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STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY

Interview With Sen. Paul; Interview With Rep. Weiner; Interview With Former CIA Director Michael Hayden; Interview With Former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister; Interview With Donald Trump

Aired April 17, 2011 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: When Speaker John Boehner pushed the 2011 budget compromise through the house, 59 of his conservative Republicans voted against it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE SPEAKER: Listen. This bill's not perfect. There's no cause for celebration. This is just one step.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: The president fared poorly with his home team, too. Only 81 House Democrats voted for that bipartisan budget bill. The liberal left was far happier with the president's acid critique of the Republicans' 2012 budget.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There's nothing serious about a plan to claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Friday the president sand the 2011 bipartisan bill just hours after the House approved the 2012 budget plan. All but four Republicans voted for it, every democrat voted against it: situation normal.

Today -- the left and the right threaten to paralyze the middle with Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner.

Looking at a long haul in Libya with former CIA director Michael Hayden.

Eye-popping gas prices with former Shell president John Hofmeister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER SHELL PRESIDENT: The politics of energy is killing the U.S. consumer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And the unlikely candidate, Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm honored by the polls because people agree with what I'm saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley and this is State of the Union.

When congress returns from its Easter recess it faces must-do legislation to raise the debt ceiling so the U.S. can pay its loan obligations. Here to talk about that and what Americans can expect for the rest of the session is conservative freshman Senator Rand Paul, a member of the Tea Party. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

Let's talk about that debt ceiling bill. As you know, the U.S. will not be able to pay its bills unless you all agree to raise the debt ceiling. Are you willing to send the president a clean bill that just doesn't attach anything you want to it, just says, OK, raise the debt ceiling?

PAUL: Well, I don't think it should be an either/or situation, you know. There is another alternative, and that is that we send the message to the president through legislation that says, you know what, Mr President? Don't default, but pay the interest out of the revenue.

We bring in about $200 billion a month. There's no reason to default ever. I don't want default. But I also don't want to just keep giving an irresponsible government more money.

You know, if we give them a trillion dollar increase in the debt limit, it will be gone by November. It's out of control and someone needs to stand up and say, the emperor has no clothes. We have no money. We are borrowing to the tune of trillions of dollars and I don't think we can sustain this.

CROWLEY: Well, if you use existing money and revenues that are in the U.S. Treasury, then you're not going to be paying for something else. So, in effect, you are saying, let's cut something.

PAUL: Yeah. And interestingly, if you didn't raise the debt ceiling, you'd be passing a balanced budget. And really what we need to do is balance our budget.

The problem is, see, the president came out with a plan, his budget, about a month ago and it's supposed to add $11 trillion to the debt over 10 years. Well, he decided that was a nonstarter himself and he's now coming out -- but what's tricky about all these numbers, he's saying he's going to cut $4 trillion from the debt. No, he's going to cut $4 trillion from his proposed increase of $11 trillion in debt.

So really the numbers get a bit confusing. But the bottom line is this year, we will spend more money than last year and this year our deficit will be greater than last year. We aren't reforming the system. We're still heading headlong towards a debt crisis.

CROWLEY: Are you willing to filibuster a bill that would raise the debt ceiling without any of the things that you're asking for?

PAUL: I think that's yet to be determined. What I've said is there is a circumstance where I will vote for it, but I do harken back to the president's words. The president's changed a lot of his words since he was a senator. He said that to raise the debt ceiling was irresponsible at that time and only gave credence to bad policy, only gave credibility to people who were doing a bad job with controlling the deficit. So I harken back to those same words.

And I would say I would vote to raise the debt ceiling if we passed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and say from here on out, this is the last time we're doing it, we are going to act responsibly.

But I see nothing going on in Washington that leads me to believe that they are spending our money wisely. They can't even balance the budget in the Pentagon. The Pentagon tells us they are too big to be audited. I think that's really a sad state of affairs.

CROWLEY: I want to just add that the president has said in recent interviews that his vote against raising the debt ceiling was a political vote by a novice senator and he regrets it.

But moving you along here, if -- it just seems completely unlikely to me that there will be a vote for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. It seems unlikely to me that the president would agree to just use existing funds to pay off the interest on the debt. Seems to me that the only way this is going to go is that there will be the prediction (ph) of a bill to raise the debt ceiling.

So if there is that, could you see yourself just voting no and letting it go at that, or would you stop at any means?

PAUL: I think we haven't yet determined what our strategy will be, but I can tell you that the people of Kentucky elected me to shake things up. They didn't elect me to raise the debt ceiling. They didn't elect me to pass budgets that add -- you know, the president's budget will add $7 trillion to the debt if you believe his numbers.

But whatever the numbers are, our government and our leaders are still adding enormous amounts of debt, heaping this burden on our kids and our grandkids. It is precisely why I was elected, to oppose this type of behavior.

CROWLEY: As you know, there is a so-called gang of six on the Senate side, three Republicans, three Democrats, trying to come together to come up with a bill that could pass, that would deal with the debt that you're talking about here. Because the president has a plan, House Republicans have a plan, there's not a lot of middle ground there other than everybody thinks -- everybody says we've got to cut the deficit.

I want to read you something that Senator Tom Coburn, a fellow Republican from Oklahoma said about these negotiations and about how to bring down the deficit -- the debt. And he said. "I agree that we ought to cut spending. But will we ever get the spending cut to the level that we need without some type of compromise?" He's talking tax increases here. Can you see yourself agreeing to a tax increase to help with this debt that you're so concerned about?

PAUL: Yeah. I think there is a compromise. But the compromise is not to raise taxes, the compromise is for conservatives to admit that the military budget's going to have to be cut. We've doubled military spending. I believe in a strong national defense, but conservatives will have to compromise and we will have to cut military spending. Liberals will have to compromise and we will have to cut domestic welfare. The compromise is where we cut, not where we raise taxes.

The problem is, if you give them more money in Washington, they're not to be trusted. I mean, there was $100 billion in last year's budget that is unaccounted for. They don't even know where the money was spent. Recently when we bailed out the banks in our country, guess who got bailed out? The Libyan National Bank. It was a pass-through. AIG became a pass-through for foreign banks. We don't know where all of our money is going to be spent.

When I want to turn in money for my office, I want to turn a couple hundred thousand dollars back in that I'm not going to spend? It is unclear where that money goes. We cannot even be confident that the couple hundred thousand I want to give back goes towards the debt.

Our government is out of control. They don't need more money, we need to give them less money.

CROWLEY: Senator Rand Paul, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate the time.

PAUL: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Joining me now from New York is Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner. Congressman, thank you as well for joining us.

Let me just pick up on this debt question, because it does sound to me as though there will be some Republicans who are going to say we want either more spending cuts or a balanced budget amendment in order to agree to raising the debt ceiling.

Let me turn this around to you and say, are there spending cuts? Would you agree to some number of spending cuts in order to get this debt ceiling raised?

WEINER: Of course. I think that we need to have conversations about how we reduce spending. We also need to have a conversation about how we get some equality into our tax code again. You know, Warren Buffett pays only 16 percent in taxes when the top 1 percent makes as much now as the bottom 50 percent. We have a huge sense of income inequality that has been reinforced by the tax code. But I think everything should be on the table.

The difference is that when the president and I say let's put everything on the table, we really mean it. When people like Senator Paul say it, they just mean the narrow slice of our budget which is nondefense and some defense discretionary funding.

CROWLEY: Well, he just said he thinks there ought to be big cuts in the Defense Department. That's something you could agree with, I would assume.

WEINER: Yeah. But I think we need to look at the entire totality of the money coming in, the money going out. If we really care about debt, we have to be concerned about the idea that frankly over the last 10 years or so, we've given enormous tax cuts that have cost the Treasury a lot of money, close to $1 trillion. And I think that that's cause for concern.

CROWLEY: The truth is when the president had two houses of Congress that he controlled -- Democrats controlled -- which was last year, he couldn't get those tax rollbacks on the rich. He had to go ahead and continue those tax cuts on the rich.

CROWLEY: So the chances, it seems to me, that you're going to get any kind of tax roll-back on the wealthy, $250,000 or above, are pretty slim. Would you agree with that?

WEINER: No. The president said in his speech this week that he's not going to continue them any further. I frankly...

CROWLEY: But he said that before.

WEINER: I frankly think it was a mistake, and I've said on your show that I think it was a mistake that we extended them. But now going forward he said very clearly in a speech that I think laid out for the first time the two sides in this debate here that he's not going to continue with those. And I don't think we should.

I don't think very many Americans can justify at this point a situation where people who average $340 million wind up only paying 15 or 16 percent in taxes. That has to be changed.

CROWLEY: I want to play you something that David Plouffe, as you know, senior White House adviser, he used to be campaign manager for President Obama, I had read to him one of your tweets last week in which you worried that the 2011 budget felt a lot like the tax deal that you're talking about and that you just -- you worried about it.

And I asked him to say something reassuring to you about the 2011 budget. And here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID PLOUFFE, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I don't really have any interesting in reassuring Anthony Weiner. I think what I want to do is reassure the American people. I think the American people think that tax agreement was the absolute right thing to do and it has been a huge contributor to the economic growth we've had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Does that sound like a White House to you that regrets keeping those tax cuts in place for the rich?

WEINER: Listen, I like David Plouffe and I hope that he's successful. He and I are going to work together to make sure that President Obama has a second term. This isn't about me or about him. The president of the United States today said that -- or this week said it was wrong and unconscionable to continue those tax cuts. I take him at his word.

I think the speech he gave this week laid out a pretty good foundation for us getting our economy back on track. Look, I would like there to be no taxes. I would like none of my constituents to have to pay taxes either. But for the middle class and those struggling to make it, their incomes have been flat, their burden has been going up by the very well-to-do who, frankly, had a very good run here.

In all, it is a matter of fairness. But as far as what David Plouffe thinks or what I think, the most important thing is what the president said this week, which is those tax cuts won't be continued.

CROWLEY: You sound to me -- you know, one of the things that was said about the president's speech this week, which was very, very tough on the Republican budget proposal and long-term debt reduction plan, that so much of that speech was aimed precisely as lawmakers like you, constituents like you considered left of center, because the president believes that -- and the White House political operation knows that the left has been very unhappy with some of the things the president has done.

You sound to me reassured. Are you now feeling that the president -- the criticism has been that he gives up too much, too soon, and you think that president is gone now, that he's a tough dealer?

WEINER: So in the last question you said David Plouffe doesn't want to reassure me and now the president was trying to reassure me? Look, this wasn't about me. And I've got to tell you something, I can test the idea the president's speech was that tough. You know, there used to be an expression that Harry Truman -- "give 'em hell, Harry." And he used to say, I'm not giving them hell, I'm just telling the truth and it sounds like hell.

The president laid out a real good critique about the Ryan plan and what we Democrats believe. We believe in Medicare. We believe in Social Security. We believe in equality and standing up for the middle class. The president gave a spot-on speech not just to me or to any element of our party, but to the nation. He showed that he's going to be a national leader in this discussion. And if they want to have a contest of ideas, they can't expect that the president's going to roll over to their bad ones.

CROWLEY: Let me read you something that President Obama told the Associated Press on Friday, talking about the debt ceiling in the upcoming battle for that. "I think he," meaning Speaker Boehner, "is absolutely right that increasing the debt ceiling is not going to happen without some spending cuts."

Now the White House kind of walked that back a little and seemed to suggest that he didn't mean exactly that there would be spending cuts attached to the debt ceiling. How do you see this playing out? What are you willing to give up? What is your understanding what the White House is willing to do to get this thing passed? WEINER: Well, I think the debt ceiling should be passed as clean as possible. Let's remember when we talk about the debt that the government holds, a lot of it is to United States citizens, most of it.

Frankly, we borrow from the Social Security trust fund. They get T-bills. If we're going to say to people that own bonds we're not going to pay interest on them, that would be devastating, and frankly the whole notion of full faith and credit. So it would be very bad. The Republicans really have to stop playing politics with this.

All that being said, is we have to have a reasonable conversation. I know debt limits frequently have things attached. I understand that. But I have to tell you, if they wind up holding up things like Medicare, Social Security, these bedrock programs that help people in need, help form the safety net in our country, it is a non-starter, Democrats won't vote for it.

CROWLEY: Congressman Anthony Weiner, thank you so much for joining us today.

WEINER: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Next, we'll turn to Libya and whether the U.S. and its allies are on the verge of mission creep. Former CIA Director General Michael Hayden will join us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Now to Libya, where NATO is keeping up the pressure on Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance launched more air strikes against targets in Tripoli overnight, but the booming (ph) campaign isn't changing very much on the ground.

Shortly after the air strikes, several hundred people gathered at Gadhafi's compound to denounce NATO and declare that they would act as human shields for the Libyan leader.

Here to talk about the latest in Libya and the violence across the Middle East, former CIA Director, retired Air Force General Michael Hayden.

Thank you again for being with us. HAYDEN: Good morning, Candy.

CROWLEY: I want to read you something from a joint op-ed. It was from President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. And this is part of what they said in the op-ed: "So long as Gadhafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. In order for that transition to succeed, Gadhafi must go and go for good."

This seems to me stronger than they were when they first started out on this mission.

HAYDEN: A bit, and certainly getting the other two heads of government involved, saying some things that our president has said consistently.

But here we have a mismatch. If you look at the rest of the joint op-ed, it talks about the means they have at their disposal and the contours of the U.N. Security Council resolution under which they're acting. And in that case, the means we have seem to be short of the objective that you just articulated.

CROWLEY: Exactly. Like the rhetoric is stronger than what's on the ground or what's in the air.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYDEN: Right.

CROWLEY: And so what do you make of that? Is this a message to the people around Gadhafi? Is this -- because it seems to me a formula for staying in the -- enforcing this no-fly zone for decades.

HAYDEN: Well, decades are a long time. But it certainly seemed to be a message to everyone, opposition, loyalists, people in the region, that NATO, or at least these three members, are intent on at least fulfilling the U.N. Security Council resolution.

Much more difficult...

CROWLEY: Which they don't think can be fulfilled unless Gadhafi is gone?

HAYDEN: Well, actually, they don't think they can get to their political objective, which is different than the objective of the U.N. resolution, which is protection of the civilian population.

HAYDEN: So you have military means here, and a political objective here. That's a bit of a mismatch. They then have to rely on other means to get Gadhafi to go. Their combined will, economic sanctions, isolation, other moves.

But those are slow burning. Those take a long time. And time is not an unalloyed ally of the West in this contest.

CROWLEY: And what would it take to get the rhetoric to match the means? What will it take to get this guy out of Libya or gone?

HAYDEN: Well, first of all, NATO writ large has self-limited its military means. And within NATO, we have self-limited the means which we are willing to contribute at least on a routine basis to the overall NATO effort. That now leaves us with other tools, which again are more slow moving, perhaps training the opposition, perhaps arming the opposition. But that in itself is problematic because we're still not quite sure what the basic narrative is here.

We see the narrative as oppressed and oppressor. Amd that's certainly true. And that's the most visible narrative now. But there are others there as well, tribalism in Libya, haves and have-nots, east versus west, and unfortunately, a bit of a strain at times between Islam and crusaders.

And so when you arm the opposition, one has to be careful what you believe the overall outcome will be.

CROWLEY: Who you are actually handing the weapons to.

HAYDEN: Exactly.

CROWLEY: Was it a mistake?

HAYDEN: I would have been a cautionary voice at the table in the situation room. Because frankly, Candy, absent a fracture of the regime created by the shock and awe of the NATO decision and the first military moves, absent that, what we're seeing now was perhaps not inevitable but predictable, that we would end up in this very uncomfortable equilibrium.

CROWLEY: Stalemate.

HAYDEN: Right.

CROWLEY: I want to turn you in our last couple of minutes to Yemen. You and I were talking before we came on. And you think that right now, looking at the totality of the Middle East, is the scariest place.

HAYDEN: I think it is. And although much of our attention -- and unfortunately, much of our energy -- is focused on Libya, and as difficult as that might be in humanitarian terms, in geopolitical terms it is somewhat self-limiting.

That's not the case in Yemen. We have a thriving Al Qaida affiliate in Yemen, in Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. We have over a million Yemeni expatriates, guest workers, throughout the Gulf region. What happens in Yemen bleeds out from Yemen much more quickly than things that happen in Libya.

And in Yemen, we're kind of in the same sort of stalemate, too, aren't we? Here we've got Saleh, it seems inevitable that he will go, but no one can find the proximate event that forces him to turn the page. And frankly, after the page is turned, I don't know what happens.

CROWLEY: Right. And isn't that the scary thing, that we know he has to go, but what comes next since there is so much Al Qaida -- someone told me, and maybe can you shed some light on this, that Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is now, they consider, the headquarters of the fiercest branch of Al Qaida, no longer Pakistan, Afghanistan, but Yemen.

HAYDEN: Mike Leiter, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, explicitly said that in open testimony, that he believed the single greatest threat to the United States now comes from Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

CROWLEY: So do we -- if you're sitting in the situation room, do you want Saleh to stay? Do you want the president out of there? Or do you...

HAYDEN: Well, you can see the dynamics. I mean, you had Secretary Gates two weeks ago said I've not participated in any meetings on post-Saleh planning. I mean, these events are out of our control. Events in Yemen are undecided. What's going to happen in Yemen is going to happen, and then we now have to accommodate to that.

And beyond Al Qaida being very strong there, the Yemeni government is not strong. This is fundamentally a tribal society. So what comes after is very, very unpredictable, and it's hard for me to imagine that at least in the short to medium term, that it is going to be good news for us in terms of the global war on terror.

CROWLEY: Which is why, since it's ongoing, we'll have you back, I know. General Michael Hayden, thanks for being here.

When we come back -- the impact of those surging prices at the gas pump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: It's pretty pricey at the pump these days and the lose- lose for consumers, because what Americans are paying to fill it up is money not spent elsewhere in an economy that depends on consumer spending for recovery. This weekend the national average cost for a gallon of regular is $3.82. At the same time last month, the cost was $3.55. At the beginning of the year, a gallon of gas would have cost you $3.07.

There are six states and the District of Columbia where the average cost for a gallon of regular is more than $4. Many economists consider that a tipping point price for consumers.

And nearly 70 percent of Americans say they're spending less on all kinds of things. More than 60 percent are driving less. Almost half are changing their vacation plans. Who or what is driving the upward spiral at the pump and will it end anytime soon? Up next, John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil. And later, Donald Trump on the same subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You tell OPEC, fellows, that price is going down. And let me just tell you, it will go down if you say it properly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me here in Washington to discuss the rising gas prices is John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil and the founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy.

It's getting less and less affordable, at least at the gas pump.

We're now seeing $3.80-plus for regular gallon of gas, average. It's higher in some places, lower a little bit in others. Where's the top?

HOFMEISTER: The top is yet to be determined.

Now let me say that on two levels. In the short term, like this year, I think we'll see a little bit more upward movement depending upon what happens in the Middle East. I'm more worried about next year and the following year and here's the reason why. Demand for crude oil in China and India is growing like we've never seen before. China started the year at 9 million barrels a day demand. They're already at 9.6. They're headed to 15 million barrels a day by 2015. That's only four years from now. China's -- or India's at 4 million barrels, they're on their way to 7.

That's almost 10 million barrels more than the industry knows where it is coming from and the world's been stuck at 86 million barrels a day crude oil production and if the U.S. doesn't pick up its contribution to that crude oil production, we'll be looking back at $5 in a couple of years.

CROWLEY: So if this is so, there's always this big argument, we've got to produce more at home, we've got plenty of places where we can go and get crude oil and we're not doing it. And the oil companies very often blame the president saying, look, the government isn't leasing out enough. And the government says, wait a second, you all have plenty of leases you're not even touching.

So where is the truth here?

HOFMEISTER: It has become a completely political discussion where the truth is confusing on all sides. The reality is, we used to produce 10 million barrels a day. We're today producing 7. With the shut-in of the Gulf of Mexico, we could be on our way to 6, because it is not coming back any time soon. The 7 million...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: So the losses, everything we're importing.

HOFMEISTER: That's right, we're importing the difference. CROWLEY: But yeah, somebody's getting -- what's the word I can say on television -- somebody here is holding the short end of this stick, and it seems to me it is the person filling up the gas tank. And when I talk to people about oil and gas, they say why is it that I drive by my gas station and gas is $3.55 and I fill up. And the next morning by and it's $3.60 and it is the same gasoline sitting in the same tank. Why does that happen? Who is getting rich?

HOFMEISTER: Actually, nobody is getting rich other than the foreign oil producers. They're making a killing on all of this because we import two-thirds of our oil.

But what happens overnight is that the dealer, the retailer on the street, finds out that his next delivery of a truck load of gasoline is going to be at a higher wholesale price. So in order for him to have the cash on hand to pay for that next delivery, he's going to raise the price to the consumer right away, as soon as he hears about the new price for the next truck load.

CROWLEY: But the truck is already en route probably.

HOFMEISTER: Right.

CROWLEY: So what changes -- I mean the price of oil leaves wherever it leaves at $3.50, and it arrives at $3.80. Explain that to me.

HOFMEISTER: Because the next shipment will be at $3.90. And so he's having to raise the price to pay for the continued supply of gasoline. The wholesale -- the refinery that produced the oil down in Texas and pushed it into the pipeline coming all the way up to Washington, D.C. is -- they know that the next delivery of crude barrels will be at $108, whereas the previous delivery was $106 or $105. So each part of the food chain raises the prices as quickly as they can because they got to pay for the next one...

CROWLEY: They sure don't lower them.

HOFMEISTER: No, they take their time to lower them. That's a fact of life. That's make it while you can. So they rocket up and they float down.

CROWLEY: This isn't demand and supply, This is fear. We are paying -- as I understand what you're saying, we are paying gasoline prices because everyone is afraid that oil supply will be disrupted because of what's going on in the Middle East and everyone is afraid or sees that Japan -- that China and India are going to have so many more consumers and need so much more oil that we're now paying nearly $4 a gallon of gas on something that hasn't even happened yet.

HOFMEISTER: It is fear. And it's irrational. The way to take the fear out of it and to take the irrationality out of it, is to take care of ourselves first by producing our own domestic oil, which we should be able to bring to market at much lower costs than the fear factor that's cranked into the price globally. And for us not to do that is simply an invisible tax on ourselves, because we're unwilling to make the choice to go do the work necessary to increase domestic production.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you this as a final question. I assume you have a car, too.

HOFMEISTER: I do.

CROWLEY: And I assume you have to fill it up every once in a while. Is there a way for a consumer to be smarter about buying gasoline other than we all know, do everything you have to do in that one trip an search around for the cheapest gas? Is there something Americans can actually do other than just pony up at the pump?

HOFMEISTER: No. Really, there isn't. I mean, yes, you can inflate your tires, yes, you can keep your engine tuned up. That will have a marginal impact. The reality is we're citizens and we're consumers. As citizens, the public voice of the citizenry saying to the United States Congress and to the president, look, you're not doing what this country needs to be done, which is to look after our own energy needs first. And if that means more domestic production, then by golly, let's go produce more domestically, because don't we matter? Don't consumers matter in this country? I think they do, and they should.

CROWLEY: And so far, that hasn't been done simply because of the politics of energy.

HOFMEISTER: The politics of energy is killing the U.S. consumer. That's the bottom line.

CROWLEY: John Hofmeister, thank you so much, as always.

HOFMEISTER: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When we come back, the one and only Donald Trump on Libya, China and his potential presidential run.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The steamroller named Donald Trump kept right on rolling this week. He spoke yesterday in Florida at a rally of Tea Party supporters, a segment of the Republican party he has polled well with in the past couple of weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If I decide to run, and if I win... (END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Trump's plans to announce his presidential intentions, or not, before June and after the finale of his reality show Celebrity Apprentice. He has big numbers to consider. A CNN poll of Republicans in March showed trump well back in the GOP presidential pack. But this week's poll shows him tied for first place among Republicans -- repeating that, first place. In between those two surveys, Trump made frequent headlines questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S., a subject we covered in part one of our interview last Sunday.

This week, the economy, foreign policy, and 2012. Up next, Donald trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We begin our conversation with Donald Trump talking about one of his favorite punching bags, oil-producing nations in the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Oil is a big part of the economy. When we're paying $110 a barrel, you're going to have problems like you've never had before. And it happened before, three years ago. It got up to $150, and then it all almost collapsed in its entirety. I mean, it was a disaster, OK? It's going to happen again.

Oil at $110 is unsustainable, and it's going up higher because we don't have anybody saying "What's going on?" And here's the thing. There's so much oil. It's all over the place.

CROWLEY: And do what? I mean, how do we get more oil without paying...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Where do you...

TRUMP: There's so much oil, I just said. In fact, these analysts were saying they didn't know why the price wasn't going down because they said it's so much; there's so much oil coming out from all different sources.

The one guy said, the ships are loaded; they don't know where to dump it. And then they say, we don't understand why it's not coming down. It's not coming down because OPEC sets the price.

CROWLEY: But we can't stop OPEC from setting the price.

TRUMP: Oh, we could do it so easily. We have such power if we knew how to use it. We -- we don't use our power...

CROWLEY: Give me one way to get OPEC to lower the prices.

TRUMP: We need one thing going for us: brain power. We don't use our brain power. We need one thing: brain power.

CROWLEY: OK. And what would be your one big idea to get OPEC to stop charging such high -- price-gouging is what you...

TRUMP: Candy, it's the messenger. You know, I can send two executives into a room. They can say the same thing. One guy comes home with the bacon and the other one doesn't, and I've seen it 1,000 times.

It's the messenger. We don't have the right messenger. Obama is not the right messenger. We are not a respected nation anymore. The world is laughing at us.

You tell OPEC, "Fellows, that price is going down." Let me tell you, it will go down if you say it properly.

CROWLEY: Why do you think the world is laughing? I mean, what's your -- what -- what leads to you believe that?

TRUMP: Excuse me...

CROWLEY: I mean, I get you thinking it's...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Look at Libya. Look at Libya. Look at this mess. We go in; we don't go in; he shouldn't be removed; we don't want to remove him; we don't want to touch him, but he should be removed. Nobody knows what they're doing on Gadhafi.

Then we're back into rebels -- oh gee, whiz, maybe we can't, because they're backed by Iran. You know, if somebody said, "What would be your theory or what would you do in terms of Libya," I'd do one thing. Either I go in and take the oil or I don't go in at all. We can't be the policeman for the world.

CROWLEY: You'd just take their oil?

TRUMP: Absolutely. I'd take the oil. I'd give them plenty so they can live very happily. I would take the oil.

You know, in the old days...

CROWLEY: Well, wait. We can't go...

TRUMP: Candy -- Candy, in the old days, when you have a war and you win, that nation's yours. This country is a laughingstock throughout the world. It's being ripped off by every country.

If you look at what China's doing, they're stealing our jobs; they're taking our money. They're then loaning our money back. It's amazing. They're making all of our products. And they're doing this by manipulating their currency. They are so manipulating the currency that it makes it almost impossible for our companies to compete with China.

And the worst...

CROWLEY: We've tried to get them to stop. I mean, the president and certainly negotiators have tried... TRUMP: He's been trying to get them to stop ever since he's been president. I've been here. We are trying to get them to stop. And then he has a state dinner for the president of the China at the White House, the most gorgeous dinner that you've ever seen -- I wasn't invited, but that's OK -- the most gorgeous dinner that you've ever seen for the president of China who's ripping us off. You don't have dinner for people that are ripping you off, Candy.

So you have China; you have South Korea...

CROWLEY: So cold shoulder, don't deal with them?

TRUMP: No, you deal with them very easily. We have all the cards. China doesn't have the cards. We have the cards. Because, if we stopped doing business with China or if we taxed China, meaning the products coming in from China, China would be in such an economic problem, you have no idea.

We are rebuilding China. I don't know if you know it. They're building bridges. They're building airports. They're building cities, brand-new cities. When was the last time you saw a bridge being built in the United States? We don't have bridges being built. We have bridges that are falling down. When was the last time you saw a great airport being built? We used to build them in the '40s and the '50s and the '60s.

CROWLEY: Are we a second-rate nation? Is that what you're saying?

TRUMP: We're becoming a Third -- absolutely a Third World nation. You land your plane at LaGuardia Airport -- you go to LaGuardia Airport -- it's like a Third World airport. You go over to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, China, various -- many other places, mostly -- a lot of it done with our money, meaning the money they made from us.

You know that this year China will make -- aside from taking a lot of our jobs -- will make $300 billion -- call it profit -- on the United States -- $300 billion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Next, Donald Trump on presidential politics and his potential run for the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, in terms of a possible presidential bid, what makes you preferable to Mitt Romney?

CROWLEY: Why would Republicans prefer you to, say, Mitt Romney?

TRUMP: Well, Mitt Romney is a basically small business guy, if you really think about it. He was a hedge fund. He was a fund guy. He walked away with some money from a very good company that he didn't create. He worked there. He didn't create. CROWLEY: He did create companies, though.

TRUMP: Well, but, look, he would buy companies, he'd close companies, he'd get rid of jobs. OK? I bought a great company, and one of the beauties of, frankly, if and when I announce sometime prior to June, you will see how big my company is, because it's much bigger and much more powerful and much stronger than anyone really knows.

So you are going to see how good it is, you're going to see how strong it is. It's a big strong company that I built. And I have thousands and thousands of jobs that I have created over the years, hundreds of thousands...

CROWLEY: You're just a better businessman, you think? That's a selling point for you over Romney?

TRUMP: Well, I'm a much bigger business man. And I have a much, much bigger net worth. I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney. And I don't know Mitt Romney. I really don't know him. So I'm not saying good or bad. I know some of the other candidates. I don't know Mitt Romney.

But I built a very big net worth, and I would like to -- and I have always had an ability to do that. I would like to put that ability perhaps, if I decide to go, perhaps I would love to put that ability to work for this country. So I don't do it for myself, I will be doing it for the country. And, guess what, that's what this country needs.

CROWLEY: I have two quick questions. There was an article out the other day talking about the top 400 gross income folks. It was in Bloomberg, paying 17 percent personal income tax while those who made less than them were paying 23 percent. What percent of your personal income do you do?

TRUMP: I'd really have to check. I'd really have to check.

CROWLEY: You really don't know where it is?

TRUMP: Sure, it's substantial. But I would really have to check. I mean I could...

CROWLEY: Higher than 17?

TRUMP: I will be reporting certain things.

So assuming I run and there is a good possibility, assuming I run, in about two months you will know that information.

CROWLEY: And that's my last question. If you were in Las Vegas betting on Donald Trump's -- whether he would or would not get into the presidential race, what odds would you give that?

TRUMP: Candy, I hate what's happening to our country. We are not respected. We're scoffed at. We're laughed at. We are a whipping post for the world. China, other nations, they're taking our jobs, they're taking our money. I hate what's happening -- I love my life. I love what I'm doing. And I said this before, if I had my choice of our president, if we had a president that was great our current president, Obama, President Obama, if he were great that would be my first choice but he's not great and he won't be great.

CROWLEY: You think he's weak.

TRUMP: I think he's ineffective. I don't think he's weak.

So our country is in trouble. I wish I didn't have to do it because I'm enjoying my life. I'm having a good time. I have a great company, I have a very successful show, all of that stuff, right? I wish I didn't have to do it. I would prefer not doing it, but I love this country. And if you ask me what are the odds, I will let you know prior to June.

But I will tell you, I am giving it serious, serious thought. And I'm honored by the polls, because people agree with what I am saying. I am honored by the polls.

CROWLEY: And they know your name. You would admit that's part of it. At this stage of the game, they recognize your name.

TRUMP: But do you know why they know my name? Because of success. That's why they know my name essentially.

CROWLEY: And you can stir the pot.

TRUMP: Well, I'm not doing it for any particular reason. I'm stirring the pot. I don't know what stirring the pot is. I'm saying China is ripping us off and Saudi Arabia is ripping us off. Excuse me.

The Arab League. The Arab League, do you know what that is? Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, the richest nations in the world tell us to go into Libya. They tell us to go in. And France leads the way, that's the beauty of all. France is going to be our leader, OK. So France leads the way.

But forget that. The Arab League is so wealthy, they have so much money, they have cash pouring out of their ears and they tell us and we're a debtor nation. They tell us to go in and take out Gadhafi, because we don't like him. Why aren't they paying us? Why aren't they paying us?

When they said that, you should have said, we'll go in. We want $5 billion. We have already spent $1.5 billion on fighting Gadhafi. We want $5 billion right now and we'll go in. And you know what? That's peanuts to them. They'd give you a check in two seconds. They'd go boom, boom, boom, thank you very much.

But we don't have the mentality that even thinks to ask for it.

CROWLEY: It's a business mentality, right.

TRUMP: I don't think it's business, I think it's common sense mentality.

CROWLEY: OK.

TRUMP: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much. I appreciate your doing this. I really do.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Candy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Friday, we asked Trump's office if they were able to check up on what percent he's paying on his personal income tax. The response, he'll answer that at a later time.

Up next, a check of the top stories and then Fareed Zakaria GPS at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Now time for a check of today's top stories. And this just in to CNN, Egypt's former prime minister Ahmed Nazi will face trial on corruption charges. Nazi, who served in former President Hosni Mubarak's government and is being held in a prison in Cairo. Two other members of Mubarak's government were also charged with corruption.

House Speaker John Boehner made a surprise visit to Iraq Saturday and met with the country's prime minister Nouri al Maliki. Boehner was joined by five other members of Congress.

Although the U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially ended last year, about 50,000 American troops are expected to remain there until the end of this year.

In Japan, engineers say they need at least nine months to completely shut down the damaged reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant. The chairman of Tokyo's Electric Power Company says it will take three months to bring down radiation levels and restore normal cooling systems at the plant.

Violent weather across the southeastern U.S. left 30 people dead. In North Carolina's Birdie County 14 people were killed bringing the state's death toll to 23. The storm system has affected seven states. IT has caused 230 tornadoes over the last three days.

And today is Palm Sunday, the start of the Christian holy week. Pope Benedict XVI marked the day with the blessing of the palms, a procession in St. Peter's Square and mass.

And those are today's top stories. Thanks 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."