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State of the Union Analysis; The Wrong Foot: Frustrations With Airport Security; Interview With Senator John McCain
Aired January 24, 2007 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The State of the Union. President Bush now reaching out to Democrats, pitching plans for Iraq, healthcare, and energy.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And then the contenders weigh in. Presidential hopefuls Bill Richardson and John McCain will join us live on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Welcome back, everybody, Wednesday, January 28th.
I'm Soledad O'Brien. Miles started with a nice little shot of the Capitol there.
M. O'BRIEN: Good morning, Soledad. Live from Capitol Hill, of course.
Thanks for being with us.
The State of the Union did not sound like others the president has delivered. His proposals are more modest than bold, clearly a sign of the times as he addressed a room controlled by Democrats for the first time since he came to Washington. It's a fact he acknowledged right off the bat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight I have the high privilege and distinct honor of my own as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madame Speaker.
Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on, as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there's work to be done.
I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents.
Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years.
(APPLAUSE) This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won.
We went into this largely united in our assumptions and in our convictions, and whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: We've already heard from one key lawmaker about the president's State of the Union Address, and earlier I asked Illinois senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama about the president's plea to give the new plan a chance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: We have attempted to impose a military solution on the civil war that is taking place in Iraq for many months now, and we've been in Iraq now longer than we've been in most of our military conflicts in our history. And so the American people have shown resolve. Certainly our troops have performed in an exemplary fashion.
What's flawed is not either the performance of our military or the American people's commitment, but rather the strategy. And what I have suggested is that we need to de-escalate, start phasing down troop levels, so that the Iraqi people and Iraqi leadership begin to come to the political accommodation that's necessary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: In just a few minutes we're going to hear from the other side of the aisle, when Republican Senator John McCain joins us live.
Well, you heard reaction from at least one presidential hopeful. Let's hear what people on the left and on the right think.
A short time ago I talked with radio talk show host Steve Malzberg. He's sitting in for Bill Bennett this morning on Bill's "Morning in America" show, and Rachel Maddow of Air America, and I asked them if they thought the president and the Democratic Congress really could work together over the next couple of years.
Here's what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it was interesting, specifically on Iraq, that what I felt was like a little bit of false humility. When he announced the recent escalation and recent rise in troops number for Iraq, the president announced it two weeks ago. The troops were already there by the time he gave the State of the Union.
He did not propose this to the nation or to the Congress to discuss. He just went ahead and did it. And then he goes out in the State of the Union and says, "I'm asking for your support on this," for something that's already a done deal. And so he got stylistically points for appearing to be humble on this, while he's already gone ahead with it.
S. O'BRIEN: And not all the troops are there, obviously. Not all...
MADDOW: No, but the 1st Combat Brigade from the 82nd Airborne is already on the ground in Baghdad. So for him to be asking permission now from the Congress to consider this...
STEVE MALZBERG, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, good. Good. Good.
MADDOW: ... is a little bit, a dollar late and a day short.
MALZBERG: He's not asking -- well, Rachel, Rachel, he's not asking permission from anybody. He's going to do it no matter what the Congress says and what the polls say, unless the Congress cuts off funding.
MADDOW: But Steve, when you just said...
MALZBERG: He's the commander in chief. He didn't -- excuse me.
MADDOW: Steve, when he just said...
MALZBERG: He didn't say, please, let me do it. He said support me, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: Those are the views from radio talk show hosts Steve Malzberg and Rachel Maddow. We were talking to them earlier this morning.
Back to Miles in Washington, D.C.
M. O'BRIEN: How do they really feel, Soledad? I wonder.
Washington is buzzing this morning. Will the president's address help his dismal poll numbers, now in the low 30s, or even high 20s, depending on which poll you look at? How much of this rhetoric will turn into some real action?
Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley wrapping that up for us.
Candy, good morning to you.
You can really divide the speech in two. There was Iraq and then everything else.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.
M. O'BRIEN: It's kind of two cases, and certainly they're all linked at this point, right?
CROWLEY: They are, but the greatest of these is Iraq. I mean, that is where everything starts and finishes.
It did seem like two different speeches. You had the conciliatory President Bush, who so graciously talked about Nancy Pelosi, who asked for the return to health for the Democratic Senator Johnson, still in the hospital. So then he went into his domestic agenda, leaving room for some to and fro with Congress, reaching out to Congress.
And then we got to Iraq, and it was the unrelenting Bush. It was the president who said, I am doing this, I need you to support me. I've looked at everything. This is the way to go.
So when you watched it, you realize that there really were two different people there, the George Bush that needs to reach out to Congress and the George Bush who is commander in chief and going the way he thinks he ought to go.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. With that in mind, Candy, the president, of course, think about his legacy at this point in his presidency. Also thinking about what happens in '08, will the presidency remain in Republican hands.
What was his primary goal?
CROWLEY: I think his primary goal last night was to stop the hemorrhaging from his own party, to say -- I think that phrase "give this a chance" was aimed right at his own party. He wasn't going to convince Democrats to support the influx of new troops into Iraq. He was talking to his Republicans, the people that he needs to kind of steady this ship.
He has been rocking for some time now, ever since the elections. He needs to get back on something that's a little more terra firma, and what he needs in order to do that is the support of his Republicans.
M. O'BRIEN: The new senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, Democrat, with the response to the State of the Union Address. What was -- what was the reaction to him? Did Democrats feel as if he struck the right tone, reflecting their views?
CROWLEY: Well, interestingly, certainly he did on Iraq, and that was -- again, the bulk of his response was about Iraq. I thought it was a really interesting choice.
Number one, Senator Webb does not necessarily agree with what most Democrats want to do about Iraq, and that is, get out within six months or begin to move out. But more than that, Jim Webb, the new senator from Virginia, is the face of the Democratic victory.
He ousted Senator George Allen. No one ever gave Jim Webb a chance, and that he won became the very face of victory. This was the election or the contest we were waiting to kind of wrap up election night.
Beyond that, he has a son in Iraq, he is an ex-military man himself, a former Navy secretary. And he's had a run-in with the president since becoming senator.
It was at the White House in what was a very widely-reported incident, when the president asked him how his son was, and Senator Webb shot back about, you know, "We need you to get those forces out." So there was a bit of a confrontation there.
So to pick Jim Webb, I thought, stylistically and symbolically was a very interesting choice for Democrats.
M. O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley, part of the best political team on television.
Thank you very much.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Miles. Thanks.
Other news happening this morning.
S. O'BRIEN: It's new technology that's supposed to speed you right through airport security. Pay some money, get approved ahead of time, and best of all, you get to keep your shoes on -- or maybe not.
CNN's John Zarrella is at Orlando International Airport for us this morning.
Hey, John. Good morning.
It's the maybe not part that's concerning everybody.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the maybe not. And for now, the maybe not is about a third of the time.
You know, we've all been there, racing off to the airport, only to end up waiting in a long line at the security check-in. Well, now there's some new technology that's emerging that should help pick up the pace, but if you want to take advantage of it, it's going to cost you.
ZARRELLA (voice over): Waiting in line to get through airport security. There should be a faster way, right? There is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you get to the front of this here, sir, you show them your receipt and it will say that you do not have to take off your shoes at this time. OK? ZARRELLA: The new program is now operating here in Orlando and a handful of other airports. One feature that came on line a week ago is this state-of-the-art machine, a shoe scanner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm standing still because it's doing a shoe scan, and so it lets me know that there's a scan in progress.
ZARRELLA: It's designed to detect explosives and eliminate the need to take off your shoes. But it's not perfect. About one third of the time, the scanner detects metal, common in many shoes.
It happened to Joe Miller.
JOE MILLER, VERIFIED IDENTITY PASS CUSTOMER: They detected some metal, so I'm not sure. But...
ZARRELLA (on camera): You've got to take them off?
MILLER: I've got to take them off, I guess. So we'll see.
ZARRELLA (voice over): Verified Identity Pass, which operates the scanners, says new software will soon allow the machines to tell the difference between common metals and those that might be a problem.
STEVEN BRILL, CEO, VERIFIED IDENTITY PASS: It's not working as well today as it's going to be working a month from today, but it's working.
ZARRELLA: But it may not work for you, unless you're willing to pay. After passing a background check, you pay a $100 annual fee. You're issued a card. The card allows you to bypass the backed-up security lines and go straight to the much shorter shoe scanner line.
Critics say the new technology is not making the flying public any safer.
MICHAEL BOYD, AVIATION EXPERT: First of all, a background check, most of the 9/11 hijackers would have passed it. All this is, is you pay some money and you might get a shorter line when you're at a big airport.
ZARRELLA: That means a lot to frequent flier Brian Raby.
BRIAN RABY, VERIFIED IDENTITY PASS CUSTOMER: I'm willing to go ahead and pay $100 extra just so I can get through security a little bit quicker.
ZARRELLA: But hold on. You still have to get past the TSA screener.
ZARRELLA: Now, Verified says that its security system scanner is not designed to replace TSA security, just to augment it. And in the future, they're working on some new technologies that will allow you to keep your laptop in its bag. You don't have to take it out when you go through security. And you won't have to take your jackets off when you go through security.
That would be good, too -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: And I'm not going to hold my breath until this happens.
John Zarrella for us this morning.
Thank you, John.
Ahead this morning, Arizona Republican and presidential hopeful John McCain is going to join us live. He's called for more troops in Iraq. And more troops are going. Is McCain going to call for even more?
Plus, the Democratic governor of New Mexico also looking at higher office. We'll talk with Governor Bill Richardson, get his reaction to the president's speech last night.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.
The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: Coming up on quarter past the hour. If you're heading out the door, let's get a quick check of the traveler's forecast for you. Chad's got that.
Good morning, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad.
M. O'BRIEN: When the president looked out into the crowd last night across the street there, he saw at least 10 people who fancied themselves in his spot in '09. Among them, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.
Senator McCain, good to have you with us.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's clearly more than 10.
M. O'BRIEN: Maybe there were. It might have been a majority of the chamber.
MCCAIN: A majority of the Senate.
M. O'BRIEN: Possibly. We were being conservative. We were being conservative.
You -- the president and his plan for Iraq...
M. O'BRIEN: ... 21,000, on the plus side, additional troops. You're standing by the president on this. You've indicated support for it. But in the past, you've indicated maybe there should be a bigger surge. If you're going to surge, surge bigger.
Where are you right now on this issue?
MCCAIN: First of all, could I say, we never had enough troops there to start with, and that was one of the major factors in putting us into the very serious situation we're in today, very serious. I thought there was more troops needed, but I looked at General Petraeus, who is the man in charge, he's a man that all of us have great confidence in, and said, is it enough? And he said, "It's enough, and I've been assured that if I need more, then I'll get them if I ask for them."
M. O'BRIEN: You're sticking with the president for now?
MCCAIN: Well, I'm sticking more with General Petraeus' judgment, but of course I'm sticking with the president in this respect. This is our last chance. The consequences of failure are catastrophic.
I believe we ought to give this general a chance to try to succeed with this plan. It's tragic. Americans are frustrated, but I hope we can show them a way to success.
M. O'BRIEN: How much time will you give it?
MCCAIN: I'm not sure -- I think one of the bad things about this, people are expecting immediate reaction. I'm sorry to tell you that I think casualties may go up in the short run, because they're going to go into some tough neighborhoods.
It's going to be a number of months, perhaps before the end of this year, before we see some real signs of success. And then I'm not sure how quick we can withdraw.
M. O'BRIEN: Polls say 70 percent of Americans not in favor of this war.
M. O'BRIEN: There's a bit of a revolt going on across the street, even among Republicans. Lots of resolutions kicking around your side of the Congress, which would put the Senate on record opposing the president's surge and the escalation of the war, some would call it.
Doesn't a war like this, or any war, need bipartisan support? You're a Vietnam veteran.
M. O'BRIEN: In Vietnam, that was a key issue.
MCCAIN: It does. I do believe, though, that in Vietnam, they decided to cut off funding. That was their decision, and that's their constitutional right.
To issue disapproval, you're sending the troops over there that you're saying that you support, but telling them you don't think they can succeed, and you're not supporting their mission. I'm not sure that's a lot of support, or it would be interpreted by our troops as a sign of support.
M. O'BRIEN: But can the war be sustained without support from the people, without bipartisan support here?
MCCAIN: We have to show the American people a path to success. Joe Lieberman would never have been re-elected in Connecticut supporting the war if it was as simple as some of my Democratic friends portray it.
Overnight ratings, I understand, were slightly in favor of supporting the president's proposal. We've got to sell it and it's got to be done, and we've got to explain better the consequences of failure, which is chaos in the region.
M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about an energy policy for a minute, a subject I know near and dear to your heart. The president once again calling on Americans to conserve. For the first time in his State of the Union message mentioning climate change.
M. O'BRIEN: But not going as far as supporting what you have supported, which is some sort of cap system, cap and trade system...
MCCAIN: And trade, yes.
M. O'BRIEN: ... on emissions of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases.
M. O'BRIEN: Does the president need to go further with this, do you think?
MCCAIN: Of course. Of course. It was just Monday here, there was a coalition of the major industrial heads, plus environmentalists that are mapping out plans for -- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cap and trade is a free market-based proposal that's working in Europe.
Listen, this is one of the serious issues of our -- in the history of humanity. We've got to start reducing these greenhouse gas emissions before our planet is inalterably heated. And the consequences of that are catastrophic.
M. O'BRIEN: If you were president, would there be some sort of cap on emissions industry-wide?
MCCAIN: There would be a cap and trade system, absolutely. I would have to get it through Congress, but I would certainly propose it.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. Final thought here.
As you face the political scene here over the next year or so, Reverend James Dobson, conservative evangelical, Focus on the Family group, said in a radio interview just the other day that he could not support you under any circumstances.
To what extent, as you face the primaries, where conservative voters have a lot of sway, to what extent is this a political problem for you?
MCCAIN: I don't know, but I have never had a conversation with Dr. Dobson. He's entitled to his opinion. It's a free country and I'm not going to worry about it.
M. O'BRIEN: You're not worried about it?
M. O'BRIEN: And concern on the conservative side of the party?
MCCAIN: Well, you know, you're always a little -- wonder why someone you never had a conversation with attacks you, but, hey, we'll move on. We're doing fine.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Senator John McCain, thanks for your time this morning.
MCCAIN: Thanks, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, Democratic reaction to last night's speech. New Mexico governor and presidential hopeful Bill Richardson will join us live. We'll get his take on the State of the Union.
Plus, a major victory for thousands of homeowners hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. We'll explain what they got when we mind your business straight ahead.
Stay with us.
S. O'BRIEN: Some Katrina victims are going to finally be getting the money from their insurance company. It is 25 minutes past the hour. Carrie Lee is "Minding Your Business" this morning.
CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Soledad.
Big story here for State Farm Insurance. The company has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement of Hurricane Katrina lawsuits in the state of Mississippi.
Now, breaking this down, the company's going to pay $80 million to 640 policyholders who have sued the company for refusing to cover damage, and then also, they could pay money to thousands of Mississippi policyholders, up to $35,000, whose claims were denied, but they didn't sue the company. Now those cases are going to be reopened.
Of course, State Farm has argued all along that it was water, not wind, that caused damage to people's homes, and that it does not cover for flood damage. But bottom line, this settlement resolves a civil lawsuit that Mississippi's attorney general has filed. It also ends a criminal investigation.
And Soledad, this is Mississippi-wide. No other states apply. So it could potentially set a precedent for other states, as well as for other insurers. But a lot of money is going to be paid here, for sure.
S. O'BRIEN: About time for many people who have been waiting a long, long time for that cash.
LEE: Exactly, yes. So these are all going to be put in writing within 18 business days and then people can decide whether they want to accept or reject the offers.
S. O'BRIEN: Carrie Lee, thank you very much.
S. O'BRIEN: We're going to meet a man who wants to take President Bush's place at the White House come 2008. Up next, New Mexico's Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, will join us live with his reaction to last night's State of the Union Address.
Then the republican view. Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison also standing by live for us.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: New reality. The president asking Democrats in charge to take up his proposals on Iraq, healthcare, and energy. S. O'BRIEN: And what are the chances? Can the president's plans win support on both sides? We're going to talk to both sides, straight ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.
M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you, Wednesday, January 24th.
I'm Miles O'Brien on Capitol Hill.
A special edition of AMERICAN MORNING this morning.
Good morning, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Hey, miles.
I'm Soledad O'Brien in New York.
Thanks for being with us.
S. O'BRIEN: Another presidential hopeful to talk to this morning, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He formed a presidential exploratory committee over the weekend. He's in Los Angeles this weekend. It's nice to see you, governor. Thanks for talking with us.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Thank you, Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Obviously, the big issue of the night, even though it was just about half of the speech, was Iraq, let's listen first to what the president had to say. He sort of begged Congress for a chance to let it work. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: We went into this largely united in our assumptions and in our convictions, and whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country's pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field and those on their way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: I ask you to give it a chance to work -- do you think that's a fair request?
RICHARDSON: Well, it's a fair request if the president at the same time says to the Congress, let's work together and what is your alternative? The Iraq Study Group, bipartisan group of experts, the American people, and the Congress are saying, Mr. President, we want you to change course. He didn't do that. Yet he's asking for a new escalation that is going to just bring more sectarian violence. Just on Sunday, the day I announced for president, a Native American New Mexican from Santa Ana Pueblo was another casualty.
You know, this is an issue that is hitting very, very hard with the American people. And I think everybody was ready to say to the president, I'm ready to use diplomacy, give me an opportunity to build a coalition, a political solution. Instead, more escalation, which all experts, including many military experts, are saying it's not going to work.
S. O'BRIEN: We've heard the president say a couple of times last night that he hopes that bipartisanship was possible, but it sounds to me what you're saying is it seems to only go one way as far as the president's concerned. Is that a fair assessment of what you're saying?
RICHARDSON: Well, that's exactly what I'm saying. It's all his way and nobody else's way. Now, his tone was good, and everybody wants a president to succeed. We all want to protect our troops, but this is a policy that is not just dividing the country, but foreign policy-wise, it makes no sense. We can redeploy those troops, get them out of Iraq, use them where we really have national security interests, such as Afghanistan, where the Taliban, al Qaeda are increasing their presence, where international terrorism responses in the Persian Gulf.
Nobody's saying get the troops out, bring them home, not use them whatsoever. Let's protect what our interests are in a sectarian, violent situation, where we're heading more into a morass with a Maliki government that is not promoting reconciliation talks, it is not accelerating its pace for taking over security of the country. You even have the president of Iraq snubbing the president of the United States, doesn't even want to meet with him in one of these summits. You know, it just doesn't seem to me like anything is clicking. And instead of reversing course and building bipartisan support, and saying, hey, Democrats, State of the Union, let's work together on a strategy that's going to work, the president just accentuates the problem by asking for 20,000 more troops. I don't know where he's going to get those troops, because if he takes them from New Mexico, we need those National Guard troops for floods, for fires, to secure the border with Mexico.
So I just don't understand almost anything for the reason for this escalation.
S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you about a domestic issue that the president talked about, immigration. He basically said, there should be a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter the country on a temporary basis, where people have called the path to citizenship, which I know you support. Do you think that in fact that this is something that can be done in a bipartisan way in Congress, that this legislation will go through?
RICHARDSON: Well, this can be done, and I commend the president for saying what he did. Now he has to get members of his party to embrace what he said, a comprehensive immigration plan. More border security, more Border Patrol -- that makes sense. Not a wall, but more Border Patrol. But also, Soledad, the legalization plan that says to the 12 million undocumented workers already in America, look, if you learn English, if you pay back taxes, if you pass a background check, you embrace American values, you can stay and you can work, not for citizenship and amnesty, but over a period of maybe 11 years, a green card, a special status. So I was encouraged there.
Now, he has a Democratic Congress, and that's one of the issues. Not too many more that I believe can build bipartisan support for passage. And we need to deal with that. Not just border governors like myself, but on a national basis, because this is an issue that really divides the country. It's a wedge issue. It's an issue that everybody wants to resolve, but there are no votes in this issue. So the best thing to do is do the right thing, and it sounds that he wants to do the right thing, but now he's got to use his political capital with members of the Republican Party, especially on the far right, that don't want to act responsibly on this issue.
S. O'BRIEN: We'll see what happens. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson joining us this morning. Thanks for talking with us, sir.
RICHARDSON: Thank you.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we're going to hear from Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. That's ahead in just a couple of minutes -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Thanks very much, Soledad. Let's talk about what happens next. There might be really only a narrow window of opportunity for the president and the Congress to work together to turn some of the rhetoric we heard last night into some legislation and some changes in this country. Let's talk about what the timeframe is and talk about the reaction inside the chamber last night.
CNN contributor and Republican strategist J.C. Watts, former Congressman, is joining me here.
J.C., good to have you with us.
J.C. WATTS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: First of all, let's talk about the reception the president received last night, 63 interruptions for applause. That sounds like a raucous response, but you've been on the floor for previous States of the Union Addresses. It was a little more sedate, wasn't it?
WATTS: It was. And I noticed that probably the most intense applause was for Speaker Pelosi, when the president mentioned the first, you know, madam speaker.
M. O'BRIEN: Sign of the times there.
WATTS: Sign of the times, that's right.
And I think the president understood that he was in a different venue last night than he had been in his previous six State of the Union Addresses. However, it wasn't that rah, rah, you know, tit for tat, back and forth, you know, everybody stand up when he says something that I like, and everybody stands up when he says something that I don't like. That was kind of interesting last night. M. O'BRIEN: Comity is the word, not comedy, comity they say, but that also reflects perhaps the political reality of the moment. Let's talk about what happens next and the windows of opportunity here, and how far Republicans and Democrats will move toward the center to try to get something done across the street there.
WATTS: Well, Miles, that's -- you mentioned the magical word, short legislative timeframe. You know, the president's got about a window of opportunity here of about 12 months. You know, we've got the '08 presidential elections that's upon us. They started, you know, a year ago. We've got to deal with that.
M. O'BRIEN: Twelve months they'll be doing New Hampshire, though. I mean, really it's probably less than 12 months, isn't it?
WATTS: Put in all the holidays in, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, et cetera, it's a very short time period, and I don't think it behooves the Democrats to give the president anything big. The president's got to be careful that he doesn't lose, you know, his support on the Republican side.
So I think the magic for the Democrats will be to give the president a minimum of what he wants to get a maximum of what they want. Now, what is it? Is it immigration? Is it energy? You know, you look at all those issues, Miles, those are major issues that I'm not so sure that anything's going to get done on.
M. O'BRIEN: So Congress doesn't want to look like a do-nothing Congress, the president of course doesn't want to look like a lame duck, and that's where there might be an opportunity for something to come out of this.
WATTS: Well, you know, Washington is Washington. And you know, believe it or not, everybody's thinking about who's going to be in the majority in '08. So whatever happens, both sides will probably posture, and then this is how the game is played sometimes. Both sides will posture, trying to present to the American people that we're the ones that needs to be in charge, we can get it done, keep us or give us an opportunity to get back. So it's going to be an interesting 10, 12 months.
M. O'BRIEN: In word it sounds like gridlock. Could it be?
WATTS: Well, I'm afraid that's probably where we're headed again. Hopefully not, but don't be surprised.
M. O'BRIEN: J.C. Watts. Washington is Washington.
WATTS: Washington is Washington.
M. O'BRIEN: Mr. Watts knows it as well as anybody. Thank you very much.
More reaction to last night's State of the Union Address. Up next, the view from the president's second home. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas will join us in just a little bit. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning. Where is it? Right here.
S. O'BRIEN: As you well know, President Bush's speeches are often fodder for late-night comedians, and this State of the Union speech was no different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": The annual State of the Union Address -- and oh, man, bush received a subdued reception. You know, kind of like you gave me. But the speech, I saw it. It was so dull. Behind President Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Dick Cheney were making out, honestly.
JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Well, President Bush gave his State of the Union Speech earlier tonight, or as they call it on ABC, "Dancing With the Issues," I believe that was the name of it.
You know who gave the longest State of the Union Address ever? Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton. You know who gave the shortest? George Washington, just a couple minutes. Well, sure, when a politician can't tell a lie, it limits how much they can say. Clinton could go on for hours!
JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": President Bush addressed the nation tonight, and he talked about how he could save energy, how we can still win the war in Iraq, and then he gave a beautiful rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" just a couple of minutes away. Tony Harris is at the CNN Center. He's got a look at what's ahead this morning for them -- Tony!
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Soledad, good morning!
Got a story at the end here I think you might be able to relate to, we all can as parents, that's as for sure. We've got these stories on the "NEWSROOM" rundown. President Bush leaving the White House in a few minutes. He's going to Delaware to pitch alternative fuels, one theme from last night's State of the Union.
The check almost in the mail for thousands of homeowners on the Mississippi Coast. State Farm to settle Katrina claims.
And how about this, Soledad? a road well traveled by every parent. An unruly toddler, a public meltdown. This girl's tantrum gets her family booted off their flight. Maybe a little extreme.
Heidi Collins is with me in the "NEWSROOM." We get started at the top of the hour right here on CNN -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: I've been there, man. Well, what do you do if the kid won't get in her seat? They can't take off. On the other hand, she's three.
HARRIS: It's Benadryl is what it is.
S. O'BRIEN: yes, that's right.
Talk about that off line, will we?
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Tony, thanks.
Let's get right back to Miles in Washington, D.C.
M. O'BRIEN: I'm going to plead the Fifth on the Benadryl technique.
This morning in Washington there's a lot of talk about what sort of real change might come in the wake of the president's State of the Union speech last night. Some are suggesting to us this morning immigration reform might be one place where the White House and a dramatically-controlled Congress to come to terms. That's a big issue in the home state of our next guest, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Senator, good to have you with us here this morning.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Thank you, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Immigration reform, is that likely to really lead to something? I mean, we talked a lot about it, never led to any legislation.
HUTCHISON: Well, well, it's a very tough issue. That's why it was so hard to get a bill that the House and Senate could agree on last year.
But I do think that we have the chance to do it, and it is essential. We need to control our borders. Border security is so important in the war on terror. We have criminals, drug dealers coming in. So we have to do border security. We also have to have a guest worker program, the president has said that to keep our economy going, to keep the farms, and the restaurants and the hotels operating. So I do think we have a chance, Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Now you have split with some people in your party on this issue of building a wall along the border. How much does this hurt the GOP, this notion of building walls along the border?
HUTCHISON: Well, I think if you live on the border and you see it, you know that fences can work in certain areas, but when you're talking about a city, like the city of Laredo, you can't just tear down hotels and put up fences; you have to work with the local officials and say, OK, here is what we will do for border security, and it may be a virtual fence, as opposed to a fence. But in El Paso, it has worked very well. In San Diego, it has worked. So I think we are going to see some fences, but I think a 2,000-mile fence with our border with Mexico is untenable and it's really not possible. Besides, there's private property as well.
M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Iraq for just a moment. The Senate committee today very likely will pass a resolution, a nonbinding resolution, but a resolution nonetheless, indicating displeasure with the president's troop surge, 21,500 troops or so headed that way. Senators going on record against it. Give us a sense now of where this moves from here. Is this the beginning of a Republican revolt?
HUTCHISON: Miles, it's a very tough issue, and people are taking a very personal stands.
However, I think the worst thing we can do as a Congress is to undercut the president internationally. Passing a resolution that is not binding -- the president is the commander in chief -- I think sends exactly the wrong message, and I think that is the wrong approach. I think we should sit down with the president. We should talk to him. He has done that with most members of the Senate and many members of Congress. But I think we should talk to him in private and not pass resolutions so that when he goes to talk to our allies to get help, which we need, talk to the other Arab countries, which we certainly need to weigh in to help us settle Iraq down, it's in their interests, he's going with a divided Congress that's very public, and I think that is absolutely the wrong thing for these members to do.
M. O'BRIEN: Quick final thought -- parties aside here, what was it like seeing madam speaker up there in the dais?
HUTCHISON: Oh, it was wonderful. I am so happy that there is a woman speaker. Obviously, I disagree with her on many issues, but I think she's handling herself beautifully, and I'm very proud that she has achieved that.
M. O'BRIEN: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, thanks for your time.
HUTCHISON: Thank you, Miles. Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad?
S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Miles. Six degrees of Sundance. We're going to catch up with Kevin Bacon, find out just how you can get close to your favorite stars, and also help a good cause. We're live at the Sundance with the story when AMERICAN MORNING continues in a moment.
S. O'BRIEN: You've heard about six degrees of Kevin Bacon, that any actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon in six movies or less. Well, Kevin hasn't always been wild about that, but now, believe it or not, he's embracing it.
Entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson caught up with Bacon at the Sundance Film Festival. And he likes it now?
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's embraced it. Let's say that, Soledad. You know, he joked with me that he hasn't been able to figure out how to make money off this light-hearted game synonymous with his name for years, so now he's decided to use his many, many connections to give money to charitable organizations.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Kevin Bacon, movie star, celebrity, one of the dozens who have made their way to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to see you, Kevin.
ANDERSON: But surprisingly, Bacon isn't here promoting a movie; he here's to launch his first online venture, appropriately called sixdegrees.org, for a good cause.
KEVIN BACON, ACTOR, ACTIVIST: It's just an idea, six degrees of Kevin bacon and six degrees in general, six degrees of separation, you know, the fact that we're all connected.
ANDERSON: Bacon is now embracing that idea, which started as a light-hearted game, where any actor in Hollywood could be linked to Bacon through film roles within six steps. Now, he's changing the rules.
BACON: I knew that I wanted it to be charity-based, and I knew I wanted it to involve this idea of connectivity of all of us as human beings.
ANDERSON: Bacon's Web site links people to his famous pals and their causes, such as long-time friend and actor Bradley Whitford.
BRADLEY WHITFORD, ACTOR: Anything that spreads that out and mainstreams it, so that you know, charities, you know, really become part of people's lives, I think is great.
ANDERSON: Bacon spent the first few days at Sundance trying to enlist the help of even more celebs.
BACON: I try to make it as easy as possible for celebrities. I say, you don't need to show up, you don't need to send me a dime, you don't need to sing a song, you don't need to, you know, give me anything.
ANDERSON: Jessica Simpson, Cheryl Hines and Kanye West are just a few of the celebrities already signed on, with more joining every day.
PAUL RUDD, ACTOR: I saw him earlier today and was talking about this, you know, the organization, and there's a Project ALS is -- I'm going to go onto their Web site.
ANDERSON: Bacon's vision for sixdegrees.org goes far beyond the Hollywood community. To him, it's a way to connect people in need with anyone who is willing to lend a hand.
BACON: I also want a place where people can become celebrities for their own causes, regular people can say, well, that's great, that, you know, that Will Ferrell, and Nicole Kidman and Kanye West is into this kind of thing, but this is something that I really care about, and it's kind of this idea of social networking with a social conscience.
ANDERSON: Soledad, I just checked the site a few moments ago, and Kevin has already raised nearly $70,000, and he just launched the site less than a week ago.
S. O'BRIEN: A very good start then. Brooke Anderson for us this morning. Thank you, Brooke.
ANDERSON: That's right.
S. O'BRIEN Here's a quick at what "CNN NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.
HARRIS: See these stories in the "CNN NEWSROOM" -- President Bush on the road this morning, selling themes from his State of the Union Address.
A major insurance company settling with Katrina victims. Thousands of Mississippi homeowners will finally get money to rebuild.
Six gills, four teeth -- an odd deep-sea creature surfaces. What is it? Find out here in the "NEWSROOM," 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.
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