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JOHN KING, USA

Obama Meets with Putin; Mitt Romney Tries to Change Election Map; Roger Clemens Walks

Aired June 18, 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: Presidents Obama and Putin talk Syria, but agree on nothing new to stop the bloodshed there. And now reportedly Russian troops heading to Syria -- Senator John McCain says the Obama White House is failing a crucial test.

Also, Mitt Romney tries to change the 2012 campaign map. His bus tour across the heartland aimed at tugging states that now lean the president's way back to the tossup category.

And do the Greek elections mean your 401(k) is going up or down? The latest effort to save the Eurozone and how it impacts your bottom line.

We begin with what you would have to call tonight's picture of frustration. President Obama, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, looked grim after a two-hour meeting that apparently did nothing, nothing to head off an even bigger bloodbath in Syria. Another 68 people died there today, adding to an overall death toll now estimated to be above 13,000.

At the same time, a ship thought to be carrying Russian attack helicopters now stopped off Scotland after earlier being en route to Syria. The Pentagon also suspects Russian troops may be heading to Syria aboard other ships.

Yet, after their two-hour meeting, the first meeting since President Putin returned to the presidency, this is all President Obama had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war and the kind of horrific deaths that we have seen over the last several weeks, and we pledge to work with other international actors, including the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and all interested parties in trying to find a resolution to this problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Heard the president's tone there. While the president's overseas at a summit, Senator John McCain here in Washington says at the very least, U.S. airpower should now be protecting safe havens for the Syrian opposition. But Senator McCain says the United States is not leading.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: When it comes to the administration's policy toward Syria, to say they are leading from behind is too generous. That suggests they are leading. They're just behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian is with the president at the G8 -- G20 summit -- excuse me -- in Mexico.

Dan, the president said the meeting was cordial. It's this language they always use, the State Department dictionary, cordial, the talks were candid and frank. White House officials say, oh, don't read too much into that body language. But looking at that body language, hearing the president's tone, any reason to believe this meeting went anything other than it appeared?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, not at all.

Yes, in fact, you know, White House aides saying that it was businesslike, that it was cordial, but that they did talk about some of their differences. Nonetheless, they also talked about areas where they do have things in common, areas of agreement. But as you pointed out, I mean, the body language really tells a lot of the story here.

They spent about a third of that meeting talking about Syria, and then when they came out to make these brief remarks, there was very little interaction. There was space between them. President Obama leaning in. President Putin leaning away. At the very end, you saw kind of a half smile on the face of President Putin, a quick handshake and then a pat on the shoulder from President Obama.

As you pointed out, though, White House aides sort of trying to move our focus away from the body language, saying that this is how Putin is, and they're giving that, yes, in fact, in the past, President Obama did enjoy a very good relationship with former President Medvedev, but that's a different kind of personality and that this is a new style that we have to get used to, John.

KING: Dan, it would be easier to move away from the body language and the sort of terse tone of that meeting if we had something concrete to grab. The president did say the two leaders agreed that you need a political transition in Syria. But if the Russians don't agree that Assad needs to step down, what kind of transition are we talking about?

LOTHIAN: And that is such a good question and we asked that to White House aides. And they said that they did discuss various different options, strategies to coming to some kind of political transition, although they never gave us any details. One thing they did point out is that while the U.S. is focused on Assad having to step aside, the Russians are looking at a much broader political process. They're asking questions such as what happens when President Assad steps aside.

And, in fact, according to White House aides they brought up examples like Egypt. Look what happened in Egypt. And so that is the biggest concern for them, not necessarily one person, but what fills that vacuum.

KING: Dan Lothian at the G20 summit with the president in Mexico. Dan, thanks. We will stay on top of the story from the diplomatic end.

And as we mentioned, the United States now believes Russian troops may be heading towards Syria.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is with us.

Barbara, slight hitch to this Russian mission, though, right?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, indeed, John, as you mentioned, a Russian cargo ship that was believed to be carrying some of those attack helicopters that we have seen be the center of much of the controversy right now, that ship has been stopped off the coast of Scotland.

The London insurer canceled the maritime insurance for that ship. There's a European Union embargo. You can't carry weapons to Syria and be insured by a European country. The maritime insurance has been canceled. The ship now will likely return to its home port in Russia because it can't really dock anywhere all the way to Syria. That's where they believed it was headed, key but small victory.

It keeps at least three MI-25 Russian helicopters from going to Syria, helicopters that are very much used in some of these attack operations from the air, John.

KING: And, Barbara, someone who doesn't follow sort of the geopolitical importance of Syria to the Russians might hear Russian troops heading to Syria and think they're going there on some kind of a combat mission. Explain if they go what it would be about.

STARR: At this point, I don't think anyone in the administration believes that the Russian troops are headed for a combat mission. A small number of troops likely to go, likely to at best reinforce or defend the Russian military presence at a key Syrian port called Tartus on the Mediterranean.

This port is -- this is the real strategic importance to Russia. They want access to this port on the Mediterranean to remain in their hands. They don't want it to be interrupted. This gives the Russians the strategic and political advantage of having a port in the Mediterranean and that is a gateway to the entire Middle East for them -- John.

KING: Barbara Starr on the strategic importance tracking developments at the Pentagon. Barbara, thank you.

And all of this begs the question whether the U.S./Russian relationship and whether President Obama and President Putin can figure out some way to reach an agreement here.

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen.

David, I just want to start of with the pictures. You have been through and you have advised four U.S. presidents and, you know, the White House always says when the meeting doesn't go well, don't pay attention to the body language. But look at these pictures.

Putin is leaning away. He's got the stone face. I remember it well from covering him back in the George W. Bush administration. He had a much more friendly relationship though with George W. Bush. You can see this here. You can see it in the president's face. You could hear it in the tone of his words. This is not a working relationship at the moment, is it?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is not a working relationship.

And it's been an enormous source of frustration for the administration. As you know, the Obama team came in promising to hit the reset button with Russia. And in the beginning it seemed to be working. President Obama had an excellent relationship with Medvedev, the previous Russian president. The two of them saw themselves as rising members of a young generation that was going to transform the world.

And they made some progress on some issues. But now, with Putin in, we have this authoritarian that many in Washington regard as a real thug. Obama clearly doesn't like him. Putin has no real love for Obama. But more importantly, John, it's not just the body language. It's not just the personal animosity. It is the fact that the Russians are blocking any real effort or any success in getting Assad out of office.

This is -- Syria is a foothold for the Russians in diplomacy in the Middle East, as you know so well. And as long as they continue to reinforce Assad, it just makes it very difficult. We want Assad out of there in part because it would be a real blow to Iran. But this -- as you pointed out, too, John, this is starting to flare up in American politics. That speech by McCain today was important.

KING: Well, let's listen to a bit of it because he says the president's not leading at all, not leading from behind. That was a reference to what many people said from the Libyan conflict. He said he's just behind. He also Senator McCain made a pointed reference to the role of the Russians here. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: They are doing enormous damage to their image in the Arab world. They're harming themselves dramatically. We're going to have to take a much more realistic view of our relationship with Russia and our ability to do business with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Define what a more realistic view of our relationship with Russia would be, David. You hear Mitt Romney saying this from time to time on the campaign trail as well.

They have a veto on the Security Council. They are critical when it comes to the North Korea question. Sometimes they are critical, critical, critical when it comes to the Iran question. Now they are front and center on the Syria question. How do you redefine the relationship?

GERGEN: Well, it's going to be very tricky because we do have other things that we do with the Russians, for example, with our difficult getting into Afghanistan now from Pakistan through the roads there. We have been able to work with the Russians to have more access from the north.

That's been helpful to us. But the Syrian issue I think has a real chance to become a conflagration point in the American political election because Mitt Romney all along has taken a very hard line toward Russia. He has said it's the greatest security threat to the United States. Many experts have scoffed at that notion. They just don't agree with it, but now that the Russians so clearly are blocking us and NATO in Syria, you know, this -- there's going to be more conversation.

And I think the McCain statement today is the beginning, not the end, of what could be a very controversial point. There are a lot of people who are in the human rights movement after all who would like to see the U.S. take more of a lead as we -- they ask, how can you defend what we did in Libya, which was the right thing to do, with what's going on and our inaction in Syria where far more people are getting killed and which is a far greater strategic interest to the United States?

And, you know, American officials have to answer except to say it's very hard.

KING: No answer except to say we're going to continue to try a diplomatic process that so far has only failed, but failed miserably.

David Gergen, appreciate your insights always.

GERGEN: Thank you, John.

KING: David, we will keep checking this story and keep looking for the answer. I'm not sure it's out there though.

Still ahead here, the latest Greek elections seems to have regulators breathing a sigh of relief, but coming up, what it could mean for your 401(k).

And later, a better than 700 percent increase in what some people consider to be online censorship. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: World markets ended on a flat note today despite the news a pro-bailout party in Greece emerged the victor in the parliamentary elections this weekend. That is a must to secure the euro. In the United States, stocks opened on a high note, but then closed in red for the day. European markets a mixed bag and Asian markets up a bit.

So, as the world economy waits for some long-term signs of stability, President Obama saw the election as a sign of hope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I think the election in Greece yesterday indicates a positive prospect for not only them forming a government, but also them working constructively with their international parents in order that they can continue on the path of reform, and do so in a way that also offers the prospects for the Greek people to succeed and to prosper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Richard Quest, the anchor of CNN International's "Quest Means Business" is right there on the ground in Athens and joins us now.

Richard, you look at all the headlines after the elections. And they say this bodes well for saving the Eurozone, but it guarantees nothing, does it?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. Guarantees nothing at all because what has to happen in Greece is a coalition has to be formed and I'm hearing tonight that the parties are quite close to actually putting that together and on Tuesday, probably will announce some form of coalition.

But then they have to go to Brussels and ask for some relief, if you like, breathing space from the austerity, the crushing austerity that the country's been under. And then they have to actually implement many of the reforms.

KING: And so let me play selfish American here. Richard, as an American investor watches this play out, the markets pretty flat today. They started up and then seemed to say, well, let's watch this for a couple of days. When? Is there a date on the calendar where we should know whether at least with Greece you're getting steps in the right direction or do we not know?

QUEST: There are, I would hesitate to say -- look, I could tell you the 27th, 28th of June when there's a European summit. I could tell you the middle of August when Greek bonds are due to be rolled over and paid off. And that's going to be another debt auction.

I could tell you dates ad nauseum up towards Christmas, but the truth is, it is a question of confidence. And it is only when the markets believe that this weird combination of country, commission, ECB are all -- have built a fire wall and have got -- I mean, to put it crudely, John, in the way in the States that the U.S. did with TARP and the stimulus package -- and, yes, there were some problems, but they got their hands round the throat and neck of the problem.

That has not yet happened in Europe. And that is what -- until we see that, that is what is lacking.

KING: And, so, there's a child's game here in the States called Whac-A-Mole. One comes up, you hit it, and then another one comes up when you think you have solved that. If Greece goes forward in a positive way, what is the next big question? Is it Spain, is it somewhere else?

QUEST: Whac-A-Mole is a very good analogy. And one sometimes does wonder that -- that is exactly -- because I will give you an example.

It is Monday night in Greece. So, bang, we have just managed to knock down the Greece question of a coalition. But over there, suddenly Spain's interest rates are up by 7 percent or up to -- up 7 percent and Italy's are up as well. And behind us we have got questions of whether Spain, Portugal and Ireland would want to renegotiate.

And we have terrible industrial production numbers elsewhere in the Eurozone. And we have the euro under pressure. And we have -- and you get the idea. So Whac-A-Mole is a great analogy, albeit crude and some might say insensitive, but that's exactly what they're engaged with at the moment, literally seeing if they can manage to get the next one before it comes up above the parapet.

KING: Richard Quest on the ground in the most important city at the moment, Athens, Greece, Richard, thank you.

There's a claim of victory in Egypt's presidential election, but coming up, why the eventual winner may not have much power at all.

Plus, what's behind the big increase in what some critics see as censorship by Google?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Next: Mitt Romney's attempt to change the election map, trying to pull states that went for President Obama in 2008 back to the tossup column.

Plus, today's big change at the sex abuse trial of the former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In this half-hour of "JOHN KING, USA": Mitt Romney's foray into what's been considered Obama territory. We will look at which states he's trying to pry back into the tossup column.

Also, the "Truth" about Romney's cautious answers to questions about illegal immigration.

Plus, Roger Clemens, the Rocket, walks. His perjury trial ends in verdicts of not guilty all counts.

Mitt Romney's campaign bus rolled through parts of Wisconsin and Iowa today. It's the next-to-last day of his five-day tour of six states that, all of them, went for President Obama, then Senator Obama, back in 2008.

But as Governor Romney told a Wisconsin crowd this morning, this time, he hopes it's different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think President Obama had just put this in his column. He just assumed from the very beginning Wisconsin was going to be his. But you know what? We're going to win Wisconsin, and we're going to get the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So let's look at the map. This is the 2008 map. You see all this blue. He started in New Hampshire, blue last time. He went to Pennsylvania, blue last time. Ohio, blue last time. Michigan, blue last time. Wisconsin, blue last time. Iowa tonight, blue last time. All, all Obama states last time. And most of them have been Democratic states for some time in many presidential politics.

Look at this year's map. We have it 247 leaning or strong for the president, 206 electoral votes leading or strong for Governor Romney.

Let's just take this. He was just in Wisconsin. You heard him say, "We're going to win it." What if he could just make that a tossup? See how it changes the math?

He was in Michigan. This is a tougher one for Governor Romney. The auto bailout the administration pulled off quite popular there. But there have been some recent polling showing Romney in play there. What if Michigan becomes a tossup? Look at that.

Now let's go back to Pennsylvania. Again, George W. Bush tried so hard twice in Pennsylvania. Couldn't get it. But can Romney get it this time? This is what he's trying to do. Maybe not win them in the end in November, but if he puts them back in the tossup category, look at what it does to the map. It puts Governor Romney actually ahead. And it means President Obama has to come into all of these states and spend more money, more time on the ground, more television ads and the like. And it increases the opportunities then, gives Governor Romney a clearer path to the White House.

They think they will win Florida. They think they will win Ohio. Look, if something like that happened, then it advantages Romney in the end, even if the president keeps some of these as you go.

So let's bring our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, into the conversation.

Gloria, when you look at the map, I'm going to stay over here for a minute. It's an "if." It's an "if." Because these states have been Democratic for so long, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. You've got to go back to the 1980s. But if you could put one or two or three of them back into play, how much does it change just the whole strategy of the election?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it changes it tremendously. I mean, what their goal is in the Romney campaign is to win back some of those states that were traditionally Republican that Barack Obama won in 2008.

Take a look. How about the state of Virginia, for example, John. Going to be a key state. Indiana, key state. North Carolina. Those are three that they think they have to win, and they call them sort of historically Republican.

KING: Add that one there. There you go.

BORGER: And then you have -- then, if they win Ohio and Florida -- put in Ohio and Florida, add that. And then they've got a bunch of wildcard states, some of the ones you were talking about that they think they can win. Maybe Michigan, as you were talking about. It seems to be pretty much a tie there. What about the state of New Hampshire?

KING: That would -- in this map -- in this map, if you took these away -- you took these away from President Obama and then you gave Florida and Ohio to Governor Romney and Virginia to Governor Romney. That's a hypothetical. I know the Obama supporters are at home, saying, "Hey, wait a minute." Hypothetical.

If this happens Governor Romney only has to win one of the rest of these states here. Right now it's the other way around. He has to win most of the tossups and President Obama has the easier path. Taking one or two out of the leading blue really changes the map. They question is, they do this, most of the bus tour was through rural areas.

The president did struggle in some of the blue-collar working class rural America. So you're trying to boost your margin there to put those states back in play.

BORGER: Right, and they believe they have a real advantage in the exurbs in rural America, and so you're going to see a lot of Mitt Romney on buses probably, going -- going to those parts of states where he believes if he can get out those voters and that's a big "if," if he can mobilize them, get them enthusiastic, get them to vote, that that could make a big difference in a farm state such as like the state of Wisconsin, which they believe is in play. Democrats say not so much. But -- but you're going to see a lot of Mitt Romney trying to get Wisconsin. KING: And even if they can't win those states, it's the old argument -- and we've given up on this argument -- they say try to get the Democrats to play for California, because it's so expensive.

BORGER: Right.

KING: They haven't had to do that in recent history. But if you make them play Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, it's not quite California money, but it's money and resources.

BORGER: You're going to make them spend a lot of money. And the difference this year from 2008 is that the Republicans are going to be at parity if not have more money, particularly super PACs, than Democrats.

And so if Mitt Romney forces President Obama to defend territory that he should already have, it's going to cost the Obama campaign money and manpower and presidential travel.

And don't forget: it's very important when you have a presidential candidate come to your state and spend time there. It's only a certain number of days and a certain amount of resources.

KING: A hundred forty-one from today.

BORGER: You're counting.

KING: And the Electoral College chess in this race is fascinating.

BORGER: I know. And changes every day, actually.

KING: We'll count them as we go. Gloria, thanks so much.

Turning now to that important trial we've been tracking from the beginning. The prosecution rested today in the sex abuse trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. His defense attorneys began presenting their case, which may be done by mid-week.

"Patriot News" reporter and CNN contributor Sara Ganim is covering the trial. Sara, what was the most significant shift in sort of the tone and the tenor as the prosecution rested and the defense begins?

SARA GANIM, REPORTER, "PATRIOT NEWS": Actually, John, I would say there were two headlines today. One was in the morning right before the prosecution rested, when a mother took the stand and sort of bolstered the testimony of her son, who testified on Thursday.

She said that she noticed her son would be missing underwear that wouldn't be in the laundry and feels guilty for pushing him to keep going back to Jerry Sandusky's house after he said he didn't want to visit anymore.

Then, in the afternoon, after the prosecution rested, really, the big headline was these two former Penn State assistant football coaches who worked alongside Jerry Sandusky who came to his defense about shared showers with boys. They said they shower with boys at the YMCA, have sometimes done it on campus in this Penn State locker room where so much of this abuse is alleged to have taken place.

There was one huge distinction, though, that was really a key element today. They say they've showered with boys. They've seen Jerry Sandusky shower with boys but never have seen or participated in any contact.

And almost all of these allegations surround some kind of contact, either a bear hug, lifting a boy up and putting them underneath a shower head. Those kinds of allegations are very different from what they testified to that they believe is OK.

That's something that people really, I mean the courtroom as it exited for a recess was just abuzz with whispers whether or not this is considered still to be acceptable conduct or if it's something that has to do with a cultural sports culture or a generational idea. It was really an interesting day in court today, John.

KING: Hopefully, if it is still considered acceptable culture, that moves on from that.

Sara, what is the biggest outstanding question in terms of defense strategy? Is it whether Sandusky will testify? Is it something else?

GANIM: I think that everyone is wondering if Jerry Sandusky -- Jerry Sandusky is going to testify.

The judge told the jury today that he expects the defense case to wrap up by midday Wednesday. So there's really only about three hours of testimony today. Not a whole lot happened here. They started a little bit late after some motions for dismissal, which were all denied. And then ended early because of technical difficulties that weren't explained.

So they actually have, you know, what I would expect a full day tomorrow. They have a lot to present tomorrow and Wednesday morning.

KING: Sara Ganim for us at the trial in Pennsylvania. Sara, thanks so much.

Coming up here, why the Republican presidential candidate is earning the label "Risk-Averse Romney."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Mitt Romney is a study in caution, and it often serves him well. But at times, it can leave you scratching your head and wondering why a man who wants to be president can't tell us a little bit more about what he would actually do.

Like over the weekend when the issue was President Obama's decision not to deport younger illegal immigrants and not only that, to make them eligible for work permits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: There needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Five times, five times Bob Schieffer of CBS tried for a direct answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: Would you leave this in place while you worked out a long-term solution? Or would you just repeal it?

ROMNEY: We'll look at that. We'll look at that setting as we - - as we reach that, but my anticipation is I'd come into office and say we need to get this done on a long-term basis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's not exactly a direct answer, and it's not the first time. In an ABC interview this past April, for example, he employed the same tactic when he was asked by Diane Sawyer if he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Law.

His answer? Quote, "It's certainly a piece of legislation I have no intention of changing. I wasn't there three years ago."

Not exactly direct, or not exactly bold leadership. And I could give you a few more similar examples.

"Risk-Averse Romney" is the label awarded to the candidate by the conservative "Weekly Standard." And it fits. And truth is, while people in my business prefer more direct answers, and while more information and insight might help you make up your mind, caution is in Governor Romney's DNA. So don't expect a big change.

Here tonight to talk truth, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Donna Brazil and GOP strategist, former Rick Santorum campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

He's running for president, Alice. So the president does this executive action that says, "We're no longer going to deport anyone under 30 years old, as long as they don't have any criminal history. Not only that, they can come and get a work permit. It's temporary but it's renewable."

Why can't the governor say, "If I came into office, I would stop the policy while pursuing a long-term solution"? Or say, "I would leave it in place, even though I don't like the way the president did it, while pursuing a long-term solution"?

ALICE STEWART, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, I think what's getting lost here is that he's answering the question. Some people just don't like the way that he's answered it. He did say that we need to look at a longer term solution. A stop-gap measure is not the way to go about.

KING: He didn't say if he would leave it in place in the interim. You know the quicksand of immigration politics. We don't assume the Congress is going to change in any great way. He might not be able to get a long-term solution through the Congress.

STEWART: He said the important thing is to look at a long-term solution. And he did -- he did say...

KING: It doesn't answer the question of what happens in the meantime.

STEWART: ... he did answer the question, that it would eventually be overtaken by events. So what he's going to do is look at the big picture and take -- and address the issue the most important way. But immigration is a big-picture issue. And first and foremost, he's going to do what he can to secure the border. He's also going to work on employment verification. Those are big issues to deal with.

KING: Donna, he didn't tell us what would happen. Am I wrong? On January 20, 21, 22, 23 of 2013, if he puts his hand on the Bible, he doesn't like what the president did, I get with that. He thinks it's the wrong way to go about it. You should pass legislation, have the Congress do this.

But that will take weeks if he can get it done quickly. It will take months if it takes a while, and it may not happen. Welcome to the last five years of immigration debates.

He didn't answer the question would he leave it in place in the meantime, did he?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, he did not. Look, I think Governor Romney likes to avoid tough questions. He doesn't want to give us a plan on how he will cut the deficit, how he would create jobs, how he will deal with Iran, how he will deal with Europe. This is part of a long pattern.

KING: And more specific on some of those things. It's when he gets asked specific policy questions.

STEWART: No, no, no.

BRAZILE: Look, unless he can criticize his opponent and be negative, there's really not a lot of "there" there.

I watch him. I watch him all the time to see if he's saying anything new or he's outlining a vision for the future. And you're not going to get it from Mitt Romney. As long as he can stay close in the race, without laying out his plans and the media is not demanding that he lays out these plans, then Mitt Romney's going to continue to vacillate and not tell us what he will do.

KING: When you're the challenger and think things are going your way, you do tend to be more cautious. I get that part. But I think these -- the Lilly Ledbetter, that's a role of government. Some conservatives don't want the government saying women should get equal pay for equal work. They wouldn't want the government saying men should get equal pay if it were the other way around. They don't think the government should be doing that.

Immigration, as you know, anything he does to try to reach out to the Latino community or the more modern, I'd call it, community could hurt him with the base. Is it those kind of questions where he tends to be more cautious?

STEWART: Well, no, I mean, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, while the president may have signed that piece of legislation. Look at what has happened with women in the work force since he's taken office. Four hundred and three thousand women have lost their jobs as a result of Obama's leadership. That's not good. And more than 90 percent of women have...

KING: That's not the question as to whether or not he would sign the bill. That's a separate issue.

BRAZILE: That's not accurate, as well. That's not accurate. What's not accurate is that, because of the recession, the fact that construction workers and many other sectors started losing jobs early on when we started losing 750,000 jobs, women who are in more of the service industry started losing jobs as a result of the recession much later.

KING: Here's an example here of when he did answer one of the questions. During the debates he did answer, and this is to me, I think, why he's cautious on other points. Here's the DREAM Act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: And I've indicated I would veto the DREAM Act if provisions included in that act say that people who are here illegally, if they go to school here long enough, get a degree here, that they could become permanent residents, I think that's a mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, is that a reason not to answer those questions, because he's on the record there, saying I would veto it. And now he's trying to essentially get to a place where I don't like the Democratic version, but I do want those young people to be able to stay. I do want those young people to be able to get status. He doesn't want to give them citizenship.

So when you answer it and then you've got to wiggle out of it...

STEWART: Well, I mean, he has laid out the case that you're certainly -- you know, certainly your heart goes out to the children who are here by no fault of their own. There are circumstances that need to be addressed.

But this is not a one-size-fits-all problem. A stop-gap measure to win Obama some favor with that community through the election is not the way to go about it. We need to look at a long-term solution. Marco Rubio has a great plan on the table. That needs to be discussed. That's the beauty of Congress.

KING: He's got to finish writing it first. He has a great idea on the table. We haven't seen the paper.

BRAZILE: He has an idea.

KING: I still -- I still think the guy who wants to be the next president has to answer at least some of the questions about what he would keep or get rid of from the last president. But maybe I'm naive at this.

BRAZILE: Look, John, as long as he's able to, you know, do well in the polls simply by avoiding all of these tough questions, then Mitt Romney is going to just continue to attack, attack, attack and not offer any plans.

KING: So you've both done a lot of debate prep in your careers. We learned today that John Kerry -- remember, he was the presidential nominee for the Democrats back in 2004 against George W. Bush. He's the Massachusetts senator, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Guess what he is now? He's Mitt Romney. He's the debate. He's going to -- President Obama -- help President Obama prepare for the debates by playing the role of Mitt Romney.

You went through this with Al Gore. Our own Paul Begala played George W. Bush in those days.

BRAZILE: He did a good job.

KING: A Texan playing a Texan. John Kerry, what do you think?

BRAZILE: I think he will do a great job. I think he understands the way -- his mannerism. He understands his policy, which is pretty much nothing. And I think John Kerry will be able to do a fantastic job of being a stand-in for Mitt Romney.

STEWART: I understand George Clooney was busy getting ready for his next Obama fund-raiser, so he wasn't able to help out in the debate prep.

KING: Ouch.

STEWART: The point is, it's just about going through the motions, you know, regardless of who it is. And I think the true test will be.

KING: Did you go through this with Governor Huckabee in the last cycle, or Congresswoman Bachmann, Rick Santorum? Did they have people come in and do it, or is it mostly staff?

STEWART: Generally -- we had generally staffers come in there and do that. And you really go through the motions, and you have them drill. And sometimes you try not to laugh, because you know, you know the person very well, but you're trying to be serious about serious issues.

And it's, you know, it's a way to, you know, really put the candidates' feet to the fire, because certainly when they're in the lights facing you, it's tough.

BRAZILE: She said George Clooney. I say Clint Eastwood. I'm more of a Clint Eastwood woman.

KING: There you go. All right. I don't know. Is that generational? Is that political? I'm not quite so sure.

BRAZILE: Don't go there. Don't go there.

KING: Moving on -- I'm not going there. I'm not going there. Alice, Donna, thanks.

If you're feeling more stressed than you used to, stay tuned. New scientific evidence could prove you're right.

And tonight's "Moment You May Have Missed" is a temper tantrum for the ages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Baseball pitching great Roger Clemens walked today. In what may go down as one of his biggest victories, a jury here in Washington, D.C., found Clemens not guilty on all counts of lying to Congress. That was during an investigation of steroid use in Major League Baseball. Clemens was emotional as he faced reporters a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER CLEMENS, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER: I put a lot of hard work into that career. And so, again, I appreciate my teammates that came in and all the e-mails and phone calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's check in with our CNN crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns.

Joe, as we saw there, a very emotional Roger Clemens following the jury's verdict. Tell us. You were there. What else happened?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right. I mean, that was probably the key thing, the emotion of the moment. A lot of hugging in the courtroom.

And you saw what happened outside. It's been a long road for this guy. He's actually had to prepare for two trials. The first one ended in a mistrial. Then you get the second one.

And it's interesting. The second one sort of went according to the script, if you will. A lot of people expected him, I think, to get off. On the other hand, it only took, like, nine weeks for the whole trial to go on. And then nine -- nine hours of deliberations, a little bit more than nine hours. Very quick, the jury coming back with that decision.

KING: So Clemens wins, if you will, on this ruling here. This is the second high-profile failure for U.S. prosecutors in just days, really.

JOHNS: Yes, that's right. You're talking about the John Edwards trial down in Greensboro, North Carolina. And then this one, too.

So the thing you have to say, though. And I think it's important to say is that the Justice Department really didn't pick these cases, as it were, at least this Justice Department. Down in North Carolina, that case with John Edwards, it was brought by a Republican prosecutor. The Democratic Department of Justice under President Obama and Eric Holder had to bring that one.

This other case, the case today with Roger Clemens, that was a case that was referred to the Justice Department by the House of Representatives. And the Justice Department, actually the D.C. United States district attorney put out a statement pointing that out at the very end, thanking everybody involved. And even those attorneys who worked on the case, talking about their professionalism after the referral from Congress. So they want to point out this wasn't something they brought.

KING: Didn't start here is I think the bottom line in that statement. Fascinating case to watch. Talking off camera, we'll see if the Rocket makes the Hall of Fame after this verdict. We'll watch that one.

JOHNS: You bet.

KING: Joe, thanks so much.

Kate Bolduan is also back here with the latest news you need to know right now.

Hey, there.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John.

Hello again, everyone. More headlines to catch you up on here.

Newly-released tapes -- newly-released taped jailhouse phone calls show George Zimmerman and his wife struggling to come up with cash for his bond. Zimmerman is accused of second-degree murder in last February's shooting of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman and his wife also are accused of covering up $135,000 raised by their online defense fund. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, WIFE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ON TRIAL FOR SHOOTING TRAYVON MARTIN: I thought you said it was like $300 total?

S. ZIMMERMAN: Huh-uh, no. Kevin inflated it.

G. ZIMMERMAN: OK, so total, everything, how much are we looking at?

S. ZIMMERMAN: Like $155.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Attorney General Eric Holder today offered to meet with House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and other congressional leaders. The meeting is likely to be tomorrow. Issa, a Republican, is threatening to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress for not turning over more information about Operation Fast and Furious, the gun-running investigation that sent weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

And China has taken another step in its space exploration plan. Earlier today, their space craft successfully docked on an orbiting space lab. We're seeing some video there. This feat makes China the third country to complete a manned space docking after the U.S. and Russia. This launch also included China's first female astronaut.

The crew will stay in the lab to conduct different types of experiments. Always an amazing sight to see one of those take off.

And do you feel more stressed out than you used to? I can answer that myself. Now there's scientific evidence to prove it. Stress increased 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men between 1983 and 2009, this according to researchers at Carnegie Melon University. Women, low-income people and people with less education are more stressed out, according to the study.

But some good news here, the study says stress decreases with age.

What does that mean?

KING: I'm Zen.

BOLDUAN: You're Zen?

KING: Totally Zen.

BOLDUAN: I dispute that, everyone.

KING: What?

BOLDUAN: I dispute that. I think your stress level is definitely...

KING: This is your stress, it's just distorting your opinion. BOLDUAN: I'm going to -- I'm going to take that one home and think about that. Thank you, John King.

KING: Stay right here, sports fans. Kate is going to stay right here. Tonight's "Moment You May Have Missed." This is an epic, epic -- John McEnroe would be jealous of this one but not the results. An epic tennis temper tantrum.

David Nalbandian wasn't pleased with his performance -- you see it there -- at the Queen's Club final match, and he snapped. Kicked an ad board -- ouch...

BOLDUAN: Ouch.

KING: ... which hit a line judge in the shin. The bloody judge got an apology but Nalbandian's paying the price. He was disqualified, fined over $12,000, and he could be looking at a police investigation for assault.

And come stateside, a little golf. U.S. Open, right here in the United States. Players may have behaved themselves, but can't say that for some of the fans. Webb Simpson takes the title. But look at this. A bold fan tries to take his glory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEBB SIMPSON, U.S. OPEN WINNER: I got off to a slow start but I knew that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (MAKING BIRD CALLS)

SIMPSON: I knew...

BOB COSTAS, SPORTS JOURNALIST: Always something to spice matters up.

SIMPSON: Yes, enjoy the jail cell, pal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How come the bird man's never visited us?

BOLDUAN: Oh, just wait. I'm sure he's coming up. Did you, by any chance, catch Bob Costas' face?

KING: That's the most priceless moment. Webb Simpson handles it like he does stand-up comedy. Bob Costas, who's done this for years, he says -- I think it's -- maybe it's the hat. Or maybe the bird call.

BOLDUAN: This does not happen at golf events. I think it's going to happen more often.

KING: Awesome (ph). We'll see you tomorrow. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.