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JOHN KING, USA
Terror Plot; Midterm Elections; Candidates Say One Thing, Do Another; Miller: "I Lied"
Aired October 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, Wolf, and good evening from the CNN Election Center and the heart of our new Election Matrix. Six days to Election Day, we have a packed hour of politics ahead including brand new polling in five of the country's most closely watched Senate races. But we begin tonight with a major breaking story in our nation's capital.
Federal agents say they arrested a Virginia man who allegedly wanted to help plan an attack and a major attack on Washington subway trains. CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has been working her sources and joins us now live with the latest -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, the intended target, officials say, Washington's metro system, which carries 750,000 people every day. According to an indictment, 34- year-old Farouk Ahmad (ph), a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan wanted to kill as many military people as possible and cased four metro stations near the Pentagon.
He was plotting with people he believed to be the members of al Qaeda, allegedly, but they were really working for the government. The indictment says he provided them with video and sketches of the stations and recommended an attack between 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon when the system would be most crowded.
They also say they suggested how to conceal and plant the explosives. Officials say at this point there is no indication he was working with other extremists in this country or overseas, but the investigation is continuing. He was arrested this morning at a Virginia hotel, officials say, and made his first court appearance this afternoon.
If convicted on all three charges, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. Officials emphasize the public was never in danger here. The FBI was aware of this individual and was closely monitoring him -- John.
KING: Jeanne Meserve tracking this developing story. We'll keep in touch with Jeanne throughout the hour as necessary. Jeanne, thank you.
Now to politics -- in the array around me and behind me, you see the CNN 100, the 100 most competitive House races across the country. Most of them now targets for Republican Party hopeful of snatching the speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi in next Tuesday's elections. More -- much more on the fight for the House ahead but we begin tonight with brand-new polling from CNN and "TIME" and Opinion Research Corporation that shows just how fierce of a battle -- a fierce battle under way for control of the Senate in that election just six days away now.
Let's look at some of these polling. Here in Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey, the Republican, with a lead over Joe Sestak, the Democratic congressman, a four-point lead there, statistically a dead heat but Mr. Toomey ahead heading into the stretch in that race narrowly. Let's move on now, we shift to Colorado, a dead heat in Colorado. Ken Buck, he's a Republican, a Tea Party favorite, he has a one-point lead. Statistically a dead heat over Michael Bennett, the Democratic incumbent senator there.
This one of the most closely watched races in the country. This is Nevada now. Sharron angle, the Republican nominee and again, a Tea Party favorite, a narrow lead, four points over Harry Reid. Not just a Democratic incumbent but the Senate majority leader. You see the Tea Party candidate and Independent with two percent. You can vote none of the above in Nevada, and you see that three percent there.
But Sharron Angle standing, a four-point lead, a statistical tie, but her standing has improved. Let's move on now to the state of Kentucky, Rand Paul, another Tea Party candidate, opening up, stretching his lead over Democrat Jack Conway, 50 percent now for Rand Paul -- this is all among likely voters -- 43 percent for Jack Conway. Republicans increasingly confident in Kentucky.
And lastly tonight California's Senate race still close, Barbara Boxer, the Democratic incumbent at 50 percent, Carly Fiorina at 45 percent, so the Democrat ahead there, but Carly Fiorina's standing improved now from our poll just a month ago. So why, why are these races so important? For starters, each is critical to this -- the balance of power in the United States Senate.
This is the scenario here. At the moment, the Republicans have 40 -- 40 -- I'm sorry -- 41 seats to the Democrats 59 in the current United States Senate. This is a scenario in which we have assigned many of these races. We've assigned Arkansas to the Republicans. We believe they will win that as of today.
New Hampshire you see is assigned. Some of the other races we have assigned. They could change under this scenario but this is a safe one. Just as we've assigned Delaware to the Democrats, Connecticut to the Democrats. You see these races in the middle, the white tiles, those are your tossup states, Pennsylvania, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
We just mentioned these brand-new polls, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, California. It is those races right there, if the Republicans, you see them under this scenario with 44 seats, if they are to get to 50 or 51, they need to sweep. They can only afford to lose one of those toss-ups there in the middle.
So let's talk over the stakes more with our contributors with us tonight. We have Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst, Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican strategist, and John Avlon, a CNN contributor. Ed Rollins, when you look at that, you look what we just showed right there, that is a very difficult challenge for Republicans to thread the needle when it comes to the Senate as encouraging as some of those individual state numbers are.
ED ROLLINS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's always been an uphill battle, but I think what's positive from my perspective is we are now starting to move ahead in some of these races. Democrats have been talking about a surge. Angle has had probably $30 million to beat the daylights out of her and she's now ahead. I think Harry Reid is at 45. I think that none of the above in this particular case aren't going to waste their vote, they're going to basically cast a vote against Harry Reid.
KING: But that's a number, Gloria, that's actually dropped, none of the above, so I think to Ed's point, as we get closer to the election people are thinking, you know, maybe I don't like either one of them but I have to make a choice.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you know in this kind of a race, nobody goes to the polls and says, gee, I'm just going to vote for none of the above. They do vote for one of the two, but you know with Harry Reid, the get out the vote is so important. He's got labor working for him in the state of Nevada. Very important, get out Hispanic voters, get out other minority voters, and he could still possibly do it, but it's all about turnout right now for him. He didn't do really well in his debate. She performed better than the very low expectations set for her, by the way, by Harry Reid's campaign.
KING: Any of those states surprise you at all?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think the fact that Angle really is holding up is remarkable. You know, Democrats lost Tom Daschle so there's a precedent for this, you know, back in '94, they lost Tom Foley. So their leaders are vulnerable. But the fact that Angle's been resilient despite a steady stream of statements that might disqualify a candidate (INAUDIBLE) she's in there. I think --
BORGER: Oh, man up.
AVLON: I mean -- I mean you know it is -- it is -- Mark Kirk (ph) seems to be pulling head. It looks like Conway's "Aqua Buddha" ad backfired on him particularly among Independents.
KING: Let's talk about that for a minute. Rand Paul, Republican state to begin with, but that race was closer. Now Rand Paul has stretched his lead a little bit over a poll we took just a couple of weeks ago. You believe that was specifically edited. For those of you who don't understand at home what "Aqua Buddha" is, there was an article about Rand Paul suggesting, anonymously source that back in college at one point there may have been some marijuana involved and they were worshipping an "Aqua Buddha". A college prank 30-some years ago anonymously source, and Jack Conway, the Democrat, put up an ad essentially questioning Rand Paul's commitment to Christianity.
ROLLINS: Only the good lord knows what I was worshipping 60 years ago --
ROLLINS: -- state college in California, probably a (INAUDIBLE). The bottom line --
ROLLINS: The bottom line is he has got this campaign back in order again. I think he's going to win that. I think we're going to win in Pennsylvania, which is a real tough state for us. You know California is still very much in play and Washington's still very much in play.
KING: So when you look -- when you look at every one of these states, even the states where the Democrats are ahead, in the total poll among likely voters, every one of these states, the Republicans are winning among Independent voters. Why has the middle -- why -- we see it everywhere, so why has the middle of the electorate said you know what we're going to go over here? Even as the Democrats say Ken Buck's extreme, Sharron Angle's extreme, Rand Paul is extreme.
AVLON: And the races where it's closest is the ones where the Republicans (INAUDIBLE) with Independents is the narrowest.
AVLON: But the big swing in Conway/Paul comes from Independent voters overwhelmingly. Look, Independent voters have been angry about Democrats in Congress in particular for over a year now. In July of this year they had a 29 percent approval rating for Democratic control of Congress, so this should not be a surprise to anybody. Independents began breaking with the Democratic Party after the stimulus. It accelerated after health care. This is just that wave accelerating --
KING: They were the key in 2006 and 2008, Gloria, Independents said, we want change, and they sent in that class that made Nancy Pelosi speaker. In 2008 they said we want change. And not only did Obama win but he had this huge electorate (INAUDIBLE) margin, picked up North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, places like that.
BORGER: Right, but here's the irony. They want change again, right? OK, they want change again.
BORGER: So what is going to happen likely this election is you're going to get change and instead of having people work together, you're going to sweep out the moderates that came in, in 2006, 2008, and you're going to end up with a much more polarized place that Independents will not like.
ROLLINS: At the end of the day, it's about Obama. At the end of the day --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well --
ROLLINS: I mean I would argue that. At the end of the day, Obama's been out there campaigning aggressively in a surge that he claims is going --
AVLON: Independents went 17 percent for Democrats in 2006. And you're right, Independents like divided government. I would argue we've been consistent. We're deficit hawks, we like divided government, but there's an assumption that that divided government will force them to work together and I do --
AVLON: I am concerned that the well might be too poisoned --
KING: Let me ask -- let's take a look at this over here because leading among Independent voters are all of these Republican candidates. Hopefully, we can show that to our viewers right there. All of them -- again now there are Democrats are winning in some of these races especially the race on the left with Carly Fiorina. She's losing to Barbara Boxer, but now I want to shift the screen, if we will, to the president's approval rating.
To the president's approval rating and how much is that? Ed just mentioned -- how much is that a factor? Because only in California where the president is 48 to 47 approve/disapprove, in every other one of these states, he carried Colorado, he carried Nevada. He carried Pennsylvania in 2008 and he is under water in all of those states.
BORGER: Right. Can you say referendum on Barack Obama? As much as the White House tries to say this is not a referendum on --
ROLLINS: He made it -- he made it --
ROLLINS: He made it about him. He didn't have to make it about him. He could have made it about his policies, but he made it about him and he's been out there --
BORGER: What do you mean? What do you mean by --
ROLLINS: He basically is out there saying if you want to help me, you've got to vote for my candidates. BORGER: But what's he supposed to do? You know at a certain point, a president actually has to come out and say, you're with me or you're against me, right?
ROLLINS: It's not working.
AVLON: But I tell you all those numbers -- all those numbers would be even more under water if you polled the approval of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic-led Congress.
KING: Would it be any different --
KING: Would it be any different if the -- the president's message now when he campaigns essentially is if you vote for them, you will get the Bush administration back. You will get those policies back. Would it be any different, do you believe, would it be better or worse -- this is debatable point -- if the president went out in the country and said here's why this is so important. If you vote for them they'll try to repeal my health care plan. If you vote for them --
KING: -- they'll want to extent all the Bush tax cuts not for the middle class.
KING: So the president -- so the president has a tough argument whether you're for him or against him, he's got a tough argument.
BORGER: You know I was talking to a Democrat. They did polls on all of their -- on all of their issues. You won't be surprised to learn -- on all their key issues -- health care reform, financial. They didn't poll well. So that's --
KING: But you can change polls. There's one --
KING: There's two ways to look at polls. You can look at numbers -- you can look at numbers in a poll and say run or you can look at numbers in polls and say I'm going to change them.
BORGER: But you can make the case that health care reform created the Tea Party, right?
ROLLINS: A Rose Garden strategy may have worked better for him. He's hurt each of these candidates and the most in telling number going back all through Gallup (INAUDIBLE) anybody else when the president's approval number gets below 45, his party's in big trouble.
AVLON: And in '94 and 2006 the president's poll numbers at those times were in the 30's so they're even lower than Obama's at that time.
KING: John, Ed and Gloria are going to stay with us. I'll stop throwing cards maybe. But when we come back, we're going to take a closer look at one of these key races, perhaps the closest race for Senate in the United States of America today. It is in Colorado. The issues are the Obama agenda, the separation of church and state are just the (INAUDIBLE) on the ground. We'll be right back.
KING: Let's dig deeper. One of the closest, perhaps the closest Senate races in the United States of America right now is in Colorado. Democratic incumbent Michael Bennett, he was appointed when Ken Salazar became the interior secretary. He's running against Tea Party favorite and now Republican nominee Ken Buck. Our Jessica Yellin, our national political correspondent, on the ground in Arvada (ph), Colorado and Jess, I want to start with the issues in this race.
Right before we went to break, we were discussing with the panel the president who has a net disapproval rating in the state of Colorado, he carried the state, Mr. Obama did, back in 2008. We can pull up Colorado right here, 54 percent to 45 percent, so the president carried the state quite handily, yet he hasn't been there to campaign for his friend Michael Bennett. You asked why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) one more time, so having him here would -- or having him talk about these issues would confuse this debate you're having?
MICHAEL BENNETT (D), COLORADO SEN. CANDIDATE: I think that the personal reaction by the Independent voters that you've described based on a lot of, you know, the political rhetoric that's going back and forth, might not make it helpful. And I think the president should be in places around the country where he -- where it will be helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jess, he clearly didn't really want to answer the question but when he did that was pretty blunt. If he came, it would hurt.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right and you heard him say the word Independents. The bottom line is that the key, as always, demographic here is the Independent vote and Bennett is aware, as everybody in the state is, that President Obama's not popular among (INAUDIBLE). His point is that there's a lot of misinformation out here about the stimulus, about health care reform, et cetera. He's trying to convince them, penetrate on that, and people will be distracted by their dislike of the president, were he to come into town. He came in the primary, not so much in the general -- John.
KING: Back in my old days on "STATE of the UNION" way back in November 2009, Michael Bennett, newly in the Senate in those days, was one of my guests and you just mentioned the health care debate. Back then, I asked him this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If you get to the final point and you are a critical vote for health care reform and every piece of evidence tells you if you support that bill you will lose your job, would you cast a vote and lose your job?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He said yes then, Jess. Any sense that he regrets that now?
YELLIN: Absolutely not and he was asked about that in a forum we went to that he spoke to voters. Someone thanked him for his vote. He said you're welcome. And he said I -- he will support legislation to change the bill if it doesn't produce the cost savings promised. But he's standing by that vote and he says the problem, as we've heard from so many Democrats, is there's just too much misunderstanding about what's in it. Once people realize it, he's convinced, we've heard this a million times, John, they'll like it.
KING: And the Democratic strategy from Bennett and some of the outside groups from the Democratic side coming in to spend money is to say Ken Buck is extreme, that he's way to the right, way outside the mainstream. You asked him about one of the controversies recently, about whether he had said that he does not believe in the separation of church and state. Let's listen to his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN BUCK (R), COLORADO SEN. CANDIDATE: I've said that I agree with the establishment clause, that I agree with the idea that there's a separation of church and state, that teachers should not be leading prayer, a particular kind of prayer in classrooms. What I've said is that I think that the federal government -- and we as a society have gone too far in trying to separate good organizations that perform good functions for people just based on the fact that one has a religious association and the other doesn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, to Jessica Yellin, just this week, Ken Buck says I agree with the idea there's a separation of church and state. Listen to Ken Buck -- this is in 2009 at Colorado Christian University at a candidates' forum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUCK: I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not in the Constitution. That's why we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not going to have a religion that's sanctioned by the government. It doesn't mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jessica Yellin, how does Ken Buck square that circle? I disagree strongly in 2009. I agree with the idea of a separation of church and state to you?
YELLIN: He simply doesn't. He says we're taking his words out of context. But the truth is, is that he is changing his explanation. I mean right now when he spoke to me, he says that the state has gone -- we've gone too far in the way we interpret the separation of church and state. You can hear clearly in that discussion, and there's a longer discussion when you can play the full tape online, where he goes on to say I believe in the -- I do not believe in the separation of church and state.
So he just didn't -- I mean it would seem he just didn't want to answer it. He said one thing in the primary. He seems to be saying a slightly different thing in the general. And his overarching message is that we, the national media, cares about this, but voters in the state only care about jobs. His opponent is banking on the assumption that that's just not true. That Buck's positions on social issues will matter.
KING: Six days to the election we will find out if consistency matters or whether positions on those particular issues matter -- Jessica Yellin on the ground for us in Colorado -- Jess, thank you.
When we come back, we're going to use my old friend here. We're going to do something like this. I'm going to take you to a place, let's just say for example, here, and I'm going to tell you -- this is Barack Obama back in 2008, right in the Philadelphia suburbs. See all that blue? He carried them handedly. Why does it matter now? We'll show you in just a minute.
KING: Welcome back. We're live again in the CNN Election Matrix. You see around me the 100 most competitive House races. As we get closer to Election Day, just six days from now, we can go into each one of those races and break them down and we'll do some more of that a little bit later in the program. But let's stick with the five new polls we have in these big Senate races because I'm going to walk over here to the map to show you a fascinating dynamic.
We told you just a few moments ago -- excuse me for turning my back -- that Sharron Angle has opened up a narrow lead over Harry Reid in the state of Nevada. Now this is the 2008 election data. You see John McCain winning much of the state, but the people live in Las Vegas and up here where Carson City and Reno is. One of the things President Obama did though is he won in the Vegas suburbs. American elections are increasingly won in the suburbs.
Barack Obama carried the Vegas suburbs in '08. Who's winning right now in those suburbs, Sharron Angle? That's one part of the interesting dynamic in our new poll. I want to pop out the map a little bit and go over to Colorado. We were just talking about that state. Let me move the pictures out of the way a little bit here. I want to show you again up here in the Denver suburbs -- see all that blue?
Barack Obama turned Colorado from red to blue by winning in the suburbs. Ken Buck, the Republican right now in our Senate poll, is winning in the suburbs, another telling sentiment of this year of election change. And let's pop in the map one more time. If there is one bright spot for the Democrats, even though Joe Sestak is down one point, it's pretty much a dead heat, down a point or two in Pennsylvania, in the key Philadelphia suburbs this is the most important part of the state, in a tough statewide election, elections in Pennsylvania are won right here in the suburbs.
Joe Sestak actually up about eight points in the Philadelphia suburbs in our new poll. That is encouraging not only for the Sestak campaign but there are two or three competitive House races right along that suburban collar right there. So let's continue our conversation with Gloria Borger, Ed Rollins and John Avlon. And John Avlon to the point we were talking about among Independents, you find a lot of them in the suburbs, if Republicans are winning the suburbs in these big races?
AVLON: Well, you know, if the suburbs go Republican, Republicans are going to win. It's all about the swing. Elections in America are ultimately won or lost by the candidate who wins moderates in the middle class. And suburbs are the swing. And if Republicans are performing -- if Ken Buck and Sharron Angle are winning the suburbs, that's an extraordinary statement about the amount of anti-Democratic anger --
KING: And is it just anti-Democratic anger, Gloria, is it a failure of the Democrats? You hear it all the time, they're the extreme team, they're way out there on the social issues. If they come to Washington, you know, abortion rights will be under attack. They're going to destroy Medicare.
BORGER: Yes, look, I think -- I think the Democrats are trying to portray Republicans as extreme. But the voters in the 'burbs aren't buying it because they're looking at the record of the Obama administration and they don't like what they see. And you know, the key I remember Karl Rove talking about micro targeting in 2000, and not only were they micro targeting the suburbs, but they were doing that in the exurbs (ph), which is also fertile ground for Independent voters. And so that's the real problem.
ROLLINS: In the two states we've talked about, both Colorado and Pennsylvania, those candidates are not kooks. Buck is not a kook. He's a Tea Party supporter, but he's a very legitimate guy. And Toomey was a member of Congress. He's a conservative, but he's not -- he's not a kook. He's a very serious guy. BORGER: He's very conservative --
ROLLINS: There's nothing wrong with --
ROLLINS: I'm very conservative.
ROLLINS: Nothing wrong with being very conservative.
KING: Toomey is down eight points in the suburbs. Most people in Pennsylvania will tell you in a 50/50 race the Democrat probably needs double digits in the suburbs.
ROLLINS: It's always three states. You got Pittsburgh, which is very important, in the middle of the state which is where that --
AVLON: But there is a way to gauge really -- there is a drag on the ticket that come from these more extreme candidates and I think you can (INAUDIBLE) policy positions and say it's objective. Take a look at Sharron Angle. You know she is running head of Reid right now, but take a look at Brian Sandoval (ph) in the top of the ticket, the governor's race. He's winning by almost 20 points --
KING: Over Harry Reid's son.
AVLON: Exactly right. So you know there is -- the fact these are neck and neck does speak to a certain deficiency with Independents. It may not be decisive this year, but it does --
KING: I want to move on to something else. You have a --
BORGER: No, no --
KING: I want to move on to something else. It fascinates me for a number of reasons. One because it's just spectacular politics, but number two, there's a pretty big election in six days, right? We're going to decide who controls Congress.
KING: We're going to decide the future of Bush tax cuts, spending, Medicare, Social Security --
ROLLINS: Reapportionment. KING: -- the Obama health care plan, reapportionment and yet in both parties you have these people looking past Tuesday already. There's talk in the Democrats, does Obama need a new political team? Will Pelosi stay if they lose the House or will she leave the Congress?
KING: Who will the leader be? And on the Republican side, Ed Rollins, there is a stop Michael Steele movement. Michael Steele is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. He has been very controversial. He has recently, "A", sent signals that he's running for another term, and, "B", actually moved up the meeting in January two weeks, which everyone sees as a pure effort to make a shorter period of time for his opponents to organize against him. But he has many opponents. Why are they so desperate to block him?
ROLLINS: Because you can get away with this election, which he's been an absolute disaster and they put him on a bus and they (INAUDIBLE) 100 congressional seats, 50 of them that don't matter. You can't do that -- you can't do that in a presidential year. Presidential year, the party has a big role in conventions. He's going to be up there every night as the chairperson or one of the key players in the convention. The parties don't want -- party leaders don't want him and people like Haley Barbour and them are going to find another candidate.
BORGER: But --
KING: Well you mentioned Haley Barbour -- I'm sorry -- excuse me.
KING: You mentioned Haley Barbour. Haley Barbour is, by far, the choice of the people who are trying to block Michael Steele.
ROLLINS: -- unanimous choice.
KING: He's the governor of Mississippi. He had this job back in 1994 when the Republicans swept in. He has told people, number one, I'm not interested. And number two, don't talk to me about this before the election because he is running around the country. He has a tough calculation to make. I'm told by people very close to Haley he hasn't sealed the door. He hasn't poured concrete and said I won't do it, but he's also thinking about running for president, so how hard is that calculation?
KING: You can't be both.
BORGER: Very hard -- very hard and presidential politics gets in the way also because you have folks involved in all of this who are going to support different candidates and so that's, you know, that's a problem. I was told also that one thing that Steele has going for him that he's already starting to use is that he's got some perks --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BORGER: -- that he can distribute to people for their roles at the convention. Do you want to serve on the platform committee?
ROLLINS: Except when -- except there's three people from each state. When a governor of a state, when Haley Barbour says to the Republican governors, which will be a majority, we want him out, you think the state party chairman --
BORGER: Oh, no, no, no, no --
BORGER: Oh, no, no, but are they going to do that --
ROLLINS: Yes they are going to --
BORGER: Are they going to do that or --
ROLLINS: They've been talking about it for a year --
KING: It will be very hard to find fingerprints because these guys are good at what they do.
KING: They're good at what they do, but you have three former chairmen of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie (ph) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
KING: -- Bush administration, Mark Roscoe (ph), Bush administration, a former governor of Montana and Haley Barbour back in the '90s --
ROLLINS: And Mike Duncan (ph).
KING: -- back in -- and Mike Duncan (ph), so you have four former chairmen saying we must block this guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
AVLON: Look, I mean this looks --
(CROSSTALK) AVLON: -- like the Michael Steele show far too much this year and I think he's toned that down. The reality is look, the party has prospered under his leadership, but I think the consensus is it's in spite of him not because of him and I think there's a zero percent chance that he continues. He may put up a good fight --
BORGER: But what if there's --
AVLON: -- but if Haley Barbour's swinging against him, I think that's a done deal.
BORGER: But what -- what if the presidential nominee of the Republican Party then takes over all the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a year --
BORGER: -- apparatus of the RNC --
BORGER: So there's really a year you're talking about --
ROLLINS: A year and a half. It's you know you're --
BORGER: How much damage can you do in a year --
ROLLINS: Him, he's done a lot of damage in a year --
AVLON: He also hasn't gotten credit for a lot of the successes.
ROLLINS: What are the successes?
AVLON: He swept almost every major election --
ROLLINS: You think the governor --
BORGER: It has nothing to do with --
ROLLINS: -- got elected because of Michael Steele? Absolutely not.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: There's another name --
BORGER: Why do you think they have all this fund-raising --
KING: There's another name that comes up. Again, you can't find fingerprints or connect the dots. But there's another guy, Rick Santorum, former conservative senator from Pennsylvania who himself has got a Pac out in Iowa now, he's thinking about running for president. You go out to Iowa, Norm Coleman has made clear he would like the job. Most people involved say now -- too central?
ROLLINS: Two losers, two guys who have lost Senate seats. BORGER: If it's somebody -- and I'm not saying it's not going to be Michael Steele in the short term but --
KING: Last thing, to wrap this up, but last thing, as interesting and as dramatic as this might be for the Republican National Committee and for any organized Republicans out there watching, why wouldn't they wait until Wednesday morning? Why are you doing when you have a big huge election coming up?
BORGER: They can't help themselves.
AVLON: We all get so far ahead. This isn't even skating where the puck's going. We have a real deal in six days. Let's keep focused.
KING: Not skating where the puck's going. I like that.
BORGER: I like that. It's all about them. Right.
KING: Gloria, Ed, John, thank you. When we come back, we'll give you the news headlines of the day. And also Sandra Day O'Connor, remember her in the Supreme Court? Imagine, 1 clock in the morning, a robo call? We'll explain.
KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Joe Johns for the latest news you need to know right now.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey John. Recapping this hour's breaking news story, a Virginia man faces charges he tried to help people he thought were affiliated with al Qaeda in an alleged plot to blow up subway stations in the Washington, D.C. area. Officials emphasize the public was never in danger.
A storm system that has spawned tornado warnings and caused delays at major airports now stretches from New England to the Deep South and in its wake snow is falling in the upper Midwest.
A malfunctioning launch control center for a portion of the nation's nuclear missiles remained offline today. Investigators trying to figure out a weekend computer problem that disrupted communications with more than 10 percent of America's land-based nuclear missiles.
And the 1964 Aston Martin, there it is, used in the early "James Bond" films sold at auction today for more than $4.5 million. That's incredible. I wonder if it still has the weapons systems and the cool spy equipment. Probably not.
KING: I wanted that car, Joe, but I had to cut my bidding off at $4 million. That was it. The wife said that was the end of the budget.
JOHNS: Yeah, yeah, I know, but -- tough life. Somebody's got it like that.
KING: Someone's got a great car. All right, Joe, thanks. When we come back, Eliot Spitzer, Kathleen Parker join us. You'll be shocked to know this but some candidates say things in their campaign ads and maybe do things a little different when they're actually in office.
KING: So welcome back. If you're looking around, this might look a little different but since we've been broadcasting from the CNN Election Center this week I thought I'd pop up the hall into the Parker Spitzer studio. With me now from their set, their home, Kathleen Parker and Eliot Spitzer; their program of course coming up right at the top of the hour. I want to talk about something that's a dynamic in all the campaigns across the country. You have all these Republicans running for Congress, House and Senate, saying you need to send me there in some cases send me back because Washington's on this crazy spending spree and they're running up all this deficit spending. Listen to a snippet from these ads then we'll talk on the other side.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More reckless spending.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can fight the taxes, spending and debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They promised jobs. Instead, we got generations of debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spending and debt has ramped up enormously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of control federal spending is driving the deficit to dangerous new highs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington hasn't made it any easier. They spend too much of your money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will control spending to balance the budget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Custer, Obama and Pelosi keep spending, every kid in America will get stuck with the tab.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time right now to stop the crazy spending.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All this debt destroying our children's future.
KING: Now, great ads, a powerful message. Here's one thing that sort of has the hypocrisy meter bending up on the rail. Every one of those people running those ads either has voted in Washington or worked in Washington. In the case of Rob Portman who was George W. Bush's budget director. They all voted to create the department of homeland security. You might say it was necessary. That's more government spending and more government. They all voted for the Bush tax cuts in 2003, which you might say it's good policy but it has contributed to the deficit in Washington. And they all voted for the prescription drug benefit, the Medicare prescription drug benefit put forward by George W. Bush, which, again, you might say is a good policy. Some people say yes. Some people say no. There's no question that the cost of that program has added to the deficit. KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN CO-HOST: Gosh, John, hypocrisy in politics, are you kidding me? It's shocking. I think what -- obviously, Republicans are culpable here. And they will acknowledge that. We talked about the hubris word earlier. I think we settled on hubris finally. But the Republicans that I've talked to acknowledge that they are culpable. They added to the debt. They added to the problems with the government, you know, with excessive government spending, and what they're trying to do now is convince the American people they've learned their lesson and they will now keep their promise to the country and now it's a question of will they and can they.
KING: In these ads they don't acknowledge it. In the ads, they present themselves solely as the solution, not as part of the problem.
ELIOT SPITZER, CNN CO-HOST: Well look, these ads are in fact hypocritical. What's more important perhaps going forward is have we learned a lesson? Is there a meaningful thoughtful way to control the spending that everybody agrees if not this year or next year when maybe we need it to get out of a recession ten years from now, it's going to destroy us. We've been keeping these politician's feet to the fire on our show saying, name your cuts. Some of the very ones who are running these ads refuse to acknowledge either the hypocrisy or the necessity of the cuts and specify where they're going to do it.
PARKER: Cleary, the tea party comes out of that. The tea party people will tell you Bush is culpable. He's just as much to blame as the Democrats are. So he gets no -- he doesn't get a ride on this.
KING: When we wake up on November 3rd, I don't play these ads to call them hypocrites. I play them to ask a question what is this campaign about, will we know on the morning of November 3rd this is what the American people want, these are the cuts they want. These are the departments they want you to either shrink or maybe eliminate. I don't think we're getting this in this campaign.
SPITZER: Even within the tea party they say we're going to cut taxes and then we'll control spending. Their documents do not say where they will control spending and the reality is nobody -- when you hear about spending on the arts, efficiency, the ever present word "fraud," of course you want to get rid of the fraud. It's not meaningful when you have an $11 trillion deficit over ten years which is what we're facing.
PARKER: Everybody knows they're going to have to be some big, big cuts to entitlements, and they just don't want to say that, they want to get in office first, and then see how that plays out.
KING: Governing, that's what they call that, governing. We'll see if they can figure that out. Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker, thanks and like your digs, I'll come again sometime. Don't you go anywhere. I'm going to head back downstairs and we're going to check out some new details in the CNN election matrix.
KING: Welcome back. Pete Dominick and Dana Bash here to join me as we run through important news happening on the campaign trail today. Let's start in Alaska. Several news organizations used the state's open records law to obtain Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe Miller's work records. They show that while he was a part-time attorney in the Fairbanks North Star Borough back in 2008 he used three government computers for political activities, tried to cover it up and then lied to his superiors about it before admitting truth. Not a good thing.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not so much. Not at all.
PETE DOMINICK, OFFBEAT REPORTER: I deleted a tweet once. Even that gets you in a lot of trouble. There's a certain amount of integrity that you establish once you --
BASH: When he was on with you, he admitted -- we didn't go that far.
KING: He admitted he was disciplined when he was on the program a week ago but he didn't get into the details. He was trying to keep the file secret which is I think one of the issues. That's a dead heat Senate race. We'll watch and see if that's an impact.
Here's one here - I don't know how this one -- in Chicago politics, that says something right there, another one bites the dust. The Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has just announced he won't run for mayor of Chicago next year. He was considered to be a big superior candidate, an interesting candidate but now he adds his name to a growing list of people who have decided they won't challenge the former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. That's good news for Rahm. A lot of Democrats were thinking I might be for Tom Dart.
DOMINICK: He is a very intimidating and frightening fellow. You guys know him. I'm terrified of that guy. I don't like that kind of language.
KING: Rahm's a teddy bear. All right, this one is sort of a family issue here. It gets kind of interesting. Here's the surprise. Joy Behar has gotten a gift from Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle only a day after Behar called Angle a bunch of names and denounced this campaign ad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear. And what's Harry Reid doing about it? Voting to give illegal aliens social security benefits.
KING: Yesterday, Behar said among other things that Angle's a, rhymes with witch. I'm going to go right there and she's going to that place where Satan lives. Here she is on ABC's "The View" today with Angle's response.
JOY BEHAR: This morning I get these flowers from Sharron Angle. I look -- it's a brazier moment. And it says, Joy, raised 150,000 online yesterday, thanks for your help, sincerely Sharron Angle. Well, I don't know if it's a sense of humor but I'd like to point out those flowers were picked by illegal immigrants and they're not voting for you, [ bleep ] KING: She gets flowers and she's not happy.
DOMINICK: You don't mess with comedians. Granted, the comedian raised money but she's got the comeback.
BASH: Good for Sharron Angle for doing that. You know, she was -- it was a very interesting and, frankly, surprising move.
KING: There you go. Here's another surprising move. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says she never authorized a recording she made to be used on robo calls, about a Nevada ballot initiative. That's only part of the problem. Due to human and computer errors, voters got those robo calls between midnight and 1:15 in the morning. Hi, this is a wake-up call from Sandra Day O'Connor.
BASH: I got one word, backfire.
DOMINICK: That's an interesting call. I'd be flattered that anybody's calling me, much less an ex-Supreme Court justice. That's pretty cool.
KING: I'm going to program something to call you at 1:00 in the morning. I promise you.
DOMINICK: Love it.
KING: California U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina was released from the hospital after an overnight stay. She'll be back on the campaign trail tomorrow. Her campaign says successfully treated for an infection that developed as a result of reconstructive surgery following her victory over breast cancer. Let's put politics aside for a minute and say we're glad she's out of the hospital.
DOMINICK: I notice Barbara Boxer sent a nice tweet about her, saying hope you get better, good to have you back, something.
KING: That will end tomorrow.
BASH: I think it already has.
KING: The Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's pushing back against a story in "The Arizona Republic Newspaper" tonight about a 1988 car crash she was involved in while serving as a state senator. The paper says it looked at several issues involving documents related to the accident, including whether Brewer was at fault, whether the crash was alcohol- related and whether Brewer might have received special treatment. The governor just put out a statement saying the officer felt she may have been impaired due to alcohol but she disagreed and never, she says, asked for special treatment. Her statement continues, "I was never charged with a crime. The officers were doing their job and their report indicates I was fully cooperative and polite throughout the entire process. My record as an elected official is very clear. I'm a staunch and reliable supporter of increased enforcement and penalties for drunk driving." Governor Brewer will be right here, our guest, tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. eastern. BASH: I think 2000 is calling and they want their October surprise back. I mean, isn't this just, like, what happened in the Bush campaign, at the end --
DOMINICK: Exactly who hasn't had a mysterious car wreck 20 years ago, John King, you want to make an admission?
KING: I do not -- I flipped a car over once, it was no mystery. I had bad tires. There was no alcohol. It was just stupidity by me involved, a college kid who didn't get tires when he needed them. All right. We have a lot of great, high-tech equipment here in the CNN Election Center and we are very proud of it and it's going to help people on election night understand these fascinating and consequential election. However, for a moment, I'm going to go have very, very, very low tech. I want to explain to our viewers and have some comments from you guys on what I will call -- look right here. This is what I will call the Democratic domino effect.
BASH: So glad that worked.
KING: Everything works here. Now, this is what I mean, I want to use Congressman Barney Frank as an example and show you these contributions. Back in 2006, Barney Frank, a big powerful member of Congress who had not had to worry about his own re-election gives more than $500,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, gives another $83,000 directly to Democratic candidates. 2006, remember, that's the year the Democrats surged and took back the House of Representatives. 2008, Barney Frank's not worrying. He gives all that money, $650,000, $233,000, to candidates. This year, he's a little worried. Look how much those donations are down. That's the domino effect. Candidates in tough races this week who could use a little money for extra ads are not getting it because Barney Frank -- I won't go through the numbers -- these longtime members are scared so they're hoarding their resources and there is a domino effect.
BASH: Absolutely. They are scared. Not only are they hoarding their resources, the national parties who would give their money elsewhere, they are also giving to their own bulls. You mentioned Barney Frank, John Sprat in South Carolina. They have been there for a long time, they're party chairman, and they did have a lot of money to spend and they're spending it on themselves this year and it's fascinating.
DOMINICK: Rather than comment because I don't understand these things but the question is, six days left, is there a usually money bomb they put out and they take in and how much effect does it have with six days left?
KING: They'll borrow money. If they see a competitive race, they're not afraid to borrow some money.
DOMINICK: For what? An ad?
KING: It's hard to buy ad time now, you're getting so late in the campaign. DOMINICK: It's too late to get your ad on the air at this point.
BASH: The time is bought that the point.
KING: Anything you can spend money on, that's money they're spending on their own little base and it does have an impact.
DOMINICK: 10 grand buys a lot of signs.
KING: 10 grand buys a lot of signs. Pete Dominick, you sell signs?
DOMINICK: Listen, I'll do graphics for Barney Frank, I need a little extra scratch.
KING: All right. We'll take a quick break. Dana and Pete are going to stay with us. Pete's on the street. Dana's been doing some reporting and Pete's been on street talking about these eye-popping numbers about spending this election season.
KING: A new report from the Center for Responsive Politics today says an estimated $4 billion, an eye-popping $4 billion, will be spent on this election season. Substance in a moment. First, our Pete Dominick took this question out on the street. Do you care?
DOMINICK: Let's do it.
Shall we keep spending that kind of money on elections?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so.
DOMINICK: Do you shave your head with two razors or one? I go two.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go one.
DOMINICK: Too much, not enough?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too much.
DOMINICK: It's too much? Why? Don't you think we should have unlimited spending?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not required.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we should control spending.
DOMINICK: Unlimited amounts of money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as it's disclosed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could be spent in a better way though I think.
DOMINICK: How about housing? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a New York City carpenter and I had to do a picket duty just on Saturday to hand out flyers for a politician. Cost him nothing. It was free.
DOMINICK: You volunteered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well my union does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporations are spending money on campaigns when they should be giving it to their stockholders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People spend money on the election so everyone votes for them although in theory we're not supposed to spend money on the democracy in general.
DOMINICK: Over $2 billion --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not making me laugh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That money should have been better spent helping people who really need it.
DOMINICK: You didn't donate any to the campaign?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Way too much.
DOMINICK: Way too much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $2 billion too much.
DOMINICK: $2 billion too much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to go eat. The hell with politics.
DOMINICK: All right so here's one comment that didn't make it but a good point, this is stimulus, John King. This is money into the evil voiceover guy. That guy's got a family to support.
KING: If you're on a local TV station --
DOMINICK: Of course, these people have families. This is a momentary stimulus.
BASH: And consultants.
KING: What's happening with this money?
BASH: What's happening with this money is they're going to the --
DOMINICK: I have a family to support.
BASH: But most of it is being spent obviously on advertising. There's no question and we see it no matter where you live in this country, you see it. The fact it is $4 billion. Just to sort of give you a sense of -- put into context, this is a midterm election. In 2004, a presidential year, the same amount of money was spent. It's just unbelievable.
DOMINICK: You don't want my kids to eat, Dana.
KING: All right, let's close on -- I don't know if this is a funny note or not. The president of the United States, the first sitting president to go on Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show." You warm up the crowd there. Jon Stewart's a friend of yours. The president says, quote, we've done an awful lot -- this is during the taping. He said, Jon, I love your show, he did say at one point, but I have a mild disagreement about some of the criticism. You see them on the screen there. The presidential set there.
DOMINICK: Can't wait to see it but listen he's got to get that young demographic. He knows who watches that show. So that's why he went there, right?
KING: He just put you in the young demographic.
BASH: Thank you, I appreciate it.
KING: That's all the time we have tonight, guys. We'll see you tomorrow right here. "PARKER SPITZER" starts right now.