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Will State of the Union Further Divide Us; Christopher Dorner: Vigilante Hero; Ted Nugent Invited to the State of the Union

Aired February 12, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our new half hour show "Talk Back", three hot topics, great guests, your comments. So let's start the conversation.

"Talk Back" question number one: "Will the State of the Union further divide us?" Get ready for one bizarre night. Ted Nugent the gun loving rocker who once called the Obama administration vile, evil and America-hating will be among the special guests. So will dozens of gun violence survivors.

As for the President's speech, as Politico put it, it will be less a presidential olive branch than a congressional cattle prod. The President's goal -- to force Republicans into accepting more tax hikes and fewer budget cuts. In short it looks like there will be absolutely no kumbaya moments tonight.

"Talk Back" question: "Will the State of the Union further divide us?"

Let's start with you Roland.


COSTELLO: Oh actually I should introduce all of you first right.

MARTIN: That might -- that might help, sure Carol.

COSTELLO: OK, let me introduce you and then I will get to you, Roland. Here to talk back, CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro; Tea Party Express Chairwoman, Amy Kremer; CNN contributor Pete Dominick; and CNN political analyst, Roland Martin.

So, Roland, I ask you again: Will the State of the Union further divide us?

MARTIN: No. Last I checked, Republicans have the House, Democrats have the Senate. They have, of course, the -- the White House as well. So we're already divided. So how can we divide even more so? What, we are going to form a third party after tonight? I don't think so.

COSTELLO: Hey, let's talk to the Tea Party Express chairwoman after that comment. What do you think, Amy? AMY KREMER, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: No. I think it's actually historic, that we have two Tea Party senators responding to President Obama's State of the Union Address tonight. That's a huge victory for us and it shows the strengths of this movement. We have no -- we do not want to form a third party.

But the Republican Party doesn't necessarily represent all of us and they don't speak for all of us. We still have a voice, we're still here and so that's why we've asked Senator Rand Paul to give this Tea Party response to the State of the Union.

And, Carol, this is a third consecutive year we've done this. So it's not like we are doing this for the first time and are trying to step on Senator Marco Rubio's toes. That's not it all. I'm really proud of him and I'm excited that he's giving the official GOP address.

COSTELLO: OK and just so we are clear what Amy is talking about, the Tea Party will give its response to the President's State of the Union as will the Republican Party, which seems to be divisive at face value, although Amy says it's not. But what do you think. Ana?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it's divisive either. Listen, the more, the merrier. I don't think it something that bothers Marco Rubio in the least. I think he's got a very warm relationship with Tea Party -- with the Tea Party Express and with other Tea Party groups, unless Amy corrects me.

And, you know, I think he is a Republican. He's been a Republican all his life. That doesn't mean he doesn't stand for some issues like smaller government and fiscal responsibility that the Tea Party has made such a focus of their agenda.

But, certainly, the official Republican alternative is going to be presented today by Senator Marco Rubio. It's a tough gig. It's a tough gig so I'm actually rather happy that Senator Paul is going to be there in case of, you know, we need to blame somebody.

MARTIN: There you go, ask Bobby Jindal.



NAVARRO: Listen, let me tell you something, to follow -- to follow a President after a State of the Union, to follow any president, even the most bumbling ones after a State of the Union address where he's been standing behind the podium in a full congressional, well, getting standing ovations for as much as scratching his nose is a tough gig to follow.

COSTELLO: Pete Dominick.

PETE DOMINICK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let me -- let me get in. Let me get in. The question was will we be further divided? I have always felt like we're not nearly as divided as we in the media want to make people think and politicians want to make people think. Because they -- it helps them win elections.

Name the issue Carol, most Americans think wealthy people should be making -- paying more taxes. Most Americans agree almost everybody that we should have background checks universal back checks -- background checks on guns. You name the issue, we're not that far divided on so many issues.


COSTELLO: Climate control, gun control. Come on.

DOMINICK: And -- and by the way -- and by the way, let me finish. By the way, the Republican Party does have a problem right now. Everybody knows this. Ana knows this. Amy knows this. They are definitely in danger of becoming the white party. It's simple math. And everybody understands that and nobody more than Republicans.

MARTIN: And Pete, as the only -- as the only black guy, I can probably agree with you on that one. Leave me out. But go ahead.

NAVARRO: Well, wait a minute, though, I mean, you know, I am Hispanic and, let me tell you something, they are not kicking me anywhere outside of that tent.

DOMINICK: No, not you. But come on, Ana.

NAVARRO: That is my party, I'm sticking there and I think we're going to grow, I think we're going to -- you know what, though, Pete, we have had a period since the last election, a needed period, an unavoidable wake up call, I have heard introspection all over the Republican Party.


NAVARRO: And I think you are going to see different efforts. Frankly, having Marco Rubio give this response speech today is one of those steps. Well, there is no magic formula, there is no silver bullet to fix some of the issues that the Republican Party needs to fix with minorities.

DOMINICK: But Ana --

NAVARRO: But one step at a time. We must take, it's not optional.


COSTELLO: Well, I want to ask Amy --

MARTIN: Ana, is Rubio -- is Rubio going to come out there --

COSTELLO: -- well, wait a minute. I'm going to ask Amy her opinion on this, because Marco Rubio is backed, was always backed by the Tea Party. Why is it necessary for Rand Paul to also deliver an address? I'm just not getting that.

DOMINICK: Right. KREMER: Well, like I said, because the Republican Party doesn't necessarily represent all of us and not everybody agrees with the Republican Party.


COSTELLO: But Marco Rubio is a Tea Party guy.

KREMER: We still -- but -- but Carol, it doesn't matter. Look, I mean, there's a difference in being Republican and being conservative, and yes, he's a Tea Party senator, he is a conservative, but that we still have a voice, we have not fallen in line with the Republican Party. We're not going to fall in line with the Republican Party. We are here to hold their feet to the fire and get back to those principles and values that we are focused on.

MARTIN: Amy -- Amy.

KREMER: And that's what this is about. And this is a third consecutive year we've done this. It's not like we are just doing it.

COSTELLO: Well, never forget Michele Bachmann. I don't, I don't even mean to bring that up. Roland, the last word on this topic. Roland, last word on this topic.

MARTIN: Amy, just say the Tea Party all want some more attention, OK? You can't have a Tea Party guy giving official response and then you've got a second Tea Party guy. I mean, so what's next? The coffee -- what's next, the coffee party? What about the Hot Tea Party? What about Cold Tea Party? I mean, my goodness --

KREMER: It takes two to party.

MARTIN: Can you just do one speech? My goodness. I mean, why we've got to have four or five Tea Party speeches?

DOMINICK: What's the difference?

COSTELLO: OK, we're going to wrap this segment up and we're going to read some of our responses from our viewers. Because, frankly, they are much more -- well, they are still as passionate, but perhaps they use better grammar, I don't know.

Time for your responses the question, "Will the State of the Union further divide us?"

This from Brian, "The more appropriate question is how much further can the divide get before the country completely falls apart."

This from Amber, "No one can ever say that Republicans need help alienating the American people. They're doing a great job all by themselves."

Keep the conversation going.

Our next topic today: "Why do some view accused cop killer Christopher Dorner as a vigilante hero?"


COSTELLO: "Talk Back" question: "Why do some see Christopher Dorner as a vigilante hero?" He's the former LAPD officer also an accused serial killer yet some say he's a vigilante hero. The debate rages on LA talk radio.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe what he's doing really is no different than our ancestors would have done and did do in fighting to get free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not murder, this is war.


COSTELLO: Dorner fan sites with titles like "We are all Chris Dorner" and "The Christopher Dorner Appreciation Society" are popping up on Facebook. And on Twitter the #goDornergo.

Now, let's review. Christopher Dorner is a disgruntled LAPD officer fired from his job, accused of killing three people. He taunted the father of one of his alleged victims, saying, "He should have done a better job of protecting his daughter."

"Talk Back": "Why do some see Christopher Dorner as a vigilante hero?"

Where is this coming from, Pete?

DOMINICK: Well it's coming from a -- an exclusive ignorance for those of us who are born -- privileged to be born white in America.

I mean, if you -- if you don't understand with some perspective the history of this country and racial violence oftentimes perpetuated by those in law enforcement or the owner, if you will; if you don't understand that history in this country; if you don't understand specifically the history of the LA Police Department and black folks, then you won't understand this. You should read Tim Wise, Michael Eric Dyson, Michelle Alexander, the new Jim Crow. That's where this is coming from.

Black folks in America have been targeted by law enforcement. I don't want to generalize here at all. But -- but specifically by, of course, law enforcement, for generations in this country, and I think that's a lot of where this is coming from. But you have to understand history and perspective.

COSTELLO: Yes, but -- but Roland, why at this particular time? This man is still out there. He's still so dangerous. Why bring this up at all at this particular time?

MARTIN: Because he brought it up. Look, I just did Geraldo Rivera's radio show and we talked about this and this is what speaks to. First of all, if you hold him as a vigilante hero, for me, you're nuts. But in talking about Dorner, we can't act as if what he had to say should not be discussed.

Why can't we talk about both? Why can't we condemn him? Why can't we say he is heinous for what he did, but then say, wait a minute, what is he talking about as it relates to police officers?

When you talk about the Ramparts Division, when you talk about the history of the LAPD, depending upon where you live, you see them as being terrorists. And so what I'm saying is discussing that does not somehow validate him. Does not say a stamp of approval. Those people are nuts. But we shouldn't act as if we can't have multiple conversations at one time.


COSTELLO: But still, a big part of me, Amy, Amy a big part of me --



COSTELLO: -- says, why now? Like let's catch this -- he is a vile monster.

KREMER: Well, I mean, I think it's disgusting. I don't understand it. I think it's wrong that these people feel this way. But also, I think it's being sensationalized. It's all over the media, you've got this Hollywood shows, TMZ is showing him on their show, and the guy is probably out there watching all of this coverage. I don't understand it. I think it's sick.

But if you look at death row inmates, they have fans, too. They have women that want to marry them. So, you know, I think it's disgusting, but -- and I don't think it's helping the situation that we are out here talking about it in the media.

COSTELLO: And a part of me, Ana, points to the fact that the Los Angeles police chief reopened the investigation into why Dorner was fired. And maybe that's sort of fueling this kind of thing, too.

NAVARRO: But, listen, that's the right way to do it. If there is something that needs to be investigated, if there's something that needs to be aired out, that's the way to do it. The way to do it is not by killing other cops. To me, I just don't understand this. I don't even want to use the word "heroic" in the same sentence and in the same segment as we are talking about a cop killer.

We are not a savage society where we take our grievances and go shoot each other. That's not what we should aspire to. We have to aspire to a much better society, where we fix the problems, where we address the issues, that need addressed. But we don't do it by killing each other, by leaving children orphaned, by leaving wives widowed, by leaving husbands solo, we don't do it that way in America.



COSTELLO: And I've got to say, Pete, when I look at the Facebook pages, the first thought is why is Facebook allowing these pages to exist, these fan sites for this alleged serial murder?

DOMINICK: First Amendment.

COSTELLO: I know it's a First Amendment.

DOMINICK: Because we don't suppress -- because we don't suppress freedom of speech here. And -- and Roland, I think, said it best. We should condemn this guy and anybody who does this. But I disagree with Ana and I disagree a little bit with Amy and that I do believe we are -- there are elements of our society that are very savage.

The question I would ask everybody to ask, if you don't understand why this happened, why don't you understand where these things come from? I only got into this business because of September 11th and being here on New York City that day and losing friends. I asked why? Why did they do that?

Why is this guy killing cops? It's not right. We are not saying it's OK. We should condemn it.


COSTELLO: You don't put up a fan site for Osama bin Laden. Isn't that the same thing?

DOMINICK: Of course there was. Of course there was.

COSTELLO: But you wouldn't do it.

DOMINICK: Yes, there was in other parts of the world. What matters here is perspective. Whose perspective are we looking at this through? White America, black America. Do you understand history? Do you know the relationship between police and black folks in this country?

Those are questions that people need to ask and need to learn about, and that's what --


MARTIN: Carol --

NAVARRO: But, you know, what asking those questions is very different from understanding. Really, Pete, I want to allow myself not to understand. I never want to be in a position where I can understand an assassin. That's just not where I want to take myself.

MARTIN: But -- but wait a minute now. Wait a minute now, Carol.

DOMINICK: Very blissful -- very -- how blissful that must be for you.

COSTELLO: Wait a second, Roland.

MARTIN: We should condemn -- we should condemn an individual who is gunning down cops, and we should have the courage to condemn cops who wrongfully gun down American citizens. And when you look at Oscar Grant (ph) in the Bay Area, when you look at Robby Toller (ph) in Bellaire, Texas, whose baseball career was ended when a cop followed him and (INAUDIBLE) him.


MARTIN: We should have the willingness to condemn both but we should not be in a situation, Carol, where we say don't talk, don't discuss, don't analyze, because the one thing we must be able to do is say, we have to be able to do that to understand.


COSTELLO: Amy, I want Amy to have the last word on this topic.

NAVARRO: They need to be punished but they do not need to be killed.

KREMER: I will say, I mean, of course we should ask the questions and we should discuss it. But the problem is, when it becomes sensational, and when you are watching it on TMZ, and Hollywood stars are reaching out to the sky. I mean, it's out of control. It's out of control. And I'm sure the guy is sitting out there watching it somewhere.

But we should condemn him, it is wrong. He's a cop killer. And it is disgusting.

COSTELLO: All right. Time to hear from you, our Facebook friends. The question: "Why do some see Christopher Dorner as a vigilante hero?"

This from Kyle, "Because of all the crap and corruption in our justice system."

This from Sunday, "He's no hero. He's a psychopath."

Please keep the conversation going. or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Our final "Talk Back" question of the hour: "Should Ted Nugent attend the State of the Union?"


COSTELLO: Final "Talk Back" question this morning: "Should Ted Nugent attend the State of the Union?"

Ted Nugent will be hanging out at the President's State of the Union tonight. Yes, that Ted Nugent -- the gun-loving Obama hater.


NUGENT: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.

Our President and attorney general, our vice-president, Hillary Clinton, they are criminals. They are criminals.

We are patriots, we are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.


COSTELLO: But Nugent told "The New York Times" he'll be respectful tonight and he'll leave his guns at home or in the car or wherever; they just won't be in his pocket. If you are wondering why Nugent got a pass to the State of the Union, Republican Steve Stockman invited him. He's the congressman who threatened to impeach the President over gun control.

Here's the thing, though. Gun control advocates who will also be at the State of the Union are thrilled. For them, Nugent is the poster boy for gun control. And if the Republicans really want to rebrand their image, is Nugent the guy they want to parade around the House of Representatives?

Talk Back question: "Should Ted Nugent attend the State of the Union?" Amy?

KREMER: You know, I think he should attend. And you know, he was invited there and he said he's going to be respectful and I think we have to leave it at that. I mean, it's his Congress, that's our Hhouse, all of them represent us there in Washington. And so I think he has every right to be there, as long as he's respectful.

You don't agree with everybody that is there. None of us do. So I mean, any of us could go, we are not going to agree with everybody that is there, Carol.


DOMINICK: Well, I mean, he will probably be respectful tonight, he might not yell out something or fire up a gun in the chamber, but he has not been respectful in the past. I mean, listen, Ted Nugent, Carol, is a brand. Just like Donald Trump is a brand. What they do is they say crazy, ridiculous, provocative things? So that we will talk about them and so that they remain relevant and they can sell tickets to their in his case concerts or raise their speaking fees, which is why people like Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain ran for president. It's about getting your name out there, staying relevant --

MARTIN: That's right.

DOMINICK: -- and saying crazy things. Nugent knows nothing about economic policy, much less math, really even politics in general. But he says wild things, and they are entertaining. And everybody talks about him.

He hasn't put out -- I don't know how long it's been since he put out an album. He's a talented musician and he's trying to sell tickets and remain relevant to the people that love agree with the crazy stuff he says.

COSTELLO: I will say -- I will say it will be an odd contrast, because there will be victims, survivors of gun violence at the President's State of the Union. I think about 100 of them.

Mrs. Pendleton, the mother of the girl killed in Chicago -- murdered in Chicago will be sitting next to Michelle Obama, and then you have Ted Nugent.

So, Ana, for gun control advocates, that's just a jarring juxtaposition of people.

NAVARRO: Look, I think he's a juxtaposition for many people, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to be there. You know, in this country, this is what happens in America. Where a president can give a major speech, then the opposite party can come out and rebut it. And the rest of us can spend hours and days dissecting every word of every speech that's going to be given tonight -- scrutinizing it, attacking it, because it's called freedom of speech.

And if we believe in freedom of speech, I have to believe it for you. I've got to believe it for me. I've got to believe it for Ted Nugent. Even if I don't agree with what he says.

And I'm going to tell you something, Carol, before this political stuff involving Ted Nugent, I had never heard of Ted Nugent in my life. I had to go research him. He's not terribly popular on south radio stations in Miami.

So yes, he gets all sorts of attention and he gets all sorts of relevancy, because you and I and the three of us are talking about this today. Not because he's earned it through his music.


MARTIN: Carol, real simple.

COSTELLO: But Roland, when you talk about - Roland, when you talk about the Republican Party trying to be a kinder, gentler party, to be all inclusive, and then a Republican Congressman invites Ted Nugent, it doesn't really lend itself to that kind of change in messaging.

MARTIN: Carol, have you actually read any of the press releases from Congressman Steve Stockman? He's out there, too, and so he embarrasses me as a Texan.

Here's the deal though. Breaking -- exclusive here. Ted Nugent actually will not be in attendance, it's going to be a hologram of Ted Nugent that will actually show up, since he's supposed to be dead or in jail because Obama got re-elected.

But here's the other deal, Carol. There's going to be a woman there and I rode on the plane with her, Ana and I were on the plane with this woman. She's 102 years old. She will be at the State of the Union speech. On two occasions, she was denied the right to vote in the election. She's going to be in the chamber, the Advancement Project, they've are bringing her there.

Those are also the kind of stories we must be talking about, because guess what? Voter suppression, disenfranchisement is a bigger issue, frankly, than the crazy comments that Ted Nugent makes. So I think --

DOMINICK: Do you have Ted Nugent on your iPod, Roland? Tell us right now.

MARTIN: Are you crazy? No. But here's the deal. I want to be clear, let's be clear, I got me some Randy Travis and George Strait. Ted Nugent doesn't make the cut.

COSTELLO: Well, I do hear -- I do hear, Amy that Ted Nugent is going to like be open to questions from reporters after the State of the Union tonight. I mean why injects yourself like that in the debate, when you're not going to further it? Amy -- I want Amy to address it.

MARTIN: He wants attention.

KREMER: Well, listen, I mean because we actually pulled him into this with this big debate about gun control over the past several weeks or couple of months now. And so he was invited here by a congressman, which he has every right to come. And so of course he's going to make himself available. He's very passionate.

He's -- I mean Erin Burnett show, I believe, did a segment with him. It shows the divide in this country, not only on that issue --

DOMINICK: Why can't we have ---invite reasonable people in? I have Randy Barnett on my radio. He is a constitutional scholar. He's an expert on guns. He's a very smart, reasonable guy who could really further the conversation. Ted Nugent cannot further the conversation. He's an idiot.


COSTELLO: Gentlemen -- gentlemen, we are focusing on Ted Nugent.

NAVARRO: The legitimate question isn't why is Ted Nugent speaking to the press? The legitimate question is why is the press asking Ted Nugent questions? That's the question.


KREMER: I want to say, too. I want to say too, Carol, that when you talk about branding the Republican Party, I don't think he's been invited here to brand the Republican Party. I think he's been invited here as a guest of the Congressman, but that doesn't mean he represents the Republican Party.

DOMINICK: You don't get to choose your brand. You don't get to choose your brand.

COSTELLO: We have to wrap this up.

MARTIN: Stockman wants attention, Nugent wants attention. COSTELLO: I could talk to you guys forever. I have to wrap it up. Thank you so much.

We want to hear from you, too. Our Facebook friends. The question: "Should Ted Nugent attend the State of the Union?"

This from Andrew, "I'm sure Obama loves this, and I would, too. Bring out the crazies and let the GOP shoot itself in the foot."

This from Karen, "Maybe the better question is, should the President be demagoguing the gun issue by loading the audience with victims of criminal gun use?" I was just about to say that to Ana when she jumped in. or @CarolCNN, if you want to tweet me and continue the conversation.

That does it for "Talk Back" today. Thank you so much for being with us.

I'm Carol Costello. CNN NEWSROOM continues in just a minute with Ashleigh Banfield.