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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Courting the Catholic Vote; GSA Investigation; Tropical Storm Isaac; Interview with Molly Ringwald

Aired August 23, 2012 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT, Mitt Romney's big bet on people like me. And imagine working from home with your home being in Hawaii and your office being in Missouri. That is what one government agency says it is doing to save money, but does it add up? We have an OUTFRONT investigation. And Colorado police may have been warned about the alleged movie theater gunman weeks before the deadly rampage -- new news tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening everyone. I'm Erin Burnett and OUTFRONT tonight Mitt's big bet, me. Well, I mean, not exactly me. But there is something about me that might actually help Mitt Romney win the White House. Now those of you who watch the show know that we criticize both Obama and Romney and are criticized by many for criticizing both Obama and Romney. We are not going to take sides tonight. But I am Catholic.

Catholics are the second largest religious group in the United States and almost a third of the voters in the 2008 presidential election were Catholic. Catholics are powerful. In fact no presidential candidate has won the White House without winning the Catholic vote since at least 1972. There was one exception, which is obviously a very bizarre one because I'm talking about the contested race of 2000.

But this is why it's so complicated for the candidates because Catholics, we can be won over. It's not -- we are not a group that is just always going to go with that guy or that guy. In 2008, Catholics chose Barack Obama over John McCain by 54 percent to 45 percent. That was a big margin. In 2004, though the numbers were pretty different. Catholics chose George W. Bush over John Kerry 52 percent to 47 percent.

So this year, the Catholic vote is up for grabs and it could decide the whole thing. Mitt Romney doesn't want to give any ground -- he has put heart and soul into the Catholics. Exhibit "A," the highest ranking Catholic in the United States will be front and center at the Republican National Convention next week. We are talking about someone who has become a household name in this country, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York.

He's going to deliver the benediction the very night that Mitt Romney accepts the nomination. Now Dolan's spokesman says oh this is not an endorsement. He would have accepted an invitation to pray at the Democrat's Convention, but here's the thing. Dolan's arch diocese is one of more than 40 Catholic organizations suing the Obama administration over its mandate requiring health care plans to cover contraception. Now, after the Obama administration made that announcement back in January, Cardinal Dolan issued this response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN: Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: First in the Bill of Rights, (INAUDIBLE) know where he stands politically, then take this. Dolan is also a friend of Mitt's running mate, Paul Ryan who of course is Roman Catholic and Ryan and Dolan are actually good friends from Dolan's time as arch bishop of Ryan's home parish. Yes, he was the arch bishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. And remember Mitt's big trip overseas, he made a big show of stopping in Poland. Poland is Catholic and talking about Poland's native son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here in Poland, in 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II spoke words that would bring down an empire and bring freedom to millions who lived in bondage. Be not afraid. Those words changed the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: But Poland is as Catholic as Saudi Arabia is Muslim. And Mitt later used that trip to Poland in his campaign ad, attacking President Obama for a quote "war on religion". Why? Well here are the numbers. More than 96 percent of Polish citizens are Roman Catholic. And here in the United States, Catholics can make all the difference in some very important swing states. We actually took a look at this because we were amazed at how powerful Catholics are.

Throughout Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin in that state Catholics make up a third of the vote. That's what they did in 2008. Obama won their support by a six-point margin. In Florida it was tighter. Catholics about 28 percent of the vote, Obama won them by just one point. And then there's New Hampshire, nearly 40 percent of voters in New Hampshire are Catholic. The split was 50-50 four years ago.

OUTFRONT tonight Raymond Arroyo, host of "The World Over Live" on EWTN. It's a Catholic network. Mitt Romney broke the news about Dolan's benediction on his show. And James Carville is with me. I'll make it clear here, everyone, I have no idea to what degree everyone on this panel including the moderator is Catholic, but we were all baptized Catholic.

So I find this just amazing going through it looking at how powerful Catholics are as voting as a religious group in this country. Ray, I want to start with you because you obviously sat down exclusively with Mitt Romney. Your interview is going to air tonight. We have a first look about what you asked him when you asked him about why he picked Dolan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I am making it very clear that the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him and with others to assure that each piece of legislation we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, Ray, what do you think? How does Dolan help Mitt Romney win Catholics?

RAYMOND ARROYO, EWTN, "THE WORLD OVER LIVE": Well Erin look, I think just politically speaking I think James might agree. We are all Catholics here. Catholics are people who look not only for what is being said, but they look for signs. And I think the fact that he is inviting Cardinal Dolan to end the Republican Convention certainly conveys a message. Cardinal Dolan was the primary negotiator in all this religious liberty stuff, the HHS mandate. He was the person in contact with President Obama throughout the process. So clearly a message is being sent here. However, I have to say, and take a little umbrage with the way this is kind of being depicted. Cardinal Dolan caught hell a couple of weeks ago --

BURNETT: Interesting word, wow, well we're Catholics here.

ARROYO: What -- what?

BURNETT: You just said he caught hell --

ARROYO: That OK. Well we believe in hell and heaven, purgatory, but we'll get into that another time, Erin. But you know he did catch a lot of flak for inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, a big political gathering in New York. People said how can you do this? You've been arguing with this man. You're suing him and now you are going break bread with him? Well here I think Dolan is actually showing that he's non partisan. He is giving the benediction and the Republican National Committee -- Convention. He's agreed to do so at the Democratic Convention if they invite him, and he is having everybody together at the Al Smith Dinner. So I think to try to say oh he's endorsing one team over the other, I don't think that's what's happening, but look, there's no doubt President Obama and that HHS mandate has created a lot of friction within the Catholic community and certainly among the bishops.

BURNETT: All right, James Carville, what is your take on this? Does this move you because --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Yes, go ahead. JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: (INAUDIBLE) 2010 Al Smith Dinner, so I'm very familiar with it. Actually look I think that the Republicans might be making a little bit of a mistake here. They are thought to be too (INAUDIBLE) in the first place. And here's Romney saying he is going to let the cardinal examine all the legislation to see what he thinks about it. I don't know if that's a very good idea -- I don't think the cardinal wants to do that. But my daughter who is a senior at Sacred Heart here of New Orleans came up with the best idea of the campaign so far. I hope you're listening David Axelrod that the Democrats should get Sister Simone Campbell to give the benediction closing our convention. And I think if you asked Americans who you admire most, Catholic bishops or Catholic nuns, I think the nuns would win in a walk.

BURNETT: That's a pretty interesting idea --

ARROYO: Oh James --

BURNETT: But Ray --

CARVILLE: Yes.

BURNETT: -- what about this though what James just brought up.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: In your interview -- in the interview that you did with Mitt Romney, he said he is going to work with Dolan to assure that each piece of legislation is also thought in terms of its impact on religious freedom. A lot of people may say yes they want -- they want the government to stay out of religious decisions --

ARROYO: Yes.

BURNETT: But this -- this does sort of sound like it's going in a different direction.

ARROYO: Well remember my question was about the HHS mandate, specifically about that. I think that's what he was referring to that he would you know consult with Dolan as President Obama did. And up until very recently there was no problem. Remember the Obama administration and Kathleen Sebelius attempted to redefine what a religious organization is. And they said it's only those that serve Catholics and are employing Catholics. Well that's a pretty narrow definition. Mother Teresa wouldn't qualify. I knew Mother Teresa and you mentioned Sister Simone Campbell.

Simone Campbell is the leader of a group called Network. She has been critiqued by the Vatican for being at odds. She's a dissident nun. I think inviting that particular sister onto the platform might not resonate with Catholics the same way that Cardinal Dolan will. She also, you know -- she is missing the habit, James, which you know we kind of look for when we're looking for a nun --

BURNETT: A lot of Catholics who are religious but don't necessarily agree with the social aspects of the religion when it comes to women. I mean there are a lot of people who feel that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right -- right.

BURNETT: James, let me ask you this though because you wanted to make this link. There's a crucial one. The other voting bloc --

CARVILLE: Right.

BURNETT: -- that's crucial in this country that could turn the election of course is Hispanics. Seventy percent of Hispanics in this country are Catholic. Mitt Romney has had a really tough time winning these people over.

CARVILLE: Right.

BURNETT: Do you think that this decision could help with that crucial group? I mean he can get the numbers he needs to (INAUDIBLE) the White House.

CARVILLE: In a word, no. I don't think -- and you know and look Catholics are -- you know, we'll take our cues and go to vote how we want to. People who do go to church will often tend to be more Republican, but I do think that -- I think we should have the nuns at our convention and I think the nuns are eminently more -- viewed favorable in the United States than the bishops and they are a very important part of our church. And I think that -- I think my daughter's idea is very good and I wouldn't be surprised to see us do that.

BURNETT: Maybe we can let them all -- you know nuns and priests get married too then we could -- that's another conversation -- all right thanks to both of you. I see James still talking. I think his audio came off. He looks -- he looks pretty funny right now.

All right still OUTFRONT a government agency says it's saving taxpayer money by having employees work from home, but we found one employee working from home in Hawaii while his office was in Missouri. That's an OUTFRONT investigation and it's next.

Plus, we're tracking Tropical Storm Isaac. That storm is moving closer to Florida. Will it disrupt that GOP Convention? And we have new information coming out late today about James Holmes. He's the man charged with killing 12 in the Colorado movie theater. Police were told about him, something crucial, six weeks before the rampage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT. The government's General Services Administration under fire earlier this year for a lavish conference in Las Vegas, tonight under scrutiny again. Congress is looking into their so-called virtual employees. These are people who work from home as what they say is a cost-saving measure. One particular area of concern though is how much taxpayers are spending on those employee's travel costs. A CNN investigation found that one of those employees is assigned to the Kansas City office but he works in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii, here is Drew Griffin OUTFRONT. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you could work anywhere in the world, why wouldn't you work from Hawaii? Soft breezes, beautiful beaches and the warm spirit of aloha that people well in places like Kansas City can only dream of. But for one federal employee, it's a dream apparently come true. We'll call him Mr. X because he hasn't personally done anything wrong. He is just part of a system that has come under fire, the General Services Administration's virtual employees.

In Kansas City when the GSA was looking for a new business development specialist, Mr. X in Hawaii emerged as the perfect candidate. For $86,000 a year, he was on the federal payroll, living and working not even at the GSA's office right in downtown Honolulu, but from his home as a virtual employee of the Kansas City office.

It is part of the GSA initiative to show just how flexible work schedules and working from home can make workers happy, save office space and save commuter pollution. And according to this Kansas City GSA employee who wanted his identity concealed, what better than to hire a guy in Hawaii.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was one of the directors wanting to show that she really embraced telework and that it could be done --

GRIFFIN (on camera): You are kidding me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not kidding you.

GRIFFIN: Embracing telework (ph), we're going to set an example by hiring somebody in Hawaii to work in Kansas City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And confirmed by the person ultimately in charge of all other teleworkers here. The politically appointed regional administrator Jason Klumb says when it came down to it our Hawaii based Mr. X was the best man for the job, travel costs included.

JASON KLUMB, GSA REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR: And when factoring all of those in, it was determined that he was the best candidate even in light of the cost that would be incurred. I don't think he comes to Kansas City very often. And again that is a reflection of the technology that we have available to us.

GRIFFIN: Well we found the GSA's Hawaii Mr. X may not come to Kansas City a lot, but he sure seems to travel a lot and it is expensive. In the last year, he has flown back to the mainland nine times. Four of those trips to St. Louis, four to Washington, including a side trip to Cincinnati, and there was a trip to San Diego. Cost to taxpayers, $24,221. Too much, according to the new administration now running the GSA, which told us we are not going to defend this type of travel. But what CNN and congressional investigators really want to know is just how many more Mr. Xs are out there. For weeks, CNN has been asking for the numbers. We are still waiting. So is Congress.

(on camera): What CNN has learned is the number of virtual employees could be between two and 300 people with an excess travel costs in the several millions of dollars, all for the convenience of GSA workers who want to work from home. Do you feel the Kansas City office should be hiring -- has hired a guy who works in and out of his home in Hawaii?

DAN TANGHERLINI, GSA ACTING ADMINISTRATOR: No and I totally understand. I think the most important part for GSA to think about is make sure that we open ourselves up, avail ourself to all the smart people in the country, but then also make sure we have a clear business case. If we have someone who is working in Nebraska but reporting to Boston, there has to be a clear explanation for what value they are providing and you've got to give me the business case.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And we found out something else. If that Hawaii teleworker ever does move to Kansas City, there are newly remodeled, colorfully painted offices waited for him. GSA spent $170,000 fixing up this space. Now the employees are teleworkers and the offices are empty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: A pretty shocking and damming report. Drew, you said they are still working from home, I mean these teleworkers they're working for the GSA. What happens to them? I mean do they actually go to work?

GRIFFIN: Well as far as we know it's a status quo. They are teleworking. There's going to be some kind of accounting. Who is and isn't a good candidate for these home positions, but it is their travel, Erin, that's been severely cut. The acting administrator you saw there ordered this top to bottom review of the entire agency, that includes the travel and of course the conferences, which is how this whole thing got started with the revelations earlier about that pretty wild conference the GSA staged for its employees in Las Vegas.

BURNETT: That's right. It was of course the great irony that the GSA is supposed to be policing how much everybody else is spending on ridiculous things. But you talk about how you've been trying Drew to find how many people are doing this telecommuting. Why is it taking so long? This would seem to me to be a pretty basic thing, GSA give us the number.

GRIFFIN: Yes, I would have to say we're kind of getting stonewalled. We have been waiting for this literally for months. We filed that request under the Freedom of Information Act back in June, repeatedly told it's going to be ready any day now. Now we're told they want to make some kind of a spread sheet to explain all of this. We've said hey all we want is the numbers and to be frank, maybe the real answer is Erin, the GSA doesn't know.

They don't know how many people they have working from home. That could be why they're not just stalling on our request but stalling on request from congressional investigators, asking the same thing as CNN. How many are there? What are they costing? We're still waiting.

BURNETT: That's just amazing. It's just amazing. Our Drew Griffin thank you very much, Drew Griffin investigating that story and coming up with what appear to be some pretty shocking and damming conclusions.

OURFRONT next, new information just in on the path and strength of Isaac, which is moving closer to the U.S. coast, but where?

And tonight, Molly Ringwald gets personal. Why she says -- OK, for those fans out there of Molly Ringwald's movies she said to me that she is practically married to that cute "16 Candles" co-star, Jake.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now our third story OUTFRONT, we have breaking news tonight on Tropical Storm Isaac, which is picking up strength right now, it's making its way through the Caribbean, right now headed towards Florida. Chad Meyers as you know is following the storm. Chad, is it definitely going to hit hurricane strength? What do you think about where it will hit?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I do believe it will hit hurricane strength and maybe more than one time. I think it will hit land and then the hurricane strength will go down. It will leave land -- that land will be Cuba -- back into the Gulf of Mexico and become another hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico again, and it could even be more than a one.

It could be a larger hurricane than just a category one. Here is the storm right here, the center being right about there, I think that 40-mile-per-hour wind right there is going to go up the next hour. We have hurricane hunter aircraft in there. They are finding gusts higher than that. Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to move over Haiti, that's not going to go well, over 400,000 people living in tents.

And then move across Cuba. Here is where it loses some steam, Erin, because when a storm goes over land, it loses power. When it goes back over water, it gains the power. There's where it's going to gain the power not that far from the Dry Tortugas (ph) Key West and into the Gulf of Mexico. Remember now with tongue in cheek it could still go to the right. It could still go to the left. But let me tell you right now these models, these computer models that we use they are tightly packed and they all agree and that's usually a bad thing. That means they are probably all pretty right -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, may be interesting what this means for Tampa. Thanks so much to Chad.

MYERS: Yes.

BURNETT: And still OUTFRONT what police were actually told about James Holmes six weeks before he shot and killed 12 people in a Colorado movie theater. And Gawker's document dump on Romney's taxes, nearly a 1,000 pages of what it called tax dodging (INAUDIBLE) schemes, but does the headline add up?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front line.

First, the U.S. Capitol police spokeswoman tells CNN the agency is currently working with the FBI on a reported threat against Congressman Todd Akin. She said it was an active, open investigation, but declined to say more, citing a policy against discussing security of members of Congress. Akin, of course, is under fire for making controversial comments about rape.

Today, Mitt Romney rolled out his energy plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will set a national goal of America and North America -- North American energy independence by 2020. North American energy independence by 2020. That means we produce all the energy we use in North America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: The problem is, this isn't really OUTFRONT, because without Mitt Romney's plan, this country is already on a path to be energy independent by 2020. Investment firm Raymond James is one of the experts who forecast this. Their takeaway is that it would be historic, epic and a big deal and we've talked about it on this show. It is pretty amazing.

The reason it's going to happen without a Romney plan is natural gas. We have so much gas we're going to be able to meet our own needs and even export it and it's cheap. Foreign chemical companies are building plants here. Citigroup says the U.S. could add 3.6 million jobs thanks to the resulting reindustrialization by, guess what? 2020.

Well, it's been one year since the earthquake shook the East Coast and that earthquake you may remember caused a crack at the top of the Washington Monument. It's been closed ever since. Officials have previously said the monument could be close for all of 2013. The question, could it happen again?

Well, I don't like betting on these kinds of things. But according to a study released today by the National Park Service, they found a chance of another earthquake inflicts damage like this is extremely unlikely. The problem is there's still a chance.

Well, a publisher says it will be releasing a book written by a former Navy SEAL detailing his first hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Now, this book is actually going to be published under a pen name Mark Owen. Other news organizations have reported the SEAL's true identity, which has ignited a firestorm of controversy. We will not reveal his real name at the request of the Pentagon.

But officials tell CNN's Barbara Starr that U.S. Special Operations command has not reviewed the book or approved it, which is pretty interesting.

Well, it's been 385 days since the U.S. lost its top up credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

It was a lousy day for stocks. The Dow was down 115 points but it was the first triple-digit loss of the month. It's been a good month.

And now our fourth story OUTFRONT -- missed opportunities in the Colorado shooting. It's a tragedy this information we have tonight, because we have new details that the University of Colorado had banned James Holmes from campus for making threats six weeks before he allegedly killed 12 and wounded 58 people during a shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

According to prosecutors, university officials reported the threats to campus police, took away Holmes' key cards that gave him access to campus buildings.

CNN legal contributor and criminal defense attorney Paul Callan is OUTFRONT tonight to help us break down this new evidence.

And, Paul, this is pretty shocking. The evidence on a couple levels -- first, evidence that the police were told about the threats that James Holmes had made on the campus of the University of Colorado six weeks before the shooting.

Does that mean that the police could be liable for what ended up happening?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's very hard to get a liability suit against the police. Now, of course, we have to decide, are we talking about the university police or the actual, you know, Colorado police, maybe the state police? In either case, you have to be -- I mean, people would be shocked to hear this. But you can't sue the cops for not doing their job, believe it or not. They have immunity for that.

Now, the reason for that doctrine is that everybody who had a crime committed against them would be suing the police. We'd be out of business.

You can sue them, though, if they have established a special relationship with you. So, if they say, for instance, we're going to supply you with 24-hour protection and the cops don't show up on the job, that's considered special relationship. You can sue in that situation.

BURNETT: That's different. CALLAN: So, now, we got to look to Holmes. What are the specific threats? How much did they know was a special relationship created?

BURNETT: So that's important. But what about this? The University of Colorado obviously took the threat seriously enough to deny him access to the campus. Took away his key cards. That's pretty serious.

So, does that mean the university could be facing more liability?

CALLAN: It's very serious. However, with the university, you get a different doctrine and it's the doctrine of foreseeability and the duty doctrine. You have to show that the university owes a duty to the general public. And to do that is very, very difficult because we have the same problem.

BURNETT: They're saying they protected themselves --

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: They protected themselves, they're students. They owe a duty to them. But every kidded who's got a drug problem or a problem with violence, can you sue the university if -- he does something when he leaves college? It's -- I'm not saying you can't do it, but it's really hard to win those cases.

BURNETT: And what about the other information that we found out today, which is that Holmes met with at least three mental health experts at the University of Colorado before the shooting. Now, we know that one of them, a female doctor, had raised warning. There was a question how much she raised and how far she pushed it.

But -- so she's the only one we know about that. But does this add to the problems of the university as well? We now have three. I mean, you don't have usually three people looking at you for mental health.

CALLAN: No, you don't. And I think you are on to something here. Because collectively, all of this information, when you get to the mental health people may have give them an obligation to make and take action by going to the police. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers -- they have a legal obligation to protect the public and warn. So, now, maybe we see the start of a theory of liability so that these victims could find some justice in this case.

BURNETT: And liability in this would be an incredible amount of money.

CALLAN: A staggeringly amount of money if they could prove it. But it's an uphill battle here against all of the potential targets in the civil cases. Remember, we're not talking about the criminal cases here. We're only talking about civil cases.

The criminal case still looks very strong against him. BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to Paul Callan with some pretty tragic news to find out today about that, knowing six weeks before.

Also OUTFRONT tonight, a document dump. So there is a Web site, it's called "Gawker." And today, they released more than 950 pages of confidential Bain documents with a very sexy headline, "Inside Mitt Romney's Tax-Dodging Cayman Schemes." Wow.

As you can imagine, the story immediately took off on Twitter. Talking points reporter Benjy Sarlin tweeting, "Gawker just basically set out a WMD."

We looked through the documents and there are some more information about funds in the Cayman Islands and some of the Romney's advisers praising the economic stimulus that he has been against. But as for a bomb shell that would have anything to do with his personal tax policy, how much he paid? No.

"Fortune's" Dan Primack called it, quote, "Gawker's worthless Bain files."

There's a little bit of a battle going on about this. But let's bring in David Frum and Jamal Simmons.

Good to see both of you. We appreciate it.

Look, this is a -- this is I guess, David Frum, part of the problem here is that, is this something Mitt Romney is going to be dealing with up until the elections because he hasn't put his taxes out. So, any kind of secret information or trove or information about one is going to cause sort of brouhaha?

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, President Obama is not going to be running on a record, because the record is pretty depressing. So he has to do the thing that embattling incumbents do, which is make the challenger unacceptable.

And so he has to find things in Romney's life and link them to some larger story about why Romney ought to be unacceptable. And those taxes are going to be a thing that cause him again and again and again as a way of connecting Romney personally to a story about the Republican Party, all of it to change the subject away from the record of the past four years.

BURNETT: What's the risk that Mitt Romney becomes defined by things that he won't reveal? And, David, I do want -- there's something came out just a few moments ago I want to share, because I think this is important. "The Salt Lake Tribune" is reporting that Mitt Romney is talking to "Parade" magazine, which everyone gets on a weekend, on their newspaper and saying that part of the reason he doesn't want to put out his tax returns, is his tithing, the money that he gives to the Mormon Church, he believes that that's private between him and God and that explains his reticence.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Why is he talking about it now? Erin, I think there's two points here about this. First of all, the Romney people is going to sort of take the position that this is only a big deal if there's something wrong in the report.

No, that's not really the case. The American people deserve a certain amount of transparency from the people who want to leave the country and they want to see these documents from them and if there is something wrong in there, they should talk about it.

And point number two is Romney has got to begin to own his own narrative. And right now, he seems to be running from his history. And that is something that does concern people because if Mitt Romney doesn't feel good about his history, how should the American people feel good about his history and his story? He's got to figure out a way to tell it better.

BURNETT: David Frum, this actually brings something up though that I'm wondering. I'm wondering why they didn't say this earlier, too, because you know, when you actually did the numbers, which we did in the beginning. If Mitt Romney said, say whatever you want about my taxes, I only paid 14 percent, 15 percent, 13 percent to the U.S. government but I paid the same amount to charity, which is incredibly generous, more than almost anyone in this country, you add that together, I'm paying more of my income than Barack Obama is.

FRUM: You are talking about you. And when he says the American people want to know this or that thing, I know a substantial amount of American people go to Jamal, but I don't think any of us are clear anyway of knowing a tenth of 1 percent of them and what they want.

The art of politics is talking about what the public is interested in. The Obama campaign must have a meeting every morning where he says, what can we do today to get Mitt Romney to talk about the things we want him to talk about and not about the things he wants to talk about? And they have been successful and, unfortunately, they had some help of that from the Romney campaign.

But the Romney campaign needs to talk about what it wants to talk about, which is the state of the economy and hopes for a better performance over the next four years.

SIMMONS: I chorus (ph) a little bit with David on this point, because I do think -- everybody gets caught in the details about what is this tax and what is that document. People do start to get a feeling that he is hiding something and he is not comfortable. And one thing we know about George Bush, he could laugh at himself, and he was comfortable with his faults. And I think -- I think people actually like -- American people do like to have a leader who is transparent and comfortable and wanted to tell his own story in a good way.

FRUM: That feeling that something is hidden, has been very artfully constructive. That's not something that's spontaneously happened.

SIMMONS: Well, that's the campaign's job.

FRUM: That's something that has been built.

SIMMONS: Right. Well, that's the campaign's job. And we should defend against that and be proactive against it. It's not this is something brand new. Democrats have been running the same attack on Mitt Romney since 1994. It's a shame they can't figure out how to defend it.

BURNETT: All right. Well, David Frum, I guess one final thing. You know, it's one thing to say I want to keep it private because it's between me and my God. But this comes on the same week that he is allowing reporters now to come to church with him. He is talking much more openly about religion. He is saying that he wants to talk about his faith and religion. Isn't that a little bit of a contradiction?

FRUM: He has clearly decided that there are things in the tax return that he could rather people not see and he especially rather not have the Obama opposition research it. Now, see, the maybe a good decision, or maybe a bad, but it's driven by this overwhelming reality, that he knows the Obama campaign wants to talk about him. You didn't hear a lot of talk about Walter Mondale's tax returns in 1984. Bill Clinton was utterly uninterested in Bob Dole's personal history in 1996.

When an incumbent has a strong message, the challenger is really irrelevant. But when the incumbent has a weak message, the challenger's history becomes ground zero.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much both of you. We appreciate it.

And OUTFRONT next, Molly Ringwald gets personal.

And check out this picture. Is that Jake? That is her husband. We are going to tell you about that story, what happened there.

And what Taylor Smith and Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler have in common.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hello, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, "A.C. 360" HOST: Hey, Erin. We got breaking news tonight. the latest on the track of tropical storm Isaac. We are expecting a new update within minutes. We'll have that at the top of the hour.

Right now, churning through the Caribbean and the city of Tampa, where the Republican national convention starts Monday. Obviously paying attention, we'll tell you where the storm is going to head and when. Also, the update is from our Chad Myers.

Also, ahead, you'll hear from comments from an elective judge in Texas. He's on the far right who says that civil war could break out if President Obama is re-elected. It's a pretty peculiar point of view to say the least.

Tonight, he's dealing with the fallout. He says U.N. troops could end up in Lubbock, Texas. We're keeping them honest.

In California, a bill that made it easier to fire teachers how commit sexual -- physically abusive assault or drug-related acts with their students, it did not pass. It's pretty incredible, if you think about it. A bill that held accountable those charged with committing despicable acts, failed by a single vote. Tonight, we'll tell you why four lawmakers abstained from voting and why a watchdog group says it comes down to campaign contributions from special interest groups. Those stories and the "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour.

BURNETT: All right, thank you, Anderson.

(MUSIC)

BURNETT: The story OUTFRONT: Molly Ringwald, so much more than just pretty in pink. The 44-year-old now is the focus of our "IDEA" segment tonight. She is famous for her sweetheart roles in iconic teen movies like "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," and "Pretty in Pink."

Sure, that was more than 25 years ago. But since then, Molly has performed on Broadway, recorded a jazz album and she is acting on NBC's "Secret Life of the American Teenager." Now, she's even written a book called "When It Happens to You."

Just before the show, I sat down with Molly and asked what it's like to transition from movie star to first time novelist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOLLY RINGWALD, AUTHOR, "WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU": I think in terms of my fiction, I really had to get to a place where my own writing met the standards of writing that I really admire and, you know, it took a lot of years for me to learn how to do it. And I feel like I'm still learning. I feel like I'm still a work in progress.

But finally, I happened upon this idea for the book and I thought, I could really do something with this. You know, the idea of betrayal and we get through it and how we betrayed each other and how we betray ourselves.

It just seemed like something that was so relatable.

BURNETT: What was this based on? Was it personal experience? What made you able to write about it?

RINGWALD: You know, I think it really -- I bring the same abilities to my writing that I've always used in acting, which is imagining character. You know, when you get inside these characters, you feel everything. BURNETT: So, I have to ask you this. You know, I told people you were coming on the show and they said, oh, my gosh, Molly Ringwald and they go through their favorite movie.

But I have to say, you know, there were a couple young men in your movies that people are still very interested in, in particular Jake in "Sixteen Candles." So, let me play the scene one more, for the billionth time, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make a wish.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It already came true.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I still get goose bumps.

RINGWALD: Ahh.

BURNETT: Here is what I wanted to know. They said, they loved the scene so much, everyone wants it to be real life or imagined. Did you guys ever have a real life romance?

RINGWALD: Me and Michael Schoeffling?

BURNETT: Yes.

RINGWALD: No, no, but you know what? No, he was older than me. I was 15 when I was shooting "Sixteen Candles", and he was I think in his 20s. But I ended up, funny enough, my husband Panio Gianopoulos happens to resemble him a lot. So in a way, I kind of got him. Which I never realized until years later, and someone said, you know what, that guy you married, he looks like Jake Ryan.

BURNETT: Oh my gosh! You are giving me my happy ending. You are giving it to me. That's great.

RINGWALD: I'm glad to have been able to do that for you, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. So, now, we're talking about life. And I know you don't talk about reinvention. But someone like you is able to do so many things. And as life moves on, you do one thing, you do another thing. You go with your heart and talent.

Let me just confirm something because I know this to be obvious. But you are voting for Obama, right?

RINGWALD: Yes, I think is really smart. I think he was handled a difficult situation. He hasn't done everything perfectly but I'm in support of him. And the opposition to me is just absolutely terrifying as a woman, you know? And as a woman who has two daughters. It's just not possible for me to consider that. BURNETT: Why is that? Because of the talk about abortion? Is it the contraception?

RINGWALD: Yes, it's that. It's telling woman what they have to do with their bodies. It's just -- it's just something I didn't believe and I believe that President Obama will protect women's rights much better than the other guys.

BURNETT: You mentioned your daughters and I know you have three kids. You look at your own life and you were a major movie star when you were as a teenager, would you recommend they follow your path or no?

RINGWALD: Not while they are still kids. I would prefer that my children go to school and get an education and go to college. If they want to pursue it later, I would do whatever I can to help them. But I just feel like childhood is so fleeting and the show business is just really hard. And I feel like there is a time when kids should just get to be kids.

BURNETT: Molly, thanks so much. Her new book, "When It Happens to You" is available now. Thanks again.

(END VDIEOTAPE)

BURNETT: It was pretty neat talking to her and hearing her talk about his own daughter.

Well, an achievement that Taylor Swift will never forget is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: So, music star Taylor Swift has finally made it to number one on the billboard hot 100. So, she's had songs number one but they were on the country or pop charts. The hot 100 is the chart.

(MUSIC)

BURNETT: The song is called "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together". And it has only been out for a few weeks. So, in addition to being on the hot 100, it is sold 623,000 digital copies just last week, which is the most digital sales in one week for a song ever sung by a women.

Now, all this and she doesn't actually even have a formal music video for it yet. This is the strange thing we learned today. Stars want to push out songs quickly. There is now a lyrics video on YouTube, it doesn't have video. It doesn't have video. So, you just basically see these words going across.

According to a study from Nielsen, 64 percent of teens say they actually listen to music on YouTube, so that's why they want to push this out and just get out and you fix and get the video later. Teens are obviously a crucial demo for artists like Taylor Swift.

Now, I'm sure some of you are shocked to hear this is the first number one she's had. She's been around for years, right? Hey, she's 22. That's a neon (ph) in the world of music. Her first single was on the hot 100 was 2007's "Tim McGraw," but charts can be fickle and that's our number tonight: 25. That is the number of years it took Aerosmith to hit number one.

Aerosmith released their self titled debut album in 1973. it contained the song "Dream On," which charted a few years later. But it wasn't until 1998 when they released "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from the movie "Armageddon" that they first hit number one. And as a matter of fact, that is still the band's only number one song on the hot 100.

We all know it. Although it's not necessarily my favorite. All right. Thanks so much as always for watching.

Anderson Cooper starts now.