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Interview With Rep. Charlie Rangel; Interview With Senators Wyden and Hatch

Aired December 5, 2010 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Only on Capitol Hill can two parties that agree middle class tax cuts should be extended end up disagreeing. Let's just say the season of goodwill has not arrived on Capitol Hill.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: Trying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this, this maneuver going on today as chicken crap, all right.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) NEVADA: They're not going to let us do anything with tax cuts or funding the government. So we thought we had something worked out, had a number of votes. But the Republicans couldn't clear it.


CROWLEY: Seems only Tuesday they were all but holding hands in a bipartisan high. Oh wait. It was Tuesday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that there was a sincere effort on the part of everybody involved to actually commit to work together and to try to deal with these problems.

BOEHNER: A I told the president I think spending more time will help us find some common ground.


CROWLEY: But reality has set in now, say all you want about bipartisanship, the tough stuff is always preceded by a big fight.

Today, as congress struggles with its thorny to-do list we're joined by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

Then Congressman Charles Rangel on his censure by colleagues.


RANGEL: I take full credit for the responsibility of that. I brought it on myself. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And a Republican senator who often goes his own way, Richard Lugar.


LUGAR: I think some of us said, no, we are not the party of no. We must never be the party of no.


CROWLEY: And finally John Lennon's political legacy 30 years later.

I'm Candy Crowley. And this is State of the Union.

The Senate held a rare Saturday session ending up spinning its wheels in efforts to extend tax cuts that expire January 1. One bill would have extended cuts for families making under $250,000 a year, the other would have kept cuts in place for families making under a million dollars a year. Both measures failed a key procedural vote blocking up or down votes on either plan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are willing to hold hostage the middle class tax cuts so they can get a tax cut for the very, very wealthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would remind our friends on the other side of the aisle the election was about a month ago. We're past the spinning stage. The American people actually would like to us do things that need be done.


CROWLEY: Joining me now here in Washington democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon who voted aye on both those measures and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah who voted nay on both. Gentlemen, thank you so much.

We're now looking at reports from "New York Times" and elsewhere that a deal is in the making that would continue all tax cuts for two years, that would extend some other tax cuts that were in the stimulus plan, and would extend benefits for the long-term unemployed for a year. OK?

HATCH: Well, I think we can work that out, but the Republicans have been willing to extend the benefits, but we want them to be paid for. And we do have some extra funds that are available to pay for it. The Democrats don't seem to want to do that.

Secondly they want to end the make work pay which is another way of moving, since President Obama has become president the bottom 40% of all wage earners do not pay taxes. Now it's up to 49%. Then they want work to pay moving toward 60% and that's going to cost at least $60 billion more. I mean, it's just spending, spending, spending and taxing and taxing and taxing. That's what they seem to be doing.

CROWLEY: This sounds like a no to this plan now that's out there.

HATCH: No. I've suggested from the beginning, Republicans wanted all of the tax relief to be permanent.

CROWLEY: What would you be willing to give up? HATCH: The Democrats want to protect the middle class. I've said that neither side has the votes to get what they want so I think we're going to have to kick it over for about two years. We're going to have to do unemployment insurance, no question even though we're 100 weeks into unemployment insurance. We're going to have to do that. If you want to go beyond that then I think things break down.

CROWLEY: Senator Wyden.

WYDEN: Candy, if you like watching political games, this last week has been just ripe for you.

I just think when you look at those jobless numbers that came out last Friday what's needed is a different conversation, rankly an adult conversation. For example, this last Friday we saw that jobs in American manufacturing had gone down considerably. One of the reasons that we don't have manufacturing in the United States is the tax laws favor doing manufacturing overseas.

What I've been working on with one of Senator Hatch's colleague, Senator Gregg is legislation that would be bipartisan, that would cut the taxes for folks who manufacture in the United States by getting rid of the...

CROWLEY: You can't do that now in this process and I think what I'm hearing from both of you is there's so many things inside, OK, here's the deal that you know it is possible you won't get one. And I can't believe and I want you to answer, both of you, do you see Republicans walking away from this session without having extension of any tax cuts and do you see Democrats doing this? Would you really walk away without extending these tax cuts?

HATCH: I don't think we can. I think that would be disastrous. We're willing, it seems to me, we're willing to kick this over for about two or three -- well, I we would like it permanent, but we can't. We don't have the votes. Kick it over, let's take care of the unemployment compensation even if it isn't -- you know, even, it isn't backed up by real finances. We got to do it. So let's do it. But that ought to be it.

CROWLEY: You could do the unemployment extension without specifically taking money anywhere, I guess?

HATCH: Well, I think that's what's it's going to come down, because the Democrats don't want to put up the money for it, even the money is there. It's just one of those things, we're going to use the money for something else.

WYDEN: Candy, I would be willing to go along with a one year extension so we can protect the middle class, not do anything to discourage economic growth and give us the time to fix this job killing, insanely complicated mess of a tax system. What Washington is all about, this is a town driven by a culture of procrastination. If you don't force fast action, what you'll end up doing is just kicking the can down the road. And the only thing those jobless Americans are going to get is a really kicked can. CROWLEY: Will Democrats walk away this year if they don't get a compromise that they can deal with, will you walk away this year without extending those tax cuts?

WYDEN: I just suggested a compromise. I think...

CROWLEY: Right. What I mean is without a compromise would you say, OK, forget it, we're leaving?

WYDEN: I think Americans have made clear they want to see the middle class protected, they don't want to harm economic growth. But we're not going to be able to get the kind of job creation we need, the kind of job creation we need, based on those Friday jobless numbers, unless we have real reform.

For example the proposal Senator Gregg and I have authored, The Heritage Foundation, which I don't quote all the time, said that...

CROWLEY: It's a conservative -- we should say, it's a conservative think tank.

WYDEN: Said we would create 2.3 million new jobs per year. The Bush tax cuts, the "Wall Street Journal" has said those policies aren't creating a lot of jobs.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you. We are hearing a lot to the politics of it, which you mentioned earlier. We are hearing and have since the election on the House side as well as now on the Senate side a real fear, particularly on the left of center that the president is giving up too much, that he's going to compromise too much and give up too much ground as he moves toward a re-election cycle.

Are you worried about that?

WYDEN: There's no question that we're seeing a lot of the politics of 2012 played out now, but you're seeing it on both sides. And the country wants something different. I just got re-elected, Candy. But I did. Oregon has got 36 counties. I named a Democrat and a Republican as a co-chair in every single county, because I said if you elect me I'm going to go back there and try to go knock off this partisanship.

Senator Gregg and I have laid out a blueprint. We could have a one-year tax extension, put people back to work. Fix this job killing tax system. That's the kind of thing both parties ought to be working on rather than scoring political points. CROWLEY: Senator Hatch, while we're on the subject of political points it does seem that Republicans are stalling, that you know a more Republican Senate is coming in. Therefore, you want to kick the can down the road on such things as repeal of don't-ask, don't-tell or approval of the S.T.A.R.T. treaty. Isn't that sort of a logical conclusion here that you want more Republicans in there so you can get more of what you want?

HATCH: Not at all. As a matter of fact, we personally are very, very upset that if we extend tax -- if tax the way the president wants to do it, $200,000 or $250,000 or over and the way Chuck Schumer wanted to do it, you're talking about a loss of hitting 700,000 small business that create all our jobs. They are the job creators.

Under the president's program, under the Schumer program it would be at least 300,000 small businesses, that's where the jobs come from.

Look, we...

CROWLEY: ...give here on either side. Isn't that where the frustration...

HATCH: That isn't true. We are giving. In other words, we are trying to get it done. We want those tax -- that tax relief to be permanent. And most economists in this, who have any brains at all, know that you don't increase taxes even on the wealthy, if that's a valid point, you don't increase taxes during a recession. And if we do that, this economy is going to go worse.

We've just gone to 9.8%. We were 9.6%. That's only part of the problem. The underemployment rate is up around 18% when you count people who won't even try to get a job now.

Listen. These are important things. This isn't a Republican thing at all, it's what makes economic sense.

And look, Senator Wyden can talk about the Wyden-Gregg bill all he wants, that's not even part of this discussion at this time.

HATCH: We'll have to look at that after the first the year.

But we believe that unless you actually -- and to do it without putting it beyond the next presidential election just means we're going to have nothing but cat fights between now and then. Let's get it over.

CROWLEY: Let me get Senator Wyden in here with the last word on.

WYDEN: Candy, first of all, with respect, to compromise, what I'm suggesting is very much along the lines of what the deficit commission suggested just this past week.

HATCH: But it's not going anywhere.

WYDEN: That's number one. Number two, I think I'm giving plenty, much of my party doesn't want to extend the Bush tax cuts at all. I'm offering to go along with an extension for a year, to work with Senator Hatch, to go into the Finance Committee, take on the special interests, and do something that would actually put those jobless folks we heard about again this Friday to work.

CROWLEY: Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Orrin Hatch, thank you. You've got a busy week ahead of you. We'll see where this all comes out. I appreciate it.

And when we come back, Congressman Charlie Rangel in his first television interview since the House voted to censure him.


CROWLEY: Thursday's censure of Congressman Charlie Rangel, one of the most powerful men in Washington, was the end of a road he has walked for more than two years.


RANGEL: Hey, there's nothing illegal about what I've done. There's no special favors in what I've done.

I really don't believe that making mistakes means that you have to give up your career.

I have this morning sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to grant me a leave of absence. I do hope no matter what you decide in this sanction that you might see your way clear to say that this member that's honored to serve with all of you was not corrupt.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The House is resolved that representative Charles Rangel of New York be censured.

RANGEL: At no time has it ever entered my mind to enrich myself or to do violence to the honesty that's expected of all of us in this house.


CROWLEY: This morning Charles Rangel, in his first interview since that day, when we come back.


CROWLEY: Joining me now from New York is Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us for what I know is not an easy subject matter for you. Let me start out by asking you, that picture of you in the Well of the House I think still came as a shock to a lot of those who have known you over your 40-year career in Congress. Please tell me how you felt.

RANGEL: It was an embarrassing and painful experience, but somehow I was pleased to know that no matter how much pain I was feeling, it really didn't compare to tens of thousands of brave men and women that find themselves in harm's way and no one can give an explanation.

It doesn't -- when I think of the people in my district and throughout the United States that feel the pain of unemployment, lack of jobs, lack of hope, when I think of all of the crises and the things that we have to do and know that at least one thing came out of this, which I wanted for two years, and that is that if I was overzealous in terms of trying to raise money for minority kids to get a decent education, I'm a lawmaker and I have to respect those laws.

Eight out of the 11 charges all related to me not getting a waiver in order to reach out to educational foundations and tell them to consider funding this program. As relates to my financial records, nowhere in there is any way that I tried to deceive anybody. And there was no intent to do it.

So the bottom line is that it's rough. I broke the laws, serious rules that are set up by the House to protect members and to protect the House. But the whole idea of corruption has been just laid to rest, the question of self-enrichment.

The -- and I was thinking about all of those things when I was in the Well in saying at long last it's not just Charlie Rangel saying it, it's the head prosecutor, question, is there evidence of corruption? No, there's no evidence of corruption. Rangel's biggest problem was he was overzealous in his attempt to fund City College of New York. And two, he was sloppy, which meant that I depended on others to do what I should have done myself.

CROWLEY: Congressman, you also said when you were in the Well that this was at least partially political. How is that?

RANGEL: It's very simple to understand. My predecessor, Adam Clayton Powell, was expelled from the Congress before he had an opportunity to be sworn in.

RANGEL: And members knew it was not only wrong but it was unconstitutional.

So I was amazed, when I came to Washington 40 years ago, how many people said that they loved Adam Powell; they worked with Adam Powell, how effective he was as a chairman. And I would ask the question, how you could possibly vote to expel the man, knowing it was unconstitutional?

And they would smile and say, hey, if you have to explain back home why you're supporting someone like Adam Clayton Powell during this period of time, you've got a problem.

And with the high...


CROWLEY: You think that other members in the Democratic Party didn't want to go home and say, "Yes, we let Charlie Rangel go.

RANGEL: Especially at a time when the reputation of the Congress is at an all-time low; we've just had a real combatant (ph) election. And if you do anything to look like you're going easy on anybody in Washington, I can understand that feeling back home. But I can tell you that, individually, whether it's Republicans or Democrats, they knew that what I had done did not reach the level of a censure.

And so, I -- I accepted it. And I want to pick up the pieces, move on. There's so much work that has to be done. And I'm very anxious to get started doing it.

CROWLEY: There has been a suggestion by some of your colleagues, both publicly and privately, that there was a racial element in the severity of the House action against you. Do you believe that?

RANGEL: That's the last thing in the world that I would want to discuss because God has been very good to me, a kid from Lenox avenue, high school dropout, to be able to go back to school on the G.I. Bill and to be able to serve the state legislature, federal prosecutor, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I'd be hard put to start complaining now.

CROWLEY: People, I think, watching this from the outside are still trying to understand how the chairman of the committee that writes tax law didn't know his own tax obligations? RANGEL: I'm glad you asked that question because I file my taxes each and every year. And while they are fully paid up now, what they are talking about, there was a piece of property in the Dominican Republic that I didn't receive a nickel from in terms of whatever profits they made. And I accepted one check, and that was in the beginning. All the other non-cash revenues that were raised there, the property paid taxes to the Dominican Republic, I didn't see a buck.

And, yet, it was the money that was made, over a 20-year period, to reduce the mortgage, is considered income. So it was reported at one place that was there. The accountant didn't know about the property overseas. I never got any direct benefit from it. And so, technically, this was cash that should have been filed. And it was filed.

And when you take the amount of money that was made over there, the taxes that was paid over there, and the depreciation over there, there would not have been any liability. And so, therefore, that's why the committee did not find that I tried to deceive anybody.

CROWLEY: One of the things that you have said recently, and actually, as far as -- more than a year ago, is that you did make some serious mistakes here, but you didn't break the law; you didn't enrich yourself.

If you had made some serious mistakes, why don't you just go to the Ethics Committee and say, look, I did these things; they were serious mistakes, but they weren't outside the law, and let them decide, rather than have this go on for two years.

RANGEL: Well, it wasn't me. I was the guy that was screaming that we should have a hearing. I knew there was no evidence of corruption. I knew there was no criminal liability. And I was the one, if you recall, Candy, that was saying, let this become open; let the world find out what the testimony is. It was only after two years that we were able to get the chief counsel of the Ethics Committee to boil this down to the two things that you just mentioned, no evidence of self-enrichment, no evidence of corruption, evidence of sloppiness, which is serious enough for someone to receive some kind of pension -- punishment.

I relied too heavily on my chief of staff and accountant. There's no excuse for that. As a matter of fact, it was leaked out in committee -- and I -- for two years, I could not discuss anything because it was being investigated, but someone leaked the fact, and it was the chief Democrat of the Investigation Committee, that they offered me a reprimand if I admitted what I'm admitting publicly now, and as though I rejected it. I signed that paper. And it was rejected by someone I don't know.

But, Candy, there's so much work for me to do, and I can't feel sorry for myself. All I know is that history is going to record that Rangel was a hard-working patriot, loved his Congress, loved his country, forever grateful for the opportunities that I've had. And I hope that my overzealousness, whether it's for education, for health care, to get people back to work, that I followed the rules, don't make mistakes and get on with my life in trying to make life better for so many others.

CROWLEY: Congressman Charlie Rangel, moving on after last week's censure. Thank you so much for joining us.

RANGEL: Thank so you much, Candy.

CROWLEY: Up next, a veteran Republican senator who is pushing back against his own party, Richard Lugar of Indiana.


CROWLEY: Next, a conversation with an unlikely Republican maverick at cross currents with his party, supporting a new arms control treaty, advocating repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" and opposing a Republican-led ban on earmarks.

Senator Richard Lugar grew up in the heart of the Midwest and still manages his family's 600-acre farm outside Indianapolis. He was elected mayor of Indianapolis at the age of 35 and in pre-Watergate days was dubbed President Nixon's favorite mayor.

Elected in 1976, Lugar is a reliable conservative with a reputation as a straight shooter willing to take risks. He opposed the Bush administration's surge in Iraq as not worth the risk, and though a McCain support, he infuriated Republicans for praising candidate Barack Obama's foreign policy.

Lugar is a studied and powerful voice in foreign policy, credentials he used in a failed bid for the presidency in 1996. He is now the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and over the past quarter-century has served as its chair when Republicans were in power.

Recently Lugar told the New York Times he's very conscious that the Tea Party will make him a target when his re-election comes up in 2012. We will speak with Senator Richard Lugar next.


CROWLEY: And now my conversation with Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. I spoke to him in his office.


CROWLEY: Let me start with the WikiLeaks, because it seems to me that one of the things that comes across is something we maybe already knew. And that is that the Afghan government is riddled with corruption, and that Karzai actually is a little bit unstable, at least that's the opinion in a lot of these cables.

Are we in a lose-lose situation at this point?

LUGAR: Not necessarily. It seems to me anyone who has a realistic view of Afghanistan understands that this is a culture of survival in which President Karzai and others have managed to hang on through various tribal disputes, sectoral disputes, problems of India and Pakistan using Afghanistan.

We should not be naive that these are persons who are likely to extol democratic values such as we would like them to do.

CROWLEY: But it is enough for us to be in there?

LUGAR: Well, our mission was to go after al Qaeda, after people who bombed New York and Washington.

CROWLEY: They are gone.

LUGAR: They are gone, over the border, perhaps, into Pakistan. Some may have gone to Yemen, suggesting Somalia. So this does lead to some strategic considerations as to how many other countries we ought to be involved in.

CROWLEY: I want to remind you of something that you said in 2007. You were, I believe, on the Senate Floor, virtually alone talking about the Iraq War and idea of the surge.


LUGAR: In my judgment the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved. Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.


CROWLEY: The balance of risks and costs against benefits, do that for me in Afghanistan. After nine years, how close are you to a determination that the risk now outweighs the benefits?

LUGAR: Well, I'm looking forward, as most of us are, to the December report that the president has promised and General Petraeus has promised before reaching a premature judgment. But I would say that there has to be pretty good rationale for us not to be considering how we begin to withdraw from that situation.

Simply because the cost in our lives, in our treasure, and the commitments that we have all over the world is very great here. And these will have to be balanced against what we can hope, not incur. And I appreciate that the others argue you can't discuss that, it's victory, victory.

I'm not certain how that is defined. And as it is defined, it seems to me it's defined lower and lower in terms of expectations and what is possible.

Meanwhile we're discussing here a balanced budget situation, how we ever get to such a situation, in a world that has all kinds of predicaments, whether it be Iran or the North Koreans or problems in Somalia or in Africa that we haven't really talked about a great deal, or dilemmas now with the South Koreans and the North Koreans, and that sector.

And we're stretched. And that's not only the stretch of our armed forces but our finances. And so this is going to require a more sophisticated conversation.

CROWLEY: Do we need to get tougher with North Korea? And how would we go about that?

LUGAR: We should be tougher with North Korea. But then the second part of your question, how you go about that, given the fact that the Chinese find the situation to be disruptive, but nevertheless all things considered "stable," in quotes, as far as they are concerned.

CROWLEY: So what you are saying essentially is that China is not going to do much about this, and that's kind of who we're depending upon...


CROWLEY: ... to try to bring North Korea in line.

LUGAR: It is. Now we've been most successful with North Korea with such things as making sure the leadership could not use their bank accounts outside of the country. When they really were stymied in terms of personal wealth and privilege and so forth, they began to get more serious. Simply threaten the North Koreans with military action is not very wise if the Chinese then counsel publicly, don't do it.

CROWLEY: I want to move to the START treaty -- or START, which you would want -- you want approved. Something that you said November 17th struck me. "At the moment the Republican caucus is tied up in a situation where people don't want to make choices. No one wants to be counted."

Why is that? Why don't you feel the Republicans...


LUGAR: Well, that was my observation a few days ago. Now I'm more optimistic presently. I think that a good number of members do want to be counted. And they want to be counted soon. And therefore...

CROWLEY: Before the recess?

LUGAR: Yes. A strategy that brings us to this now has pretty strong bipartisan support, starting with the president and then Senator McConnell and others, I hope Senator Reid.

Namely that we tackle the taxes, both taxes on all Americans, capital gains, extenders, what have you. Secondly, that we either have a continuing resolution which keeps our government going or a comprehensive omnibus spending bill which incorporates all of the appropriations bills. And thirdly, we take up the START treaty.

Now the problem with this I think is that Senator Reid, the majority leader, has found that many Democrats don't want something quite that abrupt. They say we made a lot of promises out on the campaign trail.

We have -- demand that certain things come up all sorts of things, across the board. Don't cut us out of this.

Now the president is putting very strong pressure to cut them out of this. And they are resentful of that as a matter of fact. So as a result, we're on the threshold, if we get this program one, two, three, debating the START treaty.

I hope we will. And I think if we do, the votes are there.

CROWLEY: I was going to ask you, the votes are there, you think?


CROWLEY: I want to you stand by with me a minute.

Senator Lugar has been in the U.S. Senate for 34 years representing Indiana. I want to talk a little politics when we come back.


CROWLEY: We are back to talk politics with senator Richard Lugar. Senator, on the S.T.A.R.T. Treaty, on the earmarks, on don't- ask, don't-tell and on the Dream Act to allow the children -- teenage children of illegal immigrants to get on a pathway to citizenship, you've gone cross current with your party on all four of those issues. What do you make of your party these days? LUGAR: Well, first of all, I'm not sure I'm cross current with all of my party. There are other members who would agree with me on many of those issues and some have not come to a conclusion.

I take your point that many members would say well we just don't agree with those positions. And so I will try to visit with them about it, may or may not be persuasive with some.

But the views I've taken, I believe, are ones that are important for the Republican Party.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, when I was on the campaign trail with president, then candidate Obama, he mentioned your name a lot. I don't know if you're aware of that. As a person that he did reach across the aisle to, that he could reach across the aisle to. Overall in the last two years how has he done reaching across the aisle?

LUGAR: Well, I think that he has made only limited attempts. And I say this as someone not critical of the president but my own contacts with him have been limited. My experience is not unique in this respect.

The president had a program. I think he and his followers determined that there were not Republican votes to get cloture, to push this time last year as the health bill was being pushed right at the Christmas Eve. So as a result there wasn't much reaching or stretching or what have you.

Now, I think since the election, my understanding is that the meetings that the president has had, have certainly had an element of reaching out. And I think that's been appreciated. As I indicated earlier, I think that perhaps Senator McConnell, our Republican leader, and the president may see more eye to eye on how we ought to wind up this lame duck session than maybe do others in this situation.

CROWLEY: So, what you're saying is Senator McConnell, the Republican leader, is dealing with sort of rebellious conservative side of his own party?

LUGAR: Of course. Because many would say, and have said, that why do anything President Obama wants, something gives him a victory. Therefore we're a party of no.

Now, I think some of us are no we are not the party of no. We must never be the party of no. This is...

CROWLEY: Are you winning or losing that side?

LUGAR: Oh, I think that remains to be seen. But at the same time I think the number of people understand what I'm saying, probably agree, sometimes overtly, maybe more often covertly. They understand eventually the American people, angry as they are with the Democrats with this tsunami that came with this election are finally going to say to Republican, OK now what you guys going to do? What, in fact, is your program? Our program is to stop Obama, some would say, it's to defeat Obama. That is a two stage process. You defeat the Democrats first of all in congress then you defeat Obama. Then we'll come out and we'll tell you. That's not going to work. At some point there has to be constructive Republican programs.

CROWLEY: Given the political climate and given what we discussed, the things that you and your party don't always agree on, do you expect a primary challenge in Indiana?

LUGAR: It could very well be. And I would just say that I've had wonderful opportunities to serve Hoosiers. I hope I'll have another opportunity. I've indicated I would like to do that. In the event somebody wants to run, they will at least know they have a competitor in the field who is well prepared both financially, organizationally, program wise.

I think in the past, perhaps, some of our Republican colleagues may have been surprised. They thought that they didn't see much coming along, they really weren't prepared to spend their money in the primary or organize all that much - they were getting ready for the general, and they faced a very bad situation.

CROWLEY: So, you will be, come primary season loaded for bear?

LUGAR: Yes. Yes.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Senator Lugar. It's been great. I appreciate it.

LUGAR: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Up next a check of our top stories and then John Lennon's political influence 30 years after his death.


CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories. Iran claims its nuclear program is now self-sufficient. The head of the country's atomic energy organization said today that Iran has begun mining uranium and processing it into yellow cake, nuclear it material the country had been importing. The announcement comes just one day before Iran takes part in a new round of talks over its nuclear program.

North Korea accused South Korea's new defense minister of causing uncontrollable extreme tension in the region by threatening to launch air strikes against the north. South Korea's defense chief said jets would bomb North Korea if its leaders decided to launch another attack.

A tug vessel has begun towing a disabled giant freighter near Alaska's Aleutian Islands. The 738 foot Golden Sea ship encountered engine problems Friday. The tow job toward Alaska's harbor is expected to take 30 hours over rough seas.

And those are your top stories here on State of the Union.

Up next, the political legacy of John Lennon.


CROWLEY: We close today with a look back at a music legend whose political activism was so powerful he made a president nervous. In that 1971, John Lennon, by then an ex-Beatle, moved to America with his partner, Yoko Ono. The Nixon administration viewed his high profile opposition to the Vietnam War and his outspoken support of civil rights for blacks and native Americans a threat. Nixon wanted him deported. J. Edgar Hoover's FBI spied on him. Lennon was shot and killed by a deranged fan 30 years ago in New York.

I spoke earlier about Lennon, music and politics with a man who spent 14 years in court forcing the release of those secret FBI documents. He's the author of "Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files," history professor John Wiener.


CROWLEY: Let me start out -- because I think most people know the musical history of John Lennon. I think his politics are less known. When do you think he became politicized?

JOHN WIENER, AUTHOR: Well, in some ways he recorded "Give Peace a Chance" in 1968, 1969, that's when he gets -- but even before that, the Beatles when they were in the United States in 1966, they said we think about the Vietnam War all the time, Lennon said. He thought about it every day. In some ways this wasn't so different from millions of others young people. So the Vietnam War was really what radicalized John Lennon, I think.

CROWLEY: It's sort of his worldwide and the anti-war stance that he had that makes him I think sort of iconic in music as well as in politics. And I want to play just, speaking of iconic, the song I think is most identified with John Lennon and politics. (MUSIC)

CROWLEY: I heard, professor, that John Lennon at one point said that "Imagine," which is that song, of course, is anti-religious, anti-conventional and anti-capitalist, but that people accepted it because it was sugarcoated. Is that the key to his politics and putting it into song, that people like the song so they sort of accepted the words in a way that they might not have if he were giving a speech?

WIENER: You know, even today that's a fairly controversial song. There are schools where the kids are not allowed to sing it at hair graduation. There are -- when the Liverpool cathedral last year proposed playing it on their bells, there was an opinion poll something like 65% of the members of the congregation opposed playing it because they considered it against religion. And of course it is against religion, it is against patriotism. He does say imagine no more countries. It isn't hard to do.

So even though the song is a very beautiful, sweet, utopian song, it still remains somewhat controversial even today 40 years after he released it.

CROWLEY: I want to read you something that we found from a news week magazine, this was September 29th, 1980, when John Lennon said "the radicalism was phony really because it was out of guilt. I'd always felt guilty that I made money, so I had to give it away or lose it. I don't mean I was a hypocrite. When I believe, I believe right down to the roots, but being a chameleon, I became whoever I was with."

WIENER: You know, by new 1980 -- 1980 is a very different world from 1970. But in 1980, he also said the 60s were just the beginning, it was waking up and the world seemed new and exciting. I think he like many people of his generation, he was part of his times and then when those hopes -- the hopes expressed in "Imagine," for example, when those were disappointed, when those were abandoned and then he devoted himself to other things after that.

CROWLEY: We all know his musical legacy, so as a final question, professor, what's his political legacy? Was there a quantifiable impact of what he did?

WIENER: You know, I think Lennon's legacy is not so much the concrete achievements, but, rather, the hopes, the aspirations, the commitment to try to use his celebrity power not just to become more famous, but to do something good about all the violence in the world.

And I think it was that struggle and that willingness to try different things and that openness about, the honesty about his hopes and his frustrations. I think that's what makes Lennon so important to a whole generation of people.

CROWLEY: Professor Jon Wiener, University of California-Irvine, thank you so much. We appreciate your joining us. To hear more about the life of John Lennon including the months leading up to his assassination, tune in tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a CNN special, Losing Lennon: Countdown to Murder.

Thank you for watching State of the Union. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

Up next for our viewers here in the United States Fareed Zakaria, GPS.