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JOHN KING, USA

U.S. Threatens Aid to Egypt; Interview With Rick Santorum

Aired February 6, 2012 - 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. I'm John King live from the CNN Election Center.

Tonight, the Obama administration warns Cairo a 30-year alliance could collapse if Egypt keeps its pledge to prosecute 19 Americans who were working there for pro-democracy groups.

Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado are next in the Republican presidential race and Mitt Romney's sudden attacks prove the next 24 hours are perhaps the most critical of Rick Santorum's campaign.

Tonight's "Truth" explores two provocative spots with a Michigan twist that added politics to the traditional Super Bowl ad debate.

Presidential politics in a moment.

But up first tonight, mounting outrage in Washington with Egypt's defiant promise to prosecute 19 Americans. The White House today threatened to cut off billions in U.S. aid if the Egyptians put 19 U.S. citizens on trial. Those citizens include the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Their alleged crime? Channeling money and offering support to Egyptian pro-democracy and human rights groups.

In Colorado this afternoon, the crisis was Newt Gingrich's first point of attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This reminds me exactly of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage -- we now have the Obama hostage crisis to resemble the Carter hostage crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is working his sources tonight.

Chris, what are they saying at the Pentagon and at the White House about threats to cut off funding for Egypt?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, I spoke with a senior defense official who says he thinks the U.S. has to keep sending military aid to Egypt.

He said look, no matter what sort of government emerges from the upcoming elections, the Egyptian military is going to still be a pillar of that country. And he thinks the U.S. has to have a relationship with that military.

Look, Egypt was the first Arab nation to buy American F-16s. The U.S. has given up over $1 billion a year to the military. The militaries have trained together. So the official Pentagon line is this: The relationship is strong. We have just got to push through this crisis.

But privately, the official tells me there has been some frustration that after all these years of building the partnership, the Pentagon hasn't been able to be exert as much influence as it would like on this current situation.

KING: OK. Chris, as it plays out, I suspect there will be quite a bit of outrage from the American people and also some efforts in Congress to put strings on any funding anyway. It would all depend on what happens to the accused Americans. What is going to happen to them while they're still in Egypt?

LAWRENCE: Some of them, John, of course are out of Egypt. They have branded as fugitives by the Egyptian authorities. But because the U.S. doesn't recognize the prosecution as valid, they're probably going to be OK, not going to be sent back to Egypt.

The issue is these remaining Americans. Some have already taken sanctuary at the embassy. And today, the State Department put out a public plea saying look, any remaining Americans, come to the embassy. Meet with your lawyers, get some space and prepare for what might be coming.

But now the Obama administration through the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, has said, look, we have told Egypt that there could be repercussions for this continued prosecution. But some congressmen as you mentioned want there to be more action above just the threats. They all, about 41 Republicans and Democrats, signed off on this letter to Secretaries Panetta, Clinton, and Egyptian's military leader to say, look, we want to cut all funding off until these prosecutions are dropped against these American aid workers -- John.

KING: Dicey situation, Chris Lawrence striking it for us live at the Pentagon. Chris, thank you.

Also overseas, an important milestone today amid the ongoing chaos in Syria. The United States today announced it's closing its embassy in Damascus and pulling out its remaining staff.

CNN's Arwa Damon is monitoring the tense situation from Beirut, Lebanon.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the U.S. has been concerned about security around the embassy for quite some time now, especially following those attacks in Damascus that happened in December and January believed to be attributed to groups or a group that is loosely linked to al Qaeda. They had been asking the Syrian government for additional security because the embassy is in a fairly exposed and vulnerable place. That has not and did not materialized, hence the U.S.' decision to shut its embassy down out of concern for its employees' security.

This has been brought about because of the security vacuum that has been inevitably created by the ongoing violence and the Syrian uprising. In fact, the violence over the weekend reached unprecedented levels especially focused around that flash point city of Homs that has been the epicenter of these ongoing clashes between government forces and the Free Syrian Army.

And that is the opposition fighting force. Activists there have been imploring the international community for help, saying that a bloodbath, a massacre is taking place. Heartbreaking footage showed that no one seemed to have been spared the violence, adults and children also wounded. There are clips of little girls, one clip in particular where a girl has just been bandaged and she is asking the Assad government why she and her loved ones have been targeted.

There is also horrific footage of a boy who had his jaw completely shot off, it would seem, and yet another that had lost one of his legs. Activists are saying the longer the international community fails to unite, the more culpable global nations also are when it comes to the bloodshed inside Syria -- John.

KING: Arwa Damon, reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.

Let's get some perspective now on these dual crises in the Middle East from former Ambassador and Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who now teaches at Harvard.

Nick, let's go back first to the showdown with Egypt, 19 Americans they're threatening to prosecute. What does it tell you that the military government refuses to back down here about who's calling the shots and the internal politics of Egypt at the moment?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Well, John, I think this is the most serious crisis between Egypt and the United States in well over 30 years.

And this crisis tells I think me and you that the Egyptian military is using the United States as a scapegoat for their own internal domestic reasons as they consider this very difficult question, do they hand off power to the Islamists and Salafists who just won the Egyptian elections?

But there's a lot at stake here for the United States. Egypt is the cornerstone of our policy in the Middle East. And the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty, the Camp David accords from 1979, are the other cornerstone. So if we don't have a functioning relationship with Egypt, we will have to have a rethink of our entire strategy in the Middle East.

And so obviously the administration is trying to weigh these alternatives. We cannot allow innocent Americans to be put on trial. That is outrageous. And the Congress won't allow it and I'm sure the president won't either.

On the other hand, if we withdraw all military aid at this point, we thereby reduce our influence, whatever is left, with the Egyptian government, a very tough choice for the president.

KING: A tough choice, Nick, in a campaign environment where you heard Speaker Gingrich at the top of the program. He's on the Republican campaign trail saying this is like Jimmy Carter's hostage crisis. Now, it's different. In Tehran, they took U.S. citizens hostage in the embarrass in Tehran.

It's different and yet if it's playing out in the political atmosphere like this, does that make a difference when you're making decisions at the White House?

BURNS: I think, inevitably, it will. I think Speaker Gingrich's comments were ludicrous.

There's absolutely no connection with what happened 32 years ago in Tehran. I also think we haven't seen the end of this. Obviously, what the administration will try to do is find someone, a retired American general, someone who has a relationship with the Marshal Tantawi to try to defuse this crisis, get it off the front pages, and try to work out some kind of an arrangement behind the scenes where the Americans can be let go free and not tried and let come to the United States.

And, hopefully, some of these international institutions and American NGOs will be able to continue to work in Egypt. But at this point, it's a very tough battle.

KING: And let's move to Syria now. We had Russia and China blocking a resolution. The Arab League wanted to have the U.N. Security Council call on President Assad to step down.

Very, very tough language from Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice at the United Nations about China and Russia. It sounded very much like the George W. Bush administration, Nick, before the Iraq war saying this is proof the Security Council is irrelevant, it doesn't work in today's world. But does the president of the United States and his team have any good options here?

BURNS: Well, I think the options here again are tough as well, John.

The actions of the Russians and Chinese, it hit a new low of cynicism. They are allowing the Assad government to go to battle with its own people. The resolution that was going to be voted upon in New York was a very moderate resolution. So I think the United States can no longer depend on the Security Council because Russia and China will block any reasonable resolution.

What we have got to do now, as the administration is doing, is turn our attention to work with Turkey, with Saudi Arabia and with the Arab League. We have a good collection of partners there. All three of them have influence. All three of them are going to support the Syrian opposition, and put additional pressure on the Syrian government. I think that's the next step for the United States.

KING: The president of the United States saying it's a matter of if, not when Assad steps down. We will see how that plays out.

Ambassador Burns, appreciate your insights tonight. Thank you, sir.

BURNS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Shifting now to presidential politics, today, Nevada's Republican Party certified Mitt Romney's biggest win so far in the 2012 campaign. Remember the caucuses were on Saturday. Governor Romney getting 50 percent of the vote now.

This afternoon in Colorado, Governor Romney mocking one of President Obama's answers in his pre-Super Bowl interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He said he deserves a second term. No, Mr. President, you do not deserve a second term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Today also brought a very important shift in the Romney campaign strategy.

In the contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, the Romney camp turned its focus from Newt Gingrich to Rick Santorum, labeling the former senator from Pennsylvania part of the big spending establishment in Congress.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta in Golden, Colorado tonight.

Jim, what's the thinking between shifting from weeks of focusing on Gingrich to now focusing on Santorum?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

It's funny, John, because if you listen to Mitt Romney today, he did not talk about Rick Santorum out on the campaign trail, but his campaign was certainly thinking about the former Pennsylvania senator. It was hard to count the number of e-mails coming from the Romney campaign that were designed to attack Senator Santorum's record on spending, on earmarks and so for the.

Santorum fired right back. It was very interesting. He basically spent the day firing off a barrage of attacks at the Romney campaign and at the former Massachusetts governor's health care plan, which he said positions Mitt Romney as uniquely unqualified to take on the president in health care reform in the fall campaign. KING: And, Jim, you were just at an event with Newt Gingrich. He actually had some kind words for Senator Santorum. Some sort of white flag on the former speaker's part?

ACOSTA: Well, maybe a white flag here in Colorado and in Minnesota for these Tuesday caucuses. Newt Gingrich is going to be spending Tuesday night in Ohio. And people might be saying, well, why Ohio? That state doesn't hold its primary until March.

Gingrich says he's going to be paying attention to those early voters in Ohio the way he didn't do that in Florida. But he said about Rick Santorum, he said that he thinks that Rick Santorum will have a pretty good day tomorrow here in the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses, which is an indication that perhaps some of these campaigns might be starting to think that Rick Santorum could pull off a victory in one of these states.

It was funny. Right after that Gingrich avail ended, a Santorum avail started. And I asked the former Pennsylvania senator, well, do you think you could perhaps pull off an upset victory in one of these states? He opted against setting expectations, but he did say that he thinks Mitt Romney will again underperform. That is a message than Senator Santorum was also trying to get out today, that Mitt Romney in a lot of these races has underperformed vs. where he was back in 2008.

Santorum says that's a key weakness on Mitt Romney's part -- John.

KING: Fascinating game of chess under way, the Republican candidates for president.

KING: Jim Acosta...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Jim, thank you.

And when we come back, Senator Santorum will join us in just a minute. Must he get a win tomorrow to prove his case that he's the best alternative to Governor Romney? Senator Santorum will be with us in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Rick Santorum won the first contest of the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, but he's fared poorly in the four states since Iowa, insisting, though, all along, he would get a chance to prove he, not Newt Gingrich, is the better conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

Well, tomorrow night might be his last best chance. Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado are voting. And while no delegates are immediately at stake, all three states offer Senator Santorum an opportunity to prove his argument.

Senator Santorum with us live tonight from Golden in Colorado. And let's just get straight to that question, Senator.

Is the next 24 hours, are they the most critical in your campaign, as you try to bring in more money and sustain it, to prove your point?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, actually, we are beginning a lot more money. We've -- we've done very, very well over the last couple of weeks. And our campaign feels great.

As you saw, some national polls have us running ahead of the field on head-to-head match-ups against Barack Obama. In fact, one poll, we were the only one that actually defeats Barack Obama.

I think people are beginning to realize that the -- the contrast between Obama and Romney is just not going to work for us and that we need somebody who can make Barack Obama the issue in the campaign, not the -- the irresponsible policies of our nominee.

KING: But do you need a win to prove the point -- I was on TV when we were counting the votes in Nevada Saturday night saying my Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl. Tonight, I'm standing to you in front of you congratulating the New York Giants.

At some point, do you need a win...

SANTORUM: Right.

KING: -- to prove your point, that you're the strongest?

SANTORUM: Well, I think we're -- you know, we're -- we need to win in the sense that we need to perform very well. I think we're going to run ahead of Speaker Gingrich, at least -- obviously, Missouri is not on the ballot. We feel very comfortable that we can run ahead of him in -- in one, in fact, maybe both the other states and -- and even potentially win one of those states.

So, yes, you know, winning -- winning -- winning would be great, but doing well and showing that we're a strong -- we still have a strong base of support out there is -- is going to be good enough for us.

KING: You've been making the case that Governor Romney would be a disaster to send into the fall campaign, if conservatives want to make the case that you have to repeal President Obama's health care law.

Here's a little bit of how you put it earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: How are we going to fix this problem?

The only way to fix this problem, there's two ways. Governor Romney has chosen one path, along with President Obama, and that is, he believes the government should control everything. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, political fact checking groups have said government doesn't control everything in the Massachusetts plan.

But I want to ask you this -- I want to ask you this. If you go back to 1994, when you win a primary for the Senate seat and you read the Allentown paper, "The Morning Call," it says, quote, "Santorum and Watkins" -- your opponent -- "would both require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits."

In 1994, Senator, were you for an individual mandate?

SANTORUM: No. That's -- that's just flat-out wrong. What they got confused was that I was for a plan that Phil Gramm offered that said if an employer provided health insurance, that they would have to offer a medical savings accounts, that are now called health savings account program. And they just simply got it wrong.

But, no, I -- I don't think you'll find anything else or anyway else that I advocated it. In fact, during the campaign in 1994, you'll find that I made -- made the whole point that I was against government-mandated health care. I ran against Harris Wofford, who was the author of Hillarycare.

So my record is pretty clean on this one. I think, you know, one reporter got it wrong and misunderstood what -- what one bill was about.

KING: The Romney campaign is clearly worried about you. They put on a conference call today, including the Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, who was once a candidate. They're trying to peel away your Tea Party support by raising your support of earmarks in Congress.

And Governor Pawlenty said this on the call. He said, Santorum, quote, "wants Minnesota conservatives to believe he's as conservative as they are, but he's not."

And you responded on the earmark question, hitting back at Governor Romney.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I understand that Governor Romney is having -- having a little fun time attacking me on earmarks?

And I just want to say that, for the record, as you know, Governor Romney had -- was an advocate of earmarks, number one.

But number two, this is typical Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: As you know, Tea Party voters care a lot about earmarks.

So are you making the case that they shouldn't vote for either you or Governor Romney because you both supported earmarks?

SANTORUM: Well, Jim DeMint, who was a favorite of the Tea Party, supported earmarks the same time I did. And just like I did, I now oppose earmarks because they were abused.

But during the time that I was supporting them, so was Jim DeMint. So was just about every other member of Congress. It was abused and -- and it should be banned and I have taken the position of banning them.

But at the time that I was supporting them, so was Governor Romney and so was just about everybody else. And the, you know, that was -- that was something that I think we all saw the error of our ways and -- and have -- have changed our position.

KING: We're almost out of time, Senator.

Let's end with setting your standard for tomorrow night.

Do you think -- do you -- do you believe in your heart -- I know you have to be careful -- but do you believe in your heart you can win at least one of these states tomorrow, maybe more?

SANTORUM: I think we can do very well there. Yes, I -- I think we certainly have a chance of winning one or -- or more of those states tomorrow. But, you know, a strong showing is a strong showing. And, you know, we're -- we're very encouraged that we're going to have a strong showing in all three states. And we'll -- we'll go from there.

KING: I'm very jealous of Senator Santorum tonight. I have been looking for the snow this whole primary season and he's found it in Golden, Colorado.

Senator, best of luck tomorrow.

We'll talk later down the road and see how things work out in Missouri...

SANTORUM: Thanks, John.

KING: -- Minnesota and Colorado. Rick Santorum tonight from Colorado.

Thank you, sir.

KING: When we come back: Iran says it has proof the United States is trying to corrupt its children. So, get this. It's banning "The Simpsons." We will tell you more in a minute.

Plus, another 33 deaths reported just today in Europe's coldest winter in decades.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Still ahead here: Verizon and Redbox setting their sights on Netflix. We will break down what it means for your movie night at your home.

Plus, new details late this afternoon on that horrific murder/suicide in Washington State -- the very latest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

In this half-hour, a Chinese factory worker exposes brutal conditions inside a factory that makes some of Apple's most popular gadgets, including the iPad.

Also , the "Truth" about two Super Bowl ads that scored political points, and one has critics crying racism.

Plus, your tax dollars meant to help struggling families spent instead at strip clubs, casinos, and liquor stores. Well, there's a solution circling on Capitol Hill.

Up first this half hour, a father commits the unimaginable. Investigators say Josh Powell drenched his home with ten gallons of gas then blew it up with his two little boys and Powell still inside. The irony in all of this: Powell was a suspect in his wife's disappearance.

Now, Powell was adamant he was innocent. Listen to what he told "Good Morning America" last August.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH POWELL, SUSPECT IN WIFE'S DISAPPEARANCE, SONS' BURNING DEATH: I would never hurt her. I would never hurt my boys. I would never hurt anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Haunting words there. And now we know an empty promise. Dan Simon has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Neighbor Dale Walden knew it was bad.

DALE WALDEN, NEIGHBOR: I was in my living room just watching the pregame. And there was a big explosion. It shook the house.

SIMON: Outside, a house completely engulfed in flames. WALDEN: I just knew that if there was anyone in there, they didn't survive. You could tell that instantly from what we saw.

SIMON: And inside, a troubled father with his two young sons: 5- year-old Braden and 7-year-old Charlie.

ED TROYER, PIERCE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESMAN: This is all on him. He set this up. He did it. He is the one who started the fire.

SIMON: Police believe this was a murder/suicide.

Josh Powell was a person of interest in the investigation into his wife's disappearance. She varnished in Utah in 2009. Her body has never been found. Authorities there were still working to connect him to the case. A month after she varnished, Powell moved the kids to Washington.

CHIEF BUZZ NIELSEN, WEST MIDWAY (ph), UTAH, POLICE: First the wife, the mother of those two boys. And then him and his two sons. You know, it's one thing to have him get charged or not charged and deal with it, but -- but it's -- it's evil.

SIMON: Powell was involved in a bitter dispute with his wife's family and had been denied custody of his children last week. Just before the blast, a caseworker brought the children to the house. The Department of Social and Health Services says it was part of an ongoing court-ordered visitation schedule. And the caseworker is suffering from grave emotional trauma as a result of the horrific event.

WALDEN: She was dropping the children off for a visitation with their dad. Then he got them into the house and slammed the door into her face, and she couldn't get in and was out and was trying to call 911 when the explosion occurred.

SIMON: Powell's attorney said he received an e-mail sent just before the explosion that read, "I'm sorry, good-bye."

KIRK GRAVES, POWELL'S BROTHER-IN-LAW: I think this is his admission of guilt. And he just couldn't handle it anymore.

SIMON: In her first interview, Susan Powell's sister told HLN's Nancy Grace that the boys had started talking about their mother's disappearance.

NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: Denise, what were they beginning to say about the night your sister went missing?

DENISE COX, SUSAN POWELL'S SISTER: From what I gather from my parents talking to me is they said that "Mom went to go look for crystals," and she -- she went into a mine to look for crystals, and she never came out. And I've heard them. They -- they pointed to a picture of a woman and pointed to her chest and said, "Mommy owie."

SIMON (on camera): Powell lost custody of the children after his father, who lived in the same house, was charged with possessing child pornography. In court documents filed just last week, Powell insisted that he had proven his fitness as a stable and loving parent -- John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Ed Troyer is the spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. He joins us live from Washington state with the latest on the investigation.

And Mr. Troyer, let me just start with any new details, any new evidence that's been uncovered. What is the very latest?

TROYER: Well, the very latest is -- is we have confirmed that multiple e-mails went out, not just to one lawyer but some e-mails went out to family members, his pastor. And he also went and got ten gallons of gas in two five-gallon gas cans. We confirmed there were accelerants used in the fire. We have recovered the gas cans.

So between that knowingly, as the accelerants were there and the fire was intentionally lit, and the e-mails out to multiple people, saying good-bye or giving directions what to do when he's gone, I believe this was intentional. It's two counts of murder and then suicide.

KING: A murder/suicide there. Anything in those e-mails, anything in the recovered evidence that gives you firm proof he had anything to do with his wife's disappearance, or is that still theory?

TROYER: No. None of that information is in there. So far, none of that information about Susan is in there, no indication of any type of activity with her or any complicit with her. He's also not talking about anything else other than just this incident in those e-mails. We haven't found anything else that shows us otherwise. These e-mails weren't sent out days in advance. It appears they were all sent out just minutes before it happened.

So it was very calculated, very planned. In fact, he'd also gone and given away some books and toys to local charities and dropped them off at a store. And so he was making arrangements to leave this place, so he had some knowledge of what he was going to do.

KING: And any sense from the investigation, from the e-mails or from anything else, sir, as to why? What was the trigger? What sent him over the edge like this?

TROYER: Nope, there was nothing in there, no explanation. I mean, as much as it hurts us all out here and as close as we are with these kids and family, we wished there were be some type of answer or reasoning that would be OK or make any sense. But there just isn't one. He didn't give us any indication of why he did it other than one short comment about he was sorry and good-bye. Other than that, there wasn't much more information.

KING: And the caseworker, when the caseworker gave the kids to him and he slammed the door, was there any indication then? Was it just viewed as rude behavior or any indication then that something like this was about to happen?

TROYER: Well, she thought there was a problem. She immediately called 911, called her boss, pounded on the door, tried to call Josh. Once she smelled the gas and the fire lit, it went up really fast. She ran to the neighbor's and got help.

We got here. She was here. She did what she could. She's traumatized. We got her husband and her family here to come get her. We're still working with her.

We believe this whole thing happened within about three minutes from the time she got here with the kids. She's been here before with the kids, so this is a routine deal for her to supervise these visits. But we believe that she got here; this was planned. He took those kids, locked her out, and started the fire within three minutes.

KING: And if he is believed to be the lone suspect in his wife's disappearance, but you say no other new evidence collected at the scene, no other new evidence in those e-mails, will that case ever be definitively solved, in your view?

TROYER: Well, we still have some -- we're still going to go through some more stuff in this residence. West Valley Police are coming out. We'll be working with them. And we're still collecting evidence. We're still at the autopsies. We're still working. And any evidence they do collect, we'll work with them, and we'll see if it helps them in their case.

You know, right now at this point we have the two the dead children, and we have Susan missing. For all intents and purposes, she's deceased, as well. We're acting that way, and we're assuming that she's dead because he's a suspect that killed her. And so what we're going to do is keep working to try and, you know, get some justice for them, try and find out maybe where she's at. Anything that we can do to help West Valley, we're going to continue to do. And hopefully, there will be some more resolution.

KING: Ed Troyer is a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. Ed, really appreciate your time and your help tonight with this difficult case. Take care, sir.

TROYER: Thank you.

KING: Who would want a job like this: unbearably long and unpredictable hours. Low wages, no talking, and no chance to see the fruits of your labor. That's the story CNN learned from a worker for Foxconn Technology Group's Chinese factory, where thousands of workers make the parts for Apple's iPad.

Apple put out a statement saying, "We care deeply about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made."

CNN's Stan Grant broke the story. He joins us now live from Beijing.

Stan, you met with one of the factory workers. What else did he say about the conditions inside the plant?

STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, before we get to the that, it's even difficult to find anyone to speak. We spoke to people outside the gates. Many of them ran away from us. There was very heavy security around the Foxconn complex that we went through.

We did find one worker. She was 18 years old. She was walking to work. She agreed to speak to us. What she -- what she said was that she feels like she is an animal, to use her words. She says she does nothing but sleep, eat and work at Foxconn. It is her entire life. She said that others also complain of the same circumstances.

She says that there is a saying at Foxconn that women work like men, men work like machines, or to put it another way that women work like men and men work like animals.

She says that, even if you do complain, you are simply told that, if you don't like it, you can leave, because there are many, many thousands of others willing to stand in line and take their place at Foxconn.

As you pointed out there, Foxconn and Apple have both defended the situation. They say the working conditions are good, comply with Chinese law. They say that it is better than most factories in China. But we keep hearing these persistent complaints from workers and even a couple of years ago when nearly 20 people committed suicide because of working conditions -- John.

KING: And Stan, can companies like Microsoft and Apple, can they put enough pressure on the Chinese government to improve conditions? Is there proof that they're trying to constantly apply that pressure?

GRANT: Well, Apple says that it carries out orders. It continues to order at Foxconn factories. Now, considering there are around a million workers for Foxconn inside China -- 700,000 of those are devoted towards Apple products -- you would think that Apple could bring a lot of muscle to bear.

It says when it carries out the orders, it does find problems. It finds discrepancies, but it repeats, it's not going to work with companies that don't respect their employees. It says it respects the rights of all its workers in its worldwide chain.

All I can do is refer to the complaints of disgruntled workers like the one that I spoke to. She said if Apple does care, then she's not seeing any of that care. She plans to leave soon. But of course, that's the word of one worker. It is repeated by many others. Also repeated by workers' rights groups who talk about militaristic conditions, conditions where people can't speak on the factory floor. And as we've said before, conditions that have driven people to suicide.

Foxconn, though, defends itself. It says it complies with Chinese law. As I said before, John, in a country as big as this where a factory job has been a way out of poverty, for everybody that leaves, there are thousands waiting to take their place.

KING: Good reporting. CNN's Stan Grant live for us in Beijing tonight. Stan, thanks so much.

Just ahead here, tonight's "Truth" about two Super Bowl ads getting slammed: one as racist, the other as misleading.

Plus, movie buffs may soon have an alternative to Netflix online and in the mail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's a time-tested truth in the advertising business. If your new ad is all the buzz the morning after, well, then it's a smashing success. It's a tough competition the Monday after the Super Bowl, but two ads with a political twist and a Michigan twist are all the buzz today. Clint Eastwood starred in one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: It's halftime in America, too. People are out of work and they're hurting. And they're all wondering what they're going to do to make a comeback. And we're all scared because this isn't a game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: An actress speaking broken English in the other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spend It Now. Debbie spends so much American money, you borrow more and more from us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Some conservatives are outraged at the Eastwood ad. It was paid for by the Chrysler -- by Chrysler and the argument on the right goes something like this. Chrysler paid for it. Chrysler got taxpayer money and the auto industry bailout so taxpayers are, at least indirectly, helping to foot an estimated $14 million ad buy that some on the right interpret -- listen here -- as a call to give President Obama four more years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EASTWOOD: This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do, the world's going to hear the roar of our engines. Yes, it's halftime, America. And our second half's about to begin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Legitimate complaints or a stretch? Well, we all know politics is in the eye of the beholder.

In the second ad, aired only in Michigan, Debbie Spend It Now is the mocking name Republican Pete Hoekstra repeatedly gives the incumbent Democratic senator, Debbie Stabenow. The ad is powerful, but listen again. Some also say this is racist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spend It Now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Hoekstra says any charges of race-baiting are off base.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN SENATE CANDIDATE: No, I'm not apologizing for the ad. I said if someone believes that we were insensitive, I'm sorry to them. But no, I don't -- I'm not apologizing for this ad at all. I think it clearly drives the message: the problem is American public policy, American domestic policy. The problem here is not anything that the Chinese are doing at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, "Truth" is, team Hoekstra could have made just that same point with a Chinese actress who spoke perfect English. Is this outrage warranted, or is the Monday after buzz proof both Chrysler and Hoekstra ads are hits? Let's talk truth with CNN contributor and RedState.com editor Erick Erickson; Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; and Amy Kremer, who's chairwoman of the Tea Party Express.

Ladies first: was Clint Eastwood there? He said he's got nothing to do with the Obama campaign; he was just doing that for Chrysler. Did you see the double and triple meaning in that ad?

AMY KREMER, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: Well, it certainly -- I mean, Chrysler got the bailout money, and now they're doing this ad, you know, that we get back up. And it was President Obama with Matt Lauer saying he deserved a second term. I just -- I mean, a lot of people have a problem with it.

KING: It's a private company spending its money. It's paid back all or most of the taxpayer money. Are we trying too hard here to connect politics to this?

RALPH REED, CHAIRWOMAN, FAITH AND FREEDOM COALITION: Probably. I mean, I think they had what, Eminem last year and so they decided to go with Clint Eastwood this year?

But look, John, both ads are basically Rorschach tests. I mean, people are going to look at the same ad and see different things. I saw the Chrysler ad as a celebration of the American spirit. Not a celebration of bailouts, not a celebration of subsidizing failure but the fact that companies, not just like Chrysler but also Ford, which didn't take a dime in federal money, got up off their knees, and the economy turned around, not because of anything Barack Obama did.

And I'll say this about the Hoekstra ad. Look, Debbie Stabenow has been in the Senate and for 1,010 days, the Senate under Democratic leadership has been unable to produce a budget, unable to perform even the most rudimentary legislative functions that are charged under the Constitution. And for her to vote repeatedly for...

KING: But Team Hoekstra doesn't have Ralph Reed in his ad. He had the woman who was speaking broken English.

REED: We're talking about his ad, John.

KING: We are talking about his ad which means it's powerful.

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I've gotten used to Democrats screaming racism when we're able (ph) to do things. When Herman Cain, a black man who grew up in a separated America, said that he agreed with Newt Gingrich that Barack Obama was a Food Stamp president, suddenly black Democratic activists were calling him either a racist or an Uncle Tom.

You expect people these days to yell "Uno" after they've thrown down the race card. It was a bad commercial. It wasn't a racist commercial.

The Clint Eastwood commercial, good for Chrysler, but you could have at least thrown in, "Yes, thanks, American taxpayers for saving us."

KREMER: Exactly. I mean, think back to the Ford ad. When Ford did their, you know, real people coming in. And they do this ad talking about, you know, their cars.

ERICKSON: And the guy was attacked for participating in the ad.

KREMER: Right. And they pulled the ad immediately. It's a double standard.

KING: I'm going to wonder over here. You guys stay put. We're going to quickly set the stage for tomorrow night. Follow me. Quickly set the stage.

Now, the interesting part is we've got three states voting. No delegates will actually be awarded tomorrow. It doesn't work that way. But Colorado caucuses, there are 33 delegates at stake eventually in Colorado plus three Republican. All four Republican candidates are on the ballot there.

Up in Minnesota, all four candidates on the ballot: Gingrich, Paul, Romney and Santorum. Again, 37 delegates ultimately at stake. Tomorrow only begins the process.

And in Missouri, Speaker Gingrich is hazed out here, because he's not even on the ballot. It's the biggest prize: 52 delegates to get eventually. They're not awarded in this primary. There are caucuses later to do that.

So we're going to walk back over here. So we start this process tomorrow. Amy, Rick Santorum has been saying, "The race is going to come to me. I'm going to get my chance to prove." Does he have a have a win or two tomorrow to have credibility, to go to Tea Party voters around the country, to go to social conservatives around the country and say, "Abandon Newt. Come to me"?

KREMER: I do think he needs a win. I mean, I don't know that it's two wins, but look, all of these candidates still have support across the board. And tomorrow is important because of the three states, but if you look back to the past races over the past couple three weeks, every one of them other than Ron Paul has won in a state. And they've got -- I mean, they've won with Tea Party support. So it shows that the movement's still divided. But I think at this point, it's anyone's race. I mean, we know that Governor Romney has done well, and he's been a frontrunner, but it is anyone's race.

KING: So help me with the impact. Santorum's out there making the case. He's picking up some important endorsements. He's working really hard with limited resources.

What's the impact of his effort plus the fallout from Nevada where Speaker Gingrich gave this press conference and said he's in all the way through March? A lot of people who see that were sort of questioning the tone.

REED: Well, John, look, we all know that the presidential nominating process is not a sprint. This is a marathon. I mean, it's going to go on over, you know, 40, 50 states, multiple caucuses and primaries, all the way to June probably before the numerical number is reached because of the change in Republican Party rules or the proportional awarding of the delegates.

So, in a sense, in that sense, in a purely narrow, arithmetic sense, this is going to go on a long time. What's interesting for Romney is he's really playing three-dimensional chess, because he's not playing one upon it. He's primarily, it looks to me, like facing Santorum in the heartland and the Midwest where there are more Catholic voters. I think Santorum's going to have a very good day tomorrow in Minnesota, and I think he's going to do well in Missouri.

KING: Is it going to be a win or well?

REED: Could be. The polling's all over the map, but we do have a PPP poll that has him ahead by 2 over Romney. And I think he's more likely to over perform in the caucuses. There's a strong pro-family grass roots...

KING: You can't play -- you can't play in what comes next. February's sort of a two at a time, three at a time. But then march is the boom month. You can't play without money coming in.

ERICKSON: You've got to have money coming in, but at the same time, there's also an antipathy to Mitt Romney still. And that keeps Gingrich and Santorum alive. And they may not be able to win, but they can keep him from winning, which if you listen to Gingrich, his press conference on Sunday sounds like it's his strategy.

At the same time, you've got to forgive Americans for being very cynical about the races. We're putting a lot of stock in places like Missouri tomorrow where nothing's at stake, which is why Gingrich isn't participating. Didn't want to spend money to get on a ballot where you win nothing.

KING: Beauty (ph) and momentum.

ERICKSON: Yes.

KING: Erick, Ralph, Amy, thanks for coming in tonight.

KREMER: All the reason the Senate's so important.

KING: The Senate. We're going to talk to the Senate. We're going to continue that conversation.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Erin, you're covering the tumultuous situation across the Middle East tonight. What's ahead?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Well, John, some reports coming in just a few moments ago. Actually as I look down here, that Iran is moving more uranium enrichment deep underground in the mountain. These are reports coming out of the Middle East tonight.

Also, former CIA agent, Revolutionary Guard member from Iran, telling "OUTFRONT" that Iran is soon -- in process right now of learning from China how to assemble intercontinental ballistic missiles that could hit the United States from Iran.

This is all part of the rising rhetoric that is leading America to have some tough decisions to make. And that's just Iran. We're going to go across the Middle East. All that coming up, top of the hour, John.

Plus, an absolutely amazing and shocking statistic about how much of the stuff that you buy is made in America, as opposed to made in China. And, yes, it's probably not what you expect, but we've got that, too.

Back to you.

KING: I'm guessing it's not going to be all that made in the USA encouraging, but we'll see. Erin reporting. We'll be with you in just a few minutes.

Still to come here, welfare recipients using their benefits at strip clubs, casinos and on a Hawaiian vacation. What is Congress doing about it?

Plus, the Super Bowl ad that we all missed except only one small town in Nebraska. Details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Here's Kate Bolduan again with the latest news you need to know right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there.

Good evening again, everyone. News to get you up on.

The competition in the digital movie subscription world just got a little tougher. Verizon and DVD kiosk company Red Box are teaming up pitting their joint venture squarely against Netflix. The company plans to launch their new service this year, but they're being a little -- keeping a lid, at least, on the specifics, only saying they'll offer subscription services and more on your smart phone, tablets and TVs. We'll wait and see.

And your tax dollars being spent at strip clubs? Good question. A bill that essentially would ban welfare spending from being spent at strip clubs, liquor stores and casinos is making its way through Congress. It passed the House last week. Republican -- the Republican-backed measure is specifically meant to target a welfare program known as temporary assistance for needy families.

And I bet I know what you were doing last night. Let me guess: a little football? A little Super Bowl maybe? You and about 111 million viewers tuned in, making last night's game the most watched Super Bowl in history. But all that celebrating may have caught up with you at work today.

A survey published by the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" found employers lost $170 million in, quote unquote, unproductive wages last year, the day after the Super Bowl. That's a lot of money, but I think I know why. People who have been to a Super Bowl party.

KING: Look, I'm grumpy after the Super Bowl, but I'm here being productive today. My guys lost, and so it goes. But I'm almost ready for a cold one.

And Kate, stick around. Unless you live in Nebraska, more specifically, North Platt, Nebraska, chances are you probably missed this Super Bowl beer ad with Will Ferrell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Old (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's what we call going to black in the business. The Pabst Brewing Company says that was intentional.

In case you're wondering why the commercial only aired in North Platt, Nebraska, we reached out to the co-owners of Pabst Brewing Company, which also brews Old Milwaukee. They tell CNN, quote, "The ads with Will Ferrell are extremely popular, which just shows you don't need to spend millions of dollars to make a big impression."

Pabst Blue Ribbon, the first beer I ever had.

We'll see you tomorrow night.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.