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Interview With Suze Orman; Interview With South Carolina Congressman Tim Scott; Anger Over Mississippi Pardons Grows

Aired January 12, 2012 - 18:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm John King.

Tonight: a manhunt in Mississippi for convicts just granted freedom as anger over the former governor's last-minute pardons intensifies.

Michelle Obama joins the Twitterverse. It's the latest step in a growing role for her in the Obama 2012 game plan.

And Suze Orman visits to share her new project to help working families and her take on the campaign conversation about dollars and cents.

We begin this evening with the growing, still growing political and legal uproar in the state of Mississippi. State officials may ask for nationwide help tracking down some convicted murderers pardoned this week by the state's outgoing Governor Haley Barbour. Fourteen murderers are among the 199 people Barbour pardoned just before leaving office.

Some victims' families are worried and furious.


RANDY WALKER, VICTIM: We are in jail now and David is out of jail. We will forever be looking over our shoulder and wondering if today is the day that David decided that he was going to finish what he started.


KING: CNN's Martin Savidge is in Jackson, Mississippi, reporting the story.

Martin, they have been pardoned, but now the state says, hey, guys you have to come back.

Do they have to come back?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what? That's a really good question that they are still trying to decipher at this very hour, John.

Last night, a judge granted an order that said at least for the time being, the pardons that had been approved by former Governor Haley Barbour had to be stopped. That's at least those people who are still behind bars.

But as far as the four convicted murderers that were released on Sunday, and these are the ones that authorities are really concerned about, well, the judge said that they will have to report in on a daily basis their whereabouts. But they aren't obligated to do that until they receive an official copy of the court order.

The problem is, authorities can't find the murderers to give them the copy of the court order to force them to start reporting in. It's a real catch-22 because once they were pardoned, when they left the confines of a prison, they were under no obligation to tell Mississippi authorities where they were going or where they were going to be or what they were even going to do for the rest of their lives. They have disappeared. And state authorities say they now have no idea where they are.


JIM HOOD, MISSISSIPPI ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, there's going to be a national search for some of them. We will catch them. It's just a matter of time. But...

SAVIDGE: Do you know where they are?


SAVIDGE: No idea?

HOOD: We know where their family -- we're in contact with their family, local law enforcement. There's a search going on out there for them. And we will lay hands on them at some point.

SAVIDGE: Because they were pardoned, again according to the Department of Corrections, they were under no obligation to tell anybody where they were going or what their future plans were.

HOOD: That's right. All we have is like old addresses and who their family is, and all our people are working on it.


SAVIDGE: So this is the problem. You can see it right now. They cannot ask for help from other states if they left the state of Mississippi, because these guys really are not wanted for anything because they haven't done any crime. They were pardoned, John.

KING: So there's the legal quandary, Martin. What about the political controversy?

I have known the former Governor Haley Barbour for some time from his role as the former Republican chairman here in Washington, D.C., and other political activity here. I tried to reach him today and I couldn't. I did speak to somebody close to him who says he has an explanation and he understands he's going to have to give it pretty soon.

Is he saying anything back there? We heard from the family. What's the controversy back home that awaits him?

SAVIDGE: It's a huge controversy here.

Many people loved Haley Barbour. They believe that he had been a great leader in this state. But now they're having second thoughts because of what he did in his final hours. He issued a lengthy statement last night. He didn't deliver it in person. He delivered it on paper.

He basically said that the clemency process has been misconstrued by a lot of people. He also said -- quote -- "that approximately 90 percent of these individuals were no longer in custody." And he said that these pardons were intended to allow them to find gainful employment and/or acquire professional licenses, as well as hunt and vote.

What he means by hunt and vote, he means that, of course, if you're a convicted felon you couldn't own a gun or you could not vote. So by pardoning them, they would be allowed to do that. But he didn't address the part that everybody fears in this state.

And that is what about the murderers and what about the rapists that you pardoned and are now free? He didn't respond to that -- John.

KING: When you hear the accounts of some those family members it's pretty clear he's going to have to respond to that. Martin Savidge, live for us in Jackson tonight, Marty, thank you.

On the presidential campaign trail tonight, Mitt Romney's trying to stay a step ahead of his components. He's campaigning and fund- raising in Florida which will hold its primary on the last day of this month. Most of the Republican pack back in South Carolina where Republicans vote in just nine days.

There, Rick Santorum is arguing Romney isn't trustworthy.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ultimately, aren't you looking for someone as president you can trust? What would give you the idea that someone who has changed his position on almost every single issue is someone you can trust?


KING: Jon Huntsman is telling South Carolina voters Romney's own words make him unelectable.


JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My problem is really a political issue. And that is when you have a candidate who talks about enjoyment in firing people, who talks about pink slips, who makes comments that seem to be so detached from the problems that Americans are facing today, that makes you pretty much unelectable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN's Jim Acosta tracking the campaign at the moment. He's with the Romney campaign in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Jim, that pro-Gingrich political group released that documentary essentially savaging Mitt Romney's record as the CEO of Bain Capital, saying essentially he's heartless and greedy and laid people off. How is the Romney campaign trying to deal with what could be a pretty big negative?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we basically heard Mitt Romney say today he can feel people's pain.

If you watch that pro-Gingrich super PAC documentary, you will see people talking about how their lives were destroyed at the hands of Bain, talking about their bouts with depression, their broken marriages.

Well, listen to what Mitt Romney had to say earlier today here in West Palm Beach. He almost offered a rebuttal to that documentary and talking about the plight of the unemployed.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unemployment is not just a statistic. Being unemployed for a long period of time means families having a hard time making ends meet. It means that in some cases people having trouble in their marriages, losing faith, becoming depressed.

It's a real tragedy when people are out of work for long periods of time, as we have seen. And my job is to get Americans back to work. If I'm president of the United States, I will worry about your jobs, not my job.



ACOSTA: Now, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have both been going after Mitt Romney big time on this issue of Bain Capital. Both of those contenders in South Carolina today were sort of making the pivot away from Bain Capital and more towards accountability on Wall Street.

Rick Perry went as far as to say he loves capitalism. Here's what both had to say.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's almost as though if you ask questions, you're somehow challenging the whole system. But I want you to understand how I feel as a candidate for president. The American people have the right to know what has been happening to their economy, and they have the right to know where all the money went. GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Listen, I love capitalism. Free market capitalism in the state of Texas has created over a million jobs. We understand how capitalism needs to work. But this corrupt and fraudulent activity that's been going on in Washington, D.C., between them and Wall Street has to stop.


ACOSTA: Now, something interesting happened this week with all these attacks on Bain Capital. They have actually worked to rally conservatives behind Mitt Romney.

Today, the Romney campaign released a long list of conservatives, from Rush Limbaugh to "The Wall Street Journal" to the "National Review" to the governor of South Carolina, who are all coming to Mitt Romney's defense over this issue, criticizing Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry over their comments on Bain Capital, John.

KING: So you see those adjustments today in South Carolina. Nine interesting days to go there. Jim Acosta, a step ahead in Florida.

Jim, thanks. We will stay in touch in the days ahead.

And just a week from tonight, just before that South Carolina vote, CNN brings you the Southern Republican presidential debate. Just us next Thursday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That's just two days before that all-important South Carolina primary.

Here in Washington today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged there are discussions about a possible transfer of some Taliban prisoners now held at Guantanamo and the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar. Those talks could be a prelude to some kind of Afghanistan reconciliation process.

But all that is now threatened tonight by an uproar over a video that surfaced on the Internet showing U.S. Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters.

If you haven't seen it, it is graphic, but we have blurred the most offensive parts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get the middle guy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying. I'm trying.




KING: You get the idea there. It's a pretty heinous act.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us with new details on this investigation.

And, Barbara, among those new details, they have now identified at least some of those Marines, right?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. They moved very quickly on this.

The Marine Corps is not all that big. And those Marines were known to people who saw the video. It is -- this is a unit now, it is widely believed, to be out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that served in Afghanistan until late last year.

Two of the Marines now who participated in that video, their names are known to the Marine Corps. They're moving very quickly to investigate all of this, both a Marine Corps investigation and a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation. It really couldn't be more serious. They want to nail this down very quickly, John.

KING: Quick to investigate, Barbara, also very quick to condemn, both at the military level and senior civilian administration officials.

What is the sense inside the administration of why they thought it was so urgent not only to investigate, but to try to condemn this and pretty forcefully?

STARR: Well, they have seen these misconduct issues arise in the past, Abu Ghraib back in Iraq, the burning of Koran, rumors that sparked riots in Afghanistan, the anti-American sentiment every time one of these misconduct cases emerges on the Internet and goes viral around the world.

So you saw the military move with the investigation. But you also saw Secretary of State Hillary Clinton take this on very publicly today to get the diplomatic part of this out in public. She had some very strong words. Listen to what she had to say.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I share completely the views expressed by Secretary Panetta earlier today. I join him in condemning the deplorable behavior that is reflected in this video. It is absolutely inconsistent with American values, with the standards of behavior that we expect from our military personnel.


STARR: So, John, it's not very often, but the U.S., the Afghan government, and the Taliban all in agreement, all condemning this.

And you're absolutely right. What's at stake here is, can they now move forward with reconciliation? Will the Taliban still try and come to the table, or will this be a deal-breaker? So far, no indication that it's going to be a deal-breaker, but it does make things tough -- John.

KING: Tough reporting and as well, and fine reporting from Barbara Starr.

Barbara, thanks for your help tonight.

One of the Republicans' rising star could be a power broker in the next presidential primary. He's South Carolina Congressman and Tea Party favorite Tim Scott. He's with us live tonight. And maybe we will ask him. He hasn't endorsed anybody yet. Is it finally time?

And, later, Alaskans cope with twice as much snow as usual.


KING: A big announcement from the president today and one that's certain to have a quick impact out on the campaign trail.

The president officially notifying the House speaker, John Boehner, the United States Treasury close to hitting its debt limit and that more borrowing soon will be required.

The debt is a huge issue for House Republicans like South Carolina's Tim Scott. He joins us tonight live in his state.

Congressman, I will get to the presidential primary in just a minute.

But this was part of the deal that was cooked. The president had to ask twice for this. This is asking for the second installment. He will get the money. He will get to raise the debt limit. But what are we going to hear in the debate about that proposal?

REP. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, there's no question that when you think about the $1.2 trillion that the president's requesting, the obligation of the super committee producing results did not happen.

So, as I did on the debt ceiling, I said no then. I will say no now. But I think you're right. The bottom line is that he will probably get the increase. But we have started questioning ourselves on, how can we consistently move forward knowing that we're borrowing 42 cents on the dollar and this debt deal did not produce any savings for the American people? That's a problem.

KING: And so you raise how important this is. It will be a debate in Congress. The president will get his money. Is it getting as much attention on the campaign trail?

You're in South Carolina tonight. Nine days from now, Republicans in your state have the choice. They could either give Mitt Romney a 3-0 record, which make him pretty impossible to stop, or they could say, not so fast. And a lot of the conversation has been about other issues.

I want you to listen to Speaker Gingrich during a television interview this morning, saying, why is the establishment coming after me for raising questions about Mitt Romney?


GINGRICH: Saying I have two great credentials, my governorship, which you're not allowed to talk about, because it's really pretty liberal, and the work I did at Bain Capital, which you're not allowed to talk about because that's an attack on -- if you talk about my record, that's an attack on free enterprise.

That's baloney.


KING: You have not been kind to Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry for raising Bain Capital. The state Senator Jim DeMint has said they're helping Democrats. And a lot of his people have drifted over toward Romney in recent days.

Why is that not fair game? Is Mitt Romney's record not fair game?

SCOTT: I think Mitt Romney's record is, without any question, fair game.

Here's the question. Should we, as Republicans, as conservatives, who believe that capitalism is a foundation to a good economy, attack the principles that undergird capitalism? We believe that, when you're looking at Bain Capital as a whole, you're talking about a company that created jobs for Domino's Pizza, Sports Authority and Staples.

So when you look at a balanced -- if you have a balanced perspective on Bain Capital, you find a different picture. But more important than defending Romney or defending Bain Capital, what I think you hear, at least as an undertone, and it's going to grow louder, is that we believe that capitalism is the mantra of the day and anything that creeps towards socialism is a problem.

So that contrast is in the prime picture today. It is in the frame of the conversation about who will be the next president and what they represent philosophically.

KING: You became a national figure, sir, and a member of the leadership in the Congress because of the Tea Party movement and your involvement in it in the last cycle.

I want you to listen here to Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express. I pressed last night on this program, saying, if you look at the campaign so far, Romney wins Iowa, Romney wins New Hampshire. He's hardly a Tea Party darling. Will the Tea Party be heard from? Let's listen.


AMY KREMER, CHAIR, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: The Tea Party movement is saying not so fast. You cannot just shove these candidates down our throats and expect us to take it. You know, we're going to be involved in this process. We're going to have a say in the matter. And I think we're going to be influential in what happens next week.


KING: Should the Tea Party in South Carolina stop Mitt Romney?

SCOTT: Well, there's no question that each voter should have an opportunity to vote their conscience.

And the Tea Party represents many of us who believe that we are taxed enough already. We believe in free markets. The question is, is there one candidate that represents the anti-Romney? And the answer seems to be no.

When you have Rick Perry, when you have Mr. Santorum, when you have Newt Gingrich all working on the social conservative platform very heavily in South Carolina, you see that there is a bit of a divide on the social conservative side. And all four candidates are absolutely going after the businessman.

So I think it's going to be very difficult for any of us to find one candidate that becomes the anti-Romney candidate in the next nine days. But the question we should ask ourselves is, who is the next visionary leader of America? How do we have the aspiration and inspire Americans to reach their highest level?

We need a president that does so. That's what we're looking for in this primary process.

KING: Congressman, appreciate your time tonight. We will see you in South Carolina early next week.

SCOTT: Absolutely.

KING: For most of us, it's been a pretty mild winter, but it's worse than usual in Alaska. Some parts, it -- look at it there, 20 feet of snow since Thanksgiving. We're going to show you more in just a few minutes.

And later, workers tell us what happened when Mitt Romney's Bain Capital took over a couple of South Carolina companies.


KING: Welcome back.


KING: Just yesterday: Michelle Obama dismissed allegations she was -- quote -- "an angry black woman." Now Sarah Palin taking aim at the first lady -- we will tell you just why in a minute.

Plus, tonight's "Truth" tackles a moment that happened right here last night, a war of words between the Democratic National Committee chairwoman and the Republican National Committee chairman about the Tea Party. Who's right?

Stay with us.


KING: Welcome back.

In this half-hour: South Carolina workers tell us just what happened when Mitt Romney's Bain Capital took over their businesses. And here's a hint. Those firms aren't there anymore.

Also, the "Truth" about what the Democratic Party's chairwoman did and did not say about the Tea Party and the Tucson shootings.

And will Stephen Colbert run for president? He's about to tell us.

First lady Michelle Obama is getting a quick reminder of the scrutiny that comes with campaign season, courtesy of Sarah Palin. Michelle Obama was on CBS yesterday defending her husband's achievements on the economy.

Governor Palin, speaking on FOX News, didn't think much of her argument.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I think people are confused about what -- some may be confused about how much has been accomplished. But that's -- you know, that's what you do in a campaign.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Are we confused, Governor? You look -- you...



PALIN: What, are we just a bunch of numskulls out here...

HANNITY: Apparently. We're just -- I'm confused. I just...

PALIN: ... in the heartland of America, just...

HANNITY: Yes. I'm not that...

PALIN: ... just a bunch of numskulls who -- who can't read the unemployment numbers?


KING: No doubt that's a taste of what's to come. Our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin has been talking to the Obama campaign about their plans for the role for the first lady. Jessica, are we about to see Michelle Obama out on the stump?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, John. She has just opened a Twitter account today and, as you know, she's been holding a lot of fundraisers and she'll continue to do that.

But her -- her activity for the campaign will be limited for the time being to fundraisers, holding calls with supporters. She held a call with Michigan women, for example, earlier this week. But beyond that, we are not going to see her at major rallies and open campaign events for quite some time. She will be doing first lady events for the time being, John.

KING: But wait a minute. 2008 Obama campaign was the social media campaign. He keeps his BlackBerry. Why then finally get her on Twitter? What's the point?

YELLIN: Excellent question. Well, look. First of all, they're not going to openly campaign. Neither of them is openly campaigning until -- the president or the first lady -- until there's a Republican nominee. There's just no point politically speaking.

But when she's on Twitter, she can start building an audience and a following and a group of supporters who can follow her as first lady and then into the campaign and reach an audience.

And I'll tell you something, John: I have seen her on the campaign trail. And as much as people say she can be a lightning rod, and for many people she is, sometimes she is so clear spoken that you sort of wonder why doesn't the president borrow her language? Why don't they just use her speech writers, or maybe it's her? Because she is -- can be a very effective messenger, a very effective communicator. And I think that's one of the reasons they're putting her on Twitter now, John.

KING: And the one stat, I think she got 100,000 plus followers in one day. Making the rest of us look not so great.

YELLIN: I know.

KING: Jessica Yellin at the White House tonight. Jess, thanks.

Mitt Romney is taking a lot of heat over his record as CEO of a private equity firm called Bain Capital. Newt Gingrich supporters today released a scathing documentary highlighting people who lost their jobs after Bain took control of the companies where they worked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A story of greed, playing the system for a quick buck. A group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney. More ruthless than Wall Street. For tens of thousands of Americans, the suffering began when Mitt Romney came to town.


KING: True or political spin? CNN's David Mattingly went to two companies in South Carolina that Bain took over when Romney was there.

And David, what did the facts say? What did you find out? DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Mitt Romney today was describing how sometimes they have to go in and buy companies and make some cutbacks to make these companies stronger. And that seemed to be the case or the strategy they were following with one such plant here in South Carolina.

It was a steel company in Georgetown, South Carolina. It was part of a larger steel company that Bain Industry -- that Bain was operating and owning. And they only owned it for a few years. And during that time there were about 600 employees there. They had to lay off about 50 of them. But then the bottom fell out of the steel market. The place went into bankruptcy. And then it's changed hands a couple of times since then.

Bain doesn't own it any longer. But the plant is still operating.

I've talked to steel workers there. The president of the steel workers unions was very critical of Bain saying at the time Bain didn't invest a lot back into that plant. Bain -- a Bain spokesman tells me that's not true. But at the same time the plant is still operating under a different owner.

Now, another plant in Cherokee County, South Carolina, actually made a photo albums. Well, the market fell -- the bottom fell out of that market, as well, when Bain had that plant here. But they built that from the ground up. The county later says that they lost about 150 jobs when that plant closed. But again, that plant was part of a much larger company that Bain was operating.

So we're looking at about 200 jobs between those two plants that were lost. But at the same time, we were talking to Mitt Romney about that today. He's talking about the success stories of Bain. We're looking at Sports Authority, Staples, Pizza Hut. Those companies employ well over that number of people here in South Carolina, John.

KING: And David, you had a chance to track the governor down today. What did he tell you?

MATTINGLY: Well, there were two things on my mind after learning this about these companies. One: was Bain in this for short-term profit, because they only had these plants for a couple of years? And what do you say to the people who did lose their jobs? So here's my question. And listen carefully to his answer.


MATTINGLY: Was your strategy strictly a short-term profit with those companies? And what do you say to the people who did lose their jobs in those situations and might view venture capitalism as a job killer instead of a job creator?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think any time a job is lost it's a tragedy. For the family, for the individual that loses a job, it's just devastating. And every time that we invested in a business, it was to try and encourage that business to have ongoing life. The idea of making a short-term profit actually doesn't really exist in business, because no one wants to buy something or buy stock in a company that's just going to be a short-term success. You want it to be long term.


MATTINGLY: And he went on, saying that sometimes the plans just don't work and the companies just don't work, but their plan always was to go in and make these companies stronger -- John.

KING: David Mattingly checking the facts on the ground in South Carolina. You'll be able to see much more from David's reporting on Bain Capital's record in South Carolina tonight on CNN's "ANDERSON COOPER." That's 8 p.m. Eastern here.

Suze Orman is here in Washington today with an idea she says will help both the economy and consumers. Pay cash. To help, she's come up with a new prepaid debit card you can use just like a credit card when you shop online or shop anywhere. And since it's prepaid, you're following Suze's common advice: don't spend money you don't already have.


SUZE ORMAN, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: We need to go back to cash. What has gotten every single person in trouble is they were able to borrow money they couldn't afford to pay it back. It ruined their lives. It ruined the lives of people they possibly borrowed money from. And if we could just go back to cash, maybe we could start all over again.


KING: We've talked many times.


KING: And you are a strong disciple. Don't spend what you don't have, that that's the beginning of the mess, if you will. So a prepaid card, I get it. You're not spending money you don't have. How else does it help? Especially those who are at the lower end, maybe, who don't have an established history?

ORMAN: Here's how I hope it's going to help. I'm creating what I'm calling the credit project. Currently today, John, if you have a debit card or you pay in cash or a prepaid card, it does not report to a credit bureau. None of them do. I don't care what they say. None of them do. If it doesn't report to a credit bureau, it doesn't generate an FICO score.

So here are the people that are needing help the most. They don't want to carry a credit card anymore. They got into credit card trouble. They now just want to be helped. It's kind of like an alcoholic would not want liquor in their home. Many people don't want to carry credit cards anymore.

So we have a problem. Their FICO scores have been ruined. They're not able to help their FICO score by just paying cash or a debit card.

So I made a deal. This is the first prepaid card in history that is going to share information with Transunion, one of the three major credit bureaus, in the hopes that 18 to 24 months from now there will be enough information that they can look at this and go, oh, a debit card can create a FICO score.

Now, if a debit card can create a FICO score legitimately, then the true need for credit cards; for your kids to have a credit card so they can have a FICO score so that therefore they can buy a home one day or get a job, goes out the window. If that goes out the window then everybody is back to cash on a debit card.

KING: This idea of a prepaid card is not new. And some of them have been quite controversial.


KING: The Kardashian card had ridiculous fees.


KING: If you look, Wal-Mart has one that seems to be on the low end.

ORMAN: Wal-Mart is great.

KING: How does this one fit in?

ORMAN: This one is very simple. As long as you deposit every single month, automatically depositing at least $20 per month on this card, then this card will allow you to take any withdrawal out of an all-point ATM. It will allow you to do so many things I can't tell you. All for $3 per month.

There are so many features: unlimited credit scores from Transunion, identity theft protection. Card-to-card transfer for free. Checking your statements online for free. Every morning you get a text saying, "John, you have $80 left on your account." Every time you swipe it it's a free. And it will say you just spent $50. You have $30 left on your account. Everything is free. As long as you deposit from your payroll check or a bank at least $20 per month.

KING: Answer someone out there who's watching. And I'm sure someone out there watching is going to say, "OK, this can't be just Saint Suze. She must be making a buck here."

ORMAN: Well, we'll see. At this point I'm not making any money. I funded this venture entirely on my own. I did not take any partners because they would want to make money.

So my first thing that I want to do here isn't about money. It's I want to change how FICO scores are calculated. I want to change history. And hopefully, if I make money and things are doing well, the first thing that will go is the $3-a-month fee.

KING: What's your sense of where is the economy? Are we treading water? Are we turning a corner?

ORMAN: I still think we're treading water. You've asked me this before. And, you know, I was more in the recession camp.

Now where our real trouble is coming from, in my opinion, is Europe. And until Europe gets their act together, I don't care what people say over here. We will be in danger.

So I still say to people, do not become optimistic. Don't go out and start spending your money again. You really need to save, save, save, especially until Europe is solved. And I don't think they know how to solve Europe, to tell you the truth.

KING: I don't want to drag you into the campaign debate. We have plenty of people in this hour every day who do that. But more broadly, are we having the right conversation? Are the politicians having the right conversations with the American people about the choices they face as individuals and the country faces?

ORMAN: No. Because it goes far beyond unemployment. It goes to the tune of poverty. Today there are so many middle class that are now impoverished. They have gone with a highway into poverty. And as I've said before, there isn't even a sidewalk out. And nobody is acknowledging what are we going to do for these people?

These people have lost their homes. They've lost their cars. They don't have anything. Can't find a job. And they're there. And they're the face of everyday Americans. And so they're not being -- nobody is talking about them. Everybody's still talking about, "Well, I'll do this with taxes, and I'll cut here, and I'll do that." But the total impoverished group of people which is a lot now, nobody is addressing at all. What a shame.

KING: Appreciate your coming in. We'll watch how the new card works out. We'll bring you back maybe later in the campaign.

ORMAN: It's kind of cute, isn't it? By the way, know why it's purple?

KING: Why is it purple?

ORMAN: Come on. When you do red and blue you get purple. Get it, everybody? It doesn't have any political affiliations.

KING: People will think you're running for president, Suze.

ORMAN: Do I look stupid?

KING: Suze, thanks.

Good answer there, wasn't it? Up next what the chairwoman of the National Democratic Committee thinks. Her Republican counterpart took a cheap shot at her on this program last night. We'll sort it all out in tonight's "Truth," next.


KING: The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee thinks her Republican counterpart took a cheap shot at her right here on this program last night. The irony is, this latest debate over civility in politics started with a question about, yes, the lack of civility in our politics.

Let's take it from the beginning. This is the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, at a morning event yesterday in New Hampshire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people are losing faith in Congress. I think it's over the lack of civility. What do you think can be done to bring that faith back and that we can stop thinking that they're doing their job instead of just fighting with each other?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D), CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, as someone who spent 19 years as a member of a legislative body, I really agree with you that we need to make sure that we tone things down. Particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords, who is doing really well, by the way, and I know everybody is -- is happy to hear that. Making tremendous progress.

But the discourse in America, the discourse in Congress, in particular, to answer your question very specifically, has really changed. And I'll tell you. I hesitate to place blame. But I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn with -- towards -- towards edginess and the lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.


KING: The Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, heard that and took issue.


REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Any insinuation that somehow such a tragedy would occur because of a movement to get our government and our spending and our debt under control is -- is ridiculous. And I think she ought to apologize and admit the stupidity of that comment.


KING: Well, here's tonight's "Truth." Wasserman-Schultz did not, as Priebus suggests, say the Tucson shooting happened because of the Tea Party movement. She said no such thing. She did, though, blame the Tea Party for what she called edginess, a declining level of civility in our politics. And she did that just after mentioning the Tucson shooting.

So the "Truth" is, my hunch is most of you watching at home are going to process this through your own personal political filter. Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse (ph) did, for example. He tweeted just after the program last night this reaction to Priebus. "Would it kill you folks in the Republican Party to stop making crap up?"

Republicans, on the other hand, will see a deliberate, underhanded effort to smear the Tea Party. After all, if you listened closely there, the question was about civility in Congress. There was no mention of Tucson in the question. No mention of the Tea Party in the question. Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz chose to raise that tragedy and, in the same answer, went on to take a swipe at the Tea Party. Some Republicans will assert that was no accident.

One thing we're pretty consistent about here is saying we can't read minds. What we can do is point out, in this edgy environment, to borrow Wasserman Schultz's language, everyone in politics should choose their words very carefully.

If Wasserman-Schultz wants to bash the Tea Party, she should leave the Tucson tragedy out of the discussions and then make whatever point she wants to make. And Chairman Priebus should rebut or take issue with exactly what Wasserman-Schultz said, not his interpretation of what she meant.

Let's continue the conversation. Cornell Belcher, the Democratic pollster with the Obama 2012 campaign, is here. Terry Holt, he's the national spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign back in 2004. He's been so many other things. Why do we call you that, Terry? Ron Brownstein, senior political director for the "National Journal" and a CNN contributor.

I want to start with you first, the more neutral voice in the conversation. Forgive me.

TERRY HOLT, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN 2004 : You held that job for a long time.

KING: She did not say...


KING: She did not say the Tea Party has a link to Tucson.


KING: She did answer a general question about congressional civility, and it has become part of the DNC's mantra: "It's cloudy today. It's the Tea Party's fault. There's traffic today. It's the Tea Party's fault."


KING: If you're a Republican do you think that she's doing that on purpose? Or...

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I don't think -- I think it's a stretch to associate the comments on the Tea Party with the second half of the answer with the comments about Tucson in the first half of the answer.

There's no question the Democrats want to argue that this Republican Congress is uniquely confrontational or uniquely more partisan than others. In fact we are seeing a steady progression that really goes back, you know, since the 1970s. More partisan conflict; more partisan voting.

One thing that's striking, having been out in Iowa last week, I bet you heard this, too: how often this question comes up, though. How many voters are raising the issue, even in the context of a Republican primary, of the breakdown of cooperation in Washington. Most people still want the parties to work together at least a little more than they have been.

KING: But Cornell, if you look at the polling data, the Democrats will tell you the Tea Party's becoming less popular. Mitt Romney's no Tea Party darling, but he says anything in a debate and the DNC puts out a statement saying Tea Party stooge, Mitt Romney. That's my words, not theirs. But is it -- has it become sort of -- it used to be Karl Rove. You had the Democrats blaming everything on Karl Rove. Has the Tea Party become the new -- the bad guy?

CORNELL BELCHER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: Well, look, I think even reasonable people can look at what's happening in Washington and look at the assiduous brand of politics the Tea Party does play in. It is my way or the highway. It is my way or right. It's uncompromising sort of position of politics and say that this is different and it is unique.

They've gone against their own speaker from time to time because he wanted to compromise. So this uncompromising brand of politics, I think they're absolutely right to point at the Tea Party.

HOLT: I think people expect their politicians to have differences, and they discuss those differences substantively. And so when we talk about civility, I think it's -- to be on issues where it matters to the American people, some of these things are side shows, but let's be clear. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has -- she has said some pretty caustic things herself. And this is literally she who cast the first stone be without sin. She's cast a whole bunch of stones.

BROWNSTEIN: When you poll the public, most groups of American society say there's not enough compromise. They want the parties to compromise more. The one exception are conservative Republicans, who tend to view compromise as inevitably leading to expansion of government and they generally prefer more confrontation. And they are, in fact, getting it.

HOLT: This is an election year. It's about confrontation. I don't think we should be so squeamish about having our differences...

BELCHER: It's different when you're going to take the economy over a cliff, when you're going to shut down the federal government because you're uncompromising.

HOLT: Is that uncivil? I didn't think so.


KING: Last up -- so let's close with -- I don't know if this is fun. It's a little off beat, anyway. We've had a lot of harsh attacks in the presidential campaign. There's a new attack, it's a Newt Gingrich Web video. And it goes back in time to an interview Governor Romney did, I believe it was with "FOX News Sunday." Forgive me if I have the identification of the program wrong. And well, you know what? It's about a candidate and a dog.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was in a kennel at home a great deal of time, as well. We loved the dog. It was where he was comfortable. We had five kids inside the car, and my guess is he liked it a lot better in his kennel than he would have liked it inside.

GRAPHIC: Imagine what Obama would do with a candidate like that. Only Newt Gingrich can win the election against Obama. Mitt Romney can't.

ROMNEY: Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?


KING: The point is they used to put the dog up -- I don't know.

BROWNSTEIN: On the roof. Dog on the roof. From the point of view of most voters, most politicians are dogs, start up with that. But if there is a dog whistle -- I'm really torturing this -- if there is a dog whistle in that ad, it's that Mitt Romney is a little different. You know? I mean, that seems to be the underlying thing.

HOLT: This is what happens when politicians don't spend money that they raise. They put crappy ads on. The fact of the matter is that these ads are funded by a very few -- group of people, and it's a waste of money because I don't ultimately think that Republican voters in South Carolina are going to factor any of that in this their choice.

KING: If Romney's the nominee, is President Obama going to bring up the dog on the roof in the debate? I think that's what Newt Gingrich is insisting. If you nominate -- that's the risk you're running.

BELCHER: I think there's plenty of other things that the Obama campaign can bring up, but strategically, I do understand what he's trying to do. Because they have to undermine this whole electability thing that Romney's running strongest on right now. He does have to undermine that.

KING: All right. All right. We'll see if that dog hunts. Thank you. All right.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is coming up at the top of the hour. Erin, you're speaking with a Republican king maker from South Carolina tonight. Important.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Jim DeMint is going to be with us, John, and we're going to find out what he's going to do. And talk about Mitt Romney, the "National Journal" today saying Jim DeMint was the silent surrogate for Mitt Romney. Is that true or not?

Plus, this letter. I don't know if you saw it, John. I'm sure you did. Came out late this afternoon. A letter signed "sincerely Barack Obama." That is a letter to John Boehner saying that the debt limit is at its limit, and further borrowing is required. Well, you know how Senator DeMint is going to feel about that. We're going to talk about that.

Plus, a line in his book which, in case he's watching right now, I don't want to -- I don't want to preview, but we're going to ask him about that, too. So we're excited to have him at the top of the hour.

KING: He's reading the whole book right now, trying to find that line. You can count on it.

BURNETT: He's looking for that line.

KING: Erin, we'll see you in just a couple of minutes.

And ahead -- ahead, you've all been wondering this. A long-shot candidate may still enter the crowded GOP field in South Carolina. Stephen Colbert says he's considering it. The details, next.


KING: All right. Kate Bolduan's back with me and, Kate, all the time, you hear from people who need more candidates. We need another candidate. We don't love this field. Right. We need a new fresh face. Well, today's "Moment You Might Have Missed." The field of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination just actually might increase. Look.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE COLBERT REPORT": This, this just got real. A major pollster has me at 5 percent ahead of the third-place finisher in New Hampshire. I've got to ask, what do you think, Nation, should I run for president in South Carolina?


KING: Now, Stephen Colbert went on to say he's planning, quote, "a major announcement" on tonight's show, Kate. The Nation -- the Nation is waiting. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So excited. South Carolina, baby. I guess that's where he's from, so...

KING: Now, is he a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, or is he to the left of Jon Huntsman?

BOLDUAN: It's difficult to say. I think he would like to say he's the conservative alternative to everything; however, I don't think it might not necessarily be where his political allegiance actually lies. In reality.

KING: Oh, no, no, no.


KING: No. You're not saying he's not authentic.


KING: Authentic. Kate, we'll see you tomorrow.

Just a week from tonight, remember, CNN brings you the southern Republican presidential debate. That's next Thursday night, 8 Eastern. We'll see you right back here tomorrow night. That's all the time we do have tonight, though. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.