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CNN NEWSROOM

Michael Steele Speaks in Anaheim; Palin Rallies Republicans; Actress Known As June Cleaver Dies At 94; GOP California Campaign Rally Features Sarah Palin, But Not Local Candidates; Obama Loses His Voice Stumping In Massachusetts

Aired October 16, 2010 - 18:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM Right now on CNN the pot debate grows as election day approaches. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stunned Californians saying he'll enforce federal drug laws, even if they vote to smoke it recreationally.

A developing story to tell you about: If you're able to watch us right now, then you're one of the lucky ones. Millions of people can't watch their favorite shows and ballgames because of a fight between Fox and cable and satellite providers.

And the passing of an American treasure. The woman known simply as The Beaver's mother, June Cleaver, has died. Her TV son, Wally Cleaver, talks to us live.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

Coast to coast, from the president to his toughest critics, the battle of control of Congress is electrified this weekend with the biggest names in both parties rallying the party faithful, encouraging their supporters to head to the polls and vote just 17 days from now.

You'll see it all right here on CNN. It will all unfold. Up first, we're standing by this hour for Sarah Palin's remarks at the Republican Party event out in California. Our Jessica Yellin is there, she is standing by. White House Correspondent Dan Lothian is covering the president who is on the stump today in Massachusetts. Our Brianna Keilar is in Maryland tracking all the important news when it comes to get-out-the-vote efforts that could determine who wins control of Congress.

We start now with our National Political Correspondent Jessica Yellin out in Anaheim, California.

Sarah Palin, Jessica, will be taking the stage soon. What can we expect here?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT We expect a rousing rally from Sarah Palin. Calling on Republicans to turn this normally blue state red. As you know, Barbara Boxer, the incumbent Democratic senator is facing a fierce challenge from Carly Fiorina, a Republican in this state and Meg Whitman, a Republican, also poised to potentially win. She's running against Jerry Brown. And Sarah Palin, here to rally the faithful to the cause. Also appearing here today, Don, will be Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger who has been in some hot water but also provoked a lot of attention on the right, and Michael Steele, the RNC chairman. We don't often see Sarah Palin joining Michael Steele at an RNC event, do we? She's usually with the Tea Party. So, it's a big day, a big unity showing for this party.

There are a few people missing. If you want to talk about that we can talk about that.

LEMON: Jessica, I was going to ask, I'm glad you said that, because you mentioned Andrew Breitbart, you mention Michael Steele. What about the top Republican candidates on the ballot, on the California ballot, are they attending this event?

YELLIN: No. And we know Sarah Palin has gone across the country endorsing women candidates. Here in California you have two female Republican candidates, Meg Whitman running for governor, Carly Fiorina running for Senate. Palin has endorsed Fiorina. But neither of those women are going to be here. Whitman says she's up state doing some retail campaigning, handshaking with supporters. Carly Fiorina was in San Diego with John McCain and then is headed upstate. Both of them are flying right over this event and bypassing Sarah Palin. You can only deduce, Don, it's because this is such a moderate to liberal state, generally.

People prefer centrists usually in California, and so these Republicans have to be conscientious that aligning themselves terribly closely with someone as conservative as Sarah Palin could potentially backfire with the state's independent voters.

That's not what the campaigns are saying, but you and I know that's probably what's going on.

LEMON: We can see it's getting under way, Jessica. And right as I tossed to you there was a big round applause as if it was for you. But it is for you, and we know it is for Sarah Palin as well. We're going to get back to you in a bit. Don't go anywhere. Because we're going to play Sarah Palin's speech there in California, where Jessica Yellin is standing by.

Meantime, President Obama is out on the campaign trail today. He's in Boston. He's trying to give a boost to his old friend, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. And making some moves to keep his political agenda alive. Our White House Correspondent Dan Lothian spent the day with the president.

Dan, the last time the president stumped for someone in Massachusetts it didn't work out very well now, did it?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, remember back to January it was Martha Coakley who everyone had expected would have run away with that race trying to fill the seat held by former Senator Ted Kennedy, after he passed away. But by all accounts she ran really a lackluster campaign. The president came in at the last minute, tried to save it. She lost to Scott Brown, and of course we know the rest of the story.

The White House obviously hoping the president will have a little more positive influence this time. As you pointed out, he was here campaigning for his longtime friend. They have the Chicago connection, the Harvard connection. So the president here, trying to rally thousands of supporters, who showed up for this event here today.

The president rolled out what we have heard over the last few weeks, this campaign speech talking about how Republicans have sort of driven the economy into the ditch and how Democrats are trying to get that car out of the ditch. The president also acknowledged some of the frustration out there from people across the country, who are out of work, who can't make their mortgage payments. He said it will be difficult in this upcoming election for Democrats not only here in Massachusetts, but across the country. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that sometimes hope may have faded as we grinded out this work over the last several years. I know it's hard to keep faith when a family member still hasn't found a job, after months of trying. Or another foreclosure sign is hung on the house down the street. And you're watching TV and all you see are politicians tearing each other down, pundits who treat politics like a sport. I know it can be discouraging, but don't ever let anybody tell you this fight isn't worth it. Don't ever let them tell you you're not making a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Don, I don't know if you noticed anything there, that his voice was going.

LEMON: I did.

LOTHIAN: He started out pretty strong.

LEMON: I was listening, I have to tell you --

LOTHIAN: He was leaning into the mike.

LEMON: When I came in today I was listening to him on satellite radio. I said, do you notice anything about the president's voice? They said, no. He's losing it.

LOTHIAN: That's right. He started off strong. Toward the end he ended up with a hoarse voice, trying to rally the folks telling them they need to get energized and to go out and vote on November 2nd.

I should also point out that during the president's remarks he was heckled. There were some protesters who were holding up signs that said "Fight Global AIDS" and "Keep The Promise", but the president responding to them a few minutes later said, his administration had increased funding for AIDS research. A big rally here. Again, the White House hoping the president's presence here will help Governor Deval Patrick get another term.

LEMON: That just shows you, too, Dan, how down to the wire this is. The president has been campaigning all over the country trying to rally support for Democrats and now it's showing in his voice. He's losing it. That's how intense the next couple weeks will be leading up, two weeks at least, 17 days until this election.

Dan, we're going to check back with you. Stand by. Thank you, sir.

I have a reminder for you, coming up minutes from now Sarah Palin live here on CNN. As she speaks to Republicans at a big rally this evening in California. Again, you're going to see it here live.

And welcome relief this week to those on the brink of foreclosure. For some of those on the brink, but admissions of failure on the part of banks is too late for millions who have lost their homes and seen their lives change forever.

And many would say she's the most famous TV mom ever. The actress who played June Cleaver, Wally and the Beaver's mom, has died. I'm talking about Barbara Billingsley. We're talking to Tony Dow, he played Wally. He's going to be live, coming up next.

And don't just sit there. We want you to be part of the conversation. Make sure you reach out to us on any of the social media networks. Twitter, Facebook, or go to Foursquare.com. Check out our blog at cnn.com/don.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As I said at the beginning of this newscast, we have lost an American treasure, really. She was America's favorite mom during the Golden Age of Television. To many of us she still is, Barbara Billingsley, best known as June Cleaver on "Leave It To Beaver" has died.

A spokeswoman said she had a long illness and passed away early this morning at her home in Santa Monica, California. The actress was 94 years old. Someone who knows her well is Tony Dow, he played Billingsley's TV son, Wally, on "Leave It To Beaver". He joins us on the phone from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Tony, thank you for joining us. How are you doing?

TONY DOW, ACTOR, WALLY CLEAVER: How are you? (AUDIO GAP). Kind of a sad day for us, around here.

LEMON: Where were you when you got the news?

DOW: I was actually -- it was this morning, her son called me, and woke me up, and said she had passed around 2:00 o'clock this morning. And you know, she'd been not feeling well and ill for quite a while. So we knew this was coming but you know, it's always hard to really get yourself ready for it. She was such a part of America, America's mom.

(AUDIO GAP, GARBLED TRANSMISSION)

LEMON: Listen, I know that you're -- you know, you want to be strong -- I think we're having an issue with Tony. Tony, can you hear me?

DOW: Yeah, I can.

LEMON: OK. We can hear you better now. Good.

Listen, I know you want to put on a good face and good voice, but it has to be tough for you, especially working with her for so many years, and really in your formative years as well. Talk to me about that process, about working with her, about being her son on television. It must have been amazing.

DOW: Well, you know, we worked for six years and we did 39 shows a year so we really worked -- worked every day. You know, pretty much throughout the year. And in the beginning she was -- she wasn't really like a mom to me. She was -- I had my own mom. We had our own families. She was such a wonderful lady. I mean, everybody just thought she was the greatest. You know, she was very -- very -- great sense of humor, very gracious. You know, just amazing.

I learned a lot about how to treat people and how to be, from her. Then when we did the second show, the second -- we did five years of "The New Leave It To Beaver " then we were more contemporary. I was in my 30s. We actually became closer as friends, and carried on that friendship until now. So it's a -- she's a sensational lady. You know, I mean, it's sad to see somebody like that pass, but she had a terrific life. And had a wonderful impact on everybody that she knew and even those she didn't know.

LEMON: Yeah. You know, I think that it's apropos to mention you mentioned her sense of humor. When we saw her make those jokes about I speak jive. She was funny when we saw her in later television shows. She had a wicked sense of humor, didn't she?

DOW: She had a terrific sense of humor, and surprising sense of humor. She'd come out with things that would surprise you all the time. Of course, I think she'll be known as the lady who spoke jive on the airplane almost as much as she'll be known as June Cleaver.

LEMON: It's almost the same kind of sense of humor as Betty White, people from that era, and outspoken as well. Is there one thing you're going to miss about her the most? Or you think about her the most when she comes up in your mind?

DOW: Well, I'm going to miss seeing her. We lived reasonably close and we'd spend, I think we spend -- we'd have dinner once every couple months, you know, and her boyfriend at the time, this is a couple years ago, was the fellow who got me interested in doing bronzes and artwork. He'd done some artwork. He was sort of my mentor.

We had some great evenings, great dinners, great discussions about art. She was always very supportive of my artistic endeavors. And you know, it's just -- you know, it's like a ray of sunshine. She just always had a smile. Always had a positive thing to say. And you know, you're going to miss that.

LEMON: You know what I like about the people, many folks from the Golden Age of television, is that they don't mind being known by the names of their characters. Many of the younger people don't want to be, you know, typecast, or whatever. You don't mind being called Wally. You know, people who were in "Gilligan", some of them don't mind being called Gilligan, Mary Ann, or The Professor, or whatever. She definitely did not mind being called June.

DOW: She was very, very proud of being June Cleaver. There's no doubt about it. She -- many times she said the best thing that ever happened for me, best thing in my life. And she really meant it. You know, she was -- she was just happy as a lark being recognized as America's mom, which is great. You know? I don't -- as I grow older I don't mind being called Wally. For a while it was hard, you know, when a lot younger and trying to, you know, get my career going, as an actor and director, and stuff.

LEMON: But now you get it.

DOW: Nowadays-yeah, well, plus the fact "The Beaver" show is such an amazing show. It's been on the air 53 years. It's great. It's the only show that's not been off the air in 50 some years. It's a phenomena, you know?

LEMON: Well, Tony Dow, Wally, thank you for allowing us to honor June Cleaver, Barbara Billingsley, best of luck to you. Thank you again.

DOW: OK. I appreciate it. Thank you for letting me do this.

LEMON: All right.

Straight ahead here on CNN, we're awaiting Sarah Palin . She's taking the stage at Anaheim. You're looking right now at Congressman Dana Rohrabacher doing at little guitar serenade. California is the center of the spotlight now for Republicans. Big rally there close to the midterm elections, just 17 days until election day. Live coverage here on CNN in just moments.

Also this hour:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm living with HIV.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is a secret this man kept from his own church. We're looking at why keeping quiet when having the disease is so common in the African-American community. And see how this man's minister reacted when the truth was revealed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: All right. Let's get you now live. California, Anaheim, specifically, where Republicans are holding a big rally today. And you're looking at Van Tran (ph), a Republican there obviously, running against Loretta Sanchez, who is already the representative there in Orange County, California. Sarah Palin is going to speak at this event shortly. We're going to carry it live here on CNN. We will continue to monitor.

In the meantime, let's talk about your money, your house. Maybe still your biggest investment. If you're in danger of losing your home, you may be enjoying some breathing room now. Thanks to a freeze on foreclosures by the nation's largest banks. They're looking into whether employees used illegal shortcuts to force a lot of the paperwork through. But as our Susan Candiotti reports, the delay comes with a lot of complications.

Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, many troubled homeowners are heaving a sigh of relief over the foreclosure freeze because it buys them more time to stay in their homes. But others are desperate to get things moving. Why? Because they've already filed for bankruptcy, and the freeze puts them in limbo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VIRGINIA OBASI, HOMEOWNER: It's a nightmare, because I didn't expect this.

CANDIOTTI (voice over): Virginia Obasi wants to be declared bankrupt. The single mother of six, a veteran New York grade schoolteacher, dug herself into a financial hole she's been trying to fix. After realizing her dream to buy a home five years ago -

(On camera): For you, owning a home means what?

OBASI: Owning a home meant success for me.

CANDIOTTI (voice over): Three years and a $300,000 mortgage later, her taste of success spiraled out of control. Like many other Americans at that time, Obasi was convinced she should buy a second home as an investment. A much newer town home in New Jersey that she'd rent out and would pay for itself.

(On camera): You didn't think you were getting in over your head?

OBASI: No.

CANDIOTTI: Why not?

OBASI: I was actually trying to be proud and improve myself, proud of myself, and to improve myself. You know? That was the idea to make extra money.

CANDIOTTI: What did it turn out to be?

OBASI: It didn't come true.

CANDIOTTI: The renters Obasi had been counting on couldn't make their payments, forcing her to file for bankruptcy this summer.

OBASI: If I could get this of my back, let them take back the house, and leave me alone.

CANDIOTTI: But the foreclosure freeze put the skids on her bankruptcy. Now banks won't touch her second house.

DAVID SHAEV, ATTORNEY: We were attempting to surrender houses, to say, here's the keys, please take it. We want you to sell the property. We want our client's name off the property. 8.675.

CANDIOTTI: To add insult to injury, Obasi's bankruptcy attorney says he found fraudulent lender signatures on her first mortgage.

SHAEV: When you look at it, it is obviously a computerized inverted signature.

CANDIOTTI: Followed by two more signatures allegedly by the same person that look nothing alike. Until the freeze thaws, Obasi cannot pay off her bankruptcy and keep her original mortgage.

SHAEV: Until that happens, we're in limbo.

CANDIOTTI: Do you think one day you'll be able to solve this?

OBASI: I hope. I'm hopeful.

CANDIOTTI: Until then her New Jersey home gathers dust, and her nerves have seen better days.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: There's no way of knowing how many bankruptcies are stalled because of the foreclosure freeze, because no one is tracking it. Obasi's lawyer says the number is growing and growing fast, with no end in sight, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, very much for that, Susan.

President Obama on the East Coast, Sarah Palin out West, and the biggest names in politics are out in force this weekend. Just 17 days to go until election day. We'll bring you Sarah Palin's remarks live in moments. As a matter of fact, you are looking live at that arena now in Anaheim, California. We're back in a bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now, live, to Anaheim, California, a Republican rally there. John David is his name, he's performing a song. This song called, "American Heart" at this rally. We're awaiting the arrival of Sarah Palin. She is going to speak in just a bit. And we'll bring it to you live right here on CNN. In meantime, we want to talk about something serious, one in every 16 black men will contract HIV in their lifetimes, that is according to health officials. For black women, it's one in 30. The virus is too common in the black community. And yet it's considered a stigma to even broach the subject. Our Soledad O'Brien introduces us to one man who is daring to try.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Two illnesses threaten Jeffrey Gavin. His church knows only about one.

JEFFREY GAVIN, HIV POSITIVE: I have what's called Marfan Syndrome, that makes me very tall. I'm constantly in pain.

O'BRIEN: He feels compelled to tell his pastor, Buster Soaries, the rest of his story.

GAVIN: I'm living with HIV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of Jesus.

O'BRIEN: Jay Gavin, as his friends know him, found out he was HIV positive four years ago. He's never mentioned it in church, keeping that kind of a secret is common in the African-American community.

REV. DEFOREST "BUSTER" SOARIES, SR. PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: If the average person in this church knew how many people they interacted with, in this church, who were HIV positive, it would be scandalous.

CROWD CHEERS: The AIDS Walk! Whoo!

O'BRIEN: The CDC says it's the stigma in the African-American community that's putting many blacks at higher risk of contracting the disease. Nearly half the people living with HIV in the United States are African-American.

Gavin is gay and contracted HIV from sex, but the message he wants to send to his community is anyone can get it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing man?

GAVIN: Thank you so much. Well, thank you for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?

O'BRIEN (On camera): You look so relieved.

JEFFREY GAVIN, MEMBER, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: I am. I want to shout for joy because I see the avenue that this is leading to.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Gavin sees himself as an ambassador, leading open discussions. But his pastor has a more tempered response.

REV. DEFOREST "BUSTER" SOARIES, SR. PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: Whether or not he is a symbol of something that can be healthy for the church and inspiring for people who are HIV positive, I think that remains to be seen.

O'BRIEN: Regardless of the outcome, Gavin says he'll keep pushing. Reporting for "In America," Soledad O'Brien, Summerset, New Jersey.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON: Don't miss Soledad O'Brien's "Black in America" special. It's called "Almighty Debt." It's focusing on the financial crisis facing the black church. It premieres next Thursday, October 21st 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

A multistate marijuana sting ensnares dozens of suspects including the founder of Jay-Z's record. The details on Operation Green Venum straight ahead.

And live in California, we're going to get to the Republican rally there. You're looking at Andrew Breitbart at the podium. Sarah palin coming up shortly. We'll carry it for your.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. Now live in Anaheim, California, there's Andrew Breitbart before the break. I knew he was coming up, I couldn't see it clearly here. The guy before the break was not him. That is Andrew Breitbart there.

We know about him. Coming up here, to speak in a little bit, Michael Steele and of course, Sarah Ralin. We'll carry Sarah Palin's remarks live.

She's going to speak in a few minutes from California now. You're going to see it live here as we said. I want to check in with our national correspondent Jessica Yellin, she is in that room in Anaheim.

This is called the victory 2010 or 2010, as they might say, sprint to the finish and it is. What should we expect to see?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. There's a lot of enthusiasm in this room as you can tell. There are at least 1,500 people here who were fired up to elect Republicans not just for statewide office, but also the man running for the seat in this district opposing Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat who Bill Clinton was in the state campaigning for yesterday.

This room is determined to throw her out as part of efforts to take over the House. Breitbart as you point out is speaking right now. He has had some very biting words for the media and for the Democrats in general. Many of the speakers already have called for the repeal of Obamacare as they call it, lower taxes, taking back as one person called it taking back the deficit. I think they mean chopping the deficit.

Of course, Michael Steele, the sometimes controversial head of the RNC who is known, himself, for making gaffes, but always being lively and interesting. And Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin spoke yesterday, Don, and took on President Obama for his attacks on the Chamber of Commerce. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear that from her again and a larger message of rallying the troops to go and elect Republicans in November, Don.

LEMON: As we said, Democrats -- you said Democrats had a big day in California as well. The president is across the country. He's in Massachusetts.

But listen, yesterday as I was speaking to you there was another big name and I'm not talking about the first lady, because she's out there as well.

Former President Bill Clinton out speaking and for someone -- really who's sort of his rival, they didn't get along. He was out stomping for him.

YELLIN: Bygones were bygones last night. Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton shared a stage. It's something about a decade ago, two decades ago you would have never thought because they were the bitterest of rivals. They ran against each other in 1992 and it became a personal animus between the two of them.

But Jerry Brown is now running to be Democratic governor of this state. Bill Clinton is out to support Democrats and they stood on the same stage. They heaped praise on one another. It was seriously a love fest. It was sort of shocking.

And they even embraced. We were all looking for the body language. They hugged and the president gave Brown a rousing endorsement. Again, he's the one in that tight race with eBay CEO Meg Whitman who's put more than $19 million of her own money in this. President Clinton doing what he does, coming out to turn out the vote for Democrats.

LEMON: Well, it's policy as you said, bygones be bygones. Now, listen, Jessica, take it easy. I don't want you to start losing your voice like the president. We're going to give you a break here. We'll come back.

Jessica Yellin in Anaheim, California. Thanks, Jessica. We're going to continue to follow that story of course. Michael Steele, as she said, the sometimes controversial head of the RNC about to speak at that event in California and then Sarah Palin after that. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. There he is. The sometimes controversial head of the RNC, I think that is accurate to say nonetheless Michael Steele speaking now in Anaheim, California. Really just sort of doing the thank yous and introducing people.

But as you know, any time he speaks in front of a crowd that is cheering him on like this, he is going to say something that you will find interesting. I am sure. After Michael Steele speaks you're going to hear Sarah Palin. She's going to be speaking at that same rally. For those of you just joining us, this rally is called the victory 2010 sprint to the finish rally, out in California.

And it is Republicans gathering themselves and strategizing with just 17 days before the election. Michael Steele speaking. Let's listen in now.

MICHAEL STEELE, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: You helped inspire this moment. Thank you all, so much. God bless your efforts.

And so what we want to do to help a few brothers out and sisters in Congress, if you want to fire Nancy Pelosi, ladies and gentlemen -- and I know you do. But if you want to fire Nancy Pelosi, you must first hire Van Tran to the United States Congress.

Right now, my friends, we're at 38. We need to get to 39 to get that majority and Van is that person. He's that catalyst and so we need your energy. We need that passion that has been a part of this fight for so long.

The grassroots of our party, the grassroots nationally have been so important to helping us get ourselves back on our feet. To say no to deficit spending, no to more debt, no to government control of businesses, no to government control of our affairs. You have been the reason why we are here today, but you can't slow down. You can't stop.

It is going to take an enormous grassroots effort over the next 2-1/2 weeks to get the job done, right? Because that's what is going to be required. I want to thank Mayor Kurt Pringle and our local officials who are on the frontline. Where is the mayor?

There you are. Mayor, thank you so much for allowing us to play in your backyard today, but it is -- it is what we do at the local level. You know, we're grassroots, folks. We're all about the right here in front of us. We're about laying down that foundation and growing. Planting those seeds and growing.

And that's what this fight boils down to. If you're a faint of heart, if you're a little bit nervous about what you got to do over the next few weeks, we understand. Look around. There are a few folks here who want to help you buck up a little bit.

But you're going to have to walk out this hall and get to work. You're going to have to walk out this hall and get uncomfortable with yourselves. I'm tired of a Republican Party that is comfortable with talking to itself.

I want you, you want, we need a Republican Party, republican leadership that's going to go across this state where you're going to win by talking to people, engaging people, inviting them to our party, inviting them to be with us, inviting them to be a part of our leadership. That's how we win. This leadership, this leadership on this stage needs a Republican Party that understands not just the basic stuff, but is prepared to do the hard stuff and over the past year that's exactly what we've done. You know what's one of the hardest things to do in politics? Is to shut up and listen.

And we've watched, we've watched this administration and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid -- like James Brown said, talking loud and saying nothing. Where is -- where is the strategy to empower small business owners? Where is the strategy to allow our kids to afford school? Where is the strategy to strengthen our communities? Where is the strategy to defend our borders and protect our nation? Where is the strategy? Where is it?

I guess, it's sitting on somebody's table in Washington, D.C., but you -- or a teleprompter, but you all know where the strategy first started. It started at your kitchen table. It started over a year ago when a few of you got together and started talking about what it means to be an American, that you felt that those values were being stripped away slowly, but stripped away nonetheless.

That you thought it was important to begin to organize yourself, to say to one neighbor to another, it's time to bring our kind of change to the table and thus a Tea Party was formed. So let me -- let me clear up any confusion that may be out there that's being sewed by the other side.

There is no struggle, rift, fight, between those who claim the banner of the Tea Party and those who are in the Republican Party. We work together. We're working together. We're working together to defeat Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

We're working together to elect Van Tran, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman. We're working together as Americans, as Andrew said, as the song said, and as you feel it in your heart every day, we have not lost sense of who we are as a people, we have not lost sense of our responsibilities as a nation.

We understand that constitution says something. It grounds us. And this fight is about restoring that. We have a generation now that owes a debt to us. And that's unfortunate because we were given prosperity by the greatest generation. Now, what are we to do for the next generation?

LEMON: Michael Steele speaking in Anaheim, California, and giving a really rousing speech there. It's going to go on for a little bit here. We want to get a break in. You're not going to miss any of it. Sarah Palin is coming after him. We'll carry it all live here on CNN. Don't go away just seconds after break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now to the rally in California, the Republican rally in California and Michael Steele.

STEELE: Tells us when what have I done today to re-elect the men and women in Congress right who represent us so well, what have I done today to elect a new leadership just about to take us in a whole different direction, a better direction that's Van Tran.

What have I done today, what have I done today to restore the faith of the people of California in our party and our leadership and our principles. What effort have I made? Keep that card some place where you see it every day and ask yourself when you do, what have I done to make that headline come true?

Reason number one because when on November 3rd you wake up and see that headline, you're going to know you've had a hand in transforming this party, transforming the state, transforming this country. Folks, you are about to take us from just being the grand old party here in California to the great opportunity party here in America.

You are taking us to a whole other level and you see that. As a -- Reagan's always here, baby. Always right here, but the second reason and perhaps probably the most important for many of us is that whatever Chris Matthews feels running up his leg that day, we know it won't be good. We know it won't be good.

So think about how you're going to engage. Think about how you're going to engage. When you do, when you do, we will be successful as Ronald Reagan said when asked how the cold war would end. He said very quickly and very simply, we win, they lose.

Final point, final point, final point, on Wednesday, November 3rd, you'll look back and on Tuesday, November 2nd, you will do the very things that are going to be required for us to not just win an election, but most importantly, to have the people of California win and to have the Pelosi-Reid-Obama government lose and lose big.

Thank you very much, folks. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your hard work. Let's get in this fight and do it right. Thank you. Thank you.

LEMON: The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, giving a speech there. This is a rallying cry to get Republicans out to the polls to vote on November 2nd and he said that is your duty.

At the very beginning of this, he said he was tired of Republicans just sort of being complacent and sitting there and not going to the polls and not speaking their mind.

A very interesting moment where he talked about the Tea Party, he said there is no rift, no struggle, no fight between those in the Tea Party and Republicans that they all have the same mission.

Then he made a little joke saying that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid weren't listening to people. He said one of the first rules in politics is that you should listen instead of talk.

He said they were talking loud and saying nothing, referring to an old James Brown song, then made a little clip there about President Barack Obama and his teleprompter. Michael Steele finishing up his speech there rallying Republicans at this rally in Anaheim, California. It's called victory 2010, the sprint to the finish.

Up next, Sarah Palin is going to be speaking at this event as well and we're going to carry her speech live and you know when Michael Steele speaks, as I said to you before when I introduced him, it's always interesting.

He's going to take something that is probably a bit controversial. He's probably going to tick some people off and some people will love what he said and Sarah Palin as well no doubt.

And she will -- I think she'll probably make a reference to writing something on her hand and the teleprompter as well. Let's see, maybe we'll make a little ledger about that.

Standing by in that room is our national correspondent, Jessica Yellin. Jessica, what did he say? There we go. Stand by. Stand by.

There's Sarah Palin taking the stage now and that's what that thunderous applause is for in that room, in California again, as I said they're calling this the victory 2010 sprint to the finish.

So let's - let's hear Sarah Palin probably going to do some thank yous and then rally the troops so to speak in California. Let's listen in.

SARAH PALIN (R) FORMER VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Thank you so much. Thanks, Michael. It is so good to be here. Don't you love your freedom?

It is so good to be here. Like we're walking on sunshine, doesn't it? In here. Hey, there is no way I'm not going to love a state when you enter your borders and look at your flag and see emblazed on that a mama grizzly. At least I think it's a mama grizzly.

Great to be in the golden state where positive change is timing as Michael was saying positive change is just right around the corner. And California, do you have a clear choice this year and really, some of us on the outside, looks like it's a pretty simple choice that you have to make.

You can either vote for the status quo, the mask we're in, you can vote for more taxes, more government overreach, more regulations and more unemployment or you can vote for real change, positive change, for we the people. It can start here in California! Vote November 2nd.

Choices you have to put California in all of America back to work. It's really pretty simple. You've got some simple choices, California. I know you're going to make the right choices come November 2nd, because you've done it before.

Thanks to you and the golden state, you brought us our American hero, Ronald Reagan. You did it before. I wish he was around right about now. What this great country needs to get back on track is that Reagan common sense, those principles, those time-tested truths that he applied.

Reagan common sense solutions, lower taxes, smarter, smaller government, less overreach and intrusion, strong unapologetic national defense, remember? It was we win, you lose.

And the momentum is with us as Michael was explaining. The momentum is with us, but now the not the time to let up. Now is not the time to celebrate, not quite yet. We've got 17 days to go.

We can't be thinking that it's over yet and we've got it in the bag, you know, as Yogi you've have said it, it ain't over until it's over. We've got the leave the dancing to someone else for right about now, but soon - soon we'll all be dancing.

We'll be celebrating because California will be put back on the right track along with the rest of America.

Victory 2010 --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Now is when we kick it into gear. Now is when we have to dig deep. We have some great candidates. Up here and around the state, we have great candidates who are counting on you to show up and to cast those votes, to do all that you can, though, between now and November 2nd with the phone calls and precinct watch and the literature drops.

You've got to put in your 16, 18, 20-hour days. You have to exhaust yourself. It feels good. You're going to be able to know on November 3rd that you did all you can to restore our republic and renew America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: We've got to give it all that we've got because that ground game over the next two weeks will make the difference between winning and losing, saving our republic as we know it and our Constitution has intended it, with quality and opportunity for all and respect for life and liberty. We're talking about life and death decisions that are going to be made based on those who are elected come November 2nd.

Winning means that we secure our nation, we secure our free markets, we secure our freedom and we restore American exceptionalism.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: So, let me ask you: are you ready to fight for your freedom?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Are you ready to take it back from an out of control, really out of sync with American way of thinking Congress? Are you ready to take it back from them, put it on the side of the people?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) PALIN: Well, here's a question for you. What do you think that we should do with a Nancy Pelosi, a Congress that --

(BOOS)

PALIN: What should we do with these folks who spend more than $7 trillion just in the past two years, incurring enormous, unsustainable, immoral debt?

And they did all that and yet they couldn't even muster, you know, the effort, I guess, to pass a budget. They couldn't lift a finger to stop the biggest tax increase in U.S. history that's going to slam us to the max come January 1 -- this tax increase that's going to force so many of our small businesses to tap out. You know, they were able to accomplish that, and these politicians who are going to be working for you, you're their employers, what do you do with employees like that? You fire 'em.

(CHEERS)

PALIN: You fire Pelosi, retire Reid and their whole band of merry followers and we get back on the right track -- now!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: What do you think that we should do with the Congress that shoved European-style health care down our throats and takes over private industry --

(BOOS)

PALIN: -- and shoves aside the mom and pop small business interests in America and ultimately erodes the American entrepreneurial spirit and their work ethic that we try to teach our children? They do all that and yet they can't answer the question, where are all the jobs? What do you do? You fire 'em and it's nothing personal. You just replace them with those who will do the job, right?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Well, if you help the common sense conservative candidates across California and across our 49 states, then in a couple of week from now, we will -- we will have taken the gavel away from Nancy and we will get on the right track.

Now, I'm here in California and we're traveling across the country to help the RNC and help the GOP because this election is so important. You wouldn't be here today if you didn't know, too, that America is at a turning point. We're at a tipping point.

People know something has gone terribly wrong with our government and it has gotten so far off track. But people also know that there is nothing wrong in America that a good old fashioned election can't fix.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) PALIN: Now, the thing I always love best about California's Reagan -- oh, and for the press, yes, I shall be invoking Reagan's name again and again and again.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: You won't be hearing me invoking or prodding Alinsky or Mao. We're kind of a Reagan kind of crowd around here.

The thing I loved best about Ronald Reagan, he didn't waste time always looking backwards and pointing fingers and placing blame. No, he was rock solid and he was optimistic and he was unwavering in his acknowledgment of the strength and the goodness of the American people. He understood --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: -- the power of the individual and that government is not the answer. He understood this country because he believed in us. He believed in us, the little guy, and he said that with all due respect. The little guy, just unpretentious, hard-working, patriotic, pro- family, freedom-loving, little fast, job-creating little guys, that's who Reagan could relate to.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Freedom-loving little guys, so how about we make November 2nd freedom day and we take it back for the little guy?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Because you know, when we don't ask for much, we ask for a good job in our hometown so that we can secure ourselves and secure our families. We ask for a fiscally and a physically secure union and we ask for an honest government that is on our side and won't be riding our back. We ask for leaders with servant's hearts and ears to hear what the people are asking them to do for us.

And we're not asking for much from them. We're asking for leaders who won't mortgage our kids' future with trillions more in debt and leaders who understand that raising federal taxes in a time of economic woe is a recipe for disaster. It's a recipe for bankruptcy of our country, ultimately, causing the people to rely on a centralized government, a big government, to provide for them.

(BOOS)

PALIN: Wait a minute though. Perhaps some of our current leaders do understand that one and they're doing it to you any way. We asked for leaders who will recognize our foundation that America is -- the idea of America is being the most generous country on earth. The most prosperous country, the most safest country and that we, united under God, we are an exceptional country and that is nothing to apologize for.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) PALIN: Our America, we do not seek its fundamental transformation. We see its restoration all that is good and strong and free in America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: There is no alternative and it's nothing to apologize for. When we've got a president today who's getting pretty good at apologizing, but see, he's apologizing to all the wrong people.

So, Mr. President, with all due respect, next time that urge to apologize weighs on over you, I have suggestions for who to apologize to. How about apologizing to the 15 million Americans who are looking for work today?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Or saying, sorry, whoops, after the 3 million jobs were lost after your forced through stimulus package came through the pipe. Remember the trillion dollar stimulus package that we were promised that had to go through, we were promise unemployment would not rise above 8 percent if it were passed, with all those shovel-ready projects, remember? Yes.

Actually, just apologize for the stimulus itself and make a joint apology, you know, because you don't want to leave out Harry, and Nancy and Barbara and all the others who are part of that lemon of the spending boondoggle -- the biggest boondoggle in U.S. history.

Really, folks, what did taxpayers get with that trillion bucks, besides more debt?

Here's a couple of example, right here in Cali, here's a couple of things you got -- Los Angeles got their $111 million from the stimulus package to create jobs and it managed to eke out 55 jobs out of the that $111 million. That's $2 million per job. Speaking of $2 million, that's how much of stimulus money was given to the California Academy of Sciences to -- capture, photograph, and study ants in East Africa.

I'm not kidding, but it gets better. The lead investigator justified that project by saying everyone has run into ants, he said. And now, we need to listen to them.

So, let me get this straight. The left has been bragging for months about those expenditures and all of those shovel-ready projects that they were funding. And now, we know all along that what they were shoveling was not asphalt.

(CHEERS)

PALIN: We can't get the folks in Washington to listen to us, but they'll waste millions of your dollars and China's dollars on studying and hearing from the ants in East Africa. But, prior -- oh, the priorities of politicians. How about, speaking of California, the priority of Barbara Boxer chairing the committee that has control over -- she'll be able to turn on the water just up the road in the Central Valley --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: -- to save those family farms and to save those crops that have fed our nation for generations, and yet, instead, she'd rather protect a two-inch fish, that little sickle back thing. Now, where I come from, we call it -- two-inch fist, we call that bait.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: And the people are more important than the bait.

Oh, our priorities.

Well, how about reprioritizing? Here are a couple of ways to get us back on track.

When we talk about spending, first, before we spend anymore of the people's money, let's adopt a test that every one of President Reagan's actions had to pass. He always asked: Will it serve to liberate? Will it empower the individual? Will it encourage us to reach for the stars or will it weaken us and drag us down into submission? Still a pretty good bar to set 28 years later, eh?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: Second suggestion -- nobody tells Barack Obama what number comes after a trillion. OK? Heading in that direction.

No, really, we are not asking for too much. The American people want a government that stands up for the little guy and not fear union bosses and not kowtow to radical, special interest. We want a competent government that knows overreaching, overregulation strangles our small businesses and the Fed's over-taxation is killing jobs and killing the American Dream because they're forcing outsourcing of jobs and opportunities to other countries. It's their policies that are doing this.

We want common sense health care reform. Not a wholesale government takeover with what was the best health care system in the entire world and we're going to see that eroded.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: And we just want a government that understands this isn't all free money -- somewhere, somehow, every tax dollar that they spend comes from our pockets. Some hardworking American somewhere is producing something for a politician to be able to take and spend according to their priorities.

That's not now America was built. That is not how our private sector will be able to grow and thrive and prosper and get the economy roaring back to life. You'd be -- you should be able to keep more of what it is that you earn and produce so you can hire more people and grow this economy. It's really quite simple.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN: None of them for a second can be a new day, a new way forward for America. Seventeen days from now, if we make this the biggest effort, the biggest turn out, the biggest GOP victory effort in our history, we're going to take back America for the people, for the unemployed, for the overtaxed, for the overregulated.

See, there are no second chances in elections and come November 3rd, I want to be able to wake up and say, yes, I, all of us, we did all that we could to put America back on the right track, to put government back on the right side. I want to be able to look in the mirror and say, yes, I did everything that I could to stop the liberals' big government, big spending, big tax, pessimistic agenda.

Now, I know that some of you have already done, most of you have already done so much and you've been tenacious in this fight and you've been relentless and you have been working so hard in making great sacrifices -- but we need more in these last couple of weeks. We need independents. We need the GOP. We need Reagan Democrats.

We need all to be able to stand up, together, united, all across America, stepping up to the plate -- again, digging deep, walking those precincts, making those calls, making those contributions, stuffing the envelopes, getting out the votes, get behind victory 2010.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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