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Team Obama's Big Bet; Wisconsin's Recall Election

Aired June 4, 2012 - 18:00   ET


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

Tonight: team Obama's big bet. They're spending millions to attack Mitt Romney's record on creating jobs.

Also, we will set the scene for what could be a preview of what is coming in November. Tomorrow, Wisconsin voters pass judgment on a Republican governor with a Tea Party agenda.

And a judge urges the media to show restraint, but says he won't hide the identities of the men who accused former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky of raping them when they were boys.

Up first tonight: a big bet by President Obama's reelection campaign that just happens to track with our first official CNN Electoral College projection, the state-by-state race to 270 electoral votes. The bet? A multimillion-dollar Obama campaign ad attacking Republican Mitt Romney's record on the issue we all know will define the election.


NARRATOR: When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs, a rate twice the national average, and fell to 47th in job creation, fourth from the bottom.

Instead of hiring workers from his own state, Romney outsourced call center jobs to India. He cut taxes for millionaires like himself, while raising them on the middle class, and left the state $2.6 billion deeper in debt.


KING: The new ad is airing in nine states, including the seven that you see colored yellow here. That's toss-up yellow on our new electoral map.

Here is our state of the race, specifically the race to 270 electoral votes 155 days out. Again, it takes 270 to win. We now have solid blue and light blue. That means solid Obama or leading Obama 247 electoral votes for the president, only 23 shy of victory if the map doesn't change from here on out. Governor Romney, a bit of a steeper hill to climb, but he's at 206 now. He needs 270 to win. If you look at the map, though, this looks much more competitive, much more like Bush vs. Gore of 2000 than Obama vs. McCain of 2008. Now, advantage to the president, you would have to say. All seven of these tossup states, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada, all seven carried by President Obama last time. So at least he has veterans on the ground who know how they work. If nothing else changes on the map, look at this, the president could win Florida, just Florida and its 29 electoral votes, that would get him across the line.

What does Governor Romney have to do? He most likely has to win Florida and Ohio, the two biggest prizes here, and then put together the rest of the votes going state by state. We will spend a lot of time over the next 155 days going through these scenarios.

And let's dig deeper on the chess match -- and that's what this is -- of getting to 270 or of blocking the other guy from getting there.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, joins us now.

And, Gloria, when you look at this map, as I just noted, it is hard to see Governor Romney making it up. And I will change it on the map -- unless he wins Florida, unless he wins Ohio. That would actually put him ahead of the president there and you would go to these other five smaller prizes.

When you look at the map, especially when you think of 2008 and what has changed, what jumps out most at you?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, again, Florida, Ohio, of course, but I look at the historically Republican states that President Obama won, that Mitt Romney's campaign says it has to win, John, in order to win in the Electoral College. Those would be the states of Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina.

So I think those are three states we really need to be looking at, because the Romney campaign needs to win them. Then they need to win those states, Ohio and Florida. And then they need to win their sort of what they call wild card states, eight wild card states, like New Hampshire, Nevada, Wisconsin, which you will be talking about later in the show. So they need to win a wild card state, too, and then they figure they can beat President Obama.

KING: And that's what gets so interesting, Gloria. There are so many scenarios.

And both campaigns essentially agree -- and I want to go back to where we started, go back to these states and take them back. You have the toss-up states that are in yellow. And, again, if you look at it, here you are 247 to 206. The campaigns don't dispute this. The Romney people would like to say Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are toss-ups. We lean them blue right now.

The Obama people would like to say , well, we can put Arizona and its votes into play, but we're going to keep it red, leaning red for now until we see some data that suggest that can change it. When you think of the paths, I will give you one scenario here. Look at this. If the president were to win Ohio, and win New Hampshire, say, and then Governor Romney were to win the rest of our toss-ups, just using this as a hypothetical, 269-269.

Now, we're not saying that's going to happen. History, Gloria, is that they tend to break late. The toss-ups tend to break. If there are six or seven on the board, five or six go to the front- runner. But when you think 2008 Electoral College, pretty much a blowout, 2000, Florida and the Supreme Court, what's your likely scenario?

BORGER: I think it is going to be closer. I don't think we are going to see a blowout.

And I think one thing we need to be talking about is that unemployment number. In a lot of these toss-up states, John, and you know this, the unemployment number is actually lower than it is nationally. So you may have fewer grudge voters on the unemployment number.

But then there is a debate right now that is going on among pollsters. I talk to Democratic pollsters, Republican pollsters, and they're all asking the question, when does the psychology kick in? When do people really start thinking that the economy is not going to improve if the unemployment number keeps going up? Was it this last unemployment report we got, or is it going to be the one next month or the month after? We don't know.

KING: We don't know, but we will continue to track the economic data. I think that we do know this. The economy, the jobs will be issue number one, and we will see it both on the data question and the psychology question.

Gloria Borger, thanks for your help tonight.

Now, this map, of course, likely to change maybe many times in the days and weeks ahead as the campaigns compete not only to lock up their strongholds -- the president, for example, wants to turn the light blues dark blue -- Governor Romney wants to turn the light reds dark red -- but they also want to create some new opportunities in states that right now appear to be out of reach.

And Wisconsin would be a case study right here. You see it has 10 electoral votes, a big statewide contest before November though that is going to help us much better understand the state of play here, that election tomorrow.

It is an effort to recall the Republican governor, Scott Walker, and replace him with a Democrat Tom Barrett.


NARRATOR: Scott Walker promised.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Two hundred and fifty thousand new jobs.

NARRATOR: And Scott Walker delivered nothing.

In fact, last year, Wisconsin lost more jobs than any state in the country.



NARRATOR: Tom Barrett wants to spend more than $100 million on a trolley for Milwaukee. Now, that's the kind of reckless spending that left Wisconsin with more than a $3 billion deficit.


KING: It is a race dominated by state issues, first and foremost, Governor Walker's efforts to curtail union rights and benefits as he grapples with a big state budget crisis.

But it's also an expensive and a high-stakes test run, you might say, of the ground operations that will shape battleground Wisconsin come November. And so while, as you can see, we lean it blue now, lean it for Obama, this evening, that's tonight, a big Republican win there tomorrow might make us think about that again.

CNN's Dana Bash is on the ground in Milwaukee tonight.

And, Dana, let's focus on the recall election first. You're there on the ground talking to the people who have to turn out the votes tomorrow. What is the sense on election eve?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The sense is that it is very, very close. Public polls show it is extremely close, effectively in the margin of error, with Scott Walker with a slight lead.

And Democratic and Republican sources say their internal polling shows it about the same. You know the way it feels before a big election, frenetic, and that's exactly the way it feels here.

Interesting that this is a recall election, very rare nationwide, and they do expect there to be turnout at the level of a presidential contest, so they expect a lot of people to get out to the polls tomorrow. You mentioned the fact that this is about the state and it has certainly been a very, very polarizing time here in Wisconsin.

This is sort of the climax of that, and a polarizing figure in Scott Walker. But make no mistake. It is absolutely -- if you talk to leaders from around the country, if you look at the way groups are focusing on this, this is very, very much a testing ground for the issues come November and whether or not, as you said, the state could be in play at all.

KING: And let's talk a bit about that, because I want to just show our voters again, we lean it for Obama right now, 10 electoral votes. I am sure the Republicans think if they can put Wisconsin in play, well, maybe the same dynamics, maybe that would put Michigan in play, 16 there. Republicans like to think they cut another similar state, Rust Belt state, Pennsylvania, in play there.

So, if you add this up, that would be a basket for the Republicans to take away from the president. But, Dana, you know the history. I am going to switch maps and come over to the national map. This is the 2008 race for president.

I want you to watch this state up here. I am going to turn this on and circle Wisconsin. Just watch what happens as you go back in time. That's '08. That's '04. That's 2000. That's '96. That's '92. And that's even 1988, when Michael Dukakis won only 10 states, Dana. Wisconsin was one of them.

Do Republicans really think a state they haven't carried since the Montana 49-state loss in 1984, do they really think a win tomorrow by the Republican governor means Republican Mitt Romney can compete in November?

BASH: Do they think? They're not sure. Do they hope? Absolutely, because look back in 2000 and 2004. I remember being here with President Bush covering his reelection campaign in 2004.

They actually did come very, very close to doing quite well, to winning here. They haven't done well since then. But what they say, John, is that they have -- because of this recall and also a recall for the recalls in the statehouse a few months ago, they have developed an infrastructure that they simply haven't had in years and years.

For example, they say they have 25 so-called victory centers. Those are the places where they are going to make the calls and get out the vote. They haven't had that in a very long time. So, they're hoping that that will translate into November.

The open question is, without that polarizing figure in the governor here, Scott Walker on the ballot, with Mitt Romney on the ballot, is that really going to get the Republican vote out against President Obama? That is unclear. I was just talking to a senior Republican Party source here who said that if I would have asked him the question just a couple of months ago, he said have said, no, it is probably not going to translate, he said, but now, watching the way people are really pumped up here, he said maybe.

KING: Maybe. Maybe means we better pay close attention to what happens in that recall election tomorrow and then we will watch Wisconsin from there on out.

BASH: Yes.

KING: Dana Bash on the ground in Milwaukee tonight.

And, folks, before we go to break, I just want to show you this is 1988 and every one since then, Wisconsin has stayed blue. Just so you can see, that's what the country looked like the last time Wisconsin was red in a presidential election. That was 49 states for Ronald Reagan, lonely home state of Minnesota for Walter Mondale. We will see what happens now going forward.

Still ahead here, a close look at what the Democrats insist is the Romney campaign's double standard on counting jobs their man created.

But, next, a judge decides to reveal the names of people who accused the former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse.


KING: Jury selection starts tomorrow for the sex abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

He faces 52 counts of allegedly molesting and raping 10 boys over a 14-year period. Today, Sandusky's trial judge said the alleged victims will be identified in court, although the judge said he hopes the news media won't report the names.

CNN contributor Sara Ganim won a Pulitzer Prize covering the Sandusky story for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper "The Patriot News."

Sara, thanks for being with us tonight.

The jury selection will go forward tomorrow. Sandusky's lawyers wanted to delay the trial. Are they surprised that the court said, no, we're moving forward?

SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They haven't said whether or not they were surprised. The only thing we got from Joe Amendola today was a one- or two-sentence e-mail that said, "In light of the opinion, we will see you in court tomorrow."

Joe Amendola has told me over and over again he wanted more time. He didn't think it was fair prosecutors got nearly three years and he only got about six or seven months to build his defense. However, he said to me over and over, I will do whatever it takes. I will be ready the day we go to trial.

And that day has come. So, we expect him to be ready.

KING: And will Mr. Sandusky be in court tomorrow during jury selection? Does he have to be?

GANIM: We expect that -- he doesn't -- I guess he doesn't have to be, but we usually see defendants in court aiding their defense with jury selection. He has been pretty active in his defense, so I do expect him to be here tomorrow.

Joe Amendola told me at one point he is spending his days and nights on house arrest going through documents, going through evidence and helping them build a defense. So I would be very surprised if he wasn't here to help them pick a jury. KING: Sara Ganim outside the courtroom, we will stay in touch with Sara as this trial gets going. Sara, appreciate your time tonight.

Let's bring in senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joining us from New York.

Jeff, the judge's ruling that he will not keep secret the names of the victims. He says he hopes the news media does that, but saying he wants to put them into play. I just want to read you some of the reaction to that.

This is Ben Andreozzi. He's an attorney for victim four. "In Society, sometimes we question why rape victims are reluctant to come forward. So, now we have our answer."

The judge, though, John Cleland, said this: "Courts are not customarily in the business of withholding information. Secrecy is thought to be inconsistent with the openness required to assure the public that the law is being administered fairly and applied faithfully."

I get what the judge is saying. I am not sure I would apply it in this particular instance. Are you surprised?


What the judge said is absolutely right. The rule is that witnesses testify in public. And for all the publicity this case has received, it is also true that the news media has not reported any of the names of the alleged victims, at least that I am aware, and certainly the national news media hasn't.

So, I think we can expect those same rules to apply once the trial starts. And it is part of the tradition of openness. It is part of how we conduct American trials that everybody testifies under their own name if they are adults, and it is important to remember all of these witnesses are now adults. There have been circumstances when children testifying have been allowed to have their identity shielded.

But all of these people, even if they were allegedly abused as children, are now testifying as adults.

KING: A celebrity, a famous guy in a community that is defined by its iconic institution and its football team, what are the complications, the challenges in getting a fair jury here?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it is interesting. It is not all pointing in one direction. Yes, in part, Penn State is a revered and much beloved institution in central Pennsylvania, but it also has had a very complicated history in connection with this case. A lot of people are angry at Penn State for not doing enough about Sandusky.

So I actually don't think jury selection is going to be that much of a problem, at least as far as Penn State is concerned. Obviously, there has been a lot of publicity about this case. But those of us in the news media, we tend to think that it is impossible to avoid the attentions of the press.

But in fact, when you get to jury selection in these high-profile cases, we often see that people haven't been following things that carefully, and in fact are not biased in one direction or another, and I expect that's what will happen here.

KING: Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, we will keep in touch with him as well as this case gets under way. Again, jury selection in the Jerry Sandusky trial begins tomorrow.

Jeff, thanks.

CNN's Fareed Zakaria joins us in just a few moments. We will examine the world's slow-motion response to the crisis that has claimed 12,000 lives over the past year-plus and more every day.

But, next, how young is too young to be on Facebook? Parents, you are about to find out.


KING: Welcome back.


KING: Still ahead here: a response to Democrats' accusations the Romney campaign has a double standard when it comes to counting jobs their man created.

Also, tonight's big show, as Britain honors Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee with a stage full of stars, a sky full of fireworks, and a countryside full of beacons.


KING: In this half-hour of JOHN KING, USA: 12,000 dead and nothing but talk about how to end the killing in Syria. We will ask CNN's Fareed Zakaria why the international community couldn't muster the will to stand up to a delusional leader and stop the bloodshed.

And whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, there is some important truth to look more when Wisconsin voters pass judgment on their governor tomorrow.

Plus, pageantry as only the Brits can do it, the royals, stars, beacons and bonfires all for Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee.

The Obama reelection campaign is debuting a new attack ad this week in nine states hitting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on his tenure as governor of Massachusetts.


NARRATOR: It started like this.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I speak the language of business. I know how jobs are created.

NARRATOR: But it ended like this: one of the worst economic records in the country. Romney economics, it didn't work then, and it won't work now.


KING: So is Governor Romney's record in Massachusetts getting a fair shake?

Joining me now is Kerry Healey. She was Romney's lieutenant governor, and now serves as a foreign policy adviser to his presidential campaign.

Lieutenant Governor Healey, I want you to listen to a little bit more of this ad, because this goes directly at your tenure working alongside Governor Romney. Let's listen.


NARRATOR: When Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs, a rate twice the national average, and fell to 47th in job creation, fourth from the bottom.

He cut taxes for millionaires like himself, while raising them on the middle class, and left the state $2.6 billion deeper in debt.


KING: They're spending several million on this in all seven states we call toss-ups and then in two other states that Governor Romney hopes to put into play. How would you answer it?

KERRY HEALEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, these are just really breathtaking misrepresentations of Governor Romney's record.

And I think that really it is a mistake for the Obama campaign to go there, because, looking at Governor Romney's economic record in Massachusetts is only to just reinforce what a strong candidate he is and how he does understand how to create jobs.

It is a shocking thing to see that these numbers are not only taken out of context. They're represented in ways that are really quite dishonest. When Governor Romney came into office, the state was actually 51st in job creation because of the explosion of the high- tech bubble that was so important to the Massachusetts economy. And during the time that he was in office, in fact, we went all the way up to 30th in the nation, from 51st to 30th. That's a pretty good record of job creation. And so this is a deeply misrepresenting and dishonest view of his record as governor.

KING: And so there's been a debate in recent days about when is it fair to start the clock? Governor Romney came into office in the middle of a pretty tough recession -- President Obama, excuse me, says pretty much the same thing. I want to you listen. You just made a point about the growth, from 51st to 30th. Ed Gillespie, a senior advisor to the campaign, made a similar argument yesterday on the Sunday shows. I want to listen to a bit of it.


ED GILLESPIE, SENIOR ADVISOR, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: You take the first year which is a low base year when the governor came in and took office because it was 50th in job creation out of all of the states, dead last. Moved it to 30th by the fourth year, had a net job creation of around 40,000 jobs, and they're averaging out over the four years. So they're bringing down the gains of the -- of his fourth year in office.


KING: So you know what it's like. You were part of the team. You get elected. You have to implement policies. You can be tough those first few months. Should the first year not count?

HEALEY: Absolutely the first year should count but what really counts is that the progress over time, and the progress overtime was phenomenal.

When Governor Romney came into office he was facing a $3 billion budget gap out of a $23 billion budget. By the time he left, he not only had closed that gap without raising taxes and, in fact, cut taxes 19 times during the course of his administration, but he also left a $2 billion rainy-day fund for the successor.

And Governor Romney's record of job creation during the time that he was in office was the best in the decade, better than his Republican predecessor and better than his Democratic successor, so I think that there's nothing to be ashamed of in this record and the only thing that should cause any shame is the distortions in this advertising campaign.

KING: So let's apply the same test, then. If we count the first year but we put it into context, which I think is what you were saying, if you look at the president's record in 2009 when President Obama came into office, the economy bled 4.2 million jobs. If you do net jobs from January 2009 to today, you're plus 100,000. If you wipe out the first year -- the president could argue, if you wipe out the first year, that he's plus 3.8 million.

Is his record equal, similar, phenomenal? You used the word for Governor Romney. Give me a word for the president.

HEALEY: Well, I think that Governor Romney's record is one of positive job creation. There has not been one net job created by President Obama to date. Governor Romney created over 40,000 jobs during the course of his time, and he absolutely came into a dead last position when he took office.

So I think that we're comparing apples and oranges.

And the other piece here that no one seems to be talking about is the fact that Governor Romney moved unemployment in Massachusetts from 5.6 percent down to 4.7 percent or ostensibly full employment by the time that he left the state, whereas with President Obama, he actually has seen unemployment go up during the period of time that he's been in office.

And we're now facing the 40th straight month of unemployment over 8 percent which means over 23 million people out there looking for jobs. This is a very, very different record that we're talking about between President Obama and Governor Romney. And Governor Romney has nothing to be ashamed of with this record. He is very proud of his record as a job creator, and he should be.

KING: I can see you're proud, as well. A hundred fifty-five days to go. This is the defining debate between the two camps. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, we hope to see you again in the days ahead. Thanks for your time tonight.

HEALEY: Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

At least a dozen more people died across Syria today, even as diplomats from the European Union and Russia tried to work out a common approach to stop the slaughter that has now claimed more than 12,000 lives in the past year.

The United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan will discuss the situation with Hillary Clinton but get this: not until Friday. All the while the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, keeps insisting all this violence the result, he says, of a foreign conspiracy.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA (through translator): We are not facing a political situation. We are dealing with strife that is targeting our homeland as a whole that wants to destroy the nation through terrorism.


KING: Fareed Zakaria is the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" and editor-at-large for "TIME" joins us.

Fareed, you listened to President Assad there. He is clearly in denial if not delusional. And what strikes me is you have Kofi Annan will brief the Security Council on Thursday, meet with Secretary Clinton on Friday. It's as if your house was on fire and you called the fire department and said, you know, "Come next week sometime."

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. There's a kind of maddeningly slow pace to the international community acting, and there's a very simple reason why. They don't have the -- the Americans, the Europeans, they don't have the Russian or Chinese assent, and without the Russian or Chinese votes, you can't get anything through the Security Council. I think it is time to start looking at alternative forums and venues. I wonder whether, for example, the Arab League would be a more effective path right now. If you get the Arabs to speak with one voice on these issues requesting help, perhaps that's would be a way to move things forward.

KING: Perhaps it would be. But why does the United States will now continue to say, "Well, we'll wait a week. We'll give the Annan plan another week."

And it's been weeks and weeks when -- the Russians last week, President Putin said, "We're not selling them arms." We know the evidence is to the contrary. "We're not propping them up." We know the evidence is to the contrary.

And if you look at the Chinese, "The People's Daily," they're taking over the chairmanship of the Security Council, which is the key body here at the United Nations. And "The People's Daily" says the international community should support the Annan's peace plan instead of losing confidence and patience.

If there is no realism -- no realistic chance the Russians and the Chinese will come around, why keep up this facade?

ZAKARIA: Well, part of it is that the -- the administration does want as much legitimacy as they can. They want to see there's some way to get the Russians to see that this regime is doomed, and so you might as well start -- start being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

But I think at the heart of it, John, is the administration doesn't have a good idea as to what it would do if it could act. I think that, at the end of the day, the options in Syria are so limited. The military options look to unpalatable. Remember, the rebels still don't control any territory. They remain quite divided. This is -- this is the potential to turn into a very big civil war like Lebanon.

KING: Let me turn your attention to a different issue. You spent some time studying an issue around the world that I call the quicksand of American politics in recent years, and that is immigration.

You looked at Canada. You looked at Japan. You looked at Europe and elsewhere, studying their immigration policies. What lessons did you learn that maybe the politicians here in the United States might pay attention to?

ZAKARIA: It's fascinating. We think of ourselves as the great immigrant society, and the place with the most immigrants and the ability to handle them. And for most of history that's been true.

But by doing this special and seeing the new world, what I realized was did you know that Canada and Australia have more foreign- born citizens than the United States now? Canada and Australia have become multicultural societies that have let lots of people in. They do immigration the smart way. They let in people with skills. They let them in on a point system, basically on how qualified you are. If you have a science Ph.D., for example, you jump to the head of the line. And by doing that they get economic growth. They get talented, hard-working people.

And what's striking to me is it's not particularly controversial. There is no big backlash. And here we're stuck in a situation where we can't get anything done.

KING: It's common sense. Therefore, in today's politics, the United States most unlikely to happen, I guess, is the best way to put it.

ZAKARIA: That's exactly it.

KING: Be sure to watch. Check out Fareed Zakaria's special, "Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map to Making Immigration Work." That's Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Our thanks to our friend Fareed Zakaria for his insights.

Coming up, why you should care about who wins the Wisconsin recall election tomorrow.


KING: Wisconsin decides tomorrow whether to keep or replace its Republican governor, Scott Walker. And if you live anywhere else you might be tempted to shrug and say, "Who cares?" Or at least, "It doesn't affect me."

Well, tonight's "Truth" is proof this recall election does matter, that there are national implications here. As goes Wisconsin Tuesday could tell us a little bit, anyway, about how goes America come November.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It has given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do the dry run that we need of our massive significant dynamic grassroots presidential campaign, which can't really be matched by the Romney campaign or the Republicans because they've ignored on-the-ground operations.


KING: So if you translate that, a win means the president and his friends in organized labor have their act together, and a loss means at least in Wisconsin, at the moment they don't.

But there's more than that at stake. Two states' results could also tell us how your governor will approach his or her next budget crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR TOM BARRETT (D), MILWAUKEE: He wanted to go after his political opponents and permanently disarm them. That's what this was all about, taking away their rights, and he said it was his first step.


KING: Big labor pushed the recall after losing a huge showdown with Governor Walker. He significantly curtailed collective bargaining rights for most public employees, and he required most to pay more for their health care and their pension benefits.

Now, the president is missing in action on this one. Not one trip to Wisconsin to help Mayor Barrett you just heard from there. Walker leads narrowly in the polls, so maybe the president wanted to avoid leaving his fingerprints at the scene of an embarrassing defeat. Maybe that's smart politics. But it isn't putting party or principle first.

Now, Governor Romney isn't exactly leading a late Wisconsin charge either, but he did drop by a Walker campaign operation in the state. That was at the end of March, and they appeared together at the same GOP dinner that night.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, your great governor, what a hero he is, Scott Walker.


KING: So neither Romney nor Obama there at the end, but you can be certain the president and his challenger will be eager for the results tomorrow night to learn an early truth about voter intensity.

Joining us tonight to talk truth, "National Journal" editorial director, CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein; GOP consultant and our political contributor, Alex Castellanos; and Democratic strategist and political contributor Maria Cardona. Titles, titles and titles. This is a great law firm.

So answer me this. If this is so important, if it's a dry run, as the chairman of the party says, why'd the president take a pass?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST/CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Because look, the focus is on that dry run. The focus is on what resources need to be on the ground. And the focus, frankly, is the middle-class and working-class families of Wisconsin.

The Obama for America campaign and the DNC have been putting a ton of resources in there, $1.5 million. A lot of other surrogates have gone there. President Clinton was there. Martin O'Malley was there. The chairwoman was there. So there's certainly focus...

KING: So does President Clinton and Governor O'Malley have more appeal to the voters that matter than the current president of the United States?

CARDONA: They -- they have...

KING: Is there fear of backlash or fear of embarrassment? What's...

CARDONA: There could be that. There is no question there could be that. But you can't underestimate the appeal of President Clinton and Martin O'Malley, as well. So I think that there is...

KING: Martin O'Malley? Voters all over America, middle-class voters saying why hasn't Martin O'Malley been here?

CARDONA: President Clinton. But look, the focus is -- the focus is the voters of Wisconsin. The focus is this was -- they did not do this recall to make this for -- to make this about any sort of national implication. They did this for the voters and the families of Wisconsin.

KING: You're making a stronger case if it weren't for what the chairman of the party said right there.


RON BROWNSTEIN, "NATIONAL JOURNAL" EDITORIAL DIRECTOR/CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: There is reality. As you know, the Obama campaign was not wild about this idea to begin with. They were never enthusiastic about the recall. They were worried about exactly what seems to be happening, which is stirring up the Republican base and giving them an opportunity to build more of an organization than Romney has shown so far the ability to do.

So they were never big fans of kind of stirring the pot in a state that they won, you know, since 1984, since 1988, so that's part of it.

KING: And to that point -- to that point, no Republican has carried the state for president since Ronald Reagan in the 49:1 blow- out. So if Walker wins tomorrow -- if you look at our Electoral College map over here, we have Wisconsin leading blue for that reason, 247 to 206 coming in.

Let's say Governor Walker, the Republican governor, wins tomorrow by a couple of points or more. So in a close poll race you say that's a good win. Do we change that to "toss up," or do you think no? The governor's race is not a presidential race.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST/POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think you keep it as a toss-up, but there's a bit of a glimmer of hope for Republicans there.

This is going to be a test of Republican intensity. This is a test of whether a Republican governor can so some -- impose some of the reforms that we think all Republican -- all governors need to do around the country and survive. This is going to involve the party.

So this is important politically for the Republicans, as well as in governing.

KING: It's a governing -- it is a governing -- governing in this incredibly polarized environment with incredibly tough state budget issues. And so Gray Davis was the last governor to have a recall election. He lost.

Now, Mayor Barrett is not Arnold Schwarzenegger, maybe. The dynamic in California is different than Wisconsin, but the history tells you the incumbent loses. The guy being recalled tends to lose.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I mean, I think if Walker wins I think we'll be looking at this two ways. Geographically, as Alex said, Wisconsin is one of 18 states that have voted Democratic in at least the past five consecutive elections. So any chink in that blue wall as I've called it I think is worth noting.

The other way, John, I think I'll be looking at this is demographically, because in 2010 when Walker won in the first place, the Democrats lost ground among college-educated whites and non- college whites, compared to Obama in '08. The big loss was among those blue-collar whites, all the way down to 40 percent for Barrett.

If Walker is able to hold that non-college white, that working- class white vote it would really underscore the results in all the polls that suggest Obama is facing real difficulty with those...


CARDONA: And this will be -- this will be all about intensity, I think, on both sides of the aisle. And I think that right now the focus is -- Debbie Wasserman was right -- on the turnout operation.

CASTELLANOS: I was going to say, I think that's why Ron is exactly right, and that's why Obama didn't go up to the state, because he is a polarizing force among those white working-class voters that Barrett is trying to hold onto here.

But this is going to be a huge test to see if -- if we become Greece. Whether you agree with Scott Walker's reforms or not, can any governor make the tough choices required to get this country back on sound economic footing and survive?

KING: If -- if Walker wins, if he defeats the recall effort, might have been a mistake by organized labor, might Democratic governors out there who face these same crises say maybe they're not going to go as far as him, maybe they don't want to do as much as him, but say at least maybe not in the collective bargaining rights but when it comes to health care and pension cuts, might they say, "You know what? You can do this"?

CARDONA: I think certainly it will give the Democratic governors pause. But I don't think that labor will say it was a mistake, because they're doing what they need to do in terms of fighting for their collective bargaining rights.

CASTELLANOS: Here's why -- here's why I think it is a mistake. Because labor is not just big labor. It's a political party, and it's being treated as such in Wisconsin. And I think that -- what do Americans hate more than anything these days? Politics. This is going to lower that.


CARDONA: Labor needs -- labor has focused on their message of representing working-class families.

BROWNSTEIN: There was a path not taken by Walker that is still available to other governors. It wasn't -- the only choice was not a solution that's acceptable to all Republicans and all Democrats. You can craft a more balanced approach that would have asked for givebacks from public employees but also in the context perhaps of raising revenues, so it isn't like the only choice is polarized 51 versus 49.


CARDONA: There were other governors that were in the same position, and they actually were able to come up with a solution.

KING: Yes, I started this by saying maybe you think at home if you don't live in Wisconsin, you don't care about this. See? See, you do.

Thanks for the conversation. Maria, Alex, Ron, thanks for coming in.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up in just a few minutes at the top of the hour.

Erin, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging lawmakers to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, supports the idea. Tell us more.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. He is supporting it, and it's about 25 grams, John. Apparently, you're going to be allowed to carry it in public. Not allowed to actually light up in public but allowed to carry it.

And some of you may chuckle when you hear that. Some may roll your eyes, but this could be a big step towards decriminalizing marijuana. And we've done the numbers, John. I've got to tell you, they do add up. You could be looking nationwide at something like, well, maybe $17 to $20 billion in saved money in this country just by legalizing marijuana, and that's sort of the tip of the iceberg. So we're going to talk about that.

Plus, the president and drone wars. Big drone attack this afternoon. There are reports a very significant leader in al Qaeda could have been killed in a strike. Did you know, John, that since 2004 -- this is an amazing statistic -- 300 drone attacks. All but ten under President Barack Obama, not under George W. Bush. Pretty amazing statistic. That's coming up top of the hour.

KING: It's a huge -- huge expansion of their strategy in the war on terror. Both fascinating questions, Erin. We'll see you in just a few minutes.

BURNETT: All right.

KING: Next, tonight's "Moment You Missed." Some of the pomp and pageantry honoring Queen Elizabeth's -- look at that, beautiful -- Diamond Jubilee.


KING: Welcome back. Here's Lisa Sylvester with the latest news you need to know right now.

Hello again.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. Glad to be here.

Well, the U.S. State Department confirms the three -- there were three U.S. citizens on board that plane that crashed in a densely populated area of Lagos, Nigeria. At least 163 people lost their lives yesterday. An airline official tells CNN the pilot radioed for help minutes before the crash, and witnesses say the plane appeared to be having engine problems.

And nearly 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, deep wounds are still healing. On a historic visit to Hanoi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Vietnamese counterpart took steps to aid that process. Panetta returned a diary from the body of a Vietnamese soldier during the war. The Vietnamese defense minister handed over letters taken from the body of a U.S. soldier. And this is the first exchange of its kind since the war ended.

And the spike in gasoline prices has been good for mass transit. Nationwide, ridership between January and March was up 5 percent, meaning 2,650,000,000 on trains, buses, ferries or streetcars. But other numbers show that we're still very much a nation of drivers. Only 5 percent of the population uses mass transit.

And Starbucks is looking to sweeten your caffeine addiction. The coffee company is buying its own San Francisco bakery group in a $100 million cash deal. The company says it hopes to bring what it calls the artistry of the French bakery to the world with pastries and cookies.

John, that's making me hungry right now just thinking about it.

So they have you hostage for your caffeine, and now they're going to get a little more from you.

SYLVESTER: Some caffeine and a little sugar buzz, you're good to go.

KING: Smart people there, of course.

You might call tonight's "Moment You Missed" the British version of Shock and Awe. London celebrated Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee tonight with simply amazing fireworks. More royals than you can count. And some of the British empire's biggest stars at a gala concert.


STEVIE WONDER, MUSICIAN (singing): Isn't she lovely. Isn't she wonderful.

MADNESS, MUSICAL GROUP (singing): Our house in the middle of the street.


KING: The man with the best assignment of the day is our royal correspondent, Max Foster, who's at Buckingham Palace.

Max, you're right there. You have to say an amazing event. Better than you expected?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really was. When I saw the aerials afterwards, you got a real sense of the scale of this event. You know, there must have been a million people on the Mall, the main road going up from the palace.

But yes, it was an amazing event. You know, the -- the actual concert was great, but then you had this moment where the queen came down afterwards.

And we'd had the news shortly before the concert that her husband, Prince Philip, had been taken to hospital. He's 90 years old, and he's -- he's got an infection. You know, it's very serious at that age. And he was meant to be here. It's a key event in her lifetime, really, and he wasn't here.

And Prince Charles, her son, paid tribute to her, paid tribute to Prince Philip, at which point the crowd started saying, "Philip, Philip, Philip." So she looked emotional. She looked happy; she looked sad. It was quite something.

And you end up there was a spectacular projection on the palace and fireworks behind, which could be seen from all of London. I mean, it was quite something to see.

KING: I was almost late for the top of the show, Max. I was watching in my office. So an amazing event today, following other remarkable events. How do they top this tomorrow?

FOSTER: Well, this is their first challenge. Let's have a look at the big clear-up. I mean, the crowds only left an hour ago. And look at the army of people working on this area to clear away the seating, to clear away the stage as much as possible. It won't all go, but this area is going to become -- well, let's relive the royal wedding, shall we?

It's going to be the same carriage used in the royal wedding, a big procession with the military, and then a big service, a Thanksgiving service. So pomp and pageantry tomorrow, much more formal than tonight.

KING: And, Max, we watched the country have this celebration. I was struck, and you're our expert, so help me. You're right, Prince Charles was paying tribute to his mother and to his father, but he was talking about her remarkable legacy, taking the throne at age 26. She stood there pleased, I think, with this very stoic, solemn face on.

Why is it important for her, I guess, not to smile more or jump up and down herself in these ceremonies?

FOSTER: Well, it's just -- I mean, when she was younger, she used to smile a lot more. I mean, that was her smiling a lot. I guess she's constantly in the public eye, and she's -- that's her thing. I can't explain it. But she was happy tonight.

KING: She is who she is, a remarkable woman getting a remarkable celebration. Our royal correspondent, Max Foster, thanks so much. We continue our coverage of those events tomorrow. I loved watching those amazing fireworks.

That's all for us right here. We'll see you tomorrow night, though. Remember, Wisconsin recall night.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.