Return to Transcripts main page


America's Next President: High Stakes for the World

Aired November 6, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour. And welcome to our special one-hour election edition, "America's Next President: High Stakes for the World."

Tonight, across the world, people are watching the greatest political show on Earth. Millions of Americans, black, brown, white, Asian, the ever-changing palette of what is still a nation of immigrants, all lining up for their chance to choose a president.

And after billions of dollars and years of campaigning, and three debates and dozens of crises, it all comes down to one percentage point. That's all that separates President Barack Obama from challenger Mitt Romney in CNN's latest Poll of Polls, which is an average of every poll done over the last few days.

Of course, in the United States, it's the Electoral College that counts, the complex system that weighs voting by states, not by the total number of votes that Americans cast. The president is said to have a bigger lead by that measure.

Mitt Romney is still campaigning in the state with perhaps the tightest race, and that is Ohio, while Barack Obama is in his hometown of Chicago with campaign workers. But whichever man wins, many see this as the most important American election in a generation.

While the problems are huge, the ideas seem small and the ability to change in doubt due to an overarching crisis -- that is broken government.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): If you look back in history, most of the landmark, indeed, existential crises facing the United States were resolved with bipartisan agreement, from voting rights to civil rights and, of course, much more.


AMANPOUR: But today, American government is gridlocked from the budget impasse to immigration, from entitlement reform to climate change. Republicans and Democrats are like a dysfunctional couple, battling over the size of government rather than better government.

So what can America do to fix this? In a moment, I'll ask a man who led the U.S. Senate about how to find a way out of this deadlock. And I'll get the latest on the race from CNN's Candy Crowley.

But first, a look at the other election stories.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): So what makes a great president? Two acclaimed historians paint a portrait of presidential leadership.

And what if Mother Nature could cast a vote? Given the devastation throughout the East Coast, maybe she did, shifting climate change to the front burner.

Then imagine choosing a world leader blindfolded. In Egypt, picking a new pope is child's play.

And finally a politician's best friend.


AMANPOUR: A little baby.


AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a bit. But first we go to chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, who's at the Romney election night headquarters in Boston.

And Candy is one of America's most recognizable and knowledgeable political reporters.

And presumably, that's why she was chosen to host the second presidential debate.

Candy, welcome. You are at Romney headquarters but he's out in the States, campaigning. Why on this last day in those particular states?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: In the end, he chose to go to both Ohio and Pennsylvania. Why? The candidates go out and sometimes campaign on Election Day because they don't want to look back, you know, six months from now, eight months from now and say, oh, I should have gone and done this.

Went to Ohio because very much his chances to be president are tied up in what happens in Ohio. He's been there more than in any other state. So one last try there to kind of rally those that they know will vote for Mitt Romney to get to those polling places.

Why Pennsylvania? Pennsylvania actually hasn't gone for a Republican presidential candidate in decades. But the Romney campaign took a look at Pennsylvania; it has a lot of electoral votes that you just talked about, and said, you know, why not? They feel that there haven't been enough ads on the air to kind of define Romney as President Obama's been quite successful in doing in other states.

And there's a lot of early voting here, Christiane, where voters, for the last 2-3 weeks, have be able to go to the polls and cast early votes. They don't have that in Pennsylvania. More than 90 percent of Pennsylvanians will vote today. And so they took a look in the Romney camp at these closing polls and thought, this is worth a shot. So they went over there.

AMANPOUR: Does it strike you as extraordinary, Candy, that after, really, years of campaigning and, as I said, these billions of dollars that have been spent, we're at this sort of deadlock with one percentage point separating them -- all the money that's been poured in by special interests on both sides, has it been a wash?

CROWLEY: It's -- it looks like it, doesn't it? I mean, in some ways, it's a little bit like the arms race, only put on the political system, which is, well, this guy's spending a billion so I've got to spend a billion.

Nobody wants to be the person that doesn't spend the money, because what happens -- and we saw this happen over the summer -- Mitt Romney was kind out of money, waiting to become the official Republican nominee. So he wasn't up on the air in a lot of states.

President Obama, because he didn't have a challenger at that point in the Democratic Party, put up lots and lots of ads in these really key states, defining Mitt Romney as this corporate, heartless person who doesn't care about the middle class. And it really hurt.

So nobody wants to be the person that sort of unilaterally disarms, if you will, when it comes to these, you know, the money goes to pay for these ads in all of these states. So it is any kind of chance that there would be any limits on campaign spending, sort of ended with the Supreme Court ruling.

So there does not seem, unless Congress wants to get together and pass a law about it, a way to kind of stop (inaudible) what's going on, both in the campaigns as well as outside groups, who are just flooding the airwaves.

AMANPOUR: And all that money and all those ads, but really no overarching vision from either the president or his challenger, no real details about what a second Obama term might look like or what a Romney presidency would look like on the crucial issues?

CROWLEY: Exactly. Mostly voters have a general idea about these two men, and in general about the parties. Democrats favor a little more government and more government sort of duties; Republicans tend to want to shift power back to the states, back to the people. It plays out in a variety of issues that come up, in particular, tax issues and how much people should be taxed.

But in terms of real specifics, you're absolutely right. We didn't get it for Mitt Romney; we have no idea what a second term for President Obama would look like, because there are no details. Why? Because the more details are out there, the more targets there are for attack by the opposition. That's one of the reasons.

And the other reason is the American people understand that no matter what a president wants, when he gets into office, his power is not total. He has to go through Congress.

So even with -- even if there were very specific plans out there, the American people understand that if Congress wants to go up against the president ,they can and they can pretty much stall him. So there are lots of reasons why we get these kind of general campaigns as opposed to any kind of big, bold, broad visions with details behind them.

AMANPOUR: Just a quick thing; I want to get your take on this.

According to all the polls, it looks like if Mitt Romney wins, he will have got a majority of the white vote, while President Obama is getting a majority of the black and Hispanic vote.

What does that say? Is that troubling or is that just demographics?

CROWLEY: I think most Americans would say it's troubling at a certain level. I would tell you that Republicans now will tell you privately some of them publicly that for the future of the Republican Party, there has to be less of this, because the truth is I think it was last year or perhaps the year before, if you look at all the babies born in the U.S., most of them were minorities.

So the majority was minority babies. And so what we're seeing is a shrinking white population. And more and more just kind of a blended culture, where we will, at some point, in the not-too-distant future be a minority majority country.

What does that mean for Republicans? If you are depending largely on white votes -- and Republicans (inaudible) white male voters are their most enthusiastic voters, you need to spread that. I mean, both these -- both of these candidates know that.

What it has meant for Democrats is you have what they call these microtargeting of voters, you know, here's for this specific group; here's for this specific group. And so that tends to also divide America. So I think it's troubling at both kind of a cultural level, but also at a real political level, it's troubling both sides.

AMANPOUR: Candy Crowley, thank you so much. And, of course, we will be watching your position all night. Thank you for being with us on this day.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Christiane. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And now to the heart of the matter and that is broken government. As former majority leader of the United States Senate, Democratic George Mitchell knows both the function and dysfunction of the American government. Mitchell played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process and served as special envoy for Middle East peace under President Obama. And he joins me here right now.

Thank you for joining me.


AMANPOUR: First, am I right? Is the premise correct? Is government broken? Does it need to be fixed?

MITCHELL: It does. But you have to put it in context. It's always been rough. I recently read an article about the 1800 presidential campaign and what Jefferson supporters said about Adams and vice versa.

It was far more personal, insulting and inflammatory than anything that's been said about the candidates this year. It was rough when I was there, 15-20 years ago, not as rough as now though. It is -- it is the worst it's been in my lifetime.

AMANPOUR: And to that point when President Obama exploded onto the -- really the national and the global stage with his speech at the Democratic convention in Boston back in 2004, you know, lobbying for, then John Kerry as the candidate, a much younger President Obama seemed to transcend or want to transcend this partisan politics. Let's just play that.


OBAMA: Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers, who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America.


OBAMA: There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America, there's the United States of America.


AMANPOUR: Great words, but of course there is exactly what he said there wasn't.

MITCHELL: Well, you should also play the tape of Senator McConnell, the Republican leader, saying that the number one objective of Republicans to see that Obama was defeated.

AMANPOUR: Of course, that's --

MITCHELL: It's a two-way street.

AMANPOUR: -- two years ago.

Well, precisely. So in other words, how did it get that bad?

MITCHELL: Well, it didn't -- it started bad. He wasn't able to fix it as well as he hoped and as the American people hoped. Let's all of us hope that in his second term, there will be more of a coming together, a recognition on both sides that the course they're following is destructive to both and, more importantly, to the country.

AMANPOUR: Well, you are a politician and you're very good at looking at the numbers. What is your prediction right now? Who will win?

MITCHELL: Well, I'm not very good at predicting elections. I watch you and the other channels --

AMANPOUR: You've run many elections, Senator.

MITCHELL: I have indeed. I think Obama will win in a close election.

AMANPOUR: A close election?


AMANPOUR: And will that increase the partisan nature of the politics right now? Will that increase the deadlock and the gridlock? Or does that somehow give him the ability to wipe the slate clean as he believes he can?

MITCHELL: I hope it will decrease the partisanship. I think there will be a recognition on both sides that the course they're following is not good for either.

You heard Candy's comments in response to your question about white America and non-whites in America. The Republican Party, if it follows the current course, is on a suicide path, and they're smart enough to change.

Governor Romney changed his positions in the course of a single campaign. That party will adapt and it will not take the same positions over the next few decades that it's taken until now because they have to change as America is changing.

The question is, right now, can people recognize and come together that the national interest requires compromise? Neither side can get all it wants. Not only do we have the country divided about evenly, we also have the situation in the United States where the president, the executive branch, is separate from the legislative branch.

That's unusual, even in democratic nations. It independently elected Congress, independently elected president. They've got to recognize that everyone has a stake in getting something done, and I hope that will be the case in the next term.

AMANPOUR: Before I ask you how you did it with your opposite number, let's just play what Olympia Snowe, who also is a senator from Maine, a moderate Republican, and she's quit. And this is what she told "60 Minutes" was the reason.


SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: If you think about the objective of public service, it's to solve problems. (Inaudible) tax reform, they're not dealing with the debt ceiling crisis. They're not dealing with the automatic cuts. They're not dealing with the expiration of the tax rate. I finally said one day, you know, is there something else we're doing that I'm not aware of?


AMANPOUR: So she is pretty desperate about that. She's known as somebody who has crossed the aisle and does work with the opposite side. I know you hope that things will be better in a second Obama term or under a President Romney. But why? Why do you -- what do you think would change and also how did you do it with your opposite number?

MITCHELL: On the day that I was elected Senate majority leader, I called Bob Dole, who was then the Republican leader, and I asked to go see him. I said to him, I'm here to tell you how I will behave toward you and to ask you to behave in the same way toward me.

And then I made to him a very simple series of commitments. I'll never surprise you. That's a big thing in the Senate. I'll always give you a chance to know what I'm going to do and to think about your response. I'll never try to embarrass you. I'll never criticize you personally, in private or in public. A series of others.

He was delighted. We shook hands. For those six years, not once ever did a harsh word pass between us in public or private, indeed, to this very day. We're still close friends, although we disagreed on issues and policy every single day. So it can be done.

AMANPOUR: It can be done and, as I said, some of the greatest legislation in the United States was all done by bipartisan agreement.

Do you think that that's possible today, because almost nothing has had bipartisan agreement. The things that have been passed recently under President Obama.

MITCHELL: But, look, if Romney wins, it will be because he changed his position during the campaign. He obviously concluded that the far right positions that he took to win the primary were not selling to the American people, the broad middle.

And so he made a clear and calculated decision to shift to a more moderate set of positions. That's why he'll be elected, if he is elected. I don't think he will be, but in that case, that ought to be a lesson for everyone.

On the other hand, if Obama is elected, as I expect, I think both parties will recognize that they have an interest in trying to come together at least sufficiently to solve the major problems, the so-called fiscal cliff that we face and other events in coming months.

They're never going to agree on everything. Nobody wants that. We don't want a one-party system. We want two competitive parties. But competitive within a set of, I guess, constraints that limit the differences to issues and principles and debate them openly and vigorously before the American people.

AMANPOUR: Senator Mitchell, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: In three presidential debates, discussion centered on the U.S. economy and on American foreign policy, but climate change wasn't even mentioned.

And then a massive superstorm slammed into the East Coast and the unspoken issue suddenly changed. The conversation had climate change in it. And it could cause the outcome or other affect the outcome of the election. The ballot box and Mother Nature, when we return.

And before we take a break, let's take a look at Mitt Romney, who is still campaigning as we mentioned. He just arrived in Pittsburgh moments ago, the last stop that he'll make in this 2012 presidential election, near the end of a long road, just a few hours left. We'll be right back.





AMANPOUR (voice-over): Welcome back. You're seeing a live picture of the White House as we continue our program and the coverage of the U.S. election.


AMANPOUR: With Hurricane Sandy battering the East Coast just days before Election Day, the polarizing issue of climate change came to the forefront of America's political conversation. One man even disrupted a speech by Candidate Mitt Romney with shouts about global warming and its connection to superstorm Sandy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): What about climate, that's what caused this monster storm!


AMANPOUR: So you're listening to all of that; the heckler shouted down by chants of "USA, USA!" If ever there was a more vivid example of how divisive this issue is, that was probably it.

And with me now is the former governor of New Jersey, Republican Christine Todd Whitman, to talk about the American politics and also the politics of global climate change. After she was governor, she then became the head of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, under President George W. Bush.

Welcome. Thank you for being here with me.


AMANPOUR: Your reaction, first, to that little piece of video. This man, who was shouted down when he raised the issue of global warming at Mitt Romney's --

WHITMAN: I don't think that's shouting down. Much more than that was a very Mitt Romney group. They didn't want it to be disrupted and they were just overriding him.

Whatever he would have said, they would have done that to him. I don't think --


AMANPOUR: But so you don't think that Mitt Romney, who, as governor, was quite forward-leaning on climate change, and then as candidate, sort of really left that in the dust, so to speak.


AMANPOUR: Do you think that if he's elected, climate change will be on the front burner?

WHITMAN: (Inaudible) going to be on the front burner. I think for him it's going to be the fiscal issues that's confronting the country. We're going to be in the front burner.

But you can't ignore climate when you're talking about fiscal issues, either, because just look at the impact that it's having on New Jersey, on New York, Staten Island, those areas that were just devastated along our East Coast, the most highly populated, densely populated areas of the country, some of them.

Businesses are going to take enormously long time to get back, especially because many of them are mom-and-pops. And they just don't have the insurance to cover it. So there is a fiscal implication here as well as, frankly, I believe, a national security implication that has to be taken into consideration, even as you address fiscal issues.

AMANPOUR: Which one do you think would be more of a political winner, in other words, to galvanize political action, the national security element or the --


WHITMAN: I think they both are, frankly. To me, they both are. They both are enormously important. You know, people tend to vote with their pocketbook and that's what they react to most directly, what affects them in their pocketbooks. So the fiscal issues become very important.

But that, right now, is limited to those places that have had these superstorms or these super tornadoes. And that's one of the outcomes of climate change. There's no reputable scientist who will say this particular storm was due to climate change. What they're saying is this is what climate change causes.

AMANPOUR: These great climate swings.

WHITMAN: Huge --

AMANPOUR: And exacerbating these storms.

WHITMAN: I mean, two hundred-year storms in 14 months. That's the kind of thing more frequent, more severe storms, and droughts and floods.

AMANPOUR: Even though there is that sort of minority of what are known as the climate deniers, the majority of the American people now believe that it's happening, that mankind causes it and that it needs to be addressed.

What is it going to take for leadership in this regard? And do you think we'll see that in the next political cycle?

WHITMAN: Well, the interesting thing is you're seeing a lot happen at the state levels. You know, we say the states are laboratories of democracy. You have some 31 states today that have requirements, for instance, for renewable fuel. Wisconsin has a ballot initiative -- or Michigan -- excuse me -- has a ballot initiative on -- for this election that would require 25 percent renewable fuel standard by 2025.

And California, the week after the election on November the 14th, I think it is, is going to have the largest carbon auction. So states are taking actions. And that's going to start to force the federal government -- make it -- also make it easier for those in the House and the Senate to start to address this issue in a way that makes some sense.

AMANPOUR: How difficult is it when you consider the sort of real state in the balance for both political candidates is Ohio, and there's a lot of coal or a lot of industry and a lot of jobs tied up in that. And it stymies both Republicans and Democrats. How does one get over that hump? How does one -- how does one have change and make it economically sensible?

WHITMAN: Well, one of the ways -- things that you do is you look at something like Ohio, and you look at coal. And you say, look, coal's now 49 -- it's below 50 for the first time in a long time in our overall energy mix. It's always going to be there. We're going to have coal.

What we're going to do, though, is be phasing out the older and dirtier plants and what we have to do is find other jobs for those people and train them and offer that kind of support, transition them to something else.

But we can't continue to say that only for the sake of the job we are going to pollute our atmosphere to a point where we're costing everybody a lot of money as well as health implications and everything else that goes with it. So it's going to be a transition thing.

And, well, you can certainly do it. There's no question, it's not a zero-sum game. It's not either a thriving, healthy, growing economy or a clean and green environment. It can and must be both those things.

AMANPOUR: When you were head of the Environmental Protection Agency, you were pretty much sort of shouted down. You've written about how your party are fundamentalists in that regard, and many other social programs.

Do you think -- I mean, does it make you smile to see how Hurricane Sandy brought a very aggressive Republican governor, Chris Christie of New Jersey, almost into the embrace of the Democratic President Barack Obama, and not only that, into a hug, literally, with Bruce Springsteen?

WHITMAN: Well, I know he was delighted with the hug.

No, nothing about this storm makes me feel good. We still -- our part of the state was pretty badly hit --


AMANPOUR: Is there any hope, though, in that kind of dynamic?

WHITMAN: Yes, because what that showed you -- and I get so mad, Christiane, at the people who go after Chris Christie for that, saying he abandoned -- he abandoned Romney. He didn't do that. What he was saying is I'm governor, and that's the most important thing. My state is really hurting.

The president, in this instance, as far as I'm concerned, is acting in the best faith, in good faith. He also holds all the cards that we need desperately. And I'm going to recognize him when he does a good job. That's the kind of partisanship that you were just talking about earlier with the senator. That's what we need to see more of.

And what discourages me is I've read sort of snide comments from the Left and outright attacks from the Right on Chris Christie for saying good things about Barack Obama, when he deserved it. In this case, he deserved it and we needed it.

AMANPOUR: Governor Whitman, thank you very much for being with us.

WHITMAN: It's a pleasure.

AMANPOUR: Presidential candidates in America, regardless of party, share one unshakable belief, and that is that kissing babies translates into votes. A look at that when we return.

But before we go, another look at the storm that may decide an election. In The Rockaways, part of New York City that was hit hard by Sandy, voters had to cast their ballots in makeshift tents. But as you can see, that didn't stop them. We'll be right back.




AMANPOUR: And when it comes to elections, politicians kissing babies, nobody quite knows when it became an American tradition, but it is as much a part of campaigning as hot dogs, balloons and flag waving. And it's not just an American phenomenon any more. International leaders have started puckering up for the camera. Even some you might not think of as babysitters. Take a look.



OBAMA: You OK there? Aw, come on. (Inaudible).



AMANPOUR: Make of all of that what you will. Surely they know that the kid is always going to steal the show. When we return, a portrait in presidential greatness, two renowned historians provide the brush strokes and delve into the inner workings of the world's most important job.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

British historian and filmmaker Simon Schama has spent half his life in the United States, where he uses his outsider's eye and his insider's expertise to chart the course of American democracy.

Author and historian Robert Caro is now four volumes into his monumental biography of the U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, a study of American presidential power. Caro has twice won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other major book awards.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with me.

I would like to ask you to look back in history and project for and tell us what makes a great president?

Since you've written about one, what makes a great president?

ROBERT CARO, AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN: I think it varies with Lyndon Johnson, in domestic affairs, where he was a great president, but we can't forget the other side -- Vietnam. In domestic affairs, he had such expertise and experience. He had been majority leader of the Senate for six years, the only majority leader who ever made the Senate work. He knew how to get laws passed.

You know, he said in one of his first speeches about civil rights, it's time to write it in the books of law. He looked at himself that way.

AMANPOUR: And, of course, did it with bipartisan support. We were just talking to a successor in terms of majority leader, George Mitchell, who talked to us about how he went to his opposite number and basically they had a deal. We will be polite; we won't surprise each other. Yes, we'll have difference of opinion.

What makes a great president as you look at it from the U.S. perspective, going right back to the beginning?

SIMON SCHAMA, FILMMAKER AND HISTORIAN: Well, you know, rhetoric has got a bad rap, because it sometimes in current parlance, actually, seems to be the opposite of action (ph). But the notion, actually, that the president should not just actually do but explain was there really right from the beginning.

I mean, the -- if we go right back to the invention of the office, under the Constitution, it's important to remember that the worst word in the Declaration of Independence was "king," was "tyrant."

It was easier -- much easier -- to know what you were getting rid of than the kind of magic figure you were conjuring up to represent the unity of states, which under, you know, the Articles of Confederation were notoriously quarrelsome.

And Washington, in inventing and being the incarnation of this figure, magic rhetorical authority, was in a unique position which has never happened again, namely, it did not belong to a party. And he could address Congress as someone who was not party.

The most powerful -- for me -- piece of the farewell address of 1796 is not just, you know, no entangling alliances but the hatred that what -- hatred is too strong -- Washington's deep sense that parties could actually tear the country into pieces.

He called it -- he described -- he described party warfares or the possibility of the way elections would run as alternating domination, which he said itself was a frightful despotism. So you feel these days he's spinning in the grave, in some sense.

AMANPOUR: Well, perhaps he might spin even more if he could hear what some of today's congressional leaders have been saying.

"60 Minutes" this past Sunday had a first-ever joint interview with the leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, the Democrat, and the minority leader, Mitch McConnell.

I'm going to play you what Mitch McConnell said.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Compromise is sometimes very difficult. My 47 members of the Senate have very different views from Harry and his colleagues about how much government we ought to have, how much taxation we ought to have, how much regulation we ought to have.

It is not easy to reach agreement when you have very different views, Steve, of the direction the country ought to take.


AMANPOUR: But Robert Caro, they have always been very different views. I mean, one could say, yes, yes, we've got very different views. But the challenge is to do something.

CARO: Sure. And today, you know, it's a cliche to say we've never had a division like this before.

People who say that are simply forgetting. In Lyndon Johnson's and John Kennedy's days, the division wasn't between parties; it was within the party. Johnson's Democrats, half of them were the Southern Democrats, who controlled the Senate and were opposed to self -- every kind of social welfare legislation and, of course, civil rights.

Johnson had to find a way of -- he wouldn't be saying what Mitch McConnell would say. He would be saying, I got to find some way to get myself 67 votes to break a filibuster, and he did it, over and over.

AMANPOUR: And how did he do it?

CARO: Well, you know, he varied each time. You know, Johnson used a kind of raw power. He got -- he found, in the Senate rules, types of power that no one had ever thought of before, and he also had, of course, a genius. You know, it's a genius. But what -- I'll give you one example.

The Southern -- no civil rights bill has passed the Senate -- it's 1957; he's Senate majority leader. No civil rights bill has passed the United States Senate since Reconstruction, 82 years before. And this bill isn't going to pass, either.

Johnson calls this, as he does. He sits on the telephone, and you know, people who think Johnson talked all the time, they don't listen to the tapes. He listens. And he's listening for something. And you know what he hears?

The one thing they're saying -- they'll never agree to integration in hotels; they'll never agree to integration in restaurants. But you know what they're not mentioning? Voting. And he calls in an aide, Horace Busby. And he says, "They're not mentioning voting. Let's make the act emphasize voting. They'll be ashamed to be against it."

That's an act of genius. And you say, how did he get that first civil rights bill? There's raw power. There's committee assignments, but there's also the genius of hearing that word.

AMANPOUR: And you just mentioned filibuster. I want to play what Harry Reid, the leader of the Senate said in a rather plaintive voice about the filibuster.


HARRY REID (D), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: If you look at what Lyndon Johnson had to do when he was the leader, as I am. It was a different world. Why? You know how many filibusters he had to try to override? One. Me? Two hundred and forty-eight.


AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you described how he got over it.

But how does one deal with that today?

SCHAMA: It's extremely difficult, because we're in a situation which is akin to a religious civil war, really.

But the difference, I think, between the '50s and '60s and I think even the difference from Ronald Reagan's period, because actually the -- even though conservatives now look back on Ronald Reagan as the absolute epitome of ideological purity -- he had a perfectly good working relationship with Tip O'Neill, famously, partly conducted through, you know, personal sense of sympathy.

And Reagan, you know, when you look hard at it, was a much more pragmatic figure than either side often gives him credit for. But what we face now is essentially ideological horns locked, where your devotion, really, to a sense of party doctrine actually matters more than worrying about the efficacy of government.

The real problem is it's a sort of Thomas Jefferson's ultimate nightmare, if by Thomas Jefferson we mean someone for whom America's fate depended on the minimizing of government altogether. It's hard to deal with a group or an ideology that is in government in order to actually gum up the works. That's the real problem.

So a filibuster as a works gumming-up technique, is just the ticket for those who have that particular view.

AMANPOUR: I mean, they even say you don't even have to filibuster these days; you just have to threaten to filibuster. And that grinds everything to a halt.

But here's the issue, of course, and you touched on it. You know, some in the Republican Party say that, actually, the Founding Fathers constructed this whole process in this way that gridlock is good, that this is the way to put the brakes on the sort of hysterical (inaudible) House, and this is how the Senate should work. Gridlock is good?

SCHAMA: They need to read Washington's farewell address in that case, actually, in 1796, where he's at such pains in conjunction with Madison, but he also, of course, was close to Hamilton -- such pains to stress the efficacy of government based on what he kept on calling the unity of the states.

And the unity he didn't want to be institutional. He was -- he would have been horrified at some sense of institutional coercion, a president leaning on Congress. But he felt the sheer intrinsic volatility, the mercurial passions of party could blind people to the kind of things that Bob was just talking about, getting things done.

CARO: On the other hand, if you read the Constitution, the Constitution has -- Christiane just said -- says Congress will make war. Congress will pass treaties, not the president.

What we have seen, really, is the rise of this -- what was called an imperial presidency, but president by president, gradually, and you saw the presidents eroding the power of Congress. In Vietnam, the period I'm writing about right now, we have Lyndon Johnson, you know, going far beyond what Congress authorized him to do, time after time.

Then -- now things are swinging back the other way. They're almost swinging back to what the Founding Fathers intended. If you read the Constitution, gridlock is what they intended.

AMANPOUR: All right. And we will discuss that.

And when we come back, Robert Caro, Simon Schama, hold on; we're taking a break and we're going to have some more thoughts after a break.




AMANPOUR: Back again with historians Robert Caro and Simon Schama; we were just talking about Congress before we took a break. We want to just show you all the relative unpopularity of the United States' Congress. Forty percent of Americans prefer the IRS -- Internal Revenue -- to Congress at 9 percent and only Fidel Castro is less popular than the United States Congress.

SCHAMA: Yes, well, people want America to go Communist.


AMANPOUR: Well, there you go. I mean, it is crazy. And that shows you how bad it is.

What can one man do? What can a president do when faced with the kind of gridlock that he's facing?

CARO: A president can do a lot, and he can do a lot with rhetoric. I'll tell you one speech. Martin Luther King is marching in Selma for voting rights. Voters' rights is really not moving, right? Lyndon Johnson got -- goes before Congress and says, "We shall overcome." They had been singing "We Shall Overcome."

Martin Luther King is watching this speech. He's sitting in the living room of an aide in Selma. When Johnson says, "We shall overcome," Martin Luther King starts to cry. His aide says it's the first time I ever saw Dr. King cry.

Johnson comes down from that -- in that moment, he changes the mood in American, in my opinion. He comes down, as he's walking out, up Congress, Manny Celler, the aged head of the House Judiciary Committee, comes up to him, says, "Mr. President, that was inspiring. I'm going to start hearings on this bill tomorrow."

Johnson jabs the old man in the chest and says, "Start them tonight."

AMANPOUR: Is that remarkable.

CARO: A president can do a lot.

AMANPOUR: Well, what do you say?

SCHAMA: I agree, but I think we're living in a different communications world now, whether we like it or not. We're living in the world of tweets and texts and so on. And there's no doubt at all that the president -- I mean, it's painful for me to hear Barack Obama deliver a flip compliment to Bill Clinton, saying he's the --


SCHAMA: -- explaining stuff. That, you know, who else is supposed to do it except the president?

AMANPOUR: And he hasn't done it well.

SCHAMA: No, he's -- you know, he's done it appallingly, actually, you know, for those -- some of us who actually wanted him to articulate it much better. But he needs -- what there has to be is a kind of rethink of the ways you reach the people through all the digital means available, to put heat on the members of Congress not to be so obstructionist.

AMANPOUR: And what do you think they have to tackle? There's an obviously huge problems. What do they have to tackle right after the election, whether it's a Romney or Obama?

CARO: We have to have a -- we still have a country where 16 percent of the people live in poverty. We are the richest nation on Earth. We have great problems here in the United States that have to be -- and you really hope that they will now start to beat.

And you know, when a president is in the second term, he has no one left to run against; he has nothing left to run for. He's running for history. You say, what is a place in history? It's bending the arc of justice of the -- of social justice towards more justice.

AMANPOUR: And what about the fiscal cliff --


SCHAMA: Oh, now, that's incredibly important. I mean, that -- the fiscal cliff, you know, seems to be the dominant topic that will inevitably occur between the election and the end of the year. It's just the timetable of sequestration is truly terrifying.

There is an opportunity, though, actually, either for a lame duck president or the incoming president because the Republicans are so nervous about the automatic defense cuts, which will come about if there's not some actual movement.

Obviously the issue -- the crucial issue for the incoming administration, whichever it is, is how do you actually honestly tell the truth about the deficit without going into flatlining austerity-driven further damaging a very fragile recovery?

The real problem is how do you actually prevent a double-dip recession from happening just when we think we're out of it while actually facing up to the facts about entitlement reform and, you know, the massive red ink, which is drowning us?

AMANPOUR: Simon Schama, Robert Caro, thank you so much for joining me on Election Day.


AMANPOUR: And while historians weigh the merits of Lincoln, LBJ or the next President of the United States, one thing is not debatable and that is the impact of one ever-growing voting bloc, the rise of the Latino vote in the United States, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And finally tonight, the changing face of America. The number of Hispanics in the United States is exploding and so is their political influence. More than 12 million Latinos are registered to vote in this election. That's up 26 percent from four years ago.

One of the most recent polls shows that 73 percent of likely Hispanic voters will support President Obama, compared to 24 percent for Mitt Romney.

Latino turnout, therefore, could be a decisive force in these elections, and I'd like to bring in now Maria Elena Salinas. She is one of the leading voices in the Hispanic community as news anchor for Univision, the highly rated Spanish language channel in the United States.

Mari Elena, thank you so much for joining me on this Election Day.

What do you -- ?


AMANPOUR: It's great to see you and obviously you're keeping a real close eye on this, because it is probably for the first time could be a decisive factor in this election.

How do you feel about that, being from that community?

SALINAS: Well, for years and years, I think most of us in Univision has been promoting the political participation of our people. We strive for the political empowerment of the Hispanic audience.

And as you mentioned, there are about 23 million eligible voters. There are 15 million actually registered and 12.2 million that are expected to vote.

And really, it's a great success, because this is how we realize that politicians are now paying attention to us. They have spent millions of dollars in advertising in Spanish language media. They have gone out of their way to provide interviews for us, both Romney and Obama participated in a forum that was done by Univision.

Therefore, you know that they understand that they can't win without the Hispanic vote. So I think it's great to see that, finally, they are paying attention to this fastest-growing voting bloc, like you mentioned.

AMANPOUR: So how do you explain, Maria Elena, and you've interviewed all the candidates; you've interviewed President Obama, how do you explain the fact that the Hispanic vote this time has really swept towards President Obama, whereas back, you know, several years ago, it was pretty well split when it was Bush versus Kerry?

SALINAS: Well, traditionally, Latinos have voted Democrat. However, President George W. Bush was able to garner over 40 percent of the Latino vote. That's one of the highest votes that any Republican has ever gotten.

But this time around, it is the disparity is incredible. It is 73 percent, according to the last polls for President Obama and only 24 percent for Governor Romney.

And I think that even though Latinos are disappointed that Obama did not keep his promise for immigration reform and has deported more than 1.2 million immigrants, when they look at the other side, what they see is a candidate whose solution to the immigration problem was to self-deport; who supported SB-1070 in Arizona and who has not been very direct and clear and specific about what he would do with the DREAM results that have qualified for this different action that President Obama put into place.

And so what has not helped Governor Romney is the very negative rhetoric of his party against Hispanics and against immigrants.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you this, and you mentioned immigration. President Obama, when he was interviewed by the "Des Moines Register," thinking he was off the record, said that he would deal with immigration in a second term.

In other words, he made that promise again. He said, "Should I win it, the big reason I will win is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest growing demographic group in this country, the Latino community."

So he said that, and you've explained partly. Do you believe him when he says that he didn't in the first term, despite his promise, will he do comprehensive immigration reform in a second term?

SALINAS: Well, first of all, this is what voters think about 37-38 percent of voters believe that Obama will not have an immigration reform or will not pursue an immigration reform in his second term.

But the number's even larger for Romney, over 50 percent believe that Romney will not do anything to pass through an immigration reform. That will lead a pathway to legalization of 11 million undocumented immigrants.

But the difficult thing for President Obama is going to be, is that Congress is going to be pretty much the same. You're going to continue to have the House controlled by Republicans, and he has not gotten one single Republican to support immigration reform. So it's definitely going to be an uphill battle.

But if -- if -- President Obama wins, and immigration is one of the reasons why he wins, I think that Republicans will have to take a second look unless they just want to lose the Hispanic vote for long term.

AMANPOUR: And we've seen, you know, the graphs point out that by 2050, I think it's a third of the United States will be Hispanic.

Now it's not just in the presidential vote that the power is being deployed; it's in grassroots votes across the country and across the election spectrum.

Where do you think the power of Latinos is being deployed and will be, as we look to the future, from school board to the Senate?

SALINAS: Right. Right now, there are almost 6,000 Hispanic elected officials in the country. It has grown tremendously in the last few years. This time around, there are 11 races with a possible new Hispanic in the House of Representatives; five of those are likely to win. So you are increasing the Hispanic participation and representation in Congress.

But I think there's still a long way to go. And the only way to reach that is, one, to have a greater turnout. In 2008, only about 50 percent of Latinos went out and voted. But also you have to prepare more Hispanics to run for office.

The Republican Party has done a great job at doing that, where we were able to have Marco Rubio, for example, in the last election and two Hispanic governors, one in New Mexico and one in Nevada. But Hispanics need to prepare better.

You know, this is a very young community and it seems like Hispanic youth is more and more engaged. Every 30 seconds a Hispanic turns 18. So, really, the future of this country is in the Latino youth in this moment.

And I think that they are getting better educated. The numbers show it. The data shows it. And with that education will come a civic engagement that will definitely help them in the future.

AMANPOUR: Every 30 seconds. That's an amazing statistic.

Maria Elena Salinas, thank you so much for joining me and you will have a busy night covering tonight's election. Thanks a lot.

SALINAS: Oh, yes, we will.


SALINAS: Thank you. Nice to talk with you.

AMANPOUR: And finally, the Latino vote may indeed prove decisive. But after billions of dollars and years of nonstop campaigning, there has to be a better way. Now imagine electing a world leader by luck of the draw.

In Egypt, the Coptic Church has chosen a new pope. The patriarch of 10 million souls in Egypt and 18 million people worldwide making it the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

The names of the three finalists were put in a glass bowl and a blindfolded boy selected the winner, by chance, fate or divine intervention, despite periods of violent persecution, Egypt's Copts have lived in relative peace with the Muslim majority.

The new president, Mohammed Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has promised to protect their rights. Still, with Islamists shaping the new constitution, Christians, secularists, liberals, women are all anxious about their future. For the new Coptic pope, like the next President of the United States, the real work has just begun.

That's it for tonight's program. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from New York.