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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Ann Coulter v. Aisha Tyler; Interview with Michelle Bachmann; Interview With Buzz Aldrin
Aired April 15, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAVIS SMILEY, GUEST HOST: Tonight, Ann Coulter and Aisha Tyler are here butting heads -- ripping into each other over Sarah Palin, President Obama and the Tea Party rally. We'll take you there during the hour.
Plus, Gloria Estefan -- why are some calling the Cuban-born American superstar a traitor?
We go live to her home, where the Obamas are her guest of honor this evening.
Then, Buzz Aldrin on Air Force One with the president today. The future of the space program has a few of America's hero astronauts up in arms.
What's Buzz's take on that?
And "Dancing With The Stars."
Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
I'm Tavis Smiley sitting in for Larry tonight.
Larry's son Chance is pitching at an important Little League game. He's back tomorrow night with Willie Nelson.
With us tonight, though, Ann Coulter, conservative commentator and author. Her most recent text is "Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America".
We're also pleased to be joined by Aisha Tyler, comedian, author and activist. She's an Obama supporter and describes herself as a political moderate.
Tea Party rallies, as you know, are underway at this hour, all across the country, especially in New York and Washington. We're looking live now at what's going on. And we will get reaction now from our guests, starting with Ann.
That was a bit hyperbolic, huh -- the two of you ripping into each other.
AISHA TYLER, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, I was like wait a minute. Now -- now it's on, right?
SMILEY: All right. So I -- I apologize for the hyperbole.
That said, Ann, these -- this Tea Party movement, has it had any impact -- any real impact thus far, beyond us talking about it on radio and TV everywhere?
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, there has been a lot of chit chat about it. I think so. I mean there's a limited number of test cases yet. But I think it did pretty well in New Jersey, in Virginia, then in Massachusetts. And, of course, the November elections coming -- coming this fall.
I -- I think it's funny after this poll today on the cover of -- I think it's the cover of "The New York Times." I read it online. They did a -- you know, they surveyed Tea Partiers. And it turned out, in general, they're more highly educated and a little wealthier than the American populace at large. So suddenly I think we're going to go from the Tea Partiers being, you know, illiterate hillbillies to being big Republican "fat cats".
But I don't really think it's either. I think there a lot of regular Americans.
SMILEY: Is your point now that some of the pushback has been based on classism?
COULTER: No. It's -- it's liberals who don't want to have to deal with the argument. But on the -- on the polls that have been taken -- and I've spoken at two Tea Parties, one in Connecticut and one in Las Vegas. The polls that have been taken of the Tea Partiers -- because they have been, I think, pretty viciously attacked by the media. For one thing, it's hard to describe the typical Tea Partiers. It's -- it's pretty broad and it's a genuine grassroots movement. But about 20 percent of them voted for Obama, about 5 percent black, about 10 percent Hispanic. And, as "The New York Times" poll showed today, a little more highly educated and a little wealthier than the average American.
SMILEY: Aisha, they're not just, though -- to Ann's point. She's right about this. But they're not just more educated. They're not just more affluent. They don't look like you. They don't look like me.
When you see these Tea Party rallies, what -- what -- what do you see?
What are you looking at?
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's interesting. I think that the other side of 5 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic is 85 percent Caucasian. That's the other way of putting -- of -- of telling that story.
I think that when you look at the Tea Party Movement, there was a recent poll that said that it's essentially about 10 percent of the American public that actually identifies themselves as Tea Partiers. And then a much smaller subset of that are actually active Tea Partiers.
They are conservative. I don't think this is a new group of people. This is a subset of the Republican Party.
So we were talk -- you know, talking about is this making a difference?
I think the problem for everyone is when you look at the groups of people, it feels like this is a movement, but it is not a new group that is somehow going to sway the momentum one way or the other. It's a small subset of the Republican Party, generally pretty conservative. And what's coloring how we perceive them is that maybe there are 90 percent of them that seem reasonable, that are thoughtful and kind of -- you know, I think there -- there are a lot of arguments made about how we could fix and change our tax system. But the ones you hear are the ones that spit, the ones that use epithets, the ones that throw things...
COULTER: I think those are the liberals.
TYLER: The ones who call the president -- oh, really?
You think that there's a liberal that shows up and spits and calls...
TYLER: -- uses the "N" word or uses the "F" word?
TYLER: I want you to know that I know a lot of liberals and we generally just sit at home and listen to NPR. So we're not -- I don't...
TYLER: I think to go there -- I think you can't, just because you deny that those elements are in the Tea Party does not make them go away.
SMILEY: But the...
TYLER: They're there.
SMILEY: It begs the question though, Ann, what are these white men so angry about?
The numbers are clear. Many Americans, too many, in fact, are being -- are being -- are struggling with this economy. But the numbers are clear. Black folk, poor people, brown folk are getting crushed by this economy.
COULTER: Right. SMILEY: What are these white men so angry about?
TYLER: That's a really good question.
COULTER: No, you're absolutely right. I mean the unemployment has -- numbers have hurt blacks much harder than whites.
COULTER: At large...
SMILEY: So why the anger?
COULTER: But -- well, I would like to address -- address your characterization of the Tea Partiers as just white men. No, wait. I mean, yes, it's true. OK. Eighty-five percent are Caucasian. But I do want to point out that this is the first time I've heard actual black people complain about that. Usually it's white liberals saying, oh, they're a bunch of racists, it's all white men.
And I mean, you can't say that everything that -- that -- even -- I mean everything that's majority white is, by definition, racist.
You know, what about the Philadelphia machinists?
TYLER: I don't really think it's a complaint.
TYLER: I don't think it's an (INAUDIBLE)
COULTER: No (INAUDIBLE).
TYLER: It's an observation.
COULTER: From Steve Cohen, white liberal representative.
TYLER: Sure, because...
COULTER: Who calls them -- it's like the KKK. It's always white liberals calling it that.
TYLER: Well, I mean, I -- because I think that a lot of white conservatives that's not -- they're not criticizing their own party movement, for whatever reason. I mean when you look at what's happening right now with that group of people, that -- every -- you know, the Republican Party is trying to subsume that group. They're -- I mean this is -- they want to own it. Your (INAUDIBLE)...
COULTER: Oh, absolutely.
TYLER: Palin just came out and said oh, you know, we're mer -- you know, and Bachmann both -- we're merging. I don't know if the Tea Party knows that they're merging, because they're talking about their own ideas.
SMILEY: We've got to go to (INAUDIBLE)...
TYLER: You know...
SMILEY: We've got to go to Michelle Bachmann in just a second here. Right quick, though, 15 seconds each.
Who benefits most from this Tea Party angst, Republicans or Democrats, later this year in November?
COULTER: Oh, definitely Republicans.
SMILEY: They benefit most?
COULTER: That's why they're being described as racists by liberals.
SMILEY: But -- but Democrats have something to say, see, this is what's wrong...
TYLER: I actually...
SMILEY: -- with America.
TYLER: I actually, look, it's a mid -- it's a mid-term election.
TYLER: The Democrats are going to lose some seats. But the fact of the matter is I think more moderates are turned off by some of the extreme rhetoric that they see at these Tea Party speeches. It feels extreme. It feels radical. It feels negative. It's not positive. It's not here's what we're going to do, it's here's everything that's wrong with your country. It's not a positive way to approach politics.
SMILEY: Don't go anywhere.
Aisha and Ann are not going anywhere.
Just what is gangster government?
The woman who uses that phrase a whole lot is here next, as I mentioned, Michelle Bachmann, after the break.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: They don't read the bills that they write. They don't listen to us when we talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. They don't. BACHMANN: What did we tell them on health care?
UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: No.
BACHMANN: What did they do?
They passed the bill.
But what are we going to do?
Repeal the bill.
We're going to repeal it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMILEY: Representative Michelle Bachmann is a Republican from Minnesota. You just saw her speaking about an hour ago. She's been a speaker at several stops on this Tea Party Express, including, of course, today's rally in the nation's capital. Representative Bachmann, good to have you on.
Let me start by asking how you define this term that you use quite often, gangster government.
What does that mean?
BACHMANN: Well, what it means is the federal government taking away from people what rightfully belongs to them. I think one of the best examples was when the president's automobile task force gave out 3,400 pink slips to people who owned car dealerships all across the United States. Overnight, people lost their assets because they lost their dealerships. They were stuck with service parts. They were stuck with cars on their lots. And they lost their income overnight.
Because our government decided they were going out of business with essentially less than 30 days notice.
This is really a radical change from doing business. We've never done business like this before in this country and it's hurting American jobs and American prosperity.
SMILEY: Sarah Palin, speaking at some of these rallies that you've been speaking at, has said that the president's policies are moving us in a direction that is un-American.
Do you agree with that?
BACHMANN: Well, I think the policies that we're looking at are the real issue right now. It's what is happening to our country?
If you want to look, Tavis, at the last 18 months, the story in our country has been the federal government takeover of private industry. The federal government literally, in 18 months' time, has taken either direct ownership or control of 51 percent of the private economy. Eighteen months ago, 100 percent of the private economy was private. But today, the federal government literally owns banks, the largest insurance company in the United States. The federal government owns over half of all home mortgages today in the United States -- Chrysler, G.M. the student loan industry and now health care.
You add all that up, Tavis, that's 51 percent of the private economy, for the first time in the history of our nation, the federal government owns or controls 51 percent of the economy. That's not what we have been in the past. We are a free market economy and this is completely the antithesis of a free market economy.
SMILEY: I think there are a lot of Americans who happen not to support, necessarily, the Tea Party Movement, who are disappointed that our taxpayer dollars have been used to do things to bail out people that got themselves into the mess they were in in the first place. And many Americans are waiting for their bailout -- all attention being put on Wall Street, not enough attention on Main Street.
That's not a -- a white argument. That's not a Tea Party argument. I think there are a lot of Americans who feel that way.
The question, though, is, what do we make of the fact that this "New York Times"/CBS News poll suggests that so many in this Tea Party movement think that the president himself is un-American and that the president himself has policies that favor blacks more than whites. That's what the numbers indicate.
How are we supposed to read that?
BACHMANN: Well, what I'm hearing here in Washington, D.C. -- and there's probably 25,000 or 30,000 people behind me right now.
What they are fed up with is this out of control spending, deficits that we have never seen the likes of before in the history of the country. And people are taxed enough already.
And in the midst of that, Tavis, the president's administration is calling for a new value-added tax, which is essentially kind of a national sales tax.
So when you go to the dollar value drive-thru, now instead of being $1, it would be $1.25. Or if you buy a bar of soap at a dollar, it will be $1.25.
Because government has hidden the tax in the cost of producing that item.
SMILEY: Let me...
BACHMANN: People are taxed enough already. They don't want any more taxes. SMILEY: In 30... (APPLAUSE)
SMILEY: In 30 seconds...
SMILEY: Let me ask you right quick.
SMILEY: You said earlier today that you want your supporters, these Tea Party movement followers, to send "the little piggies" -- your quote, not mine -- send "the little piggies" -- home in November.
What are you specifically asking them to do, right quick?
BACHMANN: Well, I'm asking them to put Constitutional conservatives in charge of the House and of the Senate and then two years from now, give us a Constitutional conservative president so that in February of 2013, we can repeal Obamacare.
I'm the first member of Congress to go down to the House floor to file a bill to repeal Obamacare. People can go to MichelleBachmann.com, sign my petition. We need to repeal this very bad bill in September -- in February of 2013.
SMILEY: Congresswoman, good to have you on.
Thanks for your time.
Name-calling and nastiness -- is it really necessary?
Ann and Aisha are back in a moment to talk about the political climate in America these days and respond to what the Congresswoman just said.
We'll do all that in a moment.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
Stay with us.
SMILEY: We're back here on LARRY KING LIVE, talking to Aisha Tyler and Ann Coulter. We just heard from Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. And while she, Aisha, did not engage, thankfully, in name- calling or stuff that's not her style, per se. But the names -- Obama -- President Obama has been called a socialist. He's been called a traitor. He's been called, as I said to her, un-American. He's been compared to Stalin. He's been compared to Hitler with the mustache.
The climate -- what do you make of it?
TYLER: I think -- I want to talk about two things. The first thing I want to say is I think that there is -- there has been this war of perception that's been going on since the president took office where conservatives have tried to paint him in a light, they've -- and I don't -- I don't want to call people gullible. I don't think that's fair. But they have been seduced by this concept.
First of all, I've had this argument online with fans where I go -- I'm sorry, but Hitler was an ultra right-wing conservative. Let's just -- first of all, if we're going to call somebody a name...
COULTER: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, no.
TYLER: Yes, he was.
COULTER: No, no, no.
TYLER: He was. He was incredibly right-wing. He was -- he was -- he was a fascist.
TYLER: And fascism is a right-wing philosophy.
COULTER: I will not compare Obama to Hitler...
TYLER: Thank you.
COULTER: But that is crazy. No, he was a socialist.
TYLER: Fascism is a right-wing philosophy. He was not -- no, the name of the party was socialism, but the -- the philosophy was fascism and that's a right-wing...
COULTER: He was big government, anti-religion.
TYLER: That's a right-wing -- specifically, fascism is a right- wing philosophy. But that -- what I want to talk about is...
COULTER: No, no, no, no, no, no.
TYLER: -- the general manipulation of perceptions. This -- Americans have the second lowest income tax burden in the history of our modern tax structure. It's the second lowest in the history of the country. So we're creating this perception that people are overtaxed. But 98 percent of Americans' tax burden went down this year -- went down. There have been 1,500 tax cuts put in place under Obama -- cuts and credits.
SMILEY: And that...
TYLER: And the Tea Party Movement and conservatives have been -- have been very effective in framing things in a way that make people feel...
SMILEY: It raises... TYLER: -- that they're being robbed.
SMILEY: It raises this question, though, Ann. When "The Wall Street Journal" today starts to suggest that there are signs that the economy is starting to recover.
If the economy does, in fact, start to recover, what's the Tea Party movement going to be mad about?
COULTER: Well, for one thing, taxes didn't go up that much because the Bush tax cuts haven't been repealed yet. We're worried about next year, paying for the health care bill.
But I want to get back to the name-calling.
I'm not just making this up or making a joke when I say those are liberals with that -- with -- with the name-calling. The one sign with Obama as Hitler where we know who was holding it -- and you don't know who's showing up at these things -- it was a liberal LaRouchite there. There have been two acts of violence at -- at Tea Parties or town halls. The first one -- and this may explain why we don't have more blacks at the Tea Party -- it was a black conservative in St. Louis who was beaten up so badly by union thugs, that he had to be hospitalized. Another one was in California...
SMILEY: But, Ann...
COULTER: -- where a conservative had his finger bit off.
SMILEY: Ann, hold up. You're not...
COULTER: By a liberal.
SMILEY: But Ann, Ann, you're not yet -- but, Ann, you're not -- you're not going to convince me or, I think, any reasonable person watching this program that when members of Congress are being spat on as they walk in the building, being called nigger as they walk in the building...
TYLER: Yes. I mean (INAUDIBLE)...
SMILEY: -- that there were liberals and other black folk doing that?
COULTER: Well, I'm glad you bring that up. And I've been reading about the Freedom Rides recently. And John Lewis is a genuine American hero.
COULTER: So I was curious to see what exactly he said. And in the first "New York Times" article on this -- I haven't read everything that's been written -- I noticed that he himself did not claim that. It was an aid or a cameraman or something. And recently...
TYLER: You see him being spit on. You see...
COULTER: No, you don't.
TYLER: There's footage.
COULTER: On no, we don't.
TYLER: Oh, yes. We've seen footage of it.
COULTER: Oh, no, no, no. There is a $100,000 bet for -- oh, there's spittle when someone's shouting. But the "N" word...
TYLER: He spits in his face and he reacts...
COULTER: -- there is a $100,000...
TYLER: And the guy spits again.
COULTER: -- offer if anyone can produce a tape. And there are photo cameras all over those people walking out. If you can show somebody...
TYLER: I've seen the footage.
COULTER: -- saying the "N" word, well, then you can win $100,000 if you can produce that tape because there is no tape of it.
TYLER: I -- I -- I'm totally (INAUDIBLE).
COULTER: And, by the way, John Lewis...
TYLER: I've seen the spitting footage.
COULTER: -- does not say that.
TYLER: The spitting footage is -- is legion. We've seen many, many versions of that (INAUDIBLE).
COULTER: No, but you're talking about someone who's yelling and there's spittle coming out of his mouth.
SMILEY: But, Ann -- but, Ann, you're not...
COULTER: It's not somebody walking up and spit.
SMILEY: But Ann -- Ann, let me take a break.
COULTER: That's very different.
SMILEY: Let me take a break.
And when we come back, I want to continue on this line of -- of conversation.
COULTER: I'm going to be spitting on the whole table, in fact.
SMILEY: I'm -- I'm glad I'm on this side.
But when we come back, I want to continue on this line, because I -- I hear the point you're making.
I'm not sure I agree. But I -- but I don't think you're suggesting that we are not living in an age of incivility.
Let's talk about that in just a second.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
And we are back in just a moment.
Stay with us.
SMILEY: So, Ann, incivility. You're not going to tell me that you don't believe that we are living increasingly in an age of incivility, where we are not appreciating -- respecting the humanity of each other in our political discourse?
COULTER: No. But, I mean, I've been arguing that since my second book, "Slander." I think it does come a lot more from the left. And I've been linking to, periodically, this Web site. I think it's called Zebratime (ph). And they go through -- I mean a lot of Web sites have shown this -- of pictures of protests of George Bush where they have signs, you know, "assassins wanted," where they're -- they -- they are chopping off his head in effigy.
You -- we've just emerged from eight years of some of the most vicious homicide-laden political rhetoric. In a country of 300 million...
SMILEY: But is it...
COULTER: -- there are going to be some nuts.
SMILEY: Bit isn't the answer to repudiate it?
If you're right...
COULTER: Oh, sure. But of course we do.
SMILEY: Repudiate it and...
COULTER: What I'm saying is...
SMILEY: But repudiate it and on both sides of the aisle.
COULTER: Yes, of course we repudiate it.
COULTER: But so do...
TYLER: But you've engaged in it many, many times in your own discourse with others, where you've called them names and you've engaged in what you call jokes later, which other people might claim were racist or dismissive. And I think...
COULTER: No, I've never been accused of that one. No, it's coming.
SMILEY: Dismissive but not racist?
COULTER: No, no, no, racist. I've been accused of making anti- women...
TYLER: The camel -- the camel joke.
TYLER: You don't think people thought it was racist?
COULTER: No, that was anti-Muslim.
TYLER: OK. It was anti-Muslim (INAUDIBLE).
COULTER: Anti-gay and -- yes, anti-Muslim.
TYLER: Yes. OK.
COULTER: Oddly enough, though I assume it's coming, because ultimately...
TYLER: Just wait. It will happen.
COULTER: -- I have to be (INAUDIBLE).
SMILEY: But this isn't a -- this isn't a badge of honor for you, though, seriously?
COULTER: I don't think I am any of those things. Maybe a little anti-Muslim because I'm still angry about 9/11.
TYLER: I think we all are.
COULTER: No, I said -- my point is exactly what you are saying, that this is how liberals respond to me, by calling me names.
COULTER: I mean I'm not here to complain about it, but if you're going to bring up the issue of incivility, I think it's uncivil the way "The New York Times" and, frankly, some people on this New York have been portraying the Tea Partiers, who, by and large, are honorable Americans. And we haven't gotten proof of any actual...
SMILEY: I'm not...
COULTER: Tea Partier doing...
SMILEY: But, Ann, I am -- I am not here to defend the network, CNN. But CNN didn't do this poll...
SMILEY: -- that finds that these Tea Party members have...
COULTER: What poll?
TYLER: The poll back when we started this, "The New York Times/CBS News poll...
COULTER: But what's the...
SMILEY: -- that suggests that the Tea Party movement thinks that, you know...
COULTER: Obama -- the Obama...
COULTER: -- favors blacks.
SMILEY: He favors blacks, he's anti-Americans...
TYLER: That black people make too much of their problems, that they need to stop whining. I mean these are things that came out of a poll.
TYLER: It wasn't conducted by CNN.
SMILEY: But let me -- but let me shift now. Let me -- I don't want to debate that. Let me shift now.
COULTER: I'd like to debate that.
Well -- respond quickly (INAUDIBLE).
COULTER: The only thing I'd like to say -- I don't know what the percentages are. There are a lot of people there. It is a "New York Times" poll. There was another poll taken a month ago that I consider more honorable than a "New York Times" poll.
But, also, I mean after what happened with Professor Gates up at Harvard and Obama using a press conference to attack the white cop, there is some reason for some people...
TYLER: Wait a minute...
COULTER: -- to give...
SMILEY: But there's also...
SMILEY: But, Ann...
TYLER: He didn't use it.
SMILEY: -- there's -- but there's also.
TYLER: He just responded to a question. He didn't hold a press conference where he attacked white cops. Someone has brought it up...
COULTER: Look, I'm not saying I agree with that. But it's not like it's out of left field here.
SMILEY: But, Ann...
COULTER: (INAUDIBLE) are that way.
SMILEY: But neither is it out of left field when Sarah...
COULTER: And what percentage (INAUDIBLE)?
SMILEY: Hold on. Hold on. But not...
COULTER: What percentage was it?
SMILEY: Not -- it is also not out of left field when Sarah Palin puts up that target sign on certain districts on her Web site that people are concerned about, which raises this question for me, Sarah Palin, is she uncivil in her discourse?
And -- and beyond that, why do you think we're so fascinated with Sarah Palin?
COULTER: Oh, that's a great question.
The poll I'm referring to from a month ago showed that 20 percent of the Tea Partiers voted for Obama. More than 50 percent had a favorable opinion of him personally. They don't like the big government policies.
So I want to cite that poll, as long as you have your poll.
And -- and -- and Sarah Palin and -- and the target thing, I mean that sounds like the sort of Princess and the pea whining I usually hear from a different cable network of oh, oh, we're so upset...
SMILEY: Come on, Ann.
-- and kill the -- no, no, no. But the "Kill the Bill?"
Liberals are acting like that's assassination rhetoric.
Come on. It was Joan -- what's her name, Joan Benatar's song, "hit me with your best shot."
COULTER: Is that dangerous?
TYLER: Let's draw -- let's draw a quick and specific analogy. I -- I would not dispute that there were liberals who -- who brought vigorous -- vigorous -- vigorous, you know, kind of vigorous polemicism and, you know, metaphor to their debate -- to the debate when -- when the Bush administration was in office.
But nobody fired at the White House. Nobody fired at different legislators' offices. I mean there is a violent -- no one showed up at rallies with guns. There is a violent tinge to what's happening now that is demonstrative, it is aggressive, it is bald.
When you have people showing up at Tea Party administrations and they've got, you know, they're -- they -- they're wearing a holster.
COULTER: And those are some of our black Tea Partiers.
TYLER: Well, I haven't seen any black Tea Partiers carry...
COULTER: Hidden by the media...
COULTER: -- I might add, who the face of the guy was hidden.
TYLER: I'm not saying they don't exist. What I am -- what I'm talking about is the Tea Party movement, race-free, there is an undercurrent of violence that's happening now...
TYLER: -- the threats...
SMILEY: I think...
TYLER: After the health bill passed, I know where you live, the guy who was calling Pelosi on the phone.
COULTER: (INAUDIBLE) the actual guy...
TYLER: Do you ever want to see your home again?
COULTER: -- violence has been committed by liberals.
TYLER: What violence are you talking about?
COULTER: I told you, there was a black conservative who was beaten to a pulp and had to be hospitalized at a St. Louis Tea Party. There was a town hall in California where...
SMILEY: I get your point, Ann. I've got...
COULTER: -- the conservative's...
SMILEY: We've got to.
COULTER: -- finger was bitten off.
SMILEY: Ann, we've got to...
COULTER: There is no...
TYLER: Yes, because he punched a guy in the mouth and so he bit him back.
COULTER: OK. At least we punch.
SMILEY: Let me jump in.
SMILEY: Ann, let me jump in. I think -- I think the point is that we have to be intellectually honest in this discourse. We've got to be intellectually honest in the discourse and we have to repudiate this nonsense wherever we find it.
We'll leave it there for the moment.
Gloria Estefan is hosting a party for the Obamas tonight, speaking of President Obama.
So why does that have her in so much trouble?
You think Ann's in trouble, Gloria Estefan is in trouble right now.
We'll talk to her live from Miami Beach in just a moment.
Stay with us here on LARRY KING LIVE. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SMILEY: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Tavis Smiley, sitting in for Larry tonight. His son Chance is pitching in a very big little league game. Larry back here tomorrow night with Willie Nelson.
We now welcome Gloria Estefan to this program. She's a Grammy award winning -- multiple time, for that matter -- superstar and proud Cuban-American. She's hosting tonight the Obamas at a fund- raiser for Democrats at her home in Miami Beach. And that has her in hot water with the some conservative members of the community of late for doing this event.
Gloria, first of all, thanks for coming on. You and your husband have been known for years for your activism on this particular issue in Miami, and beyond. But you have not been known to be partisan. So why this event tonight for the Democrats and for the Obamas?
GLORIA ESTEFAN, SINGER: Well, Tavis, thank you very much for having me. Tell me why I'm in trouble? I didn't know that part. I heard you say that. We're still nonpartisan. I am not affiliated. The bottom line is that if the White House calls and says we're coming to Miami, we'd love to do it in your house, what more of an honor for a Cuban-American immigrant that came here when I was two years old, than to have the president of the United States in my home and to be able to speak to him about some of the things we have been doing.
We had a march here for the Ladies in White (SPANISH), in support of what they are going through in Cuba, getting beat up for just walking out peacefully in the last seven years. They walk, ask for the freedom of their political prisoners that were unjustly incarcerated. This year, they were beat up, thrown on to a bus.
To have the president of the United States here -- he also issued a very strong statement the day before that march, on March 24, I think it was. So it was an honor. It was an honor to have President Obama here. I support him. I think he's -- you know, he's in a tough position. I think anybody that took over this country at the moment that he did is going to go through a lot. I think, you know, we're coming back, little by little.
SMILEY: Did you get a chance or will you have a chance to speak to the president about this issue of U.S./Cuba relations? And, if so, what have you or will you say to the president on that matter?
ESTEFAN: I did very much. We already had the event. We had it in two parts. A small group of people met with him first on one side of the house. And then after he greeted them, I was able to show him pictures of the march that we had, pictures of the Ladies in White in Cuba getting violently beaten by the police and thrown into a bus.
I gave him a letter from a martyr of recent times. His name is Orlando Sapato de Mayo (ph), who died on a hunger strike and was beaten mercilessly during the hunger strike, 18 days without water. He died. Another one, Guillermo Familez (ph) is about to die. He's only asking for the release of 26 prisoners of conscious that, in essence, are dying because they are so sick. He's been on a hunger strike for 85 days.
I was able to talk to him about that, give him letters from the mother of the dead dissident, from (SPANISH). We had a good talk. Then I introduced him. In my introduction, I said a lot of the things I wanted him to hear. He was standing right by me, as was everyone here at the party. So it was a wonderful night for us.
SMILEY: I got 45 seconds. Let me ask you right quick, you mentioned earlier that it was an honor for you to have the president in your home. Trust me, it was an honor for the Democrats as well, and the Republicans to be in your home, given what you and your husband represent, and given that you have not been partisan heretofore. The Republican party seems to think that, in the past at least, that the Cuban-American community has been pretty solidly in their camp. With a new generation of Cuban Americans coming along, is that starting to shift and change a bit, do you think, in terms of political affiliation?
ESTEFAN: Well, the president was voted in here in Dade County, in a very Hispanic and very Cuban-American community. So that should give you that answer. We continue to be nonpartisan. We happen to go for who we think is the best candidate. There were Republicans and Democrats here today. The beauty of this country is that we do have that discussion. Although, I've got to tell you, I think you guys are turning Cuba with the very passionate discussions that I have been watching lately on American television. And the politics always lights people's fires. Politics and religion always do that.
But the beauty of this country is that you have that discourse in freedom and without consequence. I think we always have to stand up for that, although I would hope that we learn more civility. I think the fact that the Internet and things like that makes us more anonymous is kind of firing people up just to let go and really go at it. We can still hear each others' opinions, although diverse, without having to resort to that kind of thing.
SMILEY: I know you have had a full night tonight. I think you for your time, Gloria Estefan. We appreciate you.
ESTEFAN: Thank you, Tavis, so much for having me on.
SMILEY: Thank you. Quick response from Aisha and Ann. I think the question, very quickly, is -- there's been a lot of talk, Ann, of late that the Obama coalition is fraying, that what he had to win in 2008 he doesn't have. Look at Massachusetts, Virginia, they say. Look at maybe his own state of Illinois, they say. What about this move by the president to get to Miami, get to Florida, and to try to shore up a base, or reach out to a new base, as it were?
COULTER: It's probably a good idea. From what you say the reaction to Gloria Estefan is, doesn't sound like it's going to work. But I would venture to say that Gloria Estefan will be treated better by conservatives, even though she's hosting Obama, than Michael Steele or that poor conservative black Tea Partier who got beat up will be treated by liberals.
TYLER: Look, the fact of the matter is that any coalition frays when you get into the muck and the mire of trying to run a country. The president has equivalent ratings to what Reagan had in his first term in office at this exact same point. That guy had -- he is a conservative. You know, the man is floating somewhere with a halo in conservatives' minds. The president is exactly same place, same place with numbers. People love him personally. I think we are going to see two terms from this guy, if he doesn't fall apart.
SMILEY: Aisha Tyler, thank you. Ann Coulter, thank you as well.
COULTER: Thank you.
SMILEY: Buzz Aldrin is here next. He is the president's wing man when it comes to the future of the space program. He was on Air Force One today with the president. We'll talk to him in a moment. Stay with us.
SMILEY: President Obama traveled to the Kennedy Space Center today to pitch his vision for America's space program. He wants to boost NASA's budget by six billion dollars over the next six years, but pull the plug on a project to send U.S. astronauts back to the Moon. Here's some of what he had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am. But we've got to do it in a smart way. And we can't just keep on doing the same old things that we have been doing, and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMILEY: A number of former astronauts have opposed the president's plan, but not Buzz Aldrin. He piloted, of course, the Apollo XI lunar module in 1969, and was the second man to step on to the surface of the Moon. We welcome him to LARRY KING LIVE. Mr. Aldrin, good to have you on the program, sir.
BUZZ ALDRIN, FMR. ASTRONAUT: Thank you very much. I'm sorry Larry isn't here. But I enjoy talking to you. Nice to be with you again.
SMILEY: That makes two of us. Sorry that Larry's not here. Larry's back tomorrow, I promise you. Let me start by asking about the ride on Air Force One today with the president. How was the ride? Tell me why you, when other astronauts are not -- people like Neil Armstrong, people like Jim Lovell -- why are you supporting the president in this move, this change in direction for NASA? ALDRIN: Well, I support it because, primarily, we are re- evaluating the course that we were on, that I do not think was leading successfully to an exhibition of American greatness. I don't think we really needed to go back to the Moon again, even though, at the time, it looked like a quick trip there on the way to somewhere else might be more enthusing for the American public. We have been staying in Earth orbit for quite a while.
But the manner in which it was implemented right from the beginning, trying to build a small rocket on one solid rocket for the crew and a large rocket for the cargo -- we didn't need to divide it up into two different kinds of rockets. One medium size would have been fine. It would have been very much like what's been launching the Shuttle. We sure ran into trouble --
SMILEY: So what do we gain from this new direction that President Obama wants to take the space program in? What's the end game here?
ALDRIN: Well, we can have a program, two-phase program that leads toward permanence on Mars without the distraction and the large expense of sending our astronauts back to the Moon again. By the time we could get there with any reasonable spending, it would be pretty close to 2030. And I'm sure the Chinese and Indians and others would be there by that time in a competitive race.
I think it's much better for us to take our experience and an international lunar development corporation, where we have a majority position and help out the other nations. We put a large amount of money into that space station, and I'm glad that we have extended it another five years, so we can test out the equipment that we need for long duration flight, which we don't have right now, and weren't going to get from the Constellation Program.
We need to reorient the Orion spacecraft so that it's not taking crews up to low Earth orbit and back, but, instead, it's an orbit to orbit spacecraft that is reusable, and gives us a specialized transportation for Mars, back to the United States -- back to the Earth orbit, where a spacecraft from the Earth, a commercial spacecraft from the Earth, will be up there and rendezvous with them and bring them back, land them in a runway.
SMILEY: I've got to --
ALDRIN: I hope that's the kind of --
SMILEY: I hate to cut you off, Buzz. I got to break here just a second. When we come back, I'll let you complete the thought. I want to ask whether or not you think space exploration is still a priority for Americans all these many years later? How do you have Buzz Aldrin on the show tonight without talking about "Dancing With the Stars" and what happened backstage. We'll do that next here on LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.
SMILEY: Back now to Buzz Aldrin, who joins us live via satellite. Buzz, I mentioned before the break that I wanted to ask whether or not you think space is these days, in 2010, still a priority for Americans. President Kennedy talked about going to the Moon. President Obama, reminiscent of that Kennedy speech, talked today about Mars. Are Americans still looking at space exploration as something we ought to be doing as a priority of sorts?
ALDRIN: Well, I certainly hope they are. Every sense I get is there was great enthusiasm hearing the president speak today. And I think it's a question of working these details out in the next several months. And I would expect to see an even further commitment once we get some of the details worked out, as to exactly what kind of launch vehicles we are going to be having. In the meantime, of course, we have expendable rockets that are commercial that can take a spacecraft that's been defined for some while, studied by NASA, that can land back on a runway.
I'm really strongly in favor of that. I think that stands a very good chance of being the preferred way of bringing people back, both from the space station and both from exploration missions. That was not possible with the previous program. We just didn't have enough money to do that. So, I think the reallocation, as the president said, is going to result in reaching a heavy lift vehicle sooner than we would with the president -- previous president's plan, where we were going to build two different launch vehicles, which would have been competing with the private sector.
I think the commercial people are fully capable. They have done this in the past in aviation. And I'm certain they will be able to do that with the space flight.
SMILEY: Buzz, let me ask you -- before I lose you, let me ask you two things, right quick. did you enjoy your "Dancing With the Stars" foray? I was just reading about your iPhone app. You are one hip brother.
ALDRIN: Yes. I have an iPhone app here that's called the Buzz Aldrin Portal to Space for science and space exploration. Can't quite get it to do what it's supposed to be doing.
SMILEY: Hey, Buzz, you hold that thought. While you figure out how to work the iPhone app, I'll come back to you. I promise. Let me tell viewers that April is, on another note, National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This week's CNN Hero is drawing on her horrific childhood experiences to save other victims. Wynona Ward is a trucker turned lawyer at age 48. She's helping battered women and children in rural Vermont. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WYNONA WARD, CNN HERO: When I was growing up on a back road, family violence was an accepted way of life. My father raped me and beat my mother and my other siblings. When the neighbors heard screaming coming from our home, they just turned their heads. For domestic violence victims in rural areas, it can be very devastating. They are out there with no access to in town services.
My name is Wynona Ward. The turning point for me was when a child in my family revealed that she had been abused by my father and my brother. I just said this has to stop. When I graduated from law school, I was 48 years old.
I go to people's homes, give them in-home consultation, provide them with free legal services and transportation to and from court hearings. I can understand them and they know that I will be there to protect them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMILEY: Ward has helped nearly 10,000 victims of domestic violence, and drives nearly 30,000 miles a year to do it. To nominate someone you think is changing the world, visit CNN.com/Heroes right now. More with Buzz Aldrin and his iPhone app after this. Stay where you are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMILEY: Did you smoke a few joints, go on stage and sing.
WILLIE NELSON, SINGER: Sure. Oh, sure.
SMILEY: Did you smoke pot today?
SMILEY: Before you came here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMILEY: Can't wait to see that tomorrow night. Larry King joined tomorrow night back in this chair with Willie Nelson. Tonight, though, a few more minutes with Buzz Aldrin. Buzz, before the break, we learned about your iPhone app. That's pretty cool. How cool was it to be on "Dancing With the Stars," Buzz?
ALDRIN: I think it was a great honor to be selected, as an 80- year-old, to represent those people and also because of the contributions of the Apollo program in the past. By being on that program, I think it reminded people of the great successes of Apollo, and also got them, in a timely way, to think about the transition that we have from the Constellation Program to go to the Moon to a program that I think holds greater promise for the American people and for leadership.
We can help other nations go to the Moon. We can bring China and other nations into the space station. And this is my application. And if you can see this, this is the Buzz Aldrin Portal for Science and Space Applications. And it's got quite a few different categories that you can learn all you would like to learn about space, people that I bring together, and round table discussions, NASA watch, NASA TV, space reference. And we'll be having lots of different discussions and op-ed pieces written by different people.
SMILEY: Buzz, I got --
SMILEY: I got to jump in. You are one busy guy with your iPhone app and "Dancing With the Stars." How you squeezed us in, I don't know. I appreciate you being tonight here on LARRY KING LIVE.
Larry, thanks for letting me sit in. Larry is back tomorrow night with Willie Nelson. And Monday, "American Idol's" Simon, Randy, Ryan, Ellen, and Kara will be here to talk about "Idol Gives Back." Now time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."