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JOHN KING, USA
Stock Markets Soar; Will Cain Campaign Continue?; Interview With Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey; Interview With Mayors Nutter, Villaraigosa
Aired November 30, 2011 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, Wall Street is celebrating its best day of a volatile 2011, all of the major market indexes up more than 4 percent, that after a global effort by major central banks to ease Europe's debt crisis. Now, will the rally last? There are many, many skeptics.
But, for a day, the numbers were stunning, and in a good away for a change. The Dow was up more than 490 points. That's 4.2 percent for the day, back into positive territory for the year, the biggest gain for the Dow in both points and percentage since March 2009. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index climbed 4.3 percent, the Nasdaq up 4.2 percent, all of this after the Federal Reserve and a handful of other central banks announced they'd make it easier for global financial institutions to borrow dollars, which are in high demand these days as investors are get more and more skittish about the euro.
The move worked, for a day anyway.
But CNN's Richard Quest is among the expert market watchers who see it as a pain reliever than a lasting cure.
KING: Richard Quest, central banks around the world make clear they're ready to help, the markets love it all around the world, including best day on Wall Street of 2011, up more than 4 percent. Investors ask are we finally, finally on a sustainable path to growth or is this just another stop on the roller coaster?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, no hesitation, it's a stop on the roller coaster. The one day's actions by the central bank of the Fed and five others doth not a recovery or end of the crisis make.
What happened here was these central banks got together and they recognized that some banks are having difficulties getting hold of dollars if they're non-U.S. banks or it might be yen or euros, or whatever. And they have basically made it easier. They have they have lubricated the financial sector, if you like, and they put money available.
But they have done nothing to actually solve the crisis either in the Eurozone in terms of the debt and the sovereign debt crisis or in the United States with the budget deficit talks. This is just treating the symptoms, most definitely not a cure.
KING: And so if it's a Band-Aid treating the symptoms the last time anything of this scale happened was when Lehman Brothers was collapsing back in 2008. Is the situation as dire as then, not as dire, or worse potentially?
QUEST: Well, that's the very interesting point. Why did they do it today?
Do the central banks know something we don't, that there are more banks out there privately telling them that they are really hurting for liquidity and some of them might be about to fall over? That, we can only speculate about because nothing would be more devastating or catastrophic at the moment than for any bank to -- a big bank, for instance, to suddenly find itself shut out.
If that were to happen, turn the lights off on the way out. But, John, what I would say tonight is, the euphoria in the market is not only central banks. It's because of employment numbers in the U.S., and a relief that at least somebody's doing something.
KING: Somebody's doing something, but what is the next big step that has to be made so that this Band-Aid actually helps and it solves the problem and eases the problem for a couple of days until they actually fix the problem?
QUEST: The only way this thing can be dealt with in the short term is the most massive amount of money, the so-called big bazooka, probably from the European Central Bank, Europe's equivalent of the Fed, to go in and flood the market with money and buy the bonds to soothe everybody's nerves. Everybody's expecting it. The only question, frankly, when?
KING: An excellent question. We will keep watching. Richard Quest, as always, thank you.
KING: And now to a major development in political drama, more mixed signals tonight from Herman Cain about his staying power in the Republican presidential race. Listen to Cain at the start of a speech in Ohio. He sounds like a candidate crafting his own obituary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let it be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goals. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach for. It's not a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity to have no dreams.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: After that speech, listen here. He told CNN's Jim Acosta he's still on the fence. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAIN: We are reassessing and reevaluating.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Are you staying in the race?
CAIN: We are reevaluating and reassessing.
How are you?
ACOSTA: How soon until we have a final answer on your future plans?
CAIN: We will be making a decision in the next several days.
ACOSTA: Thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And as we await that decision, this is interesting, I'm told the Cain national headquarters earlier this afternoon did authorize new TV ad spending in Iowa. The new spot will begin Friday, promoting Mr. Cain's theme that America needs a CEO in the White House.
Now, it's a modest TV buy, roughly $80,000, with plans to ramp it up -- quote -- "cash permitting," aides say. That last part is critical. The Cain reevaluation is largely a test of whether fund- raising dries up in the wake of a Georgia businesswoman's claim of a lengthy affair with Cain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: He also says he's helped you financially over the past few years. Has he given you money?
GINGER WHITE, ALLEGES 13-YEAR AFFAIR WITH HERMAN CAIN: Yes, he has.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On what occasions?
WHITE: I have received gifts and money for the last two-and-a- half years consistently.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he ask for anything in return for that money?
WHITE: No. This was nothing -- this wasn't sex for cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jim Acosta is live with us tonight from Columbus, Ohio.
Jim, you were close up with the candidate today eyeball to eyeball. We heard what he told you in the exchange. How about the body language, does he look like a candidate confident or does he look like a guy who thinks his days are numbered?
ACOSTA: John, this looked very much like a confident candidate today here in Ohio.
We asked him that question and as you saw on the tape there, he gave us that non-response response. We asked it again and he gave us basically the same response. And it was a surprising reaction, given the response he got from that crowd in that room in Dayton, Ohio.
It was a defiant crowd that wanted Herman Cain to fight on. And after his speech was over, we talked to a couple of ladies in the room there who said not only do they think the allegations are untrue. They say if they are proven to be true, it doesn't change the way they feel about Herman Cain. They want him to keep fighting.
KING: That's an interesting point.
Jim, one thing we're looking for is how much money are they raising overnight? After the early sexual harassment allegations, they rushed out press releases saying look at all the money we're raising. They were silent on that front at least so far today.
Any numbers at all to give a sense of whether they're getting the financial help they need?
ACOSTA: No, not at this point. One thing that is very curious what we witnessed today, we saw a candidate who is about a month from voting beginning in Iowa campaigning in Ohio, you know, a state that doesn't hold its primary until June 12, and he had an event in Cincinnati, then in Dayton, then here at Ohio State University in Columbus.
And it just doesn't make any sense. Why would you be campaigning in Ohio at this stage of the campaign? It just raises the question as to what Herman Cain is really doing at this point. Whether he is raising money, we just don't know. He's going to be his campaign says holding a press conference of some sort in New Hampshire later this evening. He will obviously be asked that question.
And then he's supposed to meet with the editorial board of "The Union Leader" up in New Hampshire, the state's major newspaper, and so he will be peppered with these sorts of questions as well. And given this curious position that he's in right now where he's literally up in the air, he's going to be pressed on a lot of questions tomorrow. It's going to be very interesting to see how he responds -- John.
KING: Jim Acosta watching Herman Cain on the trail, Jim, thanks for your time tonight
Some perspective now from our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Jim makes an important point. He's in Ohio. new Hampshire at least is closer to voting. Iowa is up first. I want you to listen. He was on FOX News just a few moments ago. Jim Acosta tried to ask him point blank there and he got the, well, I'm not sure, well, I'm not sure. well, I'm not sure. Listen to him on FOX News, where he says this is caused by Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe the Democrats want Newt Gingrich to win the nomination, so they can then go after his personal life, but they need to knock me out now.
That's just a hypothesis. So, think about it. So, I don't think it's the Republicans that are trying to knock me out because they want Gingrich to be at the top of the ticket. I honestly believe that the Republicans, you know, want it to be a fair competition.
I happen to think that these attacks on me are coming from the other side, because, once I moved into that top tier, I think they became a little bit threatened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I'm not sure what quite to make of that.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't get that.
KING: No, I'm not sure what to make of that.
You have a woman who came forward. He says she's not telling truth. I'm not sure what Mr. Cain has to gain by pointing fingers, as opposed to trying to get back to what he wants talk about.
BORGER: Well, first of all, do you remember early on he said that the stories of sexual harassment were planted by someone from Rick Perry's campaign? Then that was denied and he moved on. Now he says this is being planted by Democrats because they want to destroy him so Newt Gingrich can rise.
I don't understand that because if you're a Democrat and you want to run somebody who has been damaged already in this primary campaign, I would think that Herman Cain would be somebody, gee, you know, you would be very willing to take on.
KING: It's not a traditional campaign. So it's hard to apply, well, this happened in a similar situation before, or look at the old playbook or the rule book.
But do you get the sense -- the national campaign team says he's not going anywhere. Mr. Cain himself says I will tell you in a few days. The Iowa campaign team says they have been authorized to spend $80,000, but that's it, and wait for a final decision. Do we have a Herman Cain in the race come Monday or Tuesday?
BORGER: I'm not so sure. I don't think first of all this is not a well-oiled machine here. This is a candidate whose attorney has been saying one thing, the candidate himself has been saying something else, the staff often says something else.
I think this is a decision that probably hasn't been made yet. I think Herman Cain has to wait and see how the money comes in. And also I think he's got to talk to his family. He's going to return to talk to his wife, who he speaks about all the time now and says this is clearly taking an emotional toll on her.
I think we don't know what he's going to do. I think what we do know is that he's not likely to be the Republican nominee, whether he stays in or whether he gets out.
KING: The question is, can he have an impact if he stays in?
BORGER: That's right.
KING: Gloria Borger, thanks for your time tonight.
Still ahead here, police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia force Occupy protesters from their camps. Both of those big city mayors right here to explain why.
And next, President Obama hits the road and comes face to face with perhaps his big reelection challenge.
KING: In sports and in politics, the smart teams not only play to their strengths. They do all they can to shore up their weaknesses. For President Obama, today that meant hitting the road to get up and close and personal with a giant obstacle to his reelection, struggling blue-collar communities in states long reliably Democratic, but now big 2012 battlegrounds.
It was Pennsylvania for the president today. He was in Scranton. The president said the was good news that he doesn't quit, that he is going to fight. But here's the bad news. Scranton and places like it were tough territory for the president to begin with. Remember this? Yes, he carried state in the general election. Go back to 2008 Democratic primaries.
Light blue is Hillary Clinton. Look at that. In these blue- collar communities, predominantly white working class, President Obama struggled and struggled badly, which is why things are worse now. Things are even worse now, which is why the president chose right here in Scranton to make his economic case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you hear a lot of folks on cable TV claiming that I'm this big tax-and-spend liberal. Next time you hear that, you just remind the people who are saying it that since I have taken office, I have cut your taxes.
OBAMA: Your taxes today -- the average middle-class family, your taxes today are lower than when I took office. Just remember that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is with us live tonight.
Jess, given the big, huge Republican wins in 2010 in Pennsylvania, team Obama has to be pretty nervous.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, they express confidence, and they think they will win Pennsylvania. And I believe that they are not just spinning on this one. Whether you buy it or not is a different story. And this is why.
Their argument generally is, Democrats have a one million person voter advantage in Pennsylvania is point one. Point two, in 2010, fewer than 50 percent voters turns out. They think they will get a much bigger turnout in 2012 and that with extreme persistence, the president can turn that state which has traditionally been a Democratic state blue again because he did get more than a 10 percent advantage. He won it by more than 10 points last time around.
More than that, John, he kind of has to win Pennsylvania. It's a key part of their plan-A strategy to win in 2012, which is to win all the states Kerry one and then some, obviously. So they're pretty confident about Pennsylvania, but it is a must-win -- it is mostly a must-win for the president, John.
KING: Which means Jessica Yellin will be spending a lot of time there between now and next November.
YELLIN: I will. I will be spending a lot of time there.
KING: Jessica, thanks.
Joining us from Capitol Hill, a son of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Democratic Senator Bob Casey.
Senator, you're on the ballot in 2012. The president is not only in your state, but in your hometown today. Republicans say you're not there because you don't want that picture, that you're afraid to stand with the president. True?
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: No. John, that's a ridiculous political argument.
One thing that's abundantly clear right now is the people in Scranton that I represent, the place I live and the county within which I live and the whole state, they want us to focus on job creation. And we're doing that this week, especially by working to pass the payroll tax cut bill. And they want me to vote.
And I have got to be here for votes, whether it's on the payroll tax, but today it was on the defense authorization bill. That's my job and I'm doing my job.
KING: And so we will see you time and time again side by side with the president over the next 11 months, right? CASEY: Oh, sure. It will be a long year. It's an election year. We will be on the road a lot.
KING: All right, we will hold you to that, Senator. The Republicans are skeptical.
Let's focus. Let's focus. You say you're here for the votes on the payroll tax cut, other important votes in Washington, trying to move economic agenda forward. The president is in your hometown today.
I want you to listen to what the mayor said. He's quoted in "The New York Times" saying; "People are afraid. I remember when Ronald Reagan was president. Unemployment was high and interest rates were through the roof, but we always thought things were going to get better. Today, we don't think that things will get better. Four years ago, it was about hope. Now it's about his record."
You know this was tough for the president, your area of the state, four years ago, anyway. Can he win Pennsylvania?
CASEY: I think he can.
By the way, Lackawanna County was second only to Philadelphia last time in percentage of vote for the president. But, look, times are very tough. We have almost 10,000 people out of work in Lackawanna County. Across the state, it's more than 500,000, above 520,000. So these are still very tough times.
And what most people say to me, at home and across the state, is, they don't ask you about the politics of Washington, they don't ask you about polls. They ask you one fundamental question. What are you doing about jobs? What can you do to help us create jobs or at least create the conditions?
One of the best ways to do that is to cut the payroll tax for -- cut it in half for employees and employers to jump-start, to kick- start the economy.
KING: The question is, can it make a difference fast enough? Ronald Reagan had a struggle with the economy but then it was growing quite briskly by the time he ran for reelection.
When he first ran for election, he framed the famous question, are you better off now than you were four years ago to beat Jimmy Carter? And, Senator, here's the record in your state, in Lackawanna County, your home county, where Scranton is. November 2008, the unemployment rate 5.9 percent, right now 8.5 percent. Statewide, November 2008, 5.6 percent. October 2011, 8.1 percent.
President Obama is the incumbent. People aren't better off than they were four year ago. How does he make a better connection, especially with those white blue-collar voters with whom he's long struggled?
CASEY: Well, John, look, it's still a very tough economy, even in the aftermath of a recession. In other words, the technical definition of recession ended a long time ago.
The problem is, we still have these very high unemployment rates. The best thing we can all do, and I say this about myself or any elected official all the way to the president, we have got to focus on the concerns that real people have and their lives of struggle and sacrifice.
And that's -- it's one issue, and it's only one issue. It's jobs. If we do that, we can begin to turn those numbers around. We saw at the end of last year when Democrats and Republicans came together on a bipartisan tax bill, the economy got jump-started, only for a couple of months, but we have got to do that again so we can continue that kind of economic expansion throughout the year.
John, I know those numbers are very difficult to deal with, but I have no doubt that if we come together, working together, Democrats and Republicans, we can move the economy in the right direction. But it's very tough for people and we have got to acknowledge that.
KING: As you acknowledge it, if you look now at those numbers, there are more numbers. Governor Romney runs in a dead heat with the president in your state right now which has been reliably blue the past five presidential elections.
The president's approval rating right now is underwater, to use that housing term in a political context -- 52 percent of residents of your state disapprove of the president. I know you think the economic numbers getting better would help some. Is there something -- and this has come up time and time again, especially in these blue-collar communities -- something in the way he communicates, something that he has failed to do to develop a more personal connection?
CASEY: Oh, I don't know, John. I will leave that to the political scientists.
But I think what most people expect of us is that we really do everything we can to focus on jobs and the economy. If we continue to do that, I think the president's going to be better off.
KING: Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, appreciate your time tonight, sir.
CASEY: Thanks, John.
KING: Thank you.
Let's dig deeper on the president's blue-collar dilemma with CNN contributor James Carville and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.
James, you know the state very well. Senator Casey was just there.
Carville and Begala made their name helping his father, the late Governor Bob Casey, win election in Pennsylvania. I want to go back to the 2008 map in these blue-collar areas right up here. This is Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. Yes, President Obama carried it in the general election. But this is a place where you find what in Pennsylvania they call Casey Democrats.
In national politics, we might call them Reagan Democrats. Should this president be worried that in places like this in this state and across the country, he will lose these voters?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, tomorrow night -- just to age me -- I hate to do this -- tomorrow night, we will have the 25th reunion of Bob Casey's gubernatorial campaign. So -- and I'm sure I will see Senator Casey tomorrow night also.
Look, I don't know -- Ron, I think I will let him check in on this -- I don't see how a Democrat could win without winning Pennsylvania. You know, look, it's tough, and it's been probably hit a little bit harder than most places in the country, but he's going to have to dig in there and get it.
It's been pretty reliably Democratic in presidential years. And I think that they are confident that they can carry it. I suspect that they might be able to. But, look, if they lose it, I suspect they will lose the presidency. It's a must-win Democratic state. It's a hard state. It's not an easy state, but it's a must-win state.
KING: And it's a bellwether, too, gentlemen, and, Ron Brownstein, because if it happens in Pennsylvania, if the president loses Pennsylvania because he's losing those blue-collar voters, well, guess what? That means he's probably going to lose Ohio, he's probably going to lose Michigan, he's going to be in trouble all across the Industrial Midwest.
I assume his own state, Ohio, which I circled -- I mean, Illinois, that I circled, that he would get.
But, Ron Brownstein, if you just pull up this graphic here, look at this, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, he won them all last time, that's 85 electoral votes. He can't afford to lose more than one of those, especially not any of the big ones. Right?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Pennsylvania -- I agree with James. Pennsylvania is probably a must-win state for Obama. It's part of what I have called the blue wall, the 18 states that have voted Democratic in at least the past five elections.
And blue-collar white voters will be very difficult for him there. But one reason why Pennsylvania has been part of this blue wall is that it's more possible to overcome a poor performance in the white working class there than it is elsewhere. Remember, John, in 2008, Barack Obama only won 42 percent of white voters without a college education in Pennsylvania and he still won the state by over 600,000 votes.
He did that because he assembled what has become the modern Democratic coalition, a big vote among minorities especially in Philadelphia and a massive vote as well among those white-collar college-educated white suburbanites outside of Philadelphia. He won those four suburban counties by 200,000 votes, more than double what Bob Kerrey did -- John Kerry did -- excuse me.
And in many ways, I think that in Pennsylvania specifically is a bigger challenge for him because those voters really moved back toward the Republicans in 2010 to Pat Toomey.
KING: And they move back to the Republicans, towards the Republicans, James Carville.
And here's a simple number. Sometimes we make politics maybe more complicated than it really is. A Quinnipiac poll of the people of Pennsylvania, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the direction of the country right now? -- 80 percent say dissatisfied. It's hard to be an incumbent that says, hey, I know you're furiously unhappy, why don't you give me four more years?
CARVILLE: Look, there's no question. The state's been hit hard. It's challenging.
And I come back to what Ron said about the suburban collar -- Philadelphia suburbs. In 1986, if we got 40 percent in the Philadelphia suburbs, we were golden. Now Democrats carry that. But we have also lost a lot in the Republican T.
I think it's going to be awfully close. You know, if the president doesn't carry Pennsylvania, he's not going -- he's not going to win the general election. If I had to guess right now, I guess he will, but he's got a lot to lose. He carried it by 10 points. He can drop a lot and still carry it, and I suspect that might be what happens.
But there's no doubt unless there's some real -- some improvement in the economy, it's going to be very difficult for him. But it looks like things might be moving in the right direction. That could help him.
BROWNSTEIN: John, real quick, I think the odds are very high, for all of the reasons that you discussed, that Barack Obama will not match even the meager 42 percent of the vote that he won among blue- collar whites in Pennsylvania last time.
He lost the suburban counties outside of Pittsburgh, these very blue-collar counties, by twice the margin that John Kerry did. Given that he's going to do down there, I really think the key for him in Pennsylvania, and maybe for the whole country, is going to be these white-collar whites who have been more supportive of him in the past. But in Pennsylvania they did move sharply away among -- Barack Obama carried 52 percent of them in 2008, and they moved sharply away from Sestak in 2010.
If he can't recapture those voters in 2012, given where he is with the blue-collar whites, very hard to win Pennsylvania. If he doesn't win Pennsylvania, as James is saying, very hard to get to 270.
(CROSSTALK) CARVILLE: Sestak came close in a model that really, really favored the Republicans. They will never get anything like this model in 2012 that they got in 2010. We have got to keep that in mind. The Democratic profile is going to be much better. I don't think anybody would argue that.
KING: We will spend a lot of time in the suburbs figuring out the answer to that very question right there.
James Carville, Ron Brownstein, thanks so much.
The man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan is asking to go free. Still to come, the legendary ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson and the Secret Service agent whose quick thinking may have saved the president's life 30 years ago today.
And next, Occupy L.A. and Occupy Philadelphia protesters get overnight eviction notices. Two big city mayors defend their decision and their police forces.
KING: In a night of anger and arrests Los Angeles and Philadelphia became the latest cities to clear out campgrounds of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In both cities, the evictions were peaceful, mostly.
TV helicopters were overheard -- overhead as Philadelphia police moved in at about 1 a.m. Some scuffling, 52 arrests, one protester and three officers were hurt.
In Los Angeles, the arrests totals and the pictures are more dramatic. Officers in L.A. report hearing lots of profanity in their predawn raid but no violence. About 200 people arrested in L.A.
With us now, the mayors of both cities, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
Mayor Villaraigosa, I want to begin with you. You praised the police officers in your raid. Some of the protesters praised them, as well. But I want you to respond to this blog posting from Ruth Fowler, an Occupy protester. This is from OccupyLosAngeles.org.
"None of the protesters I was with had been violent. None had destroyed property. None were even tormenting the police. The violence I witnessed was pretty intense. Those cops were pissed" -- excuse my language -- "and wanted to hurt people. They were running and beating people who were simply running away, trying to escape."
Did that happen?
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: It didn't happen. She was watching some other image and some other city, and in the city of Los Angeles there were no injuries, to my knowledge, and certainly no serious injuries. There was no violence.
She's right that the protesters did an incredible job of being peaceful, as they have really throughout the 68 days.
But let me be absolutely clear: I couldn't have been prouder of the Los Angeles Police Department last night. It was their finest moment. There have been ups and downs in our department, as you well know. But yesterday was a sight to be seen. It was a magnificent display of constitutional policing.
We believe that you can exercise your First Amendment in the city of Los Angeles. We believe that you can speak out against the government, and that our police, working with our community, can also respect those First Amendment rights, and we did, last night and throughout the 68 days of Occupy L.A.
KING: Mayor Nutter, why now? Why are both of these big major cities deciding you've run out of patience? Is it a strain on your resources? Have the protesters become a nuisance? Why now?
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: Well, for us, John, it was, quite frankly, related directly to a new construction project that we told -- I told personally Occupy Philadelphia about when they met with me back on October 5.
So, I think the first thing here is both Mayor Villaraigosa and I want to dispel any notion that there is any connection between what happened in Los Angeles in terms of their action, versus what happened in Philadelphia and our action. It may have literally been around and about the same day, same time. But ours is related to a construction project. Certainly, I voiced concerns about public health and public safety issues.
But we gave notice to Occupy Philadelphia nearly ten days ago that their permit was expiring. We gave them another permit for the area literally across the street from City Hall.
KING: And the question, gentlemen, to Los Angeles, first, is "whither Occupy?" Where is this movement heading? You've both voiced support for their goals.
Mayor Nutter, you just mentioned some of them, economic justice. You went to visit them, Mayor Nutter, back in October.
Mayor Villaraigosa, to you first. Is this a protest movement? Is it a political movement? Is it a nuisance movement? Where do you see it going?
VILLARAIGOSA: I think it has very real prospects of becoming a serious movement here in the country. The issues that they've raised of economic justice, the issues of concentration of wealth, the disparity between wealth and poverty, the growing evisceration of the middle class, the jobs deficit. It can be a movement if they understand that people in this country want to see a nonviolent movement.
I come out of the civil rights movement. I can tell you the power of nonviolence is a power that, when unleashed, can produce tremendous results and change. If it degenerates, as it did in some cities, then I'd say that it won't have that lasting power.
KING: And Mayor Nutter, that is the question. Who are they? And what impact might they have in the sense that we saw Tea Party protests before an elections. And we know what happened: the Tea Party sent a message to some Republican incumbents and then sent a message to the country and helped Republicans get back the House.
Do you see something like that here? A lot of people, a lot of critics say these are some fringe kids on the left, and if they do anything, they'll hurt President Obama by not voting.
NUTTER: We are looking to partner with the members of Occupy Philadelphia, reasonable solutions on any number of issues that may be national in scope but have a local impact. And we're looking to work with them on how we improve Philadelphia. I can't do a whole lot about the entire nation, but I am going to try my best, and I know Mayor Villaraigosa, as well, in Los Angeles, to try and improve our own environment here. That takes partnership. That takes focus. That takes people being willing to get together and work.
You can express, certainly, your First Amendment rights. I don't necessarily know that it has to involve sleeping and tenting, et cetera, et cetera. As they say, it's free speech, not free sleeping.
KING: Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. Gentlemen, appreciate your time tonight, thank you.
VILLARAIGOSA: Thank you, John.
NUTTER: Thank you.
KING: And coming up here, Mitt Romney is complaining about comments he says are being taken out of context. Who's he blaming? Here's a hint. Not himself.
KING: Welcome back. Here's the latest news you need to know right now.
The Reverend Billy Graham is in an Asheville, North Carolina, hospital tonight for evaluation and treatment of his lungs. A statement says the 93-year-old evangelist was alert, smiling and waved to the hospital staff when he was admitted.
Today the first lawsuit was filed against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the university and Sandusky's Second Mile charity. An unidentified 29-year-old man claims Sandusky sexually abused him more than 100 times when he was a boy, and threatened to harm his family if he ever told.
Historic pictures today from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. That's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton there, arriving for the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state in 50 years.
Up next, why Mitt Romney's complaining he's being taken out of context.
KING: If you're following the presidential campaign, you know Mitt Romney's opponents, Democrats and Republicans, are hammering him for what they say is flip-flopping on the issues and running TV ads featuring snippets of old speeches and interviews. Romney complains in an interview last night on FOX News, the ads take him out of context.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm sure you've seen these ads using videotape of you in previous years speaking on various issues, and it seems like it's in direct contrast to positions you take now.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm glad that the Democratic ads are breaking through, and you got to see them.
BAIER: Well, Jon -- Jon Huntsman has a couple ads that do the exact same thing.
ROMNEY: And there's no question but that people are going to take snippets and take things out the context and try and show that there are differences where, in some cases, there are not.
The one place I changed my mind, which is with regards to the government's role relating to abortion. I am pro-life. I did not take that position years ago, and that's the same change that occurred with Ronald Reagan, with George W. Bush, with some of the leaders in the pro-life movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us now, CNN political contributor Erick Erickson. He's editor in chief of the conservative blog, RedState.com, and I'll be clear at the top, not a fan of Mitt Romney.
Also with us, Republican strategist Nancy Pfotenhauer. She was with John McCain last time around and doesn't have a candidate in this race.
You both heard Governor Romney there, saying -- candidly acknowledging he changed his position on the abortion issue. Now he says the other people are taking him out of context. I want to use just one example, one example.
Here's what Governor Romney said in our national security debate just a few days ago on the illegal immigration. "We're not going to have an amnesty system that says people who come here illegally get to stay for the rest of their life in this country legally." They can't stay. If they came illegally, they can't stay legally.
Here's what he said, according to "The Lowell Sun," Massachusetts newspaper, back in March 2006: "I don't believe in rounding up 11 million people and forcing them at gunpoint from our country. With these 11 million people, let's have them registered, know who they are, that they're here paying taxes and not taking government benefits, should begin a process towards application for citizenship, as they would from their home country." He went on to say several times back then they shouldn't get special treatment. They should have to get in line.
But Nancy Pfotenhauer, to say in the debate "People who come here illegally don't get to say for the rest of their life." Let's not have an amnesty system like that. Then to say in 2006, let's register them, a path application for citizenship, that's a change, is it not?
NANCY PFOTENHAUER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think there are -- on some level it's harder to find consistency than it is to find inconsistency with the former governor, but that's true for many politicians. You can parse the same things with President Obama. And frankly, you can also do it with almost any political candidate who served in office for as long as they have.
The problem is that when you can showcase flip-flopping, it gets to character. The American people don't like it. They'd rather know that you are consistent and disagree with you on a few things than believe that you shape -- you change your shape in order to suit the whim of the public.
KING: And yes, Erick, I think Nancy is among them at the moment, those who say at the moment, based on the available data, Romney is the strongest nominee because it shows he runs most credibly against President Obama right now. You're one of the conservatives who believes if he's the nominee, you'll lose. Why?
ERICKSON: Because -- largely because of these flip-flop issues. You know, to be fair to the governor, it was taken out of context in some of the stimulus (ph), but not all of them, not even the most of them. It's kind of funny, last week the president was complaining that Mitt Romney's campaign ads were taking him out of context.
The problem for Mitt Romney, though, is that, on pretty much every single issue from immigration, with the exception of health care, he's been very consistent on the individual mandate. But every other issue, he has taken multiple sides on multiple issues, and on some of those issues he's lined up perfectly with Barack Obama and then flipped, and in some cases he's flipped back.
It's very hard to look at the John Kerry campaign in 2004 and think the Democrats have a lot of money. They could do to John -- to Mitt Romney what George Bush did to John Kerry.
KING: But you can also say, and Speaker Gingrich said this the other night, because he's changed his position on the individual mandate on health care. He says, "I was wrong," or "I've changed my mind."
I don't know any adult who, over the course of 20 or 30 years, hasn't changed their mind on one, two, three, or four things. As you learn more information, circumstances change. Is that something that Governor Romney just needs to communicate better on some of these issues where some of them he's changed a lot, some of them he's changed a little, just say, yes, of course.
PFOTENHAUER: Absolutely. You know, the reason these two gentlemen are on top right now is because we're seeing the Republican base at least want someone who is articulate and able to take on President Obama and win in a debate. He needs to use his words more wisely.
I think Speaker Gingrich is more -- or former Speaker Gingrich is more persuasive when he talks through -- more up front when he talks through the changes in positions that he's taken. And that's why it's wearing a little bit better for him. Although, again, he has not had the same scrutiny on those flip-flops, and we're all -- those of us who watch this for a living, are well aware of them.
KING: Now that he is -- go ahead.
ERICKSON: John, I would say, to some degree with Mitt Romney the problem is not the flip, it's the flop. He's gone from one position back to the original position.
But at the same time it's also the consistency and time to elections that conservatives have a problem with. He didn't become pro-life until he began to run for president. He didn't change his immigration position until it started dragging John McCain down in the polls in 2007. Things like that make conservatives suspicious.
And as Nancy said, to Gingrich's credit, he's come out and said, "Look, I've completely changed my position, and here's why." Mitt Romney needs to do that.
KING: Ron Paul is starting to take after some of what he says are Speaker Gingrich's flip-flops. We'll see how this one plays out in the days ahead. A month now till Iowa votes.
Erick, Nancy, thanks for coming in.
And ahead, they were there the day President Reagan was shot. An exclusive conversation just ahead with the Secret Service agent whose split-second decision saved the president's life and how his news reporting changed since that event. Sam Donaldson was right there then. He's right here now.
KING: Today the man who tried to kill President Reagan 30 years ago started to trying to win his freedom. Although he's allowed out now for visits with his mother, John Hinckley Jr. is seeking longer- term freedom.
Hinckley's lawyers argue he isn't dangerous. Prosecutors counter he remains deceptive and, during some of his releases, temporary releases, has turned up at bookstores paging through volumes on Reagan and other presidential assassins. With us now, the former ABC News White House correspondent, Sam Donaldson, is here and Jerry Parr, the Secret Service agent who made the life-saving decision to take a wounded President Reagan to the hospital not back to the White House.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here. I was going to show some of the dramatic video of this night 30 years ago as we have our conversation. Jerry, I want to start -- I want our viewers to listen. I want them to listen right here. You're on the radio. Different technology back in those days, but a basic radio. And I want our viewers to listen right here as you make this call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY PARR, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Roger, we want to go to the emergency room of George Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a roger.
PARR: George Washington fast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger.
PARR: George Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, you get that pin you have on your lapel because your job is to protect the president. To give up your life, if necessary, to save his. Why did you decide? What was it that you saw that said, "I need to -- we're not going back to the White House"?
PARR: Massive amount of blood coming from his mouth. I looked at it. It was bright red. I knew that meant a lung injury. And I did -- when I threw him in the car, I landed on top of him. His chest hit the transmission riser, and his head hit the seat. So I thought maybe I'd cracked a rib.
KING: You thought maybe you had cracked a rib?
PARR: Cracked a rib. And I thought that he was bleeding profusely and his color was bad. So that combination, I just made a quick decision. White House is not the place; the hospital is. Even though there was no security there. We put it there real quick.
KING: We, in our business, Sam, often can't get as close to the president as you could back in those days. You are famous and were legendary in the day for asking presidents, being persistent, to ask the president questions. That's what you were trying to do on this day which made you an eyewitness. I want to play some of your report that night on ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM DONALDSON, FORMER ABC REPORTER: President Reagan had just finished delivering his speech in the Washington Hilton Hotel to the AFL-CIO building trade unions. He walked out the side door. Along with another reporter, I began to call to him about Colon (ph): what do you know, what was new about Colon (ph).
He turned to us, to the camera line, and suddenly shots rang out immediately to my right and no further than 20 feet from the president. Six shots were fired. Our cameraman, Henry Brown, turned his camera immediately to the assailant. He was taken quickly to the ground by Secret Service agents and other law enforcement officers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: There are -- there are days on the job that fade from memory. I assume you can relive every second of that.
DONALDSON: Absolutely. I watched the president going to the car. Jerry and his buddy, the other Secret Servicemen, pushed him in. The door was closed. He sped away. I didn't think he's been hit. I wasn't certain. But I just didn't see anything.
So I ran in -- we didn't have a cell phone; we didn't have a radio. We didn't have any way to get -- there was no live coverage there. I ran in and found a telephone at a Gray Line desk. Someone was out to lunch. And I called in.
And since I've seen "Tora, Tora, Tora" about 300 times, when the operator answered, I said, "This is Donaldson and this is no drill, no drill." With the raid on Pearl Harbor, it was -- I reported immediately. And they put it on the air. The A.P. it was Mike Putzel (ph), the other reporter by about ten seconds.
I read the first radio broadcast or any broadcast. And it wasn't a model for people in journalism school. I said shots had been fired at President Reagan outside of the Washington Hilton. He was pushed in his car and driven away. I said I did not think he'd been hit, but I didn't know whether he'd been hit. And I said other people had dropped to the ground. And that was it.
KING: It became -- the picture became iconic of President Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the hospital as a reassuring photo release to show the president is alive. What went through your mind after you give up the president to the doctors? Are you thinking...?
PARR: I'm thinking he may die. I really did think that. And one of the last things I did when I was -- when they were taking -- when they took him for his major operation -- They had him pretty well stabilized, but he was still losing blood -- is I went right up to him, and I looked him right in the eye. And I said, "I hope -- God, I hope you preserve this presidency or that you live." Because I was around when President Kennedy had been killed. I wasn't there, but I was in the Service.
KING: Our business has changed a lot. You mentioned you had to run and get on the phone. Can you imagine in the days of Twitter, cell phones, there'd probably be a live camera there, somebody streaming it on the Internet. Our business has changed a lot since then. How would it have been different? DONALDSON: Well, if we'd had a live camera, of course, everyone would have seen it happen. That's what happens today. You see things happen. I think people would have understood the president of the United States had been shot at.
But often, live stuff without editing and without someone to explain what was on the other side of the picture you didn't see can mislead.
KING: Time gives valuable context sometimes.
DONALDSON: Yes. In that case, in that day, though, it was just routine stuff.
KING: What changed about your job after that? What lessons did the Service learn?
PARR: Use more magnetometers and put the crowd back further than it was that day. It was up pretty close. If you look at the rope line, it was within 15 to 20 feet of him.
DONALDSON: It was interesting to me that after President Kennedy was killed, presidents didn't ride in an open car, but that was about it. And then Sara Jane Moore takes a shot at Gerald Ford. Nothing changed much.
But when Ronald Reagan was shot at, Mrs. Reagan said to everyone, "This will never happen again," and it just clamped down and we understand why.
KING: I've been out to Bellstone (ph) and the training center. You guys do the lord's work then and now.
Jerry, thanks for coming in.
Sam, good to see you.
That's all for us tonight here. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" takes it away right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, John. Newton Leroy Gingrich.