Return to Transcripts main page


How to Treat Terrorists; New Abortion Restrictions

Aired April 14, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks, Wolf. A packed hour ahead, we look at the big issues including the attorney on Capitol Hill today. In our question time, two senators who were there for the tough questions we'll ask them did the attorney general answer their questions about where to keep suspected terrorists and just how to put them on trial.

When we go "Wall-to-Wall" tonight we're going to look at what we'll call the real green monster, the fed chairman raising concerns about this country's long term debt and we'll show you his worries and we'll show you your share.

In our polls tonight, Nebraska has a new restrictive abortion law. Is this just one conservative state taking this step or might this spread across the country?

And in our forum tonight, we'll put some Republican rhetoric through the fact checking spin cycle. Are Republicans right when they say Democrats when it comes to financial reform just want endless bailouts?

As we said a packed hour ahead, but first, as always, a quick observation. The attorney general was on Capitol Hill today. That's a relatively rare event. And even before the hearing got started the Republican National Committee rushed out a statement promising Eric Holder would be quote, "on the hot seat". The issues are of paramount importance, like where do we keep suspected terrorists, where and how should the government put them on trial. It's a conversation that has carried over heated politics and all from the Republican administration of George W. Bush to the Democrat White House of Barack Obama.

And it is a conversation that can mostly be traced back to one man, Osama bin Laden. Eight years and seven months after a September morning that turned suddenly from clear and crisp to smoky and horrific, the face of international -- international terrorism, the face of evil is still out there. Last month the attorney general raised eyebrows when he predicted bin Laden would never stand trial for his crimes. Today he had to explain to some Republican critics just what he meant.

Yes, Mr. Holder said, the United States would prefer to capture bin Laden alive, question him in hopes of gaining valuable intelligence and then put him on trial for murder after murder after murder. But Holder says his earlier remarks were shaped by indications bin Laden has ordered his security team to never allow him to be captured alive. Beyond that clarification, there was a lot of interesting ground covered on issues important to your safety and we'll take some time to explore them tonight.

You hear from time to time that memories of 9/11 are fading. Not mine though. I remember young staffers running to evacuate the White House and my apartment at the time overlooked what had become that morning a deadly hole in the Pentagon. The issue was different and whenever it comes up, it's a powerful reminder of how one day and one hateful man so dramatically changed our lives and our country and we should never let that get lost in the politics.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: There was, and I think still is, maybe not to the degree that it once existed bipartisan support for the notion that the Guantanamo facility should be closed. It serves as a recruiting tool for those who have sworn to harm this nation. Both of the men who ran for president last year supported the closing of Guantanamo, as did President Obama's predecessor.


KING: That was the attorney general earlier today talking about the plan now shelved to close Guantanamo Bay within one year. The presidential election, of course, you heard Eric Holder talking about it, it was not last year. It was the year before last, a reminder this question and this debate have been with us for some time. And it is more complicated now because it is connected to the administration's controversial decision since put on hold to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and some of his alleged accomplices in federal court in New York city.

It was Attorney General Holder who made that decision last November, but then his boss, the president hit the pause button in January because of a bipartisan political outcry. It puts the attorney general in an awkward spot, to say the least, and even some Democrats who aren't fans of his initial plans to hold those trials in New York City felt compelled to offer him some support.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: And I've come to the conclusion that a lot of the attacks are just to diminish you. And I don't think you should buy into that at all. I think you should remain strong.


KING: Let's explore this in more detail with two senators who are not only at the center of this fierce political debate, but more importantly have to help make the big decisions about where to keep and how to try suspected terrorists, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland is a member of the Judiciary Committee, as is Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa -- welcome. Let me ask a threshold question at the beginning. I'll start with you Senator Grassley. Were any of your big questions answered today by the attorney general?

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: One of them, he said he didn't have an answer right now. I think I brought up some things on FOYA (ph). He said he was going to get back to me. I'm satisfied with that -- very satisfied with that. Another question I asked, he gave me an answer, it wasn't the answer I wanted.

I asked him if he was going to make public the names of all the political appointees that previously had represented people at Guantanamo, the terrorists, and he said he would not, and he gave a reason for not. I disagree with his reason, but at least I got an answer because two months ago when I asked the question, he said he would consider it.

KING: That has been an issue -- I'll get to Senator Cardin -- that has been an issue raised by some conservatives led by Liz Cheney outside of government somehow suggesting that if you represented, as an attorney, if you represented somebody being held as a terrorist, as their defense attorney, that somehow you should not be able to serve in the government, do you share that view? A lawyer is appointed to defend a client. And we all know there are defense lawyers out there who defend -- I'll use the term here on television -- who defend scum bags, but that doesn't make them bad lawyers.

GRASSLEY: Yes, that's not an issue for me and I think the attorney general made that very clear when he said he considered my request for information very sincere. The only thing that I objected to is that he had previously acknowledged certain names to another network. And I thought well if the network could get it, I ought to be able to get those names and maybe more inclusive (ph) names.

But what I'm concerned about is we ought to know who's advising the attorney general on -- particularly on national security matters and this is a national security issue. And I think we are entitled to know that information. That's why we have oversight hearings. I'm just exercising my constitutional right of oversight. And it is a constitutional responsibility that I take very seriously.

KING: As a member of the Democratic majority, how deep is your frustration that the administration knew it was inheriting these big challenges and it still can't tell you when it will close Guantanamo Bay and it's now in a holding pattern over when, where and most importantly perhaps how to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed?

SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well when I questioned the attorney general today, I asked him when we were going to get his plans on the reviews of those who are going to be -- continue to be detained without being brought to trial. We got to close Guantanamo Bay. The administration is determined to do it. Its original purpose was to gain information from detainees.

That need has certainly diminished greatly the longer these detainees are kept. The detention facility was built for far greater numbers than are there today. So it's time to close it from a practical point of view, from a budgetary point of view, and from the symbol that it is internationally, so I hope we can do it as soon as possible. I told the attorney general I didn't like that term as soon as possible -- let's get it done. KING: Well on the soon as possible part, let's listen to one exchange, Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, John McCain's close friend, they both John McCain and Lindsey Graham say let's close Gitmo down. Candidate Obama said close it down. It's proven more difficult to do than to promise to do. They had an exchange say about just when and how and what comes after. Let's listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We're basically a nation without a viable jail. This president is probably not going to send new people to Guantanamo Bay. Is that a fairly accurate statement?

HOLDER: That is certainly something we would try to avoid.

GRAHAM: Right and if you send these people to Bagram Air Base (ph), you're going to bring the Afghan government down, so to my colleagues who think that we can close Guantanamo Bay and send them to Afghanistan and the Afghan government become the American jailer, I think you're making a serious mistake in the war on terror. Do you agree with that?

HOLDER: I think we have to come up with options and I think we need to work with the Congress to try to develop what those options might be.

GRAHAM: This is music to my ear.


KING: Music to my ear, Senator Graham said. Senator Grassley, are you prepared, what they're working on would be to use that federal prison, not far from your home state of Iowa out in Illinois and to bring them there. Congress, Democrats and Republicans, mostly Republicans -- Democrats and Republicans said well wait a minute, what's the plan here before we give you the money? Are you prepared to support the money for that president to bring some terrorism suspects to U.S. soil?

GRASSLEY: I'm prepared to support, if we need additional prison space, but I'm absolutely opposed to moving people from Gitmo to the continental United States. We spent a lot of money down there.

KING: And where do they go?

GRASSLEY: We spent a lot of money there and we ought to finish the job there. We ought to have the commissions down there and I think it's wrong to give terrorists a platform for their propaganda which they would either get out of our court system or they would even get out of a platform at any prison in the United States they were in. We shouldn't do that.

And obviously, we shouldn't have them in an environment where we're going to have any of our intelligence information given to our enemies. We have had that happen from the trials previously in New York when terrorists were involved and even bin Laden got some information from previous trials that he knew we were watching him. And that sort of information just injures our national security. We shouldn't be doing anything to injure our national security. We're up against some very sophisticated people that are out to kill Americans.

KING: So what is the Democratic majority do then if Senator Grassley is going to hold firm that maybe I'll give you that prison down the road, but not for anybody who's there now? How do you deal with the then and now? Do you pick up other Republicans? Can you do that or do you agree with that?

CARDIN: We're going to try to work out a consensus in the United States Senate and I know that's difficult. This is national security issues. We think we can work together as Democrats and Republicans. Quite frankly we have tried terrorists in the United States. That's been the primary place that we have tried terrorists.

And we've gotten pretty good results. And it hasn't compromised our national security. We want the Department of Justice to use the process that's best. Maybe it will be a military commission, maybe it'll be our tradition Article Three (ph) courts, but we certainly know how to house people safely in this country who have been convicted of our laws, so I think that we can detain these individuals in our country safely.

KING: You think it will be resolved this year?

CARDIN: It has to be. I think -- I asked the attorney general whether we would have game plan by the end of the year and he said yes, yes I think we can resolve it this year.

KING: We're going to continue this conversation with our Senate guests in just a moment. First though we want to take you a look behind the numbers -- the Dow posted its first triple digit point gain in three weeks. Investors were encouraged by an increase in retail sales and the banking giant, JPMorgan Chase, first quarter profit a whopping $3.3 billion.


KING: Back now with two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The attorney general thinks this will be a moot point, because he doesn't think that if the United States ever closes in on bin Laden he would allow himself to be captured alive. But there has been a question because of the some things the attorney general said before and he tried to clarify today about what happens if that moment comes about and U.S. troops or FBI or CIA or somebody gets bin Laden, would you read him his Miranda rights was the question that's been asked. Let's listen to the exchange today.


HOLDER: With regard to bin Laden, there would be no need to give bin Laden Miranda warnings and if I was not clear there I meant to be that if he were captured, I cannot foresee any reason why.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Mr. Holder, he's -- your -- the presumption is in your own report that they would be tried in civilian courts and why wouldn't you give Miranda warnings?

HOLDER: Miranda --

SESSIONS: -- not to do so unless you're going to try them in military commissions.

HOLDER: No, the concern with Miranda warnings is only whether or not the information that you would get from that person might be excluded. We have sufficient information, statements from bin Laden so that there is no reason to Mirandize (ph) him at all.


KING: Is this -- it's fascinating political theater. Anything about Osama bin Laden is interesting, but is it a legal question that we need answered or does it matter?

CARDIN: Frankly, I don't think it matters. I think the attorney general is absolutely correct. We have a wealth of information on bin Laden that we could hold him responsible for crimes against humanity for murder, for all types of activities. So yes, we have plenty of documented evidence against what he has done. We'll hold him accountable for his actions --

KING: Do you have any confidence we'll apprehend Osama bin Laden?

GRASSLEY: I'm not a lawyer, but I think he's a terrorist just like anybody else. So bring -- I would bring him to Guantanamo, and I would try him in a military commission there and carry whatever out the results of the military commission is. I'd make it that simple.

KING: Let me ask you -- let me ask you a bigger question up here. We could focus on where will the trials be, we can focus on when they will close Gitmo. All of this is part of a question of are we safer? Are we safer? And in this new administration, now it's 14 months, Senator Grassley, as you know, some Republicans, when I hosted a Sunday show here the former Vice President Dick Cheney came out early and said this president is making the American people less safe. After hearing the attorney general today, after being through this for the last 14 months, do you believe that or do you think this administration is keeping us just as safe or safer or doing its job? How would you rate them?

GRASSLEY: I think this president wants to deliver on the number one responsibility of the federal government just like any president does and that's our national security. Any president has a chance to send signals that are very clear, maybe in some instances with some of these decisions, it's been a little muddier than Bush would have said, but I don't question his integrity or motivations about keeping us safe. But I think we've got to depend on our intelligence community, our FBI. We've got to make sure that all of the agencies of government are cooperation -- cooperating on that. The president's where the buck stops but it's the responsibility of a lot of people, and all I can say is the president's got to set the atmosphere, the environment to make sure that everybody's working together, and also to send a clear signal to our enemies overseas that there's no compromise on the war on terror.

KING: Let me ask you lastly in closing as the Democrat here, your party is defending in this midterm election year and Republicans believe after the Scott Brown election, the Christmas attempted bombing happened in that time, he campaigned on the theme taxpayer dollars should be spent defeating the terrorists, not on lawyers to defend the terrorists. The Republicans think they have a political argument here. When you're in the caucus in private, some of your colleagues who are on the ballot this year, are they a little nervous about this issue?

CARDIN: I think we're proud of how President Obama has defended our nation. I think -- I agree with Senator Grassley. We think that is the first responsibility. I think he's taken the necessary steps in order to protect America. And he's done something else. He's also underscored what we stand for, what our -- what this nation's principles are about and he's gotten us much greater international support for our war against terror. All that makes us safer, so I think we have a record that we're proud to run on. But again, national security, national defense should never be a partisan issue.

KING: Ben Cardin, Chuck Grassley, I appreciate both of you coming in tonight and we'll watch to see if the questions about Gitmo and when and where for those trials are answered in the months ahead.

But in a minute we'll turn our attention to your money, specifically how much of our government owes somebody else. I'll go "Wall-to-Wall" to show you just how big the national debt is and how fast unfortunately it's growing.


KING: In "Wall To Wall" tonight, your money and questions about your country's long term fiscal stability. The good news the chairman of the Federal Reserve was on Capitol Hill today and said the odds of a double dip recession are way down. But Ben Bernanke also said the odds of the unemployment rate dropping fast are slim, meaning millions of Americans will be out of work even as the big, short term picture gets better. The troubling take came as the Fed chairman turned his green eye shades to the long term.


BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Although sizable deficits are unavoidable in the near term, maintaining the confidence of the public and financial markets requires that policy makers move decisively to set the federal budget on a trajectory toward sustainable physical balance.


KING: It sounds academic but this is what he's worried about, let's show you right up here, we can bring you up a map of the nation's long term debt. This is our long term national debt you see $12 trillion and counting. This is federal spending down here, that's what Medicare and Medicaid costs the government, that's what Social Security cost the government. This is what the interest on our debt, which keeps going way up cost the government.

But remember that number there, 12, eight and a whole bunch of zeros and other numbers that we come across. Remember that as we go over here to the magic wall to take a closer look at some of these numbers and the history of our red ink here in the United States of America. Let's take a look first at the current, the operating year- to-year budget deficit -- $1.5 trillion the administration projects the deficit will be just for this year.

What could you buy with that, 5.3 million homes, 53 million cars, or you could pay for 14 million four-year college educations with the red ink the government expects to run up just this year. Now, let's go back and take a look at how this has played out over time. Have we always spent more than we took in? We'll go back to the 40's here and watch this pull out. And I'm going to stop for a second here just to show you -- the yellow line that's spending -- is a percent of our economy.

The green is revenue, so spending and revenue should be somewhere like that. That means we're spending what we're taking in. Watch this as we come through the 60's and into the 70's and the 80's, and the 90's -- look at this here. In the Clinton administration, they actually passed. Revenues go past spending. The government on a year-to-year basis running a surplus. Let's pull it through to the end here and this is where we are now, spending up here, revenues down here.

Remember that split right about there, spending running ahead of revenues because we want to show you a longer term view. This is how it's projected out from here on out. There's where we left you, 2010, the administration projects the deficit will go up, up, up, and then level off as we head out to 2020, still a big jump in the deficit there. This is what happens though if the Bush tax cuts are left in place and if the AMT indexing is kept in place. Then the deficit would go even higher.

Remember all this. This is your money, your red ink. And just to give you one more bit of context, in the moments we've been speaking here, the short time we've been discussing this big issue, look what we've added to that U.S. national debt, just in the last minute or half or so, $720,000 and counting, again that is your money.

Still ahead, the most important person you don't know, he's an avid gardener, president of the American Camellia Society (ph) and he could kill health care reform.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Everyday we go outside of Washington's beltway to take "The Pulse" of the nation. Today we focus on Nebraska which has two new laws that you may not have heard about. If you haven't, you will soon. The biggest change is a law banning abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When signing the bill into law this week, the governor gave this reason for the new legislation.


GOV. DAVID HEINEMAN (R), NEBRASKA: By taking into account the potential for an unborn child to feel pain and setting a new standard for abortions.


KING: Second biggest change in Nebraska law requires women who seek an abortion to first face mental health screenings. Joining me now from Lincoln, Nebraska is Julie Schmit-Albin. She's the executive director of Nebraska Right to Life and here in Washington, Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. Julie, let me begin with you.

This number one, going back to 20 weeks, but number two, the standard that the governor and supporters like you have used to justify that, that at that point, making the case that the fetus, the infant can feel pain. Do you believe that will stand up as this inevitably will be challenged in court?

JULIE SCHMIT-ALBIN, EXEC. DIR., NEBRASKA RIGHT TO LIFE: Well just as the Roe court could not foresee the advent of fetal surgery and technology like 4D (ph) ultrasound, they didn't have that at their disposal in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was foisted upon this nation. So Nebraska does have a compelling state interest here and now with the peer reviewed documentation of medical findings that unborn children at 20 weeks gestation can feel pain, it is drawing a new bright line and we're saying viability should be cast aside and that pain should be the new bright line.

KING: And Terry, what is your sense of that? Right now, most of it is viability is 22 to 24 weeks. Most places it's done on a case- by-case basis. Twenty weeks, you heard Julie, she makes a strong case that medical technology and other technology and scientific gains have made that a new fair test in this new world. What would you say to that?

TERRY O'NEILL, PRES., NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: It's just not so. The science isn't there for this and this really isn't about science. This is about rolling back women's rights. Look, 40 percent of women in this country have had or will have an abortion. It's a medical procedure. It needs to be safe and universally available to all women.

KING: Is it your position that this issue should not be considered at all, that the science, the medical advances to you are irrelevant; that this is a question of a woman's choice and a legal right, plain and simple. O'NEILL: You know medical science is never irrelevant when it comes to women's reproductive health rights, but this law is simply a vehicle to overturn Roe versus Wade. It's very worrisome that in fact we could see an overturning of Roe versus Wade. We have a Robert's (ph) court when -- that is now dominated by individuals who seem -- may very well be anti-choice, and this law is calculated to challenge Roe versus Wade. Roe versus Wade is the means by which women have the legal guarantee of being -- of having safe medical procedures to terminate their pregnancies and if Roe versus Wade is overturned, we go back to the 1950's. It is not where the people of this country want us to go.

KING: Julie, is that your goal to overturn Roe V Wade nationally or is that your goal in passing this legislation? I know that is what's in your heart and what is your position, but is that your goal in supporting this legislation or is it saying this is my state of Nebraska and we believe as a state we have a right to adopt these restrictions?

JULIE SCHMIT-ALBIN, EXEC. DIREC., NEBRASKA RIGHT TO LIFE: You know Nebraska does have a one house legislature that is pro life. We have a pro life governor. We have a pro life attorney general and we have a late term abortionist in Leroy Carhart who is doing abortions at all different stages. He talks about 24 weeks, he talks about 22, he talks about 30. Nobody can really pin down where Leroy Carhart the gestation he's doing abortions at. It remains the case, with the advent of technology and everybody can relate to that unborn child in the womb. Everybody has a picture of a baby on ultrasound on the refrigerator. Everybody can relate to that 20 week old baby and the fact that documentation shows that that baby can feel pain, does show that Nebraska, with all these factors does have a compelling interest. More over, Justice Kennedy, in Carhart versus Gonzalez talks about the anguish and suffering that a woman feels undergoing abortion and he also talked very strongly about the states have a right to place restrictions in certain areas. We do feel there's an opening there.

KING: Terry I want to come back to you but Julie, quickly, have other state chapters of right to life reached out to you, your folks there, the legal people involved in the legislature and said show us how you did this so we can try to do it on our state?

SCHMIT-ALBIN: There is interest among other states, yes.

KING: Terry, your point is this is wrong. Do you fight it at the Nebraska level or is there something that needs to be done here in Washington in your view so you don't have to do this at a state by state basis?

O'NEILL: We need to do both. We need to be in the states and in Washington. We need to pass the freedom of choice act, which is a codification of Roe versus Wade. Pregnancies can be tragic. We prefer all pregnancies be wanted and trouble free but some are tragic either because of it's the result of rape or incest and by the way, there's no exception for rape or incest in this Nebraska law. And sometimes a very wanted pregnancy turns tragically wrong. When that happens, a woman needs to have adequate medical care to terminate that pregnancy. Dr. Leroy Carhart is a hero to all of the women who need medical care to terminate pregnancies for whatever reason. In Roe versus Wade, it's ultimately her decision. It's not the decision of the men in the legislature, it's not my decision or anyone else's decision. It's the decision of the woman herself. We need to have the medical care available for her.

KING: It's now the law in the state of Nebraska. We will follow the debate as it continues in that state and across the country. Tonight I want to thank Terry O'Neill for the National Organization for Women, Julie Schmit-Aldin, executive director of National Rights for Life. I want to thank you both. I appreciate your thoughts. I know you disagree profoundly, but I appreciate a civil conversation on this important issue tonight. Thank you both.

O'NEILL: Thank you, John.

KING: Let's head over to the magic wall to take a peek at what's still to come in the program. We have today's most important person you don't know. Health care reform in the law of the land. There's one judge who could declare it dead on arrival. In our forum, a lot of rhetoric in town. We're going to put some of it through the spin cycle. Republicans say what the president and the Democrats what in financial reform means endless bailouts. Will that stand up to the fact check test? And in our play by play, Lieberman hearts Palin. Two friends from the McCain campaign, we'll show you why the senator from Connecticut is saying such nice things about the former governor of Alaska.

JOE LIEBERMAN: I think anybody who underestimates Sarah Palin does so at some peril.


KING: Today's most important person you don't know is a federal judge in Florida. This morning, Senior District Judge Roger Vinson held the first hearing on a lawsuit that could cripple the health care reform law. At least 18 states wanted him to rule that the federal government had no right to say it could force you to buy health insurance. Judge Vinson says because he's working for the taxpayer he wants to set a fast schedule but warned the case could take months. So who is Judge Roger Vinson? He was born in Kentucky in 1940, grew up on a farm, graduated from the naval academy, got a law degree from Vanderbilt after his hitch in the service. It was President Reagan who appointed him to the federal bench back in 1983. He met a teacher at a PTA conference when he was a single parent with young children. They've now been happily married for more than 30 years. We'll keep our eye on Judge Vinson.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin is with me. A case you'll be following, a case that's just starting in our courts is already in our politics. Henry McMaster is the attorney general of South Carolina. He wants to be the next governor of South Carolina. He's one of the attorney generals who joined that suit saying this law is unconstitutional. And guess what? Here's a new campaign ad from Henry McMaster. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As our attorney general, McMaster challenged Obama's health care takeover and defended our state's rights. Honor and service, Henry McMaster for governor.

KING: Not only in the courts but in the campaigns as well.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems like it's the Republicans' way to keep this issue alive and a very effective one. His opponent is also running an ad on health care too.

KING: Jessica going to stay with us. Next some stories on my radar today. As we ask our reporters to empty their notebooks, we'll put a key Republican argument on the debate of financial reform to our fact check test.


KING: This is the part of the show we call the forum. Everyday we bring in our great reporters to empty their notebooks and sometimes smart political players who are involved in the big campaigns or the big debates, a chance to share and discuss some of the things we hear from our sources. Here are a few things on my radar tonight. The former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, you remember him, he's now a Floridian. He and his wife registered to vote in Florida back in February. They rent a beach house there. Huckabee's daughter tells the Miami Herald he needs Florida residency for some of his personal business. We'll see if it plays in his political business. Speaking of Florida, Governor Charlie Crist is getting some career advice from a fellow southern republican. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina says Governor Crist should drop out of the U.S. senate race and endorse his more conservative opponent, Marco Rubio. Not exactly unbiased advice. Senator DeMint endorsed Rubio last summer.

It will be early May before President Obama endorses a new pick for the Supreme Court. Government sources tell CNN the search is going smoothly but we apparently can take one name off the short list. Financial industry watch dog Elizabeth Warren now getting much less scrutiny than some of the other favorites.

That's what's on my radar. How about our reporters? What are they learning today? Here for our forum, CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns, senior political analyst Gloria Borger and national political correspondent Jessica Yellin. What's in your notebook?


YELLIN: I think she likes her current job.

KING: It's a secret plan to bring justice, Joe Johns.

JOHNS: We'll do that later. The first thing I think that I've been following and watching a lot is this contract, actually. A lot of people in Washington don't talk about DOD contracts, but there's one for this tanker plane. Everybody thinks Boeing is going to get this contract but Air Bus is thinking about getting into the mix. What's interesting is what we're talking about is something like 55,000 American jobs during an election year and the possibilities going overseas to Air Bus could be a very serious thing. This administration has gotten accused before of sending jobs out of the country, green jobs through the stimulus plan to build wind turbines. It's a recurring thing that can bring unions and other big players, some in the Democratic constituency to say Mr. Obama, what are you doing.

KING: Worth watching. Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We've been talking a lot about this wall street reform plan, Republicans, as you know, have decided, led by Mitch McConnell, they say hold on a minute, we think this looks more like a bailout than a reform plan. That's a big buzz word. I learned today from talking to some sources at treasury that Secretary Tim Geithner is making the rounds, he made the rounds with Judd Gray today, as we know a very important senate Republican. Tomorrow from your home state, guess who? Scott Brown he visits with who has said he doesn't like reform, but of course being Scott Brown, he's open to compromise, right?

YELLIN: I can add on that, I'm learning that this evening, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is planning to circulate a memo among Republicans asking them to say they will stop an effort to bring the Wall Street reform bill to the floor.

KING: Keep it off the floor.

YELLIN: Keep it off the floor. They're looking for 41 Republicans to sign this letter saying don't let this go to the floor. What that means is they don't want to proceed with this bill. They want to buy time to negotiate some of their changes and it's looking like he could get some of the moderate Republicans to sign on to buy time for that negotiation.

KING: That raises the stakes for that Scott Brown meeting for Secretary Geithner. You mentioned Senator McConnell, you mentioned the term endless bailouts. That has been the key Republican rhetoric. Let's put something and Senator McConnell has been the leader. Let's put it through the spin cycle.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: This bill would make an official government policy to bail out the biggest Wall Street banks.

KING: We reached out to some folks around town because the Democrats say it's not true, that there are rules in here, they call them the funeral plans, that companies would have to file, there's only so much money. We called the Brookings Institution, that's his opinion. It's not fact. We called an MIT economist, that's inaccurate. The bailout is where you protect creditors from a loss. There are specifics in there. Even here, Doug Holtz-Eakin, he was one of John McCain's advisers, he says does this system make the government look like they're allowing banks too much risk. So there's a little bit of debate there but most people say not exactly on this one. Fair? YELLIN: Fair. It's not a bailout bill. There are some loopholes that would allow for some help to rescue certain institutions to keep the economy going, but this is trying to do the opposite, to end bailouts.

BORGER: The crux of the matter here is something they could really settle honestly and they probably will with a few Republicans, I think you might agree with that, which is how do you close a failed institution? Should the government get involved? The Democrats say absolutely, because otherwise you're going to have a panic. The Republicans say more or less, let it die.

KING: Joe, before you jump in, the Democrats say they're right on the facts and Senator McConnell is wrong but they're clearly worried about the politics. Listen to the president today at the white house.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I'm absolutely confident that the bill that emerges is going to be a bill that prevents bailouts. That's the goal. All right?

JOHNS: Sure, this is a real tough sell for the Republicans. It's almost like they're trying to test a message. How do you get the right message to tell people let's not reform Wall Street. Forget about that big problem you've had for the last year and a half and people losing their jobs and so on. The Democrats pretty much say yeah, we're going to work with this.

KING: It's an interesting test, because the Republicans want to say it's more bailouts, we'll keep checking on the truth meter on that one. The Democrats want to say they want to leave all the power on Wall Street which people don't like. This is a big argument about a lot of money and a lot of government power. Everybody, stay put. Coming up in the play by play, CNN has an exclusive conversation with Michelle Obama.


KING: You've seen play by play on the sports shows. We use it somewhat similar and somewhat differently. We breakdown the big tape in politics. Sometimes we run it through the truth test. Sometimes we take a peek behind the sound byte. Sometimes we see if it's fun and we have some fun. With us still, Joe Johns, Gloria Borger and Jessica Yellin. I want to start with Sarah Palin. She's been in the news a lot lately. She was in my town this morning where they had the original tea party before cable television mind you. The tea party express was there today. Governor Palin noticed that many criticized her. They think her rhetoric is a bit too harsh. She seemed to be answering those critics today.

SARAH PALIN: I'm not calling anyone un-American, but the unintended consequences of these actions, the results are un-American. Is that what Barack Obama meant when he promised the nation that they would fundamentally transform America? Is this what their change is all about? I want to tell him no, we'll keep clinging to our constitution and our guns and religion and you can keep the change. BORGER: If you were to close your eyes, John, and not look at where she was and not look at the date, wouldn't you think it was still the middle of the campaign? To hear her talk about clinging to guns and un-American and Barack Obama?

KING: I think she thinks she is still involved in a campaign, in a campaign against now.


KING: Against an agenda, not against the candidate anymore.

BORGER: Right but it doesn't hurt to mention Barack Obama.

KING: But somebody who says ignore her at your peril is a guy who tried to give her a lot of advice in the McCain campaign. He was the democratic senator turned independent senator, still caucuses and votes mostly with the Democrats, one of his best friends is John McCain, and Joe Lieberman still likes Sarah Palin.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: I do disagree with her and some of the specifics that she said; I think anybody who underestimates Sarah Palin as a political force in America does so at some peril, because she is speaking for a lot of people out there. And I don't know what her future is. I'm just saying that everybody should listen.

KING: We should note that was an interview with the conservative news outlet News Max earlier this week, Senator Lieberman speaking there. He still gives her a lot of credibility.

YELLIN: He does and I got an e-mail from our own Dana Bash, but she says don't forget that John McCain wanted Joe Lieberman and not Sarah Palin to be his VP candidate. He helped her prep for the VP debate. He got her back and he still does.

JOHNS: She's a phenomenon. When I go out in the country and I talk to people, there are a lot of people who don't think they're sophisticated Washington types who don't understand politics very well. They think pretty highly of Sarah Palin because they think she's plain spoken and genuine and honest. You can't say where this is going to go.

YELLIN: So good.

BORGER: And the message is smaller government, anti big government. That clearly is a message that resonates out there right now, and it's a Sarah Palin message. That's why, when you talk about bailouts, to get back to our earlier discussion, you're on the side of the people, which is why Republicans --

KING: Here's a great contrast. We saw some of this when Bill Clinton came through the white house. We're talking about the most high profile woman in American politics right now, Sarah Palin. There was another powerful in the white house who was a powerful woman in business before Barack Obama became president. So was Hillary Clinton. When she first became first lady, there was an adjustment period. We saw Michelle Obama yesterday in Haiti, a very important humanitarian mission. She's in Mexico City today. She sat down with CNN Espanol today for an exclusive conversation. She talked about a lot of issues but one thing she also talked about being a parent of young children in the white house.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: But in my household, we try to establish a set of guidelines and rules that make sense. No computers, phones, television during the week. We ask a lot of questions about what our kids are doing when they're on the computer. We talk a lot with them about the dangers of Facebook and sort of getting into that social networking kind of gossip mill, you know, that comes from those activities.

KING: We don't take sides on the issues, but as a parent, I say amen.

BORGER: Absolutely. That's why we kept the computer in the den.

JOHNS: My kids are just now getting into the Facebook age. I am really worried about it.

KING: We'll send them to have a conversation with the first lady.

Jessica Yellin, Gloria Borger, Joe Johns thanks so much. Tomorrow, you know what day it is. I don't need to tell you. It's the big tax deadline. Pete Dominick is looking for everyone who hasn't filed yet and whose refund has already come. He wants to spend it in the bar. There's Pete. We'll see him in a minute.


KING: Let's check in with Campbell Brown in New York get a sense of what's coming up at the top of the hour. Hi Campbell.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey John. As the president pushes lawmakers to pass financial reform, we're asking tonight, are some banks too big not to bail out? We're looking forward tonight to a pretty fiery debate on that between former labor secretary Robert Reich and the "Wall Street Journal's" John Fund. We were intrigued by the story of the Florida man who says that god led him to the 11-year- old girl who was lost in a swamp. That raises all kinds of fascinating questions about the power of prayer. It turns out that there is real science behind it. A lot of studies have been done on this. We're going to talk about that. Sanjay Gupta looked at those questions for us. We've got all of that at the top of the hour.

KING: Fascinating stuff. See you in a few minutes. Thanks, Campbell.

April 14, you know what that means, one day until tax day. Have you paid Uncle Sam yet? Our off beat reporter Pete is on the streets asking that question. Hey Pete.

PETE DOMINICK, JOHN KING USA'S OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey John. I'm one of those very unorganized Americans who literally went right down to the wire. I wanted to go out on the street to find out if there was anybody else like me. Did you get your taxes done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, my taxes have been done.

DOMINICK: When did you get them done?


DOMINICK: January?


DOMINICK: I can't keep up with this guy.

How did you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I gave Obama just about everything I made.

DOMINICK: You sent it to the white house.


DOMINICK: Did you do your taxes, buddy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually I didn't work this year.

DOMINICK: You did not work? How do you afford all the gear and cigarettes and that almost mustache?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very nice parents.

DOMINICK: Have you mailed the taxes yet? Your father was an accountant and your birthday was tax day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Ask me how many birthday parties have I had.

DOMINICK: How many birthday parties did you have?


DOMINICK: I like that jacket. Can I have it?

You took a trip to New York with your tax rebate and you rented a bicycle. What do you carry in that basket?


DOMINICK: Did you write anything off?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yeah, but we can't talk about that.

DOMINICK: Whisper in my ear what you wrote off?

Oh, you can do that. That's fine. You can do that?

I learned my lesson. Next year, I will get it done in January, March. I'm 34 years old.

KING: Don't say you're 34 on television, because I claimed you as a dependent. Pete, have a good night. That's all for us tonight. Campbell Brown starts right now.