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JOHN KING, USA

Haley Barbour Attempts to Explain Controversial Remarks; Senate Debating START Treaty; Census Report

Aired December 21, 2010 - 19:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. Welcome home, my friend. And good evening, everyone. What a day in Washington and in politics. New census data from the government reshapes Congress and politics for a decade or more mop. We'll map out the shifts, including the growing Latino population.

But although the census cost more than $12 billion it does not answer one big question driving immigration politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know how many of the 308.7 million are citizens of country or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, you might say there's something not so right about the lame duck session of Congress. President Obama got another big win today. Several Republicans ignored leadership and voted to advance a nuke letter arms treaty with Russia. There were important GOP defections on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" too.

Here's my question -- are we seeing crumbling GOP loyalty and perhaps building blocks to something that would be very, very different here in Washington, bipartisanship? We'll debate that in a moment.

But first, a racially loaded controversy involving a Republican senator who would like to be the next president of United States. Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi issued a statement today calling segregation, quote, "indefensible" and acknowledging that the civil rights era was, again quote, "A difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African-American whose were persecuted at that time." Only a bigot would argue with that.

So then why did Governor Barbour make that statement? Because in an interview with conservative "Weekly Standard" he said some things that sounded very, very different, insensitive at minimum, and to many much worse, like, "I just don't remember it being that bad" when he was asked about the civil rights era in her hometown of Yazoo City.

In that same article he said the same organization known at Citizen's Council was a force for good in Yazoo City and opposed the Ku Klux Klan. But in his statement today Governor Barbour called the Citizen's Council, quote, "totally indefensible."

We asked Governor Barbour to join us tonight, but he declined. The invitation is open, governor, on another day. Let's talk this over with CNN contributors Ed Rollins, John Avlon, and Cornell Belcher.

Ed Rollins, I want to go to you first, because you've known Governor Barbour a long time. I have known Governor Barbour a long time. When I read the article in "The Weekly Standard" I was frankly stunned at the insensitivity, a, because he's a governor of a state, and, b, because he's thinking about running for president. A new statement today with a very different tone. What's happening here?

ED ROLLINS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: First, I want to state, I hired Haley Barbour, brought him to Washington. He worked on my White House staff in 1985 and I've known him a long, long time. And there's not a racially insensitive bone in his body. He is one of the true young leaders of the new south and I think to a certain extent, he's an all-American boy, I think, to a certain extent football player, student body president, high school.

I don't think his attitudes were a whole lot different than a lot of other people, except for the fact I can tell you he's a very sensitive person to any kind of racial issues. I think whatever the words, misuse of the words, they certainly have been overblown.

KING: He's the governor of a state. He said this and is think about running for president, which magnifies it all the more. This is one of the thing he said in the "Weekly Standard" article. "You heard of the Citizen's Council. Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from, an organization of town leaders.

In Yazoo City, anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass ran out of town. If you had a store, they would see nobody would stop there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City."

In this article, he was saying the Citizen's Council was a force for good, saying the Klan is not welcome here. But in his statement today he changed his tone saying their vehicle called the Citizen's Council is totally indefensible as is segregation. And he said our town wasn't as bad as other towns, but I'm not calling the leadership saints.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: It's problematic he had to start off backtracking. I actually met Haley Barbour at a young age waiting tables. He struck up a conversation with. I thought he was a nice guy, struck up a conversation with a young kid waiting tables.

This is not the publicity he can have if he's run for president. Nothing bothers middle America more than someone being bigoted, or racially insensitive. He starts with this incident. I don't think Haley Barbour is a bigot. However, this is really problematic moving forward.

KING: Go ahead. JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is about something bigger than Haley Barbour. The idea the White Citizen's Council was somehow a benign organization is bull.

This is what happens, the underbelly of realignment. Not a Republican/Democrat thing. It's a conservative/liberal thing. Conservative Democrats realigned Republican, and groups like the White Citizen's Council dedicated to massive resistance to desegregation in 1950s and '60s were not a force for good, not a peaceful, constructive alternative to the Klan.

We need to be clear and there needs to be clear comeuppance when it comes to folk whose see this as an alternative. The conservative movement needs to come to grips with this part of their history, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as conservatives at that time in the south.

KING: And I want to continue on the point. You talk about bringing Haley to Washington. He served in the White House. He was the chairman of the Republican committee, worked in your White House back in the '80s now the governor of the state and said, and what he said to the "Weekly Standard," "Barbour doesn't have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revelation, quote, "I just don't remember it being that bad," he said."

Let's assume that statement is true. Yazoo City was better than other parts. My question, how does he not politically understand he has to follow the next statement up saying, of course, it was reprehensible what happened elsewhere and I regret that, and I wish it never happened, maybe my town wasn't so bad, something to make it clear he gets the bigger context.

ROLLINS: Listen, there's no better politician in America than Haley Barbour.

KING: That's what makes it so hard to understand. I've known him a long time.

ROLLINS: I grew in up California, was a poverty worker, grew up in public housing. I had friends who were black, Hispanic, Filipino. I didn't grow up in the south. It was a different place in the '60s. I think to a certain extent what you have to do with Haley understand where he's come from, how far he's come and how far he's come and what a significant leader he has become in the party to be sensitive.

John, I think the south -- what went on in the south is something that none of us are very proud of. I think we've come a long ways and people like Haley and others have been those that have moved us forward, and I think to a certain extent they aren't to be condemned but applauded.

BELCHER: The problem is that, the narrative fits in. It fits a stereotype. For better or worse we have a stereotype of southerners. I'm a southerner, so we have a stereotype of southerners as racially insensitive. This fits right into that narrative that the stereotype people want to believe. So it's a major problem for Haley Barbour if he wants to a national statesman for the Republican Party.

And add this to the Tea Party, the language from the tea party, it become as problem for moderate middle America.

KING: Here's one of the issues. You read this and say, all right, maybe the guy who spoke maybe he was tired, maybe the article didn't take everything in perfect context. That's one of the reasons we invited him here tonight. I've known him for more than 20 years.

But critics would say, go back in time. Here's a 1982 article in the "New York Times" when Governor Barbour was running for Senate back in those days. It reads the racial sensitivity suggested by an exchange between the candidate and an aide who complained there would be "coons at a state fair. Embarrassed a reporter heard this, Mr. Barbour if it insisted in racist remarks, he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks." Knowing Haley, that was an attempt at a joke, but you can't attempt jokes like that.

ROLLINS: Yes. Yes. Look, this is -- that is a, clearly, off- color comment from a different era. And, again, this isn't about the south per se. The south's a great part of the country. It's bigger than Haley Barbour.

This is about coming to terms with our history and being honest about it, recognizing the echoes in our debates, recognizing that Martin Luther King was not sainted by all Americans as he is today but was considered a communist by some folks on the far right at that time. Some sat out the civil rights movement. It's a matter of coming to terms and transcending it. You've got to admit it to transcend it.

BELCHER: For me the problem with that comment, with that exchange is structural, because fundamentally it says this, you're going to have people around you who are making decision whose clearly are racially insensitive at best. At worst, they're bigots. If you put those people around you in positions of power you'll have an outcome that's a racist outcome which is bad. That to me is a problem with having people like that around you and accepting that sort of behavior.

KING: Go ahead.

ROLLINS: The entire southern leadership, which were mainly Democrats, including the late Senator Byrd was a member of the KKK and said "I only got on the KKK when I was a young man. That's how I advanced in politics. I didn't see all of this outrage then."

I'm telling you Haley Barbour is a good guy who has basically worked very hard to change the south, to change the thought process and many of the things you're asking for. I don't want to be held accountable for everything I did in 1982, 1960, whatever. I wasn't a racist. I don't think Haley was a racist. To a certain extent give him the benefit of the changes he's made.

KING: As I want to give one more here, again, people pointed this out, Ed, I want to be with you. I've known the governor a long time. I've invited to come here. I'll give him as long time as he needs to explain.

But critics would say this is not an isolated incident. This is Haley Barbour on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. This was after the new governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, had designated April as Confederate month. He designated it and made no mention in the proclamation of the horror of slavery as past governors had in keeping the tradition. Listen to Haley here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": You know what I'm trying to get at, that here is a sort of feeling that it's insensitive, but you don't agree?

HALEY BARBOUR, (R) MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: To me it's a sort of feeling that it's a myth, that it is not significant, that it's not -- he's trying to make a big deal of something that doesn't amount to diddly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When he said that, Haley was the chairman of the Republican governors' association, and I'm going to give him the benefit of doubt, coming to aid, trying to minimize a controversy involving a new Republican governor.

Again, Ed Rollins, if you're going to run for president, put yourself on a national stage, everything you say, critics will stack these things up and say insensitive at best.

ROLLINS: You know, I can't argue with the words being insensitive. I can only argue with the man I know very, very well, and the man I know very, very well has a good heart, and he has done everything to change the new south. The south is a totally different place.

We all started in politics, John, you're younger than the rest of you, but at the end of the day the south was a place with great biases and Cornell told you, dramatic change. It was Democrats and Republicans all. It's not just Republicans and certainly not Haley Barbour.

AVLON: This is bigger than Haley Barbour, bigger than partisan politics. We're on the 150th anniversary of the start of the civil war. Race has always been a fundamental fault-line in our politics. You can't ignore it, dismiss it, because it's at the heart of our narrative as a country and something we still struggle to transcend. That's why it matters today still.

BELCHER: And one quick thing. The problem I don't think Haley Barbour's a bigoted guy. The problem is this sort of insensitivity to issues of race sort of makes you not capable of leading a country so diverse as this.

KING: I will leave this conversation here. Governor Barbour, if the staff is watching, come on anytime to explain yourself. We extend that invitation to you.

When we come back, the president gets a huge foreign policy victory in the United States Senate. How did he get? With some -- get this -- Republican help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Maybe we ought to stop calling this the lame duck session of Congress. Take a peek. They're debating the START Treaty. Yes, many lawmakers won't be back next year. Senator Cardin is not among them. Whether you like the results, the action has been anything but lame.

Tonight, a major victory for the president. The Senate voted to advance that nuclear arms treaty. The final ratification vote is set for tomorrow. Add that to the tax compromise and the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," you get a session more productive, more cooperative than most predicted.

Just a holiday fad? Maybe. Maybe a building block for next year when Republicans will have more power and bipartisanship will be needed to get anything done.

Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash from Capitol Hill. Dana, what makes the START debate and others so striking to me is you have the number one and number two Republicans in the Senate leadership saying, this is a bad deal, and what marked 2009 and most of 2010 was the discipline in the Senate Republican conference. If they said no, leader said no, senators voted no. Listen to Jon Kyl, Republican number Republican from Arizona saying this is a bad deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYL: The administration did not negotiate a good treaty. They went into the negotiations, it seems to me, with the attitude with the Russians, just like the guy that goes into the car dealership and says I'm not leaving here until I buy a car. And I think that's the approach that was taken, and the result is pretty clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why, if he's so adamant about this do we have, I believe, our latest count is 11 Republicans that will likely grow bite morning saying I'm going to join the president?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is fascinating. I saw Mitch McConnell in the hallway and asked him the question. What do you think about the fact this is going to be approved even though you're not going to vote for it? He sort of blew me off, to be honest, and walked into the Senate floor, because that is a fascinating dynamic here.

Not to mention the fact as you said there are 11 senate Republicans already onboard. John, another thing we're watching is one of the Republicans who the democrat, really working on is John McCain. He's been an open skeptic of this treaty, a critic of the process, and he is somebody who actually may end up voting yes on this. Democrats are working him hard just for, if nothing else, the symbolism of getting John McCain, a president's formal rival and out there on national security.

KING: And the president did have Republicans down to the White House. The president himself said and Robert Gibbs the press secretary at the briefing said today "The president is making more phone calls, the president is giving more genuine bipartisan outreach." See if it holds true in the new year. Robert Gibbs thinks in part because of that outreach and in part because of something else, Republicans are thinking differently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I also happen to think that Republicans understand probably more than they have in any other period, also in the president's tenure that they are soon to inherit a great responsibility for the act of governing. And I think that's keeping a bit earlier than the formal passing of the gavel in the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He's speaking calmly there. You almost want to say that's a grown-up talking in a mature way about a adult process of compromise and negotiation. Where are we?

AVLON: I love it. Look, this is really remarkable. We have seen after two years of really trench, hyper-partisan warfare an enormously partisan lame duck. I think the tax cut deal set the tone, set the stage. Because the president was willing to extend all the Bush cuts temporarily and get concession on unemployment benefits as a result, he's able to move dialogue forward.

You've got eight Republican senators voting for "don't ask, don't tell," 11 supporting the START treaty. We'll see what happens with the 9/11 first responders bill. But his shows the strength the Senate and emerging Senate coalition helping bring that change forward.

KING: That's the question, Ed Rollins. Is this just the end of the year on things maybe the Republican don't want to go to the mat for or is it the beginning of something else?

To John's point just before the I get to you, Ed. Hang on. I want to show, I call it the not so right lame duck session for a reason. Here's the DREAM act. Three Republicans broke with the leadership. Bennett, Lugar and Murkowski. It went down because some Democrats wouldn't vote for it up in 2012. Immigration bill. Go figure.

Eight Republicans voted for "don't ask, don't tell." Pretty cross-country there. and as John noted, 11 Republicans On the Record out in for supporting START and expect that to go up. Ed, is this the beginning are something or is it going to fade?

ROLLINS: No, no. First of all, foreign policy is always different. Treaties, used to be everything that was done by a president, foreign policy, both sides pretty much agreed with. So I think to a certain extent that's different issue.

Republicans wanted the tax cuts extend and got pretty much what they wanted. "Don't tell" is a totally different issue. It's a matter of conscience. Some want it, some don't. It's purely not a partisan issue.

The bottom line is, where there's a real significant difference on fiscal issues. We'll see. I hope there's good relationships coming into the new year but I think it will be harder and get back on political zone. I don't in any way dispute the president is reaching out. Every president I've worked for, three, always in the process of reaching out. This president hasn't done up to this point in time. He may find he can talk to people if he picks up the phone and has conversations. That will be very productive for the country.

And Dana, this will get harder for the president next year because you will have the House in Republican control, and they will pass a bill with cuts the president doesn't want. And you had Mitch McConnell said if the Democrats don't like wait I'm doing business now, wait until next year, meaning he'll have more Republicans in the Senate, friends in the House.

What is the sense up there? Is there at least a new climate that sometimes they can get along or is this just a temp rare blip?

BASH: I don't mean to be Debbie downer here, but I do -- I do think it's more likely than not this could be a blip only because of the fact that you brought up.

Look, Republicans are going to have more seats in the Senate. They're going to take over the House. And I talked to lots of Republicans today who say, look, it reminded me of that. Especially the fact Republicans, the kind of Republicans that got elected were not the kind that are coming to Washington to compromise. It's just a different kind of Republican overall.

And also, interestingly, I talked privately to at least one Republican today that said he's concerned that what was displayed in this lame duck session, some Republicans breaking for the president could, cause a bigger rift in the Republican Party. And there are Republicans whose are worried about that, that it's shows Washington what's going on here as the establishment, that very establishment that tea party candidates and others railed against, and this could fire them up even more and cause problems in the Republican party.

KING: You would hate that, right Cornell?

BELCHER: Only in Washington is people getting along and compromising to move the forward as country is it a bad thing. Only in politics is that a bad thing.

KING: Lisa Murkowski is not the certified the winner. She is in the Republican leadership on all three votes I just counted there. You wonder if she has her on independent streak now that she comes in the process. Dick Lugar running in Indiana, not exactly a blue state. People talked about a tea party challenge to him.

Ed, what happens after an election like this? You still see an establishment versus the grass roots and tea party sense going on. Go ahead.

ROLLINS: The new Tea Party candidates are not there yet. This is the old Senate. Bennett was defeated obviously to Republican caucus, didn't have to go to a primary.

I think to a certain extent you'll going to find a hardening. Everything starts in the House, as Dana said so correctly. My sense is, always been four, five Republicans who have gone south. Even with majorities. Byrd used to hold his 47, 48, always Voinovich, others basically the other side.

I think the backbone, McConnell is definitely in charge. Once again, "don't tell" is a different issue, but at the end of the day, the fiscal issue, that stuff, Republicans will get back in the trenches and fighting forward and the president will have to make compromises if he wants an effective couple ever years here.

KING: Scott Brown, looks more like a senator from Massachusetts than a tea party darling at the moment with his thoughts. Go ahead, jump in.

AVLON: You know, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a huge issue for essential conservatives. Ed's point, if the Tea Party is as it said focused like a laser beam on fiscal issue, deficit and debt, a libertarian streak no problem with those eight votes who voted for don't ask, don't tell.

The folks on the far left and the right who oppose the tax cut compromise it would add to the deficit, maybe that would create common ground in the new year, because that's where the hard work comes in. but this should not be simply about punishing Republican senators who have the courage to reach across the aisle on issues that aren't fiscal, especially if it's about social issue.

ROLLINS: Brown was our hero, the first of the Tea Party support. My sense every day he casts one of these votes the tea party people who supported him, he's becoming more of a dead man walking. I would argue the liberals have a candidate and he's not going to be a viable candidate in two years.

KING: Dana, another interesting thing, the vice president has been camped out up there 36 years in the Senate. Senate seems to be like it worked in the old days. Do friendship and trust matter, even if you disagree?

BASH: It's getting there. This is the end of the session and year and tensions and tempers are hot. No question about it. You're right. I was outside the office just off the Senate chamber that the vice president, any vice president has. Joe Biden was in there today. John McCain was standing outside. It was pretty clear they were going back and forth having conversations, very, very interesting to see that kind of action at work. By the way, just today it wasn't just the vice president. Another former Senator, Hillary Clinton, saw her walk into the Senate chamber greeting former colleagues to work these issues. It will be fascinating to see if it continues to work.

KING: And to close on that point, as they do that going forward, it's a tough challenge, reaching out to Republicans. Democrats have to do that, spending cuts, budget issue, then leaning right to negotiate but looking left for trouble.

BELCHER: You've got to have people who will reach out and negotiate with you. I think it shows courage to those Republicans that would break from Mitch McConnell. He said his number one job is making sure Obama is a one-term period. Stop playing politics and move the country forward.

The president is doing exactly what the American people want, being bipartisan, compromising. And if that's causing problems in the Tea Party, that's the problem they have to deal with to the American people when they aren't reaching across and bringing bipartisanship. I applaud the Republicans that reached across and showed bipartisanship.

KING: I'm sure they're loving your endorsement.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

KING: A lot more tore come. When we come back, one of the things we'll break down is a fascinating look at census. New data tells you so much about the change in country. What about your state's clout? Going up, down? We'll break that down.

And a little break tonight to talk sports. Yes, sports. The University of Connecticut women's basketball team. It's about to break a record. Some men say, no, no. We'll look at that.

And Pete Dominick wants to talk about net neutrality. Really? Pete knows a lot about it. Keep it with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Big numbers out from the census bureau today that will affect our politics for a decade or more and could affect how much money your state gets too. Let's break some of these numbers down. Come on. The wall doesn't want to work. Back to that in just a second.

Let's start with this. Robert Groves is the census director. Let me start right here for you. This is our population, 308 million in the United States, nearly 309 million people. That is a 9.7 percent gain since the last census 10 years ago. As they track the population though maybe they knocked on your door. You got the census questionnaire. One thing the census does not do, and this frustrates a lot of people, they do not try to make a distinction when people answer whether they are here in the United States legally or illegally. Robert Groves says that is a long-standing tradition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GROVES, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU: We, in the census, since 1790 have attempted to count every resident of country, whether they citizens or not. We've continued that in the 2010 census. We didn't have a question on the questionnaire about whether were you a citizen, if you recall. So we don't know how many of the 308.7 million are citizens of the country or not. We know they're residents of the U.S.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You look here, these states that are highlighted, these are the top five states in terms of population growth. Meaning they grew the slowest, these are the bottom five. Rhode Island actually lost population. If you flip it over here, these are the-and you see the difference.

The decline, up here. The growth, up here. That's a big factor in our politics today. One of the reasons you look at this, let's take a look. We'll turn that off. We'll come over here to the electoral college. You get that -- turn off for us-here, there we go.

If you look at this right here, watch this play in. If the states had the electoral college count now, that they had in 2008, we would have had a closer presidential election. Barack Obama still would have won quite handily. That is one of the things we'll discuss in a moment, the presidential campaign impact of this. But even though the last decade had relatively slow population growth, by numbers, we still gained many, many people. Some questioners ask, if we keep growing at that rate, can United States fit all of these people?

Here again, Director Groves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GROVES: Another statistic we released was the number of people per square mile in different states, and we range from 1.1 persons per square mile in Alaska, up to thousands of people per square mile on the East Coast. We've got a lot of land in this country that is plenty of room for a lot of people. So I don't think we're going to hit those geographical constraints very soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, take a peek at this as we consider the next segment, back right after the break. But if you see a state way gold line it around that means it lost congressional seats, lost votes in a electoral college. Look, a lot of those states are blue, carried by President Obama. Look at the states outline in green, those are states that are gaining seats in the Congress and will gain both in the electoral college. More of them, than not, were carried by the Republicans, or very, very competitive states. When we come back what is the political impact for races for Congress, in the next race presidency in all of these new numbers today. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Apportionment hardly sounds sexy, but it is the central mission of the census our government conducts every 10 years to count how many of us live here in the United States, and then apportions seats in the House of Representatives based on those state by state numbers.

So let's dig deeper into the new numbers released just today with political pros who know just how important they are to the next decade of American politics. Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and former Republican Congressman Tom Davis from Virginia.

And before we talk, let me just go over here to the map, you guys can take a peak. Just to show the big changes from the census, when it comes to this is just the House of Representatives. Apportionment, we call it. The green states here, they are all going to gain. Washington State gets a seat. Nevada gets one. Texas gets four, that is the biggest winner. Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, gets two. If these states are winning, somebody has to lose. That's how it works, 435 seats total.

Look at this, the losses-with the exception of Louisiana, a bit of Katrina impact there-up here, the Northeast and the Rust Belt. New York loses two, Ohio loses two. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Governor Rendell, your state loses one.

So as I come on back over, when you look at that map, the losses tend to be, from states that Obama won, where Democrats have done well, and the gains are in states not without exception, but mostly in states where Republicans have done well, historically and especially this past year.

Short-term, Governor, is this not a big win for Republicans?

GOV. ED RENDELL, FMR. GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think for Congress, yes, because the Republicans will control redistricting. And redistricting is the key. But for 2012, for example, I think this is good news for President Obama, because where you look at the states that have grown population, it's mostly dominated by growth in Latino citizens, and Latino citizens, given the current atmosphere, are likely to vote Democrat with a vengeance in 2012. And so I think Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, Florida, states like that, are definitely in play and Obama can win them again.

KING: To follow on that point, focusing on 2012 and the Latino vote, the governor said based on the climate, you know, after the midterm elections a lot of these new Republican governors, a lot of them say they will copy the Arizona law. And you are going to see six or eight or ten states having that debate. Harmful to your party?

TOM DAVIS, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: It just depends on how it governs. A lot of it is going to depend on where the economy is. There is going to be a lot of conflicting issues going into this. The bottom line is, you move from Obama states down to McCain states, for the most part. So on the electoral college map it probably helps the Republicans short term.

KING: If the new electoral map were in place in 2008, Obama would lose six electoral votes. Not enough, of course, to change the election but it is a bit of a trend.

RENDELL: But that is assuming he doesn't pick up some states because of the increase in the Latino population. You said something before you went on the air, John. It is more tone than substance with Latino voters. It's tone. Every state legislature there is someone with an R behind their name trying to bang Latinos, trying to make immigration more difficult, trying to get rid of illegals, do those things. It's tone. Latinos are getting it. Will they register and vote? I believe they will. They did in Pennsylvania, in the 2010 election, which is why Joe Sestak almost won.

KING: That is the debate up here. The debate in the next several months is going to be who draws the line? That's why this recent, just-past midterm election is so important.

RENDELL: Brutal lessons.

KING: Because let's look at it, you use the term brutal. I think that might even be an understatement; 18 states either gain or loose seats. When you look through, nine of them have Republican governors and Republican controlled legislatures. That is enormous power heading into redistricting. Half of the states, that either gain or loose, have pretty much total Republican control of the process, barring legal challenges.

In another four states you have Republican governors, but not Republican legislatures, but at least the governor has a veto pen and some influence in the process. Tom Davis if I'm redrawing congressional lines and then the state legislative lines as part of this as well, and I'm a Republican, I'm looking right now and saying this is a big, big advantage.

DAVIS: More importantly they can solidify the seats they won this time, where they over performed. This will give them a chance to pick up a few seats but to solidify their marginal seats that they have this time. That's is kind of the hidden issue for Republicans. It will be harder to unseat those incumbents when they add Republicans to those districts.

RENDELL: Maybe, but one of my favorite sayings in literature, Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. In Pennsylvania 10 years ago the Republicans tried to be hogs. Tried to pick up four or five seats and wound up stretching their margin so thin they got beat badly.

KING: What's it tell us about our national politics, though, when you do see the demographic, the population migration leaving the Rust Belt states, the industrial states, the Ohios, the Illinois, the New Yorks, the Pennsylvanias, and going into the Southwest? What does that tell you about the issues dynamic?

DAVIS: Well, they are going to the right-to-work states. They are going to states where the jobs are. It's a migration to jobs for the most part. The Rust Belt, the young people are leaving in droves. This is a reflection of that, plus the immigration from south of border that is going into those border states.

RENDELL: I don't know, if Tom I think is right generally, I'm not sure that's an across the board characterization. Pennsylvania had it, from a congressional standpoint, its best census since 1940, in every prior census we lost multiple seats. This time we only lost one seat, we grew by almost 4 percent. So, I think it depends on the dynamic. I actually think people are going to warm weather. I think a lot of this when we break it down, will be older Americans who are living longer, moving down to warm weather states.

KING: Take us inside the process. When you were the chairman the House Congressional Campaign Committees you cared about the apportionment and who was in charge because you want to draw the lines so you could win more seats. When you are a governor, of course, you are trying to say, A, if you've got the legislature, let's maximize this to our advantage. Or if you don't, I've got this pen, so you have to kind of deal with me. If you're the Republicans right now and you are looking today at data that is very favorable to you, what is the immediate challenge not to overplay your hand?

DAVIS: Not to overplay, you want to solidify the seats you have picked up first. They did make a mistake in Pennsylvania, where they tried to over perform. You can't sustain it. This redistricting will last for maybe a couple cycles and then issue changes and demographic changes start to take their place. And if you draw the lines too generously, you can get hurt.

I think in this particular case you're going to be looking at solidifying their gains and then picking up a few seats. And makes control of the House harder for Democrats if that's what they follow. If they try to be hogs, as the governor said, it could backfire on you, because this is a very fickle electorate right now. We don't know where they'll be in two years.

KING: In places where the Democrats maybe have a governor, with a pen, a veto pen, how important is that to pressure the process?

RENDELL: It's important. Because it's a balance, and can you try to draw fair lines, fair to both parties. I don't think redistricting should be done politically. I think it should be done by citizens committees that aren't beholden to the parties. But if it is going to be done that way, it is important to have a veto. But I will tell you one thing, John, what these figures say to me, a state like Texas, I think Texas will go Democrat and the presidential election fairly soon will start to see Texas Democratic senators and Democratic governor again.

KING: You believe that because of the growth in the Latino population.

RENDELL: No question.

KING: And yet right now that another big huge year for Republican right there. So how do you take your short-term win and all that power and address what is a very significant threat that highlights the Republic of Texas?

DAVIS: The governor is right over the long-term. In the short term, remember, illegals and legals, they all count the same in the census at this point. So in some of these cases you have people there, but they're not eligible to be registered, or they are not registered. That will be a challenge for the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign.

KING: Let me ask you both a question, in just completely different issue since I have you in here right now.

The governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour is in some controversy because of things said about the civil rights movement. He gave an interview with "The Weekly Standard". He was talking about these citizens councils in the states and he said, oh, the civil rights movement didn't seem like that big of a thing to me at the time. Strike you as odd? He's getting a lot of criticism in the conservative blogs. He issued a statement today, you know, he was against racism. Proud of the civil rights movement. Not trying to minimize the insensitivity of anything.

DAVIS: I think he was talking about his home town, where in Yazoo City, it actually went smoother than it did across the rest of the south. And if you read the whole article, he's focusing on what happened in his town, where the citizen's council were a positive force. But look, he's from Mississippi. He has got to be careful with what he says. But I think this is just the issue du jour and he has plenty of time to recover. I think he'll be viable if he runs.

KING: Is he viable? (ph).

RENDELL: Yes, I agree with Tom. Haley Barbour is not a racist in any way shape or form. Haley likes to talk, as I do, and sometimes puts his foot in it. But he's a good guy and he would be a good credible candidate.

KING: Good, credible candidate? Look at that, that is almost an endorsement, right?

RENDELL: Oh, he doesn't want my endorsement.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Tom Davis, Governor Rendell, thanks for coming in.

Up next, a look at tonight's top stories. And in a moment, we detour into college sports as Connecticut women's basketball team looks to make history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Joe Johns for the latest news you need know right now.

Joe.

(NEWSBREAK)

KING: Basketball fan?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, big time.

KING: Women's basketball?

JOHNS: Oh, yeah.

KING: Good. Maybe the is watching tonight. Henry is reporting that the president is heading to Hawaii tomorrow night. But the first family is already there. Maybe he's home watching right now. When we come back we'll talk about this. The University of Connecticut, we're not watching, Joe, because we're working, making history. Trying to make history.

After that, some equal opportunity surfing with Pete Dominick. You'll want to do that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: All right, sports fans get out the record books. Gentlemen, don't be chauvinist pigs. The longest winning streak in college basketball history may be broken tonight. The record? Eighty-eight straight as held by the late John Wooden's legendary UCLA teams of the early 1970s. Well, tonight the women of UConn, the Huskies, could surpass it. They are going for consecutive win No. 89 in the home game against Florida State.

With me, the "USA TODAY" sports columnist Christine Brennan. And I should note 48 to 23 at last check. So they've got a pretty good lead early on, over a pretty good team.

Florida state, 9 and 2 coming in. Big deal?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "USA TODAY": The game tonight, John, oh, absolutely. I mean, if-if they win, as you said they have a strong lead. UConn's history is now to build on that lead. I wouldn't be surprised if it's 40 points by the end of it. Not much of a contest, except what it means at the end. And what it means is that this would be a team doing something that no other college basketball team, male or female, has ever done before. That would be getting to 89 consecutive victories. That's a pretty big deal.

KING: Yet some out there say, sure, it's a big deal for the women, but don't compare it to UCLA, don' compare it to Coach Wooden. That came up the other day. Here is Geno Auriemma, he is the coach of the women, the UConn women, he is about to break the record. He doesn't like that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GENO AURIEMMA, HEAD COACH, UCONN WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: The guys, that love women's basketball are all excited and all the miserable bastards that follow men's basketball, and don't want us to break the record are all here because they're pissed. That's just the way it is. If we were breaking a women's record, everybody would go, aren't those girls nice?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why is it in the culture of sports, I guess it is, still in some way, or at least parts of it, a macho culture? Why is it that some people look down on this?

BRENNAN: Well, yeah, it is really a wake-up call I think. As you know, John, women are playing sports as never before. Title 9 is almost 40 years old, opening playing fields to women and girls. It's incredible law and the history of that is amazing, but the wake-up call here is that the coverage is not following that. That main stream sports media, male dominated. I've been a proud member of that for almost 30 years. We are just doing a terrible job of recording these things. And there is that apples and oranges stance, right? That this can't be the same as the men. Well, why not? These women are playing the same game, and they're playing tough competition. And again, if they win, they're doing something UCLA did not do.

KING: We did see, you mentioned the coverage, women's sports, the especially basketball doesn't get enough attention. I remember last year, I was talking to the Adam Silvers the deputy commissioner of the NBA. And the WNBA ratings did go up a bit, and they were quite happy with that. But why is it harder?

BRENNAN: It may just be that it is going to take another generation or two. We are trying to judge women's sports by the men's model. And we've got so many men's sports that have been around for, what, dozens, hundreds, scores of year. And women's sports, basically, as I mentioned, it is less than 40 years. 1972 when Richard Nixon, of all people, signed Title 9. This is the infancy for women's sports and it could very well be, John, that a girl who is being born today, when she's 50, 50 years from now, maybe that's when women will feel that sports really is their birthright.

KING: I hope it's quicker than that. My daughter's playing junior varsity basketball, she plays field hockey, and lacrosse. I hope it is quicker than that.

Real quickly, on this one. Mark Potash writes an Op-Ed in "The Chicago Sun-Times" yesterday. Saying, "You're not chasing UCLA's record. You can't tie it, you are not going to break it. That's a men's record. You coach a women's team. A women's team can't break a men's record any more than a men's can break a women's record."

I guess that's true. But why be a bah-hum-bug at this moment?

BRENNAN: Exactly. And when we are trying to find new readers and find new viewers, women and girls are by definition that audience that we can bring in. Again, it seems so negative about something where we're talking about a game of college basketball. And 89, at least in my math, beats 88.

KING: It's a great sport. It is a lot of fun. And I think they are on their way. We won't take sides here, so I guess I can't say go for it, but looks like that are doing it without my endorsement anyway.

Christine, thanks for coming in.

BRENNAN: Thank you, John.

KING: Maybe can you get out of here and catch the end of the game.

BRENNAN: I am planning to do that.

KING: Appreciate your coming. Thanks so much.

Up next, Pete Dominick on the information super highway. We are going to break down, I'm going to let Pete do most of the work, this controversial FCC ruling on how can you can now and in the future get access to the Internet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The Federal Communications Commission today approved a controversial new policy it says will provide all user equal access to the Internet. The measure, known as net neutrality, is drawing flak from both critics and supporters and this is an issue our off-beat reporter Pete Dominick is tracking closely.

Pete.

PETE DOMINICK, OFF-BEAT REPORTER: That's right, John King.

On my radio program I've been talking about this over a year. A lot of people don't understand it. They hear this term network neutrality, net neutrality, and they just glaze over. They don't know what it means, ISPs and hosts and servers.

Here's the deal, John King. Liberals, conservatives all want the same thing from our Internet service provider. We want it to be fast and we want it to be consistent. Liberals and conservatives, we don't want big business, and we don't want big government deciding for me, at least, how quickly I get my porn, John King. I want it and I want it now. That's what Americans want from their source of entertainment and this doesn't have to be a political thing, John King. It doesn't have to be a partisan thing. That's why I don't understand what we're yelling about.

KING: You get what I want. I like to get information, news sites, financial sites.

DOMINICK: Yeah, whatever, to each his own.

KING: So why then? Why then? Some Republican say it's government regulation. You've tracked this issue closely. Why has it become so partisan?

DOMINICK: I really don't understand. It really is something we can get together on. Jim DeMint said today it's a government takeover of the Internet. And on the other side, of course, Al Franken said, this is the most important free speech issue of our time. The idea is, government, in this case, is going to keep it flat. It is going to allow us to look at what we want when we want. And the Internet service providers, they kind of want to get involved and decide. They want you to receive their content. The fact is we pay, John, $70, $80 for the Internet. We want it fast, want it now, and we don't want anybody tells us what we can see, and when we can see it, and that is net neutrality.

KING: And that is the beginning of the Pete Dominick for something campaign.

Pete, thanks for helping. I learn a lot right there. Thank you very much.

DOMINICK: I'm trying, I'm trying.

KING: We'll be right back here tomorrow night. Hope you're back here with us. That's all for now. PARKER SPITZER, right now.