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Tropical Depression; President Obama's Victory; Wall Street Overhaul; U.S.-Mexico Border Problems; Elena Kagan; Obama Administration Caribou Coffee

Aired June 25, 2010 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks for joining us tonight. We begin with breaking news that could significantly impact the effort to stop and to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Within the last hour the National Hurricane Center announced the first tropical depression of the Atlantic season. It announced it has formed in the western Caribbean, it's forecast to strengthen and to move into the Gulf of Mexico.

The questions now, how close will it come to the spill site, and where might it hit land? Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is in CNN Hurricane Headquarters with the latest -- Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, yes, as you mentioned just about an hour ago National Hurricane Center says this is the first tropical depression of the season. What do we anticipate? Well right now it has supporting winds of 35 miles an hour, but before it's expected to make landfall, perhaps later on this evening or into Saturday, it could reach tropical storm strength.

Move across the Yucatan, as it does that, it will move back into the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and we think maybe Tuesday, going into Wednesday, this could be at tropical storm strength. Now, I will tell you the computer models are a little bit divided as to what happens here, but either way, we're about three to four days away from our concern being really increased, because this could be at tropical storm intensity.

Hurricane hunters went in and investigated it, and said, yes, it does look like there is some low-level circulation. It does look stronger, barometric pressure is dropping. Water temperatures here, John, around 86, 87 degrees and that only fuels these tropical systems.

KING: And Karen, so often when we see storms like this, what we are most worried about is where will it hit land, and what force will it be when it hits land, but in this case you have so much of the recovery operations in the waters in the Gulf of Mexico, at ground zero where the spill occurred, some of the skimming operations throughout the Gulf, all the way from Louisiana over to Florida. If this storm turns into the middle of the Gulf right there where you have that map, what are we talking about in terms of the likely strength of the winds and the problems that could cause at the water level?

MAGINNIS: It is going to be very problematic. Getting the skimmer boats and all of the other nautical ships out of the water or at least towards shore, towards safety, that's a big adventure in itself. Where those booms are, well, it took them weeks and weeks to unload these booms, and they can't do it within a day or two, so, yes, that's another problem.

It's sort of two steps forward, maybe three steps back at this point in time. But I will tell you, John that the computer models right now, half of them are suggesting this will go to the east of the slick, the preferred track, and the other half of the models generally speaking are kind of splitting the difference, perhaps going to the west of the slick, which would throw that further on shore, produce more oil, and some of those areas that have been untouched up until now.

KING: Let's go through that just a little bit more. When you say preferred track one way that would actually in many cases pull the oil away from shore, if it takes that left track that you're noting then you're talking about the areas of Louisiana and the western boot, if you will, perhaps being affected, is that right?

MAGINNIS: Correct, yes. Now these tropical systems, they turn in a counterclockwise circulation. So if we're on the eastern edge of the slick that would have a tendency to throw some of that oil further away from shore. However, if it does follow some of these other tracks, then what we're looking at essentially would be throwing that oil further on shore and maybe a little bit further towards the east, maybe towards the Florida panhandle.

Right now, I do have to emphasize it is too early to tell, but the computer models over the next several days are sort of going to come together, so I think that we'll know, or at least have a much, much better idea as we go into Sunday and into Monday. But as you were mentioning, there have been so many booms. So many, many, many miles of booms that that is really -- kind of hampers the process that we've already gone through.

KING: Karen Maginnis for us in the CNN Hurricane Center, keeping an eye on this minute-to-minute. If it goes, Karen, we'll check back later in the hour as development warrant.

I want to head over to the "Magic Wall" for a minute because as we're talking about here, what is the plan in place? I want to show you right here if you look at the Gulf of Mexico, we've been watching this map over the past 80-plus days because of the response to the oil spill. This red spot here -- that is about ground zero. There is where there are dozens of ships on the water.

The "Enterprise", which is "Discovery Enterprise" (ph), that is the ship that's getting the oil that's coming up through the containment cap, the Q4000, another containment ship BP has brought on site to try to recover the oil, so many other skimming ships out here, support ships out here. The national incident commander, Thad Allen, said today that if necessary, if they get a forecast that says heavy winds and storms are coming this way, they have a plan but unfortunately in terms of the recovery efforts requires everyone to get off site.


ADM. THAD ALLEN, NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: We have a very robust hurricane contingency plan that has been produced by our incident commanders. In general, our threshold to start taking action is 120 hours before gale force winds are forecasted. That can be a different set of mileage depending on the track and the speed of the storm. But in general at about 120 hours out of the onset of gale force winds we will start to redeploy the equipment from the well site, redeploy other equipment to safe venues so they can come in after the storm to re-establish production or to take part in rescue activities.


KING: The national incident commander, Thad Allen there. What about the states that could be in the path of this storm? As Karen just noted, one path has it potentially coming right here in here into the Pensacola, Florida area. Standing by for us on the phone is the state meteorologist in Florida, Amy Godsey, who is helping the Department of Emergency Management. Amy, help us understand right now what you are being told about the possible path of this storm, and what you have to do to prepare?

AMY GODSEY, FLORIDA STATE METEOROLOGIST (via phone): Yes, the state of Florida is currently monitoring newly formed tropical depression one. Right now it's currently about 900 miles south/southeast of the wellhead location offshore and a little bit further than that from the Florida panhandle coast. Florida currently stands ready to handle any potential tropical system and its associated impacts obviously with ongoing operations with Deepwater Horizon.

Safety of workers and the citizens of Florida is our number one concern. Should we see a little more eastward track, as one of the computer model suggests, on a track more toward Florida, again, the models largely remain diverged after it goes across the Yucatan Peninsula. Historically, storms that move across the Yucatan Peninsula, especially that far inland, do tend to track westward because they do significantly weaken across the Yucatan Peninsula as they interact with some land.

But, again, as your meteorologist said, the waters are very warm and it will have plenty of room to regain some strength and possibly be pulled a little bit more northward, so whether it takes a track to the west or takes a track to the east more towards Florida, all of those considerations have to go into place as to what we do for not only for the Florida residents, should evacuation orders need to be put in place, but also, again, the safety of our workers and the ongoing operations associated with Deepwater Horizon.

KING: Amy Godsey, appreciate your perspective. We want to go now to one of those men helping to lead the response effort that Amy was just talking about. Grover Robinson is the Escambia County Commission Chairman we met a couple of weeks ago when I was down in the Gulf region and he joins us now on the phone from Pensacola.

Mr. Robinson, you remember when we were there we talked and I'm showing our viewers on the map here, some of these areas where you have the Barrier Islands or the Barrier Peninsula, it comes out here protecting your areas, some of those booms in that area are relatively flimsy. If you get a tropical storm that comes your way, they will be thrown about. What is your greatest fear at the moment?

GROVER ROBINSON, ESCAMBIA COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN (via phone): Absolutely, John and first off I want to thank you for everything you've done for the Gulf Coast and bringing awareness to this and being down there and having us on again. Again, a hurricane is going to be very difficult for us. It's going to mean we're going to have to find a way to maneuver all of our resources, change things, and we won't be able to fight the oil for a couple of days. And we really have no idea winds and currents what it will do with the oil that's out in the Gulf, so those are obviously very big concerns for us, buy we will do what we've always done here with conditions. We'll buckle down, prepare and be ready for it. And get up after it after it's over.

KING: And when I was down there, you go into some of the marshlands in here where the oyster beds are, and you come out here to Escambia Pass (ph), where you are worried about the oil perhaps getting in to those sensitive wetland areas. A lot of the booms down there have pretty low curtains, maybe a couple of feet under the water and a lot of the absorption things that have been dropped in the water aren't really booms at all. They're just essentially circular absorbing materials. In a heavy wind, they would be thrown around in a heartbeat. Do you have enough backup if you get a severe storm that throws out?

ROBINSON: We would have to -- we would probably have to -- we'd probably have to bring those things back in out of the Gulf because you're exactly right. They would not withstand the conditions that we're talking about. So you are talking about taking time and energy to pull out the things that you have put in.

So these are challenges that we would be there and again, if this stuff gets over the Barrier Islands and into the inland waters, it's going to be very difficult for us to deal with in that process, so we're obviously very concerned, but like so many things of this process, we cannot control the winds and the current. We just have to be prepared as best we can to deal with them as they come in and that's what we will continue to do.

KING: And when I visited your Command Center there you have the Coast Guard in, you have the state officials in. You obviously have all of the technology at your disposal. When you look at the calendar now as we talk on a Friday night, based on what we know about this storm, I mean what's the day on the calendar where you think you will be making big decisions about perhaps having to redeploy resources?

ROBINSON: Well again I think that's probably going to be here in the next day or two. Probably the next 48 hours we'll know more what's happening. We've been watching it at our EOC (ph) that you toured with us. We've been looking at it and it's been on our minds. But obviously we're trying to get some kind of idea. Just the things you said about your -- with your meteorologist there, the uncertainty, knowing where it goes, that's going to be -- we're already preparing for it, but we don't really know what we're going to have to do pulling the trigger.

It will be on how much time we have and what we can do. But the good thing is we -- unlike oil we're sort of learning on. We know hurricanes. And we know what we have to do. It is a different path with the oil there, but we understand hurricanes and we know what we need to do, and we will prepare for it the way we need to as Floridians.

KING: Sir, we appreciate your time tonight. We wish you the best in the hours ahead. We'll keep in touch in the hours ahead and the days ahead as well as this storm moves into the Gulf of Mexico -- best of luck in those days ahead.

We'll take a quick break. We will stay on top of this story throughout the night, the first tropical depression forming in the Atlantic, making its way toward the Gulf of Mexico, potentially significantly complicating the oil spill response and recovery efforts.

When we come back, we move on to another challenge. The president is in Canada tonight, but before leaving he said take a look. I have a long list of significant achievements. Will that help him in what so far is a tough political year for the Democrats? We'll ask when we come back.


KING: While you were sleeping last night congressional negotiators reached agreement on the most significant package of financial sector reform since the days just after the great depression. In a moment the details and what this package means to you and your bottom line. First, though, how it fits into the country's current political move. For a president whose approval rating are so-so and his party faces long odds this year it was a chance to assert a record of big achievements.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the last 17 months we've passed an economic recovery act, health insurance reform, education reform and we are now on the brink of passing Wall Street reform.


KING: It is an impressive list. The problem is many of you don't see it as a big plus in your life. Right now, nearly three-quarters of Americans say things in the country are going badly. Is the president failing to get his due or has his approach fallen out of favor.

Here to debate the policy and the politics former Clinton Communications Director Don Baer, now worldwide vice (INAUDIBLE), CNN contributor Erick Eriksson, the editor-in-chief of the conservative and our senior political analyst Gloria Borger. Don, let me start with you. As a Democrat who worked in a White House that often said boy we're not getting our due and they've suffered -- and it suffered a drubbing in a midterm election year a lot like this, why -- it is an impressive list if -- especially if you are somewhat aligned with this president. Health care reform, now they're on the verge of Wall Street reform, other legislation. Why if you go out and look into the public, the people go (INAUDIBLE).

DON BAER, FORMER CLINTON COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: I remember those long lists of President Clinton's achievements, right, and accomplishments we had to always put into the speeches. You know it's beginning to register. I think it's beginning to set in with people that the president knows how to do this job. He's performing in the job. Things are beginning to mount up. But you have to by clear about this. Until the economy begins to turn in a more decisive way with jobs, coming into this, when you've got near 10 percent unemployment it's going to be hard for that registration to really sort of sink in with people.

KING: You buy that when it sinks in, people will like it more?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think the results aren't going to translate to the middle class and they're not going to translate to Main Street. It's one thing to be beating up Wall Street, but we're seeing it even in Australia with the replacement of the prime minister down there this week that a lot of people starting to think these attacks on Wall Street are becoming attacks on the wealthy, and if I'm going to get attacked when I become successful, it's going to hurt me and this is starting I think to translate negatively with people.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I think financial regulation is very popular, 60 percent of the American public --


BORGER: -- is for financial regulation. I think the interesting thing we're watching here though is that people did vote for change. But they are getting an awful lot of change at the same time when they have economic anxiety, and so they are not seeing health care reform, because a lot of it is back loaded so they don't see the benefits of it yet. They are a little nervous about the stimulus package. Did it work? Didn't it work? Some of them are upset about the bank bailouts and all the rest, so there's -- this -- in effect the more he does, the more anxious the public gets about it.

KING: Is he doing something -- wrong is a tough word -- but is he not something right I guess from a communications standpoint in the sense that he hasn't moved the dial this year. We're now at the halfway point with a critical midterm election year. The election is actually before the end (INAUDIBLE), 130 days away, and look at these numbers. If you look at -- this is from the Pew Research Center.

The president's approval rating in January, it was 49 percent, now it's 48 percent. His approval rating on the economy, January, 42 percent, now, 43 percent. His approval on health care, January, 38 percent, now 42 percent, so a slight uptick on the health care number, but otherwise he hasn't moved the dial at all. I thought, Don, he was the premier politician of his generation?

BAER: Well, well you know here's the thing. These things don't happen overnight. You can't take just a snapshot --

KING: Four to six months?

BAER: This is about the moving picture. Well I think you're going to see some movement by the time November comes around, but here's -- they now have the raw material in place to say we've cleared away the underbrush, right? We have worked through a lot of the big issues and problems that were there that we inherited. We put in place -- he likes to call it -- a new foundation. But the question is now will he translate that into what's our forward going economic growth agenda that's going to create jobs, drive innovation in this economy, and make America stronger again to compete and win. And that's where he needs to link what has been done with what he's going to do.

ERICKSON: You know I just -- I think the American people when they get to November and they look at the debt, I mean this is why the Tea Party really exists and it started under George Bush. The debt that we're leaving to the country and when these numbers come through, and I guarantee you that before we get to November we're going to hit the debt ceiling again and have this argument all over again about more debt.

BORGER: But that's the Republican narrative, which is he's a big- spending liberal. And all of these big programs are big spending liberal programs. But their narrative is going to be compared to what? Would you like Joe Barton, who has apologized to BP, as Rahm Emanuel pointed out, the White House chief of staff?

ERICKSON: And that's why the Tea Party guys are ticking (ph) off Republicans (INAUDIBLE) Bob Bennett in Utah that to try to change their face of the game --

KING: There are Democrats in this White House, Don that say this is a more impressive list than Bill Clinton had in eight years in the White House. "A", do you buy that? And "B", if he needs to keep selling this message do you do more now? Do you bite off more --


BAER: John --


BAER: Let me just say 23 million new jobs in eight years is a pretty impressive list.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to go there.


BAER: Let me -- let me -- let me invoke Bill Clinton here. This is very important. One of his most important truisms always is elections are always about the future, not the past. And what the winner in this fall is going -- and the winner going into the next election cycle for the president is going to be the party and the individuals who are talking about what are we going to do next for you and how are we going to deliver.

And what the Obama White House now has is strong proof points that when we say we're going to do something, we deliver. Now when we tell you what we're going to do next to grow this economy, create innovation, create jobs, you have greater trust in us.

ERICKSON: Except I don't think that they do. I mean 41,000 jobs created the last time, except for in government, the Census group. What we're seeing right now in the deliverables aren't living up to the rhetoric.

BORGER: Here is the interesting thing about President Obama. The Democrats may take a drubbing in the midterm elections, but if you look at those numbers you just showed, John, he still remains popular the most of his policies. So people still like Barack Obama and so the Democrats may get hurt because some people don't like health care reform, but in 2012 the Republicans are going to have to come up with somebody --

ERICKSON: The greatest thing that could happen to Barack Obama is the Republicans taking the House because right now he can't run against the Republicans when they don't control Congress.

KING: You were there. We're running late on time -- but you were there after Republicans took the House in the Clinton days and many people say it did help President Clinton, welfare reform, a balanced budget.

BAER: Helped him terrifically. We moved back to where he really wanted to be, which to the center as a new Democrat, but you know there was something else that happened. He was forced into a position where he demonstrated how he could perform as president without legislation, right? We couldn't pass anything although we began to pass those things once the parties began to work together, which is exactly what the country wants.

KING: Don, Erick, Gloria, thanks very much. There is still a lot more to come in the program. I'll head over here to give you a preview.

When we come back, we were just talking about financial reform, oops, she's not going to come up. Well I'll tell you this way then. We'll go "Wall-to-Wall" to look at what the administration considers that major political victory. See what Wall Street reform means for you and your bottom line not just for the big guys on Wall Street.

Then we go "One-on-One" with an interesting voice from the West, where the Democrats are hurting right now after big gains in 2008, the New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: First some breaking news just in to CNN. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a motion asking the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans to stay a district court judge's order blocking the government's moratorium on deep water drilling.

Now we move on to "Wall-to-Wall" tonight and what financial reform, the compromise agreement that the Congress should send to the president as early as next week, what does it move for you? Let me go through some of the details first here then we'll bring in our Ali Velshi. He knows this better than anybody.

First let's just take a look at what's in the bill. The compromise being negotiated has a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it has what they call Volcker Rule Lite -- we'll explain that in just a minute. It's supposed to keep banks out of risky reckless business. "Too big to fail" protection, they say that's in the bill so we don't go through what we went through in 2008.

New derivatives regulation, again to keep the banks more transparency and openness in some of the higher-risk investment trades that go on. Benefits for retailers, curbs for risky mortgages are in this bill. Let's bring in our ace financial correspondent Ali Velshi. He's actually up at the G-8 meeting in Toronto, in Canada where President Obama is trying to take this bill, Ali, as a lesson to world leaders and say hey you got to get your house in order too.

But I just went through some of the highlights here. What is the most important thing here if you're the average family out there watching thinking is this about Wall Street or is this about me?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's actually about you even though a big part of this is consumer financial protections and making that clearer, the reality is it's all the other stuff that doesn't sound like it's about you that's actually interesting. The rules on derivatives, the rules on risky banking, the rules on leverage because really the credit crisis of 2008 wasn't really about you, but it ended up costing somebody you know a job or it ended up costing you somehow.

So bottom line is we have since the great depression done nothing to enhance our financial regulation. This is really landmark legislation. It is nowhere near what the Obama administration wanted it to be. What proponents of it wanted to be, but the reality is it is a big step forward. There are some major consumer financial protections in place. They're going to streamline contracts and the way deals are made.

At the same time, it is, as you mentioned, remarkable for President Obama to walk in to this G-8 and G-20 meeting in Canada because until now the rest of the world has been a little mad at America for being at the root of this financial crisis because it didn't have proper rules to govern its financial entities. Now President Obama walked in and says we've got some rules, let's see if we can get some of these rules on the table.

And the world is going to be talking about things like bank capital. How much a bank has to actually have in deposits before it can risk more money and how many times what a bank has under assets that it can risk. All of this, John, is designed to keep the consumer that much safer. Designed to create more transparency and designed to take that alphabet soup of regulatory agencies and make it into a more streamlined system so that regulators and government can see when something is going wrong and get their hands on it earlier than they were able to in 2007-2008.

But by no means, John, does this give us enough to actually protect us from the financial crisis that we got into. In other words, even these new laws would not keep us from what we got into and led into this recession -- John.

KING: Ali Velshi for us at the G-8 Summit and before we go to break, I just want to show you Ali said you know Obama administration did not get every thing it wanted and Wall Street isn't screaming too loudly. Why, well look at all this money spent on lobbying. This goes back to 1998, if you look at the last year, 2009, when this was being debated and so far in 2010 -- we'll get more updated numbers and you can bet that bar is going to move up.

That's lobbying by big commercial banks. Let's look at some of the bigger banks, you know these banks -- the Bankers Association, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, the Independent Community Bankers, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, look at these numbers. This is some serious cash spent on lobbying on this piece of legislation, again significant reforms, the most sweeping since the days just after the great depression, but Wall Street, many say, did not get as tight a rein put on it as some would have hoped. We'll track this bill as the Congress votes as soon as next week and as is it implemented.

When we come back, more on the tropical depression forming that could seriously significantly complicate efforts to deal with the oil spill and when we come back "One-on-One" with one of America's best known governors, Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico standing by.


KING: If you're just joining us, we want to update you on this hour's breaking news. The first tropical depression of the Atlantic season has formed in the western Caribbean. It's forecasted to moved into the Gulf of Mexico, which means it could significantly impact the oil spill response and recovery efforts. Meteorologist, Karen Maginnis is in the CNN Hurricane Headquarters.

Karen, show us the latest and the projections.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Now, the hurricane hunters looked at this earlier today and decided that this was significant enough that they did issue an advisory depicting what is now Tropical Depression 1, winds supporting of 35 miles-an-hour. But here's what's got to happen. We've got to watch this as it edges it way towards land, which a little rough for these tropical systems to survive, move over to the Yucatan and if it makes it from there, it could become a tropical storm by Tuesday, going into Wednesday. But look at this cone of error this is a fairly broad-reaching area and if it becomes a tropical storm, then where does it go? Well, we'll give you some idea of what we anticipate. We've got what's called the "Spaghetti Models" and these are various models plugged into computers, based on the intensity and local conditions and land masses and different variables and all kinds of data. Now, part of the data suggests it is going to head towards the panhandle of Florida. Those are a few of the models. The other across the Yucatan, more into the south central or west central Gulf of Mexico.

So John, we're split now. At some point over the next several days we're going to kind of converge and we'll have a better idea, probably going into Sunday what we anticipate the system will do. Does it become a tropical storm? Could it become a hurricane? We don't want to hit the alarm just yet, but water temperatures here are in the upper 80s, they are extraordinarily warm and this contributes to the development of tropical systems.

KING: And Karen, Focus on the arcs that turns to the right, toward Florida, in your spaghetti diagrams, there. If that happens, and yes it's an if, if, if, if at this point -- that, you see, ground zero for the spill is out there. The shores of Pensacola, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi where you have the live booms out there. What are we talking about in terms of wind speed and conditions on the water because that's where the ships are?

MAGINNIS: Exactly. Now, the ships are easier to deal with because they can go to shore without a lot of lead time. Now certainly there is come lead time. Those booms, John, I'm afraid it's several steps forward, maybe a couple of steps back because it took weeks and weeks and weeks to unfurl these booms in the gulf and they can't just automatically, within a few hours or days, be rolled back up. I'm sure some can, but as you mentioned, should it follow this trek more towards the panhandle, I wouldn't say it's the preferred way that we anticipate, but if it were going to go on either side of this oil slick, John, with that circulation being counterclockwise, that means more of the oil would tend to flow further towards or into the gulf. As oppose to, and I'll point this out, if it does make its way just to the east of that slick, then we're looking at it maybe going into areas that we haven't seen oil before. This is going to churn up the Gulf of Mexico. As it does that, then we've just got this whole volume of oil-covered Gulf of Mexico water that could have the potential to make its way further or deeper into the coastlines of Florida.

A lot of ifs here. We've gone into unchartered territory because this is the most significant thing we have seen in such a long time and now with the tropics acting up, it's a different concern.

KING: We'll keep an eye on it with you, Karen Maginnis, thank you.

Before we go to break, I want to show you, quickly, we were down in the Gulf Coast area recently, I want to show you what we're talking about when we're dealing with those booms, there. This is one area, right near Pensacola. These booms are designed to protect an oyster bed area. And if you watch, that's me out in the water there in waders.

The boom itself is about two or three feet and then below it there's a curtain that goes down another 18 inches or so into the water. I was able to lift them up out of the water and move them. If a tropical storm comes through with significant winds, those are doing the lord's work protecting oyster beds and shrimp beds in other areas, they will blow away in a heartbeat. The concern is can find them, can you relay them or if they are damaged, can you replace them.

We'll continue to track this storm in the days ahead. When we come back, one-on-one with the NM Governor Bill Richardson. He says Democrats suddenly in danger of losing the west because of Washington's failure to deal with issues like immigration and the deficit. Governor Richardson when we come back.


ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One on One."

Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, helped put Barack Obama in the White House. That was then. Now disgust with Washington and problems along the U.S.-Mexico border are costing the president and Democrats support out West which makes this is the perfect time to go "One on One" with the New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, who joins us from Santa Fe.

Governor, it's good to see you. I want to start with the immigration issue. Your colleague from your neighboring state of Arizona, Jan Brewer, was with us here recently. And I know you disagree with the details of the Arizona law, but do you agree with her basic premise. She says she was forred to act because the federal government has abysmally failed in its responsibility to defend protecting the border. Is she right about that?

GOV BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, there is frustration that the federal government is not acting, John. I face it too. But that's not President Obama's fault, that's the Congress' fault, which refused to deal with comprehensive immigration. So, I disagree with her premise. She shouldn't have signed that law, because that law is unconstitutional, it has caused enormous tension. It's a law that is flawed. And I think the first step has to be on immigration issue. President Obama and his team need to challenge it legally.

KING: There are many states, including your own that allow people to get a driver's license without proving they are in the country legally. I asked if somebody is in your to be on immigration issue. President Obama and his team need to challenge it legally.

RICHARDSON: There are many states, including your own that allow people to get a driver's license without proving they are in the country legally. And when Governor Brewer was here, I asked her the question, so if somebody's in your state and they get pulled over by your police for whatever reason and they have a driver's license, a valid driver's license, say it's from Utah, say it's from New Mexico, is that enough, I said, if they show that and show they have a license, is that enough or do they have to have documentation they are here legally. Listen to the government? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: It wouldn't matter if you were Latino or Hispanic or Norwegian, if you didn't have proof of citizenship and i the police officer had reasonable suspicion, he would ask to verify your citizenship. I mean, that's the way that it is.


KING: What kind of a climate does that create in the sense that if you're from New Mexico and have you a driver's license, if you are Latino, or if you might -- someone might belief you are Latino, you have to make sure you carry your passport or your green card with you?

RICHARDSON: That's what makes it racial profiling, John. You can have a New Mexican or an Arizonan that's been in Arizona hundreds of years in generations and they are now basically asked for their papers. That's what makes this law unconstitutional. I think what we need to do, John, and where I agree with Governor Brewer is that we need more border patrol, we need more National Guard at the border, more detection equipment. We need laws that clamp down on those that hire illegals and we need a legalization program, where you're taking the 11 million that are here, and if they pay back taxes, if pass a background check, they get behind the line, they enforce American values, they get in the line, first those that applied legally. I think that's the only way to deal with the system. But what we've done in Arizona, what has happened there is spreading around the country and you're going to have local take action that is basically federal, that is going to cause a lot of tension that is basically unconstitutional.

We got to protect our people, but we got to do it sensibly in a bipartisan way with a comprehensive bill, and the Congress doesn't have the will to do this. The president is ready to move, and what is important is the Congress to say, OK, our priorities this year, an energy bill, they take credit for doing financial regulation, but do a comprehensive immigration reform bill, maybe right after the election, before Christmas. They should do that.

KING: Governor, what's happening out West with the Democratic Party? It was a great region of growth in 2008, a lot of people said the west would become for the Democrats what the south was to the Republicans in presidential politics, lesser to a degree in New Mexico, but if you look at Colorado, if you look at Nevada, the Democratic numbers are down, the president's numbers are down. Has he done too much? Has his government been too active, when you get out West, where people tend to be a little bit more Libertarian?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think the president is doing good in the West. I don't disagree with that characterization. The president associated with a good environment, climate change issues, with technology and he's pushing immigration reform. There's a huge number of Hispanics in the West. I think we're going to be very competitive in the races in the West. Harry Reid, I believe, will win in Nevada. We're going to keep the governorships in New Mexico and Colorado. We even have a shot at a governorship in Arizona with the attorney general running there.

So, I don't believe that view that the West is not going to stay Democratic. Maybe our momentum has slowed down a little bit, but if you recall, John, we turned over the West, major western states, going to President Obama. And I think this Libertarian, this Independent streak, for instance, this action with General McChrystal, who I believe is a great officer and was doing a good job, is going to help him, it that you know, individualistic, Libertarian, strong, and I think actions like that help out here.

KING: Governor Richardson, we appreciate your time tonight. We'll keep in touch as this campaign season unfolds. Your region is a great one to keep an eye on.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir.

And next, it's your turn to join the conversation, about what we should expect from one of next week's biggest stories.


KING: Every Friday, the most important person you don't know, is you. It's part of our commitment to bring you into the conversation. Every Monday we ask you a question, and we give you all week to make your case by posting a video to our Web site, This week's question: What would you ask Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan during her confirmation hearings next week? Here's a sampling of what you told us.


DAVE PITMAN, CINCINNATI, OH: I would just like to know if she feels like the Constitution is up for reinterpretation by Supreme Court justices, or is she liable to interpret it as the founding fathers intended it to be interpreted?

MELANIE CAMARRA, BOWIE, MD: What are you going to do for minorities, you know, in the United States, the whole issue, especially in Arizona, you know, what's going to happen to us?

JON HYATT, FARMINGTON, UT: I think I would probably ask the question about how she feels about federal land in Utah, and how that is going to impact the education of the kids in our state.


KING: Pretty good mix of questions, there. Let's talk it over. With us here, former Republican congresswoman, Susan Molinari of New York, and our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

Congresswoman, when this started, she was nominated, Republicans said a-ha, a liberal judicial activist and then it sort of went into the yawn phase, and now in recent days, it's got a little more spice to it. What's going to happen? SUSAN MOLINARI (R), FMR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Right. Well, as you know, obviously the hearings start this week and it's interesting is we followed your program with the weather happening in the gulf, normally these Supreme Court nominations take up so much time and energy in Washington, D.C. and obviously people throughout the country are interested, it'll be interesting to see how much space and air this storm will allow the Supreme Court nomination to go through. Of course, it's his second, so that always gets a little bit less attention than the first. After she was nominated and the conservatives said she was way too liberal, the liberals said she's way too conservative. So, I think there is going to some interesting questions.

A lot of what concerned the Republicans right now, have to do with the significant portion of documents that are being withheld during her time in the Clinton administration, some pertain to Arizona immigration laws in 2007. So, I think there will be some tough questioning as she's advocated in the past for Supreme Court nomination.

DANA BASH, CNN SR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question that there is going to be some tough questioning from conservatives, especially because they are getting pounded and pressured by conservative groups to ask the tough questions. As Senator Sessions, who's a ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee keeps saying, this is not a coronation. And the reason why he has to say that is because nobody thinks, unless something remarkable happens that she is not going to get confirmed. The question is going to be the theatrics of the confirmation hearings and whether some of your former colleagues can please the conservative base that they're at least giving it the college try.

KING: That takes me right to one of the stories on my radar I wanted to talk about tonight, because she's been practicing, practicing, as you might expect, several hours a day. They had an interesting conference call today. The top White House lawyer, they White House counsel Bob Bauer and the senior advisor, David Axelrod, and a conference call. David Axelrod saying this: "It's a highly charged partisan environment and there will be a lot of pressure on one side or the other. But, I hope that members of the Senate will look to some of the leading conservative law practitioners in the country and how they consider her a superb nominee."

On that point, there are a few Republicans, like Ken Starr, the former (INAUDIBLE) general who said Elena Kagan's qualified, I might not agree with her on everything, but she's qualified. Does that matter, or...

MOLINARI: Well, of course it matters, but I think you do also have an obligation to ask some questions. I actually pulled a quote from Elena Kagan who wrote in 1995, "When the Senate ceases to engage nominees in meaningful discussion of legal issues, the confirmation process takes the order of accude (ph) and farce."

So, I mean, she's somebody that's understanding that it is their job to ask the tough questions, to try and present the American people as big and bold a picture of how this woman will...

BASH: There's no question that quote is going to come back...

KING: That was then, this is now, right?

BASH: That quote is going to come back -- that is -- we're going to hear that over and over and over again. I think you can bank on it, when senators try to ask her questions and she won't answer it because no matter what she said back then, that's what Supreme Court nominees do.

KING: The Kagan standard.

BASH: Exactly, very well said.

KING: All right, this one's fascinating. The hottest spot for doing business with the Obama White House isn't necessarily the Oval Office. The "New York Times" reports it's this Caribou Coffee shop on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the White House and a few other nearby coffee houses. According to the "Times," White house officials have met there hundreds of times with prominent "K" Street lobbyists, the same people candidate Barack Obama make clear would be persona non grata in the executive mansion. Remember this?


BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Part of what happens is that if you don't include the American people into the process, if they don't understand the choices that are available to us, then the lobbyists are empowered, they go behind closed doors and they block change from happening. And that's part of the reason why transparency and accountability is so important to me when I -- when I talk about government reform, because that's the way to empower the American people to bring about the change that is necessary.


KING: Now, it's transparent and accountable if they go into the White House, but we have no record of who met with how many people. You happen to be a lobbyist.

MOLINARI: And I have not been invited for coffee at Caribou.

KING: You don't go to coffee at Caribou?

MOLINARI: And let's face it, you're absolutely right. They don't go to Caribou Coffee because they make, you know, foamier lattes than they do at the White House mess. When you go into the White House as a lobbyist or anybody that is visiting there, you have to sign in, you have to get clearance and there's a record there. And you have to then if you are going to be transparent, say how many lobbyists you've met with. By crossing the street, you know, they've been too cute by half, by saying they are not bringing lobbyists into the White House, but clearly they're meeting with them.

BASH: And I was e-mailing with a White House official about this who said look, you know, they claim that this is unfair, that because they are raised the bar, they're held to a higher standard and now that there's hypocrisy police are after them...

KING: If you raise the bar, aren't you asking to be held to a higher standard?

BASH: I'm just telling you what they're saying. However, I will also tell you that I spoke to a senior Democratic official who said - you know what, this is a quote: This shows the utter and complete stupidity of the rules that the White House set up regarding lobbyists. And the reason you've heard this all over town, I'm sure you have too. that what the White House tried to do was definitely add a level of ethics to the rhetoric, but what they've also done is, from the perspective of a lot of people, is cut off some pretty good talent and some informed people who could help them with policy and that might have hurt them.

KING: Does it matter? Do voters ever care about this stuff? We focus on it because it's a big process question here in Washington. Do voters ever care?

MOLINARI: I mean, I think voters care about hypocrisy. I mean, I don't know that there's been any president that's ever lost an election or even seen their poll numbers drop because they met with lobbyists. I think, you know, when you set a bar and when you say they're not going to come in, you have to make sure that you don't also cross the street. I think it's -- look, it's also the hypocrisy that gets you in trouble in this town.

KING: All right, stand by one sec. We'll be back. But does the government want to be able to flip a switch and kill the Internet. Pete on the Street has information superhighway investigation, when we return.


KING: We want to keep you posted as we track a new tropical depression in the western Caribbean. The National Hurricane Center has just updated the forecast. It's expected to reach the Yucatan peninsula late Saturday and emerge in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. If it becomes a tropical storm it will be called "Alex," the first of the season.

The forecast models still disagree on whether it will then move northwest toward Texas or turn northeast toward the gulf oil spill site and the coast of Florida.

Here as an interesting question. No Internet? Congress is debating how long the president could shut down the net during a national security crisis? How long do you thing that could go off-line? Could you last? Could get through the day? Our off-beat reporter, Pete Dominic, hit the floors.


PETE DOMINICK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John King, the world without the Internet? What would that be like? Well, for one thing, you would certainly have a lot of brick-and-mortar establishments like this place, where, by the way I interned in college.


Fifty-five percent of Americans use the Internet every day.

In all, about 184 million Americans, or 80 percent of the population, use the Internet.


Miss, would you be all right without the Internet?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god, I would die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would kill myself.

DOMINICK: You would, no, seriously. No, don't do it.

What would you do without the Internet, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I always do, pencil and paper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would go to the library very quickly.

DOMINICK: I'm sorry, the library? What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd see more people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd save money.

DOMINICK: You would save money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She shops on it all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to get rid of the Internet.

DOMINICK: "They" need to get rid of it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it ruining people lives.

DOMINICK: What's the last thing you did using the Internet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sent a letter to a friend.

DOMINICK: Why not just write it with a pencil and paper?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, those days are gone. Come on, get with it.

DOMINICK: You know, what the world was like without the Internet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sad, lonely. DOMINICK: Congress is considering passing a law that what allow the president to shut down the Internet in emergencies like a cyber terrorism...




DOMINICK: What would be the Web site you would you would miss the most?







DOMINICK: You're on FaceBook right now.


DOMINICK: FaceBook will come back, just wait an hour.

DOMINICK: Is your favorite Web site


DOMINICK: Look it, he's following his directions.

Sir, you went know where you were going right now if you didn't have that.


DOMINICK: You guys met on


DOMINICK: Where did you meet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We met 47 -- 46, 47, 48, 49, about 50 years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, on the clothesline.


DOMINICK: I think I know what we learned here, John King. Have a good one.


KING: Have a great weekend. That's all from us. A CNN special, "Michael Jackson, the Final Days," starts right now.