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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Interview with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner; Chris Christie Won't Run for President; No iPhone 5; Interview with David Axelrod

Aired October 4, 2011 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Countdown to Amanda Knox, her flight approaching Seattle now landing any minute. Then Apple pulling a bait and switch today and no one cared -- "Seriously?!" And the "Bottom Line", will all the fees from banks, for credit cards and ATM use go away? America's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is our exclusive guest for OUTFRONT.

I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, a 400-point on Wall Street swing staves off a bear market. The reality though remains grim in America, U.S. stocks losing nearly $4 trillion in value since their high this spring. 401(ks) crushed, housing prices still 30 percent below their highs, unemployment sky high.

Today Fed Chief Ben Bernanke admitted the economic recovery is quote "close to faltering", but still even with all that, America is still the best place to prosper in all the world and we can keep it that way. Everywhere I travel overseas, I hear about America being a leader in freedom from young people and from business people, I get pleas for America to rise again because they still admire American ingenuity, and yes even after the financial crisis they admire American financial power.

Today the ultimate image of American power, not an FA 18, no, it is this, the iPhone 4S. It had its own press conference today to debut. And we did the numbers. There are 128 million iPhones in the world right now. And there isn't a child anywhere I've met who doesn't want one. In China, actually, I think iPhone is a synonym (ph) for America and that's why every night we're counting up. We're going to count how many days since America lost its top credit rating. It has been 60 days and our goal is to get it back because psychologically it matters.

So to get there, we've enlisted a team of 20 of the most important business leaders in America. It's called "The Strike Team." The "Strike Team" members joined because they agree that business needs to step up and influence policy in a constructive way -- tech, autos, investors, sports, banks, manufacturing, entrepreneurs. They are going to vote on key economic issues throughout the election season. And tonight I asked them three questions.

Is another recession inevitable at this point? Will President Obama's jobs plan create jobs? And if a U.S. investment bank were close to failure -- the example was Morgan Stanley -- would you support a bailout at this time? The "Strike Team" weighed in on tonight's interview. Special guest Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is here with me on set. Secretary Geithner, a great pleasure to see you. Thank you so much.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: Nice to see you and I like your optimism.

BURNETT: We're trying. We're trying. So let me just say it feels like deja vu, 400 point swing up is good for today, but we're on the precipice again, close to a bear market, one prominent forecasting group had said that the recession was inevitable, which is why I used that term in the question.

I think you're going to be excited about this, though. The "Strike Team", includes members from Cisco and DuPont and Ford and a lot of other big companies, 17 of them said a recession is not inevitable at this point. We're talking about a double dip. Are they right or are the people who say it's inevitable right?

GEITHNER: I think they're right but it depends really on two things. It depends first on how effective the Europeans are in dealing with their financial crisis because that's putting a severe burden on growth around the world and it's a very serious grave crisis, and so it depends importantly on what they do in Europe, but it also depends on our ability to get Congress to do something to make growth strong in the United States.

BURNETT: Obviously there's been a lot of fighting today in Congress about the jobs bill.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Republicans may be pushing it knowing it would fail. Eric Cantor saying it won't pass. How much are you willing to give on it as a sign that the bill itself wasn't a political push by the president but a real effort to get something done?

GEITHNER: Let me just say it is very important that Congress do things that are going to make the economy stronger now. We're not growing fast enough. We're very vulnerable to what's happening in Europe. You've seen growth slow around the world. Unemployment is still very high in the United States and the overwhelming responsibility we all have is to do more now to strengthen the economy. Now we put on the table a very smart, very strong, very powerful package. People may have better ideas, but we have not seen a plan that would do nearly as much for the economy and be as effective and strengthening the economy and getting more Americans back to work that has any chance of passing.

BURNETT: It's just interesting and I want to put this up here so we can show our viewers of the "Strike Team", interesting a lot of these guys have a lot of employees, some are entrepreneurs. Ten of them thought that the president's jobs plan would create jobs and 10 of them said it would not, so it's a 50-50 on that.

GEITHNER: Let me just say there's no credible argument this plan wouldn't create jobs. Of course it will create jobs and every economist -- let me put a differently -- broad cross section economists --

BURNETT: Because of the payroll tax cut --

GEITHNER: Well it's not just that. You know remember every person who has a job in the United States today gets a substantial tax cut. That's more money in their pockets at a time when most Americans are hurting still. Every business gets a tax cut and they get a bigger tax cut if they hire an additional worker. They hire a veteran or hire somebody long term unemployed. In addition to that, there's very smart sensible investments to help rebuild the country -- the country repair schools, repair roads, repairs bridges.

Those are like tax cuts, too because what they do is they reduce the costs of businesses trying to compete in this global economy. And without those actions the economy is going to be weaker. Growth will be slower. More people will be out of work longer and there's no reason why we should accept that outcome.

BURNETT: Can the bill though make up for the European problem? I mean is it sort of a pea relative to the watermelon that has become the European crisis, which is much bigger than Greece? Because more and more people I'm hearing are saying Europe could be a bigger threat to America than Lehman Brothers, which ended up triggering the financial crisis.

GEITHNER: As I said at the beginning, what Europe is facing is very tough, very difficult. It has caused a lot of damage already, not just in Europe, but around the world and it could do a lot more damage if they don't act effectively, but you know they've effectively decided the key things. They're not going to let the euro break up.

They're not going to let the European Monetary Union fall apart. They're not going to -- they're going to stand behind their financial system. They're going to take the steps to move closer to a fiscal union with the broader disciplines on budget policy. You need to make the Monetary Union work. They've made those decisions. What they haven't done yet is put in place the financial capacity to make that work.

BURNETT: Right.

GEITHNER: That's what they're trying to negotiate right now --

BURNETT: Do you get mad when they pick on you and tell you to get out of their business, what do you know? Like the German guy said recently when you told them to increase the size of the fund?

GEITHNER: They're going to do -- let me be more polite. I think they're going to do what they need to do to get their arms around this. They don't have -- they don't -- they haven't done it yet. And there -- you've heard them today. It's partly why I see a little more confidence (INAUDIBLE). You hear them talking now today about the kind of comprehensive approach --

BURNETT: Right. GEITHNER: Stronger financial firewall, support for their financial system that's necessary to make that broad thing work. But they've got to move more quickly with more force.

BURNETT: And now one of the reasons Europe matters to America is our banks and our banks are a third rail topic still in this country. Many are predicting Goldman Sachs could lose money in the quarter for the first quarter since the financial crisis. Morgan Stanley obviously has been hit by repeated market concern, about its viability because of Europe. Now I asked the "Strike Team" and our viewers about whether a bank and Morgan Stanley is a completely hypothetical example, but it appeared to be that's the sort of size we were talking about, whether a bank of that size would merit a bailout by the U.S. government.

The "Strike Team", 10 of them said, yes, bail it out. Systemically important for the American economy, nine of them said no. One abstained. I'm not going to tell you who that was. Our viewers obviously 180 degrees, almost all of them -- Tony Avila a good example, "no, why should the U.S. taxpayers bail them out? Who is baling out the millions of unemployed?" If it comes to it, is a company of Morgan Stanley's size systemically important enough for a bailout?

GEITHNER: Nobody in my position could answer a question like that. It's one thing you learn when you serve in public service. But let me say the (INAUDIBLE) be helpful. The American financial system is in a much stronger position today than it was six months ago, 12 months ago, 18 months ago before the crisis to handle and deal with and manage the pressures we're seeing from Europe and (INAUDIBLE) around the world. We're in a much stronger position because we force these firms to go out and raise a huge amount of capital very early.

We let the weakest parts of the American financial system wash out of the system and we did some very tough things earlier on. So we're in a much stronger place today. We want to make sure Europe fixes this problem so we're less vulnerable to (INAUDIBLE) challenges and we want to make sure Congress acts to do things that within our control to strengthen the economy now and to pass this jobs act to do that.

BURNETT: So --

GEITHNER: And again the best thing we can do for the American financial system today is to repair it, reform it, and strengthen the economy. Stronger growth is the best path to lower unemployment, more people back to work, better housing market, and that's why this jobs act is so important.

BURNETT: And how do you get around this issue though where there is such animosity and venom towards the banks? A lot of bad mistakes were made by the banks and a lot of bad decisions were made. They got bailed out. Taxpayers made money on the bailout. It still doesn't matter to a lot of people in this country who just hate them. What do you do about that?

(CROSSTALK)

GEITHNER: You know it's -- it's not going to -- that's not going to go away for a very long time. People are going to hold onto that basic sense of unfairness and anger and frustration --

BURNETT: Right.

GEITHNER: -- until they see a dramatic meaningful improvement in the quality of their lives in the sense that this is a country of possibilities still. Their future is going to be stronger and that they've seen the government of the United States put in place stronger protections to protect them from the kind of abuses we saw. And that's why these reforms that Congress passed about 18 months ago, few months ago are so important and that's why we're fighting to make sure those reforms meet the promise of the legislation not just for consumers but to make sure you know banks are taking less risk where they need to.

BURNETT: And here's part of the problem. The reforms came through and the banks are upset about them and the banks are fighting back and they're saying you and Dodd-Frank, the reform bill, have made life too hard. Financial reform is hurting Americans, hurt them so much that they need to put new fees on customers. I just pulled three of them from three banks everyone knows -- Citibank now charging $15 a month if you have a balance of under $6,000. That's pretty regressive.

Bank of America $5 a month for the right to use a debit card and JPMorgan Chase earlier this year tried out $5 ATM fees for non-Chase customers. Do they need to do these things or are they purposefully trying to do things that hit the public to try to get the public on board with them getting rid of your reform?

GEITHNER: The banks are blaming the reforms and the government for everything --

BURNETT: Right.

GEITHNER: -- including lots of problems that they themselves were central to causing and the people are terribly -- most people are terribly angry and frustrated with that --

BURNETT: Right.

GEITHNER: And they want to see things change. And what we're trying to do is to make sure that we put in place the kind of protections consumers and investors deserve so they're not vulnerable again to the kind of mistakes we saw across the American financial system. There's no surprises. There's no -- nothing strange about the fact that banks are resisting it, are pushing back. They're trying to weaken those reforms and we're going to push back harder.

(CROSSTALK)

GEITHNER: And in the end, we're going to prevail because what we're doing is a reasonable sensible thing, which is to make sure the American economy is never again vulnerable to this degree of basic abuse, mistakes, (INAUDIBLE) risk taking and that's why (INAUDIBLE) so important. Now we're trying to be careful to do it in a way that doesn't hurt the recovery. We're trying to do it in a way to make sure that credit is more available, not less available. That the economy is going to get stronger, it's going to make the system more stable, and that's a difficult balance to strike and people are going to complain about it.

BURNETT: Sixty days since we lost AAA. How many days am I going to have to count because I'm doing it everyday?

GEITHNER: That you should count it everyday and you should ask Congress to pass the kind of reforms we need not just to make the economy strong in the short term, but to bring and restore some gravity to our long term fiscal position. Now you know after Standard & Poor's acted (ph), you've seen interest rates fall in the United States and the dollar is broadly stronger because people around the world still believe --

BURNETT: They believe --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Right -- it's still the best place --

GEITHNER: They believe and they basically that America in the end will do the right thing. We've just got to make sure we do it soon enough.

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) right.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: The embodiment of American exceptionalism (INAUDIBLE)?

GEITHNER: I would not say it's not the embodiment. It's a good example in the fact that we are a very innovative dynamic economy.

BURNETT: All right, well thanks so much, Secretary Geithner. Appreciate it.

GEITHNER: Good to talk to you.

BURNETT: All right and you can see much more about our "Strike Team" and of course our full interview with the treasury secretary on CNN.com/OutFront.

And still OUTFRONT Christie out, James Carville and David Frum weighing in and then "Seriously?!" -- cult of Apple and Amanda Knox waiting for her to come home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: The number tonight, 17. That is how many times Chris Christie said no during his press conference announcing he's not running for president. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No matter how many times I was asked the question, for me the answer was never anything but no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's a no until it's a yes. No, no, no, now is not my time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It's a no until it's a yes. All right, now the fall- out, even before today's announcement, there was significant shift in the Republican field. In a new "Washington Post"/"ABC News" poll released today Herman Cain surging tied for second place with Rick Perry who is plunging down 13 points from the previous poll in early September.

Herman Cain, wow, up 12. Now with Chris Christie gone, who is going to win? The one and only James Carville is with us, a CNN contributor joining me now from New Orleans -- a thrill, sir -- and David Frum coming from our D.C. Bureau, contributor, former adviser to President George W. Bush. Great to have both of you with us, it's really fun for me and thanks for coming on our new show.

David, we love that stringing together -- no, no, no, no, no, no, no is no until it's yes. We got an answer. All right, so what does it mean because the recent polls had a, you know, pretty significant chunk of people looking at Chris Christie.

DAVID FRUM, ADVISER, PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: First, congratulations on the great debut. Here's what it means. This race is simplifying. Barring the increasingly unlikely eventuality of a Palin entry, we've got a race between Mitt Romney who has been more- or-less the front-runner basically since the race -- since Election Day of 2008 facing an ever narrowing field. Herman Cain has electrified a lot of Republicans, but he does not have the biography that great parties nominate as their political leaders.

He has not been a governor. He's not been even a mayor. He has not really held elected office of any kind. He is not going to be the leader of the Republican Party. The governor of Texas who theoretically could be is plunging because of his own various mistakes, weaknesses that he's exhibited. Who is the field? It is going to be Governor Romney and this has been a very, very big day for him.

BURNETT: James, do you agree this is Romney only or is there some other dark horse stalking we don't know?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, first of all, I agree with David. Congratulations on your new show. I think this analogy is a prom date. None of these Republicans want go to the prom with Governor Romney but they're going to go to the prom with Governor Romney and they're going to act like they're happy when they get to the prom with Governor Romney.

You know it's evident you look at the polling; he was at 30 in July and then 25 in August and still 25 today. There's a great reluctance, but I don't see that they're going to have an alternative. I really don't. And I think they're just going to -- it's not the girl that they want but let's give this guy credit. He just waits by the phone and he doesn't get his feelings hurt. When they call him, he's going to answer it.

BURNETT: If you can't be with the one you want, then love the one you're with --

CARVILLE: That's right.

BURNETT: David, let me ask you is this good for President Obama that he's not running against Governor Romney or not?

FRUM: President Obama has so much bigger problems than what the Republicans throw at him. He is -- what is his re-election proposition? What is he going to take to the country? Incumbents lose -- they win or lose and it's not they don't win or lose because of what their opponents do. They win or lose because of what they themselves have done.

His re-election proposition is weak and Governor Romney really presents the narrowest front. He has the fewest vulnerabilities of any of the challengers. He can't be accused of wanting to shut down Social Security and Medicare. He can't even be accused of denying health care coverage to everybody because he has this health care record which has been a bug in the Republican primaries but will be a feature in the general election.

He's presidential. He knows -- he's obviously very smart. He's obviously someone who, if the problem is what do we do about this impending euro crisis that you were just discussing --

BURNETT: Yes.

FRUM: -- he can talk about the euro intelligently and effectively at length in a way that maybe some of the other Republican candidates cannot do.

BURNETT: James Carville, what can President Obama do? I mean if he just wanted to throw some sort of a bomb in here and mix it up and I ask this because David Axelrod is coming up and maybe give him some advice here.

CARVILLE: Well first of all, if the president is able to win re- election this will be a really awesome political feat. I mean political feat for him to win 2008. No president has been re-elected in the kind of environment that he is facing. Having said that, he is a skilled guy with a skilled team and opposition is not really that excited about Romney.

He'll need you know -- and I think one of three things that are going to happen, another Republican get in the field that is going to be a challenge on the Democratic side or a third party's going to get in. I just don't see this thing --

BURNETT: Really.

CARVILLE: -- coming down to just the president and Romney, the swing vote --

BURNETT: Who?

CARVILLE: I have no idea. But everything that I see, the situation of the Republican Party that brand is at an all time low, so obvious that the Republicans don't like Romney. It's obvious the country is looking for something different. The president has any number of challenges. His team is going to be hard-pressed to meet them all. And there is a real yearning for something different in this country. It is going to produce something, I have no idea what, but something is coming here, I promise you.

BURNETT: All right, well I hope both of you will be with us to talk about that when it comes and thanks to both.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

FRUM: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, as promised, President Obama's chief campaign official David Axelrod will be our guest coming up in a few moments. And the woman on the phone with Conrad Murray when prosecutors say Michael Jackson stopped breathing. Plus "Seriously?!" where is my iPhone5?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now for a story that made us say, "Seriously?!" For weeks, Apple customers have been waiting for word that the company would finally launch its latest Smartphone, the iPhone5. Big day for Apple fans so we visited our local Apple store to join in the excitement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was announcing today but I don't know when it's going to be on the market.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't really looked into it that much, but I have an iPod Touch and I like it so I'm assuming I'll like the iPod.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I own a Macro Pro. Actually I was waiting for iPhone 5. I'm really thinking about getting it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't get any news so far, but I'm still hoping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what else have you done --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Typical sightseeing tours, you know being on top of the Empire State Building, walking through Times Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you're really here for what reason?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To buy an iPhone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) from Rome. We are (INAUDIBLE) project (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's it called?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to buy the 5 do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to see if -- what things we have more --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: "Seriously?!" Apple fans, they don't care what they hand you, other than the Il Volo Band you saw there at the end, no one seems that interested in learning what was different about the new iPhone. They just wanted it.

Now we noticed something else weird. The store was actually pretty empty. Take a look at this. There are more employees in this store on the upper west side in Manhattan than customers. But right across the street, a store called Gracious Home (ph) had a huge line. So we walked over to ask them about the iPhone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to know what's new.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. What's different? It has a lot of functions like, I don't know, I love all Apple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you in line for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Il Volo, the Italian music group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now do you like them better or the iPhone better?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The iPhone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Il Volo, seriously, even Il Volo fans would rather have an iPhone 5 than a signed CD. Well enter the big letdown -- later on today it turned out there is not an iPhone5. Instead we get the 4S, which we assume stands for 4SERIOUSLY, APPLE?! Because even though Apple fans don't seem to care what Apple tells them, we do.

So here is the scoop on the 4S. It's a faster version of the iPhone. It has a virtual personal assistant that you can communicate with if you're lonely and it's available on Sprint's wireless network for the first time. So it's not just AT&T and Verizon. But that's it. That's it. So today though was not a total waste because we're actually, you know, a new show and you didn't seriously think we'd pass up an opportunity to ask a bunch of Italians about their leader, ladies man Silvio Berlusconi, did you?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we like Berlusconi or do we hate him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not -- we don't like him.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Well Il Volo you might not be laughing so hard when you hear that Italy got downgraded by the credit rating agency Moody's today, because that means the new 4 "Seriously?!" (ph) might cost even more in Rome -- "Seriously?!"

All right, still ahead on OUTFRONT, Michael Moore watched OUTFRONT and he had an issue with it. And then updates from the Michael Jackson trial and we await Amanda Knox. Her plane is right now approaching Seattle. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, when we focus on our own reporting, we made the calls and we found the OUTFRONT five.

First up, America's treasure secretary, Timothy Geithner, came OUTFRONT tonight. He talked about the president's $300 billion dollar jobs plan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And is there a line the administration is willing to draw when you say I will not negotiate beyond, there must be some tax increases.

GEITHNER: I have a line I use all the time. It's a good basic lesson when you govern. A plan beats no plan.

The president put a plan on the table. There is no plan that is perfect. But this is a very good mix of tax incentives for businesses, for individuals, and investments to build the country.

You know, we don't have a monopoly of wisdom and we should be open to anything that is powerful for growth and has a chance of passing, but we have not seen alternative plan that could do as much for the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He will not rule out tax increases. For the record, the plan is $447 billion, not $300 billion.

OUTFRONT CEO and investor strike team does not hate the jobs plan, by the way. They were evenly divided on whether it would create jobs. Check out our poll interview with the treasury secretary and our entire strike team at CNN.com/OutFront.

Number two, America's top commander in Africa, General Ham, says that what keeps him up at night is worry about American training in an extremist camp in Somalia coming back in America and attacking us.

He's also worried about missiles disappearing from Libya. We made some calls. Security expert Rachel Stohl from Simpson (ph) Center told us there are a minimum of 20,000 Libyan missiles missing, most already taken by truck out of the country. Those missiles can take down commercial aircraft.

Number 3, after eight straight days of negotiations, Ford and UAW have a tentative agreement. Union workers are likely to vote on the deal next week. If they sign on, they'll get a $6,000 bonus. A thousand more than what G.M. workers snagged, but $1,500 less than they wanted. It will reportedly add 6,000 new jobs.

We talked to a union member named Lynn, and she said she will vote for the deal despite the bonus cutback. For her, the issue was never bonuses. It was health care and she's happy with that part of the deal.

Number four, the Romney campaign scoring a major financial backer today who was in the Christie camp. Spokesman for Ken Langone tell us that the Home Depot cofounder made the decision when Christie said he's not running.

How important a vote could this be? Ken Langone is the 331st richest American in the Forbes list with an estimated net worth of $1.3 million. And in the world of super PAC, you can give a lot away. Well, it's been 60 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back.

Well, the titanic struggle with the wind in his face, that's how Obama senior campaign strategist David Axelrod describes the struggle for President Obama's re-election, and just yesterday, the president called himself an underdog in an interview on ABC News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm used to being an underdog. And I think that at the end of the day, though, what people are going to say is, who's got a vision for the future that can actually help ordinary families recapture that American Dream.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So, how does the president turn things around? David Axelrod joins us now.

I really appreciate you being with us, David. Thanks again.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA SENIOR ADVISOR: Nice to be with you.

BURNETT: Chris Christie is out. Does that help you?

AXELROD: Oh, I don't know. You know, first of all, I'm not surprised that he is. I thought, having been through this process, the notion that you could gear up and put this thing together on the short time frame, that he was talking about, seemed remote to me. So, I wasn't surprised he didn't run.

I'm not sure it makes a great deal of difference because all the Republicans essentially embrace the same fundamental philosophy, they've all endorsed a budget that would cut education by 25 percent, and research and development by 70 percent. They all oppose closing these tax loopholes and dealing with our deficits in a balanced way. I mean, they share a philosophy.

So, the basic contours of the debate are going to be the same regardless of who the candidate is on their side.

BURNETT: So, I'm curious, though, just with the two elements we used leading in to you. You talk about the election as a titanic struggle. He talked about himself as an underdog.

What is the strategy in being so negative about your own campaign?

AXELROD: I'm not negative. I'm not negative. I'm not realistic.

If I came on your program and told you that I expect a cakewalk to the re-election, I'd be wasting your time and you'd never invite me back.

You know, we all know what the situation is. The American people and this country, we're all going through a very difficult time. And so, that impacts on our politics. We understand that.

But the question is going to be, where do we want to go? Where do they want to go? Who is going to stand up and fight for an economy in which everybody has a chance to get ahead, in which everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share. That's what we're fighting for.

They have a very distinctly different view of how we get to that better future. And I'm very confident we are going to win that fight.

BURNETT: So, what about your third quarter fund-raising numbers? I know they're supposed to formally come out on the 15th. The target that you had was $55 million raised. Are you going to hit or beat that? AXELROD: Well, I'm not going to discuss fund-raising numbers here. You know, we're doing well. We're raising the money.

I have no illusions. I think when you add in the probably billion dollars that the -- those super PACs collectively could spend against us, you know, there's going to be a lot of money spent against the president.

But I believe that we can raise the money necessary to get our message out. And beyond that, I believe we are going to martial large numbers of Americans. We got large numbers of donors, large numbers of volunteers. We're going to martial the American people in this fight and we're going to win this fight.

BURNETT: And it is going to be a fight. Obviously, a lot of pundits are talking now about this being a one-term president, James Carville among them. Most recent numbers from "The Washington Post" say 46 percent of Americans say they won't vote for the president.

If it's all about jobs and you don't have a miracle, a massive job creation, which it doesn't look like it's going to happen -- how do you beat Mitt Romney?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, Erin, I would point out that we got 53 percent of the vote last time, 47 percent of Americans voted for someone else last time.

BURNETT: Fair point.

AXELROD: So, let's put this in perspective.

BURNETT: Yes.

AXELROD: And you make a good point. You say, how are you going to beat Mitt Romney? If he's the nominee and there's no guarantee he'll be the nominee.

But there'll be two people on that ballot. They'll each have records, they'll each have visions, they'll each have their own characters and qualities that they bring to this race.

And people will scrutinize both candidates, not just one candidate. I understand that there's an interest on the part of some to make it simply a referendum. But it's going to make a choice.

Governor Romney has his own record. He talks about jobs. His state was 47th in job creation when he was governor of Massachusetts.

BURNETT: Yes.

AXELROD: So, you know, there are a lot of issues to be raised. He said he never raised taxes. It turns out that he raised fees in his state by $750 million a year. You know, as we know, he passed a health care bill that was a lot like the one we passed and now, he's trying to walk away from that.

So, you know, there'll be a lot of issues for us to discuss if he's on the other side of the ballot.

BURNETT: And it sounds like you are ready for them.

All right. Thanks very much, David Axelrod. Good to see you, sir.

AXELROD: All right, Erin. Nice to be with you. Thank you.

BURNETT: OK.

And with polls showing a near tie in a head-to-head race between President Obama and Mitt Romney, it is close. Who would benefit most from independent voters? Because those were the ones we saw going to Chris Christie.

John Avlon is senior columnist for "The Daily Beast."

You have taken a long hard look at the whole independent question.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely.

BURNETT: How much could it matter?

AVLON: Independents are going to be decisive. Look, they are the largest and fastest growing segment of the electorate. They will determine who wins and losses. And right now, Mitt Romney has an edge on President Obama among independent voters. That is a big deal, something the Obama administration is very focused on.

BURNETT: And there's a lot of states where you've actually done the bottom line on this. Where you got more independents than you do registered Ds and Rs.

AVLON: Absolutely. Eight states were registered the number of Democrats and Republicans and one of them crucially is Massachusetts. That's why Mitt Romney was able to be a Republican governor of that state.

That's the kind of credibility. Look, independents tend to be closer Republicans on economic issues, Democrats on social issues. But very importantly, the least religious cohort. So, someone with big evangelical support is going to have a tough time making that sale to independents.

BURNETT: All right. John Avlon, thank you very much. It would be interesting.

AVLON: It is.

BURNETT: All right. Well, now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper. What's coming up on "360," Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Shortly after 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Amanda Knox is going to return to American soil getting off plane in Seattle. A live shot of the airport there, after spending nearly the last four years in prison in Italy.

The family is going to hold a news conference. The question is: will Amanda Knox speak? We believe she will. We'll obviously bring that to you live. All angles tonight, keeping them honest.

Also, newly uncovered government memos showing a botched government gun operation. This is extraordinary. It's called "Fast and Furious." It may have gone much higher in the government food chain than anyone previously admitted.

The GOP controlled House Judiciary Committee wants the White House to name a special council to determine if the attorney general himself, Eric Holder, lied about "Fast and Furious."

Those stories, the latest also today on the Michael Jackson trial testimony, and tonight's "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, see you then.

Well, protests continued on Wall Street today. The far left and the far right are all riled up. There's the guy. If you didn't see the show yesterday, we went to the Wall Street protests. And after an hour there, talking to several protesters, I said what I believe on this show, which is the mood that tent city meets what Woodstock.

I had admiration for some protesters. I also poked a little bit of good-hearted fun at them. Many dressed as clowns, playing bongo drums and dancing folk music.

Well, our story got noted documentarian Michael Moore, who watched the show last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: I just don't understand that piece, you know, that new show. These companies, these banks, Goldman Sachs up here, they took billions and billions of dollars of citizens' money, and they ask us to pay for their crime and we're supposed to be OK because some of them have paid some of it back with interest. I mean, it just boggles the mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So, Moore was upset, specifically because of this exchange between me and software developer, Dan, who when I asked him why he was there, said because taxpayers lost money on the bank bailout called TARP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: What do you do for a living?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a software developer.

BURNETT: Software developer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BURNETT: Currently employed or unemployed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unemployed, we like to call it.

BURNETT: Unemployed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's called "Occupy Wall Street."

BURNETT: So, do you know taxpayers actually made money on the Wall Street bailout?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was unaware of that.

BURNETT: Not on G.M. But they did on the Wall Street part of bailout. Does that make you feel any differently?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I would have to do more research about it.

BURNETT: If I were right, it might?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OK. Sure, that was sort of funny. But as I said last night, Dan was an earnest person and he wanted facts. And the best we can do all is have accurate information and then have serious conversations, like right now maybe you take me seriously, but now, not so much. So, Michael Moore, come on, please, come OUTFRONT. Let's have some fun.

All right. Still ahead on OUTFRONT -- I should take these out for the tease. Michael Jackson trial and our outcast of the night, Ashton Kutcher.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: While we're going to do this at the same time every night, our outer circle tonight, to Los Angeles where three more girlfriends of Dr. Conrad Murray testified in the Michael Jackson death trial.

Our Ted Rowlands joins us from outside the courthouse, said four of the girlfriends have testified so far. Why is their testimony so important?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, because they all talked to Dr. Conrad Murray either just before or just after Michael Jackson died. One of them testified today that she was actually on the phone with Murray when he realized that Jackson was unresponsive. Another testified that she was living with Murray here in Los Angeles when he was taking care of Jackson, and said that she signed for some of those Propofol deliveries. Tomorrow, we hear from the investigators. That will be a big day for prosecutors. BURNETT: All right. Ted, thanks so much. We'll talk to you then.

And now, in just a few moments, we're expecting Amanda Knox to land in Seattle, her home, after a long flight from Italy where her conviction was overturned yesterday. That is a live picture and as you can see, the media world is all in Seattle right now.

We caught a glimpse of her smiling earlier as she was living the airport in Rome. And here she is again and she made a connection at London Heathrow.

Our Drew Griffin is live at the airport, where media from all over the world are anxiously awaiting her return.

Drew, what is -- what is the mood there? We just saw a shot from outside the airport with all the television satellites trucks lined up.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, and I'm right in the middle of that press gaggle waiting about a half hour until her arrival her. She has to clear some sort of customs and make her way down here where, Erin, we're expected to see her, perhaps not hear from her, according to the family. We will hear from mom and dad and perhaps Amanda Knox will get a statement out. But that all depends on how she feels.

But the media intensity here will be impressive for Amanda Knox, who has been locked up in prison and due to the Italian law has been precluded from meeting with the press until now, until she's back in Seattle.

The family is concerned about that. They're hoping that this little moment here at the airport will pacify some of the intense interest in her story.

BURNETT: So, Drew, just out of curiosity, because this is such a global story. Earlier tonight, I saw John King with a map of Twitter around the world, which is how many people are posting comments about her every continent and every country. How many people are there with you? How many media?

GRIFFIN: Well, I see in both directions, about 100 feet each way as cameras, and then there's a lot of still photographers. One seems to be right here next to me. The other is right here.

So, they're all over the place from all over the country, all over the world. There's the Italian press. There's the British press. There's certainly every representative of American networks are here in spades, of course, with the local media.

You know, the local media here in Seattle is pretty intense. And this is, indeed, a local story about a local girl captured up in this international problem.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Drew, thank you so much. We want to bring Anne Bremner now, spokesperson and counsel for Friends of Amanda Knox. And good to have you with us.

I want to ask you about what happens next. I know it's a day you're celebrating. The Italian prosecutor has said that he's going to appeal to the Supreme Court in Italy.

ANNE BREMNER, FRIENDS OF AMANDA KNOX: Right.

BURNETT: What are the implications of this for Amanda?

BREMNER: Well, it basically means that she would have to be extradited. But there has to be some kind of substantial kind of evidence behind the extradition to have her involuntarily taken to Italy. I think the chances of that happening are about zero, but it's sure going to cause her some more angst, some more attorneys fees and more interaction with Magnini, this prosecutor that's been following her for years now and prosecuting her to the nth degree.

BURNETT: So, Anne, if you think about this, you look at what Drew was just saying, right, just cameras everywhere.

BREMNER: The press.

BURNETT: The international interest in the story is overwhelming and, frankly, incredible to see. She could make an incredible amount of money with book deals, with movies, when she decides to re-engage with the world. Do you think that's something she would eventually do?

BREMNER: She was -- we always called her an innocent abroad, you know, all the time in characterizing Amanda Knox.

But in a lot of ways, she's really an innocent. She's naive. She's almost like a throwback hippie with really strong core values.

What I see her doing is something that I think will shock a lot of people. And that is -- she's going to do something really grounded. She's going to do something really meaningful. She's going to do something probably about justice, probably something about what kind of moral character you have to have to live through these conditions.

So, it's not going to be a star struck, self-aggrandizing, moneymaking operation that we see in some of these high profile cases. She's the real deal. I think we're going to see great things from her.

BURNETT: And you've spoken to her family. How are they going to spend the next few days?

BREMNER: They want some privacy, and they mean it. They live in west Seattle. She said she wants to just come home and have a barbecue at home with her family, lie on the grass, see her grandma, be back with her family again. But, you know, they're wonderfully nice people. And they're not the kind who will say, get of our property or we need to be alone, that kind of thing. But they'd like to be.

And I think Seattle's the kind of town where Bill Gates, Mary Kay Letourneau, Howard Schultz, people like that, can be amongst us here. It's nice to be important here, but it's more important to be nice. It's a nice place for Amanda Knox to have a soft landing.

So I hope she doesn't have paparazzi -- you know, the term from the Italians -- at her house. I hope she can have some privacy for re-entry and a little bit of peace and quiet.

BURNETT: Well, Anne, thank you very much. We'll keep watching.

BREMNER: It's a big day.

BURNETT: It is a big day. Thanks again.

BREMNER: My pleasure. Thank you.

BURNETT: And as we await that, we want to let you know what we have coming up tomorrow on this show. We are going to be talking to supermodel and activist Christy Turlington -- a face familiar to pretty much everyone. And we'll take you inside a women's jail in Pakistan. That is tomorrow.

But up next, something -- well, why this man thinks doing this -- yes, that -- will get him a date.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And now for tonight's "Outcast," what do you do when everyone says you're broken up and you say you're not? Not this.

Ashton Kutcher says he and Demi Moore are not splitsville. That's Hollywood.

But what can you believe? One thing that nobody saw coming, though, in this whole debate of are they or aren't they broken up was Kutcher's activity of choice one week after his supposed separation via Twitter. He was allegedly spotted at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, partying in his suite, like this one, in a hot tub with four naked women. Wow!

The captain of the quartet was Kutcher's alleged new squeeze, Sara Leal, who at 23 years old is the exact same age as Ashton's stepdaughter Rumer.

Congratulations, Ashton, that make us tonight's "Outcast."

And now, tonight's essay. When it comes to getting a girlfriend in China, it seems that men have no pride. There are many negatives to China's one-child policy in place since 1979, because boys traditionally cared for their parents and girls moved away, some families aborted girls.

Experts say there are 300 million fewer people in China today than there would be due to the one-child policy. More boys than girls grow up to be young men without wives and girlfriends. And that's led to social unrest and crime.

But it's also led to this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BURNETT: Women valued (ph) so much less than men have actually succeeded in finally putting them on top. The dating show "One and 100" is the number one dating show in Shanghai and reaching nearly 5 million viewers. It gives women the pick of 100 men.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 60 million single men in China now. And lots of women (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: The day we visited the set, there were 20 young women who were looking for a date. Now, we watched them getting ready from pig tails to tiaras. This 22-year-old Say Lee (ph) who is demur and accomplished with a job in Beijing is, well -- that's her. And she's picky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Small eyes and beard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Small eyes and a beard. You see what we mean? She met one young man on the show who she said was cute but didn't seem to be much more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a traditional family, but I'm also modest. I just want love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Love with a man of her very, very specific choice. Maybe one of these you se backstage, maybe not.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BURNETT: That's right. Girls run the world.

Here's to you, Anderson.