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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Romney's Tax Return; Interview with Newt Gingrich; Interview with Martin O'Malley

Aired September 21, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, Mitt and taxes. Romney finally releases his 2011 tax return. Did he pay more taxes to win more votes? While the president's on the attack over that 47 percent gaffe.

Tonight, I'll ask Newt Gingrich of the GOP and Governor Martin O'Malley for the Dems. And then we'll debate their answers.

Plus, go away. No, I mean that politely but why "Brat Pack" idol Andrew McCarthy says leaving America is the best thing that could happen to many Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCARTHY: I think most of our political decisions are all based on fear. And I think if Americans traveled, they would see that the world is much different place than they're led to believe it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And they're split down the middle just like America. One's Republican and one -- actually, it's quite hard to work out what the other one is. Country duo Big & Rich on their music and their politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We debate about as tough as any two guys can, but we end it always with a cold beverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And a moment I never expected, or craved.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Good evening.

Our big story tonight: the race for the White House by the numbers. Mitt Romney releases his 2011 tax return which shows he paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. Meanwhile, President Obama continues to hammer him on his 47 percent gaffe about Americans who, in his words, believe they are victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody believes that anyone's entitled to success in this country. We don't believe the government should be helping people who refuse to help themselves. But we do believe in something called opportunity.

We believe in a country where hard work pays off, where responsibility's rewarded, where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody's doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. That's the country we believe in. That's what I believe in. That's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: President Obama today.

And joining me now, a man with a unique perspective on all of this, Newt Gingrich disagrees with the president on just about everything and, of course, he ran against Mitt Romney and he joins me now.

Mr. Speaker, welcome back. How are you?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Good to be with you.

I have to say, given that sound bite, I thought Barack Obama sounded like a conservative Republican.

That was a great series of sentiments. I agreed with every single one of them. I just -- I just wish his policies were there.

MORGAN: If he's reunited the whole of America, including you, this is a good step forward, isn't it?

GINGRICH: That's right.

Well, he is rhetorically terrific. Unfortunately, his policies were almost exactly the opposite of his speech. But it was a very good speech.

He clearly has learned something from Bill Clinton recently, because he now knows how to sound like he's a conservative American even if his policies are very left wing.

MORGAN: Do you believe that presidential candidates should be held accountable to their words? Do you think they should live up to their rhetoric?

GINGRICH: Well, ideally, sure. I think the people have an obligation to try to communicate clearly and if you don't communicate clearly, how can you possibly have representative government. So, I think unfortunately, we're in a pattern where all too often, people use a lot of words and we're also caught up in a world where 16, 18, 19 hours a day of coverage. So if somebody does make a mistake, for example, President Obama does happen to get caught by an open mike promising the Russians concessions after the election, these kind of things happen all the time to I think every candidate and the result is kind of a micro emphasis on every single word in a way that would not have been true before the age of instantaneous media.

MORGAN: Well, the reason I asked you, there's a clip here from Mitt Romney earlier sent to ABC News. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have paid all the taxes required by law. I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly, if I had paid more than are legally due, I don't think I would be qualified to become president. I think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was quite a statement there. If I paid more than I was legally due to pay in taxes, I don't think I would be qualified to become president.

Now, the reason that's fascinating today is he's released his 2011 tax return in full, and he came over the 13 percent tax payments that he said he had always paid above, but he only did that by not deducting all his charity donations, which of course meant he contradicted his pledge. He was not paying the tax he should have paid.

So by his own words, he is no longer qualified to be president, is he, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, if we're going to apply that standard, Joe Biden has to resign this evening because he has said enough different goofy things over time that you couldn't possibly remain vice president.

Look, I think it's fascinating, I looked at the numbers on the way here. Romney paid about 14 percent in income tax. He donated over 10 percent to charity. That means his effective combination as a citizen of both what he voluntarily gave away and what he paid to the government is about a quarter of what he earned. I'd be very curious to look at the number of other people's income taxes and see what percent they give away and I think it's a good thing for Romney, apparently he's done this his whole life, to have a very substantial donation process for charities, for his church, and for things he wants to do voluntarily as a citizen. That's also a kind of self-tax to keep civilized society moving.

MORGAN: The polls are pretty neck and neck at the moment and even though he's had a few gaffes, the news cycle as you said, is so rapid these days, you can move on quite quickly. But if he's going to seal the deal, Mitt Romney, and actually win this election, what's he got to do now?

GINGRICH: I think he's got to do two things and I think they're pretty clear but pretty hard. One, he's got to just slow down, focus on a handful of issues. For example, his American energy independence plan which has about 86 percent support among the American people. He's got to get back to big changes that would really matter.

And then second, when he walks in to debate Obama, he's got to be as tough with Obama as he was with me in Florida. He has got to stand up, he's got to be very firm and very aggressive, and the country's got to look in and say, you know, this is a guy who could be president, he's tough enough, he's clear enough, I get it.

He's not in a competition to be likeable. He's in a competition to be capable. We need somebody who can turn America around. We need him to convince us that a Romney recovery is better than an Obama stagnation.

And unless he can do that, I don't care how much effort they spend trying to make him likeable, it won't work.

MORGAN: What is extraordinary to many impartial observers is that you take a state like Nevada, it has the highest unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, and yet Barack Obama's lead in the polls is actually increasing. That's almost inconceivable, that an incumbent president should be stretching ahead in a state where 12.1 percent of the people have lost their jobs.

How can that be happening? That must be a failure by the Romney campaign, isn't it?

GINGRICH: Yes. I mean, I would have to tell you I think that's almost inconceivable. I think it is amazing, you've had about two solid weeks of the elite media piling on in every possible way, starting with their over-coverage of the Democratic convention, which they were oohing and ahhing about at a level that's kind of silly. Their deliberate avoidance of how bad Obama's acceptance speech was.

And then you get into the Middle Eastern problems where there's another wave of piling on. Then, of course, there's this 47 percent statement which is I think not accurate and was not a very clever thing to say.

So, Romney's had a bad couple weeks. The underlying reality is gasoline is dramatically higher than it was when Obama was elected. The debt is so high, Obama wouldn't even say the number the other night on "Letterman "which I thought was amazing.

Conservative Republican has shown as much ignorance about the national debt as Obama did on "Letterman", it would have been a four- day story. Instead it wasn't noticed at all.

So, I think part of this is the Romney people haven't gotten used yet to the fact that in a general election, if you're the conservative, you are running against a headwind all day every day and you've got to just stick to your guns, be very clear about what you're going to do and not let the media distract you.

MORGAN: Mr. Speaker, I hope he's watching tonight. Some wise words as always. Thank you for joining me.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

MORGAN: Now we will turn to the other side.

Joining me more on the big story is one of the Democratic Party's rising stars, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

Governor, how are you?

GOV. MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: Well, Piers. How about you?

MORGAN: Very well.

How are you reacting to Mitt Romney's tax returns which have landed this Friday afternoon?

O'MALLEY: Well, I think it's about time but it's really only part of the story. I can't imagine how in the remaining 48 days of this race that he's going to be able to get away with not revealing at least as many years as he asked Paul Ryan to reveal in order for him to make an informed judgment as to whether or not Paul Ryan was fit to be a vice presidential candidate.

So I think it also shows the degrees of the amount of water that he's been taking on, especially given some of the comments about other Americans that perhaps don't earn as much as he does.

MORGAN: Right. But I mean, the guy gave $4 million to charity last year. Absolutely staggering amount, isn't it?

O'MALLEY: Yes. It's great -- if you were one of the charities that received it.

MORGAN: What do you mean by that?

O'MALLEY: I don't know. I mean, I think that a man who is a multimillionaire and has seen his wealth rise by great amounts over the last few years of being a huge beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts that benefited the wealthiest of Americans, I think it's probably a good thing that he gives to charity and indeed, he has the wherewithal to do that.

MORGAN: He's also, he's paid all the taxes that legally he's required to do and his campaign have made that very clear today. That goes back over the last 10 years as well. What exactly is the problem here? Is there anything ethically wrong with what he's been doing?

O'MALLEY: I think the bigger issue about the failure to release his tax returns, he must know that most Americans would react with some horror at the degree to which he's used tax avoidance schemes and Cayman Island bank accounts and the like to avoid paying the full amount of taxes that he should. Otherwise, he would have released it before now.

MORGAN: Let me challenge you on that.

O'MALLEY: Sure.

MORGAN: I might have a little snipe at him because I pay an awful lot more tax because I pay more income tax here but the guy, most of his tax is in the form of capital gains on investments, not income tax. And I just don't sense actually that the American people are that exercised --

O'MALLEY: But, Piers, there's a huge imbalance that has occurred when it comes to an American economy that's actually growing and strengthening the middle class. There has been a tremendous redistribution of the nation's wealth to the wealthiest 1 percent of our citizens.

Now, Mitt Romney is one of those who believes that America works best when the wealthiest are making more and more, whether it's because of investments, capital gains or what-have-you. The rest of us believe that the measure of whether or not our country's moving forward is whether or not we're creating more opportunities and strengthening and growing the ranks of our middle class.

MORGAN: Why should the American public re-elect a president under whose tenure unemployment remains at 8.2 percent, staggeringly high amount. The national debt has risen by $5 trillion, to $16 trillion. Gas prices have doubled.

I mean, the balance sheet against Barack Obama on the financial economics of this country are pretty damning.

O'MALLEY: Well, I believe the people are smart and I believe that people fundamentally are not gullible. And indeed, I think the polls show overwhelmingly that most of us understand that the wrecking of our economy was the result of policies that were inflicted upon us during the bush years.

We've now had 30 months in a row of positive private sector job growth. Foreclosures are now lower than they were before President Obama took office. And while we still have a lot of work to do, we are headed in a much better direction than we were the day he took that oath of office.

MORGAN: Governor O'Malley, thank you as always for joining me. I appreciate it.

O'MALLEY: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up next, battleground America, tearing apart the red meat of Romney's tax returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: What's the effective rate I've been playing? It's probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything because my last 10 years, I've -- my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past rather than ordinary income or rather than earned annual income. I got a little bit of income from my book but I gave that all away, and then I get speaker's fees from time to time but not very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Mitt Romney talking about his taxes back in January. We learned a lot more today when he released his 2011 returns in tonight's battleground America.

What does all this mean for the campaign?

Joining me CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen, "Townhall" news editor and author, Katie Pavlich, and Henry Blodget, CEO and editor of "Business Insider."

Henry, let me start with you. You're the only big business brain here, not to be disparaging to my two other guests. You studied these figures. Does he get a pass, Mitt Romney? It seems to me just looking at them, anyone that gives $4 million to charity in one year, you can hardly accuse him of milking the system too much, can you?

HENRY BLODGET, CEO AND EDITOR, "BUSINESS INSIDER": That's right. That's impressive. He's been very generous, given a lot away. Certainly, it could have been worse if they had to say look, there were three years where he paid no taxes. That would have been a monstrous story.

On the other hand, 14 percent tax, 20 percent tax rate, vastly below what a normal person would be paying on ordinary income. And part of what Romney has done so effectively, has been effectively to shelter his income as investments and pay a much lower tax rate.

MORGAN: Can you do that if you're a very wealthy guy or woman? I mean, is that the bottom line?

BLODGET: That's the real message when you dig into the tax returns that have been released, is the tremendous sophistication and expense required to effectively avoid taxes as well as he has. That's not available to everybody in the country.

MORGAN: Henry Rosen, what do you make of this?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think Henry's right. You know, Romney's tax return looks somewhat alien to the average person, you know, with multiple pages and it's got foreign earnings and it's got tax shelters in Bermuda and the like.

And so I think the key issue for Mitt Romney isn't whether he's generous. The key issue for Mitt Romney is whether he really understands what the average person goes through and I think that he's sort of written himself off and actually being able to sell himself on a platform of lowering taxes and helping America because he was so disparaging of 47 percent of the American people who in effect also lower their taxes by being either in the military or getting an earned income tax credit or having mortgage interest on their house.

You know, so taking sort of the few deductions available to the real middle class, you know, he can't say well, we're just going to lower taxes on wealthy people and then attack folks who try and get a little bit of tax benefit themselves. I think he ruined this issue for himself.

MORGAN: Let me turn to Katie Pavlich. Put up a stoic defense for me of Mitt Romney and his taxation.

KATIE PAVLICH, TOWNHALL.COM NEWS EDITOR, AUTHOR: A stoic defense. How about I just give you -- how about if I just give you some of the numbers here? In 2011, the Romneys donated 30 percent of their income to charity, $4 million. I take a little bit of issue with you saying that he's gaming the system when he could have deducted $4 million in charitable donations.

MORGAN: Hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. No, no, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: You have pressed the wrong button there. We all know the reason that he hasn't deducted that extra money. If he had deducted it in 2011, he would have fallen below the 13 percent threshold and would have therefore exposed himself as having told a large porky pie, where he said he'd always pay at least 13 percent.

So we're not stupid. He did this for political expediency. Of course, the irony of doing that is he ends up contradicting himself also about the amount of tax he pays.

PAVLICH: So you're arguing that is a problem that he donated more to charity in order to avoid a lower tax rate? That doesn't make a lot of sense. But --

(CROSTALK)

MORGAN: If he hadn't said the 13 percent threshold existed for all his returns, he would have done what anybody else would have done and claimed those extra charitable donations as deductions. Anyone who thinks he wouldn't have done that is living in cuckoo land.

PAVLICH: OK. But Mitt Romney has paid on average in the past 20 years a 20 percent effective tax rate and the person who is telling lies here is Harry Reid who is eating his words tonight because he went on the Senate floor and accused Mitt Romney of not paying any taxes in the past 10 years.

Well, guess what? He's paid taxes, state and federal, for the past 20 years. In the past 20 years, he's given on average 40 percent of his income to the government, to charity and to his church.

MORGAN: I think that's a very good point. Let me go to Hilary Rosen.

That is a very good point. Doesn't Harry Reid have to stand up now and issue a public apology to Mitt Romney?

ROSEN: My guess is Harry Reid would feel better if he actually saw the returns instead of a letter from a bunch of accountants swearing that Mitt Romney paid taxes.

MORGAN: You're saying the accountants are lying?

ROSEN: No. I'm just saying I'm not sure that Harry Reid is feeling too contrite about this until Mitt Romney actually shows what he's done.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I think -- stop for one moment. I think he should be feeling contrite. I don't think it's good enough for Harry Reid, who stands up with all the power of the Senate behind him, and basically says Mitt Romney paid no tax, fact -- when it turns out to be an absolute load of baloney.

I don't look at these figures and feel outraged.

ROSEN: I'm not sure that we need to feel outraged at Mitt Romney's personal situation. I agree with Katie, he's extraordinarily generous giving all that money to his church. What I think we should feel outrage is sort of the double standard by which he's operating now and saying that -- this goes back to the point that Henry made thoughtfully which is that he, you know, has a huge amount of advantages because of how he earns his money, as investments rather than, you know, working in the fields or plowing in a manufacturing plant, and how he earns his money favors his tax status, and that is what's not fair right now for so many people because he himself is criticizing those who are paying a lower rate based on their deductions. I think that's the outrage.

MORGAN: Let me go back to Katie. I will come to you, Henry, just for a moment here, in a sec.

But, Katie, on that point, there are two different issues here. One is his tax returns in which I think he gets a reasonable pass, actually, but the 47 percent thing I felt was terrible for Mitt Romney. It showed a kind of arrogance. It showed a lack of understanding of who these people were that he was talking about, many of them his voters in red states that would vote for him quite happily.

And I thought also it showed a really kind of rich man's detachment from the real world, talking about people being victims in the way that he did, very sneering, very condescending. You must admit that was a bad, bad moment for Mitt Romney.

PAVLICH: I actually don't think it was a bad moment for Mitt Romney and I think that his tax returns, the release of them in full, I think that actually it shows that this is a man who has donated over $50 million in charity and paid taxes to the government throughout his lifetime so therefore, he does have concern for the poor. He does have concern for the 47 percent who is dependent on some government programs. He's paid into the system and therefore, he does understand that.

But I want to go back to something Hilary said really quickly. She said Harry Reid might be more interested in looking at these tax returns if he saw them in full. Well, the IRS commissioner came out with a statement saying Mitt Romney and the Romneys together have fulfilled their duties as taxpayers and abided by the law.

So to accuse him of somehow hiding something in these tax returns, even though they haven't released them in full, they have released summaries of the past 20 years, I think is just not fair.

MORGAN: OK. Well, let's just hold that thought. Let's have a little break, come back and talk more about this. It's really got our hackles going. We have to try to work out who's hackles are right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with me now, CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen, "Townhall" news editor and author Katie Pavlich and Henry Blodget, CEO and editor of "Business Insider".

We left our viewers on a cliffhanger there, Hilary. You were about to respond to Katie Pavlich, I would imagine not in an entirely complimentary manner. So fire away.

ROSEN: Look, I think that we can all stipulate that Mitt Romney gave a lot of money to charity. But he also earned a lot of money. I think what we have seen over the years is that the policies that Mitt Romney holds for himself, he doesn't hold for other people and I think when we look at his tax plan, that's a pretty good place to start.

So the only difference between Mitt Romney's tax plan and the president's tax plan, everybody wants to lower effective taxes for people in the middle class, but Mitt Romney also wants to give the wealthy an additional tax break. When you look at a guy who is only paying 13 percent to 14 percent a year, it's hard to imagine, and those kind of deductions are available to most wealthy people, why drain the federal budget more, why cut education, why cut health care, why cut so many important things to give more guys like Mitt Romney a tax break? That's what his policy does.

MORGAN: Henry, let me get to you. I actually think that's a pretty valid point. I think the one thing that I do not detect the average American man and women on the street crying out for is calling out for more tax breaks or increasing the period of tax breaks for the wealthiest people in America.

People like Mitt Romney are absolutely fine. They don't need any more help. If anything, looking at these tax returns, he could pay quite a lot more tax. He's clearly got so much income, he's giving away four million a year to charity, way more than he normally has. He's got lots of disposable income. He doesn't need more help from America's financial system.

So how do you think this plays out for the election?

BLODGET: Well, I think his entire economic plan has been based on the idea that we have to give more money to the job creators, the investors and the entrepreneurs. And that is people like Mitt Romney. But you look at the tax returns, you see how much money there is already. What is more money going to do.

The problem in the economy in the U.S. right now actually is not an investor problem. It is a demand problem. It's that the middle class doesn't have enough money. So if you're going to give someone a tax cut, great. Go to the middle class. There's certainly no evidence actually that tax cuts really help the economy.

MORGAN: In fact, often the reverse is true.

BLODGET: That's right. But if they're going to give a tax cut with the idea that that's going to stimulate the economy, then give it to the middle class, people who need it and will spend it, because Romney will not spend all of it.

MORGAN: What we have then is a clear line of demarcation for this election, don't we? People can now make a real choice between the Romney/Ryan way to go and the Obama way to go.

BLODGET: Absolutely. I think going back to the tax returns, the other issue is that don't forget that Mitt Romney's father came out and said look, any politician should release 12 years of returns. So that was part of what started --

MORGAN: He made his VP candidate, by the way, that he was vetting release ten themselves.

BLODGET: That's right. You want to see it. So now we have the high level details. But the thing is if we got the returns. We dig in, and even if everything was defensible legally, you would find that Mitt Romney has likely taken advantage of some of the most outrageous tax loopholes in the system.

And it would be great if he were to come out and say look, I am -- the first thing I'm going to do is eliminate these loopholes that helped make me incredibly rich because they're ridiculous. But he won't say I'm going to eliminate these loopholes because people will react negatively.

MORGAN: Final word for you, Katie. You haven't spoken this segment. A very, very quick answer, please. Do you ever wish that Mitt Romney was worth about 300 million less, that he was like a regular guy with a regular income, maybe worth three million dollars?

PAVLICH: No. I don't. Because you know what? The reason why Mitt Romney can donate so much to charity and effectively help people through private enterprises and not through a bloated federal government is because he has a lot of money. If Mitt Romney was worth a billion dollars, I would be happy with it. MORGAN: Katie Pavlich, Hilary Rosen and Henry Blodget, thank you all very much.

I can't think of a better country music duo to follow that debate than the following: Big and Rich, coming after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING)

MORGAN: My next guests are side by side in the country music charts. But when it comes to politics, they couldn't be further apart. They're Big and Rich, close friends and polar opposites, one liberal, the other conservative.

BIG KENNY, SINGER: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

MORGAN: Yes?

KENNY: Where you coming from? How do you know that?

MORGAN: Are you or are you not?

JOHN RICH, SINGER: That's a lot to assume.

KENNY: That's a lot to assume.

MORGAN: We'll come to it in a minute. Haven't started the interview yet.

KENNY: We're from the great state of Texas, a man from Virginia.

MORGAN: Mr. Rich has done the show before. You clearly haven't. This is my gig, my stage. And I will finish the introduction.

KENNY: OK. OK. Finish your introduction.

MORGAN: After going their separate ways for several years, they're back together, musically anyway, with a new album, "Hillbilly Jedi." And Big Kenny and John Rich, as you may have gathered, join me now. Welcome, gentlemen.

KENNY: OK, now, whoa, whoa, whoa. Where do you get off?

MORGAN: Let me ask you a direct question. Are you or have you ever been a liberal?

KENNY: I don't know what that is.

MORGAN: That may cause the confusion.

KENNY: What I know is I'm a farm boy raised in Virginia to a dad who was a hard-working man and a mother who taught me music and gave me great lessons in life. And I feel like the sky's our ceiling, the ground is our floor and the world is one big happy home. We ought to just love everybody. How about that? Yeah! MORGAN: There's no room for that kind of thing in this world.

KENNY: People say that about John and I constantly. And we debate about as tough as any two guys can, but we end it always with a cold beverage --

MORGAN: Are you a conservative?

RICH: Yes, I'm a conservative.

MORGAN: Would you categorize him as more of a liberal?

RICH: I would categorize Kenny as an independent actually.

KENNY: I like the word statesman.

MORGAN: Do you vote?

KENNY: Yes. Absolutely. I think everybody should vote.

MORGAN: Who do you vote for normally?

KENNY: I have always voted for the best person, the one that moved me, that I felt would inspire me, would inspire everything else around me.

MORGAN: I feel we're getting off on the wrong footing here.

KENNY: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. You look like you need a hug.

RICH: Piers needs a hug.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Why do I feel I'm losing control of this interview?

RICH: Ladies and gentlemen, piers Morgan receives a hug. My God, is that the first time anyone's hugged you in your life?

MORGAN: Is it time for a commercial break, he cries out desperately. Let's talk politics. I want to talk to you about this for a moment, because the interesting part of your dynamic I think is the fact that you do disagree about politics. You're not afraid to express opinions. Parking who you actually vote for to one side, what are the issues that you really are divided over, would you say?

RICH: I can tell you the issues that -- we tour like crazy, 60 some odd cities this year, all over the United States. So the people that come to our shows, what's really great about making music is 20,000 people out there, it's not a political crowd. These are music lovers, so you got every walk of politics out there.

What we're hearing across the board is I'm going to vote for whoever I think can get my job back. I mean, just these real basic principles that people I think are firing on right now is how do I get my job back, what gets our country back on track, how do we make this a better situation.

I think to Kenny's point, you got two completely different ideologies as to how to do that. Everybody knows that. Barack Obama's got his way of doing it. Romney's proposing a different way to do it. Everybody's in the middle going OK, what are we going to do. I actually think people that voted for Obama are really being hardcore with him about where he's coming from, and people that voted for Republicans in the past are going I don't know, I got to really take a look at this.

To be honest with you, I'm ill, ill and wary of politics. To turn on the TV --

KENNY: We agree. We agree.

RICH: It just almost gives me a headache to think about turning it on. I'm just weary of it. I think Americans in general are, no matter what your affiliation. Honestly, I can't stand most of them regardless of the party.

KENNY: You can take subjects that you would think would start out as John and I are completely far apart. And then once we start discussing it, then you find out how much honestly we both kind of are saying the same thing.

MORGAN: Let's talk about guns, because you, I am guessing from what I've read and heard about you, are pretty pro-the gun lobby. You believe in Americans' rights to bear arms.

RICH: That's the Second Amendment.

MORGAN: I get it. I get it. I respect the Constitution and the Second Amendment. I respect the right of an American to defend themselves in their own homes. I don't respect the right of Americans to go in a movie theater and blow people away --

RICH: Absolutely not. Who respects that? That's not a right to do that. It's a crime.

MORGAN: If you don't do anything to tighten the laws --

RICH: I would liken that to an underage person that scores some alcohol and drinks a fifth of vodka, gets behind the wheel of a car and drives over a bunch of people and kills them. You going to outlaw alcohol and cars?

MORGAN: I find that a fatuous argument.

(CROSS TALK)

KENNY: I was 16 years old before I knew my name wasn't go get wood. If it wasn't for a .22, we wouldn't have ate.

RICH: I can tell you this, as a guy who has a 22 month old son and 11 month old son, I can tell you, if anybody ever breached my home and came in, I would be unloading on them. MORGAN: You would shoot them dead?

RICH: Absolutely. I would unload on them out of protecting my family, protecting what's most important to me. It's my right. It's my duty as their daddy to protect them from evil and violence.

MORGAN: How do you stop the kind of thing we see --

RICH: You understand me, I will never apologize for that, for defending my family, ever.

MORGAN: I hear this from a lot of Americans.

RICH: I don't know how there's a debate.

MORGAN: They tell me keep your limey Brit nose out of it.

RICH: I'd like to go one level deeper on what you said. And I'm glad you brought it up, because there are things out there like that massacre in Colorado that you just -- I don't care what your politics are, what your views are on anything, you shake your head at the inhumanity of what that is. And so this song that we have out called "That's Why I Pray." And it talks about all the things that we're talking about right now, how off the chart they are.

As human beings, you can't even get your head wrapped around it. It's so big that all you can do is pray for better days. And the power of prayer is real. We believe in it. We pray. We pray for better days and hope that other people do, too. That's what this song that's out right now is about. That's why we're talking to you. This song has taken off across America because of the message of it, because exactly what you're talking about.

MORGAN: Your new album, "Hillbilly Jedi." I have no idea what you were on when you came up with that title. But I want some of it.

RICH: You know what a hillbilly is, Piers?

MORGAN: I know what a hillbilly is.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: I never met a hillbilly Jedi. Guys, been a pleasure.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: Thanks for the hug and the kiss.

Coming up, from Brat Pack to backpack; why Andrew McCarthy says travel would teach Americans a lot about the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCARTHY, ACTOR: So one night I got really high on this cheap malt liquor. And I pledged my love to her. The next day she ran of with a bass player named Ringo. So I turned in my bongos for a battered Underwood typewriter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On which you will type your way to becoming one of the most important writers in America.

MCCARTHY: I wouldn't hold your breath.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Andrew McCarthy in "Saint Elmo's Fire." You probably remember him from those Brat Pack days. Another side of this Hollywood actor and director, Andrew McCarthy's also an award winning travel writer. His first book, a memoir, is titled "The Long Way Home, One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down."

He joins me now. Andrew, welcome.

MCCARTHY: Thank you, nice to be here.

MORGAN: Do you hate being part of that Brat Pack from that era? Something that's dogged you for years afterward?

MCCARTHY: I did when it came out, sure, because I remember where I was when I heard the term the first time. And I was like oh, no, oh, no. But it's had a much longer shadow than I ever would have thought. Now it's become, you know, a term of affection, sort of become this iconic thing now. At the time, it was pretty much a pejorative term I think.

MORGAN: Did you ever make up with Rob Lowe, like the old -- like Dean, Sammy, Frank, you all hang out together?

MCCARTHY: Go to Vegas for the weekend, yeah. What happens there. I haven't -- you know, I run into the guys, but not often. I live here. I live a different life. Occasionally but not often. I ran into Jon Crier, the first time in 20 years.

MORGAN: Really? What did you say to each other?

MCCARTHY: "Pretty in Pink," huh, dude? Like yeah. Who would have thunk it, 25 years later, we'd still be talking about "Pretty in Pink."

MORGAN: You ever party with Charlie Sheen?

MCCARTHY: I never met Charlie Sheen. No. A lot of the Brat Pack never met. I know. I haven't met a lot of my Brat Pack buddies.

MORGAN: What I like about you is that you have this sort of weird double life. On the one hand, you are this brat pack actor guy that I remember. Then I found out this whole different Andrew McCarthy. And you're kind of this weird, if you don't mind the expression, loner. You're like disappearing, going off for months, years, traveling around the world. It's not a very American thing to do. I mean, 70 percent of Americans never leave the country. Most of those that do just go to Mexico or Canada, as you point out. You don't. You're one of those guys that gets out there. Why do you do that? What's in it for you? What drives you?

MCCARTHY: Well, it first started happening as a reaction to all that stuff you were just talking about. I'm in my 20s and all this sort of strange, wonderful, weird stuff is happening, and as a reaction to that, I just started traveling. I would go alone, because I was much more comfortable in my own skin alone than in all that sort of pack and media stuff that was happening. So I just started traveling. And I found that I was comfortable there.

MORGAN: You quote the famous Mark Twain line, "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness," which is a brilliant line. It's also -- it's the one big criticism I always have of Americans, because they're reluctant to travel.

MCCARTHY: I think Americans don't travel because they are afraid. I think America is a great country. It's my soapbox. A great, wonderful country, but we're a very fearful country. I think most of our political decisions are all based in fear. And I think if Americans traveled, they would see that the world is a much different place than they are led to believe it is, think it is, and we're very insular. So when I started to travel, it turned my perspective completely out, from being totally in. And I think America would be a much better place if people traveled.

MORGAN: Did it change your perspective of America too?

MCCARTHY: The more I traveled the world, the more I realized America is a great place. And most people in most places love America and Americans. They often don't agree with politics, but they are very welcoming to us as individuals. I know lots of intelligent, smart people that -- and I would invite friends to travel with me. They go no. Wow, that was a quick no. What?

Travel is also habit. Travel obliterated fear in my life. And I had an experience while I was on the road which jolted me into realizing, wow, I react always out of fear. In any decision that I make out of fear is generally a bad one.

MORGAN: You are getting remarried to Dolores. You have been together four years. You have a daughter together. And then in typical Andrew McCarthy style, it seems to me, you got on a plane to Patagonia while wedding planning. What was that all about?

MCCARTHY: Look, come on, Piers. I had -- in fairness to myself, I had to write a travel story for a magazine, but I tend to suffer from the I love you, I got to go syndrome. You know, it's not you, it's me. And so that's really -- the event of the book really is trying to come to terms with I know I love you and want to be connected to you, and yet part of me really wants to go there. And that question of how do we come to terms with intimacy and partnership and all that stuff, and that's what I address in the book. I do that. So it's like this internal journey that plays out in Patagonia and Amazon and kind of Kilimanjaro.

MORGAN: What did you learn about yourself in reality?

MCCARTHY: I learned that you can't really reconcile the two. I can be, yeah, I love you, but I still got to go there, and that's OK.

MORGAN: Your publisher -- I love this description -- said "Andrew charts his passage from ambivalence to confidence, from infidelity and recklessness to acceptance and a deeper understanding of the internal conflicts of his life." You say "a better version of myself comes up when I'm away. I've solved my dilemmas and questions in life by traveling."

MCCARTHY: Yes, I'm not good at sitting around, having coffee and talking about my feelings and things.

MORGAN: But do you to complete strangers in Patagonia?

MCCARTHY: I do. I find strangers tell me extraordinary things. I often spend a lot of time between my ears when I'm away. At home, you construct these safe patterns to keep ourselves insulated from ourselves. But when I'm out there, you know, there's no protection from yourself. I find it an extraordinarily naked experience. I don't find travel escape.

MORGAN: Is Dolores bracing herself for the next dash to the airport? Wake up every morning and say, is he still here?

MCCARTHY: Look, I come back from some trips and she goes, Jesus, we're just getting the rhythm. What are you doing here. So I think it's a mixed blessing.

MORGAN: Does she accept you are just a nomad, that's the way you're going to be?

MCCARTHY: Yeah, I think to a large degree. I mean, she knows I love her and that's part of who I am, part of the package. It's like that's the deal. And it's the best version of me. I come home better than when I left, always.

MORGAN: Andrew, thank you very much. Congrats, because apparently you just won your fourth Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers, a very prestigious award. So well done on that. And your book, "The Longest Way Home, One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down," is available now. Nice to meet you.

MCCARTHY: You too. Thanks.

MORGAN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Yesterday we announced the top ten CNN Heroes of 2012. Each of them will receive 50,000 dollars and a shot at the top honor, CNN Hero of the Year. You get to decide who that person will be.

Here is Anderson Cooper to show you how.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now that we've announced the top ten CNN Heroes of 2012, I want to show you how you can vote for the CNN Hero of the Year. It's very easy.

This is the main page of CNNHeroes.com. Now down here, you will see all top 10 CNN Heroes. Each one will receive 50,000 dollars, plus a shot at becoming CNN Hero of the Year. That's where you come in. Here is how you can vote for your favorite CNN Hero.

As an example, I'm going to randomly click on Razia Jan (ph) over here. You can read a story about her work providing free education to girls in rural Afghanistan. Now the same kind of information will come up if you pick any of the top 10 CNN Heroes.

Once you are ready to pick the person who inspires you the most, click vote, which is in red right over here. A new page then comes up. It shows you all top 10 CNN Heroes. You choose the person you want to vote for. I'm going to see here, just as an example, Leo McCarthy. His photo will show up down here under your selection.

Then you just enter your e-mail over here in step two. You enter the security code and you click on the red box right down here that says vote. You can vote up to 10 times every day with your e-mail address and through Facebook, and then rally your friends by sharing your choice on Facebook over here or on Twitter.

And remember, you can vote from your computer, your phone, your tablet, pretty much any mobile device with a browser. Just go to CNNHeroes.com. We'll reveal your 2012 Hero of the Year during CNN Heroes an All-Star Tribute, which is a CNN tradition that promises to inspire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: An additional 250,000 dollars goes to the CNN Hero of the Year. You can decide who that will be. Meet all the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2012, and vote up to 10 times a day at CNNHeroes.com. Be sure to share your vote on Facebook or Twitter. All 10 will be honored live at CNN Heroes, an All-Star Tribute, hosted by Anderson Cooper, on December 2nd. Only one will be named CNN Hero of the Year.

That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts now.