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Interview With Newt Gingrich; Jerry Sandusky Trial Begins; Military Drone Crashes in Maryland

Aired June 11, 2012 - 18:00   ET


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

Tonight: graphic testimony as the child sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky gets under way. The alleged victims all adults now, but the jury is shown photographs of them at the age they say Sandusky abused them.

A sensitive military drone crashes in Maryland during what the Pentagon says was a routine training exercise.

And not too long ago, Newt Gingrich called Mitt Romney a Massachusetts moderate who would lead the GOP to an electoral disaster. But, tonight, he's helping his one-time rival raise money. And he joins us to share his thoughts on the general election matchup.

Childhood photos of eight of Jerry Sandusky's alleged victims were projected on to a big screen in a Pennsylvania courtroom today. It's day one in the child rape trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach. You can see him right there making his way into the courtroom in the green suit. He's accused of assaulting at least 10 boys over a span of 15 years. And the jury heard from one of those alleged victims today.

CNN contributor Sara Ganim was in that courtroom.

And, Sara, the first witness to testify was victim number four, as he's being identified in court. He says Sandusky assaulted him dozens of times and later sent him -- quote -- "creepy love letters."

I'm going to read from one of them. "I write because you mean so much to us. I write because of the churning in my stomach when you don't care. I write because I still hope that there will be meaning to the time we have known each other."

Notes like that, Sara, the graphic testimony, how did the court react?

SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, jurors actually reacted most during opening statements when those photos were shown. And I saw a few of the women on the panel actually with their mouths open shaking their heads when prosecutors went through, because, you know, it's interesting.

These men are testifying. They're grown men now. They look very different than they did in those photographs. And to see them as boys as they were when they say they were abused by Jerry Sandusky really seemed to have a powerful effect on those jurors.

KING: You say the jurors. How did Sandusky react when the photos were shown?

GANIM: Interesting, because he actually moved his chair. These are old wooden, creaky courthouse chairs. And so they're physically a little bit difficult to move. And he kind of stood up a little bit, like a half-stand-up, and turned so that he could see a projection that is almost the full length of the wall and look at these photos.

And he looked at every single one of them. And when victim four took the stand, he watched him intently the entire time. Now, jurors were acting the same way. They were pretty focused on him, on the witness, but Jerry Sandusky was looking at him almost the entire time he testified.

KING: In his opening statements, Sandusky's attorney hinted his client might take the stand. What would he have to gain from that?

GANIM: Well, you know, that's always a question I guess for the legal analysts.

But what Amendola kept saying, what Joe Amendola, the attorney, kept saying is, you will hear from Jerry, you will hear from Jerry. And Jerry would say this and Jerry will say that. And we know that Jerry's been very vocal. So has Joe Amendola been very vocal. They have been putting their defense out there very publicly from day one. So, for the past seven months, we have been hearing from both of them.

And so I guess no one would really be surprised if he takes the stand. However, we are going to hear from him in court because of all of those interviews that he did. Prosecutors said in their openings they are going to play those for jurors.

KING: Sara Ganim at the courthouse for us tonight, Sara, thanks so much.

Turning now to a bizarre story here in Washington, the commerce secretary, John Bryson, back at work here in Washington today, although he's now under investigation for possible felony hit and run charges in California. Today, the department announces Bryson suffered a seizure on Saturday, the same day he was involved in a pair of traffic accidents in the Los Angeles suburbs.

The secretary was on personal time, had no security detail with him. His Lexus rear-ended a Buick that was stopped at a railroad crossing in San Gabriel. He got out and talked to the men in the Buick, but as he drove off, he then hit their car again. He continued without stopping into Rosemead, where he hit a second car.

Authorities found Bryson unconscious and still behind the steering wheel. And a Commerce Department official tells CNN tonight the secretary has "limited recall" of the events and they cannot confirm the timing or the cause of that seizure they say the secretary suffered.

We're joined now by our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, we're told the secretary has never before had a seizure. What could the possible causes be of a first-time seizure for a man of his age?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let face by saying a first-time seizure in an adult is a much more significant event, John, than in a child. Children can have seizures because of a high fever, infection.

In an adult, this is something that really can be serious and has to be investigated. And there are several different things which come to mind, first of all, something that's specifically going on in the brain that is structural, a tumor, for example, infection, an abscess, that type of thing.

It could be a stroke. Or even a TIA, a transient ischemic attack, sort of a mini-stroke, people call it, can also cause a seizure. People who have abnormalities in their blood lab values, sodium that gets too high or too low, can cause seizures.

But, John, again, I reiterate, I know he was in the hospital overnight. And I'm not sure -- obviously, I don't think we know what those tests showed yet, but this is a significant event. And in the world of neurosurgery, which is my expertise, a new seizure in an adult, we investigate quite a bit before we say we just don't know.

KING: You say you investigate quite a bit. If you're trying to get help here, he gets out of the car at one point and talks to the people in the Buick that he had just struck, then he gets back in his car and drive away. If he was having some kind of seizure, would he -- do you know, is it obvious? Would he be showing some signs?

GUPTA: People tend to think of seizures and they think of someone who is having somewhat violent jerking or shaking of their limbs. There are lots of different types of seizures, John.

There are partial seizures, for example, complicated partial seizures. And those are terms you don't need to necessarily know. But if someone doesn't know this person and they're talking to them, he may have just seemed out of sorts. He may have seemed a little bit confused.

But to the average person, if they didn't know the commerce secretary, they may not have known that he was in fact in the throes of a seizure. So it is possible that he did this, was very confused, left, struck the car again and then kept driving, obviously not safe, but possible, John.

KING: And here's what has me confused and help me with the medical advice. So, he has this event. They say it's a first-time seizure. He's found unconscious behind the wheel of his car. He goes to get treatment. That's on Saturday.

Sanjay, he flew back across the country and he is here in Washington, D.C., today. His staff says he had limited recall. Is that advisable?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it depends in part, John. That's a good question. It depends in part on if they know what the cause of the seizure was at this point. My guess is -- and again, we do this quite a bit in hospitals trying to evaluate this sort of thing -- he had an MRI scan, some scan of his brain, had his laboratory values checked, had an EEG perhaps.

If all those things came back normal, about 20 to 30 percent of the time, they may say, look, we just don't think what caused the seizure, but we don't -- whatever it is, we don't think it's that serious. In that case, I think it's OK to travel. And there are certainly people, John, who have epilepsy, who have seizures on a more regular basis who do fly.

But my guess is again that there may be more investigation into exactly what happened here to his brain in, basically, the effort to make sure it doesn't happen again.

KING: We will keep on top of this story as well. Dr. Gupta, appreciate your help.

GUPTA: You got it, John. Thanks.

KING: Tonight, the Pentagon is investigating the circumstances of a U.S. drone crash not in a faraway trouble spot, but in rural Maryland right near the nation's capital.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is working his sources.

Chris, tell us what you're hearing about this accident.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, I just got off the phone with a couple of Navy officials who say this was a routine training mission. And when they lost contact with this unmanned drone, they immediately scrambled a piloted plane. That pilot was able to put some eyes on the wreckage and determine, A., that it had crashed, and, B., that no one on the ground was injured when this drone went down.

This is a Global Hawk. It flies 11 miles high. It can fly for 30 hours at a time, used for reconnaissance flights also overseas in the war zone. But here, it was just on a routine training mission out at the Naval Air Station at Pax River and they lost contact. Right now, Coast Guard cordoning off the area trying to establish a safety zone, and trying to figure out how deep the water is, if there are any pollutants in there, before they start sending teams in to perhaps try to retrieve it, John.

KING: And, Chris, you say in your reporting we may see more of these crashes very soon. Why?

LAWRENCE: Because Congress passed a law, passed a bill and President Obama signed it that basically orders the FAA to open up U.S. commercial airspace to unmanned drones by the year 2015. So we may go from having just a few hundred of these flying to tens of thousands over the next 10-15 years. In fact, some of the industry experts I have spoken with say they think the civilian industry for drones is going to far surpass the military defense industry.

And when you look at some of the hard numbers, John, the lobbying by some of the defense firms are some of the biggest lobbyists on Capitol Hill. So, even without a pilot, you still get the politics.

KING: Even without a pilot, you still get the politics.

Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon for us tonight, Chris, thank so much.

Now to a story that is breaking off the New Jersey coast that we're tracking for you. Coast Guard helicopters and rescue crews are at the scene of a yacht explosion that has injured at least seven people. The yacht is about 17-and-a-half miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

We have seen ambulances parked and waiting right near the shore, a Coast Guard official telling CNN a total of 21 people were on board a yacht named Blind Date. As of less than an hour ago, everyone was said to be in life rafts. We will keep on our eye on that as the hour continues.

Newt Gingrich helps Mitt Romney raise money tonight. The former speaker joins us next to talk about this one-time rival and whether Ronald Reagan would still fit in with today's Republican Party.

Later, an expert explains the rare medical problem disclosed today by "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts.


KING: Mitt Romney holds a private fund-raiser tonight in Marietta, Georgia, and he will have a special guest, his one-time rival for the Republican presidential nomination, the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Speaker Gingrich joins us now from Atlanta.

Mr. Speaker, it's good to see you.

I want to ask you about Governor Romney in a minute, but first I want to go back in time. Jeb Bush did a roundtable with some reporters in New York today. And he said this, the former Florida governor, Jeb Bush: "Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground -- similar to my dad -- they would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party -- and I don't -- as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement."

Would Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush have a hard time in today's Republican Party? NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I don't think so.

I mean, first of all, I'm not sure what Jeb's referring to. We just had -- as you know, because you were out there covering it, we just had a pretty grueling campaign which had a fair amount of disagreement, a pretty wide range of views from Ron Paul to say Tim Pawlenty.

And I think in that framework, you're seeing us come together as a party. I think there's plenty of room in the Republican Party for a wide range of candidates. And, in fact, I would argue that in many ways we have a more diverse party today than the Democrats.

It's much easier to be of a different view as a Republican without having the kind of pressure you would have, for example, if you were a pro-life Democrat or if you were an anti-tax-increase Democrat.

KING: He was referring specifically to the tax issue. He said last week when he was in Washington that if he could get a deal that was $10 in spending cuts for $1 in tax increases, that he would reluctantly go along, that he would give up on the revenue side if he got that deep in cuts.

And that was his point, saying Ronald Reagan raised taxes. You were around, sir, when George H.W. Bush raised taxes, famously breaking his pledge. If you say I'm open to tax increases, does that make you a pariah in the Republican Party?

GINGRICH: No, but it gives you a very weak negotiating position.

Ronald Reagan said that one of the greatest mistakes he made -- he wrote this in his diary -- was agreeing to the tax increase in 1982 in which the Democrats promised that they were going to give him $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase. They got all the tax increase. He got none of the spending cut.

And after that, he became much firmer against any kind of a deal because he distrusted them so deeply. So I started -- and I think frankly President George H.W. Bush was very badly served by his advisers, who convinced him to break, "Read my lips, no new taxes."

And I think hurt him. That doesn't mean you shouldn't occasionally find a compromise. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be open to it. But you ought to be very cautious because Washington's a city which always wants more money. And the results we got last week, not just Wisconsin, but -- and my newsletter this week is about this -- San Jose, San Diego -- 66 percent of the people of San Jose voted to change the government employee pension plan; 70 percent of the people of San Diego voted to change the government pension plans.

The American voters are coming to grips with the fact that we can't afford big government. And so I would start and say, maybe you would or wouldn't consider some revenue at the very end of a negotiation, but for a Republican to start with that position invites the left to take all the money and give us none of the reforms.

KING: You mentioned Wisconsin. It wasn't long after Wisconsin that the president famously said the private sector is doing fine, and team Romney and other Republicans understandably jumped on that one.

But Governor Romney said something in his response to that though that team Obama has grabbed on. I want you to listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.



KING: It's a pretty good snapshot of the competing philosophies. The president says, use federal dollars to help. Governor Romney says no.

GINGRICH: Yes. It's interesting.

My newsletter is going to be on the president's comments. And when you look at it, he says, you know, states don't have the -- quote -- "flexibility" Washington has. Now, what's he talking about? He's talking about deficit spending. He's talking about borrowing from our children, borrowing from our grandchildren, spending more than we're taking in.

I think we have to come to grips with how big the challenge is, and does that mean there will be fewer teachers? The honest answer is yes. Does it mean that you're not going to get quite the same pension plan people have been getting? The honest answer is yes. Now, President Obama may say, well, we can borrow our way out of that decision. I don't think the American people agree with him.

KING: Right after Wisconsin, Governor Walker, who withheld, pushed back convincingly the recall effort, said if he had any advice for Governor Romney, it would be to be bold.

That's something you said during the campaign. That's what you...


KING: You essentially said, he's OK, but he's a conventional politician.

Does Governor Romney need to be more bold?

GINGRICH: Oh, I think he's being plenty bold. You just saw that in the Obama ad. Governor Romney is saying quite clearly something almost the exact opposite of Barack Obama, President Obama. Obama is saying bigger government, more Washington-centered behavior. Governor Romney is saying smaller government, more private sector-centered behavior.

That's going to be a big choice. It's going to affect Senate races, House races, the entire national dialogue. And I think that's healthy. That's what a good campaign should be about.

KING: Mr. Speaker, appreciate your time.

GINGRICH: All right.

KING: Tip O'Neill was famous for observing that all politics is local. Well, watch the campaign today. It looks like both the Romney and the Obama campaigns think that's still true.

Plus, Apple upgrades one of its most popular products, but it doesn't come cheap.


KING: Welcome back.


KING: Next: the political landscape in a city that is critical to President Obama's chance for reelection. We will ask the Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, about his fellow Democrats' level of enthusiasm.

And, also, the American Cancer Society's chief doctor discusses the new medical challenge facing ABC News anchor Robin Roberts.


KING: In this half-hour of "JOHN KING, USA": the political pulse of a city vital to the president's reelection. We will ask the Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, whether he's worried enthusiasm for the president might just drop enough to give Mitt Romney a chance of carrying Pennsylvania.

Also, how the president's agenda today proves the old saying all politics is local just as true today as it was a generation ago.

And why beating breast cancer may have led to a new health challenge for ABC's Robin Roberts.

Let's begin, though, with the very latest on this hour's breaking news off the New Jersey coast. Coast Guard helicopters and rescue crews are at the scene of a yacht explosion that has injured at least seven people.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson is joining me live by phone from New York City. Sir, let me just begin. We were told, we've seen reports that the people aboard this boat are in life rafts. Have you been able to find them?

PETTY OFFICER ERIK SWANSON, U.S. COAST GUARD (via phone): No, sir, we have seven helicopters on the scene right now. We have various rescue boats from our Coast Guard stations in Sandy Hook and Jones Beach and good Samaritan vessels on location searching.

KING: If you have all those resources on location searching, is there a sense of nervousness? How big is the area you're talking about here?

SWANSON: Well, it is a significant area. And you know, the sea conditions, weather can make it challenging. But it is unusual to receive a reported location and have this many assets on the scene searching and not find anything.

KING: And what were you told? What is the report? I'm going to call it a mayday. I'm not sure that's the right terminology of what happened aboard this boat called the Blind Date?

SWANSON: Yes. Well, we've only been in contact with them once during the initial report. They reported there was a vessel -- there was an explosion aboard the vessel. And they got into life rafts. There was 21 people reported on board the vessel, seven of those injured.

KING: And do you have any idea from that report on the extent of these injuries?

SWANSON: No, sir, not at this time.

KING: And 21 people. Do you know how many life rafts we're talking about?

SWANSON: No, we don't have a specific number of life rafts either. So we're looking for the vessel. And any signs, any debris, life rafts at this time.

KING: And can you tell us the conditions out there? What the water temperatures would be, what the weather is in that area right now?

SWANSON: Water temperatures are fairly cold. Weather is overcast. Visibility is fairly clear. So conditions aren't terrible. But we will -- we still are going to continue the search for a while into the night, at least.

KING: And I'm assuming there's no beacons no, transmitter, nothing at all you can track from this. So you just have these crews out there looking, hoping they can eyeball this?

SWANSON: Yes, well, we have the initial report, and there has been a report of a beacon, but that still gives us a fairly large search area.

KING: Erik Swanson with the Coast Guard, trying to help us on this breaking news story. We appreciate your time, sir. And we'll stay in touch throughout the evening.

SWANSON: Yes, sir.

KING: Thank you. We will stay on top of that story as the hour progresses and throughout the evening here on CNN.

Mitt Romney's campaign keeps cranking out videos hitting President Obama, you'll recall just last week, for saying the private sector is doing fine.

Well, Team Obama keeps firing back now by accusing the former Massachusetts governor of hoping to target the jobs of teachers, firefighters, and police officers.

Let's check in with the mayor who's on the frontline of the economy and in a city that is critical to the president's re-election campaign. Michael Nutter is the Democratic mayor of Philadelphia.

Mr. Mayor, it's good to see you. Let me ask you simply up front: how is the private sector doing in Philadelphia?

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: We're seeing significant signs of improvement, John. There are a number of ground breakings that I've participated in. We have cranes in the sky and putting our construction workers back to work.

So I think people are feeling a little more positive about the economy, and we're -- are constantly focused on getting our unemployment rate down and putting more Philadelphians, Pennsylvanians back to work.

KING: You know why I asked the question. The president said something last week that the Republicans think was a gift. Let's listen to a snippet here. This is a new Romney Web ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just lost my job recently.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to work part-time in order to make ends meet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sometimes I feel like I'm a failure.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The private sector is doing fine.

The private sector is doing fine.

The private sector's doing fine.

GRAPHIC: No, Mr. President, we are not "doing fine."


KING: Mr. Mayor, Team Romney says that proves the president is detached, is out of touch, that most Americans don't think the economy and the private sector are doing fine.

NUTTER: Let's talk about the record. When you look at the job loss in Massachusetts, the things that Governor Romney did, let's talk about his record, not the rhetoric. Cuts to education, the largest, second largest per pupil cut in education while he was governor came in with a surplus, left with a deficit.

And that's part of the record of Governor Romney. Wants to get rid of police officers, firefighters and teachers all across the United States of America. That's not a growth record. And the American public cannot afford Romney economics.

KING: You mentioned the teachers, the firefighters, the police officers. Funding to help mayors like you keep them on the payroll was included in the stimulus package the president passed early on.

Republicans point to the 2010 election results when the stimulus package was a huge issue, Mr. Mayor, and they point to their gains including in states like yours, Pennsylvania. And they say they're happy to litigate that issue. Do you think that -- is there any risk for the president in raising those issues again?

NUTTER: The president will not get -- generally doesn't get credit for disasters avoided. Just think of how much worse things would have been without the economic recovery package. The projects that would not have gotten done or built, the people who have not -- have been put back to work. And we saw its impact in a positive way in Philadelphia and in many, many parts of Pennsylvania.

KING: In your city, Mr. Mayor, the unemployment rate now is about 7.4 percent. African-American unemployment, as you know, is about twice that in the city and the surrounding area.

If you have a close race in Pennsylvania this fall -- I've been to your state many times in the final weeks, looking at the turnout operations, including in Philadelphia.

Any concern at all that that chronic African-American unemployment rate could cause the enthusiasm for the president to drop a little bit and that your city could be the difference going the other way this time?

NUTTER: Unemployment before the recession was unfortunately higher in the African-American community in Philadelphia and many other cities across the country.

But African-Americans and everyone knows who's really paying attention to what's going on that the president is committed to getting people back to work. We need to do our job on the ground; I'm part of the ground troop operation to get that message out, have people understand what this election is about.

There's a real choice here. President Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected. Mitt Romney is not ready to serve.

KING: Is it harder this time? You mentioned you're part of the ground operation. Is it harder to get people, particularly in your community, excited this time? They're not making history like they did last time. There is chronic unemployment, no matter who you want to blame for it. Sometimes that gets people down. How much harder will it be this time?

NUTTER: Well, you know, here's the thing, you know, you only get to be the first one time. And 2012 is not 2008. And a lot of things have happened in between.

But this election, again, is about a choice. The president has a record. What's Mitt Romney have to offer? Not a whole lot in this particular regard, except criticizing President Obama. That's not enough to be a president of the United States of America.

KING: Mayor Nutter, thanks for being with us tonight. We'll see you a lot in the final 148 days.

NUTTER: Absolutely. Thank you, John.

KING: Take care, sir.

"Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts, who's beaten breast cancer, announced this morning she's been diagnosed with another potentially life-threatening condition. It's a blood and bone marrow disease commonly referred to by the initials MDS and was once called pre-leukemia. She's starting chemotherapy and eventually will need a bone-marrow transplant.


ROBIN ROBERTS, CO-ANCHOR, ABC'S "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": My big sister is a virtually perfect match for me. She's there with Diane and Ann Sweeney. And she is going to be my donor. She's going to be my donor.


KING: Dr. Otis Brawley is the chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. He's with us live.

Sir, it's great to see you tonight. Thanks for coming in. How risky are we talking about here?

DR. OTIS BRAWLEY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: This is a significant problem. She's a very courageous woman and should be congratulated for helping us educate people about this. But this is a significant problem.

KING: When you say significant...

BRAWLEY: About 2,000 people get myelodysplastic syndrome every year. Many ultimately do die from it. Perhaps about half to 60 percent actually end up doing well for a very long period of time. It is possible that this bone-marrow transplant can actually cure the disease.

KING: And how important? She's pointed out her big sister, as she calls her there. How critical is the match?

BRAWLEY: The match is incredibly important. And that's the great contribution she's making here. There are a number of people who need bone-marrow transplants. They don't have a sister or a brother who matches them. And we need to get someone who is not a relative who matches them.

If people would just volunteer to get in the bone marrow registries, we could help a lot of people.

KING: You say volunteer. And that is important. I hope everybody at home is listening to this and applauding and learning the lesson of Robin's courage.

She talked on the program today about -- it's about focusing on the fight and not the fright. And she's talked about, if you go online and you search this, you can get pretty scared. You also get a wide array of information. How important is the attitude?

BRAWLEY: The attitude is incredibly important. This is a woman with incredible courage and grace. People who don't give up, people who focus on their disease tend to do much better.

KING: She's talked about, you know, she wants to stay on the program as long as she can. At some point, obviously, she'll have to have the transplant. She'll be gone good for some time.

If things go well, how long does it take to -- A, to get first prepared for it; then you have the bone-marrow transplant; and then your sense of whether it's worked?

BRAWLEY: It's several months to get ready for the bone marrow transplant. And then, once the bone-marrow transplant is done, she'll definitely be out for several weeks, perhaps two to three months.

And then coming back, you know, the hurdles continue even after the bone-marrow transplant. We're going to be concerned about rejection. And she may have to be treated with anti-rejection drugs.

This is a long haul for her, but it's actually something I've actually seen people do very well from.

KING: Dr. Brawley, appreciate your insights tonight. Of course, we wish Robin Roberts the best.

BRAWLEY: Thank you, sir.

KING: Thank you, sir, for coming in. Appreciate it very much. Thank you.

The VIPs of this year's presidential election, well, you know who you are if you're a voter in a swing state. The truth about why President Obama and Mitt Romney are spending so much time and most of their money in just a few key states.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: "All politics is local" was the motto of the late speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill. And "Truth" is, it might just as well be the theme of this year's presidential campaign.

Just look at today. President Obama conducted interviews with eight local television stations, six of them in November battleground states.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I want to do is just to keep on working as hard as I can to earn the trust of Virginians and to earn the chance to continue to represent them. What we've seen is the economy in Virginia has improved. And the unemployment rate in a lot of areas has dropped significantly.


KING: Mitt Romney also announced a new bus tour. Six states in five days. You guessed: all of them battlegrounds.

He's also, like the president, a fan of the local anchor route when it comes to media interviews. Governor Romney has had nearly 200 of those this year and lately, no surprise, his choices just like the president's heavily favor the fall battlegrounds.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was New Hampshire that got me going. A big win here in New Hampshire gave me the -- the propulsion I needed.


KING: Now, take a look at where the Obama and Romney campaigns are spending money on television ads. Ten states for Team Obama at the moment, and seven of the same states for Team Romney. Notice a pattern perhaps?

We list seven states as tossups at the moment. And there are nearly a half dozen more states that are possible swing states. The president, for example, has to work to protect Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Governor Romney, on the other hand, can't get too confident about North Carolina and Arizona.

But "Truth" is, unless you live in one of the dozen or so battlegrounds, well, prepare to be ignored in the next 148 days.

Joining me to talk "Truth" tonight, the editorial director of the "National Journal" and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein; Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Maria Cardona; and senior communications advisor, Mitt Romney campaign, Tara Wall.

Is it good or bad, Tara? Most of the country, we have a 50-50 presidential race. This one at the moment -- it might break late -- at the moment, this is as close as it gets and two-thirds or more of the countries are like watching: "I mean, what's going on over there?"

TARA WALL, SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR: MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Actually, I think it's a pretty good -- it's good times for these states. As someone who cut their teeth in local television, as you know, these local TV folks love to be able to hear exactly from the candidate. I mean, it's more likely this far out than it is closer to the election.

So I think it is important that those swing states, those undecided voters, get an opportunity to hear straight from the horse's mouth, if you will. And I think it goes a long way, absolutely.

KING: Are the swing states diverse enough? I mean, you've got New Hampshire. You've got Iowa, smaller rural states. You've got Colorado out in the west, Nevada out in the west. Florida and Ohio, of course. Across the Midwest. Are the states diverse enough and at least all of the issues get talked about?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that's certainly true. Because as you know, the No. 1 issue for everybody is the economy. And I think that's an issue no matter where you are.

I will say that the folks who don't live in battleground states will probably be thanking their lucky stars by the end of the election if they talk to anybody who does live in a battleground state.

WALL: Michigan -- I would say, as someone from Michigan, it's pretty -- Michigan is pretty diverse and so is Ohio.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The point is, though, that now there are really two sets of swing states that are very different.

It used to be that the road to the White House always ran through the Midwest. Those kind of Rust Belt behemoths were the deciding ground.

Now they're really one of the two paths. You have that Midwestern cluster of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, older preponderantly white states, still a lot of manufacturing, though declining.

And then now you have a second set of swing states in the Southeast, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida; in the Southwest, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico. All defined by growth, diversity and youth. Very different.

So I think between them, you do get a very different mix. The irony is that those Midwestern states are recovering somewhat faster than the Sun Belt states, which have been more heavily affected by the collapse of the housing market.

CARDONA: And I think the southwest states pose a particular challenge for Mitt Romney. There's a lot of Latinos there, a huge population for the Latino community. Right now Mitt Romney is really lost with Latino voters and lack of Latino support. He has absolutely nothing to say to Latino voters, whether it's the economy, education, health care and especially immigration.

WALL: Well, of course, I don't agree with that. I mean, look, the fact is, this is an issue that the president himself doesn't want to talk about. I mean, I don't think you've heard him or his campaign out, frankly, talking anything about the dismal unemployment numbers you brought up earlier in the black community and Hispanic community.

Governor Romney, in fact, just had a roundtable with Hispanic business owners to address how pro-growth policies are much more beneficial than just adding on layers upon layers of government, because these businesses, these minority populations are suffering. I think the southern states actually tend to be a bit more conservative. So I do think there is some ground there that he can build on.

KING: All right. Everybody stand by. We'll continue the conversation in just a moment.

Though, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is coming up at the top of the hour. Erin, stocks dropped sharply today on Wall Street responding to Spain's $125 billion bank bailout. What's going on? Why is the timing so critical?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: The timing is so critical, John, because you know, we've got Greece voting in just a few days on, essentially, whether Europe is going to stay together; the euro, the currency will stay together.

And also because at first, everyone said Spain is asking for money. We knew they needed it. That's great. Stocks went up. And then everyone thought about it and said, "Wait a minute, do they need more money?" Yes. "Do we know how much more?" No. "Is it a lot more than what they asked for?" Probably. And all of a sudden the market gets worried and says, look, Europe could just be so much worse than even we think it is now. It's a Band-Aid solution in Spain.

So we've gone through the numbers, John. We have one of the biggest investors in all of this country yet in the world on our show. And I have to tell you, some of the numbers of how much this could cost, more than $6 trillion. That's about eight TARPs. And the U.S. Fed, U.S. taxpayers will be a big part of that. So this is a crucial issue for us here at home.

KING: That last part, U.S. taxpayers will be a big part of that, watch that one light up our politics.


KING: Erin, we'll see you in just a few minutes.

And in just a moment here, an update on the rapidly rising price tag for this weekend's flooding in the Florida Panhandle.

Plus the town trying to clean up its language and may fine you for cursing in public.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: So would Ronald Reagan be unwelcome in today's Republican Party? That question was raised today by a prominent Republican named Bush, Jeb Bush.

Let's get back to our conversation with Ron Brownstein, Maria Cardona and Tara Wall.

Here's what Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, he tells -- question -- "Bloomberg View" has a round table with reporters. He says, "Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad. They would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party, and I don't," he said, "as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement."

So Tara, Jeb Bush saying, because Ronald Reagan, yes, he cut taxes, but he also raised taxes. George W. Bush famously broke "read my lips: no new taxes." Jeb Bush says they would be pariahs in today's Republican Party for even being open to the possibility of compromise. Yes?

WALL: I don't know about that. I mean, look, I think there are principles by which you stand as a party. Then there are areas of bipartisanship where you come together. And I think there have been plenty of opportunities with this administration and with Republicans to do that.

You know, there are core principles that each party has. And when you're talking about conservatives, conservatives value -- and conservatives, you know, remember, reamed George W. Bush because he didn't -- my former boss, who didn't adhere to some of those conservative principles when it comes to a lower tax base, to bringing down the cost of government. Those are conservative principles I think that you're not going to get much movement on, and rightly so.

And so other issues, health care is a great example of where there could have been bipartisanship, but it was the president and Democrats that decided to drive this thing through in the dead of night...

KING: But let's stay -- let's stay on Republicans. We'll have plenty -- we'll have plenty of time to talk about dead of night and health care. But Ronald Reagan, everybody in the Republican Party says Ronald Reagan's their hero, because they forget. He actually raised taxes.

BROWNSTEIN: Legalized illegal immigrants. Legalized illegal immigrants and expanded access to abortion as governor of California.

But Jeb Bush gets what I think is going to be the core issue we're going to face after this election. Listen to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama on the campaign trail. There's no question, as Tara said, we are deeply divided in the directions the parties want to take the country.

But after this election, it's entirely possible that we will also be very closely divided, that we will have an outcome that will leave us talking again about something like the 50/50 nation. And I think Jeb Bush got to the core question. If the parties are so divergent in what they want to do, but what they equal in power, something has to give.

And he specifically lamented the moment at the GOP debate, which I thought was a low point, as well, where all the candidates said they would not take a 10-to-1 spending cut to tax increase deal. At some point, if the country is closely divided, somebody has to give.

KING: I agree. I remember the question. Grover Norquist -- Grover Norquist said this of Americans for Tax Reform. Grover Norquist said of Jeb Bush: "That's foolish. It's" -- he was going to say "stupid" and he stopped himself. He stopped himself and said, "It's bizarre. There's a guy who watched his father throw away his presidency on a 2 to 1 promise. And he thinks he's sophisticated by saying he'd take a 10 to 1 promise. He doesn't understand he's just agreed to walk down the same alley his dad did with the same gang."

That's Grover Norquist, laying down for after the election, "You're not going to let this happen."

CARDONA: Here's why -- here's why Jeb Bush is so credible on this. Not only because he comes from an area where there was bipartisanship and he was that kind of governor, but also because the majority of the American people -- we've seen it in poll after poll, blame the obstructionism in Washington more on Republicans than they do on Democrats.

And I think that that is something that Republicans are looking at as an issue, because Americans want the parties to work together. And President Obama tried time and time again to work with Republicans.

BROWNSTEIN: One very quick question for Grover...


BROWNSTEIN: One very quick question for Grover...


WALL: ... in charge...


KING: At the moment -- at the moment, I'm in charge, so I'm going to call a quick time-out here. A hundred forty-eight days to go. We'll continue the conversation.

Lisa Sylvester, though, is back with the latest news you need to know right now, unless you want to jump in on this one.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a lively discussion, John. Well, blast after blast, shaking the Syrian city of Homs. An online video shows more than a dozen explosions in just one hour today. And in a disturbing new development, activists accuse the government of using helicopters to fire indiscriminately on a town in northwest Syria. The U.S. State Department calls that a serious escalation. Activists say at least 93 people have died across Syria today.

The former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, is in a coma. That's according to the Egyptian interior ministry. Mubarak's condition deteriorated after he was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of pro-democracy demonstrators last year. Mubarak's lawyer says his client's condition is very critical. A request to move Mubarak from jail to a military hospital was denied. His lawyer is now appealing.

And the water has receded, and the people of the Florida Panhandle are adding up the damage caused by this weekend's flash floods. Roads and bridges were washed away; plenty of cars were submerged. One early estimate puts the cost of the floods at $20 million.

And British prime minister David Cameron and his wife, they accidentally left their 8-year-old daughter at a pub near their country house a couple of months ago. Nancy Cameron was in the bathroom when her parents took separate cars back. Well, thinking she was riding with the other parent. But all's well that ends well. They prime minister, they rushed back to the pub where this little girl, she was just hanging out, waiting with the staff.

What a story to tell, though, John.

KING: Yes, that's -- he's in politics. That's every parents' nightmare. But because he's in politics, he's going to answer for it a little more than most, I guess.


KING: Stay with me. Tonight's "Moment You'll Be Glad You Didn't Miss," especially if you're heading for Middleboro, Massachusetts. At tonight's town meeting, residents are voting on whether to start enforcing a $20 fine for cursing in public. The debate leading up to tonight's vote has been lively but family friendly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it will solve the problem. But I think that it will make them understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a lot more important things to do. But these are things that are quality-of-life issues that -- important issues that a lot of people don't want to see downtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not really proper etiquette, but it doesn't actually hurt anyone physically. So yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, do you want to answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, swearing does hurt people who -- if you say it in a certain way.


KING: Yay or nay, if you got a vote at the town meeting?

SYLVESTER: You know what I'll have to say, is that they're going to have to have a very big curse jar, is what I say. You know, no more just the small little jar. For the whole town, they're going to need a gigantic one.

KING: People will text curses at each other instead. And you know what? People need to learn better behavior. You wouldn't have to have the government involved in these things.

SYLVESTER: That's very true.

KING: We'll see you tomorrow. That's all for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.