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JOHN KING, USA

President Obama Signs Jobs Bill; Interview With Arlen Specter; Olbermann Suing Over Breach of Contract; Outrageous Videos: 'American Idle' at Gov't Agency; Airline Creates Child-Free Zone; The Art of the Photo-Op

Aired April 5, 2012 - 18:00   ET

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


GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us. I'm Gloria Borger. John King is off tonight.

Find out what brought President Obama and one his top political adversaries together this afternoon.

We also have a new take on "American Idol," an explosive new video that shows how some government workers idle away their time.

And should this idea be allowed to fly? A major airline is creating a special seating area where, get this, children are not allowed.

And we start with this year's biggest issue, and that is of course jobs. U.S. businesses added 209,000 jobs in March. Unemployment claims are starting to slow down. And the all-important unemployment rate comes out tomorrow.

On top of that, the president just signed a new law making it easier for small businesses to raise money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of this bill, startups and small business will now have access to a big new pool of potential investors, namely the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: We also saw something really unusual at today's bill signing. The man right over the president's shoulder, and he's circled there in red, is Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Normally, these two don't see eye to eye on anything.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, was there witnessing this unusual event, an alliance between Eric Cantor and the president.

Jessica, tell us why are these two men finally working together?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Because they want to show that Washington can get something done.

You know, Gloria despite all the acrimony here, both parties suffer because of the gridlock in Washington. The Republican brand, the unfavorable rating for Republicans has gone up 10 points over the last year. The president was elected promising to get the parties to work together.

So both sides have a motivation to show that when it comes to the top issue, getting jobs, getting Americans back to work, they can cut some deals and that's what today's bill signing ceremony was about, Gloria.

BORGER: So, Jess, this helps some small businesses raise some capital, which is important, but there are some Democrats who have been complaining that there aren't enough investor protections in this measure. So do they have a point?

YELLIN: They do.

There are some protections still in the measure, but it is not just partisans who are complaining, Gloria. Even the head of the SEC has warned that pieces of this bill could lead to abuse.

Some of the reasons why, there are elements of this bill that mean companies do not have to get outside independent audits before they go public with their new investors in a timely way. There is a piece that says that they don't have to offer conflict-free research to investors before encouraging them to invest in the companies. And sometimes they don't even have to disclose their financials altogether in a timely way.

The president said, look, we are going to make sure that regulators oversee these companies to make sure investors are safe. But a lot of people are taking a wait and see approach to this one. There is some concern, Gloria.

BORGER: Thanks a lot, Jess. And that way, the president gets to keep the SEC funded as a watchdog. Thanks a lot.

YELLIN: Yes, exactly.

BORGER: There also are new developments today in what started out as a legal fight and turned into an increasingly bitter political battle involving President Barack Obama. Many conservatives took some of the president's comments this week as an attack on the judicial system.

As CNN's Kate Bolduan reports, Justice Department had to do some explaining today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three pages, single spaced, that was the unusual order by a federal circuit court. Attorney General Eric Holder personally responded, saying nothing has changed. "The power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute."

President Obama's top law enforcement official saying, of course, the administration believes the courts have the power to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional, a long-accepted pillar of constitutional law. Still, this seemingly academic exercise is at the center of a testy political dispute over the Supreme Court's review of the health care law.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm just saying there's a lot of -- it's kind of ridiculous to believe that the president wasn't talking about the context of the case.

BOLDUAN: The White House remains on the defensive, with many Republicans happy to continue the fight.

Senator Mitch McConnell Thursday telling the president to "back off." All of this stems from these comments by the president Monday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.

BOLDUAN: Remarks some interpreted as challenging the court's authority, and fueling the flames federal Judge Jerry Smith Tuesday demanded an explanation. The attorney general in his letter defends the president, saying his remarks were fully consistent with the principles of judicial review, though don't expect this to mark the end of the controversy.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: He's making it clear to the court that the position of the president of the United States and the executive branch is that the courts basically should keep their nose out of the shaping of economic policy, except in the most dire of circumstances. So I think there's still quite a bit of tension now between the executive and judicial branches of the government. And this is rare.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: While passions clearly remain very high, it is all political talk as really the reality is the final word here is going to come from one place and one place only, the Supreme Court. You know that, Gloria. This public spat, while getting a lot of attention and very interesting, and an interesting debate, albeit, it is not likely to have any real impact on the justices and their final decision on their review of the health care case.

We will get that in June.

BORGER: Right. You can be sure though it will be at the center of the presidential election, no matter what the courts decide.

BOLDUAN: Oh, yes, the politics and judiciary, two different but very important debates.

BORGER: Right. Exactly. Thanks so much, Kate.

The fight to allow women to join the all-male Augusta National Golf Club turned political today. What a surprise. Listen as White House spokesman Jay Carney weighs in on the push to allow the CEO of IBM who happens to be a woman to wear the green jacket.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's answer to this question is, yes. He believes, his personal opinion is that women should be admitted. I happened to have a discussion with him about this. So I know that that's his answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: Things got pretty interesting after that, some more comments from some more politicians.

Here is senior politician Joe Johns.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: The candidates are having a ball with this. Forgive the pun. Yes.

Let's start with Mitt Romney.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And women are teed off.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNS: Oh, gosh. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were a member and if I could run Augusta, which isn't likely to happen, but of course I would have women in Augusta. Sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Even Newt Gingrich, whose political career is rooted in Georgia, has gotten into the act, along with his wife, Callista. The former speaker tweeted, "I think Callista would be a great member of Augusta. Maybe she would let me come and play."

The speaker has pretty much admitted in public that he's not a very good golfer. And then Callista Gingrich tweeted herself, "I'm a golfer and I would love to belong to Augusta."

And so I have also reached out to the Santorum campaign, but so far, nothing from them just yet.

BORGER: Let me make a prediction here, that Rick Santorum will also be for women to be admitted to Augusta. I'm going out on a limb here.

JOHNS: Absolutely. Right. It doesn't take a political scientist to figure this one out.

BORGER: Let me tell you why. Of course, you already know. But there is a new poll out, a Gallup/"USA Today" poll, which polled independent women in 12 swing states.

If you take a look at these numbers, you see President Obama 51 percent, Mitt Romney 37 percent. Republicans need to get their numbers up there with women.

JOHNS: It's a big gender gap, big gender gap. I was out in Wisconsin with Mitt Romney earlier this week. I asked him about that gender gap.

He essentially said, look, I want everybody's votes, I want women's votes, I want men's votes. But the fact of the matter is, that is not really that good of an answer when you consider the population problem here. He has obvious decided to get in the game, if you will, on this and out front by talking about it...

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: All right, no more puns.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: We're going to stop those puns. Thanks a lot, Joe Johns.

JOHNS: You bet.

BORGER: And still ahead, outrageous videos of U.S. government workers joking about being untouchable big spenders.

Plus, a former Senate colleague has some blunt advice for Rick Santorum.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: Pennsylvania is the next high-stakes test for the Republican presidential candidates. It's Rick Santorum's home state, but the latest polls show that Mitt Romney is within striking distance.

Campaigning in Pennsylvania today, Romney promised he can beat President Obama there this fall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I am going to win Pennsylvania in November. And the reason that's going to happen, by the way, is the people of Pennsylvania have taken a good look at conservative leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: Now, someone who knows Pennsylvania very well is former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Thanks for being with us today, Senator.

Before we get to next November, let's talk about 2.5 weeks or so from now, April 24, Pennsylvania primary.

I want you to listen to what Rick Santorum said yesterday about winning in Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to win here. And we plan on winning here. As I said last night, the people in Pennsylvania know me. All of the negative attacks are, I think, going to fall on a lot of deaf ears here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: So, Senator, is he going to win in Pennsylvania? Is he going to beat Mitt Romney?

ARLEN SPECTER, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: No.

BORGER: Definitively.

(LAUGHTER)

SPECTER: Listen, this campaign is over for the nomination. Santorum is looking for 2016, or he may want to write a book or he may want to sign on to a speakers bureau. There is nothing left of his candidacy.

BORGER: So you are saying he should just hang it up?

SPECTER: I am not going to tell him what to do, but he is beating a dead horse, in my opinion.

BORGER: Well, you have run for the presidency. It was short-lived, I will admit. But after you have been running for as long as Rick Santorum has, it is just not easy to sort of take all your chips and say, OK, I'm going to go home.

SPECTER: When I ran for the presidency, Gloria, it was a well-kept secret.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: I remember.

(CROSSTALK)

SPECTER: There is a time not to run anymore.

And there is no point in Santorum's continuing to run here in Pennsylvania for the nomination now. He is doing it for some other reason, 2016, 2020, books, speeches, whatever, but not for this nomination. It is over. BORGER: Well, let's go to November then, because you just heard Mitt Romney say that he is going to win your home state of Pennsylvania in November.

Now, you were Republican. You are now a Democrat, but you know the state. Tell us, can Mitt Romney win in Pennsylvania?

SPECTER: Well, it all depends on which Mitt Romney. They are going to reset his campaign.

I think Bill Maher has Mitt Romney right when he said that Romney has taken more positions than a pornographic movie queen. Of course, I'm not happy with President Obama's Afghanistan policy or continuing the tax cuts for the wealthy or disregarding the commission he established on the deficit and debt reduction.

So it will be a contest. But I'm no longer Senator Arlen Specter. I'm citizen Arlen Specter. And I'm going to take a look at both nominees and keep my powder dry, make a decision informed at that time.

BORGER: Well, Senator Arlen Specter, or should I say citizen Arlen Specter, thanks a lot for being with us today.

SPECTER: Ah, that's better. That's better. Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: Thanks.

And your favorite chicken recipe may have an ingredient you don't want, arsenic. We will tell you more in a little bit.

But, next, do you know who this man is? Stay with us, and we will tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BORGER: And a newly surfaced video sparks fresh outrage over a lavish Vegas conference that was paid for with your taxpayer dollars.

Plus, an airline creates a child-free zone and stirs up some controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guess what, Gloria? You are unlikely to wake up in the middle of the night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: I'm Gloria Borger. In this half-hour of "JOHN KING, USA": new worries about what the chicken that is on your dinner table had to eat before you bought it and ate it, things like caffeine, Tylenol and even arsenic.

We will also discuss what happened at today's meeting between conservative leaders and presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

And a major airline is creating child-free zones. Would you pay to sit there?

OK. So if you are sitting down to a nice chicken dinner right now, sorry, that bird may have been fed arsenic, Benadryl, caffeine and more.

That's according to two new studies. Researchers say there is no immediate health concern, but chicken farmers are fighting back.

Here is Mary Snow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two recent studies raise questions about what may be in chicken. The findings surprised the Johns Hopkins assistant professor who worked on both studies -- studies that were brought to light by "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof.

The goal was to look for antibiotics in poultry, which are used for growth. But they tested for other chemicals, too.

KEEVE NACHMAN, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR LIVABLE FUTURE: It was pure surprise. We -- we -- they were included as part of the -- the chemical panel that we used to test for antibiotics, which we did expect to find. And it was -- it was quite shocking to us.

SNOW: Keeve Nachman says in addition to finding four antibiotics banned more than five years ago, he also found the active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, caffeine and even arsenic.

He says he's heard from farmers' anecdotes that some over-the-counter medications are given to animals so they won't have tense muscles which can lead to tougher meat, but he says there's no evidence of an immediate danger to people eating chicken because he didn't study chicken meat. He studied feather meal. Feather meal is a byproduct used as a supplement to feed animals.

NACHMAN: We didn't look directly at chicken meat so we can only make inferences as to what we think might be in the meat based on what we found in the feathers and what it says to me is we really need to do a more thorough investigation of what drug residues are left behind in chicken meat as a result of what we choose to feed animals.

SNOW: The National Chicken Council is shooting down the studies saying "as the study's authors point out this study only looked at feathers, not meat." The group adds "Chickens in the U.S. produced for meat are not given arsenic as an additive in chicken feed or any of the other compounds mentioned in this study." A product that contained organic arsenic was removed from the market last year. A veterinarian who works closely with the poultry industry also says inorganic arsenic is a common heavy metal found in soil and plants.

CHARLES HOFACRE, DEPARTMENT OF AVIAN MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: Most of the poultry seed is either corn, 75 percent corn with a 10 or 15 percent soybean meal, there is a possibility there could be some low levels of inorganic arsenic in the corn and soybean they eat.

SNOW: Keeve Nachman says while there may not be an immediate danger, more research is needed.

NACHMAN: It only tells us that it would be worth looking in meat because some of the residues may also be there, but we can't say with certainty that they are.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, a spokeswoman for the FDA tells us tonight that the agency hasn't had enough time to review the studies in depth and that the use of antibiotics mentioned in the study have been prohibited in poultry since 2004 -- Gloria.

BORGER: So, Mary, I think a lot of viewers may be confused by this, because, of course, the obvious question is -- and so I will ask it -- is chicken safe to eat?

SNOW: Right. You know, in short, what we are hearing from a lot of experts is yes.

And you even heard the person behind the study saying there is no immediate danger. But still, the underlying message is, what exactly is in meat? And that is what researchers are saying, really needs to be looked at much more closely and also made more public.

BORGER: Thanks a lot, Mary.

And now, we've got breaking news about former Current TV host, Keith Olbermann. He's suing his old network for breach of contract.

CNN national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, just got her hands on the documents. So Susan, what's in them?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a 40-page document right here. As you said, breach of contract. And in it, Keith Olbermann is asking the judge in California for a jury trial. Whether he'll get it is another question.

But he is citing a litany of complaints against Current TV, run, of course, by former vice president, Al Gore, saying that there was breach of contract involved, a lack of editorial control that had been promised to him. He said there was increasingly erratic and -- actions on the part of the people who run the place, according to him. That they had promised him to put up a Web site and failed to do so.

And we talked about significant technical issues that were very hard for him to deal with and overcome. For example -- and you've heard him complain about this publicly on David Letterman's show earlier this week. The lights going off in the middle of a live broadcast. Talking about lost video feeds and teleprompter not working, freezing up.

He said at one point, a member of management told him, quote, "We're paying for a Porsche, referring to the technical facilities there, "and getting a Yugo."

He said that he had been promised editorial control of the primary coverage, and they didn't deliver.

So he called management at one point, quote, "No more than dilettantes portraying entertainment -- or entertainers, rather.

So we have not yet had a statement from or reaction from Current TV, Gloria. We asked them for it. They said they're currently working on it.

And until then, we can tell you or remind you of what Current TV said just last week when Keith Olbermann was fired on Friday, when they said at the time that Current was founded on values of respect and openness. And they said that "those values are no longer reflected in our relationship," according to its statement, "with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it."

BORGER: Now Susan, he says he wants a jury trial. I would have to think that would be pretty odd to get one in what seems to be a case between management and talent here.

CANDIOTTI: He wants to keep this public.

BORGER: Well, sure. It's at the very beginning stages. There are so many options in this civil trial that they'll have to go through before he gets to that point. Certainly, there will be motions flying left and right to throw this out, to perhaps have a ruling from the bench on this, before eventually he might get what he's after, which would be a jury trial.

Wouldn't it be an interesting trial? Certainly, very colorful figures on both sides.

CANDIOTTI: Yes. Sure would be interesting.

BORGER: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much for that.

And we have some new pictures that are sure to anger the Obama administration and make a scandal that came to light this week even more embarrassing.

Let's go to CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, tell us about this video.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really remarkable. We -- you mentioned this in the lead-in there. We started the week with the GSA administrator. Martha Johnson resigning after a scathing report detailed excess spending at a training seminar at a lavish Las Vegas report back in 2010.

Now we have something you really have to see to believe. It turns out at that conference, which by the way, costs taxpayers, you and me, $822,000, the GSA picked the winner of a video contest, an employee from a regional office in Hawaii. He won, and I wanted to take a look at the video that he submitted. He actually makes fun of excess spending at the GSA and says he would never be under investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fifteen guns (ph). I'd buy everything your field office can't afford. If the GS-5 get a Top Hat award. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my vacation. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I'd never be under OIG investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the other thing you heard in that rap there is saying that every GS-5 would get a Top Hat award. Now, a GS-5 is an entry level government employee. And the Top Hat award, we learned today, is something that the GSA had. The program that they had that gave $200,000 worth of tax-funded iPods, electronics and gift cards out.

Meanwhile, the GSA held an awards ceremony, again, for that video, in Las Vegas at that conference. And what you are about to see is the deputy commissioner of a public building service for the federal government giving out the award for that video in which he appears to mock oversight of the GSA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, there's just a couple of small matters. The hotel would like to talk to you about paying for the party that was held in the Commissioner's Suite last night. You need to take care of that.

And Eleanor Holmes Norton, our chairwoman on the oversight committee, called. She has a couple of questions about the proposed pay increases for executives you mentioned outside. This is going against the Obama administration's discussion about executive pay and incentive. So...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, we got this video from Capitol Hill today. I'm told that the House oversight chairman, Darrell Issa's office got it on a disc from the GSA inspector general. That's part of the House investigations, all of this excess spending. And then, of course, they released it to the public.

And I just want to read a response from the GSA. They said, "This video is another example of the complete lack of judgment exhibited at that conference." They also went on -- we're also learning that there could be more videos like this that are going to be released. It will be evidence. This could be the beginning of the embarrassment. Our Deidre Walsh, our congressional producer, learned from a congressional source familiar with the investigation of the DSA that the agency actually had an internal Web site that had video clips like this and probably others about the conference in Las Vegas. That Web site isn't up anymore, so the House Transportation Committee, which is investigating, they're demanding more information about it.

The other thing that Deidre Walsh learned is that the committee had requested information about the GSA budget earlier this year. And that's when they noticed other federal budgets were going down. The GSA was going up, and they got suspicious.

We know that the inspector general staff actually briefed congressional investigators just yesterday. A source familiar with that briefing tells us they were, quote, "pretty astonished" at the blatant misuse of funds.

We're getting indications, again, that this is the beginning of how bad and embarrassing it continued to be. This is exactly why people are mad at Washington.

BORGER: Right. And it's exactly what the president did not want to see on his watch, right?

BASH: That's for sure.

BORGER: Thanks.

If you're one of those flyers who plugs your ears when you sit near a crying baby or if you get annoyed when your seat gets kicked by a kid who's throwing a temper tantrum, you might want to book your next flight on Malaysia Airlines. It's creating a child-free zone on its huge super jumboAirbus A-380. And that means no kids under 13 on the upper deck.

And our Richard Quest couldn't be happier about this.

Richard, I want to read some things you tweeted: "At last! A child- free zone. Families downstairs." And "OK. Some of you may think I'm being grumpy, but I am tired of entire biz class woken up because of a screaming toddler."

BORGER: OK, Richard, full disclosure here. You're dealing with a mom of two boys who are grown. But I think that lots of grown-ups can be as obnoxious as traveling children. So can you figure out a way to ban them, too?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You see, you have missed the point. You have missed the point...

BORGER: No!

QUEST: ... and chosen to -- yes, chosen throw up the smoke screen that you all -- people always do. This is not about how obnoxious, smelly, obese, disruptive, unpleasant other adult passengers can be. Of course, they can be.

What this is about is really very modest and very modern. I'm not a screaming lunatic. It's simple: creating an environment where people who have paid a great deal of money for a good night's sleep crossing the Pacific or the Atlantic actually get what they pay for.

Because guess what, Gloria? You are unlikely to wake up in the middle of the night and go "Waaaah!" Maybe but unlikely.

BORGER: So here's the thing, Richard. You might have me on the first class argument. OK? So if you're buying a first-class seat, maybe there ought to be a quiet car for first class.

But what Malaysia Airlines is doing is saying that, even in a certain section of economy, you can't have children. So maybe the people who have children should get a discount, because they're even being banned from some economy seats.

QUEST: No, no, no. Good try. Good try. Get back into economy.

BORGER: Do you have children? Wait a minute.

QUEST: No, no. What is amazing, actually -- I'll come to your answer. What is amazing is the number of frequent flyers who have children who agree with my position.

But listen, what Malaysia is basically saying is this. The upper deck is a kids-free zone. Now if downstairs is full and they need to put children in the upper deck, they will do so. But the general principle is business class is at the front of the upper deck. And many, many companies require employees, even on long flights, after all for economic reasons, to travel economy.

So they're saying not so much the upper deck is kids-free, which is wonderfully a motive. And I can hear you sticking the needle in and trying to get (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They're saying the upper deck is a business segment.

BORGER: OK, so what about this solution? Because, you know, I'm trying to think of a way to come up with a solution here.

As a parent who has traveled with kids who have been sick and who have coughed all night and who have cried, I'm more worried about the other people sitting around me, I think, because I don't want to disturb them. So what if you had a car just for kids, and you had a couple of nannies on it? You let the parents sit wherever they want and we can go back and look at our children once in a while and maybe pay a little extra for that. What about that idea?

QUEST: Brilliant -- brilliant idea. And one airline, Gulf, does have something called the sky nanny, which is designed specifically to help parents with children.

This is not about me being some miserable old man who doesn't like children. This is just about wanting to get what you pay for. If your company has paid thousands for you to get a good night's sleep, you should get it.

Now, what I really -- what really enrages me -- I don't blame the kid one little bit. What will send steam out the ears -- and it's happened to me, steam! -- are those parents who are oblivious to the child's noise. Oblivious.

BORGER: I'm with you. OK.

QUEST: And finally...

BORGER: I'm with you.

QUEST: ... when they're using -- when they're using their frequent flyer miles, anything is fair game. Bum the kids in business class. Fill up the cabin with noise. But if they were -- if they were paying for a ticket, they'd be the first one sitting there like that.

BORGER: So on this much, we can agree. Ban obnoxious fliers and ban oblivious parents. Right? OK.

QUEST: We agree.

BORGER: Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot, Richard Quest.

And coming up, a closed-door Rick Santorum meeting with conservative leaders. And Mitt Romney makes a November prediction. Will his Keystone State wish come true in the fall?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: Well, it's just another day on the campaign trail. Mitt Romney had a full lunch today at Cracker Barrel: meatloaf with mac and cheese, carrots, green beans and for dessert, a peanut butter moon pie. This time, he didn't take the media with him, but the photo op is a presidential campaign trail staple (ph).

Look at this. Here's Rick Santorum bowling a few frames last weekend in Wisconsin. Didn't help him much.

Look at then-senator Barack Obama showing off his form in 2008. And here's senator Hillary Clinton in Indiana -- remember this? -- taking shots while campaigning against now President Obama.

And in October 2004, here was Senator John Kerry, giving cameras a thumb's up after hunting geese in Ohio.

Here with me to discuss the fine art of campaigning and the state of the race, former Bush speechwriter and CNN contributor David Frum, and Obama campaign pollster Cornell Belcher. Thanks to both of you for being here.

Let me start with you, David. Why do they do this? Does it work? They want to be a man or a woman of the people? DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They want to be human. They are -- they are so removed. The life of the politician is so different than that of anybody else. It's often tragically so.

They want to make a connection. They're just looking for that moment to say, "I care about you. You can identify with me." I remember...

BORGER: "I'm going to go hunt some geese." OK.

FRUM: I remember a great movie actress once saying, people don't go to the movies to see the actor or the actress. They go to the movies to see themselves. And something is true about politics, as well.

BORGER: But you know, we want them to be above us somehow but also to be like us. And it's hard.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, it's about relating. You want to see them in those acts so that -- that they can relate to you. At the same time -- so in an office when a decision comes up where there's an issue at stake, most Americans don't study all those issues that we talk about. However, they think, "If that person shares my values, they see the world the way I see it, they do the things that I do, I can trust them."

BORGER: Is that why we see Mitt Romney campaigning in blue jeans? I have to ask this question. Because I can't remember a presidential candidate who spent as much time in blue jeans as Mitt Romney.

FRUM: Yes. Look, Mitt Romney is a very rich man who's the son of a very -- son of a governor and an auto executive. So he's had an experience kind of remote for most people.

BORGER: Right.

FRUM: And Mitt Romney is never able to say, "Hey, look, my father was very rich and influential and yet, despite that handicap, I turned out to be not completely messed up."

BORGER: "So I'm wearing blue jeans." OK. I'm wearing -- I just always say what would it be like if a woman wore blue jeans campaigning? But that's another discussion. Let's move on to -- let's move on to the rest of the race.

And today, Mitt Romney made a pretty big prediction. Listen to what he said today in Harrisburg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I need your help, you guys. As you know, I want to win Pennsylvania in November. I'm going to win Pennsylvania in November.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: Now, is he going to win Pennsylvania in November? I know you're going to say no. Right? But well, it's going to be close. BELCHER: Look, I think Democrats can't see anything for granted. I think you see some of the polling numbers that come out, your CNN poll shows the president's lead nationally sort of increasing.

The problem is, though, when he was a nominee or if he becomes a nominee, which is another question, it's going to be -- it's going to be -- it's going to be a jump-up. However -- toss ball. However, right now typically as a challenger, if you -- if you look at where -- where Kerry was over Bush and where Dole was over -- over Clinton in this -- in this period, you typically want the challenger to be leading and to be ahead.

The problem is, he's not. His favorables are now under war. So it becomes really problematic.

BORGER: Well, it is going to be a key battleground, though, and we...

FRUM: I'm very -- I'm very excited to hear Mitt Romney say that, because winning Pennsylvania, doing well in the northeast, implies a whole set of decisions and choices that I think would be welcome across the country.

And Pennsylvania is a state Republicans have not won in a long time, but it's always within reach. And if they focus more on states like Pennsylvania, like California, too -- California may be a little harder to reach -- but that would push the Republican Party toward being a truly national party, not a regional party plus.

BELCHER: This is hilarious because, you know, a couple years back, this was the same conversation that Governor Dean was having with the Democratic Party, being a national party, not a regional party.

BORGER: Exactly. Exactly. Well, let's move to Rick Santorum. Lots of Republicans wanted him out of this race. Today his -- he met with conservatives trying to sort of get them jammed up to say, stay with me.

His campaign also put out a memo saying that the race is a lot closer than we think it's going to be. And let me read this to you. The memo says, "This race is much closer than the media and establishment Republicans would like to report, and there -- and events such Texas are dramatically changing the future landscape in a manner that is positive to Rick Santorum and negative for Mitt Romney."

You know, they say it's wide open. Maybe Texas will change its rules. Very quickly.

FRUM: One of the things that has been damaging to Mitt Romney is outreach, because he's been telling reporters things that turn out not to be right. They turn out not to be right about the delegate count. That's not the thing that one professional should be misleading to another professional about, because it just damages your ability to have faith in the future.

BORGER: So it hurts him in 2016, do you think? The longer...?

FRUM: Next weekend.

BELCHER: Well, the long -- as long as it continues. I mean, unlike we saw in '08, this primary has not brought in new people, has not energized new people, and his numbers keep going down. So it's a problem for him.

BORGER: And very quickly, we were talking about Augusta getting women. I just want to read to you something.

Rick Santorum got into the act and said, "I encourage Augusta to accept women members, but I recognize their right as a private organization to decide for themselves." So...

BELCHER: I encourage Augusta to make me a member.

BORGER: OK.

FRUM: I think nobody should play golf. Just stop it.

BORGER: I'll be -- I'll be your test case (ph).

FRUM: Knock it off. It's boring.

BORGER: Don't tell my husband.

OK, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is coming up at the top of the hour.

Erin, the world is watching Iran's nuclear program. Talks are supposed to start one week from tonight, so what are we expecting here?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Supposed to start, Gloria, but we're calling this a game of nuclear chicken.

This is really significant. Whether these talks happen and where they happen could really determine whether the world ends up going down a path that ends in a military strike. This is a crucial issue. We're going to get to the bottom of some of the key rhetorical battles -- battles going on today.

Prime minister of Turkey steps in, Gloria, this afternoon and said that Iran is losing its international prestige and not using the language of diplomacy. There are some tough words. We're going to get to the bottom of that.

Plus the Viktor Bout trial. Back touch you.

BORGER: All right. Thanks a lot, Erin.

And how do you think an empty Japanese ship that floated all the way to Alaska? The Coast Guard has an idea. Ready, aim, fire.

Plus, what the world will look like through the new Google glasses. And one parody that's proved not everyone's dying to try them on for size.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: And welcome back. Here's Kate Bolduan with the latest news you need to know right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello again, Gloria. Thank you.

Good evening again, everyone. Headlines to catch you up on here.

A sliver of hope in Syria today. The government says it's pulling troops out of three cities hit hard by the regime crackdown. U.S. envoy Kofi Annan says the conflict must end one week from today, April 12, 6 a.m. local time.

But it's one step forward, it seems, and one step back. Activists say at least 60 people were killed in deadly fights today alone.

Other headlines. The author of "Three Cups of Tea" -- you probably remember this -- has agreed to pay repay more than a million dollars to a charity he founded. Greg Mortenson has been under investigation for over a year for financial mismanagement of the Central Asia Institute. You may remember, Mortenson is accused of exaggerating key parts of his best-selling book about his quest to improve education in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And the maker of the "Kony 2012" are fight -- firing back, sorry -- hard for me to say -- firing back at critics with yet another video. This one called "Beyond Famous," a response to viewers who say the original oversimplifies the controversy surrounding African warlord Joseph Kony. Both videos tell the story of Kony's child soldiers, who met numerous atrocities, including raping and maiming civilians.

And the U.S. Coast Guard is trying to sink an unmanned Japanese fishing boat that drifted all the way across the Pacific coast to the Pacific coast of Alaska after last year's tsunami. They say they shot the ghost ship with a cannon, because it's a navigation hazard for other ships in the area.

This is part of that massive debris field that was moving across the Pacific after the tsunami. It's amazing.

BORGER: They have to destroy it?

BOLDUAN: They have to destroy it. They say it's a navigational hazard, but just amazing that it's over a year later and we're still dealing with this debris.

BORGER: Wow. Thanks so much, Kate Bolduan.

And now the "Moment You Missed," or it may be a warning not to miss your step while wearing the new cyber shades Google is promoting. The glasses integrate your online social life with your real one. I know you've been waiting for this. So check out this promotional video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. What's up? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to see something cool?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Sure.

Is that a ukulele?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Here goes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: Now, you cannot get them just yet. The see-through lens is still in field tests, and the company wants to get some feedback from consumers. But it didn't take long for someone to highlight the potential pitfalls. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, not them -- no, no, wait. Cancel. Oh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BORGER: Well, I can wait for them.

That's all from us tonight. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

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