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JOHN KING, USA
Interview With Indiana Senatorial Candidate Richard Mourdock; President Obama Supports Gay Marriage; Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Evolution
Aired May 9, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm John King.
Tonight: President Obama uses an Oval Office interview to endorse same-sex marriage, ending what he calls a personal revolution and putting the culture wars front and center in campaign 2012.
Indiana voters decide to retire 36-year Senator Richard Lugar. Tonight, we will talk to the man who stunned Lugar by accusing him of being too open to working with Democrats.
And tonight's "Truth" is last night's biggest lesson, the 2012 political climate and the state-by-state presidential map looks a lot different now than it did when President Obama won back in 2008.
We begin tonight with new details about President Obama's personal evolution on a potent political issue, same-sex marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With that in that Oval Office interview with ABC News, the president officially switched his position. In 2008, he ran as a candidate who opposed same-sex marriage. CNN is told tonight he is now ready to not only personally support same-sex marriage, but to green-light those who want to add language to effect to the Democratic Party's 2012 campaign platform.
Well, why the switch?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient, that that was something that would give people hospital visitation rights and other elements that that we take for granted.
And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, you know, the word marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth. But I have to tell you that, over the course of several years, as I talk to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf, and yet feel constrained even now that don't ask, don't tell is gone, because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The president at length explaining his change of heart there.
I'm a moment, the political fallout, but, first, how the president and his divided political team decided to change his position and how they decided to announce it now.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is working her sources.
So, Jess, the White House says this was always the plan?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is interesting, John. It depends on who you talk to.
Several senior administration officials emphasized to me that the president always planned to come out in support of same-sex marriage prior to the Democratic Convention. And it was once Vice President Biden made those remarks on Sunday that it sort of forced his hand and made them decide to do it today, this week, as opposed to at another time.
But, you know, another senior administration official tells me that, in fact, there was division within the White House this week about whether he should come out in favor of same-sex marriage at all.
And the reason I find that plausible is because I know that there are Democratic officials who were very worried about the fact that some in the party were pushing for a plank at the convention in support of gay marriage and the president hadn't supported gay marriage.
If the president was always planning to come out in support of gay marriage, that wouldn't have been an issue. In any case, the one thing I can tell you is all officials emphasized that the president in his heart believed in gay marriage, supports same-sex marriage.
It was just a question of whether he should come out in favor of it before the election or not. Now that decision has been made, John.
KING: That question is now moot, so here is the question now. It is front and center, obviously. How do they expect it to play politically?
YELLIN: So officials here were quite frank, and they say they haven't played that out fully and they are not sure. But they are convinced that they -- people who were planning to vote for the president were not those who opposed gay marriage to begin with. They do not believe they will lose votes because of this. And it is not going to be a cornerstone of the campaign. He is not pushing legislation. He believes this is a states' rights issue. And he has made it a personal issue.
He has emphasized it was his wife and children who helped him come to this. Young voters support it. And they were quite clear as well that they believe Mitt Romney has a -- quote -- "more extreme position" than the president, because Mitt Romney has come out in support of an amendment to the Constitution supporting banning gay marriage, so, in other words, warning to the Romney campaign. If they want to challenge the president on this issue, they will face a lot of attacks from the Obama campaign coming right back at them.
KING: The White House team's position on day one.
Jessica Yellin, our chief White House correspondent, thanks.
As Jess was noting how the White House believes it will be play out politically, it is a fascinating question. Look at this Gallup data. It goes all the way back to 1976. If you look at the very beginning there, 27 percent -- that's barely one in four Americans -- supported same-sex marriage. Again, that's back then. Look now. Half do.
But those are national numbers. Remember, we pick presidents state by state because of the Electoral College. And that's the big question tonight. How might this decision impact what we know is a very close race for president?
So, if you look at the map, this is the map from 2008, blue states won by President Obama, then Senator Obama, red states won by the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain. Here is what some people say tonight, that this issue -- not this issue alone. This is going to be a bit of an exaggeration. But this issue could impact the president in states he carried last time, like Iowa, like Indiana, and Ohio, like Virginia and North Carolina, some say even among Latino voters if turnout is down a little bit, conservative Democrats in the state of Florida.
So look at those states right there. Let me just take -- and, again, this is a bit of a hypothetical. It's a slight exaggeration to see how this plays out. But let's switch now to the electoral map and go to those states. Again, this is what happened in 2008.
If you take Iowa out, if you take Indiana and Ohio out -- and, remember, the president has issues in these states already. The same- sex marriage debate would just be a complicating factor in the debate. Virginia and North Carolina, evangelical voters, also maybe conservative African-Americans could go away.
Then let's add Florida. Some people say Pennsylvania as well. Others say, what about Michigan and Wisconsin? Let me just focus on these right now. If you take these states out of play for the president, and again same-sex marriage wouldn't be the only issue. It could be a complicating issue. Look what happens.
The president falls below the 270 you need to win. So if you just take those states out and if -- again, a hypothetical -- Mitt Romney were able to turn them all red, Mitt Romney is the next president of the United States. And again I am not saying this one issue will change those states from blue to red.
But in a very close presidential election, when you are playing on the margins, there are some tonight who think it could, could be an impact. That's just a half-dozen states I showed you there. We will watch how this plays in the weeks ahead.
And as we do, here's some fascinating polling data from "Wall Street Journal"/NBC polling. If you look at this down the line here, working-class voters, look at the numbers there. They narrowly, just very narrowly, oppose same-sex marriage. That's working-class white voters, as do older voters.
If you look at retirees here, again, they narrowly oppose same-sex marriage. So do rural voters, although rural voters oppose it by a much wider margin, if you look at rural voters -- we will bring that up there.
So it tends to hurt the president in places where he already has issues perhaps.
On the flip side, look at these numbers. Suburban voters narrowly favor same-sex marriage. Suburban voters are critical in close presidential elections. Urban voters back same-sex marriage by a wide margin, a wide margin.
So it depends on where you are looking in the country's demographic.
Let's talk it over with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
To be clear right up front, we don't know, we don't know. The president thinks it helps with young voters. The president thinks and the numbers support suburban voters. They are very important, sort of a generational issue. We know those where he already struggles, white working-class voters, rural voters, older voters, they don't like it.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Evangelical voters, Catholics.
KING: That's the flip side. For evangelical voters who might have doubts about Mitt Romney, here's a reason to be for him.
And so when you talk to people at the White House, as Jess was saying, they sort of say, look, it could come down either way. Also, one thing I was looking at is where do women voters come out on this? And women voters approve of same-sex marriage 56 percent, men -- to men 42 percent. So women are more approving. You see it up there. So it's very hard to know. But state by state, John, that you just pointed out on the electoral map, there are places that it could really hurt President Obama. Take the state of Iowa. Mitt Romney had a very difficult time with evangelical voters, very conservative voters in the state of Iowa. This could rally them around Mitt Romney and against President Obama.
KING: President Bush used it in 2004. It will be interesting to see if it has the same intensity in 2012.
The polling suggests it does not. The polling suggests voters have come -- more voters have come in terms of favoring it, or at least not opposing it so much.
But I want to show a math. I will show a national map of the same-sex marriage debate across the country -- 28 states have constitutional provisions defining marriage as between a man and woman; 10 do that by law, statutory provisions.
In five states, there are no statutory or constitutional provisions at all. Seven states allow same-sex marriages, and three more have those laws that have yet to take effect.
But the question for this is, the polling shows a bare majority now, 50 percent support.
KING: However, whenever it is on the ballot...
BORGER: I know.
KING: Whenever it is on the ballot, if you look at that map, constitutional provisions, 28 states. When this is on the ballot, the bans win.
BORGER: Right. That's right.
When it is on the ballot, same-sex marriage goes away. It has only been approved, by the way, six state legislatures, also the District of Columbia. So there is an awful long way to go. By the way, this is an issue because of Proposition 8 in California that could eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court.
So it would be another one of those issues before the Supreme Court, like health care, for example, that President Obama has already...
KING: For example, immigration, for example.
BORGER: And immigration, which President Obama has already stated his positions on.
KING: Here is a question. Why is it when President Obama changes his position, it is an evolution, but when Governor Romney changes his, it is a flip-flop?
BORGER: It's a flip.
Well, in fact, funny you should ask that, because that's exactly what Mitt Romney was saying today. It is very clear the Obama campaign is going to go after Mitt Romney as somebody who has no core and is a flip-flopper. And, today, Mitt Romney flung it right back at him and said you know what? This is a president who took a very different position in 2008 when he ran for the presidency. Now he sees public opinion shifting, and guess what? He has changed his view.
These -- both of these men have had opinions on this issue which have -- quote -- "evolved," except they have evolved in completely different directions, John.
KING: Important point. Gloria Borger, thanks.
And we will have much more on this story ahead, including what Gloria was just talking about, Mitt Romney's own evolution on same-sex marriage.
But next, Indiana's political giant-killer, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Richard Mourdock, who knocked off six-term incumbent Senator Richard Lugar.
KING: Republican Senator Richard Lugar was elected to the Senate the same year Jimmy Carter won the White House, back in 1976. But with his loss last night in Indiana's Republican primary to State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, Lugar time in the Senate now has an expiration date.
His concession speech was polite, but in a statement released by his campaign shortly after, well, it was anything but. Calling out his now former rival and the Republican nominee, Mr. Mourdock, he said of this, quote: "What he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. He will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve."
Richard Mourdock joins us now from Indianapolis.
Mr. Mourdock, is Senator Lugar right?
Are you so rigid in your ideology that you will refuse compromise and therefore keep the country from solving its problems?
RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he's certainly right on one point, that I will not compromise on my principles. You know, there's a lot of discussion these days about bipartisanship. And, unfortunately, when the term is usually invoked these days, it's about having Republicans join Democrats to get something done. One of the things we've spoken of a great deal over the last 15 minutes is my desire to help build the Republican Party into the majority so that the word bipartisanship means maybe some Democrats will come our way instead.
KING: But in the meantime, we have divided government. Perhaps that will change. If you win this election and you come here in January, maybe we'll have a Republican president and a Republican House and Republican Senate. Then it's a different conversation.
But if you were here today -- and I know you believe the deficit is a big crisis facing the country, correct?
MOURDOCK: I absolutely do.
KING: So if there was a deal on the table proposed that, let's say, it had $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases, and you believed it -- the math said it was a credible deal to reduce the deficit, could you vote for that if it was the only way -- the only way to get enough Democrats to support it and get a president to sign it?
MOURDOCK: Well, I have said many times, we need to make sure that we're not continuing to raise the debt without getting serious reductions. And if a bill is crafted in such a way that we can get the real deficit narrowing that we need and we're not going to be significantly adding to the debt, that's something that would have to be considered.
But the big issue here is whether or not we're going to have people who stand on their principles. You know, I often say the modern definition of bipartisanship, as well, is Democrats spent -- saying let's spend $10 billion we don't have, Republicans saying, oh, no, let's only spend $5 billion we don't have, and instead they compromise and spend $7.5 billion we don't have.
That's really what we've been talking about in this race. And it is about the fact that we have a government that is out of control, spending too much and it's going to be reeled back in.
KING: But -- but again, to your definition of bipartisanship, is it only when Democrats come your way or if Democrats are willing to come your way on one part of a puzzle, are you willing to give up something, not your principles, but give up maybe a piece to get -- to get to the agreement?
MOURDOCK: Sure, if it's not about the principle. I understand there's an important point of negotiating to get things done. But on those principles, and, really, the real issue here is today, we have this unusual time in our history where the Republican Party, the leaders of that party and the leaders of the Democratic Party are so polarized, they have two totally different goals. One is to reduce government and one is to make government bigger.
When those are the principles, it makes those negotiations meaningless because, again, one side wants exactly the opposite of the other. It's going to be a very difficult environment for several years to come, I think.
KING: When you won the election last night and you were speaking to your supporters, you spoke not only of the race in Indiana, not only of the conditions facing the country, but you took a global view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOURDOCK: France elected a socialist. There are those, I'm sure, in the administration and in the left side of the Democratic Party that were cheering that. But we're not going to stand for that in Indiana because it's...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MOURDOCK: ... Barack Obama are not going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I just want to follow up on that point there, that everything -- France did just elect a socialist president. But and you're connecting that to what the Democrats might want. You're not -- are you saying the president is a socialist?
MOURDOCK: I'm not saying that, but I'm certainly saying, and I think it's easy to demonstrate, that there is a sense that we seem to be moving in this direction of the Western European type socialist governments. And that's certainly what Hoosiers are opposed to.
You know, we believe in free markets, not in massive stimulus programs and bailouts. That's really the difference between the Republican Party right now and the Democratic Party. It's why I think the Republican Party offers the best hope to truly get our economy going again, because for all of their populism, for all of their modernism, for all of what they seem to be offering in Europe, how well are they doing right now?
Their recovery is at a much slower rate than ours, unfortunately.
KING: Let me ask you, lastly, sir, the president surprised a lot of people, including a lot of Indiana Republicans, by carrying your state back in 2008. Most believe it would be very, very difficult already, this time in 2012.
How will his announcement today that he personally supports same- sex marriage, how will that impact the state of Indiana in the presidential race?
MOURDOCK: Well, I heard your analysis before and I think the comments made are exactly right. He can forget about winning Indiana for a lot of reasons. That will just be one more added to the pile. KING: Richard Mourdock is the Republican nominee for Senate in the state of Indiana. He just knocked off the veteran, Dick Lugar.
Sir, we'll keep in touch throughout the campaign.
MOURDOCK: Look forward to it. Thank you, John.
KING: Thank you, sir.
Still to come: a close look at President Obama's evolution on same-sex marriage and reaction from some of his supporters.
But, next, the FBI adds a murder and kidnapping suspect to its 10 most-wanted list, and there is a big reward.
KING: Welcome back.
KING: In a moment, we return to this hour's big breaking story, President Obama's decision to support same-sex marriage. We will watch and listen to his very personal evolution on this issue.
And later, the "Truth" about last night's election results. Voters sent an important message to both Democrats and Republicans.
KING: Ahead this half-hour: President Obama says he supports same- sex marriages, but he hasn't always felt that way. Hear his words and his voice as his stance evolves.
Last night's primary sent a message to incumbents: Your job is not safe -- the "Truth" about why this election year is looking so different from 2008.
And Michele Bachmann -- get this -- now eligible to run for office 4,000 miles away -- what she says about possibly running on a Swiss ticket.
Back to tonight's breaking news.
President Obama says he now supports same-sex marriage. The president says his position on this issue has evolved.
So here is a look at that evolution, starting back in 2004, when he was a U.S. Senate candidate at home in Illinois.
I'm sorry. We don't have that sound for you. We will bring it to you as soon as we can.
Let's continue our conversation with Pastor Dwayne Walker of Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He's a supporter of the president. Mike Signorile is host of SiriusXM's "OutQ" and editor at large for Huffington Post Gay Voices. And Chris Barron is the chairman of GOProud.
Pastor, I want to talk to you, as someone who supports this president but does not support same-sex marriage. Am I right there?
DWAYNE WALKER, PASTOR, LITTLE ROCK AME ZION CHURCH: That is correct.
KING: OK. I hope we have the sound. I want you to listen. The president earlier today, in explaining his evolution on this issue to ABC News, talked about his Christian faith and what he called the golden rule. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the golden rule: treat others the way you would want to be treated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Pastor, what does the Bible tell you on this issue?
WALKER: Well, I believe that marriage is between -- God ordained between a man and a woman. That the -- marriage is to plenty the -- well, the marriage is ordained of God so that we are to be fruitful and multiply, and that is the purpose for marriage. And I have a problem with the whole notion of marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman.
KING: And so if a member of your congregation came to you and said, "I supported President Obama last time. I was proud to be part of making history, but this bothers me. I disagree with him on this issue," should that -- if that voter said, "It's enough for me to stay home or not support him," what would you say?
WALKER: I would encourage them to continue to support the president, as I will. There are things that my wife and I don't agree with but doesn't mean we're going to divorce. I believe that he is certainly entitled to his opinion. I certainly appreciate the struggle and the evolution that he has -- that he has been involved with. And -- but I still stand with the president 100 percent.
KING: Mike, you had been very critical of the president in the past for not coming this far. What does today mean to you? And as you answer, the point I was making earlier is the president didn't just announce his change of heart here. He did it sitting in the White House with the seal of the United States over his shoulder and the American flag over his shoulder.
MIKE SIGNORILE, EDITOR AT LARGE, HUFFINGTON POST: I think the president really is comfortable with this decision. I think he has been comfortable with the issue of marriage equality for a long time. I think it's clear the people in his administration support it. And I think you can see somebody who really is confident in his decision.
He has gotten a lot of pressure, certainly, from activists and a lot of the media asking him the questions. And I think they realize that he couldn't go further without fully evolving, without articulating his evolution. It really was going to become just something that would be a drumbeat, a political problem.
And I think that he realized, as well, this is something that is very powerful for him to actually use to distinguish himself from Mitt Romney. Certainly, a contrast. And show himself as a leader, somebody who's not indecisive, somebody who stands up and says, "This is what I believe in." That's a great president.
KING: Chris Barron, as a gay conservative, you appreciate the president doing this. Do you question a lot of people asking if you're going to evolve, Mr. President, why did you wait now, six months before an election? That makes it more of an issue, the day after North Carolina voted.
CHRIS BARRON, CHAIRMAN, GOP PROUD: True, absolutely. I mean, look, let's be honest. What the president did was the right thing. And it's a good first step.
But the fact is, if this had been a purely political process for this president from the very beginning of his life in elected office. In 1996, he said he was for same-sex marriage when he thought it was a political winner for him. In 2004, when he runs for office again, he said he was against it, because he thinks it's a political winner to be against it.
In 2008, he's against it when he thinks it was a political winner. Now, he knows it's a political winner for him to be for same-sex marriage.
KING: You don't see it as something from the heart? You just see it as something that's data-driven or poll-driven?
BARRON: If it's from the heart, the heart has changed an awful lot over the last 12 years.
KING: Let's go back. At the top, we tried to bring the president in his own words and the evolution. I think we have that ready now. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What I believe in my faith is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God. And it's not simply the two persons who are meeting.
But that doesn't mean that that necessarily translates into a position on public policy or with respect to civil unions. What it does mean is that we have a set of traditions in place that I think need to be preserved.
I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And I am not in favor of gay marriage.
My feelings about this are constantly evolving. I struggle with this. At this point, what I've said is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have.
I think what you're seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers and that they've got to be treated like every other American.
At a certain point, I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's the president's evolution right there in his own words.
I want to make clear Governor Romney has evolved on the issue of gay rights. Some would argue in the other direction. Here's what he said back in 1994 when he was running against Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy. He told the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay Republicans, "I'm with you on this stuff. I'll be better than Ted Kennedy."
And in 2002, when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, his campaign distributed a flyer that said this: "Mitt and Kerry" -- Kerry Healey was his running mate -- "wish you a great pride weekend. All citizens deserve equal rights regardless of sexual preference."
But here is Governor Romney speaking today -- today, after the president made his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I don't favor civil unions, if they're identical to marriage other than by name. My view is that domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights and the like, are appropriate but that the others are not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So the question is, you have the two views of the two candidates. How will it play out in the campaign?
Pastor, I want to go back to you. The president just barely carried your state last time. And young turnout, African-American turnout, a chance to make history. And let's be honest: depressed Republican turnout, because they were mad at George W. Bush and didn't love John McCain were factors in that. Is this issue enough to swing North Carolina back to the Republicans?
WALKER: I pray not. I believe that many of us favor much of what the president has stood for. He's done a wonderful job, as far as I'm concerned, for our state, in light of the circumstances that he inherited. And I don't believe that this particular issue will cause many to turn from him.
KING: Mike, you've watched how this has played out. If you -- the polling has certainly shifted, 27 percent back in 1996 to 50 percent now, say they support same-sex marriage. But when the anti-gay marriage, the bans, the constitutional amendments it on the ballot, they tend to win. How do you see this playing out in November?
BARRON: Well, you know, what you just showed was an evolution of the American people. And that's where the president is right there in the mainstream of America. That shift from 2004, every one of those moves he made is what the American people did, to now the majority of Americans supporting marriage equality.
Mitt Romney moved in the direction to a tiny portion of the Republican Party, the Republican base. That's an amazing thing to watch with both of them.
With regard to the ballot measures across the country, when you split the issue off from a candidate, you have people obviously voting sometimes in ways that, as the pastor was describing, might reflect their religious views.
But I think also, as pastor described, when you have people voting on this issue along with all of the other issues they're voting for in an election, it's not an important issue anymore. There are so many important things like the economy that people are voting on, and this will not be a deal breaker for those who are already voting for the president.
KING: In a very close election, though, Chris, intensity can matter. I know you disagree with them on many issues. But when you hear evangelical leaders saying today, a lot of our voters had some questions about Mitt Romney, but this decision by the president is going to motivate them to get out to vote. Will it?
BARRON: I don't think so. And quite honestly, I think this is a political winner for the president. I think he probably should have gone further. For folks whose number one issue is marriage equality, the only candidate in the race that's been 100 percent on marriage equality is Governor Gary Johnson, a libertarian. And look, Obama has got a problem with his base. He's known he's had a problem with his base. And that's why he's come out for marriage.
Look, everybody who is strongly against same-sex marriage is already with Governor Romney. And Governor Romney's positions, quite honestly, are outside of the mainstream.
KING: Chris Barron, Mike Signorile, Pastor Walker, appreciate your insights tonight. We'll watch how this plays out, not only in each of your states but around the country, as well. Thank you all for coming in.
Coming up, why the 2010 Tea Party may not be over and what that means for incumbents, perhaps including the president.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: So about last night. Three very different states voted: North Carolina, West Virginia, and Indiana. And with both presidential nominations all but settled, it's easy to dismiss the results as lacking any national or any lasting message. But here's tonight's "Truth": there is a message.
The voters in those states seemed much more in sync with the 2010 mood in the electorate than the 2008, the last presidential primary. When I tweeted something to that effect last night, some of you were quick to call me an idiot. You weren't the first. But I've been at this for 27 years, and I'm a firm believer there are lessons every time people vote.
So what did we learn in Indiana, a state President Obama, by the way, carried back in 2008. Well, Senator Dick Lugar's defeat is proof many conservatives aren't fans of compromise. But the lesson goes beyond Senator Lugar. It means there's still some of that 2010 Tea Party juice (ph) in the electorate, and it means all incumbents should take notice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's 60-40. There's something deeper there. And there's something that is deep that has been going on in the country. Look at 2008. Look at 2010. I mean, there's this massive incumbent dissatisfaction, not just around the country but around the world. And we're seeing that, and we saw it in Indiana last night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, President Obama also carried North Carolina four year ago. Last night, the anti-same-sex marriage amendment passed with 61 percent. And 29 percent of Democrats chose to vote "no preference" for president, a not insignificant protest vote. Does it mean anything?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARVILLE: Yes. Yes, it does. Does it mean a lot? No. But I mean, is there something there? I think anything that is perceived to be sending a message of any kind is the kind of thing that's going to do a little bit better in this environment. And I think that's probably what was partly at work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And Mr. Carville's point there. Voters looking to send a message aren't usually kind to incumbents.
Now, that doesn't mean that last night's mood in Indiana or North Carolina will carry over to November. But again, we learn every time people vote. What we learned last night was more proof that 2012 as a presidential year is very different than 2008.
Here tonight to talk truth, "National Journal" editorial director and CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein; Republican consultant and CNN political contributor Alex Castellanos; and Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Donna Brazile. Big titles you guys all have.
KING: You guys are just diva and diva and the diva.
But seriously, a lot of people -- a lot of people want to just say, you know, primaries, it didn't matter. Or it's just about Dick Lugar. As someone -- my golden rule is every time people vote, we learn. What did you learn?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, that the Tea Party is still very active in the Republican Party. They punished him for not only being in the Senate too long, perhaps not having a formal residence in the state of Indiana.
And they also punished him for working with Democrats on many important issues, issues that even impacted the state of Indiana. So it's a sad day when you have to punish people simply because they try to get along and do what's right for the country.
KING: A lot of people are asking that question. Is the middle disappearing? Olympia Snowe retires and she says, "Forget about it. Just can't stand it anymore. You can't get along with people. It's good and evil. It's not negotiation."
Listen to Mr. Mourdock. He's now the Republican nominee, the likely winner. We'll see how this goes in Indiana. But Listen to how Mr. Murdoch defines compromise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), INDIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: Sure, if it's not about the principal, I understand, there's an important point of negotiating to get things done. On those principles, and really, the real issue is, we have this unusual time in our history where the Republican Party, the leaders of that party, the leaders of the Democratic Party, are so polarized, they have two totally different goals. One is to reduce government. One is to make government bigger. When those are the principles, it makes those negotiations meaningless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He went on, Alex, to say that he hopes to get to a point where the definition of compromise is when the Democrats give into the Republicans.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Not a bad definition from my point of view.
You know, I think he's got an important point, though. We're -- this is a big general election, not a small one. We're choosing different directions for the country. Since we're talking North Carolina, Duke and Chapel Hill, the basketball teams, may have a lot in common. But they're not going to meet at center court and say, you know, "Let's compromise and work this out." Why? Because they have a very -- they all want the same thing.
Are we going to have a top-down government that is going to try to grow the economy politically and artificially from Washington? Democrat point of view. Or are we going to have a bottom-up government that is going to take money out of Washington, put it in the hands of the American people? How about that one? That's the choice. And it's -- it's resolved by victory, not compromise.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Here's the flaw, I think, in that argument, in the argument that Mr. Mourdock put forward. There's no question the parties are as far apart in this election as they have been at least since 1980 and maybe since 1964.
So the parties are deeply divided. But the overwhelmingly likelihood is that we're going to come out of this election with the country closely divided, going to be talking very much about a 50/50 nation again, in all likelihood.
Look, the presidential race will likely be decided by a narrower margin than in 2008. The Senate, someone is going to have 51, 50 or 52 seats. The House is going to be probably more closely divided. In that environment, basically arguing that we have irreconcilable differences, the two parties are moving fundamentally -- the two parties are moving fundamentally apart. But the country is basically not giving either of them the leverage to impose their solution on the others. There really is no choice but to work together.
KING: If you're President -- if you're President Obama, do you just say, "Dick Lugar ran a bad race, been there too long, Tea Party juice. That's a whole Republican dysfunction story"? Or do you say, to James' point, there is something deeper. And as an incumbent, I better learn a lesson.
BRAZILE: There's a lot that's deepened (ph). In fact, voter turnout was even low. I mean, even in North Carolina, when we saw that lopsided victory on the line (ph).
But look, Democrats don't want to throw the government. They want to make sure that the middle class can succeed in this economy. Look, Alex...
KING: Your friend is shaking his head at you.
BRAZILE: He wants to smile at something. He knows -- he knows something is true. Look, big government conservatism is dead. And that's what they're unhappy with. Triple down is dead. We have to grow this economy from the middle up, not the top down.
CASTELLANOS: I would say what's wrong with Ron's argument is this is not left/right. It's up/down. The country is moving into the future, not the past. And the country is trying to evolve into a more responsive government. Not old Industrial Age.
KING: A quick time-out. We'll continue the conversation in just a moment. But "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour.
Erin, what's ahead?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. I was very interested in that conversation. We're going to be joined top of the hour by Barney Frank, the first openly member of Congress. He's going to talk about this moment, what he thinks of what the president said and the time that the president chose to say it.
Also, we talked to a double agent. And John, I'm very excited about this. This man that we speak to is, he's -- you're going to have to see him in shadow, and his voice is distorted, because she's still worried for his life. He's a double agent who saved -- protected the U.S. against some terrorist attacks, and he's going to be our guest exclusively tonight.
That's coming up, top of the hour.
KING: I love spy stories. We'll be there to watch that one. Erin, see you in just a couple of minutes.
BURNETT: All right.
KING: When we come back, we'll continue our political discussion but also, it's like the British version of the State of the Union but you might say with way better accessories, like a crown. Queen Elizabeth lays out her government's goals. And a lot of them sound familiar.
Plus, she's run for office in Minnesota. She's run for president of the United States. Now, Michele Bachmann could run for office in -- drumroll please -- Switzerland. We'll explain next.
KING: Let's get back to tonight's breaking political news. The president of the United States in an interview with ABC News today said he now supports same-sex marriage. It's been an evolution, in his words. The president saying he's wrestled with this for years, in part because of how he personally was taught to define marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I was sensitive to the fact that, for a lot of people, the word "marriage" was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: To continue the conversation with Ron Brownstein, Alex Castellanos, and Donna Brazile. Donna, at the White House they say, "OH, he was always going to do this." If they were always going to do this, why have they been working for months on the people who want to change the Democratic Party platform, saying, "Please don't do that."
BRAZILE: Well, I don't know anything about the background, and I don't know how long he has discussed this. All I do know is that this was the right thing to do. And I believe that the president will be not only rewarded by Democrats, independents, young people and others, because this is about history.
You know, Dr. King said that the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. This was a historic day for justice and equality for all people.
KING: An historic point was made by the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, Alex. He said any time a president has gone out and embraced a major change in civil rights, that that change eventually has happened. Maybe not the next day or the next week, but once a president gives it the stamp of approval. And this president did it in the Oval Office with the seal of the United States over his shoulder. Smart move?
CASTELLANOS: Smart move. Well, I think it's the right move. Whether it was a smart move or not, I think -- I admire him, frankly, for doing it. Because although it does have some political benefit for him, it will come at a cost.
The benefit is I think the Obama team believes this is a base election, that he's lost the middle. He wants to shrink the middle. He needs the intensity to get out the vote.
But I think this does come at a cost in states like Ohio and North Carolina, where he's going to keep evangelical blacks, who are -- disagree with him on this issue. He's never going to get Republicans. He's lost them. But Reagan Democrats, cultural Democrats, guys who have their names on their shirts and go to work every day, he's going to lose a few of those.
BROWNSTEIN: I think this is an historic moment in the evolution of Democratic coalition. Because like immigration reform, gay marriage has been an issue that Democrats have been reluctant to move forward, for fear of losing the most conservative elements of the wide electorate: blue-collar whites, older whites, rural whites.
Those voters are largely gone. And this, I think, is a tacit admission that the Obama administration is not going to win them back in 2012 and that the road to victory is by mobilizing the new Democratic coalition, young people, socially liberal, college-educated whites. A much more positive...
KING: A demographic bet on a different Democratic Party.
BROWNSTEIN: The Colorado strategy. BRAZILE: You're talking about losses and minuses in terms of the polls and the people will vote or not vote for him. But we're not talking about the people whose lives are impacted by these decisions. I think this is a moment when people feel that this is an opportunity for them to be who they are, to express their freedom, equal justice under the law. That's what it's about.
BROWNSTEIN: In public opinion, there's a kind of inexorability.
CASTELLANOS: I would say this for the Republican Party. That it's hard for the Republican Party to be the party that's against big government when we put big government in the business of love. And at some point it's going to be -- Republicans, I think, are going to have to understand that if we keep telling the country that one of the world's biggest problems is that there's too much love in the world, it is going to cost us with the next generation. It's just not the right thing to do.
BRAZILE: That's why I love you, Alex. That's the truth.
KING: Appreciate it.
Kate Bolduan is back with the latest news you need to know right now -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John.
Hello again to all of you.
Some more headlines. A roadside bomb exploded dangerously close to a U.N. convoy transporting the monitoring team in Syria today. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says no observers were killed, but ten Syrian soldiers were wounded. He says there's no evidence to prove that the convoy was targeted, but that the explosion demonstrates the volatile and dangerous situation in the country.
And lots of pomp and even a little substance in London today. Queen Elizabeth, who's been on the throne for 60 years, made her annual address to Parliament. It's a big deal over there. She laid out the British government's plans for the next year. They include banking reform, reducing the deficit, and keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
And it looks like art may be the new gold standard. Mark Rothko's 1961 painting called "Orange Red Yellow" -- you're looking at it here -- sold for a record-breaking $87 million in a Christie's auction yesterday. The entire post-war art auction raised almost $400 million. Art buyers are on a roll. Just last week Edvard Munch's "The Scream" sold for $120 million. Pretty impressive.
And some sad news, though, that we must tell you for the Red Sox nation. The voice that announced the lineups at Fenway Park has fallen silent. Carl Beane, the public address announcer for the team, died in a single-car crash this afternoon. He was 59 years old. I'm sure you know that voice very well, John.
KING: I heard that voice Sunday at Fenway Park. I was there with my son. It's a very sad day, sad day, sad day.
Let's go now to tonight's "Moment You May Have Missed." It takes us 4,000 miles away to Switzerland. Former presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann -- get this -- now holds citizenship there, and that means she could technically run for office. Well, that was news to her. She found out yesterday during an interview with the Swiss national public television station here in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could technically run for office in Switzerland now, too. Would you consider that?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Really! Well, as you can see, there's a lot of competition behind me that I would have to run against, and it would be very stiff, because they're very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Minnesota congresswoman became a dual citizen through her husband, whose parents are Swiss. What do you think?
BOLDUAN: I think it would be a very interesting debate if she ran for office over there.
KING: Right. We'll see you in the Swiss version of Iowa, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Exactly. Sounds great.
KING: That's all for us tonight. We'll see you right back here tomorrow night. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.