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Donald Trump Back on Birther Bandwagon; Interview With Texas Governor Rick Perry

Aired May 25, 2012 - 18:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm John King.

Tonight, the Donald is back on the birther bandwagon, again questioning whether President Obama was born in America. With two big Trump/Romney fund-raising events on tap, could Mr. Trump's foolishness hurt Governor Romney's efforts to keep this campaign focused on jobs?

And you could say President Obama has been channeling Rick Perry this week. Governor Perry joins us to relive his Bain Capital attacks from the GOP primaries and to make his case that he is living proof they won't work.

And in what could be the country's most compelling Senate race, the liberal champion Elizabeth Warren has an identity crisis. Will her claim to be Native American undermine her bid to unseat surprise 2010 winner Scott Brown?

We begin with some important new insights into your mood and what it could mean for the presidential election. If you're feeling more optimistic about things these days, well, guess what, you're not alone. The latest Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment has its highest marks since October 2007.

Among the reasons why, home sales and home prices are up. The number of unsold homes is down and this, most importantly, gasoline prices now dropping.

CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi is here to compare notes.

Ali, Memorial Day weekend, lower gas prices matter. They're part of this increased optimism far lot of folks. What's going on here?


Well, there are some weird things going on because the market has not been providing that optimism. A lot of people don't feel the unemployment situation getting a lot better, although it is. For 19 straight months, we have seen unemployment get lower.

But when you put this whole thing together, ultimately in a consumer-driven economy like that of the United States, how people feel is the key determinant. This number you are going to tell our viewers about shortly is this -- is consumer sentiment. It's how do you feel about the economy now, how do you feel about it in the future? And this number is as strong as it's been since October of 2007.

I want to take you back to October of 2007 and tell you what was going on. The Dow was at 14000. It had set a new record. We had just started to see weakness on the housing front. But things were still feeling pretty good. And it was only after that, only after October into December of 2007, when the recession started, did people start to say, uh-oh, something is wrong with this economy.

And ,remember, John, it's when people, Americans, consumers start to feel that something is wrong, they start to act that way, they spend less, and that creates -- that starts to create job losses. So this is very key that we're back up to where we were in October 2007, when things felt pretty good.

KING: It's key, and you have mentioned the reasons for the upside. What could derail this improved sentiment?

VELSHI: Anything and everything.

Gas prices, you just said, was one of the key motivators for stronger consumer sentiment. Well, gas prices, as you know, are very volatile. We still don't know what's going on with Iran, and that's been what is causing oil prices to be as up and down as they have been.

Europe, we know many more serious problems going on. Just today, we heard that a major Spanish bank asked for a $19 billion bailout. China, growth is slowing down. China buys all of those raw materials, many of them from the United States, including commodities. So lots of things can go wrong.

But we're feeling better than you might think right now.

KING: Ali Velshi, our chief business correspondent, thanks, Ali.

Now, let's take a closer look at why this matters so much in presidential politics. This is a determinant that a lot of pollsters and strategists use. They think it's even more important than the president's approval rating. Why?

The average among incumbent winners in this Michigan consumer sentiment index is 95.9. If the incumbent president is above 90, especially if he's in the 95 range, that incumbent president, this is going back to 1956, the incumbent wins if he's around 95.

The average among incumbents who have lost, 78.4. So if the president is below 80, the president's in trouble. So where are we today? Right there, at 79.3. Guess what? The president of the United States can be happy about that. This is the high mark of the Obama presidency, 79.3.

It's also almost exactly where George H.W. Bush was back in 1992. He's the last incumbent president to lose. You have to get above 90 to be an incumbent to be confident you can win.

Let's take a little bit -- look at this through time. In Ronald Reagan days, of course he won reelection. He started October 198 in the 70s. By this time in 1984, he was above 98. He ended above 96. Remember, the average among incumbents , above 95. Bill Clinton, in 1996, let's bring this up for you, show -- in 1994, he was in the low 90s. At this point, he had actually dipped to 89.

But, by Election Day, by a little before the Election Day in 1996, Bill Clinton, of course, coasted to reelection. And here's the history. Right now, this is again the Michigan consumer sentiment index. It was way down in 2010. It was down 79.3 percent. That is where we are right now. That's again, as I said, almost identical to George H.W. Bush.

The question is can this president get that above 90 by a few weeks before the election? That's the big determinant. So, it's the high point of the Obama presidency now. If you look at recent history, it would tell you as of yet it's not high enough.

Moving on now, being Donald Trump apparently means never having to say Barack Obama is American. It's been more than a year now since the president released his long-form birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. But the Donald still doesn't buy it.

Listen here. He stopped by "The View" this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have something for you. My birth certificate.






KING: So, just what is Mr. Trump up to now?

Let's check in with our senior political analyst, David Gergen.

David, about a year ago, we thought this was settled. The president released his long-form birth certificate. Even Mr. Trump said, well, I assume it's real.

Why? Why now?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I have no idea. This campaign is so crazy. You have no idea which way it's going to bounce next.

They're just testing out themes some more, see if this plays. But Donald Trump loves to stir up a controversy, John, as you well know.

KING: He loves to stir up a controversy. And most times, I would just plain ignore it, but he's a major surrogate for Governor Romney. He said on that same program, boy, I would love to be considered for vice president, or he certainly wouldn't rule it out.

And he's had a big fund-raiser with Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich next week in Vegas. The Romney campaign has a big raffle if you go online. They're making a big deal about this. Put in $3 and win a chance to have dinner with the Donald and Governor Romney.

Is there any burden on the Romney campaign to say, whoa, stifle?

GERGEN: The thing the Romney campaign ought to be careful about is not letting this get too crazy and sort of wander out beyond their message control.

For example, Donald Trump is now reportedly thinking of starring up a big PAC, and much of it may be aimed at China. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is issuing his own ad about China. They really want to be very not nation to get into an unnecessary spat with China or to go off on some toot. He ought to keep -- he needs message control.

Donald -- the Donald helps to draw a crowd. He gives it razzle- dazzle. And that will be fun for him. And he will raise some money, but they ought to be very careful about what they say.

KING: You think there's any sense that if -- let's say the Romney campaign privately -- they publicly don't maybe want to repudiate him, but if they privately said, please, do you think he would listen given his history?


GERGEN: You know him better than I do. No. I don't.

But I think they can have some persuasive power. After all, he is going to be their host. Governor Romney is going to be the guest in the Trump hotel. And the Donald will raise a lot of money for him. And he will have fun with him. They will both have chuckles out of it.

But this is a serious campaign, and they really need to keep their focus on jobs, the deficits, America's future.

KING: Our senior political analyst, David Gergen -- David, thank you.

GERGEN: Thank you.

KING: You know the old saying don't bite the hand that feeds you?

It's advice now being ignored by the Obama reelection campaign as the president and his political team ratchet up their attacks on Mitt Romney and Governor Romney's record during his time at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

Listen here.

Here's CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They closed it down. They filed for bankruptcy.

BASH (voice-over): Testimonials like this about Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney used to run.

JACK COBB, STEELWORKER: It was like a vampire. It came in and sucked the life out of us.

BASH: The irony, some of the money to pay for this TV ad may come from inside the very company team Romney is demonizing in it, Bain Capital.

It turns out employees of Bain Capital have given $124,900 in donations to the Obama campaign in this election cycle. And three of those Bain Capital donors, Mark Nunnelly, Stephen Pagliuca and Jonathan Lavine, have given the president's reelection efforts the maximum amount allowed by law, $35,800.

In the case of Lavine, he didn't just write his own check to the president. He's what's called a bundler, a fund-raiser who helps the Obama campaign raise money from others.

One hundred twenty-five thousand is a lot of money from people who work at a company the Obama campaign and its allies vilify, like in this super PAC ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bain Capital always made money, if we lost, they made money. If we survived, they made money. It's as simple as that.

BASH: All of the nearly $125,000 in donations to the Obama campaign from Bain employees were made in 2011, well before the president's team started accusing Romney of killing jobs while at Bain.

Still, the Obama campaign tells CNN they do not intend to return any campaign cash from Bain employees: "No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation, when, in fact, his goal was profit maximization," said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

But isn't it hypocritical for the Obama campaign to keep money from employees of a company it goes after as job killers?

Here's the Democratic chairwoman's answer. REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Accepting a contribution from a particular person involved in venture capital and criticizing Mitt Romney who has made his record as a venture capitalist at Bain the central focus of his credibility and his qualification for being president are completely different things.


BASH: Now, we have put calls into the Bain Capital employees who donated to the president, asked if they were going to demand their money back. None of our calls were returned.

But a spokesman for Bain Capital did get back to us and said in a statement that it is not a political organization, it takes no position on any candidate. He also said that Bain Capital celebrates the fact that employees are -- quote -- "active in civic affairs and philanthropy across a range of various policy and political views" -- John.

KING: Not wanting to comment publicly perhaps, but the Bain Democrats are not happy as this plays out.

BASH: Not so much.

KING: Not so much. Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Still ahead here: the identity crisis overshadowing one of the nation's most-watched U.S. Senate races.

But, up next, Governor Rick Perry says he's living proof that attacking Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital won't help President Obama.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: We were looking for some ways to score some points, and it didn't work. So, John, the bottom line is, it didn't work then. It doesn't work now.




KING: The focus of the president and his campaign this week largely on Mitt Romney and his record at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

The attacks from the president's camp were tough, but if you have followed the Republican primary, familiar.


PERRY: There are vultures that are sitting out there on the -- on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick. And then they swoop in.

Do you want to have an individual running the country who has been all about making profit for the company and for Bain Capital?

If it is a fatal flaw, then we need to talk about it now.


KING: That was, of course, the Texas governor and the one-time Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry.

The governor now is a supporter of Mitt Romney.

And he joins us from Austin.

Governor, you've heard it from the president. You've heard it from his team. And you could say you heard it from you first.

Any regrets?

PERRY: Well, good afternoon to you, John.

And -- and, no, not at all. As we said, you know, now is the time back in the earlier part of the campaign to -- to vet that issue. It didn't work then and it's not going to work now.

As a matter of fact, there were 13 different Democrats and counting that have said to the president, don't go there, Mr. President.

And if this election is going to rotate around, revolve around who has the best experience, both private sector and public sector, to get people back working again, then it's going to be no contest. Mitt Romney has an excellent record from the standpoint of creating jobs. And on the other hand, you've got President Obama, who has about a 1. 4 million job loss record right now in the states that are still on the negative side of job creation.

So I don't think Barack Obama wants to go there, either.

KING: Well, let -- let's talk about it a bit.

Did you say it, not just once, not just twice, but many times in the Republican primaries, because some consultant said, hey, Governor, try this?

Or did you believe it then and do you believe it now to be a wit -- a weakness for Governor Romney?

PERRY: Well, that's an old story. And it didn't work then, it doesn't work now. So...


KING: I'm asking you...

PERRY: ... that's...

KING: -- but I'm not asking you...

PERRY: That's what's important.

KING: -- I'm not asking you if it worked or not. I'm not asking you if it worked. When you -- when you were looking over and deciding whether to do that, you thought it was a way to tell a working class guy, this guy is not on your side, right?

That was the point?

PERRY: No, the point was we were looking for some ways to score some points and it didn't work. So, John, the bottom line is, it didn't work then, it doesn't work now.

KING: Your state holds its primary next week. And that will officially put Governor Romney, by all accounts, including our CNN count, over the top. He will be officially, then, the Republican nominee for president at the convention. He has to go through the formality, but he'll have the delegates.

So then you turn your attention to things like planning the convention and picking a running mate.

If he called you up and said, Rick, who do you think I should think of, who's your number one choice, who do you think it should be?

PERRY: I think Mitt Romney has got plenty of people around him and has excellent instincts of his own on who could be his best running mate. He doesn't need me to -- to give him any advice on that.

You know, what he's going to be asking me to do is go out and talk about not only his record, but the record of states like Texas, records like Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, Marco Rubio, that are reaching out into the Hispanic population across this -- this country with a great record.

I mean, when we talk about, what is it that the Hispanic voters are looking for? And the Republican Party, I think, encompasses those, whether it's they're very pro-life, they're very patriotic, they're very economically-minded. And those are issues that the Republican Party, I think -- and do you know what?

I just mentioned three people that would be very capable as vice presidential nominee, as well.

KING: Those are three people who might make the list.

You also mentioned an issue, that's another issue at which you sparred not only with Governor Romney, but some of the other Republican candidates back when you were in the race, and essentially saying you had some disagreements on policy, but also on tone.

Now, you were one of the candidates from a state with a very significant Latino population, saying, look, we have to be careful how we speak about these issues.

Do you think Governor Romney has gotten that message?

PERRY: Oh, without a doubt, I think that Governor Romney is reaching out to the Hispanic voter in the -- in the country and talking about the issues they care about, in particular, economics.

I mean, who is it that has the best vision for America and how to get America back working?

You know, Barack Obama believes that we need to print more money, that we need to spend more money and somehow or another, you can stimulate the economy.

All that stimulus didn't work back in 2009 and 2010. It's not going to work now.

So if you're a Hispanic voter and you're looking for the individual who can put policies in place where you can best take care of your family, that you can have a job and take care of your loved ones, then this is no contest. Mitt Romney is that person.

KING: And what about Rick Perry?

What's next?

PERRY: We've got a legislative session coming up, so we've got a budget compact that we've laid out to continue to challenge our legislators to make Texas even more competitive, because I can assure you, Bobby Jindal over in Louisiana and Rick Scott in Florida and Susana Martinez in New Mexico, they're going to be looking at ways to make their states more competitive. We can't just rest on our laurels.

KING: That's a pretty cautious day at a time answer.

Are you saying no to 2014 or talk to me in six months or a year?

PERRY: Oh, check on me in June, 2013, and then we'll have that conversation.

KING: You've got a deal, Governor.

We'll do that.

But I hope to see you before that, as well.

PERRY: Thank you, John.

KING: And appreciate your time tonight.

PERRY: Yes, sir.

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: A sneak preview of tonight's "Truth." President Obama is African-American. But there's still a big question. How much will Donald Trump and his birther friends perhaps hurt Mitt Romney?

But next: One small step in orbit, it's one giant leap for U.S. business and the space program.


KING: Welcome back.


KING: Next: the issue that could decide one of this year's most watched Senate races. Years ago, one of the candidates claimed she's part Native American.

Also, a woman "TIME" magazine calls one of the most influential people in the world, that for her remarkable service to troubled war veterans.


KING: This half-hour: Vice President Joe Biden shares his anger and his guilt over losing loved ones. You will hear his deeply personal words to the families of fallen troops.

New questions tonight over a U.S. Senate candidate's family tree. Did a White House favorite misrepresent herself as Native American?

Plus, this is what it looks like to win the world's biggest science fair -- what this high school freshman invented that could help detect cancer.

It could well be the highest-profile Senate race this year. Consumer advocate, former White House appointee, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, she wants to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts. You will remember Senator Brown made national headlines shocking us by winning the late Senator Ted Kennedy's seat back in 2010.

With President Obama holding a 25-point lead over Mitt Romney in the state, you would expect Democrat Warren to have a big advantage. But the latest polls show a statistical dead heat, now Warren on her heels after new revelations about her Native American claims in an academic bio.

Mary Carmichael is a reporter for "The Boston Globe" who has been covering this story.

Mary, Elizabeth Warren is trying to talk about the economy, trying to talk about her record as a consumer advocate. Listen to her here at an event in Brookline with reporters wanting to ask about her biography.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELIZABETH WARREN, MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I have answered these questions. I am going to talk about what's happening to America's families.


KING: I've covered a lot of campaigns. That's an exasperated candidate. She says asked and answered. But has she answered all the questions?

MARY CARMICHAEL, REPORTER, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Well, the chief question is how did Harvard come to think of her as Native American in the first place. No one has answered that at all. Harvard hasn't actually answered it either, so that's what we were trying to get at with today's story.

KING: And so I talked to a couple of her advisers today, and they acknowledge that she checked a box on a form at Harvard. They say she checked a box that said she was Native American. They say they don't know what happened since.

I want you to listen. She addressed this also on a CNN program just about a week ago.


WARREN: I'm proud of my Native American heritage. I'm proud of my family. It's now the case that people have gone over my college records, my law school records, every job I've ever had to see that I got my work. I got my jobs because I do my work.


KING: She says, Mary Carmichael, she's proud of "my Native American heritage." But can she prove it or is this just family lore?

CARMICHAEL: Well, she's basically relying on family lore. There was a genealogist who said for a while that he had turned up an ancestor, but there's not been any documentation that anyone has seen to prove that.

The more key point regarding the Harvard documents that we were looking at today is they lay out a very strict definition of what is considered Native American. It's not just proving that you have an ancestor. You also have to show an official tribal affiliation or community recognition. And she's not done either of those either, I don't believe.

KING: And Harvard was using it at the time it was on the defensive for not having diversity in its faculty. And to the question, Elizabeth Warren says, "Well, if they did that, I didn't know anything about it"? Is that what she says? Or is there any evidence at all that she tried to use this to gain any affirmative action or unfair advantage?

CARMICHAEL: There's certainly no evidence in the documents that we've looked at, and Harvard and Professor Warren both said that's not the case. The question, though, is if she didn't qualify as Native American under these documents, then why was she being identified as such?

KING: And so you keep trying to get to the bottom of what happened, who did what. That's part of the documented -- the investigative reporting that needs to be done.

And help me understand how you think this is playing in the campaign. Because some big university, the organization that did that poll that shows essentially a dead heat. Scott Brown was up one point.

Also asked the first word that comes to mind when you hear Elizabeth Warren's name. This is among registered voters. Smart/well educated, 40 percent said that. Don't like, 34 percent. Dishonest, 25 percent of Massachusetts voters say the first thing that comes to mind is dishonest. If that sticks in a close race, she's in trouble.

CARMICHAEL: That's certainly -- if I were running for Senate I would be upset about that. But of course, we don't know if the people regard her that way because of these Native American revelations or something else. I think it would probably help a lot if she would come out and address things directly and we could see what happened to the numbers then.

KING: A fascinating issue in what I believe is the country's most interesting Senate race. Mary Carmichael, "The Boston Globe," appreciate your help. Read the entire story in today's "Boston Globe."

CARMICHAEL: Thank you.

KING: Vice President Joe Biden made a deeply personal and deeply emotional speech today, paying tribute to our fallen troops ahead of this weekend's Memorial Day celebrations. He spoke to military families who have lost a loved one in combat, drawing parallels between their grief and his own. The vice president lost his first wife and a daughter in a car crash back in 1972, and he spoke of his feelings as he fell in love again.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It made me feel guilty as hell. You're going to feel this awful, awful, awful feeling of guilt. But just remember two things: keep thinking what your husband or wife would want you to do. Keep thinking what it is.

And keep remembering that those kids of yours are him or her the rest of their lives, blood of my blood, bone of my bone.

Because, folks, it can and will get better. There will come a day -- I promise you, and your parents, as well -- when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen.


KING: Incredibly moving remarks by the vice president earlier today. He will speak to the military community again this weekend when he delivers the commencement address at West Point.

Now, this Memorial Day weekend, of course, is mainly to pause, honor, and reflect on those who gave their lives serving our country. Also a good time, though, to remember those who survived the battlefield but are struggling to cope with life after war.

U.S. veterans -- look at these sad statistics kill themselves at the rate of one every 80 minutes. That's 18 a day, or 6,500 suicides a year. That number for just one year is on par with the total number for U.S. troops killed combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Barbara Van Dahlen is the founder and president of Give an Hour, a charity that provides free mental health services to veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also made this year's list of "TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the World."

I'm honored to have you here.


KING: Thank you from being here. You just heard the vice president there. He's talking to the families of the fallen. You deal with a lot of these troops, the soldiers who come back with these horrible PTSD issues and mental health challenges. You hear great words of support there from the vice president. I don't mean to demean it at all. That was incredibly moving.

But in terms of the resources available, the reason you're doing what you're doing is because the government has failed the test, is that right, of providing enough people to help these heroes?

VAN DAHLEN: Well, I think that no one could anticipate how long these wars would go on or the resources that, in fact, we would need. And so the government is doing more than has ever been done in response to war. The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs. But there still is a tremendous amount that needs to be done in communities, and that's where we fit in.

KING: And as you mentioned, nobody could anticipate. I don't mean to sound cold about it. Nobody could anticipate. And you learn lessons as you go. Just last week the army said it's going to reveal mental health cases going back to 2001.

There are some suggestions that perhaps they took people off PTSD lists or wouldn't put them on those lists, because the cost of care, the cost of the benefits are higher. Is that significant? Does that give you a sense that they're more aware?

VAN DAHLEN: I think so. I think that what we found is that from the top down, Admiral Mullen was a great advocate, General Dempsey, the president, the first lady. But there still in a huge bureaucracy in the middle, where folks don't necessarily understand the importance of proper identification, early treatment. And it's a good thing that we're going back to look at those cases.

KING: And tell me from your experience -- what you're doing is heroic, getting yourself and others to volunteer and step in. What is the key? When you see that suicide rate -- and people link a lot of that to posttraumatic stress disorder -- is there one key when you're working with these soldiers? Is it -- does it depend -- is it each case-by-case basis or a way to try to get them from the dark spot to a place where they can start a recovery?

VAN DAHLEN: For many of these men and women when they come back, the key is to help them find meaning in their lives again. And we haven't done a good job with helping them fit back into communities. So our effort and linked with many others that are now up and running, that's what it's about.

The community has to step up. It can't be one organization or the administration. It has to be a joint combined effort. Our communities have much to offer. We just need to harness them.

KING: And on Memorial Day weekend, when you hear the vice president's remarks to the families of the fallen, you're dealing mostly with troops who have these symptoms. What about the families?

VAN DAHLEN: Absolutely.

KING: What is their stress, and is there a system for them, because they're not still active duty or just didn't come off the battlefield; they lost somebody on battlefield? Do they get -- are they more likely to be forgotten, their mental health needs?

VAN DAHLEN: Well, I think things are changing there, too. In our organization, we provide free mental-health care for the troops, their families, their communities, big tent, anybody who is affected. And many other organizations now are stepping up to assist the families, because you're right. They suffer. They are under tremendous stress. They're incredibly resilient, but after almost 11 years of war, we can see the strain.

KING: Barbara Van Dahlen, appreciate you coming in.

VAN DAHLEN: Thank you very much.

KING: Congratulations on being noted and congratulations, much more importantly, for your work.

VAN DAHLEN: Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you. Thank you.

Still ahead here, Donald Trump is talking about Barack Obama's birth certificate, yes, again. The "Truth" about the newest chapter in the birther controversy, and could it hurt Mitt Romney. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The Donald is a birther. No news there. But it is news that he just can't let it go.


JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": I have something for you. My birth certificate.


DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: I'd like to see Obama's.


KING: You heard him there: "I'd like to see Obama's." Well, "Truth" is, I once offered him a chance to see it.


TRUMP: I mean, first of all, I haven't seen it. I just -- I'm looking at that -- I'll look at it later. I don't need to look at your copy. But I hope it's -- everything's perfect. And I've been saying that very consistently. I hope that he has it.


KING: Now that was a year ago. And the release of the long-form version quieted all but the birther fringe. But Mr. Trump apparently aspires to be their leader or maybe their spokes model.

Now the Donald is seizing on this: a synopsis of the president's first book -- then Barack Obama's book; he wasn't president then -- that says Obama was, quote, "Born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

Now, Obama's former literary agent says she made a mistake and that the author, now the president, never suggested he was born anywhere other than the United States.

But Mr. Trump just doesn't buy it, today telling the Daily Beast, "He didn't know he was running for president, so he told the truth."

You might be asking at home, why am I wasting your time with this? Most of you, at least on the birther issue, see Mr. Trump for what he is, a self-promoter. And the few of you who might share his conspiracy theory are unlikely to be convinced by anything I say.

But "Truth" is, I raise this as an issue for Mitt Romney, not Donald Trump. Now, let's be clear. Candidates cannot and should not be held responsible or accountable for crackpot things their run-of- the-mill supports say. But Trump is no run-of-the-mill supporter.

The Romney campaign now heavily promoting a big fund-raiser with Trump next week in, where else, Vegas. And the Romney campaign is holding a fundraising raffle. Throw three bucks in, the winner gets to dine with The Donald and Governor Romney at the Trump Tower, and you get a tour of the "Celebrity Apprentice" set. Not bad, huh?

Now, Team Romney says the candidate long ago dismissed any birther talk and says it has no obligation to rein in or criticize Mr. Trump.


ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ADVISOR TO MITT ROMNEY: Mitt Romney has made it clear that the place of the president's birth is not an issue for him. He accepts the fact he was born in Hawaii. And we have many important challenges facing our country, and that's what we'd rather talk about.


KING: OK. Fair enough. There's no obligation. But it would show leadership and try to quiet those who stir this foolish debate. Some of them, like Mr. Trump, I suspect, just for attention, but some of them, sadly, because they can't accept the fact that the president is African-American.

Here tonight to talk truth, "The New Yorker's" Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza; Republican consultant and CNN political contributor Alex Castellanos; Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen.

Alex, as the Republican, I want to come to you first. Look, it's nuts. But he is going to be at Governor Romney's side two days -- or one day next week for the fund-raiser, then this thing. Do they have a responsibility to publicly say stop it?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No. Of course not. Look, first of all, the rule in politics...

KING: You can't be hurt by that?

CASTELLANOS: Absolutely not. What is the rule in politics is just because you support me, that does not mean I support you. Donald Trump is not the candidate. Mitt Romney is. There are hundreds of...

KING: So if President Obama showed up next week next to Jeremiah Wright, no Republicans would say anything? They would say, "It's OK"?

CASTELLANOS: He'd have to denounce Jeremiah Wright again. No, you don't do that in politics.


CASTELLANOS: It's a plus -- it's actually a plus for Mitt Romney, because nothing makes you appear more rational than standing next to Donald Trump.

KING: Well, beat that. HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to have to disagree. I have to, on the Jeremiah Wright front, No. 1. Here's my thing...


KING: I don't want to get into, overly, guilt by association but...

ROSEN: Here's the...

KING: I think Trump does this for attention. But the thing that bothers me about this particular issue is that small silver of people out there who just can't accept the fact that he's black. And are you encouraging this?

CASTELLANOS: That has nothing to do with this. Come on. You know why this doesn't stick, it doesn't make any difference? Because everyone knows who Mitt Romney is, and he's not that guy.

ROSEN: Wait a minute.

CASTELLANOS: He's not a -- Mitt Romney is not a scary creature of the lunatic right, and so, this stuff does not stick to him.

ROSEN: This is not enough to be self-certain about who you are. It's important to show people who you are. And when you're running for president, unfortunately, that is something you have to show people over and over and over again.

And I think that Mitt Romney -- you know, I agree with John. I think that Mitt Romney sends a weak message when he's afraid to stand up to Donald Trump, when he's afraid to say, "You know what? That is not cool."

Even Eric Fehrnstrom, I thought that his -- you know, I take it that, you know, the fact that I -- I accept the fact that he's born in America. It's like you know what? He was born in America. Say it, done with it, be a man about it.

CASTELLANOS: So somehow saying that he does not agree with this, that he believes Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, somehow that does not make his position clear?

One thing that's changed in politics these days is we have more information than ever. People get to know these candidates. You don't need to define them by intermediaries. They judge these candidates...

ROSEN: He's never done it, though.

LIZZA: I don't think that's true.

ROSEN: He's never done it.

LIZZA: We're in this critical period. (CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: ... don't work anymore.

LIZZA: Yes, but I think -- the thing that the Obama people used to talk about in 2008, why Jeremiah Wright and some of those radical associations from Chicago mattered so much, as he was introducing himself to the American people. People didn't know his background.

And the people who he hung out with and associated with was really important. Isn't Romney in the same position here? He's introducing himself to the public. As long as he's been in politics, people still don't know that much about him.

KING: And to Ryan's point, in a very, very close election. In a blowout either way, I guess who cares? But in a very close election you're sure -- you're sure that this -- I'm not asking --

ROSEN: Wait a minute. One more -- one more...

KING: Asking I could put, say, somebody's face on a pinata.

CASTELLANOS: This is like the opposite of that.


CASTELLANOS: Mitt Romney's problem in the primaries is that he was not a creature of the far lunatic fringe. That's his advantage in a general. This stuff doesn't stick to him, because it's not true. Unless he changes his hair to look like Donald Trump, this is a nonissue.

ROSEN: Sorry. Donald Trump is not a fringe, you know, guy standing in the back of a...

CASTELLANOS: This issue is.

ROSEN: Let me finish, Alex. I let you talk.

He's not a fringe guy standing in the back of a rally with a poster saying what he thinks. He is a, you know, billion-dollar businessman seeking credibility. He's on TV all the time. He is hosting fundraisers side by side with Mitt Romney.

The fact that Mitt Romney does not denounce what he says just makes Mitt Romney look weak. He's wrong for not doing it.

KING: I'm running a little over time. I don't want you guys to comment on this. But I just want our viewers to hear: if you think he's nuts on the birther issue, listen to what he says when he thinks about would you be asked to be Mitt Romney's vice president?


TRUMP: A lot of people are asking that question. I think probably that won't happen, but I'll do anything I can to help this country get balanced again. Because we are a mess.

WALTERS: But if they offered you vice president or they offered you a cabinet position, you would say yes?

TRUMP: Who would turn it down? You have to do something to help the country.


KING: I'd bet all my money, all Hilary's money, all Alex's money and all Ryan's money -- and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he will not be Mitt Romney's running mate. I just -- I think that's a safe bet.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Ali Velshi has got the honor of filling in. And Ali, you're going to speak to a former NFL player tonight.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Yes, but first I've got a question for you. You know where I was born?

KING: Canada.

VELSHI: I don't think we've ever discussed this.

KING: I think Canada. Am I wrong?

VELSHI: I was born in Kenya.

KING: Kenya?

VELSHI: And I have a birth certificate to prove it, in case it ever comes up.

KING: Any comeback I had right here would just end up somewhere viral, so I'm just going to -- take us away.

VELSHI: I grew up -- I grew up in Canada.

Let's talk football for a second. You know the story about concussions, the injuries caused by them and the effects that they seem to be having on players long afterward.

Well, more than a thousand lawsuits have been filed by 80 different players -- or, 80 lawsuits have been filed by more than a thousand different ex-NFL players. Tonight we're going to speak to one of those ex-players, and we're going to speak to one of the lawyers representing more than 100 clients, more than 100 former NFL players and their families, who say that not enough has changed in the NFL and that they want this to go to court.

And they want awards for their clients, who have been injured because the NFL knew how dangerous these concussions were. In fact, the former I'm talking to tonight, Leroy Jordan, said that they treated a sprained ankle more seriously than they would a bell ringer, a concussion, and they want that changed, John.

KING: Look forward to hearing that, Ali. A very important story. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

And still ahead here, it looks like the historic presidential elections in Egypt will have a part two. We'll tell you who made it past round one.

Plus, this is the best victory celebration ceremony we've seen in a long time. Hear what this science fair winner invented that could help fight cancer.


KING: Let's close out a fun and an interesting week in politics with Ryan Lizza, Alex Castellanos and Hilary Rosen.

Now, the president's team got aggressive this week, going after Governor Romney's record at Bain Capital. Earlier today, I spoke to Rick Perry. You might remember, he brought this up in the Republican primaries. Do you remember vultures? Governor Perry, listen here. He says he's living proof what the president's doing now won't work.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: No, not at all. As we said, you know, now is the time, back in an earlier part of the campaign to vet that issue. It didn't work then, and it's not going to work now.

As a matter of fact, there were 13 different Democrats and counting that have said to the president, "Don't go there, Mr. President."


KING: You sure, Alex? Governor Perry was doing it in an audience, a pool of Republican voters. The president's doing it in a bigger pool. Democrats, independents, conservative Democrats who might be swayed the other way. Are you sure?

CASTELLANOS: Yes. I think this is -- you know, last time I thought Barack Obama and McCain ran one of the most brilliant campaigns, smartest campaigns I've ever seen.

And this campaign, I'm stunned by how dumb some of these choices they're making are.

For example, if you're attacking Mitt Romney for the wrong kind of success. He knows how to create profits, not jobs. When most Americans' experience is, those things are one and the same. You can't have a successful business without helping...

KING: So question the issue.

CASTELLANOS: John, it's like saying -- hey, that's a basketball team. They know how to win games, but they don't know how to play good basketball. It just -- it's an attack on every business, because every business does the same thing. You try to shrink what's not growing and grow what is. KING: Is it dumb or is it a building block to something else?

ROSEN: Well, it's clearly a building block. But, you know, couple points, that first of all, corporate profits are as high as they've ever been right now. CEO pay is as high as it's ever been, and the stock market's at an all-time high.

So we actually are seeing a lot of profits without enough jobs. So that theory doesn't work.

But the mistake that's been made with this Bain conversation, I think, is that nobody's connecting the dots. Really, except the president, which he did yesterday.

He said, it's not that Bain Capital is a bad company or private equity is a bad thing. It's that this does not make him a job creator.

And by the way, the dot to connect is that when this the guy had a chance to be at the head of government in Massachusetts, Massachusetts was number 47 out of 50 in the country creating...

KING: The president hasn't done that aggressively -- the president hasn't done that aggressively, but what the president's trying to say is this the guy has no heart. That's what he's saying.

LIZZA: That's what he's saying, it's a character attack. Look, Obama's exaggerating a little bit about the relationship between profits and jobs is obviously there. Romney's exaggerating the jobs part a little bit too much, and Obama's exaggerating the profits part a little bit too much.

On Perry, though, I don't think the problem with the Perry campaign, or frankly, any of Romney's candidates, was that they didn't have the right attacks against Romney. We just had a bad field.

CASTELLANOS: The unemployment rate in Massachusetts when Romney left was 4.7 percent. Wouldn't we all love to have that now? And if you're right, that the stock market and all those things are doing great and we have no jobs, that means President Obama doesn't know what he's doing.

KING: I'm calling a time-out on a holiday weekend. Hilary, Alex, Ryan, thanks for coming in. We'll continue to litigate this. These issues aren't going anywhere.

Lisa Sylvester's back now with the latest news you need to know right now. Hey, there.


Egypt voted, and it looks like there will be a runoff vote for president vote for president between a Muslim brotherhood candidate and a former Mubarak ally. Votes are still coming in, but the two current frontrunners are among the most polarizing. The runoff race is set on June 16 and 17. And the FBI says an incident aboard an airliner today does not appear to be connected with terrorism. A man from Canada rushed toward the cockpit of an American Airlines plane just after it landed at Miami International Airport. Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Snyder was subdued by a couple of passengers. He now is in federal custody.

And the Golden Gate Bridge is turning 75 this weekend, and San Francisco is throwing a big party. Today, Governor Jerry Brown and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi were on hand to dedicate the new visitor center. The anniversary celebrations will last a year -- John.

KING: OK, here you two. This is our "Moment You Missed." He's not on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose. But thanks to this 15-year-old boy, spotting it just got easier. Enjoying his celebration there is Jack Andraka. He just won the world's largest science fair by creating a new test for pancreatic cancer. Thirty-eight-thousand Americans were diagnosed with the disease just this year. About 34,000 will die from it.

Andraka's dipstick sensor could make a dramatic difference. One hundred times -- get that, 100 times more sensitive, Lisa, than the current test. So he should be celebrating. That's pretty cool.

SYLVESTER: Yes. And, you know, that test, it only costs pennies. For his work -- I was looking this up online, reading up online, John -- I think he gets a $75,000 prize. So not bad, not bad at all, John.

KING: A $75,000 prize and a down payment, I bet, on a continuing career. And hopefully, he keeps his inventing in the medical sector.

SYLVESTER: That's right.

KING: Everybody, have a great and safe Memorial Day weekend. That's all for us tonight. We'll see you back here next week. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.