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JOHN KING, USA
Wisconsin Recall Effort Fails; Interview With Virginia Senator Mark Warner
Aired June 6, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm John King.
Tonight: an urgent hunt for whoever is leaking some of the country's most sensitive secrets about U.S. drone strikes and cyber- attacks. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee tells CNN those leaks are putting lives in danger.
Also, Today's fallout from last night's Wisconsin fight, important lessons for both the Obama and Romney campaigns looking ahead to November.
And the Enterprise ends up where no space shuttle has ever been before, on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier for everyone to see.
We start with the growing clamor to find and stop whoever is leaking classified national security secrets. The leaks are the source of recent stories about how President Obama and his aides pick targets for U.S. drone strikes on suspect terrorists. Other leaks detailed the U.S. and Israeli cyber-attacks on Iran's nuclear program.
The FBI today confirmed it is investigating that leak.
Senator John McCain says the FBI is fine, but he wants an outside special counsel to lead the investigation. He says he suspects the Obama administration leaking this information to make the president look good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The portrayal of the president in these stories is obviously nothing short of heroic. I agree with the cyber-warfare, but why should we reveal it to the enemy and take credit for something that obviously does not deserve to be well-known?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: President Obama's spokesman today called allegations of intentional leaking -- quote -- "grossly irresponsible."
But in a very rare show of bipartisan anger, this afternoon, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee warned these leaks threaten to do -- quote -- "imminent and irreparable damage to our national security."
Just moments ago, my colleague Wolf Blitzer asked the Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Dianne Feinstein, if she knows of any specifically incidents where the leaks have endangered lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: FEINSTEIN: Yes. I can tell you where lives have been endangered.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Has anyone been killed as a result?
FEINSTEIN: Not to my knowledge.
BLITZER: Do you want to go into specifics?
FEINSTEIN: No, I do not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You see the sensitivity there.
CNN White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us now.
How does the White House answer what are pretty serious allegation from both Democrats and Republicans and concerns?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I spoke with one senior administration official, John, who insisted that, these leaks drive us crazy. That's what I was told.
But when you look at a lot of these stories, certainly there are many details that raise questions. And if some of them are not coming from the White House, they are certainly coming from the administration, when you are talking about some of the classified details. That seems obvious, even if they are not coming from the White House.
And also this is a White House that has made a big deal about clamping down on leaks. And at least at this point in time, when you ask, how will you cooperate with these hearings that we know are going to happen certainly on the Senate side of the Hill, this FBI investigation, there is no comment on that or at this point reaction to these calls from Senator McCain and Senator Chambliss calling for a special counsel.
KING: A bit more on the substance. When they hear people like the people who are accessing this information on Capitol Hill say they are worried -- and Dianne Feinstein just said she knows of examples where lives are at risk -- do they agree with that?
KEILAR: Certainly, that is a concern. I think that's why that senior officials said this bothers us very much as well.
When you look as well at the politics of this, the president has a pretty good record on certain things that are sort of indisputable, Osama bin Laden, taking out some of al Qaeda's leadership. These are things that serve him well in an election, difficult for Mitt Romney to compete with, because that's just an experience that President Obama has. Republicans of course want to do anything they can to tarnish that. But at the same time, when you hear Democrats as well joining Republicans with these grave concerns, we heard from Dianne Feinstein. She said it seems at the very least that information is not being sufficiently held close. And that, politics aside, is a very serious charge.
KING: And so they dismiss when you hear Senator McCain essentially saying he thinks they are puffing their chest and saying look at what we have done with bravado, the politics of it. They say, we have got enough examples, we don't need to do this?
KEILAR: Well, they say there are -- yes, exactly. And they say if a reporter is doing a story on counterterrorism, then it is obviously their job to sort of weigh in. But they are certainly dismissing the politics of this. But there are some examples certainly where when it comes to Osama bin Laden, when it comes to there -- there is, for instance, a movie being made about Osama bin Laden.
And there's, as we know, some cooperation at least in lending some perspective as those portrayals are put forward.
KING: Well, we will see. The FBI and Congress getting involved. We will see where this one goes.
Brianna Keilar, thanks so much for your help tonight.
Turning now to campaign 2012 and the big, big debate over what Wisconsin's recall election teaches us about the climate and the map of the November presidential election. Republican Governor Scott Walker won a resounding victory, defeating the effort by Democrats and organized labor to cut short his term.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in that Walker win sees a big national message.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The vote that we saw last night in Wisconsin said that people in what many have considered a blue state, it hasn't voted for a Republican for president since 1984, a blue state said we have seen a conservative governor. He cut back on the scale of government and has held down taxes and stood up to the public sector unions, and we want more of that, not less of it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KING: Now, on our CNN electoral map, we have Wisconsin leaning blue, meaning leaning Obama. We had a healthy debate in the office today about whether to make it a tossup. But for now, it stays as is.
Why? In the exit polls, even as Republican Walker won big, Wisconsin voters gave President Obama a healthy edge in a November test vote. The exit poll number also matched a public poll taken in recent days. Plus, Wisconsin hasn't voted GOP for president since 1984. That's 28 years ago.
So, we will keep an eye on it. But while there is an opening for Governor Romney, I am not ready to say it is a tossup. No, it's not in that territory just yet.
Dana Bash was on the ground for the recall and is in Milwaukee tonight.
So, Dana, as we have this debate, what does yesterday mean for November, what's the best Republican argument for why they say this does mean Mitt Romney can win Wisconsin?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, several things.
First of all, they argue basic infrastructure. The fact of the matter is, they did open 25 sites around this state. And they opened six months earlier than they normally would have. So that helps them. And, also, they have identified, they say, four million Republican voters. That's an important number in any case. But especially, as you know, in Wisconsin, people don't identify themselves when they register by party.
So, that's a big deal. Also, they say, aside from the infrastructure, pure message. I spoke with Reince Priebus, who is the RNC chair. He was here last night, and he argued that the message that Scott Walker was giving big picture was that government should not spend more than it has and that is something he said Barack Obama is going to have to answer for.
But there is also a subplot here. And that is that that Priebus is not just RNC chair. He was the state chair here in Wisconsin. So, he -- for him, it's personally and he is likely going to have some say in the money that comes nationally here to Wisconsin. And there's no question he's going to push it here.
KING: And so as -- that's the Republican case.
Democrats are back on their heels today, but what is their best argument that what happened last night has no meaning or little meaning come November?
BASH: It is a tough one, John, because the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said on our air just 10 days ago that it is a test run for November.
And the Republicans were quick to say, well, that it is sort of like a North Korea missile launch, that it didn't go very well. But they argue, at least they try, that this did energize their base here. And they also do make what I think is a valid point in that they say that recalls are simply different from regular elections, that it really is a high bar to reach to say that we want a governor out, particularly when there is no corruption involved. At least at this point, that's the case here.
They also make the point that the passion that is there for Scott Walker is not necessarily there for Mitt Romney. And we see that in the exit polls that you just showed a little while ago. The fact is that Barack Obama is seven points ahead still among Wisconsin voters. And so it shows that the passion isn't necessarily there. Having said all that, there are some candid Democrats here on the ground.
The man who lost his bid to become the Democratic lieutenant governor last night, he told us that he is not going to downplay it now that they have lost. He said that there is a national problem, that it has national implications and they have an uphill battle here.
KING: One hundred and fifty-four days. Wisconsin will be one of the many states that we keep an eye on.
Dana Bash on the ground there tonight, Dana, thanks.
And the role of big money and outside money is now a huge flash point in the debate over just what Wisconsin wins. Now, the numbers are staggering. Look at this, more than $66 million spent heading into the final days. So, we are sure and you can be sure the final number will surpass $70 million and perhaps approach $80 million.
Of the $66 million in spending already reported, about half of the money came from outside of Wisconsin. Now, Republican groups had a bit of an edge in that regard. About 54 percent of the outside money went to help Governor Walker fight the recall effort.
What is more staggering is when you look at the candidate-vs.- candidate spending, meaning Governor Walker vs. the Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett. Walker spent more than $30 million to $4 million for Barrett. That's a more than 7-1 advantage. And more than 60 percent of Governor Walkers' contributions came from outside Wisconsin compared to just 25 percent of Mayor Barrett's money coming from outside the state.
Also interesting to note a lot of this money was spent on voter turnout, voter identification and ground operations. That's a lesson likely to shape big super PAC spending late now, as we move on to the presidential race.
And of the $66 million in spending tracked so far, a little less than a third, about $20 million, spent on TV ads, and nearly two- thirds of that spending, TV ads, supported Republican Walker. About half of the TV ad war spent in the final five weeks, and again in that period, you see it lopsided in favor of Governor Walker.
Here is a big question, though, whether that late spending made any difference or much of a difference, because the exit polls show 86 percent of the voters who participated in those exit polls say they decided before May. So, $12 million in late TV ad spending was spent for the hearts and minds of about 13 percent of the recall voters.
Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here.
Now, you could argue all that money, a lot of -- well, there's no argument there, a lot of money. And has people decide now, how do we spend in future elections, especially the presidential election, what lessons are to be learned?
On the one hand, you say, $11 million spent for 12 percent or 13 percent of the population, that's a waste of money. On the other hand, in a very polarized electorate, where you know there are only a small slice of people who are undecided, very much like will be in the presidential race, that's the way it is.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I don't think anybody that looks at this race is going to say, you know what? The lesson here is don't spend any money.
I think the lesson here for Republicans is that they were finally at parity with the Democrats. Look back to 2008. There was a huge disadvantage for John McCain's campaign. They didn't raise the money the Democrats were raising. They are not going to make that mistake this time.
They had a coordinated effort. Not only did you have the super PACs in, but you had the Republican Governors Association in. You had the NRA in. You had lots of special interests in there and they coordinated. They contacted four million voters. Now, only 2.5 million people voted in this election.
So, that gives you some idea. So, as far as money is concerned, the lesson here is that more is better. And you are never going to convince anybody -- even though people say they didn't pay the attention to the ads and their minds were made up, they watched.
KING: What's the policy lesson? Governor Walker says, I made tough choices and even voters who didn't like those choices applauded me for making them.
BORGER: I think there is a lesson in that. I think what they liked about Walker is that he had a plan. And I think this is a cautionary note for both Mitt Romney and President Obama.
They liked a candidate who had a plan. His plan is to reduce the size of government. That also still has a lot of resonance. We heard that in 2010 with the Tea Party. That makes a lot of difference.
So, if you're Mitt Romney and you look at this -- and I think Governor Walker said this today himself -- you need to come up with a fiscal plan to save the economy. And if you are President Obama, maybe you need to start telling people just what you would do in your second term. Independent voters like President Obama. They just don't feel like they have heard enough from him about what he is going to do.
KING: It's a big lesson in the last few years.
KING: Every family in America has had to make tough choices, uncomfortable choices, unwelcome choices. If the politicians don't show that same courage, I think maybe they won't listen to them.
BORGER: And maybe smaller government is better. That's what these people are saying.
KING: Gloria Borger, appreciate your insights tonight.
Former President Bill Clinton made a lot of Republican friends this week -- next, a prominent Democrat who also agrees our leaders need to focus on low taxes and job creation now, before the election.
And later: the former Cabinet secretary who is the Romney campaign's new point man in reaching out to Latino voters.
KING: It seems the former President Bill Clinton made himself an accidental ally of some pretty powerful Republicans when he said he doesn't have any problem with extending the Bush tax cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It is really important that we provide some certainty to job creators in our country in extending all of the current tax rates for at least a year. Even Bill Clinton came out for it, before he was against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That could become big in the political debate.
But job creation is a policy issue that bridges the aisle for some lawmakers. Take Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who said this in an e-mail this week: "We can not allow election year politics to interfere with smart, reasonable efforts to strengthen our economy and jump-start job creation. We want to demonstrate that Congress can get something significant done even during an election year, when we're willing to put partisanship aside and work together."
He's promoting a bipartisan jobs bill with some Democrats and even Republican senators like Marco Rubio.
Senator Warner with us now live from Capitol Hill.
So, Senator, you have a bipartisan plan. Why can't you get everyone to vote on it today? Why does the election get in the way?
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, John, the senators who are sponsoring this -- we call it Start-Up 2.0 -- are all new guys. And I think we didn't get the memo that we are supposed to take presidential election years off.
This bill that we have got isn't going to solve all the problems. But it really goes and looks at where job creation has taken place in the last 20 years; 80 percent of all the new jobs in America have come from start-up companies, not just technology companies, restaurant chains, Under Armour, the sporting wear company.
But they're start-up ventures. So a few months back, we passed a bill to try to get those companies greater access to capital. Start- Up 2.0 basically says, let's make sure we can also compete for world- class talent.
So, when American universities train graduate students in engineering and math and science, we don't have enough native-born Americans. We train people from abroad. And what we are saying is, rather than sending them home, if there are jobs open here that Americans can't fill, let them have those jobs here in America.
Go ahead and staple that green card, that -- to -- the visa to that graduate degree. If you want to start a business, let's do that as well, an entrepreneur, basically, if you can show that you can actually raise money and hire companies here or hire Americans here.
Again, not going to completely move the needle, but if you look at where job creation has taken place, this is some place to start. And we don't need to wait until after the election.
KING: You say that and I'm going to borrow your language.
You say the new guys want to do this. So, I am going to say the old guys are getting in the way. When you talk to your leader, Democratic Leader Harry Reid, or when the Republicans talk, they would have to go through the House speaker, John Boehner, to get the Republicans to work.
What is their answer? Because what you have had in the last few months -- you have watched this. The Republicans in the House have passed a whole bunch of bills, they say, that would create jobs. There are some ideas in them I know you like. The Democrats have passed a whole bunch of bills in the Senate or several bills in the Senate and have ideas in the Senate. But they say it is the Republicans. The Republicans say it is the Democrats. Why does the election prevent some action?
WARNER: Well, it does make you scratch your head.
And you got to look for incremental progress. We came together about a month-and-a-half ago on this -- it was called the JOBS Act. It was a capital access bill, ability for these start-up companies to raise money in an easier fashion.
The president supported it, the House supported it. We passed it in the Senate. And it's signed into law.
KING: So why do they tell you go away?
If you go to your leader -- you're a Democrat. Let's focus on Harry Reid. When you say, come on, give me a chance, why does he say stop, not until after the election?
WARNER: Look, I think that he will give us a chance, and we need to show some more support with this.
We started with four co-sponsors. We have now got a companion bill in the House. I'm going to get some more additional co-sponsors. We have got tech companies and business groups across the country saying this. I think that we will see it and get a chance to get it on the floor.
WARNER: We also need, John, to do some of the other things that should be basic blocking and tackling. The Senate passed, again, bipartisan, 75 votes, a two-year transportation bill three months ago. This should be a no-brainer.
We are seeing the summer season where highway contracts need to be let, particularly in Northern states, where those jobs can't be done during the winter season. We are going to miss the whole construction season if we don't go ahead and give the predictability on a two-year transportation bill.
The House needs to step up and do that. This is one those ones that is a complete no-brainer.
WARNER: And, finally, then last point I am going to try to make on this is, we also need -- and this time, I get I would say there will be -- I get some pushback from both sides. We still need -- the biggest thing of all that we could for job creation is to put in place a real deficit reduction plan that will generate additional revenues, that will do entitlement reforms that we need, and try to give confidence to that $2.5 trillion in private sector capital that is sitting on the sidelines right now looking for some place to invest.
They can't invest in Europe. It's a mess. China, India are declining. Even Brazil had a very bad quarter. America -- if we did a debt deal, America would take off. We have got to find that common ground to do that.
KING: I don't think you have a prayer of getting that big one done before the election, Senator. But I will stay in touch as we go forward here. I would like to see some progress for the unemployed Americans out there...
KING: ... and to prove Washington can do something, but don't think so, my friend. We will stay in touch, though, as we go forward.
WARNER: You have got to keep at it, though.
KING: Senator, thanks so much for your time tonight.
WARNER: Thanks, John.
KING: And we're going to have more ahead on Bill Clinton's continuing impact on presidential politics. The truth is, his mixed message might be a mixed blessing.
But next, the Enterprise goes where no space shuttle has gone before, up a river on a barge to an aircraft carrier.
KING: Welcome back.
KING: Still ahead here: The Romney campaign makes an important announcement, naming a former Cabinet secretary to help the former Massachusetts governor, steep hill, connecting with Latino votes.
But next, reports of a new atrocity in Syria: at least 78 people, including many women and children, rounded up and executed.
KING: This half hour, we'll take you street level on Syria's Sniper Alley. Exclusive video takes us shoulder to shoulder with rebel fighters as they trade fire with government forces.
And Mitt Romney has a new message for Latinos, saying President Obama has failed them on the economy. I'll ask Romney's new point man on Hispanic voters how to make this tactic work.
Plus, the truth about why former president, Bill Clinton, may be off script and off message but not entirely off base.
It's been another disturbing day in Syria, where at least 78 people were reportedly killed in just one farming village. Opposition groups say many of the victims in Qabeer (ph) were executed, at least half of them said to be women and children. Across Syria, this is a gruesome day-by-day, bullet-by-bullet fight. And CNN has obtained exclusive video from the city of Homs along Sniper Alley right next to the rebel fighters as they opened fire. Here's CNN's Arwa Damon.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once a bustling middle-class shopping area, the street is now in ruins. The local rebel commander, Abu Hazem, crawls through holes fighters smashed between buildings to take up position.
There are government forces on a balcony across the road. The 32-year-old peers down the scope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: "Is it where the red and blue towels are?" he asks.
DAMON: Hadid (ph) seems deserted but the fighters of the Free Syrian Army say it's not just about defending residents still here but the property of those that have fled. They say Assad loyalists would steal or destroy anything they can get their hands on.
At another position along the street, Hazem is on high alert. "There is movement. Be ready at my signal," he says calmly.
DAMON: Syrian government forces are fanning out across the road. "There is movement in your direction," a call on the radio warns.
"I am ready," Hazem responds.
DAMON: The 40-year-old machine gunner fires off two rounds, takes aim again, and his weapon jams. Cursing under his breath, he clears it and aims again. "We can't just have a one-sided cease- fire," he says indignantly. "They can't expect us to come under fire and not respond."
KING: Again, that's CNN's Arwa Damon. Joining me now for more insight on the crisis in Syria is Fareed Zakaria, the host, of course, of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," editor at large for "TIME" magazine.
Fareed, when we started having this conversation about what to do in Syria more than a year ago, we were watching demonstrations in the street, largely peaceful protests against the government. If you see that video right there, it's clear, this has evolved in what you'd have to call a civil war. Is there any hope in sight?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I can't offer any real hope, John. I think that when we started this conversation, you recall I always thought it would be tough to dislodge Assad. It's a very brutal, very tough rough. It does what it takes, and it -- and it has no mercy, really, no restraint. You're seeing that. But what's striking is they are finding it more difficult to maintain control.
Homs, after all, is a place where they had this huge massacre. It was meant to be a deterrent. It was meant to send a chilling signal to the insurgents: if you continue, we will wipe you out. Well, they're continuing. So that's the gist, that while the government still doesn't seem to be in any danger of losing right now, it is having to work a lot harder to hold this place together. And that might be related to the reshuffle which, of course, we don't really understand. But something is going on at the elite level, as well.
KING: And as that something goes on, there's an effort to reshuffle the diplomacy, as well. Kofi Annan's mission, the former United Nations secretary-general, his mission has failed, by all accounts. A cease-fire in place that both sides, frankly, are ignoring.
Now, the Russians say, "Let's bring Iran into the conversation. Kofi Annan seems open to bringing Iran into the conversation." Some big regional meeting, bringing the western powers. But the United States is very skeptical, Secretary of State Clinton saying it's hard to imagine inviting a country that is stage-managing Assad's regime's -- regime's assault on its own people.
Is Iran part of the answer or part of the problem?
ZAKARIA: I have some sympathy for what Kofi Annan is suggesting. Look, you have to remember, we've given Kofi Annan a kind of no-win mission, which is try and get rid of Assad. And by the way, we have no -- you have no pressure that you can assert on him. The west is not really going to get involved militarily. There is very little economic pressure right now, because the U.N. sanctions route is blocked by Russia and China.
So how is Annan going to engineer the removal of Assad? So he's thinking maybe one of the ways would be to get the Russians and the Iranians to exert pressure to get some kind of peaceful transfer of power and maybe to have a military general replace Assad. It may not work, but I don't see what harm there is in trying to persuade the Russians and the Iranians that, look, the writing is on the wall. This regime cannot last.
KING: Let me shift your attention to your big special coming up this weekend. You've taken a look for "GPS" on global immigration policy and how the United States might think about fixing its own. You made the case, and I don't think anyone will disagree, it is long overdue for the United States to do something to fix its immigration system.
But you also make the case that the political focus, the political quicksand of focusing on illegal immigration has blocked those reforms. Tell me what you mean.
ZAKARIA: Well, we have a Republican Party that's become increasingly intransigent on the issue of any kind of immigration deal before you, quote unquote, "solve the illegal immigration problem."
The Democrats have their own bright lines relating to, for example, guest worker visas and things like that.
So the result is, it seems impossible to imagine the kind of grand bargain or compromise you need. We have a broken political process. And the immigration problem is, in a sense -- is just one example or metaphor for that.
KING: I keep saying maybe after the next election. I've been saying that for a long time. So I'm not sure that's useful advice any more.
Fareed Zakaria, thanks so much for your insights on Syria and immigration.
You should all be sure to watch 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. Immigration is one of the obstacles as Mitt Romney works harder to win over Latino voters, and he's got a lot of ground to make up there. But he's rolling out a new tactic, telling a Latino crowd in Texas just this week President Obama's economic policies have failed them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This Obama economy has been hard, particularly on Hispanic businesses and Hispanic-Americans. If I'm the next president of the United States, I'll be the president for all Americans and make sure this economy is good for all Americans, Hispanic and otherwise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Romney campaign pushing that message hard. He's releasing a new ad called "Dismal." It highlights statistics about Latino poverty and unemployment to attack the incumbent president's record.
So will this tactic work? Here is the new man in charge of Romney's Hispanic steering (ph) team: former commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, who served in the George W. Bush administration.
Mr. Secretary, it's good to see you. Let's get first to the numbers. And you know them all that well. You came to work in the cabinet of George W. Bush. Back in the 200 race, he received 35 percent of the Hispanic vote. In 2004, he increase that number to 44 percent.
John McCain in 2008 slipped to 31 percent. He lost and he lost big.
If you look at the tracking polls right now, Hispanic vote for president, Obama 67, Romney 26. So Governor Romney, your guy now is below where McCain was. You can't win a national election at 26 percent.
And I would say the Republican Party cannot sustain itself nationally if the largest demographic group growing, growth-wise, is turning away from it. What's the biggest problem?
CARLOS GUTIERREZ, ROMNEY ADVISOR: Well, I think there's a misperception, as well, that, you know, Hispanic-Americans are Americans. And somehow, this administration and others and -- have -- have found a way of pigeonholing Hispanics into one issue, as if those -- they're only interested in one issue.
And they're not. They're just like all other Americans. They're interested in jobs. They're interested in the economy. They're interested in education. They're interested in their children getting ahead. They're interested in having a better future and prosperity. This is what they dream about, just like everyone else.
And unfortunately, you know, it's become a one-issue discussion whereby Hispanics are getting short-changed. Eleven percent unemployment, that's the highest increase in the gap that you'll find among any other group in the country. Poverty level is increasing.
Hispanics are great entrepreneurs. Hispanics open up businesses, but they're finding a tidal wave of regulations from this administration. If, you know, lo and behold, they start a business that makes more than $200,000, they're going to get punished with more taxes.
We've got a Keystone Pipeline that can be opened any time. Somehow it's not being done. But gasoline prices are very high. Those gasoline prices also hurt Hispanics.
Now, I'll be -- I'll be clear with you. What Hispanics don't like is the language, the sense of disrespect that sometimes they hear. And in that regard, Governor Romney has always, always spoken and felt a great deal of support for Hispanics -- in this country.
KING: You say -- you say that, but someone who helped sign up with your effort today is the freshman governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, and I agree with you 100 percent that Latinos are like any other group in this country. Not one-issue voters.
However, it's an issue, whether they rank it first or tenth. It's an issue that matters to them, and a lot of them -- and you know this -- have turned off, and you just made -- by the tone more than anything.
Here's what Governor Martinez says, and this is talking about a Romney proposal: "Self-deport? What the heck does that mean? I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign. But now, there's an opportunity for Governor Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why."
As you help the governor and Governor Martinez helps you with this opportunity, does Governor Romney have to back off self- deportation or at least do a much better job explaining what he means?
GUTIERREZ: Well, you know, John, when we did this immigration reform in 2006, I mean, it was a 700-page bill. So, you know, to try to bring it down to a couple of words or sound bites, it is unfair to the issue. This is a very complex issue.
What Governor Romney has said is that he believes in the power of immigration, of legal immigration. We have to look at the system; we have a national strategy. We can't look at it tactically or politically, which is the way this administration has looked at it.
Hispanics have been political pawns to be used every time an election comes up. Let's talk about immigration. We need to look holistically and think strategically about immigration long-term, because it's going to become an economic and competitive issue. Within that review, we need to understand the 12 million and that whole complex set of problems. But we need to start with the premise that we believe that legal immigration is good for this country. And we need to find out why our legal system has not worked. We need to change some of the laws. There's a lot of work to be done. And anyone who can -- who thinks they can clear it off with one sound bite is either playing with Hispanics or doesn't know what they're saying.
KING: Mr. Secretary, you've taken on a big challenge. Let's keep in touch over the next 154 days. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Appreciate your time tonight, sir.
Coming up, Mr. Mixed Message. Why the GOP is calling Mr. Bill Clinton the gift that keeps on giving.
KING: There's a reason we don't hear much from our most recent former president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had plenty of the limelight. I don't think it's good, frankly, for our country to undermine our president. I don't intend to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's 43. Forty-two didn't get that memo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The great thing about not being president is you can say whatever you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And he does. President Obama says let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year for those making $250,000 a year or more. President Clinton isn't so sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I don't have any problem with extending all of it now, including the current spending levels.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: President Obama says Mitt Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital shows he puts profits ahead of workers, greed ahead of any community responsibility. President Clinton isn't so sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON) I don't think that we ought to get in the position where we say this is bad work. This is good work.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now, you might call him mix -- Mr. Mixed Message. Make no mistake, team Obama doesn't like it when President Clinton contradicts their general campaign themes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: By the way, I want to thank you for having President Clinton on. He's the gift that keeps on giving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, team Obama's frustration is real, and it's understandable. Some of it is with the former president, and some of it is with the media coverage.
You just heard President Clinton there in his own voice. He did say those things that are easily interpreted as slaps at the current president's approach. And I know from sources I trust Mr. Clinton does have some concerns about the Obama strategy.
But it's not fair to just cast this as Clinton versus Obama. If you listen to his recent interviews or read the full transcript, what you get is vintage Bill Clinton. He loves policy debates, and in every one of these recent conversations, he adds nuance and context that, sadly, are often missing from debates among those currently in power.
Extend the Bush tax cuts for a bit? Yes, he did say that, but only if Republicans realize that they, too, Mr. Clinton said, would have to give something meaningful to get such a concession from President Obama.
The "Truth" is, we would have a better campaign, a much better campaign and a much better chance of governing after it, if both candidates followed this advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The real issue ought to be what has Governor Romney advocated in the campaign that he will do as president? What has President Obama done and what does he propose to do? How do these things stack up against each other? That's the most relevant thing. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If only.
Here tonight to talk truth, Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland. And she's on Capitol Hill, because of some votes tonight. Here in studio, "TIME" deputy Washington bureau chief Michael Crowley, and former Bush speech writer and CNN contributor David Frum.
Congresswoman, to you first, because I notice a lot of Democrats have been having fits, some privately, some publicly over the idea that Bill Clinton, at the very time your party is saying, let the Bush tax cuts expire, raise taxes on the wealthy, he says, "Oh, no, extend them a bit. You have to." Didn't like that, did you?
REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, there are two things. I mean, one, President Obama and congressional Democrats don't believe that we need to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, for millionaires and billionaires.
And it's also true that President Clinton is incredibly thoughtful about a whole range of different things and has some ideas about that.
But I think if you put his comments into context, what President Clinton was saying was talking about what could be the nature of a deal. And so I think it's really important in this kind of lull in between the campaign season that we don't really misconstrue both what the president -- what President Clinton said but also what President Obama and congressional Democrats believe, and that is, really clearly, we've got to end the tax cuts for wealthiest Americans and end the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I think most of America agrees with us on that.
KING: But -- but he does. David Frum, she's right, and as I made a point. President Clinton provides important context and nuance if you listen.
However, this is American politics and American media. And when he says extend them now, Republicans are going to seize on that point and say, "Let's do it."
DAVID FRUM, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Does he have any points -- does President Clinton get any points for being right on the merits of both of these discussions? Because -- because he is right on the merits of both of the discussions. And especially on the tax issue.
One of the things that has happened to the Obama administration and one of the reasons they're in so much trouble is they've lost sight for the need to have an economic policy. They have a fiscal policy. They know what they want to tax, and they know where they want to spend that tax money.
The idea that -- let the economy recover and then the fiscal problems will take care of themselves, more or less, which is what most economists think, that seems to have been lost sight of.
KING: His point is -- David's point is Clinton's point is make a deal. And why don't you try to make one now, because the country is on the edge of a financial cliff? Look, he wants President Obama to be re-elected. He wants the Democrats to succeed. But he also sees this crisis out there and doesn't see the political system doing anything about it.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think that's right, and the important part of his point is almost a procedural thing. He's saying, you know, you're not going to be able to get a deal before the election. The time frame is too narrow. You might have to punt it down the road a little bit. But I think he's pretty clear on the overarching structural point, and what is proper for the government, for society, what levels of taxation are proper. He opposes extending the Bush tax cuts indefinitely. Sounds like he might be open to some kind of a deal if the Democrats could get something really big from Republicans.
Or he's saying you might just have to kick the can down the road a little bit to get a deal done.
But look, John, I think Republicans have to be careful about getting too gleeful, because Bill Clinton is still really good. And he's not going to make a mistake day after day after day for the rest of the campaign. When he starts selling the message in the home stretch of the general election, I think he's going to be a good ally for President Obama.
KING: All right, Congresswoman, I want to turn to last night. Not only did Scott Walker defeat the recall effort in the state of Wisconsin, but voters in San Diego and San Jose voted in favor of propositions that essentially take from public employees, unions say, and we need to solve fiscal crises some, so we need to cut back your benefits.
Do you see more of that coming now, based on the election results last night?
EDWARDS: Well, I think people are understandably frustrated with the stage of the economy that we're in right now and also with the fact that, you know, we have crises -- budget crises that we need to deal with.
What I do think has happened is that I think Wisconsinites, particularly those who are progressives or are union members are really galvanized for the big fight ahead. And that's just not one state election, but it's what has to take place all across this country in congressional districts all across the country to make sure that we actually can restore some sanity to the process by, you know, gaining back our House Democrats and reelecting President Obama.
KING: She says sanity to the process, but the voters seem to be saying we might not agree with all of your choices, but we will support people who make tough choices.
FRUM: Through the past decade a private-sector wage has, for most people, increased very slowly. The cost of benefits and wages for public-sector employees increased very fast. And that was tough enough to sustain during reasonably good times. Now we're in an economic crisis.
And the question that voters are going to be asking in many states -- and I think more than 30 that have done some kind of drawback -- is do you tax the wages of people who have done badly enough for ten years and doing very badly now so that a small group can continue to have benefits and wages utterly out of proportion to what everyone else is getting? KING: Is it a green light for mayors and governors out there, maybe not in a confrontational way that led to the recall effort in Wisconsin, but to say, "You know what? Like it or not, that's where the money is"?
CROWLEY: I think it is. You know, there's been a lot of talk today about what does this mean for the presidential election? What did Obama have at stake, and what -- does Romney have a better shot in Wisconsin right now?
The last four polls in the month of May show a clear Obama lead in Wisconsin. I think it's still probably a pro-Obama state. I don't want to read too much into this for November. But I think as you say, for the policy makers, for the legislators who are going to tackle this problem, it's a green light and it's a real blow to labor.
I think it just takes -- it cracks their morale. I think it just lets them down. It's going to make them shy back from their next battle, potentially, and I think that's the real significance here.
KING: Congresswoman, Michael, David, thanks for coming in today. We'll watch this one. I'm fascinated to see what happens next in the next big showdown over public employees' unions. Thank you all for being here tonight.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. And Erin, an FBI investigation now over allegations the White House or someone in the administration is leaking classified information for political points. What's ahead for you tonight?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're going to be talking to Peter King about that. Find out whether this really is political or just business as usual in a government that's been known for being incredibly leaky.
Plus Grover Norquist will be on our show. He says 23 states should do what Wisconsin did. What does he mean?
And Billy Baldwin on his brothers and an Iranian spy.
Top of the hour. John, back to you.
KING: I'm not sure about that last one. You'll connect the dots for me. I'll be watching. See you in a few minutes, Erin.
Still ahead, imagine losing an election, then getting slapped. Why a supporter smacked the Milwaukee mayor, Tom Barrett.
KING: Kate Bolduan is back with the latest news you need to know right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John. Hi, everyone.
A U.S. military official tells CNN it's likely enemy fire brought down an Army helicopter in Afghanistan today, killing both crew members. The Taliban sent an e-mail claiming responsibility.
And a jury of seven women and five men will hear the sexual abuse case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. It took less than two days to pick the jury and four alternates. Sandusky faces 52 counts of allegedly molesting and raping ten boys.
And legendary science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91. His imagination brought us -- how can you forget -- the book burning, oppressed society in "Fahrenheit 451," just one of his more than 50 books that often focused on a dark but not-so-distant future. His publisher said Bradbury died peacefully in L.A. after a long illness.
His books will live on forever, though, John.
KING: Rest in peace. An icon there.
All right, Kate, stay with me. Tonight's "Moment You May Have Missed." Losing an election has to hurt, right? Well, so does a slap to the face.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett feeling the pain from both. Watch this. One of his supporters slapped him last night after he lost the recall election for governor of Wisconsin. She thought Barrett had given up his attempt to oust Governor Scott Walker before all the votes were counted. So he gets that slap. Barrett's campaign says that was not the case. Ouch!
BOLDUAN: Ouch. I mean, it was actually a pretty hard slap. There was some conversation about he said, "I prefer a hug rather than a slap," and she walloped him anyway.
KING: Life in the big city is the way the mayor put that one. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
BOLDUAN: Tough politics.
KING: Tough job.
All right, Kate, we'll see you tomorrow night.
BOLDUAN: All right.
KING: And that's all for us right here.
Hope to see you back here tomorrow night, as well. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
BURNETT: "OUTFRONT" next, breaking news.