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Oklahoma City: A City That Works; Harsh Realities of the Job Market; Electoral Messaging and Oh, Snap Moments in the Campaign; Republican Civil War; Name Your Cut; Tea Party Racial Nuggets

Aired October 26, 2010 - 20:00   ET


KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Kathleen Parker.

ELIOT SPITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer.Welcome to the program.Tonight our "Opening Arguments," civil war in the Republican Party. You know, Kathleen, still a week to go before the midterm elections, but already a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

PARKER: The Republican Party is always at war with somebody. They're either firing at the federal government or they are firing at each other.

SPITZER: But normally they are disciplined, I thought. Normally the disciplined Republican Party knew what its message was, knew what its priorities were. Now even before they have their big win they're already counting in the bag. You know, the Tea Party is at war with the main part of the Republican Party. We don't know what they stand for anymore if they're going to be able to govern.

PARKER: Well, the Republican Party knows what it stands for, it stands for low taxes and cutting government spending. Come on, Eliot.

SPITZER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. This is the Republican Party that has left us with the biggest deficits in history and economic cataclysm that Barack Obama had to clean up. Ronald Reagan, deficits, George Bush, deficits, George Bush II deficits, Bill Clinton, the one Democrat in there, surpluses.

PARKER: Oh come on, Eliot, you know I'm not a partisan and we do know that you are, but let me just clarify the record as a reporter. I have to, it's my duty to do this. This started with Freddie and Fannie under Clinton, you know that. Bush threw steroids at it.

SPITZER: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness, Kathleen. Somebody got to you. You are mouthing cheap little points.

PARKER: No, no, it's the homeownership society. We give Bush the credit for that or the blame for that.

SPITZER: Where is that moderate voice of reason I've been talking to that understands Wall Street laid the foundation for this. The deregulatory policy of Ronald Reagan destroyed our economy. In 30 years, middle class income peaked when President Bill Clinton was president. PARKER: You're lecturing again.

SPITZER: The median income, the top, highest it's ever been. Suddenly things fell apart under George Bush. Come on, let's be real about solutions. I tell you, Fannie and Freddie are part of it, but don't say that...

PARKER: They're a huge part of it. It's all about giving -- no come on, the loans to people who couldn't afford mortgages, that's where it all started. You said that a million times.

SPITZER: From countrywide, from all the banks, from the underwriters and the rating agencies. It was everybody. Don't buy into the notion...

PARKER: I'm not blaming everybody, but I mean, you've got to spread the blame around. You have to -- no, no. You blamed it on the Republicans, I'm the one that said no, that this goes across the board.

SPITZER: Let's come back to where we started, though: Civil war. Civil war.

PARKER: You are losing so you want to bring it back another point.

SPITZER: No, no. As we said the other night, go see "Inside Job" and then ask the question, who is at fault. That movie, we agreed, with the definitive statement.

PARKER: Systemic. Systemic. Systemic.

SPITZER: OK, let's go back to the Tea Party. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but none the less, one thing we know, civil war in the Republican Party for Democrats, going to be fun to watch.

PARKER: But first, it's time for "The Arena," and that civil war we've been talking about for the soul of the Republican Party, meet two of the generals.

He's a conservative Republican from Virginia who is both governor and senator who many saw as a presidential possibility, George Allen.

SPITZER: And one of the pioneers of the conservative movement who lately has been highly critical of George Allen and his fellow Republicans, Richard Viguerie.

Welcome to you both.

PARKER: Speaking of which, Richard Viguerie, I want to read a quote from you. We love doing this with you.


PARKER: Well, you're so quotable. OK. You said, "It was President George W. Bush, Karl Rove and the Congress of George Allen's vintage who actually spawned the Tea Party. And anyone who thinks the Tea Party is a reaction to Obama is missing the whole point." You said, "...they blindly and foolishly remain part of the problem." So is George Allen part of the problem?

VIGUERIE: There are votes that Senator Allen would like to take back now. But a week before the election, the problem is not Karl Rove or Governor George Allen or anybody else out there. The problem is the liberal Democrats. People are angry, they're furious out there...

SPITZER: Wait, wait, wait a minute.

VIGUERIE: The people are ready to rise up and they will revolt next week. It's interesting that you want to deflect the conversation to a different subject.

SPITZER: Let me interrupt you for one second. I love your party loyalty. I know it is a week before the election. But you took a direct shot right at George Allen who is former governor, former senator. We got him on the show.

Governor Allen, I want to give you a chance to respond to what Richard Viguerie said. He's backing off a little bit, party comedy is nice. How do you respond to being blamed for the Tea Party?

GEORGE ALLEN, FMR VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Well look, the differences that Richard and I have are minuscule. I've always admired Richard Viguerie from the days I first got involved in organized politics for heading up Young Virginians for Reagan when I was a student in 1976 at Mr. Jefferson's university.

The difference if you read Richard's piece is that -- when did the Tea Party start? Well it galvanized last year, but Rich sard exactly correct that the antipathy and the movement and the folks getting upset with what's going on in government began before this year and, in fact, there somewhere things that I disagreed with President Bush on. Whether it was amnesty for illegal immigrants, I had questions about Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court justice, And then when you see the TARP bailouts and then the really thing that I think set a lot of folks off by President Bush was the bailout of automobile manufacturers and taking from one and giving to another. And that sort of approach of saying that, gosh, I want to save the free market system for -- by abandoning free market principles just doesn't make sense.

So, I've spoken at a lot of Tea Party rallies. They've invited me to them, I've enjoyed it. And it's actually healthy to see that the people are standing up for the future of America and that's what this election in 2010 and 2012 will be about as the future direction of our country.

PARKER: I think it's great these two are having such a lovefest, here.

ALLEN: I know you don't -- I know you all don't like that, but we're actually friends.

SPITZER: We're all friends.

VIGUERIE: We've go to focus on next Tuesday, Kathleen.

PARKER: All right, so what happens after that. You've declared war...

VIGUERIE: You know, when I say that conservatives are like Governor Allen, myself will have a great time election night and maybe we'll sleep in the morning after the election, have breakfast in bed, read the papers, watch a little TV, but then the afternoon we battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

SPITZER: Well, let's drill down on that for a moment. John Boehner who is, if you are correct and you win and, governor, you have predicted this as well -- if he becomes the speaker of the House of Representatives, he has said he would compromise on the tax cuts. He said, not many weeks ago, that he would concede the middle class tax cut extension and tax -- pass a tax increase on the wealthy. Would you go for that?

VIGUERIE: Oh, absolutely not. And he's backed from that 100 percent. And there's though way that the Republicans in Congress in this new Congress are going to allow that.

SPITZER: Governor, would you think this could happen as part of a compromise after the election?

ALLEN: Absolutely not. I think the very first thing they need to do is prevent tax increases. And the tax cuts we passed in 2001 and 2003, which reduced taxes on income for families, small business owners, reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends, they need to stay in place. That would be the very worst thing that the government could do is raise taxes on our economy and would hurt jobs.

The second thing I think they need to do is repeal and replace Obamacare with health savings accounts. They need to stop the spending accounts. And the fourth thing is take responsibility for energy policy and withdraw from EPA the power to regulate CO2 which would cause skyrocketing electricity, fuel and food prices and be a job killer, as well.

PARKER: Governor, I want to ask you a quick question. Mr. Viguerie has said that everybody is buddies until November 2, until after the elections, and then he's going to declare a war on those Republicans who aren't quite ideological enough. There's going to be a purge, in other words. Are you onboard with that purge?

ALLEN: Kathleen...

VIGUERIE: I never said "purge." Nobody said "purge."

PARKER: Well, I said, "purge," but that's what we're talking about.

ALLEN: No, Kathleen, you know, I know you are trying to stir things up.

PARKER: No, I'm just trying to get to the bottom of it.

ALLEN: Here's what I'm going to be focused on and I think Richard will and I think more importantly, not just us four, but all Americans are going to want to see the Republicans in control and keeping their words, keeping their commitment to the American people. Whether it's on preventing tax increases, rational energy policy, stopping this out-of-control spending and the people clearly want to see a repeal of this Obamacare.

And I think it's very important that we have a positive, constructive agenda to get America moving and ascending in the right direction. And that's what I think we're going to be focused on and we're going to have a lot of good, new blood in Washington. Some have been there before, like Senator Coats, and there will be other new ones like Marco Rubio from Florida and I think it's going to be an exciting time to get our country back in the right direction.

VIGUERIE: Let me just say that we ought to add on to what Governor Allen said, you've got an administration, Kathleen and Eliot, that's moving significantly to the left. You've got a country that's moving significantly to the right. To paraphrase Mr. Lincoln, this House cannot stand divided. And we have a divided country right now. And something has got to give. And the American people are tired of big government. They want less government involvement in their life. And we're off to a big battle in this country.

SPITZER: Well, I just want to come back to some numbers here because, Governor Allen, I think when you were in the Senate; you were in the Senate during the tenure of President Bush. He left us with the biggest deficits until that moment in history. There was absolutely no control of spending. You were part of that. Did you vote for his budgets?

ALLEN: I did. And...

SPITZER: And isn't that why Mr. Viguerie has gone right at you and said you are the problem. You're mouthing nice Tea Party words now, you voted for the biggest deficits in history until that time, didn't you?

ALLEN: Well, those deficits pale compared to what we see now. I also...

SPITZER: No, no, no, Governor, I'm going to hold your feet to the fire. You're trying to remake yourself as a Tea Party member.

ALLEN: No, no...

SPITZER: You voted for the single largest deficits in history. Did you not?

ALLEN: I voted for those appropriations bills, and I also, if you want to get the full record there, Mr. Spitzer, is I tried to stop some of the spending. I actually...

SPITZER: You voted for it. ALLEN: Well, you have amendments to bills. They even put in a bill to stop this spending. It was actually called that, "Stop Overspending." And there were a few of us, about a dozen, who tried to stop the Republicans spending on the Bridge to Nowhere and for orchid gardens in Pittsburgh and indoor tropical rain forests in Iowa. And there's a lot of things that I tried to do. Unfortunately, there was only about 13 of us who stuck together with it. And I'm one...

SPITZER: But I want to come back to the...

ALLEN: ...who believes we do need to have a government that is focused on its primary responsibilities, which are national defense and not meddling in a variety other things that are really to be left to the people in the states.

SPITZER: But the point I'm making is the reason that Richard Viguerie, and we quoted the words, said you were the reason the Tea Party was upset, and you voted for the largest deficits in history when you were in the Senate.

ALLEN: Yeah, and a lot of -- look, Eliot...

SPITZER: We're talking facts, here.

ALLEN: Lessons learned.

SPITZER: Guys, we're talking facts on this show, not pabulum. And we're going to hold your feet to the fire on fact.

PARKER: Here's a slightly different question. Can the Tea Party and the Republican establishment Party co-exist?

VIGUERIE: Well, no, I mean, this is a House divided. The Republicans lost the Congress in '06, they lost the White House and more congressional seats in '08 having, in my opinion, and most all Tea Party members, nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama. Had everything to do with George Bush, Karl Rove and the big government Republicans in Washington, D.C.

And you're making too much of a fight between Governor Allen and myself. It was the leadership coming out of the White House and leadership of Obama -- excuse me, of Boehner and McConnell...

SPITZER: Richard, Richard, Richard, Richard, we quoted -- you wrote the article, you put his name in it. You said he was responsible, his outrageous spending. You said his inability to control spending created the Tea Party. Now, you're trying to play nice a week before the election. That's politics. We're trying to deal with facts, here. He voted for the largest deficits in history. That's a fact.

VIGUERIE: I'm shocked we've got politics between Spitzer and Richard Viguerie. Well, I'm shocked.

SPITZER: We're talking facts.

PARKER: And I think Mr. Viguerie. ALLEN: And hold it. Eliot. Eliot, let me just say something. And in the event that I had voted against these appropriations bills you'd be saying oh, and you didn't fund the troops in Iraq and how can you not fund the troops in Iraq, so...

SPITZER: No, I'm just looking for some consistency and we're going to, in a couple moments...

ALLEN: There is consistency if you look at my record.

SPITZER: We're going to come back in a moment to see what we're going to do to figure out how we balance the budget and how we actually control spending and I want your views on that because that is, according to you both, the Tea Party's primary mandate. Cutting taxes is the easy part. Controlling spending is where the rubber hits the road. As a governor, you did that and I think that's the conversation we have to have.

PARKER: We have to take a quick break from this fascinating discussion and we'll be right back with Richard Viguerie and Governor George Allen.


D.L. HUGLEY, COMEDIAN: Listen, I come from a state where Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor. I mean, only in California would you vote for a dude just because you like "Terminator."

PARKER: Let's talk about that. I mean, how much fun would it be to have President Palin?

HUGLEY: It would not. I don't think it would be that. I don't think the country could take another one.



PARKER: We're back with former Virginia governor and Senator George Allen and veteran conservative Richard Viguerie.

SPITZER: All right, guys, we -- as you know, every time with guests like you are who are sophisticated, smart, ask a very simple question, name your cuts. Now, Governor, I want to begin with you. You are and your record as governor in Virginia was admirable when it comes to spending. When it comes to the federal budget, right now, you're supportive of extending the tax credits in perpetuity for all taxpayers, it creates a hole of about $11 trillion over the next decade. How do you close that chasm? Where do we cut?

ALLEN: Well, first of all, a lot of these reductions in taxes and tax cuts actually help economic growth. By cutting capital gains taxes for example, the government gets more revenue. By having more competitively low taxes you get more investment and more jobs and, therefore, more revenue. There are several places where -- any place that really has nothing to do with the primary responsibility of the federal government, which is national security and national defense, probably needs to be looked at for reductions. Right off the bat, they ought to get rid of every one of these czars.

My goodness. We overthrew a British monarchy in our secession from Britain, the last thing we need are czars being ensconced on the north banks of Potomac. These people have a lot of power, they aren't accountable to the people and have a lot of power and authority. And I think they all ought to go.

I think there obviously needs to be a reduction in what the -- with the defunding of Obama care, which is spending a trillion dollars that we don't have to dictate - mandate to people when we can have much better approaches using health savings accounts. So those are some areas where there ought to be reductions...

SPITZER: Governor, can we just go back over this for a second because, first of all, the notion that the reduction in marginal rates would spur economic activity and generate revenues, that's been factored into all of those numbers I gave you by the Congressional Budget Office and all of the others. We have an $11 trillion chasm. Firing the czars, maybe 20 people, that's good. OK, we're saving the payrolls of 20 people. You're not going to cut...

ALLEN: How about a trillion dollars in Obamacare?

SPITZER: No, no, you're wrong on that. Obamacare is pegged to save $100 billion a year for the federal government. That's a bipartisan number. What will you do on Social Security? You -- will you go with Paul Ryan and raise the retirement age? As Paul Ryan has suggested?

ALLEN: There's actually a logic in doing that. People are living longer, healthier lives, more productive lives and it may be that that is something that ought to be looked at.

SPITZER: So looked at or is -- you want it to be...

ALLEN: Well, I think it should be part of consideration of Social Security. That's something that should be on the table and you have to look at what that specific proposal is, but that's one that does have some logic and rational reasoning behind it.

SPITZER: Medicare, you're willing to raise the age from 55 up to, I think, again, Ryan's proposal is 59-1/2?

ALLEN: I'd have to look at that. One thing I know that's happening in Medicare, talking to real people in the real world, is they're losing their Medicare Advantage in the midst of this Obama care of dictates. I think we ought to be promoting personal responsibility rather than dependency on others.

SPITZER: But you aren't trying to cut -- whittle away Medicare, I presume?

ALLEN: No, what I would like to see with Medicare is Medicare Advantage which has been a very good program where people pay extra into it and they're responsible for themselves and, unfortunately with Obamacare, people are no longer -- no longer have access to it. For those who are not on Medicare or on Medicaid, for that matter, I'd like to see health savings accounts, where individuals own their own accounts and they can go from job to job and not have to worry about losing insurance because a family member has some malady or sickness that would not be covered.

And I think that people, if they owned their own policies, they'll care more about the cost, they'll also build up their own nest egg that the government cannot steal from them. And I think we're much better off with a more affordable, personalized health savings account approach than having these dictates and dependency on the government or employers.

PARKER: All right. Thank you. Richard, just to turn to you and give you a chance. Last time you were on this show, you referred us to Paul Ryan and we wondered if you had any cuts.

VIGUERIE: Well, yes I did, but I thought that little clip, quite frankly, left out my answer, which was you have to deal with entitlements. You have to change the age at which you can draw Social Security. It's ridiculous that most be draw Social Security at 62, they're living into their 80s or 90s. I think we can all talk about individual cuts, yes. Let's start with public radio. That's on the...

SPITZER: Let's talk about real money.

VIGUERIE: No, I understand, exactly. We can talk about abolish the Education Department, Energy Department, humanities, arts, it's so many things. But to get to your answer, for 80 years, Eliot, mostly Democrats, but Republicans have been part of the problem, too, have built up a massive system of government that allows them to continue to run for re-election and be re-elected. We have to have some commissions to get to the heart of how we restructure government. There are some systemic problems here that have to be addressed, and we have to relook and look and examine everything...

SPITZER: Richard, I agree with that, because time is short, we're trying to get everybody's full answer on. Would you support raising the retirement age on Social Security to 70? Yes or no?

VIGUERIE: For those not close to retirement now, absolutely. You have to 20, 30, 40s years old you have to...

SPITZER: Move it up to 70?

Governor Allen, would you go for that? Yes or no.

ALLEN: I'm favorably inclined to do so, as I told you in the original question on that subject. The one thing we can have commissions, but I'll tell you what really needs to get done right away and it's something we in the states have. And that's the requirement of a balanced budget and the president having line item veto authority. That will force -- force the members of Congress and the executive branch to live within their means. I know that as governor. You had to say no a lot of times to people who wanted more spending. I used the line item veto 17 times and after you use it a few times, they understand it.

And those are just basic common sense ideas that are working in the states. And we really need to rein in spending at the federal government. If you do so, they can't be meddling and manipulating and being officious nannies and nothing that are really their responsibility and are best left to the people and the states to decide.

PARKER: OK, one quick question. There are a lot of rumors that you're running again for your Senate seat in 2012. Would you like to make an announcement here tonight?

ALLEN: It's such a friendly place to do so.


I am focused on helping folks in Virginia who are running, Glen Elkhart in Delaware and we have a lot of good opportunities to Virginia and I'll make a decision. There's been a lot of folks encouraging Susan and me to get back into it and I really do feel the direction of our country needs to get turned in the right direction where there's more opportunity, freedom and personal responsibility rather than dependency, dictates and mandates from the federal government.

PARKER: All right then. Thank you George Allen and Richard Viguerie for being here.


SPITZER: We look at these clips of the Tea Party, seems to be monochromatic.


PARKER: Beige.

SPITZER: Beige, at best. You feel comfortable in the Tea Party?

HUGHLEY: No, actually. Actually, no.



SPITZER: D.L. Hughley is with us again, tonight, here in person. D.L. is an actor, a comedian, a sharp observer of the political scene.

D.L., we look at these clips of the Tea Party, it seems to be monochromatic.


PARKER: Beige.

SPITZER: Beige, at best. You feel comfortable in the Tea Party? HUGHLEY: No, actually. Actually, no. And you know, even the -- like I don't -- I believe that everybody has, certainly, the right to express themselves, but they always seem to be throwing these little nuggets just tinged with a little bit of racism and a little bit of, you know, just a little bit of racism.

And I think that, like you'll hear some of the things they say like Rand Paul when he made the comment about the civil rights. Or Sharron Angle when she said I'm - "some people think I'm Asian," right? So, I think they throw these little nuggets out to -- which is kind of a nod and a wink to people who kind of feel -- who kind of...

PARKER: You think it's intentional?

HUGHLEY: I do, definitely. Very much.

PARKER: Well, I don't know. I hate to broad brush the whole Tea Party as racist.

HUGHLEY: Two words I love together. No, I don't think they are racist.

PARKER: OK. Let's clarify that.

HUGHLEY: I wouldn't quantify it. but I think that that they -- just like I would never qualify the Republican Party as racist, but they certainly know those elements exist in their Party and they don't mind throwing them red meat.

PARKER: And they don't -- I agree -- I mean, I disagree when there is a sort of wink and a nod. I mean, there needs to be outright condemnation when those things surface. Right? That's the easy thing.

HUGHLEY: I think the problem in this country is that people will feel a way and they don't feel comfortable expressing themselves, so we drive things further and further underground. I found that if you go back and you look at "All in the Family," which is a great satirical show, you try to do that show, every week, every episode, there will be somebody enraged.

We have driven conversation to -- underground. No one can have an honest conversation and honest dissent. It doesn't exist anymore. And you have two political parties that are determined to play on either side of it, and I think it's the reason why there is, you know, like the Tea Party is full of angry white people. They really is.

Now I'm not saying they're racist, but they're certainly -- there's a difference between being a racist and saying I hate that group or I hating that group. But the same group -- like I heard one guy, "I have black friends." But what if you had a black man who was dating your daughter or a black man who is president. Race looks a little different then. And I think that you can't call those people racist, but you can say that there is definitely a discomfort.

PARKER: Well, I've always had a lot of great uneasiness with the sort of aspect of "the other." You know? Back when the campaign was in motion and they were always -- you know there were certain people referring to Obama as, well, we remember, you know, Sarah Palin and John McCain, that one. You know, that kind of dog whistle communication bothers me.

HUGHLEY: And I think it is -- it works. And I think the Tea Party have been brilliant at one thing. The conversation is no longer George Bush and Dick Cheney. It's now the Tea Party. So you never -- it's almost like he wasn't president for eight years. It's almost like a lot of people that are running for office never existed.

PARKER: Is this a liberal conspiracy to get the Democrats out?

HUGHLEY: Well, It's funny because Sarah Palin doesn't even know that magazine exists, so she wouldn't actually know she was on there.

PARKER: She reads "The Economist."



HUGHLEY: I think she -- this may not -- this is ironic, but even though some people might take that as, you know, some kind of a liberal sleight of hand, I think that it's possible. Listen, I come from a state where Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor. I mean, only in California would you vote for a dude just because you like "Terminator."

PARKER: Let's talk about that. I mean, how much fun would it be to have President Palin?

HUGHLEY: It would not. I don't think it would be that. I don't think the country can take another one. So, I don't -- I think that you've seen a succession of people who have gotten into politics and they swear that they anti-establishment and they take pride in not knowing anything. Not about the Constitution. Not about law. Not about rights. And so it is interesting that this -- listen, we've had a -- we've had a wrestler as governor, we have had a, you know, an action star, we have a comedian that's a senator, right now, so why not a -- I don't even know what Sarah Palin would be, but why not?

SPITZER: Who is the last great president?

HUGHLEY: The last great president to me?


HUGHLEY: I think that there, to me, Bill Clinton, obviously. Obviously, there's been one two-term Democrat in modern history and that's Bill Clinton. I would defy anybody -- if you categorize greatness as being kind of resilient, he is the last -- name me another president in modern history that can -- 20 years after he was out of office still has, you know, gravitas on the world stage. He's very popular here and very popular abroad. People might say Reagan was a great president, but that stopped past the Pacific and the Atlantic.

SPITZER: D.L, thanks for being with us. We'll see you again in the "Political Party" later in the show. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would write the beautiful Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and I would, what the young people call "sext" her, by suggesting we have a beautiful romance together given that apparently her marriage with Nicolas is on the rocks.

SPITZER: Is that right?





ELIOT SPITZER, HOST: Tonight in our "Best Idea" segment, a city that works. Would you believe? A city with 6.3 percent unemployment compared to 9.6 nationally. A city with the second lowest foreclosure rate and the second lowest median rent.

KATHLEEN PARKER, HOST: And so we're talking about Oz, right, Eliot?

SPITZER: Sounds too good to be true, but this one is real. Oklahoma City, right in the heartland. Forbes voted it the number one recession-proof city in America and our own CNN Money says it is the best place to start a business.

PARKER: Well, you know, I'm actually not surprised it is Oklahoma City. I've been out there many times. And I have a lot of friends.


PARKER: I was actually talking to one today. And I said why is it that you people keep taxing yourself in order to build things because it just seems, you know, it seems counterintuitive.


PARKER: You don't like taxes, right? And this is a Republican, by the way. And the response was that we have --

SPITZER: We knew your friends were Republican.

PARKER: We have great mayors. And great leadership and he kept using the word integrity.


PARKER: And he said as a consequence we have faith in our government institutions. Imagine that. SPITZER: And you know what's amazing? They are raising these taxes to build sewers and sidewalks and an arena. The stuff we call infrastructure.

PARKER: It's hard to believe it was just not too long ago, 1995, that Oklahoma City was recovering from this horrible terrorist attack where 168 people died, including 19 children.

SPITZER: Nineteen children, yes.

PARKER: So, anyway, they've made an enormous progress.

SPITZER: Yes. And what is the crowning achievement now? Into this arena, what emerges but one of the new NBA teams, the Thunder. There you go.

PARKER: Ta da.

SPITZER: Kevin Durant could be the next MVP of the NBA, a season that starts just in the next day or tomorrow. But you know what, I can't touch that jersey as a Knicks fan. I'm sorry.

PARKER: No, you certainly can't.

SPITZER: My hands will turn purple or something like that.

PARKER: Go Thunder.

SPITZER: Anyway, hats off to Oklahoma City. Does it the right way. We'll be right back.


SPITZER: So what you're saying, just we need 22 million jobs. We need to add 150 each month to stay in place and we actually lost jobs last month. So this means we are sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss?

LEO HINDERY, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: You're in something that has historically been something we only talked about. We never really saw one before.


HINDERY: It's called a jobless recovery.



SPITZER: And just days to go until Election Day and the economy remains the number one issue on voters' minds. My next guest has some startling information on the real state of the job market. Our person of interest tonight, Leo Hindery, former CEO of major telecom companies, including AT&T broadband and founder of the Yes network. Also a former economic adviser to then-candidate Obama. And just to make everybody know, he's a multifaceted person. He won the 24 hours of Le Mans auto race in 2005. Which, to me, is the most impressive thing you've ever done, Leo. Thank you for being here.


SPITZER: Let's begin with what is your measure of real unemployment. And let's put up on the screen here the government number versus your number. The Labor Department tells us it's about 9.6 percent and your number is what?

HINDERY: My number is simply twice that. It's 30 million women and men, an unemployment rate of roughly 19 percent. This number is critically important. It's the only issue that brings social conservatives and social progressives together is their relative states of employment. In 1947, both political parties said, look, this is a killer number. If this number is off the rails, you could lose your standing --

SPITZER: By this number, you mean, the official unemployment rate?

HINDERY: Right. So we're going to leave a number of women and men out every time we count this. Every month when we count this, we're going to leave them out. And in the worst of recessions, there have been 10 since 1947, Eliot, in nine of those, the worst -- the uncounted number has been just a third. Well, today it's one to one. So we have 15 million women and men who are officially unemployed. But we have another 15 million who are just as unemployed.

SPITZER: OK. Give me a sense. You and I live with these numbers.


SPITZER: They make fun of me all the time around here because I love numbers so much. Tell me what are the categories of people who are not counted in the official unemployment number but you and I would say and common sense would dictate, of course, they should be counted.

HINDERY: Well, there are now 10 million women and men who are what's called part time of necessity. These are women and men who need and want a full-time job with a fair wage and benefits.


HINDERY: They can't find in this sick economy anything but part time.


HINDERY: So there are women and men who choose part-time employment for their family situations. These are women and men, Eliot, who are part time of necessity.

SPITZER: Of necessity. They want desperately a full-time job.


SPITZER: But just can't find it. And so they are -- that's 10 million people.

HINDERY: And the reason we need to be especially concerned about them is because their wages are fractions of a full-time --

SPITZER: Right. So their earning power is reportedly that much lower.

HINDERY: No doubt.

SPITZER: So that's one category of that 10 million. Next.

HINDERY: Then in the aggregate, we have another five million people of two categories. One called marginally attached.


HINDERY: These are often women and men we see sort of roaming around our cities looking for work, not finding it. The street corner employee, so to speak.


HINDERY: That's about two and 2.5 million people. And then there's roughly three million workers who are so discouraged, they've looked for so long, they've taken themselves out of the workforce.

SPITZER: And just to put a little more precision, they haven't looked in the last four weeks.

HINDERY: That's correct.

SPITZER: And, therefore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says even though we know you want a job, because you haven't looked in four weeks because they know you're discouraged, they don't count you.

HINDERY: And the irony of that is that individual is arguably the most unemployed of the unemployed.


HINDERY: They're so discouraged, despite wanting this job that they pulled out.

SPITZER: How many millions of jobs do we need to get back to where we should be?

HINDERY: We need to find 22 million today. That's -- that would put those 30 million at roughly full employment. But next month, it's 22 million and 150,000.


HINDERY: Because we have to add 150,000 each month to keep up with population. And so --

SPITZER: And how many did we add last month? HINDERY: We actually lost 95,000.

SPITZER: So what you're saying, we need 22 million jobs. We need to add 150 each month to stay in place and we actually lost jobs last month, so this means we are sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss.

HINDERY: You're in something that has historically been something we only talked about. We never really saw one before.


HINDERY: It's called a jobless recovery.

SPITZER: Let's take a look if we can up on the screen at another set of numbers that are hugely important to this and the joblessness in this nation which is our trade deficit with China. If you look at this chart, you can see that is just a descending line. Every year it is getting worse. This year, 2010, it will be about $260 billion. How does this factor into the joblessness?

HINDERY: Well, because it is debt, but it's debt that's stealing jobs from American shores. That kind of number doesn't occur without us having predated it with the offshoring of literally millions of U.S. jobs. And when you have so many unemployed, when you have so much income inequality, you have to keep that engine alive somehow and so you overborrow. And China is using our overborrowing to send us these goods at subsidized prices, illegal trade practices, currency manipulation, environmental practices that run amok.

SPITZER: Here's the thing. We all know trade -- bashing foreign nations is easy in a political season and saying unfair trade practices is easy. But you and I both grew up understanding economics. Trade is good but not when there's an unfairness. So again, go through, how are the Chinese gaming the system right now?

HINDERY: Well, nobody that I respect is against free trade. But everybody I respect demands that it be fair. And the only predicate between fair and unfair is, are you cheating?


HINDERY: And the average manufactured good in China versus its counterpart in the United States, 90 percent of that cost differential, is actually not labor. Many, many, many, too many American workers believe that their wages are what are holding this back. Ninety percent of the difference between a manufactured good in the U.S. and one in China is illegal subsidies, currency manipulation, child labor, environmental practices that are --

SPITZER: Just grotesque.

HINDERY: Grotesque. Tax holidays, loans that carry no interest and that become forgiven.

SPITZER: Is there any question in your mind that they manipulate the currency? HINDERY: Oh, not at all.

SPITZER: Now, why? And this is part politics, part economics, but do you think it is time for the federal government finally to say they are manipulating their currency?

HINDERY: Well, the tragedy for me personally, and I was part of the '08 campaign, is I thought one of the many specific promises, Eliot, that was made in the '08 campaign was that we understood this issue and we would attack it day one. So those of us who are concerned, as you and I are about trade and jobs, we thought we had an agenda that would lay out in front of us very specific.

These women and men that we talked about earlier who are unemployed, did not believe they were promised a job. They're not naive.


HINDERY: They felt they were promised an administration that would wake up in the morning and go to bed at night with its first priority being their re-employment.

SPITZER: Right. Leo, as always in this medium, time is short. But thank you so much for your wisdom on this. We will be right back.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I'm Joe Johns. More "PARKER SPITZER" in a moment. First, the latest.

From the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, a powerful storm system stretching some 1,200 miles has left a path of destruction. The dangerous winds generated at least three confirmed tornadoes and nearly two dozen more. There's extensive property damage across many states and tens of thousands of people are without power tonight.

Carly Fiorina is in the hospital. The Republican Senate candidate in California is a breast cancer survivor who had reconstructive surgery this past summer. She's being treated for an infection related to her surgery.

Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor in Florida, is capitalizing on a mistake made by his Democratic opponent, Alex Sink. It happened last night during their televised debate on CNN. A makeup artist seen in the lower left of the screen delivered a text message to Sink from one of her aides. That violated debate rules and Sink fired her aide. Today, Scott turned it into a political ad. Here's part of that radio spot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you going to decide? Did you watch the debate?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see Alex Sink get caught cheating?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean when CNN caught her breaking the debate rules and getting a note from her coach?




JOHNS: And tonight on "360," hear from a Texas man who believes he was fired for criticizing statements made by Congressman Louie Gohmert on "360" about so-called terror babies. We're keeping them honest at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

That's the latest. "PARKER SPITZER" returns after this.


SPITZER: It is time for "Our Political Party," a conversation with people who have strong opinions in a whole range of crazy topics. Let's meet our guest. First, Jennifer Palmieri, former deputy press secretary in the Clinton White House and Shushannah Walshe who is a reporter for and a co-author of "Sarah from Alaska," a biography of Sarah Palin.

SPITZER: And we have over here D.L. Hughley, a comedian and actor who is a friend of the show. As is, Reihan Salam, who writes a blog called "The Agenda" for National Review Online.

Thank you all for being here with us.

SPITZER: In case you didn't see it, there was an incident in the Florida governor's race debate last night. A texting incident. Let's take a look if you can take a look at the screen there. There you see it on the left. An aide brought an answer to a question to candidate Alexis Sink. Violates all the rules of any debate I've ever seen or been a part of. Just can't do that. It's like cheating on a test.

All right. If you could give any candidate a text message, what would it be?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I was going to text my governor Martin O'Malley from Maryland. I would tell him you're 14 points up. You have six times as much money as your opponent. Stop asking me for money.

PARKER: In that clip, Alex Sink is the one who did a no-no, right? And you've got poor Rick Scott getting his head, his paint polish. That's mean, don't you think?


SPITZER: Reihan, you have a view on this? REIHAN SALAM, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Oh, I know all about that. I know all about that. It's one of the great pleasures of my life just kind of puffing myself throughout the day. Just to stay fresh.

I don't know what to say to that.

SPITZER: You got a text message?

SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: Well, I think I would keep it short and just text Christine O'Donnell, go with the witch costume.

PARKER: Go with the witch.

SPITZER: You know it has carried her this far, why change now?

WALSHE: Exactly. You know, and Halloween is two days before Election Day. Just go with it.

PALMIERI: She should just embrace it.

WALSHE: Absolutely.

SPITZER: Embrace your inner witch.

All right, D.L.

D.L. HUGHLEY, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I think I would text Paladino and I would ask him to finish this joke. A black guy and a gay walk into a bar and I'd ask him to finish that joke because he would actually do it.

SPITZER: Not a pretty picture.

HUGHLEY: No, no. Make it interesting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope he texts you back.

SALAM: I think that the tragic irony of this conversation so far has been that you, you know, expect conservatives to be narrow minded and provincial. But I would go international. And I would write the beautiful Carla Bruni Sarkozy and I would what the young people call sext her by suggesting that we have a beautiful romance together given that apparently her marriage with Nicolas is on the rocks.

SPITZER: Is that right?

SALAM: I'm available.



All right. Last week, a Tea Party activist named Kelly Khuri (ph) said, quote, I have to read this. "Some people say I'm extreme but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too," which is a little odd because John Birch was so extreme that William F. Buckley called him paranoid. All right. Is there anyone out there we can honestly call extreme at this point?

SALAM: Definitely the practitioners of various extreme sports. Various iron man activities and what have you.

SPITZER: Linda McMahon is running for the Senate because of this.

SALAM: Well, the thing is that Linda McMahon is, you know, she has a gentle amount of middle-aged flab. She's not an extreme athlete. But I say that as a compliment because, again, I'm cultivating my own belly here. I think it's very dangerous to see Americans addicted to extreme sports action and I think we need to put a stop to it immediately.

SPITZER: Is politics extreme sports?

SALAM: Not enough an extreme sport for these extreme sports whackos who are drinking their Mountain Dew and terrorizing the elderly.

SPITZER: All right.

HUGHLEY: No, like I said, you have a governor that used to be a wrestler. Another governor that was an action star. You have now a woman who's running, you know, for a political office that dealt with wrestlers. So if you can convince a country that wrestling is real, I guess you can convince the country that you are a viable candidate. It's not really that hard.

SPITZER: What do you say about WWF?

Don't break it to me. I was a fan.


SALAM: It's terrible.

PARKER: Going to squeeze in one more quick question. President Obama was in Rhode Island yesterday where Frank Caprio, the Democratic candidate for governor, said the president could take his endorsement and really shove it.

OK. Other than that quote, what's been the biggest oh, snap moment in the campaign. This is a new term for me. Do you all know what "oh, snap" means?



HUGHLEY: Notice how she looks across the table.


HUGHLEY: I've just never seen it done that way.

PARKER: How does it go?

HUGHLEY: I don't know. Nothing like that.

PARKER: I don't know how to do it.

SALAM: I have an oh, snap moment.


SALAM: Governor Jerry Brown hilariously had an advertisement in which he had Meg Whitman saying I came to California 30 years ago because it was so totally awesome or something to that effect. And then Jerry Brown said, well, I was governor when it was totally awesome, ha-hah. And the beauty of this ad is that wait a second, what if you were the beginning of the end of California's golden age? Gee, I wonder if he thought about that angle.

He's winning by a big margin. It helps to have the right friends.

WALSHE: I think my oh, snap moment is also the same, Jerry Brown and Whitman campaign as when one of Jerry Brown's aides it was leaked that he called Meg Whitman a whore. I mean, there's anything that's happened this season that's made me kind of drop my computer and look up was that.


WALSHE: Yes, I was stunned.

PALMIERI: I was going to say Jerry Brown, too, because he took what was supposed to be his biggest vulnerability, that he was governor 30 years ago and made and turned it into a positive where people think that was the golden age of California. And he's going to win spending one-seventh.

HUGHLEY: Well, they say -- I understand in California is that, you know, the dust-up over the illegal immigrants which proves that immigrants aren't taking jobs away from white people.

PARKER: All right. Who can resist Governor Moonbeam after all.

We have to go. I hate to do it.

Reihan, D.L., Shushannah, Jennifer, thank you all so much for being with us.


PARKER: And thank you for joining us.

SPITZER: Be sure to join us tomorrow night. Good night from New York.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.