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JOHN KING, USA

Bloodbath on Wall Street; Global Fear Factor; Jobs Plan; Exporting Violence

Aired September 22, 2011 - 19:00   ET

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


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": Thank you for joining us. I'm Candy Crowley. John King is off.

Today investors around the world gave a resounding no confidence vote to the global economy in general and the U.S. economy in particular. On Wall Street the Dow Industrials, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq suffered losses in the three percent range. Depending on what happens tomorrow, the Dow could post its worst weekly performance since September of 2008, the month of the big crash that set off the big recession.

CNN's Alison Kosik is keeping track of all the factors that caused investors to feel so spooked today. Alison, what happened today that caused this huge drop?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, the recession alarm bells were sort of sounding a lot louder today and not just here in the U.S., overseas in Europe as well. Now, the sell-off really got started yesterday when the Federal Reserve came out with its policy statement and in it, there was some language that really caught investors, took their attention. It gave a bleak assessment of the U.S. economy, saying the economy faces significant risks, talking about the economic outlook.

The translation there of that is that the economy is going to get significantly weaker, and then overnight some manufacturing reports came out of the UK, came out of Europe, even China. These were weaker manufacturing reports. That spooked the market as well. And you have to remember, we're all interconnected so if Europe's got its problems, the big worry is that they can spread here to the U.S. and we all know that Europe is facing its own debt crisis. Now all this is leaving at least one economist to tell us that he thinks that Europe is probably in a recession and that the U.S. is teetering on the brink of one -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Well Alison, you know for months and months and months, we have watched mostly bleak economic figures, at least certainly not strong enough to call it a good recovery.

KOSIK: Right.

CROWLEY: We have seen consumer confidence, all of these things, I just don't understand why the fed's saying gee, the outlook's bleak could cause this big a stir. KOSIK: Because it's the language that the fed used. If you look at its statement from its previous meeting, it didn't use the word "significant" and what -- and you have to realize, these are the top economists in our country so when the fed speaks, everybody listens, especially when they use words like significant downside risks to the economic outlook. You also have to remember that besides the statement, the fed came out with a stimulus of sorts, basically trying to keep longer term interest rates lower.

It's an effort to try to get homeowners to refinance their mortgages, get businesses to go out there and take loans and expand their businesses and hopefully even hire, but you know, if you talk to critics and you talk to economists like I've been talking with, many are asking whether this stimulus will even help the economy right now, because this isn't necessarily an interest rate problem. Interest rates are at historic lows right now. You talk to any critics, any economists, they're going to tell you that this is really a demand issue, that businesses aren't going to expand unless people are out there buying their goods, using their services, and that's not going to happen until people get back to work -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Alison Kosik, thank you so much.

Today's financial jitters go way beyond the U.S. As Alison noted, markets in Asia and Europe racked up big losses as well. Investors around the globe seem united by fear. For a closer look at the big picture, let's bring in "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast" business columnist Joanne Lipman.

Joanne, you know every time this happens and the market has a big fall and everybody gets a little freaked out, somebody comes on TV and says now -- to the individual -- hold on, don't do anything, just you know remain calm and yet, we see all the professional investors going crazy. Can you explain this disconnect to me?

JOANNE LIPMAN, FMR. DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": You know you've hit the nail on the head there. What we're seeing right now is panic and we're seeing panic among the professionals. And I actually think we're seeing -- we're seeing a little bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome among global investors and among American investors. We are right now in September; this is the three-year anniversary of our own meltdown here in the U.S. That's when Lehman Brothers melted down three years ago, September 2008.

Investors now are looking at what's going on in Europe and they're seeing parallels that really, really frighten them and they are spooked. And the parallels are fairly striking. You have in both cases, you had an asset class that was deemed safe, in our case in the U.S. it was mortgages. In the case of Europe, it was sovereign debt, particularly Greek debt, and it turned out those investments were not safe at all. They were disastrous investments.

And so you've got these parallels, you've got professional investors who are looking at that and they're spooked and not only that, the one other issue here I think that's going on, and I talk a lot with business leaders, and I have noticed a shift in the tone in the conversation. And the shift that we're seeing is as of a couple of months ago, you know, in the summer, the focus was really on the leadership crisis in the United States, and I think the tone has shifted recently, among the people I'm talking with, to a leadership crisis, a fear of a leadership crisis globally. There is a fear that we are involved in these very complex global interconnected issues and that our leadership around the world is simply not up to the task of solving it, nor are they -- do they have the tools at their disposal to solve our problems.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, we also saw China reporting a slowdown in manufacturing which sounds surprising to me. That's the huge economic engine, is it not, when you speak of a global economy? What do you make of that?

LIPMAN: You know, I think China is, again, is interdependent on the rest of the world. What we have, and you'll see it in companies throughout the world, is a lack of demand. And a lot of China's -- you know China has had two things going for it. One is a massive building boom and so it has overbuilt in many areas.

And the other thing it has going for it is that it has been, you know, we have outsourced all this manufacturing to China. And when there's a slowdown in consumer demand in the rest of the country, that's going to affect China as well. So it's a downward spiral that leaders around the world are trying to figure out what are the right policy steps to get us out of this.

CROWLEY: Joanne, I know that you spoke to more than a dozen CEOs in a column you did for like how do we create jobs and we hear everything. There's too much regulation. People don't have any faith in leadership. Nobody's buying anything. What is the one thing that you hear the most when talking to these CEOs about what they think would help create jobs?

LIPMAN: You know, we hear a lot of specifics and the specifics that we hear most about would be things like trade agreements, things like more visas for educated workers, but the bottom line is what we hear most is we need confidence. We need confidence. We need a bipartisan effort to create confidence so that consumers and investors feel comfortable about buying goods and services, and employers who have $2 trillion in cash sitting on their balance sheets, by the way, corporations, so that they feel comfortable about both making investments and in hiring.

CROWLEY: "Newsweek's" Joanne Lipman, we've got to create some confidence. That will be interesting to see how they do that. Thank you so much tonight. We appreciate it.

President Obama today renewed his push for federal spending on bridge, highway and other construction jobs, standing under the aging bridges that connect Cincinnati, Ohio to Kentucky. The president had an in-your-face message for critics who label his jobs plans higher taxes on the wealthy as class warfare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If asking a billionaire to pay their fair share of taxes, to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare, then you know what? I'm a warrior for the middle class.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Our senior political analyst Ron Brownstein is the political director of "The National Journal". Campaign on.

RON BROWNSTEIN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL JOURNAL: In for a dime, in for a dollar. I mean you know really doubling down on the populist message today, not historically central components (INAUDIBLE) 2008 of President Obama's identity, much more about bringing the country together, but faced with the likelihood of stalemate in Congress on the substance of this idea, these ideas, really, both his jobs plan, his long-term deficit plan, he is clearly at least at this point moving in a Truman-esque direction of trying to sharpen the contrast with Republicans with an eye on 2012.

CROWLEY: And let's point out for those who didn't catch it that he is on a bridge that connects.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CROWLEY: Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader's home state of Kentucky to John Boehner, the House Republican speaker's home state of Ohio. We get it.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: In terms of the future of President Obama's legislative agenda it is probably the ultimate bridge to nowhere or maybe the bridge between nowhere. But yes, you know he was using it as a symbol and in fact, you know Candy, this idea of spending more on infrastructure, rehabbing schools, polls very well. Gallup had very positive numbers on it today. We did a congressional connection poll at "National Journal" last week, 63 percent including 46 percent of Republicans said they supported spending more on infrastructure.

But the results are often disappointing. The infrastructure is an important way of increasing jobs for construction workers, way down since the recession began, but it takes awhile. Even the president said a few months ago as you recall, shovel-ready wasn't quite as shovel-ready as I thought.

CROWLEY: And is it your analysis here and it's mine that this right now is all about the first thing one does when one runs for re- election and that's bring your base back home.

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

CROWLEY: And that's what this populist movement is with the president, a populist rhetoric. BROWNSTEIN: Yes and there's -- this is not completely safe ground for him, though. It is somewhat fraught in the sense the Democratic coalition today is very different than it was 30 and 40 years ago. They actually run better in the upper middle class among whites, college educated whites, than they do among working class non- college whites, the people who are ostensibly the audience for this populist message voted 58 percent for John McCain in 2008, whites without a college education, 63 percent for Republicans in 2010.

So there is a risk that in this very kind of class-conscious language, he ultimately drives away some of the voters who might be more open to him on other grounds in those kind of white collar suburbs like the suburbs of Philadelphia or Bergen County (ph), New Jersey or outside of Detroit. So it is not a slam dunk for the president to move in this direction.

CROWLEY: I want to play you something that former President Bill Clinton said in an interview recently about the whole movement to cut spending and raise taxes. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I personally don't believe we ought to be raising taxes or cutting spending, either one, until we get this economy off the ground. This has been a dead flat economy and you don't want in something this flat, if we cut government spending, which I would normally be inclined to do when the deficit's this big, with interest rates already near zero, you can't get the benefits out of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So how helpful is that?

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

CROWLEY: I mean here's what we know is the most popular Democratic politician around is Bill Clinton. We've just had the president go listen, we need to raise taxes and we need to cut spending.

BROWNSTEIN: Although -- although in a two-step process, in fairness to him -- right.

CROWLEY: Right -- right.

BROWNSTEIN: He is talking about cutting taxes and increasing spending in this first round of, you know, really is a renewed stimulus plan, the jobs plan that includes the infrastructure, payroll tax cuts, et cetera, and then a longer term plan. Now, that is I think popular among many economists but the Republicans have a different theory.

They argue that cutting spending now will free up more private activity. A lot of economists have been skeptical of that but they have some in their corner as well. That is kind of the contrast here, although in truth, the actual discretionary spending cuts that anybody envisions in this immediate period are probably pretty modest.

CROWLEY: But you know, when you look at it, what the president has emphasized is what his base has wanted.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes -- right.

CROWLEY: He hasn't said oh, I'm talking about raising taxes in the long term. He said we've got to make the wealthy pay more and then you had the president coming out, the former president coming out and saying we shouldn't raise taxes right now.

BROWNSTEIN: Well right now, although again, Obama is envisioning raising these taxes down the road, certainly in 2013 --

CROWLEY: Politically there's an immediacy to his language.

BROWNSTEIN: Right now -- right -- well -- I think your point is really well taken because not only is the jobs plan aimed at the Democratic base, but if you look at the long-term budget plan that he put out it was much more tilted to Democratic priorities than he apparently was discussing in the negotiations during the summer with House Republicans. I did a session this morning with Treasury Secretary Geithner, one of our panels, and he said that for example, raising the age of eligibility for Medicare, which is something the president talked about this summer in the negotiations with the Republicans, they would not put back on the table unless it was clear that the health care reform bill would be safe and would be going into effect because otherwise, it would leave too many people in their 60's potentially uninsured. So that again is a movement away from some of the accommodation toward Republicans, toward a harder line that's probably going to be more attractive to Democrats.

CROWLEY: On the campaign trail, at the very least. Ron Brownstein is the political director of "The National Journal", thanks Ron. Appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: Next, some disturbing new questions about a supposed U.S. ally that may be double-dealing in the war on terrorism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Harsh words today about a country that's supposed to be a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff today accused Pakistan of exporting violence to Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen says a Pakistani-based terror group, as well as the country's powerful intelligence agency, are behind some recent high profile attacks on U.S. and NATO targets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The Haqqani network for one acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Internal Services Intelligence Agency. With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack as well as the assault on our embassy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Pakistan denies its intelligence agency supports the Haqqani network, but after the U.S. found Osama bin Laden hiding there, can Pakistan be trusted at all? Let's ask former State Department official Nicholas Burns, who is now a Harvard professor and Zalmay Khalilzad is a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gentlemen thank you. Nick, first to you, we also know from some reporting from our Barbara Starr that the U.S. has stepped up its drone attacks into Pakistan against the Haqqani network. We've had this discussion before, but this seems at a kind of higher intensity right now between the U.S. and Pakistan. Where is that relationship right now?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the relationship, Candy, is at its lowest point in many, many years. This was an extraordinary and very significant statement by Admiral Mullen today. In the past, American officials had insinuated that Pakistan was ineffective in dealing with terrorist groups on its soil, sometimes saying they might -- be some involvement but to say it's a veritable arm, the Haqqani network of the Pakistani intelligence is a very dramatic statement and it poses a very complex dilemma for the United States that Ambassador Khalilzad and I had to deal with when we were in government.

And that is we know the Pakistanis have not been on our side fundamentally in this fight against terrorism, and yet we know that they're also a key factor in the eventual resolution of the Afghan war. So that's the dilemma. Do you cut off aid to Pakistan or do you stay with the Pakistanis, hope for the best and hope you can encourage them to do a lot better in the fight against terrorism.

CROWLEY: Ambassador Khalilzad, I'm assuming that you probably agree with Nick that this seems very ratcheted up and I just wonder how -- if you could answer that question, how do you deal with this, because not only is Pakistan important or we were told it was important in the fight against terror, but it's got a lot of weapons that we would rather not have in the hands of a non-friendly country.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN: You're right. Pakistan has been, as Nick implied, both a friend and an adversary at the same time. When we think about Pakistani nuclear weapons, when we think about the supplies that we need for our troops from Afghanistan coming across the border, and when we think about al Qaeda in Pakistan, we want to cooperate with them, but when we think about Afghanistan, there we have been working at cross-purposes with each other.

CROWLEY: How do you solve this (INAUDIBLE)? How does this get ratcheted down?

KHALILZAD: I think we need to adjust our approach, in my judgment. And that is, we have been trying to pull away the Taliban from Pakistan reaching out to them directly, excluding Pakistan. I think we need to include Pakistan in the diplomatic effort for a settlement of the Afghan dispute, but demand that they bring the Taliban with them to the negotiating table, and if they don't, then our success and failure will depend on whether we can discipline Pakistan and we may have to go to a much tougher approach of containing them and increasing much more pressure not only by ourselves but internationally. But that has risks, too.

CROWLEY: Right.

KHALILZAD: This is what Nick said, we are on the horn of a significant dilemma.

CROWLEY: Let me move you on to -- speaking of scary, Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, was at the U.N. today, gave a speech, the U.S. among other countries walked out, just a brief clip of something that he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world, or is it acceptable that they call themselves as the sole defender of freedom, democracy and human rights while they militarily attack and occupy other countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Ambassador, is Ahmadinejad just a dangerous blowhard? I mean what is the point of this kind of rhetoric?

KHALILZAD: I think it's in part laughable because he's been saying this for so long and he's not the Ahmadinejad that he was a few years ago. He's much weaker, less of a factor even in Iranian politics now than he was a few years ago. He's trying to get attention both at home and in the Middle East. He's trying to be part of the conversation. I think he is -- he was much more dangerous than he is now but his relevance is also far less in terms of the politics of Iran and of the region.

CROWLEY: Nick, I want to move you on to something else that caught our eye, talking about Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria. He did an interview in "The Daily Caller" today, part of which I can't read for its language, and he's talking about Libyan rebels at this point. I'm sorry, not Libyan, Syrian rebels.

"I'm sort of amazed that there are not -- fill in the blank -- crazy. The street protestors and the street protest organizers just amaze me for their sheer courage. I don't think Americans can really get a grasp on how dangerous this is, to go out on these streets with this army and these thugs." Again, he's talking about those rebelling in Syria against the Syrian government, but Nick, this doesn't sound like ambassador language to me. What do you -- he's almost an anti- ambassador, isn't he?

BURNS: Well, he's a modern ambassador. He understands that the battle right now in Syria is literally to communicate a clear American view of the Syrian people to capture some hearts and minds. He's been out in Homs and Hama (ph), looking, visiting people who have been ravaged by the Syrian government, who have had brothers and husbands killed by the Syrian military. He's shown great empathy for the Syrian people who are struggling to overthrow the regime. I know there are some voices in Washington, particularly in Congress, saying we should bring him home as an expression of our opposition to Bashar Al-Assad. We should keep him there.

He's the most effective ambassador we've had in a long, long time because he's out on point telling the truth at a very dramatic time in Syrian history. We should be very proud of him. He's a fluent Arabic speaker. He's obviously down at the grassroots of Syrian society. At a time like this when thousands of people have been killed, when the Syrian government has used brute force, we do need an ambassador who will speak frankly and openly and that's what Robert Ford has done.

KHALILZAD: Two quick points, one, Nick is absolutely right. Robert is a great guy; he worked with me in Baghdad when I was there. He was very helpful to me. Second thing is what happens in Syria is extremely important because this is the second most important country to Egypt in terms of the potential for change and its impact. And if Syria can change potential focus on Iran, this will have a huge geopolitical effect. So therefore, I am an advocate of us looking at ways and means to assist the Syrians. The Iranians were lucky when the Green Revolution happened. The Arab Spring had not happened and the world did not assist as much --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Right.

KHALILZAD: -- as it did with regard to Egypt or with Libya and so on. So Syria is extremely important and I applaud Nick and Ambassador Ford.

CROWLEY: Two thumbs up for Ambassador Ford. Thank you so much, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Nick Burns as always, thank you both for your insight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Ahead, she spent a whopping $140 million of her own money on a failed bid for governor, but today eBay Chief Meg Whitman landed a new gig. We'll tell you where next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back. Here's the latest news you need to know right now. As of today, Meg Whitman, who made a fortune with eBay but lost the California governor's race last year, is the new CEO of technology giant, Hewlett-Packard. She replaces Leo Apotheker who was fired after 11 months on the job.

A worker cataloging materials from Bill Clinton's days as Arkansas governor turned up a moon rock that's been missing for 30 years. It was in a sealed box labeled plaque (ph). A White House official confirms members of the 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl have been invited to visit the White House next month, making up for a visit that was canceled 26 years ago because of the shuttle Challenger explosion.

The U.S. Border Patrol is disputing new allegations of widespread abuse. The human rights group "No More Deaths" says it spoke with 13,000 people who tried to get across the U.S./Mexican border and heard stories of beatings, denial of food and water, and exposure to extreme temperatures.

An alarming discovery in Libya, revolutionary forces in the southern part of the country discovered a military site containing what appears to be radioactive material. CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has exclusive pictures from the site.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We came upon this site about 15 minutes' drive to the northeast of the southern Libyan city of Subha (ph). There on a military base we were shown by an NTC (ph) field commander two huge warehouses full of thousands of blue barrels with indistinct markings, but some of them had a yellow tape on them which said radioactive. We also found in one of those warehouses several bags of yellow powder, also closed with this tape marked radioactive. We showed pictures of those bags to experts outside of Libya, and they say that is most likely yellow cake, which is crude uranium. And in fact to create enriched uranium for the use and the production of nuclear weapons you need much more in the way of processing than Libya actually possesses. The real danger, of course, is that local people will get on this base and get their hands on this material, which is very dangerous, dangerous if improperly handled.

Also on the site, hundreds of what seemed to be surface-to-air missiles, and the worry is that those missiles could easily blow up next to the nuclear material, causing a danger for the entire area.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Sabha, southern Libya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: Up next, we'll ask Florida's Tea Party-backed governor if his fellow Republicans prefer a presidential candidate who is the purest conservative or the strongest against Barack Obama.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: A new poll of Florida Republicans shows Rick Perry ahead of Mitt Romney, but among all Florida voters, Romney runs much stronger against President Obama. The Quinnipiac University survey among Republicans shows Perry surging to a 31 percent to 22 percent lead over Romney.

But among all Florida voters, Romney leads President Obama 47 percent to 40 percent, while the president leads Perry in a head-to- head matchup, 42 percent to 40 percent.

That raises a question of priorities for Republicans in Florida and elsewhere.

We discussed it earlier with Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: It seems to me that at this moment, looking at these polls, the question has to be: what do Republicans want? Do they want first and foremost someone who hangs to conservative orthodoxy or do they want someone who can beat President Obama?

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: You know, I think they want somebody that has a jobs plan. I ran last year, the first time I ran, as you know, and I ran on a jobs plan. And I still think that's the biggest issue we're dealing with in this state. There are other issues, but jobs are number one.

I think Floridians care about Social Security, you know, what's the plan to fix Social Security? And the deficit is a big deal to Floridians. But number one is the jobs plan.

So, I think in the end, it's going to be who can get our state back to work. That's who's going to win.

CROWLEY: Let's just bring it down to you. Would you rather have a candidate, a Republican presidential candidate that agrees with you on every conservative issue, or a Republican presidential candidate that can beat President Obama?

SCOTT: Well, I believe -- I believe the Republicans are going to win, because it's going to be about jobs and I think President Obama's going to have a tough time just because jobs have not been created while he's been president. So, in the end, I don't know who's going to win. I think either Romney or Perry, and there will be others. I think both of them could win against President Obama if they get the nomination.

But it is going -- I really believe it's going to come down to tell me what your jobs plan is. If I believe your jobs plan, I'm going to vote for you.

CROWLEY: Let's talk Social Security a little bit. Are you comfortable with Governor Perry's description of the Social Security system as a Ponzi scheme?

SCOTT: Oh, I don't know if that's the right way to describe it. You know, when you get your Social Security statement, it says, if you read it, it says it's only 76 percent funded and there's going to be changes.

You know, Floridians, we've paid into Social Security. Like a lot of other government programs, we sent money to D.C. We expect to get that money back. We expect that our Social Security is real. So, we have to fix Social Security.

So, I think it's -- I think it's very important, whoever is speaking tonight, they tell us how they're going to fix jobs, but how they're going to fix Social Security so Floridians that rely on it can get -- you know, that they know how it's going to happen.

CROWLEY: And there have been a number of Republicans that have been out there that think, that don't want the country to get the idea that Republicans want to do away with Social Security, which they fear people might be hearing if they're listening to the chatter in the Republican primary, particularly as it comes from Governor Perry.

So, are you one of those that is worried that the Republican Party is beginning to look like the party that is anti-Social Security?

SCOTT: I hope not, because I believe Republicans like me, we want programs -- here's what I'm dealing with in my state. We're dealing with a pension plan that's not fully funded. I want state workers that rely on that plan to be able to rely on it. I want it to be fully funded when I get out of office.

So, I've got to improve it. Just like Social Security needs to be improved so all Floridians, all Americans that are relying on Social Security know when they retire, the money is going to be there, because we're putting money in there every year.

CROWLEY: So, you are not fully comfortable with some of the remarks that Governor Perry has had about Social Security, I would then guess from that?

SCOTT: You know, the way I would say it, and everybody's different, the way I would say it is, look, I want to make sure that every program that we tell Americans to rely on, it's going to be there. I don't want to -- I don't want to misrepresent that something's going to be there when it's not. I know we have to fix Social Security -- just like I know in my state, I have to fix the pension plan.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about another governor in this race, Governor Jon Huntsman. He set up his headquarters in your state. He has ties to that state through his in-laws, yet he's polling at 2 percent there.

What is wrong with the Huntsman campaign?

SCOTT: You know, I don't know. I've met him, you know. He's clearly somebody that has had a lot of success in life.

And -- but he's not been polling well. But it's -- you know, it's tough. Governor Romney has been at this for a long time. Governor Perry has been governor for 10 years. So, they've got a lot of -- a lot of people already know a lot about them ahead of time. It's a hard job to become president.

CROWLEY: We were also interested in looking at these polls, you took an immediate hit almost when you got into office, your standing is up a little this month, but still not that great. In fact, it's pretty near where President Obama is scoring. He's scoring about 39 percent approval. You're in that arena as well.

What do you make of the fact that you and President Obama have the same levels of approval, which are in the 30th percentile?

SCOTT: Well, you know, my job is to get our state back to work. And so, that's what I think about every day. The poll that I think about is every month when we come out with unemployment numbers, and fortunately, for us, we generated jobs this year, 87,200 private sector jobs. And as, you know, we're bucking the national trend, which is not doing well.

But, you know, I think that -- I think that it's incumbent upon all of us to do the things we said we're going to do when we ran. In my case, I think people are surprised that I'm doing exactly what I said I was going to do when I ran, because that's not the typical politician.

CROWLEY: Governor Rick Scott out of Florida tonight, thank you so much for your time.

SCOTT: Thanks, Candy. Have a great day.

CROWLEY: You, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Who will be the CNN hero of the year? Details when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Look who is here, one of my favorite fellows. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is coming up at the top of the hour.

Anderson, what have you got going?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": We got breaking news. Asian markets opening in about 15 minutes, all eyes on the Asian markets. Will the global sell-off continue? We're going to follow the money.

Also ahead tonight, a series "Ungodly Discipline." Horrifying allegations of child abuse at a fundamentalist Baptist school in Indiana. Former students said they were hit and humiliated by staff members.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would call you to the front. They would pull the chair out. You bend over, grab the chair. He tells you look at that lunch pail and he would pull the paddle up. He was so tall it practically touched the ceiling. And he would swing it really hard, hard enough for you to move forward. He moved the whole chair forward.

REPORTER: This is in front of the whole class?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Also, dramatic testimony in the SeaWorld hearing in Orlando. The spotter for Dawn Brancheau, the trainer who drowned, was drowned by that killer whale, Tilikum, said he saw Dawn try to remove her ponytail from the whale's mouth. We'll speak with someone who was in the courtroom today.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Anderson. We will be watching.

Tonight, we are also revealing our top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011. Each of these 10 will receive $50,000 and a shot at the top honor. CNN Hero of the Year will earn, one of them, an additional $250,000. Viewers get to decide who that person will be.

And Anderson will show you how.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Now that we have announced the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011, I want to show you how to vote for CNN Hero of the Year. This is the main page of CNNHeroes.com.

Now, down here, you notice, are the list of all top 10 CNN Heroes. Each one will receive $50,000 plus a shot at becoming CNN Hero of the Year. That's where you come in.

Here's how you can vote for your favorite CNN Hero. First, you can learn more about all the Heroes by clicking on their fan pages. I want to show you how to do that.

As an example, I'm going to go over here, click on Patrice Millet. We're just using Patrice as an example to walk you through the voting process. Any of the 10 nominees would be worthy of being CNN Hero of the Year. And that is entirely up to you.

Now, after you look at each fan page, pick the person who inspires you the most and click on "vote now" -- which is right over here on the right. Click on that, and a new page comes up. It shows you all the top 10 heroes. Choose the person you want to vote for.

Now, I'm going to, say, randomly pick Taryn Davis. So, if I pick Taryn Davis, again, just an example, her photo will show up here under the "your selection" area. Then it shows you a security code over here. You type in that security code, you click on the red box, which is over here for vote.

Something new this year, you can vote online and on your mobile device, your laptop, your tablet, pretty much any smartphone or cell phone, with a browser. Just go to CNNHeroes.com.

Now, remember, you can vote up to 10 times a day for your favorite hero through Wednesday, December 7th.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: So you can help choose the CNN Hero of the Year, as Anderson said. Go to CNNHeroes.com now to vote for the most inspirational hero. All 10 will be honored live at CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute, on Sunday, December 11th.

Next up, John King asks former Vice President Dick Cheney if he really said deficits don't matter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Congress it has to resolve what will happen to terrorist detainees if President Obama closes the Guantanamo Bay prison because lawmakers don't want them sent anywhere else.

Earlier this week, John King sat down with former Vice President Dick Cheney who defends Gitmo and enhanced interrogation of terror suspects.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": -- with your successor, Vice President Biden, we were in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Obviously, the country was under a terrorist threat at that moment, the administration said it had credible information that there might be an attack on New York or Washington. In an interview around that time, you said you thought the administration might know more about it, might have a better handling if it were still using enhanced interrogation tactics, including possibly, waterboarding. You thought maybe this detainee who has some information. You scrub him using these tactics and you know more about this threat.

I asked the current vice president, Joe Biden, he interrupted me and said, no, that he didn't think it would work, and then he said that he's been doing this for 40 years and he sees, quote, "zero evidence" you get any value added or anything worthwhile out of those tactics.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there was a report he ought to read that was done by the Central Intelligence Agency after we used enhanced interrogation techniques on the extent of which it produced very good results from specifically Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The intelligence community wrote a report on that.

I read it while I was in office. After I left office, I went back down to the National Archives where that classified material was kept. I reread it and asked it be released and it has been released. And it specifically points to the great success we had, especially on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but also on Abu Zubaydah. And they both were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, both of them waterboarded. And both cases, it produced significant results.

KING: So Joe Biden -- wrong?

CHENEY: He's wrong. He hasn't checked the record.

KING: We had an --

CHENEY: And if I must say, all due regard for my friend, Joe Biden, senators on the foreign relations committee, aren't ordinarily involved in those kinds of matters anyway.

KING: Your constant test after 9/11, I move back and read interviews we did in that period, other interviews you did, and you make it again here in your book, is that maybe you didn't like everything we did, but in seven years after 9/11, when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney left office, America was not attacked, therefore, in your view your policy was successful.

Cannot President Obama make the same case now in three years in office, there's been no major attack on the United States? Could he not look to the American people as he campaigns for reelection and say I passed the Cheney test?

CHENEY: Well, I think if we can get through without any attacks -- certainly, it's an argument that he can make. I think he's also about to say and I don't believe I ever heard him say this, this has been a continuous process that started back after 9/11 and ran through the 7 1/2 years of the Bush administration and then has continued on into the Obama administration. The bottom line is, it's been a continuum, it's a process carried on especially by our counterintelligence professionals, by the intelligence people, by the Special Operations folks in the military.

And they all deserve credit because one day builds on another. One success builds on another. I think that's a legitimate way to describe it. I think we laid the groundwork in those 7 1/2 years and the results speak for themselves.

And certainly if the Obama administration can avoid any further attacks on the United States, you'd have to judge that a plus as well, too.

KING: How would you rate H.W. Bush in a sentence or two as president of the United States?

CHENEY: I think he gets high marks as president.

KING: He also made a tough and political choice when the country faced a situation not unlike what we're going to through in our politics today, when the deficits and concerns about the deficit and its potential effect of dragging the economy were front and center. George H.W. Bush had the courage, knowing it might cost him re- election, knowing for sure it would cost him support with his conservative base to violate the central domestic policy pledge of his campaign -- read my lips, no new taxes. And he called everybody out to Camp David, Andrews Air Force base and he agreed to a package that caused him to violate that promise.

There are people now saying we need a moment like that and that the Republicans should give President Obama some tax increases as long as they get from him significant spending cuts and a big deficit reduction package. Should Republicans learn from George H.W. Bush and sit down with President Obama and cut a deal?

CHENEY: I wouldn't put it that way, John. I think that the panelists have been appointed. The special debt reduction panel clearly has its work cut out for it. You have some good people on that panel. They're going to have to come up with some kind of package that can gain broad support in the Congress.

KING: Conservatives are still furious at George H.W. Bush. They say that's proof, that's proof, and that's why you have the Grover Norquists of the world with their pledge, I'll never raise taxes.

CHENEY: Well, that's the problem.

KING: Was that the right thing for the country?

CHENEY: I think the notion of a big tax increase whatever the guy's rationale is exactly the wrong thing to do in the midst of one of the worst recessions we've had in modern times.

KING: There is a new book by Ron Suskind that is largely about the Obama administration and I know you're not a fan of tell-all books by people who, they quote people who work in administration. But one of the things, it goes back to the end of the Bush administration and earlier in the Bush administration, to set up this whole conversation we're having now about the deficit. And it quotes you after the 2002 mid-terms as essentially shouting down the Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill who says, you know, with the combination of the Bush tax cuts and price of the war in Afghanistan and the potential of the coming war with Iraq at that point, that more needed to be done about deficits and it quotes you as saying Reagan proved deficits don't matter.

Do deficits matter?

CHENEY: They do definitely.

KING: Did you say that?

CHENEY: I said it within a different context. I don't remember yelling at Paul O'Neill. Paul and I ended up having our differences but we're both relatively mild-spoken individuals. We don't use a lot of foul language or cuss each other out, so to speak.

Now, what I was talking about was what President Reagan did in his first term, he came in and did two things that on the surface might have seemed controversy, but turned out to be very important. One, he significantly expanded spending on defense because our defenses were in terrible shape. That made it possible for us 10 years later to win the Gulf War.

And the other thing he did was, simultaneously, he cut taxes, partly in as part of tax reform. That combination did, in fact, increase the deficit, but both of those objectives were worthy and eventually, of course, we got the economy going fast enough with those tax cuts, that we grew our way out of the deficit problem. So -- but to say deficits don't matter within that context, I think was correct.

Obviously, today is a separate proposition.

KING: You write in the book about your efforts to dissuade then Governor Bush from picking you as his running mate and the many steps you took to tell him you thought that was the wrong thing to do.

I want to go back then, because as we watch what's happening now, normally the vice president becomes the leader of the party when the president leaves, and the president knew, of course, you did not have presidential ambitions when he picked you. But had he made a different choice, the party would be in a different place right now. You write in the book, Senator Connie Mack of Florida said, no way, I never speak to you again, if you put me on that list. You write that General Powell at that time and Senator McCain at that time were not on the list because they didn't want to be.

And you write about a meeting, it seems to have been either the governor was going to pick you or Jack Danforth, the former senator, the former governor of Missouri. Who else was on that list?

CHENEY: That is something we treated as classified. I've never disclosed everybody that was on the list.

KING: A great time to do it.

CHENEY: I didn't do it even in my book.

KING: Why?

CHENEY: Because I really felt, you know, you go through that process, and then I had to go ask 10 years of tax returns and ask difficult sometimes personal questions of candidates we looked at. And I assured them that I would not violate the confidences that they shared with me.

And, in effect, with most of the materials after we finished the review process was give them all back so that there wouldn't be a repository, for example, Bush campaign headquarters or someplace on sensitive information about a group of prominent national politicians. And I thought I owed them that degree of confidence and I've done everything I could to maintain it.

KING: Vice President, thank you.

CHENEY: Thank you, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.