Return to Transcripts main page


Reid: We're Headed Over The Cliff; Obama Back In D.C.; Gay Republicans Slam Hagel; Zuckerberg's Private Picture Goes Public

Aired December 27, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, over the cliff. That's where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says we're headed. Can Washington save us with just five days to go?

Plus, a proposal to give guns to school principals is gaining support. We're OUTFRONT with an Arizona sheriff who's backing that plan.

And the 2012 election was all about viral videos, well, tonight we're counting down our favorite political video of the year. Let's go OUTFRONT.

I'm John Avlon in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, a stark warning from Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says we're all headed for fiscal disaster.


SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: If we go over the cliff, and it looks like that's where we're headed, Mr. President, the House of Representatives, as we speak, with four days left before the first of the year, aren't here --


AVLON: We're now told the House will finally return to work on Sunday. Now, that's December 30th. In other words, less than 48 hours before we go over the fiscal cliff.

Meanwhile, President Obama cut his Hawaii vacation short to return to Washington today. But has he been working on a deal? OUTFRONT tonight, reports from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, and senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

Jessica, first, to you, the president's back in Washington, wheels down. He left his Christmas vacation early, but was this just a bit of showmanship, or has he been working on something specific?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Well, today has been a bit of a quiet day here at the White House. Publicly, the president has been scarce, no sign of him. Behind closed doors, I'm told a few meetings internally, but mostly, relatively quiet. I expect we will see more from the president, perhaps we could even see him publicly tomorrow. Perhaps he could even meet with or talk to some of the congressional leaders. The president's role in all of this, he can get each of the leaders to come closer on what the White House believes is already, pretty clearly, the framework for a final deal.

And he can also go out and lobby the American people to pressure Congress to get something done. Again, the Democrats are insistent that they have been clear on the outlines of what a deal would look like, to raise taxes on those earning $250,000 and more, and keep them where they are for everyone else.

The bottom line, John, is with this little time left, is there anything that's going to avert getting us over -- going over the cliff, and the odds makers in Washington really feel at this point, probably not, we're probably going over that cliff -- John.

YELLIN: That is not cheerful news, Jessica.

YELLIN: Sorry.

AVLON: Dana, what are you hearing? Now we just reported earlier that Senators Reid and McConnell, they just met, but now they're saying, it wasn't about the fiscal cliff. What else is there to talk about?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. I think we know exactly what their New Year's Eve plans will be. We're going to be right here. Senator Reid himself said that they did not discuss that. And it seems to be that that is an indication, at least to Republicans here on Capitol Hill, that it is the president's move next to make more clear what Jessica is talking about.

That the president has said publicly, he wants to do as kind of that stopgap, scaled down version. In fact, Mitch McConnell himself said in the hallway, just moments ago, that he does expect to go to the White House, as Jessica just alluded to. He expects to do that tomorrow.

They haven't gotten a formal invitation yet. There's no time set for this meeting tomorrow, but Mitch McConnell says he does expect to go. And so that really does speak to the next move, tomorrow.

AVLON: Well, that is good news. That is good news, Senator McConnell going to the White House tomorrow, hopefully. But I'm going to ask you about the House of Representatives, Dana. Right now they've been called back to Washington, but not until Sunday, December 30th. Now, 48 hours before the fiscal cliff goes over, is that really enough time to get legislation passed, if there's a real deal on the table?

BASH: Is it enough time? Probably. If there's really something that is going to pass the Senate, and this is a big if, as Jessica said, the odds makers are definitely seeing the fiscal cliff happening, us going over the fiscal cliff. But if the Senate does pass something that would be the next move, then the House could pretty easily take it up and pass it on Sunday night or Monday morning, on the actual day of December 31st. I think at this point, it's more of a question of optics.

And Democrats were definitely trying to take advantage today of the fact that the House Republican -- the Republican-led House, rather, is not here and won't be here until Sunday. We all know that what happens here in Washington is that nothing really happens until they're really up against the deadline.

That's why I'm also told by some Democrats who really know what the process is going to be, if there is one, that they don't even see this potentially happening, if there is any kind of legislation that goes before December 1331st, until probably that day, December 31st, because the pressure will have to be on to get enough Republicans in the House and the Senate, to pass this.

AVLON: Right up to the edge. Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Jessica.

Now, right now, the most likely deal on the table seems to be that scaled-down proposal President Obama suggested this passed Friday. Just to recap, extend tax cuts on household income under $250,000, that's 98 percent of Americans, extend unemployment insurance. That's important.

And likely extend the alternative minimum tax fix. But is this bared down plan something House Republicans can really get behind? OUTFRONT tonight to answer that question, Republican Congressman Tom McClintock of California, a member of the House Budget Committee.

Congressman, good to see you. Could you back that scaled back plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff?

REPRESENTATIVE TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: As I said all along, Republicans don't want taxes to go up on anyone. If we have an impasse on January 1st, they go up on everyone.

So at some point, I think that we Republicans have got to realize that if we can't save everybody, we need to try to save as many people as possible. That's not advocating a tax increase.

If a lifeguard sees ten people drowning off his beach and can only save nine of them, it doesn't mean he's drowned the tenth one.

AVLON: You're a strong, fiscal conservative, but part of that problem solvers camp who's not going to let the whole country go off the cliff, but what about your fellow fiscal conservatives? Are there going to be enough of you to support a pared down plan that does raise taxes on 2 percent of Americans?

MCCLINTOCK: No, it doesn't raise taxes. Those tax increases will go into effect. There's no bill before the Congress that raises taxes. There are many bills that are trying to stop those taxes in various forms. And let me be clear. I think the president's plan is an absolute disaster.

A lot of those wealthy folks earning over $200,000 aren't even folks. They're small businesses filing under sub-chapter "S," some 84 percent of net business income is affected by this tax increase. That's the income they use to create and expand two-thirds of the jobs in our economy.

That is an absolutely insane economic policy, but that's at the core of what the president is trying to do. The CBO is warning us, 200,000 jobs will be destroyed by this policy. But if we can't stop it, the best we can do is offer every warning we can and then try and save as many other taxpayers as possible.

AVLON: Do you think the White House should add a little sweetener to the deal for some conservatives? For example, stalling the sequestration cuts and extending the current estate tax rates?

MCCLINTOCK: I don't want to see the sequestration tax cuts stalled quite the contrary. This is a spending problem. We've seen a 64 percent increase in federal spending over the past decade. Nearly twice the rate of inflation and population growth combined. These sequestration cuts aren't even cuts at all. They simply slow the rate to 1.5 percent. That's not a step off the cliff, that's a step back from the cliff.

AVLON: All right, unlike a lot of your conservatives, you want the sequestration cuts to go ahead even on defense. I'm just getting breaking news that the president --

MCCLINTOCK: Well, just remember, on defense, we are now spending substantially more, inflation adjusted, at the height of the Vietnam War, when we were waging the cold war and we had 500,000 troops in the field.

AVLON: Well, CNN has just confirmed, Congressman, that the White House, the president will meet with the congressional leadership, both parties tomorrow at the White House. What do you think they need to put on the table and get done tomorrow? What do you want to hear them say?

MCCLINTOCK: John, when did we stop teaching civics in our schools? The president is not supposed to be part of the deliberative process. He heads an entirely separate branch of government with an altogether different purpose.

I think we need to go back to the way the government was designed to operate, and that is the deliberative function, in the legislative branch, both the House and the Senate, acting independently and then resolving their differences through conference.

That process works, it works very well. This business of a couple of legislative leaders and the president going behind closed doors, coming up with some clever scheme, and then dropping it in the laps of the Congress for a take it or leave it vote produces bad policy. In fact, bad process also produces bad policy, and that's what we're seeing. AVLON: Congressman, we've been seeing virtually no progress to date, but I hope folks have your optimism about not going over the cliff because of the disastrous implications. Congressman McClintock, thank you for coming OUTFRONT tonight.

MCCLINTOCK: Thanks for having me, John.

AVLON: Still to come, former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel hasn't even been formally nominated to be the next defense secretary, and he's already taking right hooks from members of his own party, but do the attacks add up?

Plus, new questions about Facebook's privacy settings after Mark Zuckerberg's own sister complains about a private photo that went very public.

And we count down our favorite viral videos of the 2012 election. I guarantee some of your favorites made that list.


AVLON: Our second story OUTFRONT, is Chuck Hagel's nomination dead on arrival? Now Hagel, the former Republican senator and Vietnam War hero, could be President Obama's choice to be the next defense secretary.

But today he's under attack by a group of gay Republicans known as the "Log Cabin Republicans." Now, this full-page ad said Hagel's wrong for the job because of a statement he made back in 1998, when he questioned whether, in his words, a quote, "openly, aggressively gay nominee" could be an effective U.S. ambassador.

Now, a lot's changed since then, and Hagel has since apologized, though that has also come under attack for his somewhat controversial beliefs on Israel, Iraq, and Iran. Are these attacks justified, or is he just the latest political target in an ugly game of gotcha politics.

OUTFRONT tonight, CNN contributor, Reihan Salam, Roland Martin and Ana Navarro, all-star panel. All right, listen, Reihan, let me start with you. Let's look at just Chuck Hagel's credentials.

A Vietnam War veteran, as I said, two purple hearts, a former member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Now that's more military experience than most secretaries of defense.

Hagel himself has argued that that position should be filled with someone who's been a grunt, on the ground, and knows those concerns. How can you argue that he's not qualified for the job?

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are a lot of folks who are saying that he doesn't have the military experience. If you look at someone like Ashton Carter, they have been in the Defense Department, they're solid, reliable Democrats, they know it in and out, and might be better choices for the department. But there are a lot of conservatives who are attacking Hagel on policy grounds, and one argument we haven't heard a lot of, which is that when you look at Zoe Baird, Tom Daschle, a lot of other nominees in the past who have been attacked, they've been attacked for personal reasons.

Who they've hired to be their babysitter or something like that and here we're having an open argument about Chuck Hagel's of ideological views and commitments. That seems like a pretty reasonable thing to be doing.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And you have three lines of attack with former Senator Chuck Hagel. You have the comments as it relates to the aggressively gay ambassadors, which I'm still trying to figure out, aggressively gay.

AVLON: It was out at a time --

MARTIN: I know. So you have that line then, of course, you have the folks who are attacking him, when it comes to policy. But then you have Democrats who really are angry with the president by saying, my God, why do you Democrats keep trying to find Republicans to be your secretaries of defense. Can't you find a Democrat to do it because Bill Clinton, of course, had Bill Cohen, so he's getting hit from so many different sides --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's getting -- and he's getting hit from Republicans. He's getting hit from every side. I really think it was an obtuse choice. And what the one House has done in floating his name and then being MIA.

So, yes, Chuck Hagel's nomination is DOA and in the meantime, the White House is MIA. He's got to work really, really hard to find a nominee who is offensive to Democrat-based constituencies like gay advocates, like Israel advocates, like environmentalists and who's also offensive to Republicans. You really have to work hard to find that combination.

AVLON: I think --

SALAM: That's a totally strong point. He has no one in his corner, basically, except the president.

NAVARRO: And you talked about Bill Cohen as secretary of defense. Did you know Bill Cohen got nominated and approved, unanimously, by the U.S. Senate? That guy --

SALAM: John Kerry is liked by more Republicans than this guy.

NAVARRO: Chuck Schumer won't support --

AVLON: A very different time. But we've got a record of Democratic presidents picking Republicans to be secretary of defense, Bill Cohen. This should fall --

MARTIN: They have a record of picking Democrats. AVLON: That is, in fact, the case. But let me ask you this, Ana. As a Republican because you raise the point that no one's coming to his defense, that's not really the case. There are a whole bunch coming to his defense, a bipartisan group of former secretaries of defense, let me name a few.

They co-signed a letter in "The Washington Post" and let me read what they said, "We strongly object, as a matter of substance and as a matter of principle, to the attacks on the character of former Senator Chuck Hagel. Mr. Hagel is a man of unshakable character and integrity who has served his country in the most distinguished manner in peace and war."

That is a bipartisan group of highly respected people. Why shouldn't those voices be as loud as special interests waging a campaign against Chuck Hagel?

NAVARRO: I don't think gay advocates, I don't think Israel advocates are special interest. They are incredibly important base constituencies to the Democrat Party. They are also very significant in our society. They are people -- and let's also talk about this, with the gay comment he made.

First of all, I think it shows a tremendous bias. I don't know what aggressively gay is, I can only describe it as aggressively stupid. I asked every gay friend of mine to be aggressively gay, and have still not been able to get an answer.

And the next secretary of defense will have to implement the full integration of gays openly into the military.

MARTIN: What's your list? Not a single one of those folks, they have a vote. So if real issue is, will you have senators who come out and step up, and again, just like we discussed last night with Susan Rice, the president, he needs to say, if this is my guy, nominate him.

AVLON: And there's a problem, because the president does need to back these folks. There is an outreach to the Republicans. That's part of the irony. But Reihan, you mentioned that he's come under fire for his views on Israel.

I went back and read Chuck Hagel's memoir, and I want to read you a quote on Israel in the book. He said, quote, "There is one important given in peace negotiations, it's not negotiable. A comprehensive solution should not include any compromise, regarding Israel's Jewish identity, which must be assured. The Israeli people must be freeway to live in peace and security." That sounds pretty pro-Israel, doesn't it?

SALAM: It sure does, and there are many other statements that sound less so, including the talk about direct negotiation with Hamas. That's a position that many people find very controversial, indeed.

Those are all people who many people have believed want the United States to distance itself from Israel and be a more even-handed broker between Israel and its Arab rivals. Now, that is a controversial view.

And what we've seen happen is the people who are backing Hagel are people who want the United States to be even handed, rather than to primarily be an ally in the state of Israel.

AVLON: I've got to tell you guys, what really is going on here, and I think you'll all agree. That Chuck Hagel was a vocal Republican critic of Bush administration foreign policy during the Iraq war.

NAVARRO: I don't think so, John. I think he's got his own backing.

MARTIN: The Republicans being proposed by a potential Democratic president. So, again, you can't satisfy anybody. That's his biggest problem. He has no backers.

NAVARRO: Bill Clinton did that and got unanimous vote for Bill Cohen. How can you make that argument?

MARTIN: Because of what John's just saying, more civil times.

NAVARRO: And by the way --

MARTIN: That's why.

NAVARRO: And Hillary Clinton got great support from the Republicans.

AVLON: And so did John Kerry.

MARTIN: Your point was on it. Bottom line is, the criticism about him, by fellow Republicans, because of Iraq, and Iraq, that's why.

NAVARRO: Chuck Hagel dug his grave. He's got to lie in it.

SALAM: Easy with the grave talk.

AVLON: He made his bed, he should sleep in it.

SALAM: Hasn't even been nominated.

AVLON: OUTFRONT next, new concerns about Facebook's privacy settings. Mark Zuckerberg's own sister learned about them the hard way.


AVLON: Our third story, OUTFRONT, Zuckerberg's privacy settings, Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, posted this photo on her own Facebook page, and thought only her friends would see it.

It's a shot of her family, reacting to a new Facebook app called "Poke," and it wound up going very public. The photo has since been taken down, but not before websites like published it far and wide.

Now, an irony, to be sure, but it does raise a lot of questions about Facebook privacy. CNN's Josh Levs is OUTFRONT on this story tonight. Josh, break it down for us. How did this happen?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you know, John, it's such an innocent photo. There's nothing at all salacious about it, but I'll tell you what happened. Because this is getting a lot of people talking about their own photos as well and the privacy that goes along with it.

So one of two things happened, she posted it on Facebook, that much we know. Maybe she mistakenly posted it so that all of her subscribers could see it, which is a bigger list than just your friends. The other possibility and a lot of people don't realize Facebook works this way.

She posted it, and then one of her friends, who legitimately got to see it, commented on it and liked it, and in doing that, all of that person's friends got to see it. Because if you don't tell Facebook you don't want it to work that way, that's how it works.

So one of her subscribers liked it, put it on Twitter, and it made her angry. She said, quote, "not sure where you got this photo. I posted it only to friends on FB. You re-posting it to Twitter is way uncool."

And then she went on to say, "Digital etiquette, always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly." She said, "It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency."

And the woman who posted, John, she said, "I didn't mean to do anything wrong. I thought it was public. I really liked it. I think it's endearing, I'm sorry. There you go.

AVLON: Way uncool, I love it, titans of industry, "way uncool." But Facebook just published guidelines on this very thing.

LEVS: Yes, in fact, they just published brand-new guidelines very recently. We talk you through them at And I'll tell you some of them are really popular, that now in the sense that it should be easier for you to get photos that you don't like of yourself removed.

But there are still some controversies about that. So John, it's not enough. This is going to be the eternal tussle, the eternal struggle around social media not enough for everybody because the value of true social media lies in your information.

AVLON: Well, Josh Levs on the latest Facebook flap. Thank you for coming OUTFRONT.

OUTFRONT next, arming our school principals. It's a plan that is gaining support around the country. We are going to talk to an Arizona sheriff who backs the plan.

And we also count down to the top political viral videos of the year. How many your favorites made the list? Find out, next.


AVLON: Breaking news tonight. Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf has died in Tampa, Florida. He was 78 years old.

We're just getting a statement by President George H.W. Bush, for whom he was commander of U.S. Central Command.

It reads, quote, "Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot, and one of the great military leaders of his generation. A distinguished member of that long, great line hailing from West Point, General Norm Schwarzkopf to me epitomized the duty, service, country creed, that has defined our freedom and seeing this great nation to our most trying international crises. More than that, he was a good and decent man and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife, Brenda, and his wonderful family."

Very sad news for the country.

We start our second half of our show with the other stories we're watching tonight.

Former President George H.W. Bush remains in intensive care at a Houston hospital, where he's been treated for a fever. A Bush family spokesman tells our Miguel Marquez that doctors are in no hurry to rush him out and aren't offering a guess as to when he'll be about of the ICU. He also says the former president is not on a ventilator and is good spirits.

Bush's chief of staff also sent out a note of reassurance, telling supporters his boss' condition is not dire, and asking them to, quote, "please put the harps back in the closet."

The city of Newtown, Connecticut, has received so many gifts since the December 14th shooting at sandy hook elementary that a local official has asked people to stop sending items like teddy bears and blankets, because postal workers can't handle the volume. The official says people should donate the items to needy children and families in their own communities instead.

Another sign that people are truly worried about the fiscal cliff, an index that tracks consumer confidence fell more than expected in December to 65.1. Now, that's down from 71.5 reading in November, and well below the estimate of 70.

Barclay's economist Deen Mackey tells us, consumers, quote, "recognize they face a large, potential drop in income if no agreement on the fiscal cliff is reached soon." Let's hope Washington is listening.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson has announced that she will step down from her post after the president's State of the Union Address in January. In a statement, Jackson says she's leaving the EPA, quote, "confident the ship is sailing in the right direction." Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign a bill that bars the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families. He said he'll first study the final text of the bill, but says he sees no reason not to sign it. The law is a big deal for many Americans. Nearly a thousand Russian children were adopted here in just the last year alone.

The move is largely seen as retaliation for a law President Obama signed that restricts Russian human rights abusers from traveling to the U.S.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT tonight: arming our school principals, a proposal by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to give guns to school principals is gaining some support.

Horne says school shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut, could be prevented if a school employee were armed and trained to use a gun. At least 36 investigators and three sheriffs are now backing the proposal, including Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Arizona, who's written, "The NRA is correct. We need a cop in every school. We have a people problem, not a gun problem."

Sheriff Paul Babeu is OUTFRONT tonight.

Sheriff, thank you for joining us.


AVLON: Sheriff, I understand the attractiveness of this proposal -- an armed guard, a school member training with a weapon.

But let's look at the facts, going back to Columbine and Virginia Tech. Columbine, they had two armed guards on the campus at the time, Virginia Tech had 34 armed guards. And yet, 13 were killed in Columbine, 32 killed at Virginia Tech.

So the evidence, Sheriff, suggests that armed guards on campus do not stop school massacre.

BABEU: Well, you see a school that I grew up in, there was just one building. And some of these campuses or college campuses, as you point out, there could be eight, there could be 20-some odd buildings.

And to my point, as training and arming designated school administrators or designated teachers, not everyone. Some school districts may not want to do this, but for those who do, law enforcement provides them that training, and they would be a critical, immediate response to an active shooter, because these safe school zones with the Gun-Free Safe School Act of 1990 and '95 created this thousand-foot perimeter around our schools, and it did some good, yet what it's done is create this sitting duck zone.

And, basically, the only people who are going to follow not only the 20,000 plus laws and regulations already restricting gun ownership and weapons, are criminals and those who are mentally ill, that see these as alluring targets and magnets to create these mass murders. AVLON: But, Sheriff, you know, the presence of two armed guards at Columbine and 34 Virginia Tech, that didn't deter these crazed gunmen in those times. Doesn't that precedent caused you to question the logic of your proposal?

BABEU: It doesn't. And here's why. And this is a black mark on us in law enforcement. Our tactics have changed. Back then, just in the last 10 years, that we used to have, in Columbine, here's where, there were cops outside that building, as additional people were being shot and bleeding out, for some time while the SWAT team rallied, developed a plan, and then went in.

And here's where today, if I'm the only deputy that shows up to your school or a mall or a church or whatever it may be, that I run in, and that while everybody is running that way, I run in towards the threat, and to mitigate or eliminate the threat, whether it's one or multiple assailants.

And so, this is where some of our schools, right here in Pinal County, there's not just one building, there's an entire campus. And there are several levels. And this is where people we already trust, who have extensive criminal background checks, we have their fingerprints, they know the schools -- I'm talking administrators and teachers, and they love our students, why not these people that we trust, if they would like to, is provide them the training, so not keep a weapon in a lock box, but actually armed and concealed, so they can defend their own lives and the lives of our children.

AVLON: I'm going to move on to another point, because the president of NRA, David Keene --

BABEU: Sure.

AVLON: -- was on with Carol Costello earlier today and talked about his vision for how this proposal could be implemented. Let's take a listen.


DAVID KEENE, NRA PRESIDENT: When Wayne LaPierre spoke about a week ago, he suggested that what has to happen, and what should happen, is that in every school district, administrators, teachers, and parents should sit down and ask, what's needed to protect the students in that school. Some of them will want police officers there. Others of them will want private security guards. There may be some places where they want volunteers to do it. We're willing to work with everybody.


AVLON: Are you comfortable, Sheriff, with the sort of patchwork vision of how this could work? Because in New York, in August, there was a shooting outside the Empire State Building, and highly trained New York City police officers ended up wounding nine bystanders. Doesn't that create also a dangerous precedent that's worth some concern and caution? BABEU: No. Because here's -- what's the alternative? Twenty students massacred, six administrators, teachers?

This is going to happen again and again and some people out there are trying to be thoughtful and say, well, let's restrict gun ownership or possession or the size and capacity of magazines -- thinking somehow that this will improve school safety.

It will not. And so, I'm trying to be realistic, is how can we do it? When you refer to New York City -- some of the key elements in safety, in law enforcement officers are trained in this, and should be far more disciplined. And not to criticize these New York officers, but you always watch your backstop, and anybody in your environment, before you fire at anybody.

AVLON: Sure.

BABEU: And so, every police officer, just because we wear a badge, we're not superheroes. It takes discipline and it takes training and then you expect, in a crisis, that we can perform at least to the levels that we've trained at.

AVLON: Well, that's the hope. Sheriff, one final thing for you. I want to read you a quote --


AVLON: -- from Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who said back in 1957, "It will be a sad day for this country if children can safely attend their classes only under the protection of armed guards."

What does that voice from the past say to you about today's America and your proposal?

BABEU: Well, circumstances -- circumstances certainly have changed. Do I want to see a teacher or a principal be armed? I don't. But this is a circumstance and the threat that we're presented with today.

The same way, would we ever imagine asking pilots who are charged with this awesome responsibility of flying an aircraft, and yet here today, because I fly armed, I have to meet the pilots, and they say, sheriff, I'm armed. The other pilot, sheriff, I'm armed. And so, they, as well, have taken on this additional duty.

And so, in the environment that we're in, what's the alternative? And that's where we have to have this conversation, as a nation, about, is gun laws and further restrictions, when we already have 20,000-plus laws and regulations? That's not going to work, because 99.9 percent of all gun owners follow the laws. It's these people who are mentally ill, and this is where we should have a conversation about addressing mentally ill people and doing something about it and empowering law enforcement to do something.

AVLON: Sheriff Babeu, thank you for coming OUTFRONT tonight. OUTFRONT next: we look back at our favorite political viral videos of the 2012 election. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

And America isn't as divided as Washington would have you believe. We find a glimmer of hope in the Midwest.


AVLON: Now let's check in with Randi Kaye, who's in for Anderson Cooper with a look ahead at what's on "A.C. 360" -- Randi.


We're keeping them honest ton the program. A "360 Follow" on a story that stunned all of us. People who are trying to capitalize on the tragedy of Newtown. Tonight, there's been an arrest. This woman, Nouel Alba, has been arrested with lying to federal agents investigating her for fraudulent fundraising. You'll hear some of the things that she sent out on her e-mails, playing on people's kindness, trying to get money.

Also ahead, late word that President Obama will meet with congressional leaders tomorrow. Keeping them honest, with both sides caught in a trap of their own making? We'll go live to the White House and Capitol Hill for the latest.

And take a look at this, a tornado from the storm system that created holiday havoc throughout the country and it's not over yet.

Those stories and our countdown begins toward the top "Ridiculist" of 2012. It's all at the top of the hour, John.

AVLON: Thank you, Randi. We'll be watching. Appreciate it.

Our fifth story, OUTFRONT tonight, the viral political videos of 2012. Now, there was no shortage of partisan noise this year, from political ads to the countless stump speeches. But we here at OUTFRONT have picked the top five videos that really got folks talking around the water cooler.

Here to them down: Will Cain, Roland Martin, Pete Dominick, all- star contributors.

We're going to have some fun with this, because viral videos really did define this campaign. To a very large extent, they help shape the debate. And, often it's a slip on the stump that gets picked up.

Let's listen to one of Obama's slip that got turned into a whole Internet dynamic. You didn't build that.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody helped to create this unbelievable system that we had that allowed you to thrive. Someone invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, that -- you didn't build that.


AVLON: Now, that was turned into this viral video by PolitiZoid, with over a million views, easily. Let's watch it.


OBAMA (voice-over): I'm Barack Obama, those ads, taking my words about small business out of context, they're flat-out wrong.

If you've been successful, you didn't get that on your own.


AVLON: Getting pretty inventive there.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm glad we really started on a light note. We could have built some camaraderie. Now I have to come out of the gates and tell you, it wasn't out of context. Make my argument, give me three minutes, I'll prove to you it meant exactly --


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, stop. Will, seriously. I'm at the Republican national convention and they're holding their signs up, "You didn't build that." Yes, I'm going, yes, you're right, they built it in China, stop it, OK, stop it.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean, if you look at all the fact checking organizations say, you know, it was totally taken out of context and very misleading, but I really wish we had those three minutes for Will to rehash the whole "you didn't build that" --


DOMINICK: Please, never revisit that, you didn't build that.

AVLON: Well, I'll tell you one thing, the viral videos helped spread the word about it.

Now, number four, our old friend Herman Cain, a lot of us were afraid after his Pokemon concession speech, we'd never hear from him again, but he does have a life after the presidential campaign. This video involving chickens.


UNIDENTIFIED KID: Is the average American taxpayer feeding big government?


UNIDENTIFIED KID: Any questions?

(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: I've got a lot of questions. That is so weird.

DOMINICK: I totally get that video. See, the guy represents the American people, the chicken represents big government, and Herman Cain represents nobody ever, because he'll never get elected to anything, ever.

MARTIN: You talk to Herman, he still swears, he would have been the Republican nominee. And I'm sitting there going, Herman, seriously, you need a mental checkup.

CAIN: There's something in there that explains why we like Herman Cain.

AVLON: Yes, something, somewhere in there. But, Will, sad reality, briefly, he was the Republican front-runner.

MARTIN: Everybody was the Republican front-runner! Will was!

DOMINICK: Never have chicken wings at a Godfather's Pizza.

AVLON: Now, the next viral video is actually a subject near and dear to Roland Martin's heart, with Sarah Silverman as a spokeswoman for voter ID.

MARTIN: That's a good one.


SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: You know, a lot of these laws require you to have a state-issued picture ID, like a driver's license. But more than 21 million Americans don't have driver's licenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about my Social Security card? I've been using it for 70 years.

SILVERMAN: No photo, no voto. I'm on to your shenanigans, Murray, Gershans (ph), if that is your real name.


CAIN: Let me tell you about out of context, you picked a clean 30 seconds out of the -- I played that, made the mistake today of playing that in front of my children and I had no idea what I was getting into. It was learning words.

DOMINICK: It proves that comedians, great comedians, through great comedy, can explain the situation. She was talking about non- existence of voter fraud, he does through comedy and she really gets the point across to people with very little attention.

AVLON: Millions of people.

MARTIN: But voter ID wasn't targeted at Sarah, it was people who look like me, so, Sarah could have --

DOMINICK: What are you saying?

MARTIN: I'm just saying.

DOMINICK: What are you saying?

MARTIN: Put a brother in that video, it would have been true.

AVLON: We didn't show the whole video.

MARTIN: Right, right, the R-rated version. I got you. I understand.

DOMINICK: There was plenty of representation, to just about everyone.

AVLON: Roland's fighting the good fight. Some people are doing it, via comedy on viral video.

Next viral video, you got to love. Early on, help set the terms of the debate in some extent by ripping off an old Eminem tune. Will the real Mitt Romney stand up?


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like being able to fire people.



ROMNEY: You're fired?


MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: I love Mitt Romney.

ROMNEY: I love cars. I love lakes.

I'm running for office for Pete's sake.

With regards to abortion, pro-life, pro-choice.

I firmly believe in my own singing voice.



AVLON: I mean, that is close to a work of art. They made it rhyme.

MARTIN: Romney looked like has some rhythm. That wins an Emmy. DOMINICK: Yes, they made it seem like he had a lot of personality in that video. By the way, the "I didn't fire", also taken out of context. I'll give you that, Will Cain. Firing people taken out of context.

CAIN: I saw someone write about Romney once, he's authentically inauthentic.


MARTIN: That dude has no rhythm whatsoever, none. He has a blank iPod. None.

DOMINICK: He works great with children.

MARTIN: Got you.

AVLON: And some people said, a malfunctioning automaton. But they made it really memorable with that Eminem tune. I wonder if he got royalties off that.

DOMINICK: Why would he sing? He should know.

AVLON: "America the Beautiful"?

DOMINICK: He was so careful about so many choices. The president can sing. He shouldn't have.


DOMINICK: Well, I think we're going to talk about that, too.

CAIN: Yes, speaking of dancing.

DOMINICK: Do we have politicians dancing videos?

AVLON: You know, mercifully, we have been largely spared, but it does speak -- I mean, this is the new normal, right? This is the way debates are going to be conducted. If folks tune, because in this case, it did seize on something early on. Who is the real Mitt Romney? That was a question a lot of folks had going into the final hours of Election Day.

MARTIN: All right.

AVLON: I'm telling you.

All right. Unexpected choice for number one, but a clear favorite of the OUTFRONT team, Alan Simpson going "Gangnam Style". Let's watch it.


ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Stop Instagraming your breakfast and getting on YouTube so you can see "Gangnam Style".


SIMPSON: I got a bum knee.

The lasso again, and then the horse back. Horse, horse! The ways the cowboys ride it, the cowboys ride it.


AVLON: There's just so much awesome about that. That was for a group called the Can Kicks Back to raise awareness about deficit.

MARTIN: What was awesome about that?

AVLON: Everything.

DOMINICK: Roland is right. There was nothing awesome about that.

CAIN: As a matter of fact, Roland is right, John. There's nothing awesome about that.

MARTIN: Nothing.

DOMINICK: John's problem is inside, he's a very old man, too. I mean, it proves old people should really -- really old people should never use social media.

CAIN: You're right. Internally, an old man who is obsessed in debt and deficits.


MARTIN: Where's the awesome in that? He's going to do the Hammer dance?

AVLON: First of all, Alan Simpson is one of these great public servant who will say or do whatever it takes to get people's attention on issues that really matter. And this group that sponsored this is actually a millennial group called the Can Kicks Back. If Alan Simpson -- now, it's not 200 million views, but I got to tell you, I love it.

MARTIN: We can leave right now.


MARTIN: John, what are you talking about?

DOMINICK: I wish we could see Al Franken dancing in a unitard to bring attention to the Violence Against Women Act. That would be fantastic.

MARTIN: He made the cut?

DOMINICK: Senator Franken?

AVLON: More senators? Do it next year and make the cut.

MARTIN: Who picked the list? You did, John?

AVLON: We all did it.

OUTFRONT next, a Rust Belt bright spot in 2013. We're going to take you there, next.


AVLON: Will Washington's division and dysfunction threatens our economic recovery? Some American cities are working their way back after decades of tough times. Recently, I traveled to Youngstown, Ohio, and caught a glimpse of hope deep in the Rust Belt.


AVLON: So, this is your father's first restaurant?


AVLON: What street was it, do you remember?

PHILLIPS: Wick (ph) Avenue.

AVLON: Wick Avenue.

PHILLIPS: Yes, I've seen it in many different phases.

But he taught himself English. He taught himself to read the newspaper, and he became a very successful businessman -- as he would say, only in America.

Youngstown was prosperous, and downtown Youngstown was really prosperous. It was wonderful to go to downtown Youngstown and be all dressed up in gloves and hat and going in and out of the shops and having lunch downtown. It was -- it was exciting.


AVLON: Thank you for joining us.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.