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JOHN KING, USA
Supreme Court Tackles Immigration Laws; Interview With Arizona Governor Jan Brewer; Romney Sweeps
Aired April 25, 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. I'm John King.
Tonight, Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration gets a surprisingly sympathetic hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court. We will ask the state's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, about the political fallout with Latino voters if the court upholds her get-tough policy.
Also, Mitt Romney follows up on his five-for-five primary sweep by asking Newt Gingrich for an endorsement. And it looks like he will get it.
Plus, Syria's cease-fire in shambles. Today, 79 deaths raise urgent questions about why the world's leading powers seem so powerless.
Let's start this evening with today's high-stakes showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Arizona's controversial crackdown on illegal immigration seemed to get quite a sympathetic reception from the justices. The Obama administration contends the law steps on powers that are exclusive to the federal government.
But as CNN's Kate Bolduan reports here, there may be a majority of justices who see things differently.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the courtroom, the conservative majority appeared to lean toward upholding at least part of the Arizona law, Justice Antonin Scalia suggesting if the federal government isn't doing the job, states may be justified stepping in, asking -- quote -- "What does state sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?"
The justices focused on the law's most controversial measure, the requirement police check people's immigration status while enforcing other laws if the officers have reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally.
The White House and its supporters argued that intrudes on what is exclusively federal authority over immigration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The justices are concerned about a system of mass incarceration that's going to catch U.S. citizens and immigrants who are lawfully in the United States. BOLDUAN: But for the Obama administration, challenging the state law, it was another uphill battle. Chief Justice John Roberts indicating the Arizona law is meant to help by alerting federal immigration officials to who is in the country illegally, nothing more.
And he questioned Washington's commitment to solving the problem -- quote -- "It seems to me that the federal government just doesn't want to know who is here illegally or not."
Even liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor bluntly told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli part of his argument wasn't -- quote -- "selling very well," adding, "Why don't you try to come up with something else?"
BOLDUAN: And a signal that the justices are aware of just how politically divisive this issue has become, the chief justice made a point to ask the government lawyer, even before he began making his argument, to clarify that the government's challenge has nothing to do with racial or ethnic profiling, instead, being solely focused on the narrow legal question at hand.
The solicitor general agreed, but the remark really seemed to be, John, designed to head off any possible criticisms that the justices may face in an election year.
KING: I suspect, Kate, those criticisms will come anyway, once they issue the decision down the road, most likely in June.
Thank you, Kate.
And among those who think this was a tough day in court for the federal government and the Obama administration is our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the justices just did not seem sympathetic to the argument that this was an invasion of federal power.
All the justices who spoke, including the liberals, seemed to say, look, all this law does, at least the part that they were talking about, is it identifies who is in the country illegally, and then informs the federal government that those people are in the country illegally.
It doesn't force the government to do anything. It doesn't tell the federal government to do anything. So federal power is not disturbed. That seemed to be a broad consensus, perhaps even a unanimous consensus of the court, and that's not good for the position the Obama administration was taking.
KING: And nine justices, but in this case, the math is a little different because of Justice Kagan, right?
TOOBIN: Right. Justice Kagan recused herself. She didn't say why, but presumably it's because she participated in some of the deliberations about this issue when she was solicitor general.
That just makes this an even more uphill case for the Obama administration, because she tends to take positions that are sympathetic to her former colleagues in the Justice Department.
KING: And, Jeff, this case is about state vs. federal power.
Where's the line? The health care challenge is about state vs. federal power. Where's the line? How important is this court going to be on that question when we get these two and a couple other decisions?
TOOBIN: Well, this is just a term of epic, epic importance.
Frankly, I think this case is less significant, because the issues are more narrow, they're more technical. The health care case is about the power of the federal government, period in an area where the federal government has been operating health care for decades.
That case could redefine the nature of the federal government. This case, I think, is much more about how the government, the federal government and the states operate at the margins. It's important, but I don't think it's nearly as important as the health care case.
KING: Our senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin, Jeff, thanks for your help and insights.
In the next half-hour, we're going to speak to the Arizona governor, Jan Brewer. She was there and she said she came out of today's Supreme Court hearing very encouraged and very confident. That conversation a bit ahead.
Moving to politics now, though, Newt Gingrich plans to suspend his presidential campaign next week and endorse Mitt Romney. This morning, fresh off a five-state primary sweep last night, Mitt Romney phoned the former speaker to ask for his support.
In North Carolina today, Gingrich said he's working out the details of his campaign's transition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am committed to this party. I am committed to defeating Obama. We will find ways to try to be helpful. I do think it is pretty clear that Governor Romney is ultimately going to be the nominee. And we will do everything we can to make sure that he is, in fact, effective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It is now, without a doubt, Mitt Romney's Republican Party. Let's consider the challenges ahead. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and "TIME" magazine political columnist Joe Klein.
Gloria and Joe, I want you to listen here. Mitt Romney gave a big speech in New Hampshire last night. He said it was his pivot to the general election. He knows the president is making the case that the Republican economic plans are not fair to middle class and working Americans. Listen to Governor Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the very taxpayers they serve. And we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How important, Gloria, is it that Governor Romney changed the dynamics of this fairness fight?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's really important. I think what they have decided to do is start playing offense instead of defense when it comes to the fairness issue, and what you're going to hear from Mitt Romney over and over again is that there are unfair ways in which the government operates, and so he wants to kind of play a little on the president's turf.
I think it's risky, particularly given the polling that shows that Americans are -- a majority of Americans are with the president when it comes to the tax issue and the fairness issue on taxes, for example. But I do think it's sort of a look at what's to come, that he's not going to lay back and say, OK, that's the president's turf, not mine.
KING: And part of the same conversation, Joe, was a play on words we became quite familiar with back in 1992 in the Clinton campaign. He said President Obama's going to try to distract and divert, but it's about the economy, and we're not stupid, Governor Romney's point.
How effective or how much more do they have to do, I guess, to get command of the economic argument?
JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, I think it's his strongest argument, that and the ability to manage the government.
When Romney came in, remember, last year, at the very outset, that was his pitch. And it was a very strong pitch. And then he allowed himself to be dragged into all of these right-wing social issues and a lot of other diversions, speaking of diversions, and his stump speech and his campaign had lost its focus.
If Romney has a chance, and I think he has a very good one, it's going to be on the issues of how you're feeling economically and do you think the federal government is out of control? KING: And so the message is one thing, the economics will be at the front and center of that.
What about the mechanics, Gloria, including the great luxury the president had not having a primary challenge? Look at these numbers. Cash on hand as we speak today, the Obama campaign, $104 million, plus a little change. The Romney campaign, $10 million and a little change. The president of the United States has $94 million in the bank than his opponent. How much does that matter?
BORGER: I think it does matter an awful lot. But I think Mitt Romney has a lot of opportunity now to raise an awful lot of money.
I think he will be raising a lot of money off of Wall Street, if I had to guess, and I think you will see the Republican Party and Mitt Romney be at much more parity with the Democrats and President Obama than they were, say, in 2008.
I think it's a completely different playing field right now. And I think Mitt Romney is going to be very close to parity with the president.
KING: You hear only good things when you talk to Republicans. They say they have a very good relationship integrating with the National Committee. They expect to not -- you know, they have a lot of challenges ahead to raise this money, but...
KLEIN: Mitt Romney could have 47 cents in the bank and still be fine because of super PACs.
I mean, that's going to even the playing field. Republicans are going to have a gazillion dollars to throw up against the president and the president's having some trouble raising money from his big donors in the past.
KING: Fascinating campaign -- 195 days from today, you vote. Joe Klein, Gloria Borger, thanks for being here to help tonight.
Day three of the John Edwards trial. The former presidential candidate is charged with using campaign money to help cover up an affair. And today we got new details of how some of that cash was allegedly spent on his mistress.
According to Edwards' former aide Andrew Young, nearly $30,000 was spent on her car, more than $35,000 for her rental house, and $40,000 just for cash expenses.
Our Joe Johns was in the courtroom listening to all the testimony today.
And, Joe, we learned a lot today about the unraveling friendship and relationship between Andrew Young, that former top aide, and Senator Edwards.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's true, but I also think the other thing we learned, John, is about how people surrounding John Edwards and even John Edwards himself seemed to be just a little bit delusional about what kind of situation they were in, in the early months of 2008.
After it became pretty clear that he was not going to become the presidential nominee for the Democrats, they started talking about him becoming the vice presidential nominee, which frankly was kind of shocking, given all the problems he had with the media following him around, trying to find out his relationship with Rielle Hunter and whether he was the father of the child.
It sort of all blew up in two points, we heard, in testimony today from the prosecution. One was when Rielle Hunter and John Edwards were photographed at the hotel in Los Angeles, the Beverly Hilton, together. That caused huge problems and made donors very concerned that he wasn't going to survive this.
And then a little bit later, when they decided they had to do something else, they actually went to one of the big money donors, Bunny Mellon, and asked for $50 million. She got very mad at them and said they were just using her for her money.
Finally, end of the day, with Andrew Young on the stand, testified, a lonesome road here in North Carolina, he and John Edwards had it out. John Edwards would not clear his name and say Rielle Hunter had had his baby, and the rest is history, of course.
Andrew Young wrote a tell-all book about it and here we are -- John.
KING: A lot of sordid details as we get to the key question, were there campaign finance violations? Our senior correspondent Joe Johns tracking that important trial. Joe, thank you.
And tonight, our coverage of the presidential race enters a new phase. As President Obama prepares to take on Mitt Romney, we're focusing on the issues that will decide the election, starting with jobs.
And, later, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer explains why she feels very confident after today's big Supreme Court hearing on her state's immigration law.
KING: With his sweep of five primaries last night, the Republican National Committee now ready to call the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney the presumptive Republican nominee.
So game on between the Romney and Obama campaigns and the message machines. Both men previewing their general election message on issue number one, the economy. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What do we have to show for three-and-a-half years of President Obama? It's still about the economy, and we're not stupid.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This isn't about class warfare. We want every American to succeed. That's the point. I want all of you to be rich. I want all of you to be successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So who do voters believe have the right strategy?
Joining me now here in New York, Glenn Hubbard, an economic adviser to the Romney campaign, and from Chicago tonight, Austan Goolsbee, the former chief economist for Barack Obama.
First, Austan, I want to come to you on this question. Fairness has been a big theme in the campaign. I was just talking to Gloria and Joe Klein about this.
I want you to listen here, Governor Romney trying to take on the fairness divide, essentially posing -- this is his version of the Ronald Reagan question, are you better off than you were four years ago?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's different sound than I expected there, but you get the point, Austan. He also said, what do we have to show for three- and-a-half years? Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one?
How does the president answer that question when Governor Romney tries to make it a referendum on his record?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Well, if you burn down the back half of your house, it's probably not the right time to complain that it takes too long to rebuild it.
I mean, the policies that it strikes me that Governor Romney's proposing are multitrillion-dollar, high-income-oriented tax cuts, which are exactly like what we did in the 2000s, which did not work. So until somebody's providing evidence that what Mitt Romney's proposing actually would generate different results than it generated the last time we did them, I don't think that that's going to be the strategy that we take.
KING: Well, Glenn, come in on that point. Because essentially you have two narratives here. Governor Romney is going to say, nice guy, not up to the job, especially on the economy. President Obama is going to say, this is back to the future. Been there, done that. Electing Romney is going back to the Bush years. Where were all the jobs then?
GLENN HUBBARD, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Well, it's not back to the future. What Governor Romney has proposed is radical tax reform.
It is not a net tax cut. There's a lot of base broadening that goes as well. But what it is, is pro-growth and pro-investment and pro-jobs. That's forward-looking and that's where he is.
KING: Austan, your friend here, Mr. Hubbard, wrote a piece in "The Wall Street Journal" today, essentially saying that President Obama wants to raise everybody's taxes. True?
GOOLSBEE: No, of course not.
Look, the thing that Glenn -- Glenn and I have been friends for a very long time. I thought he went way over the line today in "The Wall Street Journal," claims about the budget that nobody, including the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, agrees with. They were numbers that are not accurate, so I don't think that it's true at all.
KING: Is what you wrote not credible? Are your numbers not accurate?
HUBBARD: No, there are two points I made in the piece. One was to take the Obama Treasury Department's own revenue estimates for high-income tax provisions and show that they don't raise enough to make much of a difference in the fiscal struggle.
The second is to say if you want to keep the president's higher spending, that means you have either got to take a strategy to cut spending, that's Governor Romney, or you would have to raise taxes on other people. That's not economics, that's just math.
KING: Austan, your response?
GOOLSBEE: Well, take the math that comes from the Congressional Budget Office.
It show that if you adopt the president's budget without raising taxes on the middle class, it stabilizes the deficit and debts as a share of GDP, going out over the next 10 years. The answer coming from the Romney camp, as I read it, and I'm not working for the campaign -- and I don't think people should listen to an ex-Obama administration official or a Romney campaign operative.
Go look at the Congressional Budget Office report yourself. And what you can see is that while the Obama budget is trying to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio, the Romney budget, according to objective budget observers, is blowing up the deficit.
It's crushing Social Security and Medicare by more than 25 percent, while simultaneously putting in $3 trillion of tax cuts. So to say that they're broadening the base, when the base-broadeners they have discussed are one-tenth to have the cost of the tax cuts, just doesn't make any sense.
As I say, it's just not mathematically correct. So I really don't think they should be pushing that argument.
KING: A quick rebuttal there?
HUBBARD: Yes, the goal is not to stabilize debt-to-GDP at an already very high level. The goal is to bring it down.
GOOLSBEE: Then why increase the deficit?
HUBBARD: Governor Romney would bring down spending relative to GDP to 20 percent, back to where it used to be, and do so without raising taxes.
We can do that. Again, that's just simple arithmetic. But we cannot accommodate the higher spending without raising taxes.
KING: Glenn Hubbard, Austan Goolsbee, this is a conversation that will continue for 195 days, the defining question in the election.
Gentlemen, thanks for your help tonight.
Still ahead here: Deadly chaos makes a mockery of the Syrian government's promise of a cease-fire. So what should the world do now?
But next, why there's sudden hope for a little girl who has been missing since 2007.
KING: The Republican governor Jan Brewer, she's the one who signed Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration into law and she's gone toe to toe with President Obama while defending it. Today, she was at the Supreme Court and she's with us next to talk about what happens if she wins.
Also ahead, new assurances and continuing doubts that the Secret Service sex scandal is a one-time event.
KING: This half-hour: Arizona's tough immigration law seems to get a sympathetic ear at the Supreme Court. We will ask the state's Republican governor why she's so confident the law will stand.
And Mitt Romney fully supports Arizona's get-tough approach -- the "Truth" about how that could hurt him come November.
Plus, a brutal turn in Syria. Government forces are apparently killing people who talk to United Nations monitors. Whatever happened to the cease-fire?
As the Supreme Court heard arguments today over Arizona's controversial immigration law, protesters on both sides of the issue were gathered outside an as well as onlookers and reporters. It's a contentious issue, especially with those who hold immigration reform close to heart.
A Quinnipiac poll out this week shows while Americans support the Arizona bill, it's also known as sb-1070, Hispanics in particular are split, and the Republican party knows it needs to do much better among Hispanic voters for a victory come November.
Let's discuss the Supreme Court arguments and the politics of immigration with the governor at the senator of it all, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer joins us today.
And governor, you were there for the arguments today. You have been optimistic the Supreme Court would say your law is valid. What struck you most today?
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Well, I just left the courtroom very encouraged. I thought it went very, very well. I think that Mr. Clement did a fabulous job in presenting our case. And right off the bat, I was very grateful that chief justice Roberts asked the government whether this piece of legislation and this hearing, if it was about racial profiling and the government answered, absolutely not.
So, for all those people throughout our country that keep wanting to say that this is a piece of legislation that's about racial profiling, I think it was pretty much discounted today. That made me feels good, because we've heard that over and over. And so that was very much appreciated by me and I hope by everyone. So now that's sort of ended that debate.
KING: I want to ask you about the political fallout. Even in your state, governor, of Arizona, a state that Republicans have carried consistently in presidential elections, President Obama is ahead right now over governor Romney, or at least in a dead heat. The latest poll showing it Obama, 42, Romney, 40. And if you look at this poll among Latinos, Hispanics, in the state of Arizona, Obama, 64. Romney, 25.
Governor, I could show you national numbers like that as well. Many people say the national immigration debate, and that exacerbated by Arizona and laws like it are killing the Republican parties politically. Is that true?
BREWER: Well, I think it's unfortunate that we see polls like that. You know, are the polls true? I would imagine that they're as true as polls can be. The Obama administration, the Democratic Party, of course, has been playing to the Democrats with scare tactics in regards to what the Republicans are going to do and what they won't do.
But, let me remind everybody that he's been president now going on almost four years. He has a time for two years that he could have accomplished and he could have done anything that he wanted to do, with the house and the Senate and him. And he didn't get it done.
So you know, I think that the federal government, the Democrats, and the President Obama are selling a lot of hope and change, but no delivery of any of those promises.
KING: You say you're confident you're going to win at the Supreme Court. Governor, if you lose, would you just accept that as the last word, or would you ask the legislator to read what the Supreme Court says you can and can't do and try and do it again?
BREWER: I don't think I would have to ask the legislator. I think they would, of course, read it and understand it and determine what they want to do. I certainly would talk to my legal counsel and see what our other avenues of approach would be. But, you know, I'll cross that bridge when we get there and, who knows, you know, I don't think we were going to have to do that.
KING: Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, appreciate your time tonight.
BREWER: Thank you, John.
KING: The Pentagon tonight is accused of fumbling through its investigation into the 12 military members linked to the Colombian prostitution scandal. Two veterans called today's private briefing by the military, quote, "unacceptable" and quote, "a waste of time."
But a CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash reports, there was a far different feeling at the first public hearing about the secret service members involved.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How does homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano feel about the secret service prostitution scandal?
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The allegations are inexcusable. The conduct was unacceptable. It was unprofessional. Unprofessional and unacceptable.
BASH: Napolitano, who oversees the secret service, used the words "unacceptable" and "unprofessional" half a dozen times and made this vow.
NAPOLITANO: The investigation will be complete and thorough and we will leave no stone unturned.
BASH: Senators seemed satisfied with her efforts.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I think the kind of investigation you and your department will do, I have a lot of faith in.
BASH: What a contrast outside a private briefing nearby.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It was a waste of time, because they had no information.
BASH: Military leaders met with senators behind these doors about members of the armed services' alleged misbehavior with prostitutes that same night in Colombia.
John McCain, the top member on the armed services committee, came out furious.
MCCAIN: The Pentagon is being totally uncooperative. They don't even know they wouldn't even have information as to who was in charge on the ground in Cartagena. I mean, it was remarkable.
BASH: To date, none of the 12 armed services members an involved in the alleged misconduct in Colombia have been re reprimanded or cleared. But secret service rules allow things to move faster. All 12 secret service members have either been forced out or in the process of leaving or declare if serious misconduct.
And back at the Senate Judiciary Committee, the woman in charge had some answers.
NAPOLITANO: The first question I posed to the director was, was there any breach to the president's security in this instance, and the answer was no.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: But there was a risk of breach. Along those lines, if those connections, existed, correct?
NAPOLITANO: There may be a risk and that's why this behavior cannot be tolerated.
BASH: One key question Napolitano could not yet answer, whether it's a cultural problem inside the secret service, if inappropriate behavior with prostitutes has happened before.
NAPOLITANO: We are looking to see and make sure there was not some kind of systemic problem and most importantly, to fix it.
BASH: And Napolitano did say the secret service office of professional responsibility has already gone through 2 1/2 years of its files. That's 900 foreign trips and has found no evidence of any misconduct like we saw in Colombia.
But, John. If bad behavior is systemic inside the secret service, it probably wouldn't be reported.
KING: And Dana, when you hear those very tough, scathing words from senator McCain and his colleagues about the military's briefing or lack thereof, what's the Pentagon's response? BASH: Yes. I mean, senator McCain actually even threatened to subpoena the Pentagon. The response is pretty simple. That they're going to continue to brief the senate as much as possible as the investigation continues. That's all.
KING: That's not going to satisfy them. We'll see where that goes. Well, stand by in Capitol Hill. Dana, thank you.
A disturbing new development in Syria.
Rebel who is talk to United Nations observers are report drink putting their lives on the line just for speaking up. They're singled out by government forces who are stepping up attacks once the monitors leave town. That's according to opposition activists who say nearly 80 people have been killed today alone, another sign that the so- called truce may be just an empty process.
CNN's Arwa Damon, tracking developments from Beirut.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, video posted to you tube appear to show the monitors touring the Damascus suburb of Duma. This is a suburb that had been under siege for the last few days. There's also a prominent presence of two monitors stationed in the city of Homs who had come under violent assault by government forces on Monday according to opposition activist and also two monitors stationed in the flashpoint city of Homs as well.
But despite that, in other parts of the country that the monitors have not been able to reach, there have been various reports of ongoing violence and of the government moving its tanks around, quite simply, according to opposition activists, buying itself more time.
And even if and when the number of this U.N. observer mission does reach 300, that quite simply is not going to be enough to enforce any sort of a cease-fire. And even if that hypothetically should take place, getting both sides of this highly polarized conflict to sit down at any sort of negotiating table that at this point in time is incredibly unrealistic. All of this painting an incredibly bleak picture for the future of that war-torn nation - John.
KING: CNN's Arwa Damon there in Beirut.
Let's talk more about this with Fouad Ajami. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover institution at Stanford University, the author of "the Syrian rebellion," which will be out next week -- next month, I'm sorry.
Fouad, I was struck. Frankly, my blood started to boil, Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary general, the special law deployed to Syria, files a report essentially with the security council yesterday that says guess what, Syria is still violating the cease-fire, still breaking its rules. As soon as the monitors leave town, going in and killing people, and he says quote, "he's going to lodge his objections," meet with the Syrian people, quote, "at an appropriate time." Do you see any urgency, or is it - as you wrote in the "Wall Street Journal," you view this Annan mission as essentially cover for Assad.
FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: You know, John, I think we need to know about the Kofi Annan mission. Well over 1,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Kofi Annan mission. The Kofi Annan mission I think to be blunt about it is really a lifeline to the Bashar regime.
And you know, John. People in suburb, people in distress, they know things very clearly and state very clearly. One city stuck a note on one of the land cruisers of the observers, the imagination observers, and said the following.
It says, the butcher kills, the observers observe, and the people go on with the revolution. There is nothing new in that Syrian nightmare.
KING: I know. I've spoken to her several times. I know the United States, the ambassador to United Nations, Susan Rice, is quite frustrated. She had said that Russia and China have blotter in the hands because they won't accept a tougher proposal.
But the United States is among those who have backed this Kofi Annan mission. When you hear the reports of further crimes against the regime and then you say, we'll be touch with them at the appropriate time; at what point does the United States for its own credibility need to walk away from that process?
AJAMI: John, we bear - we bear our own moral responsibility. And we know, for example, that we can say unequivocally that Russia and China are responsible. We can say that they aid and abet the Bashar Al Assad regime, but what about American culpability?
We went to the United Nations when anyone would have told you that the Russian and Chinese were going to veto any resolution that would aid the Syrian people. So at some point in time, Secretary Clinton and the U.N. envoy, the U.N. ambassador Rice, we have to accept our own responsibility. We can't say such terms as the violence in Syria is unacceptable. We are accepting it. It goes on day after day. And the United States itself is doing nothing about it.
KING: Do you see any evidence that there's a change of heart or is this going to go on and is the killing going to continue while the world talks, but does nothing?
AJAMI: Well, I think there's one beat that you know very well more than the rest of us, I believe. You observe and understand the game in Washington very, very well. That is your beat.
Nothing will happen. That's my own prediction, my own fear, my own sense. Nothing is going to happen before the November election in 2012, before the bid of President Obama for a second term. I spent some time in Turkey. I spent some time in the refugee camps in Turkey, and even just simple people, simple people, unschooled, unlettered, they will tell you, no cavalry is coming to the rescue and that Washington has pretty much looked away and averted its gaze from this terrible slaughter. And everyone, the Arabs, the Turks, are waiting on the Obama administration and the rain of mercy has not come.
KING: Fouad Ajami, appreciate you insights today. I certainly hope, as much as I respect (INAUDIBLE), I hope you're wrong about waiting until the election, hundreds, if not, more that hundreds will die if we wait that long.
Fouad Ajami, appreciate you help tonight.
And coming up here, back to politics, and while Mitt Romney's phrase of an Arizona immigration law might turn into a huge problem for him come November.
KING: Arizona's tough immigration law now before the Supreme Court, and back front and center in the national political debate. President Obama considers it unconstitutional and mean spirited. And Mitt Romney?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You see a model here in Arizona. They passed a law here that says if people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration. It's time we finally did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tonight's truth is a rather simple math lesson. To win in November, Governor Romney needs to improve his standing with Latino voters. And the truth is, his embrace of the Arizona law, makes an already steep hill steeper.
The early numbers are beyond stunning. The latest "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll showed President Obama winning 69 percent of the Latino vote to 22 percent for Governor Romney. That's an even bigger advantage for the president than he enjoyed on Election Day back in 2008, when he received two-thirds of the Latino vote.
If Governor Romney can't close that gap, well, cross Nevada and New Mexico off the GOP target list, perhaps Colorado too. Florida would be much tougher. And the GOP's Latino crisis is a big reason Arizona is now within President Obama's reach in this campaign. The Obama campaign already up with Spanish language ads in key states, looking to protect its lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was the first in the family to go to college. President Obama understands. He understands what it is not to have everything that everyone else has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's not that the president isn't vulnerable. On Capitol Hill, just today, the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, reminded by a Republican senator, that the president broke his promise to submit comprehensive immigration reform legislation to Congress in his first year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAPOLITANO: As someone who spent a lot of hours visiting members of Congress on the hill, to see if there was any room for negotiation of a comprehensive bill, I would say, yes, there was a serious effort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's congress' fault?
NAPOLITANO: Senator, I think all of us have a responsibility to deal in a bipartisan way with a national problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Fair enough. But the promise from the president was to submit legislation, and the president never did that. The record number of deportations during his tenure also rankle some Latino groups.
But to make a case against President Obama, Republicans need to first repair their own credibility. And the immigration wars of recent years have damaged it greatly. Some of it is about policy, much of it, is the tone.
And again, simple math tells you how important it is. Latinos, now the fastest-growing slice of the American electorate, if Democrats keep getting two-thirds of their votes, truth is Republicans will have a lot more to worry about than just four more years of President Obama.
Joining us to talk truth tonight in Miami, Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and, in Washington, CNN political contributor, democratic strategist, Maria Cardona.
Ana, to you first. When you look at those poll numbers and you have the Arizona debate before the Supreme Court, what is it -- if you had some advice for Governor Romney, what is the one thing he must do to start to change those numbers?
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the Romney campaign has to wake up every morning and go to bed every morning thinking about those Latino numbers and how to reach out. I also think he needs to pivot and he needs to have a very frontal attack on Barack Obama for the promises he has not delivered on. For Hispanics, John, the concept of your word of honor is sacred, "to Palabra de Onor." He made a promise, no caveats to do immigration in his first year and he hasn't done it. And Mitt Romney has to begin and end every sentence on immigration reminding Latinos of that broken promise.
KING: Maria Cardona, you know the democratic community full well and I know while you support President Obama, you do. But we have to agree with Ana that that complaint is real, about the first year.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It is real, John, and the president understands that. But if you look at a Pew poll that came out a couple of weeks ago, it says that even with that -- even with that promise broken and the disappointment among Latinos about that, they still would overwhelmingly support President Obama, because the Republicans have done themselves such damage.
There's another in Spanish that says - (SPEAKING IN SPANISH) -- which means tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. And guess whose Romney's friends and advisers are, Kris Kobach, the author of sb-1070, Joe Arpaio, the most anti-immigrant sheriff in the country, Pete Wilson. We all know what he did to turn California blue. That's the problem with Mitt Romney in addition to his words saying he would veto the dream act. He wants sb-1070 as a model for the nation and he wants to build the fence. That is not the way to gain the Latino vote.
KING: So Anna, you just spoke moments ago of a pivot. Address Maria there. As Governor Romney pivots, does he need to listen to your friend, former governor Jeb Bush? Does he need to find an immigration plan that includes some status, some legal status for those here illegally?
NAVARRO: Look. I would take issue with a couple of the things Maria has just said. Certainly he has some of those advisers that neither you nor I like, Maria. But, you know, somebody can be an adviser but that doesn't mean the person getting the advice is going to actually take the advice.
CARDONA: Then why seek it?
NAVARRO: It does include people like Jeb Bush, like Marco Rubio, and the three Republican Congress people out of Florida, people who have been champions for immigration reform throughout their lives and taken risks on it.
And I would also tell you Mitt Romney did not say that it's sb- 1070 that should be a model for the country. It fortunately happened in a CNN debate where John King was the moderator and his answer referred to e-verify, which is a segment on a previous law, a law that had been passed three years before sb-1070 in Arizona.
You know, you don't like the bill sb-1070, I don't like it either. But I do think that we have to recognize that states like Arizona have a huge border problem, a huge immigration problem and it's the inaction of the federal government who should take responsibility and leadership on these issues that have led states like Arizona to take these drastic measures that we do not like, Maria.
KING: We had some conversation about the health care law. I want to ask you each in closing, Maria, let's say the Supreme Court upholds, upholds the Arizona law. How might that affect turnout come November?
CARDONA: I actually think that regardless of what happens with the law, John, the damage has been done to the Republican party because if you look at the kind of "ganas" which urges within the Latino community of going to make sure that Latinos register to vote, to make sure that they have their voices heard on this egregious law as well as the egregious tone that Mitt Romney as well as all of the other Republicans that he surrounds himself with have taken on immigration, that right there tells you the kind of damage that this law has done.
So Arizona I think it's quite appropriate that we're talking about the Grand Canyon state because the gap right now between Latinos and Romney and the Republicans, much larger than the Grand Canyon.
KING: Ana, will the court decision have any impact on Latino turnout, the Latino sentiment in November?
NAVARRO: Look. I think regardless of what happens with his court decision; the message here is that the federal government has to act. And that if the federal government does not want the states to take it upon themselves, then the federal government has got to address the issue.
But I would also tell you, you know, Obama has some harm to himself in the last three years. He won with Latinos with yes we can with sea safe win. Yes, we can. And three and a half years later, Latinos are experiencing great economic hardship. We have got no immigration reform and we got the highest rates of deportation, so no, he couldn't.
CARDONA: And neither could the Republicans. Not one today will come forward to say I'm with you on immigration reform.
KING: Anna Navarro, Maria Cardona, we'll continue the conversation. Thank you both for bringing some passion and some Spanish to the program.
CARDONA: There you go. Thanks, John.
KING: And still ahead here, two planes make emergency landings in New York in just one week. What's going on in the skies over the city?
And former president George W. Bush has an adoring fan, Dalai Lama. Why did Tibet leader say he loves Bush 43?
KING: Welcome back.
Here's Kate Bolduan with the latest news you need to know right now. Hello again.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello again. Hello again, everyone. Media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch, says he really doesn't have that much political influence. During hours of testimony today on the British phone hacking scandal, Murdoch also insisted his newspapers never lobby for his commercial interests. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPERT MURDOCH, MEDIA TYCOON: I want to put it to bed once and for all, that that is a complete myth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what's the myth, Mr. Murdoch?
MURDOCH: That I used the influence or supposed political power to get favorable treatment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Also today, Britain's culture secretary rejected allegations he served as a back channel between the government and Murdoch's news corporation.
British authorities today said a little girl who vanished five years ago in Portugal may still be alive. You probably don't forget this story. They released this image of what Madeleine McCann may look like now saying evidence uncovered during a review of the case gives them new hope. Madeleine was a few days shy of her fourth birthday when she disappeared during a family vacation back in 2007.
And another bird versus plane incident to tell you about, a JetBlue flight made an emergency landing this week after a bird smashed into its windshield. I think we have some video of that, upon takeoff from Westchester airport just north of New York city. Just last Thursday, you may remember, a bird hit a delta flight forcing it to make an emergency landing at JFK airport. Very, very scary, John.
KING: For the record, not -- not why I took the train today. All right, Kate.
Finally, you don't want to miss this. A moment you don't want to miss. Former president George W. Bush, guess what, he has an admirer, a big global admirer, Dalai Lama. Here's what the exile Tibet leader told our Piers Morgan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DALAI LAMA, EXILED TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: I love President Bush.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: Which one?
LAMA: The younger one. MORGAN: Rally?
LAMA: Fascinating human being.
LAMA: Not as the president of America, his policy may not be very successful, but as a person, as a human being, very nice person. I love him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's a big endorsement there from a big human rights leader on the world stage.
BOLDUAN: That is a big endorsement. I always love to hear the Dalai Lama's insights. I mean, have you had a chance to interview him?
KING: I have not. Charlotte passing was to set it low, but no interview. I would love to sit down and have that conversation.
BOLDUAN: We will work on that.
KING: Watch Piers tonight at 9:00. That's all for us, see you tomorrow. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.