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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY
Interview With Governors Rendell, Pawlenty; Interview With Admiral Thad Allen
Aired May 23, 2010 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: From the Gulf of Mexico to the hills of Kentucky and the streets of Philadelphia, it was a clarion call. Washington doesn't work.
REP. JOE SESTAK, D-PA.: This is what democracy looks like.
CROWLEY: It comes from Joe Sestak, who ousted five-term incumbent Arlen Specter.
SESTAK: Over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C.!
CROWLEY: And from Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, who trounced the choice of the Republican establishment.
RAND PAUL, KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Washington is horribly broken. I think we stand on a precipice. We are encountering a day of reckoning.
CROWLEY: And it came from the Gulf Coast, from an outraged Obama loyalist saying the administration is being duped by BP.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Somebody has got to like shake them and say, these people don't wish you well. They are going to take you down.
CROWLEY: And even from the president.
OBAMA: Even as we continue to hold BP accountable, we also need to hold Washington accountable.
CROWLEY: Even deep inside the establishment, being anti- establishment is all the rage.
Today, politics with two of the sharpest political minds in the country. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Then, oil in the Gulf with Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: We don't want to perpetuate any kind of notion at all, whether it's BP or the United States, that this is anything less than catastrophic for this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: And BP managing director, Bob Dudley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOB DUDLEY, BP MANAGING DIRECTOR: We all want to clean it up and move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley and this is State of the Union.
Let's just say that the results of Tuesday's primaries did nothing but confirm the notion that this year, being in is out. If you need more proof, take a look at this. A Fox News poll asked if the only thing you knew about a candidate was that one was the incumbent and the other was a new challenger, who would you vote for? Overwhelmingly, 41 to 20 percent, voters said they would vote for the newbie.
Joining me now from Los Angeles, Democratic Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and from Minneapolis, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Thank you, Governors, both, I appreciate it.
Governor Rendell, first to you, since you had two kind of interesting races in your state Tuesday night. Is the anti- incumbency, anti-establishment fervor for real?
RENDELL: Oh, no question. Anytime you have got a serious economic problem in the country, and we still do, although Pennsylvania has gained 55,000 jobs in the last two months, Candy -- but even though we've done that, we still have a tough economic problem when people have lost their jobs, their homes, their 401(k)s. There is a lot of anger out there, and it's usually visited on incumbents. And you are seeing it all over, either party, it doesn't make a difference.
CROWLEY: And Governor Pawlenty, if you had to talk to an incumbent, what's the best way to run? I mean, there are a lot of them out there running this year.
PAWLENTY: Well, I think the best advice for anybody running is to be for change, and it's not just anti-incumbent, it's what that incumbency represents. It represents a commitment or a sense of a commitment to flaw -- a flawed past, flawed strategies, out-of-control spending, out-of-control deficits, an economy that has not yet recovered, is sputtering. And so it's not just against incumbents. It's a dissatisfaction with the substance underneath it, and it really relates profoundly to the economy.
CROWLEY: The second sort of storyline that we saw running through Tuesday, Governor Rendell, was about the Tea Party, which had its first statewide success in the election, at least to be the Republican nominee of Rand Paul in Kentucky. Tell me how much of a power you think the Tea Party is.
RENDELL: Well, I think the Tea Party movement, which is the anger that people feel towards incumbency, it has some power, particularly in Republican primaries. But if you look at Pennsylvania 12, Candy, that was a district that John McCain carried against Barack Obama in '08. I lost it the first time I ran for governor. So it is a Republican performing district. Mark Critz, the Democrat, won by 8.5 points. And the Tea Party -- that was a special election, the Tea Party was not a factor in that election at all. In fact, everyone thought Critz was going to lose early on.
CROWLEY: I have got to believe, Governor Rendell, that you sort of like the fact that the Tea Party seems to be a rising force in the Republican Party.
RENDELL: Sure. I think it is a difficulty for the Republican Party. I think they have lost some very, very good people, like Governor Crist, who I think Tim and I both admired for a long time. Like Senator Bennett, who was a conservative, was an anti-spender, and he was targeted and defeated.
I think the Tea Party candidates are going to be more easy to beat in a general election. I think that's the case with Rand Paul.
CROWLEY: Well, what about that, Governor Pawlenty? We did see Rand Paul, sort of, at the very least get tied up in knots over the Civil Rights Act of 1965, something a probably more seasoned politician might have avoided. Don't you end up in the Republican Party having weaker candidates if you have Tea Party candidates?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think, first of all, Candy, that his comments about the Civil Rights Act were unfortunate, and he since then he said he would have voted for that Civil Rights Act. His explanation was unfortunate how he got to that point. But in any event, the Tea Party movement represents I think new energy, new ideas, passion around these themes of we have had enough, government is too big, the debt is too big. And to the extent that accrues to the Republican side of the ledger, that's a helpful thing.
We will take that energy. It is still a little chaotic in some ways. But it's a good thing. Every generation has an insurgency in politics. It brings new energy, new people, new ideas. I am glad that energy is on the side of the conservatives and the Republicans in most of these races.
CROWLEY: How much, Governor Pawlenty, do you think the anti- incumbent mood, that sort of there's too much spending, there's to a certain extent, too many taxes. How much of that is also aimed at state governments? Can you tell us from your point of view?
PAWLENTY: Well, state governments, unlike federal governments, can't print money in the basement. We have to balance our budgets. But you are seeing a sentiment in these state races across the country. There is 37 governors races up on the ballot this year. I am the vice chair of the Republican Governors Association. I am heavily involved in this, and it looks like the playing field, the sentiment, the issues significantly favor conservatives or Republicans. People, even in a place like Minnesota, there was a recent poll and they asked, do you want a smaller or bigger government, do you want your government more effective and more limited? And the sentiment was very favorable towards the conservative or Republican perspective. And that is in a traditionally liberal place like Minnesota. So clearly, the winds are in our favor, at least for 2010, but you don't want to take these things for granted. You set the expectations so high, that it's hard to live up to. And I think it's important that Republicans stay focused on doing the work and delivering the message.
CROWLEY: I want to ask you, Governor Rendell, and then back to Governor Pawlenty, and that is about your state budgets, because both of you are under enormous pressure and have to balance your budgets. And you have got a big problem in Pennsylvania. Some of your -- the tax receipts have not come in the way you thought they would, as I understand it. You are about $1 billion in the hole. Isn't all of that going to kind of also drive anger toward state officials and towards yourself? Although, I know you are getting out of office and are term-limited, so you don't have to worry too much about it.
RENDELL: Well, I do worry about it, not because of elections, but because it is a real problem.
But actually, Candy, we have a relatively small underperforming revenue. Our deficit is a little under $1 billion. Illinois is 12.5. New York is 10. New Jersey is 11.5. California is, what, 30.
CROWLEY: You still have to make it up some way, don't you?
RENDELL: We still have to make it up. And we have cut so far in the last two years, we have cut $2 billion of state spending out of the budget. We will continue to make cuts that are necessary. And there are some type of revenue enhancements that the public overwhelmingly supports in Pennsylvania. We are the only state in the union that doesn't tax cigars and smokeless tobacco, for example. We are the only shale state in the union that doesn't tax natural gas extraction. So those things the public overwhelmingly, by 65 percent plus, favors. So by balancing cuts and some common-sense revenue enhancements, we will be able to handle--.
CROWLEY: And by revenue enhancements, you just mean tax increases on certain things?
RENDELL: No, these aren't tax increases. These will be new taxes on things that we are unique in the fact that we don't tax, and the public supports that.
CROWLEY: OK. Governor Pawlenty, you took a slightly different route, I know. But I have to tell you, I was looking, the governor of Arizona actually instituted some tax hikes in order to try to get her budget in balance. She is a Republican, obviously. Is it just verboten that Republicans raise taxes in order to get their state budgets under control?
PAWLENTY: Well, I sure hope so. I mean, one of the things that Republicans do stand for and should stand for is that we think the country and our states are taxed enough. In Minnesota's case, I have drawn a line in the sand and saying, we are not going to raise taxes. Minnesota's problem is not that we're an undertaxed state. We have been trying to lower taxes in Minnesota, not increase them. So we just finished our legislative session and solved a significant budget deficit with no tax increases. And I think that's the direction that states should go.
And I think people are sending the message that they think government is too big, spending has gone up too fast, taxes are too high. And that's why I think Republicans are in a better position coming into this fall than our friends on the other side of the aisle.
CROWLEY: We will have more from Governor Pawlenty and Governor Rendell right after this break.
CROWLEY: Before we get back to the governors, a few poll numbers to help explain the political atmosphere. Since 1979, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. Often, the results are a big indicator of what to expect in elections years.
In 1982, only 24 percent of Americans said they were satisfied. The party in control of the White House that year, Republicans, lost 26 seats in the House but none in the Senate. In 1994, only 33 percent of Americans said they were satisfied. the Democrats were in the White House and they lost a whopping 54 seats in the House, eight in the Senate.
This year, 23 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things going in the U.S. That is a record low for a mid-term election year. The reason they take polls so often is that people change their minds pretty often. For now though the Gallup satisfaction figures are just another in a host of factors making Democrats uneasy about November.
CROWLEY: Welcome back. We are talking with Democratic Governor Ed Rendell and Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Governor Pawlenty, first to you, for all of the figures that we can find in the polling that shows that the Democrats are in trouble and it is a mid-year and therefore they are bound to lose seats, the Republicans don't get a free ride here. There are plenty of polls showing that still Americans prefer a Democratic Congress.
What is the way that a Republican goes out there to kind of break through this vision of Republicans as sort of way too far to the right? PAWLENTY: Well, keep in mind, Candy, that to the extent there are people who view Republicans as too far to the right, there are a lot of people who view Democrats as too far to the left. So there is an analog to each of these things.
You are right, there is certainly a shift back in a more favorable way towards Republicans and conservatives. But a big chunk of that is people saying they don't like the president's policies, this Congress's policies. And some of them are moving back just to the category of independent or unaffiliated. And that opens the doors to the Republicans being able to make their case.
And so we have to address the bread and butter issues that most people are concerned about. And that includes, am I going to have a job? Am I a school where my child goes that's going to be high quality? Am I going to be able to afford college for my kids? Am I going to be safe? Am I going to have health care? Those are the bread and butter issues that most people care about.
And if Republicans are going to say government isn't going to do those things or isn't going to do them directly, we have to articulate our vision for how our ideas and values are going to connect to help provide or encourage those things in the economy. And that's not rocket science, but that's what it boils down to.
CROWLEY: And Governor Rendell, there is a movement, it would seem, that the country is growing a little more conservative. At least, there is a lot of talk about how much spending is going on. And the president's popularity, his approval rating, more importantly, has gone down, sometimes dipping below the 50 percent rate.
Does that not spell real trouble for Democrats? Because, after all, you know that mid-term elections are a referendum on the party in power.
RENDELL: Well, first of all, Candy, I think you said it in your question to Governor Pawlenty. Look, in the last month, the polls on who would you like to see control the Congress, Democrats or Republicans, have flipped by almost about 10 points. It is now 45 percent of the American people want Democrats to control the Congress, 40 percent want Republicans. That's a fairly big shift in the last month, month-and-a-half.
And I think it is occurring because the economy is starting to bounce back. As I said, we gained 55,000 jobs in two months in Pennsylvania, 450,000 nationally. So I think there is a sense that the stimulus is starting to work. That maybe the bailout of GM wasn't such a bad idea. The banks are starting to repay with interest, a lot of the money that was given to them in the bailout.
So I think there is a growing sense that those policies weren't so bad after all, number one. And number two, I want to answer your question by referring to the poll that Tim talked about in Minneapolis. People do want effective government. That's not to say they don't want government to spend. For example, I head up an organization called Building America's Future with Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Bloomberg. And every poll we take says that the people want us to invest in better roads, in safer roads, bridges, highways, ports and levees.
So the American people aren't dumb. They want effective government, not necessarily less or more, but they want effective government with targeted spending that's accountable, transparent, and works, and is decided by merit.
CROWLEY: Governor Pawlenty, let me turn a corner here with you. The president of Mexico was in the States visiting with the president. He went up on Capitol Hill and gave a speech. I want to play you just a little snippet of something he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: I strongly disagree with the recently adopted law in Arizona.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So the visual there is when he says he strongly disagrees with the law in Arizona as all of the Democrats stand up and the Republicans sit in their seats, how appropriate -- and I'm going to ask this to Governor Rendell as well, how appropriate is it for the leader of another country to come to the legislative body of the United States and criticize some of the state laws?
PAWLENTY: Well, President Calderon is an important friend and ally of the United States. And we certainly welcome him. And we want to make sure that our country has good and positive relations with Mexico. He has also to come to the reality that the immigration situation between our two countries is out of control.
We need to have an immigration system that's legal and reasonable and orderly. What we have now is none of that. Arizona is understandably frustrated, as are a lot of other states. And so I think he should actually read the law. Most people in the media who are talking about it have mischaracterized it or misunderstand it or misportray it, Candy.
So I think we need better enforcement of the laws and immigration. But as to your question, I think he's free to comment on our policies.
PAWLENTY: The United States certainly comments on policies in Mexico. So I don't have a problem with that. But let's talk about the merits of the issue and the real problem on the ground. And it is a real problem.
CROWLEY: Governor Rendell, real quickly, did you have a problem with what the Mexican president said? RENDELL: No, I agree with Tim. But I didn't think anybody in Washington should be applauding. Because this problem should be answered federally. And this issue has been ducked by the Congress for a long while. And we've got to get to work and fashion a fair, reasonable bill that protects our borders and yet gives immigrants a chance to become citizens.
CROWLEY: A quick question to you because we have run out of time.
Governor Rendell first, what are you going to do? You're term- limited. Where are we going to find you a year from now?
RENDELL: Well, I'm going to do some teaching. I do a sports TV show, post-Eagles games. I'm going to do a little bit more of that. And I'm writing a book, Candy, which you don't have to pay for it.
CROWLEY: OK -- good, I'm glad to hear that.
You're done with politics, then? Is that what I hear?
RENDELL: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to run for elective office again, yes, that's correct.
CROWLEY: All right. Thank you.
RENDELL: I'm 12-2, and for a baseball pitcher, that would be worth about $15 million a year...
... but I'm done.
CROWLEY: You're -- and you probably won't get the $15 million?
Thanks, Governor Rendell, very much. RENDELL: No, that's for sure.
CROWLEY: Governor Pawlenty, to you, in a recent article, Governor Rendell was quoted as saying, if he had to give any advice to a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, it would be to put Marco Rubio as number two on the ticket.
Should you decide to run in 2012, does that sound like a good idea?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think Marco Rubio is a rising star, tremendous talent for the Republican Party. I read that same interview, and I know Governor Rendell was making that recommendation in light of the important demographic of reaching out to Latinos, as from a Republican or conservative standpoint. And there are going to be many new rising stars of Latino Republicans and conservatives, and Marco Rubio is certainly going to be one of them. And I think he's got a very bright future. CROWLEY: We'll take that as a maybe.
RENDELL: Candy -- Candy?
CROWLEY: Yes, sir?
RENDELL: I really wanted to -- to help Tim. So when I endorsed Marco Rubio, he's gone, and it clears the way for Tim.
CROWLEY: All right.
Great. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time and getting up early in your time zones. I appreciate it.
PAWLENTY: Thank you.
CROWLEY: Up next, we will turn to the devastating oil spill in the Gulf. My conversation with the man in charge of the federal government's response, Admiral Thad Allen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Do you trust them?
ALLEN: I trust Tony Hayward. When I talk to him, I get an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Before we move on to the disaster in the Gulf, a small example of just how complicated the landscape is. The rig that 11 men died on wasn't technically an American rig. It operated under the flag of the nation of the Marshall Islands. It is registered there and is subject to their laws. The operator, Transocean, has 13 oil rigs in the Gulf. Four are flagged under the Southwest Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Two are Panamanian and seven under the Marshall Islands. Why?
Jim Oberstar, chairman of one of the oversight committees, called it simply a matter of saving money on safety and liability standards. He cites Coast Guard testimony before an investigating committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES L. OBERSTAR, D-MINN.: Coast Guard inspection of a U.S. flag mobile offshore drilling unit takes two to three weeks, but the safety examination of a foreign flag offshore drilling unit such as the Deepwater Horizon takes four to eight hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: The Coast Guard says any ship operating in U.S. waters must have a certificate of compliance which states that the vessel has the equivalent or same standards as the United States. The ill-fated Deepwater Horizon had such a certificate. President Obama has promised a complete view of the regulations.
When we come back, an interview done yesterday with the man overseeing the whole operation, Commandant Thad Allen.
CROWLEY: Joining me now to help us understand where we stand on the oil spill is Admiral Thad Allen, commandant of the United States Coast Guard. Thank you for joining us.
ALLEN: Hi, Candy.
CROWLEY: First of all, just give me the lay of the land at this point.
ALLEN: Well, it's -- we're, kind of, fighting a multi-front war right now. First of all, regarding the spill itself, it's really not a large, monolithic spill. It's actually subdivided into a lot of smaller spills.
Our big concern right now is oil that's coming to shore around Port Fourchon in southern Louisiana and trying to redeploy our forces there to meet that. At the same time, we're seeing tar balls in Mississippi and Alabama.
And this spill has really spread out wide concerning its perimeter, but it's really concentrated, heavy starts, throughout the area of about a 200-mile radius.
CROWLEY: The last time you and I talked, I asked you, on a scale of one to 10, with the Exxon Valdez being a nine, where this is.
You thought it was pretty high up there. Where would you put it on the scale today, knowing what you know?
ALLEN: Well, by the time we get this leak sealed, the volume that's out there is probably going to start to approach that much.
What's very different from the Exxon Valdez is the point of discharge here. That's 5,000 feet under the surface. There's No human access there. Almost all the work is being done with remotely operated vehicles. That is vastly different. Its makes this a much tougher technical problem.
We had a grounded ship before, and we knew how much oil was there. Right now, until we seal that leak, this is an indeterminate amount of oil that's coming to the surface.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you, they want in New Orleans, in Louisiana, to build, sort of, a barrier before the barrier islands to try to catch the oil before it comes in and does damage, burns, if you will, which will require some dredging.
They haven't gotten permission from the U.S. government; they haven't got BP to say that they'll pay for it. Would the U.S. government give its permission should BP pay for it?
ALLEN: Well, we're in the process of looking at the proposal. Right now, the Army Corps of Engineers is looking at it from a permitting process.
ALLEN: Rather than wait until they're done and they say, all right, here's what we think we should do, what do you think, from an oil spill response, we're engaging them right now.
In fact, I've been in contact with the local political leaders in Louisiana. We're talking to the parish presidents and working with the Corps of Engineers. We're specifically looking at, are there smaller projects that wouldn't take a long time? Some of these will take almost a year to do, six to nine months.
Is there something we can do right now quicker that may have a better effect? And those conversations are under way.
CROWLEY: I want to play you something that the secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, said recently in a conversation I had with him, the same day I talked to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN SALAZAR, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Our job is basically to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum to carry out the responsibilities that they have both under the law and contractually to move forward and to stop this spill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Now in what way have you kept the boot on the neck of BP? What have you forced them to do? Because from the outside looking in, it looks like BP is in control and doing their thing. That's the perception.
ALLEN: Well, first of all, BP's operation is being run out of Houston, Texas, and from the start, we have put Coast Guard people down there, Department of Interior people. The secretary, too, from Energy...
CROWLEY: What are they doing, though? Are they saying, BP, do this now? Or is BP saying, hey, we're doing that, and you go, check?
ALLEN: Well, what is happening is there is -- it's really a collaboration, including the rest of the oil industry as well. Last week we had what we called a scientific summit on the conference call. Secretary Salazar, Secretary Chu. BP had to go step-by-step on how they're going to this top kill that's going to be attempted in a couple of days. And all of the assumptions of BP before were questioned by people like John Holdren in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. So as these ideas are brought up, and courses of action are determined, metaphorically being pulled through a knothole by some of the best minds in our country from the Sandia Labs and places like that.
So there is a lot of oversight going on there.
CROWLEY: So but what -- people want to know and there is a good deal of frustration, particularly down in these states where they're sort of watching, they feel, helplessly, this oil coming at them either under the surface or on top of it. And they say, why is BP in control now?
They don't trust BP, so why is BP in control of this?
ALLEN: I don't think it's an issue of control. What makes this an unprecedented anomalous event is access to the discharge site is controlled by the technology that was used for the drilling, which is owned by the private sector.
They have the eyes and ears that are down there. They are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved. Our responsibility is to conduct proper oversight to make sure they do that. And with the top kill that will be coming up later on this week, that's exactly what is happening.
CROWLEY: And your relationship with BP has been good? Do you trust them? Because you've got to know that there are a lot of people out there that think they really didn't tell us the truth about the flow rate. That they didn't tell us the truth about what safety regulations that they had or would have when they started drilling.
Do you trust BP? Are they doing what they say they're doing?
ALLEN: When I give them direction or the federal on-scene coordinator gives them direction, we get a response. I've got Tony Hayward's personal cell phone number. If I have a problem, I call him. Some of the problems we have had that we've worked through are more logistics and coordinations issues.
CROWLEY: Do you trust them?
ALLEN: I trust Tony Hayward. When I talk to him, I get an answer.
CROWLEY: I want to let you listen to something that he said recently in an interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP: I think the environmental impacts of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest. It's impossible to say and we will mount as part of the aftermath, a very detailed environment assessment. But everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environment impacts of this will be very, very modest.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Do you agree with that?
ALLEN: Well, I'm not sure when and where he said it. Obviously...
CROWLEY: He said it this week.
ALLEN: Obviously they are not modest here in Louisiana. We need to be putting all hands on deck there. And we don't want to perpetuate any kind of notion at all, whether it's BP or the United States government that this is anything less than potentially catastrophic for this country.
CROWLEY: Well, this is why I think people don't really trust BP, because here is the CEO of the company out there saying, well, we think the environment impact will be very modest. This was three or four days ago. There was already oil coming in on the beaches of Louisiana.
So that's why I guess there is this whole feel that the administration has trusted BP. That you all in the form of the Coast Guard have trusted BP when actually you should have been much more skeptical of the things they were telling you and the things they're doing.
ALLEN: Yes, I wouldn't even say it's -- I wouldn't say it's trust even, Candy. We have a -- we in the Coast Guard, through our federal on-scene coordinators, Mary Landry and myself as (INAUDIBLE) commander, it's not trust, we're accountable. And we should be held accountable for this.
We've got a very large, complicated spill going on out there. And while there may be just a small amount of oil compared to the entire amount that has been discharged that has come ashore, it could be characterized that way. We are taking this very, very seriously and we know the potential catastrophic effects this could have on the country, and we're acting accordingly.
CROWLEY: And do you think that they are telling the public the truth?
ALLEN: Well, let me talk about the flow estimates, because I think that's really important. I've said from the start, I don't think anybody can know to a virtual certainty how much oil is coming out of that pipe down there. That's why we've empaneled a group of experts, including academia, and really qualified scientists from around the world to actually put this together.
From the start we deployed resources in anticipating a catastrophic event. So I think what we need to do is get all of the information on the table and come up with a good flow estimate. I've never been comfortable with any estimate I've been given since this thing started. CROWLEY: And so you don't -- you don't have a feeling that BP is deliberately underestimating this?
ALLEN: I don't think anybody has a handle to estimate this correctly, and I've said that from the start, Candy.
CROWLEY: OK. We're going to take a quick break. But we will be right back with more from Admiral Allen.
CROWLEY: We are back with Admiral Thad Allen, commandant of the United States Coast Guard, in charge of overseeing this oil spill in the Gulf or this oil spurt in the Gulf.
I want to play you something from James Carville, who is both a Democrat and a supporter of the Obama administration, as well as a native of Louisiana, and what he had to say recently about how the administration is handling this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They are risking everything by this go-along with BP strategy they have. And it seems like lackadaisical on this. I think that the government thinks they're partnering with BP. I think they actually believe that BP has some kind of a good motivation here.
And that's one of the sort whole flaws, is they're naive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Have you been too slow to this? It does look as though the administration has taken sort of a -- you know, let's watch this and see what happens approach.
ALLEN: I disagree, Candy. I've been involved in this from the start. Within an hour-and-a-half of the incident, I was called at home, I was up during the night on the search and rescue case. The progression of coordination across the federal government changed as the event got more complex through the search and rescue, through the sinking of the drilling unit, through the discovery of the leaks.
We ramped up accordingly in accordance with our doctrine. But I've been involved in this thing from the start.
CROWLEY: Yes, they have a couple of more things that they can do to try to plug this leak that they will try early next week. They've not had a lot of luck so far, needless to say. After that what happens? Do we have to wait until August for the sort of more permanent fix to this?
ALLEN: Well, the real fix is going to be when they have the relief well drilled, they relieve the pressure and they cap it.
CROWLEY: This is August, right? ALLEN: In the meantime, what they're going to try and do is push drilling mud down the well to try and seal it.
ALLEN: If they are unsuccessful in stopping the flow with the top kill, which is what they're planning, the next step would be to put an entirely new blowout preventer on top of the current one. There is one out there on the -- on the drill rigs that are doing the relief wells.
I was out there on Thursday with Deputy Secretary Lu (ph) and Deputy Secretary Hayes, and we actually looked at it. That will be deployed to put right over the top of the current blowout preventer, should this tactic fail.
CROWLEY: So if you look at the -- sort of, the path and the other things that have been tried that have failed, putting the dome over it and that sort of thing -- if we have to go until August for the, sort of, more permanent fix to be set up, is that satisfactory?
Can that possibly happen?
ALLEN: It shouldn't be satisfactory to anybody. I mean, there's an immense level of frustration that it's taken this long. We are exhausting all the technical possibilities.
The fact of the matter is, we're on entirely new ground, here, on how we deal with oil spill responses. All of our protocols, everything we've done so far, we've pretty much premised on the criteria that were established by the Exxon Valdez.
With the lack of human access to the discharge point, the fact that we're looking at everything through remotely operated vehicles, this is an entirely new world. And I've said on many occasions this is closer to Apollo 13 than the Exxon Valdez.
CROWLEY: But it's possible we could go until August before there's a -- we can stop...
ALLEN: I'm not willing to rule that out. You're talking about pressure and you're talking about bearing down on BP. That's exactly what we've got to do. We cannot wait until August, nor should we wait until August.
CROWLEY: Commandant, Admiral, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.
ALLEN: Thank you.
CROWLEY: When we come back, we will hear from the company that says the are ultimately responsible for cleanup efforts in the Gulf. BP managing director Bob Dudley is next.
CROWLEY: Welcome back to "State of the Union."
We are leading up to what could be the most critical moment yet in the month-long oil spill in the Gulf. Tuesday, BT -- BP plans to shoot mud into the blowout preventer to attempt a top kill that will plug the leak.
Of the options remaining, this process is seen as having the best chance of succeeding. If it fails, oil could continue to spew into the Gulf until a permanent relief well is finished, about two months from now.
Joining me is Bob Dudley, managing director of BP.
Thank you so much, Mr. Dudley, for doing this. I know these are not easy times for BP, nor for people who live along -- along the Gulf.
So let me ask you, first of all, about this top kill. As honestly as you can tell me, what are the odds this is going to work, since we have seen so many other things fall short of expectations?
DUDLEY: Good morning, Candy.
I'm in the engineering command center right now. And Secretary Salazar is being briefed on the -- on the details of the operation.
We have a team offshore of 16 men who killed many of the fires of Kuwait and Iraq. We've got the best minds on this. We think what we're going to try to do is pump this heavy fluid, overcome the flow of the well.
It hasn't been done. It's all being done by robots down below on the seabed.
If that doesn't work, there's a secondary operation we will do, which is -- you've heard about it -- the "junk shot," which is -- there's quite a bit of science to it. It's pumping in various high- temperature pieces of rubber.
And then we've got a third step we can take. It's something called loss circulation material.
There's a series of options here. I believe that activity will begin either late Tuesday or at dawn on Wednesday, because we need daylight. There is no certainty at these kind of depths. But we all want it to work. And we've all got steps that we'll put in place immediately if it doesn't.
We will keep trying to shut off this well. We're not going to wait until August.
CROWLEY: Commander Allen seemed to suggest that this was -- the top kill really was the best option, that others, sort of, increasingly look less likely to actually work.
Do you think, then, that there is any possibility that we will get to August and still have to be waiting for that long-term fix?
DUDLEY: No. I believe we'll have a series of activities of attempts to kill the well for good. And if we reach the point where that -- we've exhausted all those, and that's a long way to go, we will put another containment device over the top of it to recover the oil while we wait for the -- the well in August.
So, no, all of our plans -- while we're prepared for August, all of our plans will be to stop it long before that.
CROWLEY: Also, Admiral Allen said that he would be upset or not agree with anyone who described the current situation, insofar as the environment is concerned, as anything less than catastrophic.
Does BP agree that this -- this is catastrophic for the environment?
DUDLEY: Oh, Candy, absolutely. You see the films of the oil washing on some of the beaches in Louisiana. This is catastrophic for, well, every employee of BP. It is catastrophic for the 24,000 people down there working on the spills that we've let some get through these defenses.
We're going to remobilize equipment and materials and people from other parts of the Gulf over around Mobile.
This is catastrophic. We've got to do everything we can, shut off the well, clean this up as fast as we can...
CROWLEY: But in the end...
DUDLEY: ... and we'll make good on our -- on our promise.
CROWLEY: In the end, you can't really clean all of this up environmentally. There is some lasting damage that will go into decades, will it not?
DUDLEY: It -- there is no question that this much oil in the ocean is going to take a long time to clean it up. It is different than the Valdez spill because it's much warmer waters. The biological processes will work faster.
But you can clean up the beaches. The marshes are very, very sensitive. There's not as simple to get in and clean. There are techniques that will be done. There was a lot of oil spilled in that region after Hurricane Katrina, and the marshes have recovered.
But we will undoubtedly measure and investigate the effects of this spill for many, many years to try to determine and learn the long-term impacts of this. We are committed to both cleaning it up, studying it, understanding it.
CROWLEY: Among the problems that you have faced, you have a very big P.R. problem. It all centers around the word "trust." I want to play you something from Congressman Ed Markey that he said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. EDWARD J. MARKEY, D-MASS.: I think now we're beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP. People do not trust the experts any longer. BP has lost all credibility. Now the decisions will have to be made by others, because it's clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of this spill.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: That is pretty -- pretty tough stuff. I think it stems from a lot of things. First of all, no one believes that only 5,000 barrels of oil are coming up off the ocean floor. A lot of people think BP has been covering up and not telling people what's actually going on.
How do you respond to the idea that you've even got people on Capitol Hill that don't believe a word you're saying?
DUDLEY: Well, all of us at BP are trying to solve the problem. Those words hurt a little bit, because we've been open about what we're doing. What we're doing is certainly not anything in secret. We've had direct oversight and involvement from government agencies from the very first hours afterwards.
There is an imprecision around the measurement around that crude oil, which I've used the analogy that it is a little bit like popping a soda can rushing out with lots of gas and oil. There's lots of gas in this crude. The rate is unclear. We are measuring and producing some of that today.
But in terms of not trusting BP, there's nobody -- nobody who is more devastated by what has happened and nobody that wants to shut this off more than we do and learn what happened so this never happens anywhere, to anyone anywhere in the world again. So...
CROWLEY: Mr. Dudley, I'm sorry, I have to...
DUDLEY: ... I think we're being open with all investigations.
CROWLEY: All right. Thank you so much. Mr. Dudley, Robert Dudley, managing director of BP, we really appreciate your time. We have to run.
Up next, a check of today's top stories. And then the governor of Arizona takes on the critics of her state's immigration law in a very creative way.
CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. Republicans scored a special election victory Saturday when Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou won a House seat held by the Democrats for the past 20 years. It's also the district where President Obama grew up. Once Djou is sworn in, the new balance of power in the House will look like this, 255 Democrats, 177 Republicans. But the Republicans' gain may be short-lived, Djou will have to run for a full two-year term this November.
Security forces say they held off an attack on NATO's largest base in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault in which insurgents fired rockets mortars, and tried to breach the base perimeter at Kandahar Airfield. No deaths are reported, but officials say some civilian and base personnel have been injured. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to Beijing for high-level economic and strategic talks with Chinese leaders. The discussions will be dominated about how to punish North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship, and new sanctions for Iran. Today Secretary Clinton called for a more balanced economic relationship with the U.S.
And those are your top stories here on STATE OF THE UNION. At the top of the hour, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" looks at the ongoing tensions between Russia and Georgia two years after the countries went to war.
But up next, why the governor of Arizona has enlisted a sock puppet in her latest political ad.
CROWLEY: And now our "American Dispatch." It's hard to remember a time in recent history when a state was as maligned and condemned as Arizona has been over the state's new bill cracking down on illegal immigrants. There have been protests and threats of boycotts and criticism. Boy has there been criticism from the president down to the street.
The governor has argued that opponents misrepresent the bill. So call this Arizona's revenge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): reading is really super swell. Reading is great so let's all shout it out loud. Reading helps you know what you're talking about. Let's see what these folks have to say about reading.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you read the Arizona law?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not had a chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you read the law?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have I read the law?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Have you had a chance to review the new law that was passed by the state of Arizona?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not read it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously?
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Not read it. But it's 10 pages. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CROWLEY: It may not be the last laugh, but it's the first one in a debate that has been pretty hostile all around.
Thank you for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. For everyone else, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.