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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Tiger Woods Regained Number One World Ranking; Senator Rand Paul Plans to Filibuster Again; David Petraeus Apologized to the Public; Where We Stand On Guns Now; Presidential Perks; Oldies But Goodies

Aired March 26, 2013 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: This year's NHL lockout meant the Kings and other hockey teams were off the ice for three months, leaving fans out in the cold while still raking in the dough.

Of course the players still pay huge individual taxes. It's their leagues that have the loophole. In 2007 major league baseball voluntarily surrendered its tax-free status but many speculate that was just to avoid having to report salary inform information.

Time for "the sports lead," do not worry, America. Nike says it's all OK now. You can forget about all the sleazy text messages and the porn stars and the Perkins' waitress allegedly and the children and the wife because Tiger Woods is a winner again.

After Tiger regained his number one world ranking with a win at Bay Hill yesterday, Nike sent out this tweet that says winning takes care of everything. The quote originally came from Tiger last year, and I wouldn't call it a comeback quite yet anyway. Instead of thinking about number one, Tiger might want to be focused on number 15 and winning the masters. He's been stuck on 14 major wins for five years now. He's still chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins.

#you'reit. Come up with the next Nike golf tiger tweet, winning takes care of everything, also penicillin. Tweet your ideas to us at the lead CNN. Use #whoatiger.

Hope I die before I get old. The immortal words of the who? But guess what, they got old and they are still smashing guitars. Aging rockers refusing to get off the stage. That's ahead in our "pop lead."

Also, waiting in our greenroom, our political panel here to weigh in on Rand Paul's threat to filibuster, this time over gun rights. That's our "politics lead" straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The buried lead. He's been quiet for months after resigning in shame. Now, ex-CIA director and former General David Petraeus is venturing back into the public eye to ask for forgiveness. The politics lead. It was such a success last time, Senator Rand Paul is thinking about another filibuster, this one about guns.

And the pop culture lead. Remember when the who sang "I hope I die before I get old"? That's sounds less and a less appealing for our rock on, just yet another one reaches retirement age.

Welcome back.

Time for the buried lead. A story we don't think is getting enough attention. There are few things Americans love more than a comeback story, but is the man who used to run the CIA ready to play the prodigal son?

Tonight, former general David Petraeus comes out of the shadows after a damaging affair with his biographer, one that cost him his job and shook the Obama administration. Here to talk about this attempt at rehabilitation is a communications counselor who has worked for fortune 500 companies and plenty of elected officials, Dan McGinn.

Mr. McGinn, thank you for joining us. Big question here is Petraeus speaking tonight at the University of Southern California. Here's how he plans to open a speech according to a copy of the speech obtained by "The New York Times." Quote, "needless to say I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago." Something of an understatement. Dan, can he repair his public image? What does he need to do?

DAN MCGINN, COMMUNICATIONS COUNSELOR: Well, a short answer is yes. He is an exceptional figure. He led an amazing life and he is approaching this the right way. He has accepted responsibility. He did admit his faults. He did resign and he's taken an enormous toll for that.

And what he's doing by coming out now and speaking at this group is the right thing. I just make a point, look, we're a culture that wants to forgive and, second, we're a culture where reputations can be inflated and destroyed faster than ever before.

TAPPER: What is necessary for him to be forgiven? What does he need to do in order to come back in public life?

MCGINN: Well, when you use the phrase forgiven, that relates to his family, to his friends. That's the personal side of it. This is a man with enormous talents. He's 60 years old. The tragedy would be if he isn't back and being constructive and productive again, it would be a loss for all of us.

Now, it's not without a cost. He paid a tremendous price here. He will always have that. He knows it will always be in his biography. But, what he can say is, my life isn't over. Judge me by everything else I do as well. You can't forget this but it has to be one part of his life not the total picture.

TAPPER: I hear you when you say it's his family that needs to forgive him not the public, but you have to also agree that he was head of the CIA. He was a general in charge of the war in Afghanistan. He was head of CENTCOM. This is a man who disappointed thousands if not millions of people who really believed in him. So, doesn't he need to apologize to them as well?

MCGINN: Well, look, you make a very good point because he's in the public life and he had lived a life where he set the bar very high. He was always raising the standards, always talking about excellent and leadership, so he has to bear that cross as well. He has, you know, he lived a public life as a military figure at the CIA.

But my point is, look, there is another chapter here. I think he's going to approach it with style. I think he will approach it with grace. He has one of the best advisers, Bob Barnett. The key is don't make it about yourself. Don't ask people for sympathy. Don't whine about this. Accept full responsibility. Put it straight out there and then focus on things you can do that aren't selfish.

TAPPER: All right, communications counselor Dan McGinn, thanks so much for joining us.

MCGINN: Thank you.

TAPPER: It is the most exclusive club in the world, presidents of the United States. And being a member means loads of perks, free office space, travel, even stamps. And that's after you leave office. Our political lead is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: The politics lead. Thirteen hours on the Senate floor, apparently, that was not enough time for senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to get everything he need to say off his chest. So, he is threatening to launch another filibuster. This time he has a posse, Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee will have his back in a fight over second amendment rights.

With me now to talk about this and other issues, Ben LaBolt, former national press secretary for the Obama campaign, Kristin Roberts, news editor for "the National Journal" and CNN contributor Ross Douthat, conservative columnist for "the New York Times."

Now guys, the last filibuster greatly increased Rand Paul's visibility on the national stage. He spoke for 13 hours in an effort to get answers from the Obama administration about drones. Even he admitted it's a difficult thing to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: And I would go for another 12 hours to try to break storm Thurmond's record, but I've discovered there are some limits to filibustering, and I'm going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Interesting.

So, is this a sincere effort to fight for gun rights or is something else going on here, Ross?

ROSS DOUTHAT, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it's a less interesting moment than the last filibuster because I think part of what made that such a remarkable moment was that it sort of busted partisan categories in a really interesting way, right? You had a libertarian Republican critiquing the Obama ad administration on national security and being praised by conversation but also civil libertarians.

TAPPER: And liberals.

DOUTHAT: And liberals. Not that many liberals.

TAPPER: Not bad, but not Rand Paul, but other people.

BEN LABOLT, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, OBAMA FOR AMERICA: And democratic political operatives.

DOUTHAT: And this is more a play at the base. I mean, basically, what's happened in the gun control debate since Newtown is the energy behind the push for gun control is mostly dissipated and so you have a much more modest bill probably being pushed through than I think a lot of liberals and Democrats hoped for. And so, what you're left with is this kind of symbolic, you know, I mean, he is playing to potentially Republican primary voters.

TAPPER: But, that's the point. This is, I mean, a lot of liberals, Kristin, a lot of liberals have complained that this bill that they're threatening filibuster is watered down and not really that strong to begin with.

KRISTIN ROBERTS, NEWS EDITOR, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Well, Rand Paul and the other two who are planning to join him in this will always take an opportunity to make a stand on the floor. I mean, these are guys who are about making their point whether it's in line with the polling, whether it's in line with leadership. They want to get on the floor, put themselves On the Record, and they know that if this bill gets through the Senate, it's not going anywhere in the house, but that's not what it's all about for them. It's about getting out there and saying, yes, this might be a base bill, something watered down, but we're not going to let you attach amendments we find distasteful.

TAPPER: Then I want to ask you about something Ross just talked about, which is about how public support for action, for gun control, has dissipated. The American people, according to polls, feel very differently. According to CBS polls, the support for stronger gun laws has already dropped 10 percent since the Sandy Hook tragedy. Is the window closing or is it closed?

LABOLT: Well, there's no doubt there is a specific window of opportunity for action here, and I think anybody who watched the images of the massacre of children in Newtown saw this issue move, there hadn't been much movement the last 10 years.

But ultimately 90 percent of the American people support background checks. You have a Republican senator talking about filibustering that, I tell you, I read through that Republican autopsy report on how to rebrand the party to make it no longer the party of no. And this certainly isn't the route to do that.

TAPPER: Do you think this could hurt Republicans?

DOUTHAT: Not all that much because, you know, whatever happens I think as you can see from the polling the public outrage is dissipating. To a certain degree I agree with Ben that, you know, the immediate optics of the filibuster on such a modest piece of legislation aren't great for the GOP.

But I think overall you're looking at an issue where immediately after Newtown there is a sense that this had shifted the balance of power on the issue and the Democrats would be able to make gains and so on. That doesn't seem to be the case and overall we've been talking about gay marriage today and the big public turn against gay marriage. This is the flip side of that, right?

In general the American public has gotten more libertarian on a particular set of issues across the board. They are more likely to think gay couples should be able to get married and they are more likely to think they should be able to own handguns and Democrats lose on the gun issue the way Republicans have been losing on gay marriage.

LABOLT: Not on background checks.

DOUTHAT: Background checks -- I mean, do you honestly think that that is a major and serious solution to the issue?

LABOLT: I do. Forty percent of guns are sold via private sellers whether that's online or at a gun show and there are incidences each year of people being murdered at the hand of weapons that were bought through those private sellers.

TAPPER: Staying on guns, but just your colleague David Brooks had a column today in which he talked about --

DOUTHAT: That guy.

TAPPER: There are other areas in the line of violence, the actions that lead to violence. He says gun acquisition is probably the link on the killing chain least amenable. Influence within the country already has something like 250 million guns floating around.

It's hard to get a grip on past efforts to control guns have not dramatically reduced violence. Is it a pair question to say that other areas in this line, you know, whether it's mental health or background checks are much more -- there's much more possibility for some action?

ROBERTS: Well, absolutely. I mean, one of the most fascinating things about what's happened in the last few weeks is the sort of untold inside story about how the NRA did this. I mean, you remember Wayne Lapierre who came out in that press conference after Newtown.

And he was ridiculed. He was ridiculed roundly for saying that really the solution here is securing schools. In fact, the only piece of this Senate bill that could probably get through both chambers right now is increase funding for security.

TAPPER: We'll have to leave it there. Thank you, Ben, Kristin and Ross.

At a time when many Americans worry they won't have enough money to retire, you might be surprised to hear that millions of taxpayer dollars are spent every year helping a handful of rich guys enjoy their golden years.

Here is the thing. They're all former U.S. presidents between their pensions, stipends and even travel cost. We're all putting the bill to make life after the oval office pretty cozy.

THE LEAD's Erin McPike is here with a breakdown of just what we're all paying for -- Erin.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, a lot of it, Jake, is office space. But here is a historical nugget for you. Back in 1912, Congress actually thought about giving former presidents a pension at the tune of $25,000 a year, which now is about $280,000 a year. However, today it's a whole lot more than that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE (voice-over): As if we needed further proof that being leader of the free world is a cushy gig. A new report shows that the perks keep rolling in long after a commander in chief leaves office.

According to the Congressional Research Service, taxpayers forked over $3.7 million last year to pay for the four remaining presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

And that number does not include the additional money we spend on their lifetime of Secret Service. It's the Former President's Act and it became law during the Eisenhower administration just after Harry Truman left office.

After moving out of the White House, Truman could barely pay his bills. Since then everyone who has taken the oath has been guaranteed an enviable allowance. It covers their pension, office, staff, travel, even postage.

And those numbers can quickly add up. George W. Bush racked up a $1.3 million tab last year, the report says, part of that money went to fund office space in Dallas, 8,000 square feet of it.

Bill Clinton apparently feels like a million bucks, too. He also spent most of his money on office space. The first President Bush enjoyed taxpayer funded benefits to the tune of $850,000.

And for Jimmy Carter, it was close to half a million. Not exactly chump change especially when you factor in how much these former presidents make from book sales, speaking engagements and appearances.

Bill Clinton and Bush 43 pocketed speaking fees in the $10 million to $15 million range just last year alone. With all the talk in Congress these days about wasteful spending, you'd think lawmakers would be falling all over each other trying to rein in presidential perks.

But last year when Republican Congressman Jason Chafetz introduced a bill to limit costs to a $200,000 pension plus another $200,000 in pocket change, the bill didn't even make it out of committee.

Just when we thought Congress couldn't see eye to eye on anything, it seems lawmakers are pretty content to let the men who have done time in the oval office run up the bill. But not everyone is looking for a paycheck. The only presidential widow, Nancy Reagan, turned down her $20,000 pension last year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: Now, of course, the biggest expense of all is Secret Service. We don't know how much it is, but it's estimated within tens of millions of dollars for each former president.

Bill Clinton, of course, was supposed to be the last former president to get Secret Service for life, but just in January, Barack Obama signed a bill that George W. Bush and he and all future presidents will get lifetime Secret Service, too.

TAPPER: A lot of money for a lot of rich guys. Thank you, Erin McPike.

Fans of the hit TV series, "Breaking Bad" want to know how it ends? Well then just break into the lead actor's car and steal his script for the final season. That's what one guy just did. Our pop culture lead is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: It's the "Pop Lead." You know that old couple in your neighborhood who yells at kids to get off their lawn? They're probably around the same age as Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, the rock 'n' roll icon celebrates his 65th birthday today. And while he's now retirement age, that has not stopped Tyler or many other rock stars of his era from living on the edge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Happy birthday, Steven Tyler, 65 years young and dude looks like a lady. Last month, Tyler dressed in drag to visit his old stomping grounds "American Idol." The show he quit judging just last year.

STEVEN TYLER: I'm going to sing a song called tell your ma, tell your pa.

TAPPER: But that's the only quitting we've seen Tyler do. At the age most Americans want to retire, the former Aerosmith front man continues to rock on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why won't Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler retire? Well, Billboard estimated that for five shows last year, the "Rolling Stones" made $5 million per show, that's take home money. That's how much money those guys got paid. If somebody was offering me $5 million for a couple hours' work, I might say yes no matter how old I was.

TAPPER: David Bowie is showing no signs of slowing down either, already thinking about the next day, literally. The aptly named album 10 years in the making was a top ten release on iTunes when it debut early this month.

It took youngster Justin Timberlake to dethrone Bowie from the number one spot on the U.K. albums chart according to Billboard. For Eric Clapton it's a new album and a new tour. Clapton will be 68 years old in just a few days. The name of his new album, "Old Sock."

But why work through your golden years especially when you don't need the money? After all, it was the who that once sang I hope I die before I get old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can say they were kind of kidding and didn't hope they died before they got old, but they also didn't expect to be doing this in their 60s or 70s. It's unprecedented.

In certain ways it's great as the baby boomer generation that made these guys famous became older itself and is looking to extend their lives, their careers to have rich and fulfilling experiences well past 65.

These guys, well, it's not an attainable example that they have offered us, but they're offering us an interesting example.

TAPPER: But how do these rockers stay young? For Richards, perhaps a diet of vodka and orange soda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And other people go, well, this is great. Yes, I invented it. I think really it just happened one day I had vodka and nothing to mix it with.

TAPPER: Though no one has said the road to rock stardom has been easy, 40 plus years of partying might do this to you, but we should all have such longevity in any business.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: I can only hope you'll still need me when I'm 64.

The IRS is getting the cling on treatment from "Star Trek" actor, William Shatner. Shatner tweeted that a spoof of the show filmed by IRS employees is a, quote, "utter waste of U.S. tax dollars." Here is a look at what he's talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it, boss?

UNIDENTIIFIED MALE: I just received an emergency medical distress call from the plant. Chris, they're dying down there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The IRS spent $60,000 of your tax dollars to make that so- called training video back in 2010. It was released last week as part of a congressional investigation into wasteful spending. The IRS has since released the statement saying that type of video would never be made today. Of course, not.

Someone doesn't respect the chemistry or perhaps a good story or secrets from the final season of HBO's -- I'm sorry AMC's "Breaking Bad" are in it danger of being spilled after someone stole a script right out of the front seat of Bryan Cranston's car.

New Mexico police say Cranston, the star of the show, first reported the theft earlier this month. A suspect was arrested over the weekend after reportedly bragging about it in an Albuquerque bar. But police say they still don't have the script.

We reach out to its producer, Sony Pictures, for a statement and it said, "We applaud the efforts of the Albuquerque police and we look forward to sharing the incredible last season with viewers when the series premieres later this year.

Hash tag, you're it. Earlier we asked you to tweet us the next Nike golf for Tiger tweet. May I present your best efforts, winning takes care of everything, so does a prenup. Big swingers win in the end.

That does it for us. Now we go off to Kate Bolduan in "THE SITUATION ROOM."