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JOHN KING, USA

Beck's Big Rally; New Orleans Post Hurricane Katrina

Aired August 27, 2010 - 19:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Suzanne and good evening everyone.

Driving our debate tonight, Glenn Beck, he calls himself the whitest man in America. He also once said President Obama has a deep- seated hatred for white people. Tomorrow if you haven't heard already that Beck is holding a rally at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial with the goal, he says, of honoring the troops and we're quoting here, "reclaiming the civil rights movement."

Did we mention it just happens to be the 47th anniversary of the march on Washington? At the very site of the Beck rally, Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream Speech." Add it all up and you get something with which Mr. Beck is all too familiar -- controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: The civil rights movement of '63 was to come to Washington, to ask government to protect citizens, to intervene in our lives. He is coming to the government to get out of our lives. There are state's rights movement, so you can't have it both ways.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), CHMN., DEM. CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN CMTE.: Since the day President Obama was elected president, you have had a constant tirade against the president, against Democratic efforts to get the economy turned around. So let's call it what it is. It is a blatant political effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Banking on a huge Tea Party crowd and bringing in Sarah Palin to help with the speechmaking -- partisan political rally or just a big patriotic picnic? In a moment, my conversation with Reverend Al Sharpton who met me down at the Lincoln Memorial today as Mr. Beck was checking out the stage. But first let's talk it over with CNN contributors Roland Martin and Erick Erickson.

Roland, I want to stalk with you first. Do we need Mr. Beck to as he says, reclaim the civil rights movement?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No we don't. And frankly, we are giving him exactly what he wants and that is maximum attention. He is a self-described rodeo clown who, frankly, to me is irrelevant. And so, I don't see him in this regard. Frankly, I really don't care. I probably will be doing something else than actually paying attention to anything that he has to say tomorrow.

KING: Is he irrelevant, Erick? To Roland's point, Mr. Beck certainly does like attention and he certainly does seem to relish controversy, but is he irrelevant? His television program does pretty well. His radio program does pretty well. It seems to be, and we should mention, he right now is appearing at a Tea Party rally, the Freedom Works Organization, the Tea Party affiliated organization right now to try to gin up some support. Is he irrelevant?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well we're talking about him. In fact I will be spending a lot of time this weekend talking about him. Frankly, I would rather be doing other things but a lot of folks are going to be talking about him.

MARTIN: I agree with you on that one.

ERICKSON: You know -- yes, you know Roland I think you and I might agree a lot on this conversation. Is he relevant to a lot of people? He is. And those are the people who will be turning out this weekend and those -- a lot of them will be going to the polls in November. Look at this more as a pep rally for what's to come. The Democrats will fundraise off of it but you know, I think a lot of the people who will be there will then turn out and go vote and mobilize.

KING: I want you to both to stand by as we did a little deeper into the controversy. As I mentioned, I went over to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial today, saw some of the activity, the organizing going place, also took some time to talk with the Reverend Al Sharpton. He is here to lead a counterdemonstration on the 47th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream Speech".

And I asked Al Sharpton, given what Mr. Beck has said about President Obama and given what Mr. Beck has said about reclaiming the civil rights movement if he had any objection to Glenn Beck standing right there in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial leading this rally.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHARPTON: He is an American that has every right to be on those steps, I just don't think he has it right to say that he is reclaiming the civil rights movement, when he said that he had the date and the place, we didn't challenge it, even though we were coming to town and we have done this for years. We didn't challenge it. You will see nobody filed against him. But then he started saying I'm going to reclaim the civil rights movement, we are going to bring it back, we started it in the first place.

Now that is where I took issue. Because what Mr. Beck and Ms. Palin represent is the opposite of what civil rights is about. The civil rights movement of '63 was to come to Washington, to ask government to protect citizens, to intervene in our lives.

He's coming to tell government to get out of our lives. There are states' rights movement, so you can't have it both ways. Martin Luther King does not belong to blacks. He is right about that but you can't change the speech. This is not Martin Luther King's birthday. This is his speech day. The speech very clearly says what Dr. King saw as his dream.

KING: So what do you think his motive is then?

SHARPTON: I think if I knew his motive, I could get a PhD in psychology. I would know -- I don't know his motive. I know what his mouth is saying. His mouth is saying he is reclaiming civil rights and to him civil rights is states' rights.

KING: And so, when he has this crowd here, do you think they are at odds with your movement? Do you think that you are not welcome?

SHARPTON: I don't call the Tea Party as a whole racist. I don't call anybody racist. It is not about whether I would be welcomed there. It is about would they be welcomed where we've been consistently for years, celebrating this day? If anyone's having a countermarch, it is them. They are trying to call themselves civil rightist, at least Beck is.

I believe a lot of people in that crowd probably don't even know what the original march was about. If they were younger than 47, how do they know that Beck is wrong? And I think what is at odds with it is if Mr. Beck is saying the president is a racist and Mr. Beck is saying that we don't need government to deal with our lives. That is anti-civil rights, so none of us, me, National Action Network, none of the leaders have called them names. They've called the president names. Mr. Beck is the one that brought race in it. We have not denounced any of them.

KING: What does that mean to you?

SHARPTON: What does the Lincoln Memorial?

KING: Yes.

SHARPTON: It reminds me how this country was would once torn and there was a man who wrestled with his own conscience and saved the union and freed the slaves and he became known as the great emancipator and he struggled to get there and it also means to me a man stood there and talked about a dream that gave me the possibility to vote and my mother the possibility to move to the front of the bus. That's what that memorial means to me. And no matter what they do tomorrow it won't change what that building means to me.

KING: Do you view Mr. Beck and Governor Palin as unifying figures?

SHARPTON: I think that they are political figures. I think --

KING: What if they said the same of you?

SHARPTON: Well, but tomorrow is not about me or them. It is about Dr. King and his speech, as far as we are concerned. And I am a political figure. And so are they. And I think that we have, being political figures, to be consistent with facts.

The fact is Dr. King said August 28, 1963 Americans gave blacks a bad check that bounced. Somebody should ask Mr. Beck do you agree with that. If you don't, then why are you saying you are reclaiming something you don't believe in? That's all. I'm not here on Ronald Reagan speech day. I'm here on Martin Luther King's speech day. I didn't agree with Ronald Reagan. I'm not trying to take Ronald Reagan's speech and put it as an emblem over my rally.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Let's continue the conversation with Roland Martin and Erick Erickson. If 47 years ago, Dr. King's goal was somehow of bringing America together, ending the black/white divide, what are we going to have tomorrow, 47 years later, on those steps? And I should note because I believe this is important to note, 66 days before America votes in what has been a very divisive midterm election?

MARTIN: Well, actually, John, we need to have a slight correction here. First of all, that speech was called the march -- at the march in Washington for jobs and freedom. The speech was called normalcy never again. The -- we keep focusing on the bottom one-third of that speech, the "I have a dream" part, but you have to pay attention to the top two-thirds.

It was an economic parity speech. It was about the injustices economically that affected African-Americans. It dealt with jobs, police brutality. It dealt with the issue of voting. That speech was designed to put the pressure on Congress and the Kennedy administration to confront civil rights in the country. See, we keep getting wrapped up in the racial harmony aspect, Dr. King was saying we need economic justice in this country.

And so I would say to the folks tomorrow, I would say to, you know, the self-described rodeo clown, if you truly want to talk about this content of character, a small line in the speech deal with poor people. Deal with the poor people's campaign King was leading when he died. Deal with the sanitation workers in Memphis when he was killed.

See that's what people want to ignore. They don't want to focus on the economic aspect. They only want to talk about well about holding hands and getting along. That was a radical economic speech that he gave and we often ignore that.

KING: Erick, jump in on that point and Reverend Sharpton made the same point, saying that a lot of that was about government intervening to help people, whether it was to help with economic assistance, whether it was help to end the racial barriers to African- Americans at that time in this country. And he says Mr. Beck and his associates tomorrow will be talking about getting rid of government, why government needs to get out of everybody's lives.

ERICKSON: You know I think it is a profound irony. And first, let say I don't think that Glenn Beck timed this weekend to coincide with the Martin Luther King speech. I think it happened by accident. Now it is going to be capitalized on, I think. But they will also be spending a lot of time talking about economics tomorrow, but there are a lot of people on the conservative side who feel like government has now gone too far and they want government out of our lives. They don't believe that the economic policies driving the country right now are creating jobs. That people are winding up being worse off instead of better off. The demagoguing of job creators and the rich and Wall Street has gone too far and they want to pull it back. It is an interesting dichotomy between the two and I appreciate what Roland said because, frankly, I had forgotten. I had read the whole speech and forgotten about the economic aspect of it because we rarely do talk about it.

KING: I'm going to ask you both to stand by. Roland --

MARTIN: Hey, John --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Go ahead.

MARTIN: It's important for us to note people who criticize the government, well guess what? They criticized the housing, starts dropping this week. So do they want federal government to impose housing credits for first-time buyers? It's real interesting when we talk about government when people like -- they say oh I love government. When they don't like somebody else having government, they say oh I don't like government. That's government, housing credits. That is the federal government.

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: A lot of us would say no, we don't want them.

KING: All right, well we'll continue this part of the conversation and more in a minute. When we come back, Glenn Beck in his own words, on why he believes he understands the African-American experience.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You ask people in politics or across America who is Glenn Beck you might get a different answer depending on who you ask. Some people forget. Right now he hosts a show on FOX TV, it's very successful. He has a radio show. It's very successful. He's one of America's best selling authors, but before he went to that other network, he worked at our sister network HLN here in the CNN family. And back in 2007, he was hosting a show, talking about at that point allegations of rape against the Duke lacrosse players and he was raising in this context how he wanted you to believe he understands the plight of African-Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, HEADLINE NEWS: Now, granted, I am the whitest white man in America. You won't meet whiter men than me. It would be naive for me to say I you know, now understand what the African-American experience has been. But you know what -- I kind of do. If I would have grown up in the south and my people would have been railroaded over and over and over, not just in this one case, but for hundreds of years, you know what, I wouldn't trust the police. I wouldn't trust the judicial system. And if I could stick it to the man with somebody like O.J. Simpson, I am sorry to say, I think I would.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When you listen to that, Roland Martin and Erick Erickson, Roland, I want you to address that in the context of Reverend Sharpton, other African-Americans we have bumped into today and I have e-mailed and had conversations with about this, they do take offense because they think Glenn Beck is number one, opposed to them, doesn't understand their life, doesn't like their political views largely and they don't think he should be there on the 47th anniversary.

MARTIN: OK, no offense to Howard Stern, but this is the Howard Stern of news talk. That is all this is, OK? This is the same guy who said on his -- on HLN -- I'm sorry -- on CNN talking to Paula Zahn that he really didn't have many black friends because he was afraid to say the wrong thing and they might take it the wrong way.

OK, so I totally ignored Glenn Beck. What he is doing is getting paid. And all of these people are running around watching him cry and scream and yell and break down on television and he is getting paid by it. OK, it is a marvelous marketing deal. We are sitting here on CNN talking about a FOX News host. It's great marketing.

But he is still irrelevant. He is absolutely irrelevant and so this idea that he understand what is it means to be African-American in that example just totally ridiculous and nonsensical.

KING: But is he irrelevant -- the reason we are talking about him in my view is because this event has drawn controversy. We are 66 days away from an election. He is working with a movement -- with a movement that has proven it has at least some power in this political year.

Erick Erickson, you run a very conservative, a very influential conservative blog. If Glenn Beck got up tomorrow and said everybody stay home. Don't vote. None of these Republicans are conservative enough. None of them deserve your vote. Would people listen to him?

ERICKSON: You know I don't --

MARTIN: He tried that already.

ERICKSON: You know I really don't think that they would. Glenn Beck is entitled to his opinion. I know him. I like him. He is also no Rush Limbaugh who has a vastly larger audience. And so and sometimes you do have these conflicts here. (INAUDIBLE) to stand up tomorrow and say don't go vote you would have the others on talk radio saying do go vote and probably the larger mass of the voice would outweigh that.

People listen to Glenn Beck. People are going to turn out this weekend to the rally. He is influential among a large segment of this population. And I don't think we can deny that. A lot of people listen to what he say. They don't always agree, but a lot of them do. They buy his books. They watch his show. They listen to his radio show and he's been a formidable force among activists, a lot of people, to profile new candidates, profile more conservative candidates. He's put a lot of candidates on the map that otherwise wouldn't be there.

KING: Well you are clearly not a total fan, Erick, but you did write a posting this week talking about his First Amendment right to be there and to say what he wants to say and to choose that site.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: -- conversation about that because the country has been having this conversation about free speech and about freedom of religion in the context of the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center near ground zero and in other communities. I want to read you something one of his colleagues at FOX News -- I'm sorry, Roland, we're going to mention another FOX News person on our air tonight.

She happens to be another CNN alum as well, Greta van Susteren. She suggested Glenn Beck should move this event. And here is what she wrote on her blog. "Just because you have the right to do something does not mean you should. My view? No mosque at ground zero and Glenn should move his event. It does not help heal the country on so many fronts if we poke a stick in eyes."

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: Go ahead, Roland, sorry.

MARTIN: No, no Erick, go right ahead.

ERICKSON: I think it's probably a little too late for him to move the event. By the time Greta said that the permitting process and everything else that goes into that. And again, I really don't think Glenn Beck sat down and looked at the calendar and said hey we're going to do this on the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. I think what he did was he said there are a lot of activity around September 11th and September 12th primarily because of his 9/12 movement.

He kind of passed the movement on to independent people and wanted something of his own and said hey, we will do it a few weeks earlier on 8/28. And only afterwards, and I think he himself has said this, only afterwards did they realize that it this was weekend and by then with the permitting processes and everything else, a little late.

KING: He says it was perhaps divine --

MARTIN: John, I'm not buying -- I'm not buying that at all -- I'm not buying that at all, John. This whole divine providence -- it was very clear because also remember, August 28th was also we talked about it the same day that then-Senator Barack Obama, (INAUDIBLE) nomination there in Invesco field for the Democratic nomination.

Look, we can sit here and talk about his influence, things along those lines. This is the same guy who sat on CNN, in THE SITUATION ROOM, and I debated him when he said, oh, John McCain is not conservative enough. I would rather have Hillary Clinton in the White House. And I sat here and said there's no way in the world you are actually going to support Hillary Clinton if she got the nomination.

And so look, he is describing himself as a rodeo clown is what he is. Let's also deal with some facts. He dropped the 9/12 movement. Many of the people who were following him they said, wait a minute what did you do. This is also the same guy who said this rally was supposed to be the kickoff to these conferences.

He was going to launch a book. There were going to be these ideals. They were going to raise money, choose candidates. What did he do? He dropped all of that. He doesn't want to create a movement. He wants to create a TV and radio following. That's what it is. If --

ERICKSON: I think he has already done that --

MARTIN: -- about the movement you would -- no, no, but he hasn't. He has dropped it, OK. He announced himself what he was supposed to do with this rally and all of those other things all of a sudden have now gone by the wayside and now he is changing it every other day as to exactly what it is. This is the Glenn Beck look at me show. And we are giving him exactly what he wants.

KING: Well let me ask you, Erick Erickson in closing, lastly, the Republican National Committee (INAUDIBLE) I guess we've heard about this thing, but we've got nothing to do with it. Some Republicans are nervous, right, because they're not quite sure what he's going to say.

ERICKSON: Right. You know the Republicans have kept Beck at a distance. A lot of conservatives has kept Beck at a distance because they don't know what to make of him --

(CROSSTALK)

ERICKSON: A lot of them agree with what Roland is saying that it's about him. I think Glenn Beck is profoundly convicted by passion and he does a lot of things, maybe he has ADD, he does a lot of things at once, he's got a huge staff. He's trying to do something. He's trying to have an impact. I like the guy. I listen to his show. I think he is very entertaining.

And he rallies people to a cause, unlike a lot of other people. And I think he will have a positive influence coming out of this weekend. He will inspire people to go vote. Republicans are deeply scared though, because frankly, most of the people who are going to this rally this weekend hate the Republicans as much as the Democrats, particularly the committees, the NRSC, the NRCC and the RNC, the Senate, Congressional and National Committees of the Republican Party.

KING: All right, we're going to call a timeout there. Appreciate both of you gentlemen coming in on a Friday night --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks John --

KING: -- and being so polite and civil --

(CROSSTALK)

KING: See that is a good accomplishment, just polite and civil right there.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: A lot more to come --

MARTIN: Watch Tiger tomorrow --

KING: When we come back, we will shift subjects, I assure you, we'll make Roland happy. One of the things we'll do is we'll go "Wall-to-Wall"; you know it's the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. We will take a very close look at New Orleans then and now.

One in five people in the metropolitan area, well, they are missing. The population is down. We'll show you how that breaks down. And we will go "One-on-One" with Ray Nagin. He was the mayor when the hurricane struck. A new documentary suggests he is the worst mayor in the city's history. Ray Nagin will get a chance to speak for himself right here.

In the "Play-by-Play" tonight, Sarah Palin's last straw? We will explain what we mean. You might even get a chuckle out of that.

And mosque politics, they're not just limited to the debate in New York City. Across the country it is a big debating point. And Pete Dominick is out on the street tonight dealing with a very tough subject. How do you survive unemployment?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Brianna Keilar for the latest news you need to know right now -- hey, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John. What is the most significant threat to U.S. national security? Well Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says it is our national debt because it competes with military spending.

And former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Boston this afternoon with a freed American prisoner from North Korea.

Now check this one out from left to right here, Hurricane Danielle, Tropical Storm Earl and then what is expected to become Tropical Storm Fiona, very busy storm season.

And a warehouse fire in Houston, Texas, destroyed all 10,000 of the county's electronic voting machines, John.

KING: Brianna thanks so much. We will see you a little bit later. ANNOUNCER: Here comes the "Play-by-Play".

KING: One of the things we have been obsessed with -- I have been obsessed with since Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago is who would come back to New Orleans and how many of the people who were there on that fateful day would return to that city. So, we want to take a glimpse tonight at the then and now in New Orleans.

First, I want to show you this map, let me explain it to you. The lighter the color that means the lower percentage of the population that has returned. This is the lower ninth ward right here where the hurricane damage was devastating. You see yellow -- that means less than 25 percent of the population has returned. The darker the green that means 100 percent of the population has returned.

Where you see these hash marks, that is where the worst flooding happened in the region and you will notice where the worst flooding is tends to be the lighter colors, meaning less of the population has come back. This is central New Orleans up here, Metairie up here, Lake Pontchartrain, where the water came through up here. I want to take a different way of looking at this.

Here you zoom in on some of the individual parishes. Jefferson Parish hit hard, see that drop? That means the population went down. It has slowly rebuilt. Orleans Parish, that's the city itself. Look at that devastating drop right there from over 1.3 million people dropping down below a million. It has now made it back above 1.2 million.

See St. Charles Parish -- that was pretty stagnant. Not as much damage from the hurricane there. As demographers study this they are fascinated by the changes in the city. One point we should note, they are not sure these numbers are exactly right because the census, the 2010 census was just conducted. They will know much more when those numbers are out with specificity. Now they're using things like how many people are receiving mail, utility bills, some economic and employment data to make these projections, but it's fascinating at what they are checking out so far.

Here is another way of looking at it. This is the total region, come back to 2005, you see the population way up there, look at that drop, that is the hurricane, right there boom. That is Katrina and the exodus from the New Orleans area and this is the rebuilding in the five years since, 1.3 million at the day of the storm, actually about 1.21 million now. That's about 80 percent, assuming those numbers are correct.

And here is another thing they are closely trying to track. Does the face of the city look different now than from then? We want to take you back to Hurricane Katrina. This was the racial breakdown in New Orleans at the time. About 68 percent African-American, 27 percent white, three percent Hispanic and two percent Asian population. That is when the storm hit five years ago.

Now we will pull this back, these are the latest projections from demographers and take a look at the differences. From 68 percent African-American down to 61, so the city is less black than it was five years ago, the white population, from 27 percent up to 30 percent, slightly larger white percentage. And look at this, the Latino population, Hispanics have doubled from three percent to six percent in the five years. The Asian population has also grown a little bit.

Again, we want to emphasize these are projections and they will know a lot more early next year when the census numbers are out. But one of the people I have spoken to repeatedly over the past several years is Richard Campanella. He's a demographer at Tulane University, one of the heroes in the community tried to help it get back on its feet, trying to study the social trends there.

I visited him (INAUDIBLE) few years ago. I asked him what would it look like, he wasn't quite sure. We spoke earlier today and I said based on what you thought and based on what is today, how is the city doing?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CAMPANELLA, TULANE UNIVERSITY: We were in such uncharted waters that many of us really had wide open expectations. I would say that the level of recovery, the fact that given the magnitude of this, that 80 percent of the population has returned and that we have had a number of successes everywhere, that while we have a long way to go I must say I'm increasingly optimistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Increasingly optimistic is Richard Campanella. How about Ray Nagin? He was the mayor of New Orleans when Katrina hit. He led the city through the recovery effort. He was a very controversial leader and he has been criticized by many -- Ray Nagin in his own words "One-on-One" when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

KING: Ray Nagin was the mayor of New Orleans when Katrina hit and also endured a storm of second-guessing and criticism. Still, the voters re-elected him in 2006, but after presiding over the city's long, slow comeback, his term ended this year. Ray Nagin joins us now to go "One-on-One."

Mr. Mayor, as we mark five years, No. 1, it is good see you, let me say that. Welcome to the program. A lot of people are focusing on five years later and how has the city done and what happened and what lessons have we learned? As you know, there is a new Spike Lee documentary coming out and it has some harsh words for you. Doug Brinkley, the historian, says he will be known as one of the worst mayors in American history. Jacques Morial, who's the brother of your predecessor, Marc Morial, says Mayor Ray Nagin is going to down go down in history as the worst mayor the city's ever had. How's it feel to be characterized like that in this documentary? RAY NAGIN, FRM MAYOR NEW ORLEANS: You know, John it really doesn't bother me. I mean, Brinkley wrote this crazy book right after the storm that was basically a lot of rumors and innuendoes to try and slant exactly what was going on. And then Jacques Morial, he is of a different political party. I beat two of the champions before and they never got over it, so it's not surprising that they would be critical.

KING: Your approval rating when you left office was about 24 percent. Is that a maybe a piece of evidence that says many of the people in the city might maybe not agree with the worst, but that you didn't leave in high regard?

NAGIN: You know, polls are snapshots in time. It depends upon who is taking the polls. And at that time, polls were politically driven polls to try to get people to move in a certain direction. I would point you toward an independent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation that basically is much more positive about the direction of the city and this poll was taken while I was in office.

KING: I want to take you back in time to one of the speeches you gave in the wake of the storm that generated a lot of media attention and some controversial and criticism. There was a big debate then, as there is now, about how many people had left and how many of them would come back, could come back, to their rebuilding community and you gave a speech that essentially became known as the "Chocolate City Speech." Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAGIN: This city will be chocolate at the end of the day. This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way god wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way, it wouldn't with be New Orleans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Where are we five years later? I think you could hear me go through the numbers -- 68 percent African-American the day Katrina hit, somewhere in the ballpark of 61 percent now. Is that a success, in your view, or does that drop in the African-American population suggest that some people, for whatever reason -- and please list them if you have some ideas -- have not been able to come back?

NAGIN: Well, think New Orleans is on the progression, a natural progression; it's a little bit ahead of its time, if you will. The average recovery for a major disaster takes 10 to 15 years. We're only in year five. We're way ahead of what the so-called "experts" projected.

And let me just touch that "Chocolate City Speech" for a minute. The backdrop -- everybody talks about the chocolate city speech but they don't talk about the conditions that led to that. Prior to that, businessmen in New Orleans, the newspaper, everybody was saying that we did not want certain people back in the city and most took that to mean African-Americans were not wanted back in the city. I had been going all around the country talking to a lot of different people and I was concerned that this message was taking hold, particularly to the middle class African-Americans who we needed to rebuild this city. So, the "Chocolate City Speech" was basically from my experiences in the past. I'm a (INAUDIBLE) guy, it's a parliament, it was in a band when I was in college that basically had a song that talked about political empowerment among African-Americans. That message got through to African-Americans, but unfortunately ended some other people.

KING: You caught a lot of harpoons and took a lot of criticism in those days. Another person who was widely criticized was Mike Brown, who was the FEMA director at the time, and he is out giving some interviews around this fifth anniversary, as well. I want you to listen to this right here. This is Mike Brown last night on CNN's AC- 360.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE BROWN, FMR FEMA DIRECTOR: As I've said in speeches all around the world that one of the fatal mistakes I made was not making clear that indeed things aren't moving as quickly as he they need to move, when I'm executing mission assignments to ask the Department of Defense to go do something that shouldn't take three or four days, it should take three or four hours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When you hear Mike Brown, No. 1, you did a joint interview with him this morning; we are watching the pictures of that thinking that had to be a little bit awkward maybe. But he says, "one of the fatal mistakes I made." When you look back with hind sight, any part of the record where you say, you know, I did get that one wrong and I want to correct it or something, anything you go back now and say a-ha?

NAGIN: Well, you know, Katrina was the worst natural and man- made disaster ever in the history of the country. There was no playbook, there was nothing for us to go by. So, of course, I made some mistakes. Anybody in this situation would probably do that because you inventing things as you went along to try to bring an entire city back. You know, if you're asking me specifically what I would have done a little bit differently? I've talked about this consistently.

You know, the mandatory evacuation, maybe could I have ordered that a little bit earlier. About eight-hour window, overnight, I could have probably managed expectations a little bit better, because most people in America basically have a fast food mentality and we wanted the recovery to be done almost overnight and that is impossible. So, those are some of the things that I probably could have done a little bit better.

KING: Is Ray Nagin done with politics or might we see you going for public office again someday?

NAGIN: I don't think so. I mean, I have kind of given my pound of flesh, my pint of blood. You know, politics is really tough in this modern age and you know, Katrina has definitely extended my political life a lot quicker than I would like, so I think I'm going to head to the private sector and see what the future holds.

KING: Mr. Mayor, we appreciate your time tonight and wish you the best on this fifth anniversary and the future. And right now, we'll let you get out of the rain. Appreciate your time, sir.

NAGIN: Thank you, so much.

KING: Thank you.

Among the items on my radar today is installment of the real politicians of New Jersey where someone with a six-figure salary gets fired.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Brianna Keilar for the latest political news you need to know now.

Hey, Bri.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Vermont secretary of state called Peter Shumlin the winner by only 195 votes in five-way primary for governor. The runner-up wants a recount.

Housing secretary, Sean Donovan, tells CNN the administration will unveil two initiatives next week to boost home sales and open to reviving the tax credit for first-time home buyers.

A new poll shows Senator Harry Reid and Republican Sharron Angle in a dead heat and also shows majority us in both parties wish they had a different candidate, John.

KING: Outstanding race there, Brianna, maybe you'll get to go out there and cover it? You know what else really struck me about that poll? And this is probably one of the reasons it's still dead heat, 47 percent of the people in Nevada think that President Obama's economic policies have hurt the economy rather than helping the economy. Only 27 percent thought it had actually helped. I think that's part of the sour mood for the Democrats thought in the state of Nevada.

KEILAR: Certainly. And we are going to be seeing the economy and so many other races, of course. Everywhere I have been going that is what every voter I have talked to has said.

KING: A little more than 67 days, 66 after tonight to go. We will keep on top of it. Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: You're welcome.

KING: Joining me now to look at some stories on my radar, Republican strategist, Adolfo Franco, and Neera Tanden the COO of the Liberal Center for American Progress. Welcome. Happy Friday, you guys. Here's a good one. This is an interesting development, today. An Alaska's cliffhanger Republican Senate race, the current leader, Joe Miller, well, he's taken back, untweet I guess you call that. You can retweet somebody, can you untweet? Untweeting, a tweet slamming his opponent, Senator Lisa Murkowski. Here's the tweet: "What's the difference between selling out your party's values and the oldest profession?" Well, Senator Murkowski, not surprisingly, cried foul: "Alaskan values never included a complete disregard for the truth or a lack of common decency. Mr. Miller owes all Alaskans, women and my family an apology."

Well, she got one. Miller's new tweet, "Please accept my apologies. Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out."

(LAUGHTER)

Let them count the votes and stop the tweeting, I guess.

NEERA TANDEN, CTR FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yeah, I mean, I would say that I hope Sarah Palin picked up the phone and called Mr. Miller and told him that if he wanted to represent women in Alaska that he should actually apologize and I'm glad he did.

ADOLFO FRANCO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's kind of obvious it looks like it's going to be Senator Miller. I think it is a minor story, but it certainly does reflect, I think, the general trend in the country, all the polling data indicates it generally and that is that people are fed up with incumbents and I think Senator Reid, you just had the piece earlier, going to go down the same route.

KING: But they're suggest that he was criticizing -- there's rumors up there that she might perhaps somehow try to run on another party ticket or run as an independent, to equate that with prostitution...

FRANCO: Well, you know, this is the problem with today's tweetering and all these -- that's very, very outspoken media, social media we have. You know, probably, obviously a mistake. But, you know, in some ways I think maybe, John, in Alaska it might play well...

TANDEN: I hope not.

KING: Maybe not with the mother of all mama grizzlies. We will see what she thinks about that. all right, let's move on to this one. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, fired his state's education commissioner today. This week, Christie blamed a midlevel staffer's clerical error and ridged Washington bureaucrats, as he put it, for New Jersey missing out on $400 million in education money. It turns out, those bureaucrats videotaped the presentation by his education commissioner. And what really happened? Well, it didn't square with the explanation the commissioner given the governor. Woops.

FRANCO: I think the governor did the right thing. I mean, I think he heard the guy out, initially. It was a mistake. I think, even had what he said were true, it's still $400 million. But the fact is he misrepresented the facts to the governor and the videotapes, I think he did the absolutely right thing for New Jersey.

TANDEN: Well, Governor Christie talks a lot about accountability. And I'm glad he did do the right thing, here. But, at the end of the day, he attacked and vilified the Obama administration. If he wanted to be accountable, we'd apologize himself for what he said attacking the administration.

KING: But not in a tweet?

TANDEN: Not in a tweet.

KING: Not in a tweet. When Congress gets back next month, we expect a big fight over Republican demands over an extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of the year. Democratic leaders have been saying no, rather emphatically, no. But today Democratic congressman, Harry Mitchell of Arizona, wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying, "There is no more time to lose. We need to encourage investment in economic growth, not discourage it by letting these tax cuts expire." Now, to be clear, that is a conservative Democrat and a vulnerable Democrat who is, I would say, survival was probably the greatest instinct in sending that letter.

But Neera, when this debate continues, whatever his politics, it won't help the speaker if you have two then four then six then eight then 10 or maybe 20 Democrats saying, well, maybe we need to do something, here.

TANDEN: Look, the difficulty here is these high-end income tax cuts hurt the deficit by $36 billion and it is hard for anyone, Republicans or Democrats to say they care about the deficit and really turn around and help the wealthiest Americans, the people who have been doing well in this economy, get more money. I think that is the real challenge. You can talk about deficits or tax cuts, but you can't really talk about both.

FRANCO: But Neera, this is a tax on every American. It increases the capital gains tax, it increases every middle American who's invested in any kind of retirement fund. It's a tax increase, there's no question about it. I think it's going to be a lot more, John, than just conservative Democrats. And I think as their numbers continue to become, in terms of vulnerable Democrats running for re- election increase, I think the appetite to increase taxes, have this tax cuts expire in the middle of the recession, with these housing numbers, is going to be extremely difficult.

TANDEN: You know, what's fascinating is that we have an actual jobs bill and Republicans don't want to pass that bill because they are concern about the deficit.

(CROSSTALK)

Well, you know, you're spending actually means jobs for teachers and police, firefighters et cetera.

FRANCO: Deficits. Deficits is what we were talking about.

TANDEN: OK, but this bill will actually increase the deficit. Tax cuts for the wealthiest to increase the deficit and I think that's the (INAUDIBLE).

FRANCO: Raising taxes during a recession is unprecedented, but I think this president has done so many unprecedented things, I think he's capable of doing it. Their solution...

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: Slashing jobs in the middle of a recession is unprecedented as well.

FRANCO: No, their solution is increasing the deficit and shrinking the economy. The only way we are going to increase jobs and create opportunity is by having the private sector have more money at their disposal to do so, not the government.

KING: Quick time out. We can continue the debate during the break, you guys can have your way, but when we come back, what does Sarah Palin demand for her speeches? About her speaking contract, revealed, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: All right, a little Friday night "Play-by-Play," we're going to break down some interesting tape, tonight. Still with us, Neera Tanden and Adolfo Franco. From the left and the right. You guys even lined up in the right space. At the top of the show, we were talking about this big rally Glenn Beck is hosting tomorrow down on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Well, he made a surprise appearance tonight at a meeting by Freedom Works, it's a conservative organization closely aligned with the Tea Party movement. Let's take a listen at what Mr. Beck had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST AND RALLY ORGANIZER: My role is, as I see it, to wake America up on to the backsliding of principles and values and most importantly of God. We are a country of God. And as I look at the -- as I look at the problems in our country, as I look at the problems in our country, quite honestly, I think that the hot breath of destruction is breathing on our necks and to fix it politically, is going to take a figure that I don't see anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is the hot breath of destruction breathing on our necks?

FRANCO: Well, I don't know if the hot breath of destruction is breathing on our necks but he's certainly articulating a lot of the concerns around the country about the growth of government under this administration, about the deficit. I think there's unquestionably a movement that's dissatisfied with way that America's going. Mr. Beck is a commentator, in many ways, an entertainer. A person of conviction. He's obviously not a Republican Party spokesman, but I think he articulates the views of many, many Americans and I think the polls demonstrate so.

KING: As a leading voice on the left, do you worry about Mr. Beck?

TANDEN: Well, I worry about what he says about the country and the conservative cause. I mean, we have a person who, essentially is speaking on the day, a momentous moment for civil rights and what he does on a regular basis is divide the country and feed us against each other, that's exactly what Martin Luther King tried to end and it's what he's fostering and I think it's outrageous and Republicans should actually, instead of being silent, say it's wrong what he's doing.

FRANCO: Well, I'm not sure it's outrageous to have a point of view. That's the problem with the liberal views, they're great and they're open until you disagree with them. I think Mr. Beck's entitled to a point of view. I don't think it's anything outrageous. I might not share everything he says, but he certainly...

TANDEN: He's entitle to a view, but he's not entitled to speak I the name of Martin Luther King and divide the country.

KING: Let's move on to Florida Senate race. Charlie Crist was the Republican governor early in this race. He was running for the Republican nomination, in fact then at that time he was asked about the Obama health care bill and he said:

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: I think they need to start over, we need to repeal this health care bill, we need to do some common sense things that actually do increase access and do reduce cost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was then. Charlie Crist is now running as an Independent and he has moved to the center and his opponent from the conservative side says he's moved past the center to the left. Charlie Crist now:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health care bill, how would you have voted on that?

CRIST: I would have voted for it, but I think it can be done better. I really do. There's a part of it that concerns me as it relates to Medicare, I think they should fix that, it takes about $500 million out of Medicare. that's awfully important to our fellow Floridians, and so before voting for it, that would have had to be fixed, if I have the honor of getting elected, these are the things I would like to see changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: There's moving to the middle and then there's sort of contorting yourself to the point...

(LAUGHTER)

FRANCO: Well here, the fact of the matter is that he doesn't stand for anything and I think people are going to come to that conclusion very quickly, John. I mean, you can't have it both ways. Just reminds me a little bit about Al Gore when he voted against it, but he was for the first Iraq war.

KING: You got one quick sentence.

TANDEN: Yeah, essentially, You know, Bill McCollum who attacked the lawsuit lost and I think he's seeing the polls and recognizing that it's getting a little bit more popular.

KING: I'm sorry. We're sort on time tonight. Neera, Adolfo thanks for coming in.

"Pete on the Street" up next with some offbeat advice for anyone out there looking for a job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We have spent a lot of time on the program talking about the troubled economy and its impact on you, well, today we sent our offbeat reporter Pete Dominick out to try to help the millions of Americans looking for work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE DOMINICK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey John King, that's right, listen, I always love when reporters walk towards the camera to introduce the piece. Anyway, today I went out to ask people, give us advice, how do we find a job? How do we stay upbeat if we don't have a job and this is what I found out.

And you're clearly very successful. So I'm out looking for a job, can you give me any advice? You're doing well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wake up early, you got to get to worm.

DOMINICK: How did you end up getting back to work?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did a lot of volunteer work.

DOMINICK: Did volunteer work, helps networking and meeting people and then...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meeting people, keeps you busy. You feel good because it's charity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start with your passion and go from there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Find something you love to do and do that, because you'll always be successful if you do what love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I learned programming software.

DOMINICK: Are there a lot of jobs, there? I mean, should people. Does its help you meet ladies? Because a lot of people...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. IT, I feel like, no, not very many ladies. But then you make a lot of money and then you can just buy.

DOMINICK: What do you hope to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a professional makeup artist, I'm going to school in two weeks.

DOMINICK: Do you think you could work with this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be hard.

DOMINICK: What about keeping spirits up during a time when it's tough to when you're unemployed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray and also have friends on earth that help you and encourage you.

DOMINICK: What about from praying, what about a little bit of alcohol?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alcohol? If you're broke, you're not going to buy it.

DOMINICK: Good point.

Well there you go, John King. We got some great advice, now I've got to get back to my other job, the best one I've ever had, which is being a dad. Have a great weekend, America. Back to you, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: I'll let at that. Have a great weekend, America and you too, Pete. That's all for us tonight. Rick's off tonight, up next, CNN investigates, "Sudden Fury."