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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Primary Elections; Gay Marriage; Foiled al Qaeda Plot

Aired May 8, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT next we have breaking news. Polls closing in primary elections tonight and there are some very big races going on, one that could drastically change Washington. We have the results coming in, in just literally could be seconds.

We now know how the CIA foiled an al Qaeda plot to bring a U.S. bound plane. We've got the details. A double agent is involved. This news is literally developing at this hour and we have the very latest in just a moment. Also a new chief in charge of the Sanford Police Department tonight following the Trayvon Martin case; that chief OUTFRONT tonight.

OUTFRONT tonight we have breaking news because the polls have just closed in Indiana and this is a crucial contest. And we're not talking about the Mitt Romney contest. We are talking about Republican Senator Richard Lugar unchallenged in office for 35 years. He is expected to lose in the primary to Tea Party backed Richard Mourdock tonight. Now the key to Mourdock's success at this point has been linking Lugar to moderates and to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP/POLITICAL AD)

He mentioned him in his announcement speech.

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law.

He used him in a commercial to sway Indiana voters.

OBAMA: What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar.

He said that Lugar was among a handful of people --

"Who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House."

OBAMA: I'm interesting in figuring out my foreign policy. I associate myself with my running mate Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. That should give you a sense of how pleasant that campaign was although I'm sure some media companies made money in Indiana in the past month. The other big reason though of course is big money, out of state donors and Super PACs backing both candidates have poured $4 million into the Senate primary race. That makes the most expensive this year.

The National Antitax Group Club for Growth alone spent $1.7 million. Those were all in attack ads against Lugar. Lugar says if he loses negative campaign will be why. But it's not just in Indiana. Across the country centrist Republicans are facing tough challenges for more conservative members of the Tea Party. Some of the most centrist members of Congress are retiring including Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, Independent Joe Lieberman.

So are the only people willing to find the middle ground disappearing from Washington? John Avlon is with us, James Carville, and Hogan Gidley the communications director for Rick Santorum. It was a late night. I got a little red light going off, Hogan, and you know something coming from your camp. And I'm going to get to that in a moment.

But let me start with you, John Avlon. This is pretty tragic that we have gotten to this point where working together is a negative thing. That attack ad was rather grim.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes and that attack ad expresses what is going on in the grassroots right now. This is why this primary matters to everyone at home. If you are frustrated with the way Washington isn't working, with the division and dysfunction this primary is an important reason why. Right now reaching across the aisle to try to solve a problem is a hanging offense in the Republican Party primaries. This rhino-hunting and dino-hunting is only going to divide us further and to someone like Dick Lugar who's got a record to reach across the aisle that becomes a big bully's eye on his back, we have a problem in America.

BURNETT: Hogan, let me ask you a question. You've have talked about Dick Lugar as an example of a quote, unquote "squishy Republican". He does come off as one of the most moderate senators. But don't you have to reach across the aisle to get things done? I mean isn't the kind of thing you may not like every idea he has, but the concept of an elected official that we should be wanting more of.

HOGAN GIDLEY, FMR. DIR. OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR RICK SANTORUM: Sure, Erin. No, I understand. I mean look compromise needs to happen in order to get things down. At the end of the day you have to govern something. I think we all know that. I think that is one of the things that's sorely lacking in Washington D.C. Rigidity (INAUDIBLE) campaign but it can't help you govern anything, but at the same time we want people to compromise. We just don't want them to compromise on their core principles, their core convictions. And the fact of the matter is Senator Lugar had a few problems with the base. And I mean look he's kind of gone uncontested there for three decades and he met somebody in this race who is very popular, who has won two statewide elections and has the backing of folks in the conservative movement and he's going to obviously have some problems tonight.

BURNETT: Well he was hurt John Avlon by the fact that he hadn't lived in Indiana for a long time and there were things here that were not just of the base.

AVLON: Yes, but let's be -- let's be clear. I mean not just the ads that are running against him, but his opponent Richard Mourdock who said the time for collegiality is past. It is time for confrontation. If that is the kind of change you are representing that is change in the wrong direction if you care about making Washington work.

BURNETT: James Carville, what -- I mean Tea Party, a lot of people said that was it. It had had its time and it was sort of trailing off. I think we all would have to acknowledge that that is not the case.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think (INAUDIBLE) time in the Republican Party and remember it was the Tea Party that gave us such (INAUDIBLE) Sharron Angle or Christine O'Donnell, whoever this clown was in Colorado. You know and look they are organized and they -- as they have every right to be and apparently they've given Senator Lugar the (INAUDIBLE) you know probably going to beat him if the polls are to be believed --

BURNETT: That's what the polls certainly indicate at this point.

CARVILLE: Yes. I'm certainly pulling for the Tea Party. I'll tell you that.

AVLON: And there you have it.

BURNETT: And that's the problem, James.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: You wrote an op-ed today though talking about something that I think we have all been hearing. A lot of people have been saying sort of and you know (INAUDIBLE) oh Barack Obama has this.

CARVILLE: Yes.

BURNETT: He is going to win this. And you said let me just make it clear this is you and not me. "What are you smoking? What are you drinking? What are you snorting or just what in the hell are you thinking?"

CARVILLE: Right. Who could look at the world and not just the United States. United States in 2008, United States in 2010, everywhere in the world look what happened in Britain, Cameron lost an election. In Germany Merkel was losing. Look what happened in France. Look what happened in Greece. Look what happened everywhere in the world.

What incumbent would be confident in this environment? Except for some reason the U.S. Democrats have -- and I think it -- you know it has to do with like how bad the Republicans are, but you know in the end that's not -- we got to get -- we got to tighten up here. This thing is not -- is nowhere near in the bag. It's a really tough election and they're raising (INAUDIBLE) lobbyists, but not tens of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars in this election and we're just not anywhere near aggressive enough.

BURNETT: Hogan, what do you make of this though? I mean considering that obviously Rick Santorum was more conservative than Mitt Romney, so when it came to who was getting the nomination for the Republican Party it was not the most conservative person, which is a little bit different than what we're seeing tonight in Indiana.

GIDLEY: Right, well I mean every race is different. And you know it didn't have any name ID. He was virtually unknown. He had no money compared to Mitt Romney, so those are a lot of factors that led up to the suspension of the campaign. There's no doubt about that.

I mean Mitt Romney just did this a few years ago, but you know I think on a larger scale and James alluded to some of this earlier, but you know I mean this is going to be a dog fight. There is going to be a ton of money spent in this race, something like we have never seen and don't forget even in this cycle, I mean you're talking about, even in 2010 it wasn't this bad with Twitter and Facebook and things, the emergence of the social media that is -- it is just every second something is going on with these candidates.

And every word is parse like it never has been before and this is going to be one of the most interesting and historical races of our lifetime not just because of the two sides, but just because of everything that is going to be going on under the surface that we all care about that it's going to be interesting to see what we care about every day. And what the average person cares about who is watching this at arm's length and won't get involved until after the summer.

CARVILLE: I wonder how many tens of millions of dollars in negative ads Mitt Romney and his Super PAC dumped on Rick Santorum. I mean they never let -- they never had a discussion about ideology. They just went in and every time that they went they just croaked with negative ads. And Santorum looked at Pennsylvania and said this guy is going to dump another five or six million. I mean this is a man to go negative in a second. And again he has the whole pollution lobby sitting there ready to fund him and Democrats are sitting there being confident.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It makes utterly no sense to me.

BURNETT: Well you got George Soros throwing millions of dollars in now. You are going to get negativity from both sides.

CARVILLE: Oh you'll get some, but not -- there's nobody the Democrat (INAUDIBLE) long way off and people tell me every day -- people say oh I don't need to give to that, but Obama is going to win or the Democrats are going to win. You hear that constantly out in the country and I'm (INAUDIBLE) tell Democrats around the country we haven't won anything yet. We are in the fight of our lives. And that's my very cogent message. Don't sit back here at all.

AVLON: Yes and the problems that Democratic Super PACs are having raising money is a direct reaction to the enthusiasm gap that exists in the overconfidence that's going on with the Democrats right now.

CARVILLE: I agree --

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Every -- look every journalist, everybody that talks (INAUDIBLE) every person that I go out, it's not like I just woke up one day and said I'm going to write this. This is something I have been hearing and I'm going like whoa, no.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to all three of you.

All right "OutFront 2" is next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Still OUTFRONT Biden blasts Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we took office there was virtually no international pressure on Iran. We were the problem.

BURNETT: Sanford's new chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell you that many of my professional colleagues told me to turn and run in the opposite direction.

BURNETT: All this OUTFRONT when we come back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right coming up a mystery man in the foiled al Qaeda plot to bring down a plane bound for this country. A double agent and we are getting new details just in the past few minutes about who this person was and how they got this bomb through. We are also joined by the new police chief in Sanford who took over after the handling of the Trayvon Martin case.

All right we do have some breaking news though right now. CNN now projecting Mitt Romney is the winner of tonight's Indiana primary. Now certainly that was widely expected, but I want to give you the numbers because some of this might be a little surprising to some of you. Twenty-three percent of the precincts now reporting in the state of Indiana 64 percent going to Mitt Romney, but 14 percent to Rick Santorum, 14 percent to Ron Paul, seven percent to Newt Gingrich at this time so still a lot of people voting for not Mitt Romney even though only Mitt Romney is really in the running.

OK, first our second story OUTFRONT polls are closing in 15 minutes in North Carolina. Now in North Carolina the story is an incredible story about gay rights in America. OK, there is an amendment to the state constitution that is at stake which would ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. It is already against the law to have gay marriage in North Carolina. This takes it further constitutionally making civil unions also not allowed. Everyone from the Reverend Billy Graham to the former President Bill Clinton have tried to sway the vote. Bill Clinton even did robo calls, but it is still expected to pass tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello this is President Bill Clinton. I'm calling to urge you to vote against Amendment One on Tuesday May 8th. If it passes it won't change North Carolina's law on marriage. What it will change is North Carolina's ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right national opinion is split down the middle on this and this is actually pretty interesting because people in favor of gay marriage actually dropped just a few percentage points. It was 53 now down to 50. The topic is a huge point of contention in the presidential race with pressure mounting for President Obama to explain his evolving position on the issue.

The Obama campaign struck back today slamming Mitt Romney for his position saying in a statement quote "on the issues important to gays and lesbians, Governor Romney hasn't evolved. He has regressed." That is the kind of rhetoric that is frankly a little annoying. John Avlon, Hogan Gidley and Michelle Goldberg, senior contributor for "Newsweek" and "Daily Beast" are with us.

John Avlon, I mean I'm you know just saying this is the sort of thing where we can put everything into a little etch-a-sketch kind of a world and it is that simple and --

AVLON: Yes in this case though I mean Romney has regressed in terms of where he was in 1994 and because you know he has a different constituency. This is the point of Romney the salesman, right, when he's making a sales pitch to the voters in Massachusetts it's fundamentally different than the sales pitch he's trying to the conservatives --

BURNETT: That's right.

AVLON: -- in the Republican base, but it ties him up in knots on important national issues.

BURNETT: Of course Michelle, it does enable the president to dodge, but I think a lot of people want in his own party, which is evolve is hardly a strong definitive term in and of itself, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

BURNETT: You don't want to define what evolve is go punch back on someone regressing, but -- MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SR. CONTRIBUTING WRITER, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: Well I think that -- I mean look I don't think that anybody on either side believes that Obama in his heart opposes gay marriage and so there was a time I think when it was probably politically important. It was probably -- you know a few years ago you kind of couldn't run for president having what I think is the decent position on equal marriage rights.

But that time has passed. It is now supported by the overwhelming majority of Democrats and a pretty strong majority of Independents. And so I think you know in -- when George W. Bush was running for reelection in 2004 this was a really powerful wedge issue for the Republicans.

BURNETT: Right.

GOLDBERG: I think we are approaching the point at which it can be a powerful wedge issue for Democrats if the president would embrace what I think we all believe that he believes.

BURNETT: Hogan, what's your point of view on this? I mean in 2004 I know 13 states had gay marriage referendum as part of their November election ballots and that did drive turnout. You had turnout up four percent and people said that was part of the reason why. So is this a mistake that North Carolina is doing this early that it would motivate the base or do they realize that this is not an issue that's going to motivate Independents and if you're going to do it you should not be doing it in November?

GIDLEY: No, I mean I think from what I understand -- I've talked to a lot of people on the ground there today and in the past weeks, having lived there for awhile. My mama lives there now actually, so I'm pretty familiar with the state. And from what I understand this thing has been sitting around for all -- better part of a decade this piece of legislation. And since the legislature was controlled by the Democrats for that, you know since reconstruction basically that flipped in the last cycle.

And so inevitably this piece of legislation came up. It is probably going to pass tonight overwhelmingly so. And North Carolina is really the last state in the south that hasn't passed a marriage amendment. I mean pretty much from South Carolina all the way through Texas has a marriage amendment and they thought it was time to do it. And you know elections have consequences. And when you put people in office who want to do things like ban gay marriage if they are worth their salt at all they are going to put it up. They're going to work to pass it and this is what's happened here in North Carolina.

BURNETT: A final question to you, Hogan, I'm just reading the CNN summary of Rick Santorum's endorsement of Mitt Romney last night. And I have to admit it was very well written but it did take until paragraph 13 in order for there to be an endorsement. I mean 13 is not --

GIDLEY: He is a senator.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: So --

GIDLEY: He's a senator, Erin.

(CROSSTALK)

GIDLEY: They get to their point eventually. No, he's a senator. I mean it takes a while to get to their point. They finally do, but look, I mean if -- you know this. You are in journalism. I was in it, too. I mean you know you bury the lead so everyone will read the rest of it to get to the lead. If you put the lead up top they will just tweak the lead and go on about their business and about their day, but --

(LAUGHTER)

GIDLEY: You know he put it out last night late --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's pretty much the opposite --

GIDLEY: -- so that it would be -- no, he put it -- I know, but in this instance you read the entire thing. He put it out late last night, so it would be first in your inbox this morning and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GIDLEY: -- what do we do? We have been talking about it all day, so it's actually worked pretty well for him.

BURNETT: I got to say that strategy I might buy in that case --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: -- anyone comes on this show (INAUDIBLE).

AVLON: Yes, I mean that's an inspired spin --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: -- but that ain't the truth --

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) All right thanks very much to all of you.

We do have new details as I said just coming in, in the past few minutes about the CIA frankly success in stopping the al Qaeda plot to bomb a U.S.-bound plane. There was a double agent, our Fran Townsend has been working her sources, can tell us more about the person and her reporting that there could be other bombs out there. She's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Vice President Joe Biden made a prediction about what will happen to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He was pretty aggressive about it. We're going to tell you exactly what he said and who he said it to today.

And the new police chief of Sanford our guest tonight. But our third OUTFRONT story, breaking news, our Fran Townsend has just confirmed the bomber in a thwarted plot to blow up an American-bound airliner was actually a CIA double agent who infiltrated the terrorist group planning the attack. Now a foreign intelligence source tells Fran the CIA worked with Saudi intelligence in the operation and Fran is with me now.

Obviously a former member of -- well she's still a member of the CIA and Department of Homeland Security Advisory Board. So Fran tell me what you have learned tonight and how -- you know do we define sort of double agent? I mean I know in spy talk that's a -- is sort of as good as it gets but what does it actually mean?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well OK, so it shouldn't really surprise us. Remember when the story was just breaking and we had official statements from the White House and others in the administration they were saying there hadn't been a threat to the U.S. They were confident. They were confident that the would-be bomber was no longer a threat. Well we now understand why they were so confident, right, they controlled him.

The notion of a double agent is when you have an agent who you infiltrate into a foreign organization. And they actually don't know he is working for you. They think he's working for them. And so in this case al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has this guy who volunteers send me in coach. He is going to wear this new device and he's going to blow up a plane. What he doesn't realize is that when he says that, when he makes that offer he is actually working for the U.S., the CIA along with the Saudi Intelligence Service and he's reporting back to them.

BURNETT: Now we have made mistakes and obviously with the SEALs that were killed in Afghanistan. I mean these sorts of things have gone awry so I'd imagine they perceive this to be a very big success.

TOWNSEND: Oh absolutely, absolutely -- I think you were referring to is the incident in Khowst, Afghanistan where they were bringing in an (INAUDIBLE) --

BURNETT: Yes.

TOWNSEND: And we didn't realize he was working for the bad guys and he had all these CIA officers who were killed tragically. This is obviously one that worked and because of that very horrible tragedy for the CIA this is a particularly satisfying moment for them.

BURNETT: All right, so what do we know about -- I know -- your reporting (INAUDIBLE) not only that the double agent was responsible for this but that there could be other bombs like this out there.

TOWNSEND: Well here's the thing. One of the reasons that you've heard all day and frankly over the last 24 hours real concern from the administration from Capitol Hill about all these leaks is what one source said to me, look you don't know what you don't know. We know -- we know this one guy volunteered and they made a bomb for him, but were there other volunteers. Did the bomb maker -- they believe it's the Assiri cell in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Did they make other bombs?

I can tell you, Erin, from my own experience al Qaeda normally launches these multiple simultaneous attacks. And so it would be very odd that they would make just one bomb. They would normally make several and deploy people and so they're obviously -- when people tell you this is an on going investigation that is what they are talking about. They want to know whether or not there are other would-be bombers and other potential devices.

BURNETT: All right, well Fran Townsend thank you very much (INAUDIBLE) very important question mark for all of us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: All right we have breaking news. It is 7:30 and the polls in North Carolina have just closed. Now there is a crucial issue on the ballot tonight, a controversial amendment to the constitution in the state which would ban not only gay marriage, but also civil unions and domestic partnerships. We'll keep you posted as we get more information as those numbers come in.

And now stories we care about where we're focusing on our own reporting from the front lines and there are new developments tonight in the search for a man accused of kidnapping a Tennessee mother and her three children. Video released today shows Adam Mayes in a convenience store the day before he disappeared. We've learned Mayes mother and wife were arrested for aggravated kidnapping.

According to the arrest warrant, both women witnessed Mayes digging holes in the backyard of his mother's home. That is where the bodies of Jo Ann Bain and her eldest child, 14-year-old Adrienne were found.

Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding the two girls still missing.

We have been talking about the ongoing drama surrounding Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson's biography. It claimed that he had graduated with a degree in computer science but he has not. Today, CNN obtained a letter he sent to employees. He apologized for the distraction his resume error has caused. Yahoo has also said -- the board member that was heading up the search for the company CEO would not run for reelection at the company's meetings.

Well, today more than 100 pilots staged a sickout due to the training for the Dreamliner. Yes, the Dreamliner and Air India. This goes back to when Air India merge within Indian Airlines. Air India pilots are upset pilots from both are getting trained on the Dreamliner. They say training pilots from both the original companies hurts their careers. The airline has fired 10 pilots, decided to stop recognizing the Indian Pilots Guild, and there have been flights cancelled in Newark heading to Mumbai today. All of this because Air India wants that Dreamliner within this month.

It has been 278 days since this country lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, of course, the elections in Europe are causing some problems. Oil prices fell as a result of worries on the economy. But this is the good news: oil is down 9 percent in five days. It's now below $100 a barrel. You may not think that's great, but it does mean prices will generally fall about 10 percent at the pump over the next few weeks.

And in our fourth story OUTFRONT: Vice President Joe Biden came out in defense of the administration's stance on Iran more forcefully today than ever, talking to a group of rabbis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we took office, let me remind you, there was virtually no international pressure on Iran. We were the problem. We were diplomatically isolated in the world, in the region.

By going the extra diplomatic mile, presenting Iran with a clear choice, we demonstrated to the region and to the world that Iran is the problem, not the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Israeli government making a surprise announcement today also. They are not going to hold elections. They've got a new government. And you know what that means?

Well, here's what headliners writers around the world have said. In "The Jerusalem Post," they say a new balance on the cabinet on Iran. They say Netanyahu is tightening up the ranks, saying, "Mofaz- Netanyahu cabinet may pave the way for an Israeli strike on Iran."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told me that no options are off the table. When I asked him how he knows what Iran is doing, he gave an ominous pause and said, oh, I know.

All right. But all of this talk could mean the U.S. could get forced into action. Here is the vice president leaving no doubt on where America's loyalty stands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: America's support for Israel's security is not just an act of friendship and moral obligation. It is in a fundamental interest of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, Peter Beinart, author of "The Crisis of Zionism," and Patrick Clawson, research director at the Washington Institute.

Peter let me start with you.

Strong words from the vice president. In your book, you talk about the pressure the Obama administration is under, from very prominent and influential Jewish lobbying groups in this country, to come out strong not just in favor of Israel, which has all kinds of dispute about what to do here, but in favor of Benjamin Netanyahu's views particularly on strikes.

PETER BEINART, AUTHOR, "THE CRISIS OF ZIONISM": Well, I think to the fair to the American-Jewish organizations, they are not explicitly in favor of military action. What they have pushed for is tougher sanctions. I don't think sanctions in and of themselves are a bad thing.

BURNETT: Right.

BEINART: The question is, what are they for? Sanctions are not an end of itself. It seems to me the sanctions have to be coupled with smart diplomacy so that we pressure the Iranians, to the point where we can ultimately we get a deal that stops them from getting a nuclear weapon.

BURNETT: And do you worry, though, that the rhetoric here continues to rise and rise? That you could end up in a position where nobody wants to strike, but they might end up having to -- not just to save face perhaps, but because if you don't, you do look weak and you do lose credibility, that rhetoric gets out of control?

BEINART: Well, I think you're right. There is this danger that war could spiral out of control from some accidental means. But I think the administration has actually done a good job of putting the Iranians in a position now where the Iranians are actually willing to go to the table.

I think the question is, can we keep the pressure up and also offer a realistic deal such that the Iranians would actually accept it and we can stop the Iranian short of a nuclear weapon. And then hope, of course, that sometimes down the line, this regime falls.

BURNETT: Patrick, what happens here? I mean, some of these debates, these headlines as you saw coming out saying that what we are seeing out of Israel today and Netanyahu government shows that Israel is moving closer to striking on Iran. Some are saying not to striking on Iran but striking Iran before the U.S. elections.

What's your take on what this bottom line is?

PATRICK CLAWSON, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE: Well, in my personal life, I'm very good at postponing making difficult decisions. And I have a lot of respect for the ability of Israeli politicians to do the same. So, there's a lot of agonizing in Israel about what to do. I would be very surprised if Israeli politicians took a risky move like striking Iran until the very last minute when they felt they had no other choice.

BURNETT: The Romney campaign came out today, calling Biden's comments completely inaccurate. By the way, when he said that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was going to be gone from office in two years, implying he'd be kicked out or some way, I mean, we should just be clear. Yes, there's term limits. And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not going to be in office next summer. So, that's not necessarily something that would be the result of anything more dramatic.

But the Romney campaign said, Patrick, quote, "Of President Obama's naive approach to Iran has given the regime valuable time to get closer than ever before to a nuclear weapons capability."

Is that -- is that the way to look at this? Or is it Joe Biden's way, which says President Obama has been the man there could be against Iran?

CLAWSON: Well, under President Bush, the Iranians suspended their uranium enrichment for 2 1/2 years, whereas under Obama they keep going full bore. Under Bush, the United Nations Security Council adopted five resolutions putting Iran to stop in three rounds of sanctions resolutions. Under Obama, we only have one Security Council resolution.

So, Obama has a lot of accomplishments regarding Iran. But, frankly, Bush was pushing hard on this one and did a lot to help form that international coalition that Obama has strengthened further.

BURNETT: Peter, what's the bottom line for you in terms of the role Israel is going to play in American politics? Is Israel losing in power in part because of this issue and an American public that really does not want confrontation?

BEINART: Look, I think the American public generally supports Israel very strongly, certainly Israel's right to exist and I myself think it's very important that America maintain Israel's military technological advantage.

BURNETT: Right.

BEINART: But I do think we are a country that is weary of war. Israeli's don't want to jump into war either. But I think that there are concerns in the U.S. military as to what the implications of an Israeli strike could be for U.S. soldiers who are in Afghanistan, for U.S. soldiers who are in the Gulf.

And it's also very important to know that many, many top security professionals in Israeli themselves are very, very wary about the consequences of military action.

BURNETT: We made that clear recently. I mean, I was with Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago, and he was very, very aggressive and the backlash was: don't go, don't go, don't strike. BEINART: There's been a virtual revolt from lead people from the Israeli army, from people from its intelligence services on this question. So, I think that the cooler heads both in our national security establishment and theirs I think are saying don't rush into this war. Give sanctions and diplomacy a chance to stop Iran short of a nuclear weapon.

BURNETT: Patrick, our final word to you. Do you think we're going to start ending up having the conversation that the way the pendulum swings here? That, you know, first, it was: will Israel strike before the election. Then it was the revolt, as Peter is talking about, other leaders in Israel saying don't.

Now you have this new government and headlines saying that this makes the strike before the election more likely. Is that conversation on the table again?

CLAWSON: What's going to put it back on the table is if the negotiations with the Iranians stall, because now we've got a new round coming up in Baghdad on May 23rd. And if the Iranians put forward impossible conditions, if it looks like there is not a deal, then by the end of the summer, we'll be back to talk about, OK, what's our plan B? But it's the Iranian action that's going to be driving whether or not we're talking about having to do a plan B.

We all would al prefer to go with plan A, which is a compromise with the Iranians.

BURNETT: Right.

CLAWSON: We'll find out if that's on the cards or not.

BURNETT: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu told me, Peter, that there is no compromise, no enrichment at all. He personally looks at no enrichment at all. Of course, most people have said, well, there would be some enrichment. That would be appropriate for medical uses. He is going to say none at all and they're going to say that. Then you have a problem.

BEINART: I think this is the gap between the U.S. and this Israeli government, not between all Israeli leaders, but this Israeli government. I think the U.S. would be willing to accept something else given our pessimism about the chance of a military strike would actually succeed.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate it.

We've got new revelations today in the Penn State child sex assault case against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. And the information could literally be a game changer for Sandusky. Right now, he is charged with 50 counts involving alleged sexual acts, with 10 children.

But the case against him hinges on the eyewitness account of that man, Mike McQueary, the assistant coach. He told a grand jury he saw Sandusky sexually assault a child in a shower in March of 2002.

But it now appears that wasn't the case. The judge ruled that McQueary got his dates wrong. That this if it happened a whole year before.

So, does this hurt his credulity? And does this mean we're going to get statute of limitations? It's a crucial question and it's next.

CNN legal contributor Paul Callan is OUTFRONT.

Paul, let me just get to the bottom line of this in terms of statute of limitations.

Everyone has been saying, oh, well, if this is true, it happened a year before, at least, could it affect the statute of limitations for Jerry Sandusky? Not the other people involved from Penn State in the case. For Jerry Sandusky, does this affect whether this case could move ahead for him?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, it will not effect the statute of limitations for Sandusky even if it happened a year before. The case was brought in plenty of time under the statute of limitations. So, he's not going to win on that basis.

BURNETT: What about credibility, though? If this -- you know, I think most people would say if you saw someone that you worked for, anyone, a grown man molesting a child in the shower, you would remember the day for the rest of your life.

CALLAN: Very good point. And what I wonder about is whether this is a mistake by McQueary or by the prosecutors in the case. And the reason I say that is that remember the reports in this supposedly McQueary went home and told his father.

BURNETT: Right.

CALLAN: The father then brought a doctor who works on the campus because he wanted to run it by him. And then a day or so later, he went to Joe Paterno, the Penn State coach, and told him about it, and then shortly after something was reported to the Penn State administrators.

So, we have all of these records of him making reports. So presumably the prosecutors knew that. If McQueary was making a mistake about the date, I mean, why didn't somebody say something to him? So, I think this in the end is not going to amount to much but a little egg on the face of the prosecutors because they didn't straighten out the date situation.

BURNETT: Right. Well, what about the alleged shower victim? That's a victim, too. I mean, we still don't know who that is, right? Is that significant?

CALLAN: Well, it's very significant and I'll tell you why. Remember, McQueary says he heard the sounds coming from the shower and then he witnessed this terrible act of sexual abuse in the shower. BURNETT: Right.

CALLAN: The kid, who allegedly was abused and would now be an adult, has never ever come forward and said, "I'm the person in the shower." He remains an unnamed victim.

Joe Amendola, the attorney for Sandusky, has said, "I have a witness who says he was the kid in the shower and that nothing happened in the shower. There was just horsing around going on."

So, you know, there is a real problem with the case in that respect, substantively what happened. And I think there's already a lot of reasonable doubt floating around with respect to the shower incident.

BURNETT: All right. One thing that I never understood about this, Paul, is why a grown man would be engaging in horseplay naked with a child in the shower, whatever is going on. I have never understood that.

But obviously I know that this case --

CALLAN: Don't look to me for an answer because I don't understand that either. It's always been amazing to me that that was the defense in the case.

But, you know something? Maybe it's going to work for him because he's got the kid. The kid is coming in. He's an adult now and he's going to say nothing bad happened. So --

BURNETT: All right.

OUTFRONT five is next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT (voice-over): Still OUTFRONT, Sanford's new chief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell you that many of my professional colleagues told me to turn and run in the opposite direction.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT honors.

All this OUTFRONT when we come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We're back with our "Outer Circle". We reach to our sources around the world.

And tonight, in China, authorities have refused to renew the press credentials. The English language al Jazeera correspondent in Beijing not issuing a visa for her replacement. So, al Jazeera just shut down their Beijing bureau. It's thought to be the first expulsion of a foreign journalist from China since 1988. Chinese authorities have been silent on the reason why.

Our Stan Grant is still in Beijing and I asked him if other media companies and even himself are worried they could be next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, media rights group are certainly concerned about the signals of the expulsion of the al Jazeera sends to the rest of the foreign media here in Beijing. And already, there are concerns amongst individual reporter who have been warned by authorities here that they also may have had their visas revoked over the reporting of the Chen Guangcheng affair. This is a very sensitive time in China, not just because of the Chen story, but also of the Bo Xilai story which has been capturing headlines and the leadership transition for later on this year. The media caught in the middle -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Thanks to Stan.

And we do have breaking news right now. We want to give you the call for Indiana.

Richard Lugar, Dick Lugar has lost in Indiana tonight, in the Senate primary. He's lost to the Tea Party rising star there, Richard Mourdock. With 67 percent of the precincts reporting, Richard Mourdock, as you can see, we are making the call here at CNN, is the winner. And right now, with 67 percent of the precincts reporting, 61 percent going to Richard Mourdock and 39 percent to Dick Lugar, of course, who have been a 35-year serving senator from Indiana, losing in the primary to the Tea Partier Richard Mourdock.

Let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Yes, Erin.

We're going to have the latest on the al Qaeda bomb plot. As you reported, CNN has learned the plot was unraveled with the help of a double agent who managed to infiltrate the terror group. We're going to speak to Congressman Peter King, the homeland security committee chairman, about the latest, including new details on the bomb itself. Apparently, a new kind of underwear bomb.

Plus, a man hunt underway for Adam Mayes, accused of abducting Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters. Now, Bain is dead, along with one of her daughters. And the search is one for the other two girls who police believe may still be alive.

We've got an exclusive interview tonight with Adam Mayes' sister in law who was inside information on the case.

Last night, we told you about a veterans group that has raised millions of dollars. And according to its own financial forms, not one dime has been used for direct services to military veterans. Tonight, we are keeping them honest. CNN's Drew Griffin goes directly to their offices, looking for answers.

Those stories and the latest elections results tonight and more, plus the "Ridiculist" -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, see you in just a couple of moments, looking forward to that.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT.

Volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman's lawyers entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment today in court.

Zimmerman is facing second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Now, his family said he was targeted because he was black.

The Sanford Police Department has been under heavy criticism for its handling of the investigation. Now, there's a new interim chief has been named.

Richard Myers, who's from Colorado, is now tasked with leading the department and he's OUTFRONT tonight.

And, Chief, good to see you.

A lot of people are going to say, first of all, OK, you're not from Florida, you're not from anywhere around here. You're from Colorado.

How did you end up being the guy coming in for this job?

RICHARD MYERS, INTERIM CHIEF, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, actually, I'm from the upper Midwest, but I have served as a police chief in four states now, with 35-year career in policy and so, I ended up in Florida, I believe, because that experience that comes from a diverse background and I don't have a dog in the fight, so to speak.

BURNETT: And so, this is -- it's just a challenge? I mean, you're in -- your success or failure is going to be noted around the country and you're up for that?

MYERS: Well, you know, after become in this line of work this long, I don't see this as a win or lose proposition. I'm here to help, I'm here to help the community. There's a lot of healing that has to take place. I'm here to help the department get some stability. They've been through a lot.

And, of course, the family members of the victims involved in this and everyone else in the community has been victimized, traumatized.

So, I'm just here to help. I don't see it as a win or lose. Ands hopefully, I can offer some help.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me just ask you about the key question people have been saying, that race is an issue here. That not only was Trayvon Martin shot because he was black, but that -- whether you think that is true or not true, the fact that George Zimmerman was not taken into custody had a lot to do with the players here, and had a lot to do with race.

Do you think that that's true?

MYERS: You know, it's pretty early, I have been on the job four days, and I really haven't had a thorough briefing on the Martin homicide case. I do plan to look into that.

But the reality is, across the nation, in America today, there still exists a great deal of unresolved tension about race and policing. And I have a particular passion for working on those issues and helping to resolve conflict. So, whether or not that was a factor in this case, it certainly is a factor in some tension that exists and some history in Sanford and we're going to work on that.

BURNETT: So talk to me a little bit got that, because people do feel -- they experience this in their own lives or they feel passionately about it.

What are some of the racial profiling that still goes on around this country in police departments that you think you can play a role in stopping?

MYERS: Well, I think it all begins with relationship building. Everything is done through relationships. And one of my major goals is to try and strengthen the relationship that Sanford police have with al elements of the community, especially the African-American community, because that's where the highest level of tension exists.

And so, it's a lot harder to mistrust someone that you know than it is to not trust the people you don't know.

BURNETT: So, have the police officers been coming in and trying to get your time? And part of me is shocked that you have been there four days and you haven't been inundated by them wanting to come in and give their side of the story and talking to you.

MYERS: Well, remember, I'm trying to strike a balance, both attending to the needs of the department but also outreach in the community. So today, for example, I spent an hour and a half with a couple of community leaders, if you will, from the African-American community. Having this very discussion about how do we get the dialogue going, and at the same time I try and lend an ear to the police officers to talk about what their concerns and problems are.

BURNETT: Final question, neighborhood watch -- should we have it in this country and should neighborhood watch people be armed?

MYERS: Well, I think that's a fair question, should they be armed? I think if you take that element away, neighborhood watch is at work in literally thousands of neighborhoods across the country, and with no problems whatsoever. I think the problems emerge from who the person is, and perhaps there is a cause for communities to take a good, hard look at who is selected or who volunteers. But let's not kill the concept because of one bad, really bad outcome.

BURNETT: Chief Myers, thank you very much. Appreciate you coming OUTFRONT tonight.

And next, OUTFRONT honors the loss of Maurice Sendak. And well, we talk about an experience with gnashing teeth, where the wild things are.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: On this show, we try to highlight people and ideas that are OUTFRONT, creative, passionate and wild.

We lost one of those people today. Maurice Sendak has been the Picasso of children's book. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career designing displays for FAO Schwarz. Then he entered the world of publishing, and illustrated what you probably know him for, dozens of books for other authors.

The first he wrote and illustrated himself, "Kenny's Window," was in 1956,. And then, "In the Night Kitchen," outside over there and, of course, "Where the Wild Things Are". They redefined children's literature and inspired and amazed generations of readers.

And not just in the United States. This is amazing. When I was in China last year, I was invited, I went and spent sometime with children. They were at a summer camp and they were learning English at summer camp.

So I brought along a few of my favorite children's books, and one of them that I decided, along with my sisters, whose kids around the stage, was to bring Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." And one of the students was a boy named Bill and that's us reading, "Where the Wild Things Are." He loved that book.

We sometimes think, you know, other countries, and they look at America, they say, oh, American movies and iPads and believe me, they like those things. But, wow, they loved that book. Billy loved it. And he still has it -- particularly a book as fantastic as "Where the Wild Things Are.

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BURNETT: Just a wonderful moment.

Thanks so much for watching. Anderson starts now.