Moment You Missed," tonight, a moment in history that had the potential to change the course of our nation.

2:27 p.m. on this day, March 30, 1981, that's when President Reagan was shot in the chest walking out of the Washington Hilton Hotel. It's been 31 years now since John Hinckley fired the bullet that collapsed Reagan's left lung, just missing his heart.

"Washington Post" reporter of "Rawhide Down," author Del Quentin Wilber, says Reagan's recovery gave America an unfiltered glimpse at the president's character.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEL QUENTIN WILBER, AUTHOR, "RAWHIDE DOWN": This guy is cracking one liners. Joking. Trying to comfort his wife before himself. Because that's what he was doing. Trying to calm those around him. That's really revealing into someone's character, and it kind of created a shield around Reagan for the rest of his presidency. Like people said, "You know, I disagree with his politics, but I like him as a person."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Reagan -- his Secret Service code name was Rawhide -- was rushed to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. But the president's men, not knowing what was going to happen to him, were forced to face facts and consider worst-case scenarios.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILBER: Reagan's two top advisers, Jim Baker and Ed Meese, are having a conversation about the historic transfer of power to the vice president while Reagan's in life-saving surgery, and they're having this conversation in a janitor's closet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Power was never transferred to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, and Reagan, in stable condition remarkably by the very next day, even signing a bill from his hospital bed. It is remarkable, and it was so long ago.

BOLDUAN: Right. KING: But it does. It's an excellent book, by the way, "Rawhide Down." And it -- and Del's right, it does tell you something about -- you know, whether you liked Ronald Reagan's politics or not, the way he handled himself at that negative time. They way Nancy Reagan handled herself at that time...

BOLDUAN: It is -- it's fortunate and unfortunate. I don't know how to say it the best way. It takes those very scary moments to give a-- bring a lot of clarity to what matters and how it kind of brings people back to acting respectful.

As Del Quentin Wilber said, he said it really well. You say, you may not like his policies, but people really respected him as a person.

KING: Admired their strength.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

KING: Can you imagine? We asked Del about this, and he said wow. If that had happened in this age.

BOLDUAN: No kidding.

KING: In the Twitterverse age, everybody's camera can go online phase, it would have been a completely different event.

BOLDUAN: A completely different event. We'd have covered it completely differently. Absolutely completely different. But still, very good that he was OK.

KING: I wish you good luck on Mega Millions, but I'm going to win.

We'll see you Monday. I'll be here even though. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.