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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Ron Paul Interview; Andrew Breitbart Dies at 43

Aired March 1, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight Ron Paul. Can the stealth candidate sneak through with a win on Super Tuesday?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It really is encouraging is when they compare my votes against the president. We do, we do better than the rest of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Does he have a quiet little pact with rival Mitt Romney?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Just because you can talk to somebody doesn't mean, you know, you have a deal going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus the tragic death of Andrew Breitbart. His controversial life and his final TV appearance on this very show two nights ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW BREITBART: Just as Herman Cain was known as the 999 candidate, they very well made Santorum the 666 candidate, the guy that's worried about Satan and all that type of stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Love him or loathe him, a superstar of the right, always had something provocative to say and tonight the people who knew him best pay their tributes.

Plus, only in America, feel the need, the need for speed but maybe not to a sequel. Why do we need "Top Gun 2"? Shouldn't Hollywood just leave some blockbusters alone?

This is Piers Morgan Tonight.

Good evening. Our big story tonight, politics, all lies on Super Tuesday with 10 states across the country voting.

Listen to Rick Santorum today on his strategy for the big day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've said from the very beginning this is an episode of "Survivor." We just need to stay on the island, not get voted off, keep plugging, stay on message and have hopefully the grassroots of conservative members support us and I think you're seeing that now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: One candidate who certainly stayed on message is Ron Paul. But how long can he stay in the race? I'll ask him in tonight's "Piers Morgan Interview."

Also tonight the life and times of a man who loved controversy but died too young at 43. Andrew Breitbart. He was a regular on my political panel and I just talked to him on Tuesday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Is it a real possibility?

BREITBART: Well, it now -- Real Clear Politics, it's up to 20 percent when it was down in single digits before, and it will be interesting how they interpret tonight's numbers to see how -- and they look at the polls for next week because if there is a genuine sense that Mitt Romney can't close the deal people are going to start getting nervous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: But we begin tonight with our big story, politics. Ron Paul has quite a steep hill to climb on Super Tuesday. He's got 38 delegates so far but with 10 states voting next week and 427 delegates at stake, the candidate has high hopes, and Dr. Paul joins me now.

Welcome back, Dr. Paul. How are you?

PAUL: Thank you. Thank you, Piers. Nice to be with you again.

MORGAN: How are you feeling about Super Tuesday? What is your realistic aspiration for the 10 states?

PAUL: Well, we're working harder in, you know, a few of the states like, you know, Washington and Idaho and Alaska, and a couple others, but realistically I don't have a number. We'll just going to do our very best and you know it's a real challenge because, you know, we don't have bragging rights yet when we're running against the other Republicans, but, you know, what really is encouraging is when they compare my votes against the president.

If we do, we do better than the rest of them, so that's one of the arguments the Republicans have used for a long time, you know, is we need somebody to beat Obama, but the fact that I do better doesn't seem to interest them too much which I find interesting. MORGAN: Now, you have been Mr. Nice Guy this campaign so far. But now you're getting down and dirty. Here's your latest attack ad. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is a serial hypocrite who lobbied for Freddie Mac before the housing crisis and for the individual mandate before Obamacare. Another a counterfeit conservative who opposes right to work, massively increased spending, and funded Planned Parenthood.

Finally, a flip-flopper who's been on all sides, supported TARP bailouts, and provided the blueprint for Obamacare.

Three men, one vision, more big government, more mandates, less freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It's like a promo for "Mad Max." I mean serial hypocrite, the counterfeit conservative, the flip-flopper.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: You know, I think your description is over the top, down and dirty. That's been around for several months now. We put that out before and we wanted to resurrect it without spending more money. But I think it's legitimate if somebody is all over the place and they're changing their views, and they voted for big government, and the other three candidates have.

They all represent big government. And I am challenging them on that so I am going to keep pointing their record out because I think Republicans pretend they want limited government, and they haven't -- they don't have a very good record. When you think when Republicans have taken over, when we had the house and the Senate and the presidency, we didn't shrink the size of government and the deficit still exploded.

So I think I have a role to play and I would hope the Republicans would come around.

MORGAN: There is a theory going around that you're going a bit easy on Mitt Romney and there are all sorts of potential reasons for that which I won't bore you with, but is it true? I mean, are you and Mitt Romney in bed together?

PAUL: No. I mean one of our ads on right now challenges him for, you know, being a flip flopper, but then that is in a way -- I think you guys are desperate for news if that's the big news because there is nothing to it. And I thought Governor Pawlenty answered it pretty well when they asked him about it, and he said, was there a backroom deal with Mitt Romney and Ron Paul? He says Ron Paul is the last guy in the world that would be making a backroom deal. So no, there is nothing to that. Just because you can talk to somebody doesn't mean you have to make -- you know, have a deal going. So, yes, I talk to them because, you know, we've known each other for a long time and we just disagree on policies, and we do have pretty strong disagreements, and you know, in the foreign policy and war on drugs and civil liberties and these things.

So there is definitely a difference and of course I disagree with all three because I want to actually cut some spending and that's a preposterous idea these days.

MORGAN: But tell me this, Dr. Paul. If you were Barack Obama and you're watching your attack ad just now for example, who is best served to the conservatives to take on Barack Obama -- the hypocrite, the fake or the flip flopper?

PAUL: Well, I think the people that are helped at best are the voters to find out whom they're voting for, if they're voting for somebody who says I am the conservative and he's a really a fake, you know, people need to know that. I mean, and this pretend is hypocrisy. You know there's no doubt about it. And the people deserved to know. And they get away with too much over the years. People vote one way and they go home. They vote liberal and Washington goes home and run as arch conservatives. And for the most part they have gotten away with it for a long time.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, I suppose the point I was getting at is that, I wonder how damaging it is to the Republican cause come the real battle when the nominee takes on Barack Obama? Such a motive language is now just being drilled out on an hourly basis in these ads.

PAUL: Yes.

MORGAN: Because if you're Barack Obama, calling people hypocrites, frauds, flip floppers, it's meat and drink to the Democrats, isn't it? They can just replay this stuff.

PAUL: Well, do you think it was a love fest between Hillary and Obama? I mean they went after each other pretty hard and he puts her in one of the most important jobs in the Cabinet, secretary of state. So I would say that politicians pretty much come together sort of like a family, you know, the old saying that you can fight with your siblings but don't let the neighbors come in.

MORGAN: Rick Santorum had a pretty rough week and common consent his debate performance is one of his weakest performances. And then he got caught with this double whammy, you know, trashing a JFK speech and also coming out with this line about people going to college, you know, that somehow it was a snobbish policy by President Obama to encourage kids to go to college. What did you make of it all?

PAUL: Well, I can't interpret all that. I don't know what he was meaning. And it certainly didn't do him any favors. But sometimes what your mind is thinking and you're saying things in a certain context but it's heard a different way, but it certainly didn't do him much good, I don't believe.

MORGAN: On the assumption at the moment that Mitt Romney may end up being the nominee, would you serve under him if he asked you?

PAUL: Well, it depends on -- he is not likely to do that. I mean we, you know, get along and friends and we talk to each other, but to be in a position, you know, I wouldn't think that would be likely to happen. But you know there are certain issues that I feel very, very strongly about, you know, and I have been talking about it and trying to change people's minds on it for 30 or 40 years, so if somebody was serious, a president or anybody else asked me seriously, you know, you know, now that the monetary crisis is much worse and it is going to get much worse, what do you think we ought to do?

If they were honestly seeking my input, why would anybody turn that down? But as far as being in that administration, I have to wait and see. Maybe I'll have to ask him whether he wants to help me on when I get in.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I think you should certainly be rewarded. I mean I know I'm making an assumption here you're not going to be a nominee and that may be unfair at this stage. But, you know, given that people seem to think it might be Mitt Romney now, I would be staggered if he didn't reflect your popularity, particularly with young people, on social media, the energy and drive you brought to your campaign. I mean, I think they'd be mad not to use you in some serious way.

PAUL: But you know, and -- you know, these -- you know, these last couple of elections, you know, I was third or fourth. You know we didn't do all that well, but somebody sent me a note, you know, you always look for the positive thing, and almost every state, I think essentially every state I always win between the 18 and 30-year-olds. I always win that.

So I think your point is well taken. You know, if they're thinking about the future or the fall election, I mean, young people are very, very important, and I am the one person that can take young people away from Obama, but nobody is in leadership ever comes and says, Ron, what is is that the young people like about what you're doing? I think they're afraid of -- I think they're afraid of the answer because it might be -- well, maybe a little less war and maybe a little less spending, maybe balance the budget, and maybe we shouldn't be -- maybe we shouldn't be walking into people's houses without search warrants.

I don't think they want to hear that. But why should they write everybody off from under 30? You know the only thing I'm thinking about doing, I don't like all these laws but I am thinking about proposing a law that nobody is allowed to vote over 30 so if I could narrow it down to people could vote under 30, my numbers would go up.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's take a little break, Ron, and come back and talk about two of your favorite topics. The Fed and Iran, and maybe a bit of birth control as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: You took over the Fed in 2006. I have a silver ounce here, and this ounce of silver back in 2006 would buy over four gallons of gasoline. Today, today it will buy almost 11 gallons of gasoline. That's preservation of value. Why can't -- couldn't people save -- put this in a mattress and get four or five times as much of the value in a few years?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Ron Paul earlier this week taking a break from the campaign trail to return to his job on Capitol Hill with some pretty tough questions for Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, and Ron Paul is back with me now.

You really stuck it to him with that silver coin, Ron. I mean it was incontrovertible evidence, I would argue, that if just stuck it under the mattress you would have done better with your money.

PAUL: Yes, what if you put those dollars away, they lose value. You know, the paper dollars lose value because, as he was saying the only people concerned about inflation are only the ones who put their money in the mattress. They're concerned about -- and my point was, there's a lot of people concerned and the inflation rate is much higher and people on fixed incomes are hurting and the people in the middle class, they hurt a lot more with inflation of prices than do the people in Wall Street, you know, if you're making millions.

What do they care about what the price of gasoline is? But the middle class does. And the people on fixed incomes do. So it's very dramatic when you look at the value of money and gold and silver isn't money because I think it is money. It is there because it became money 6,000 years ago.

Paper money is the artificial government money and they always destroy it. And this is why we're in the crisis. This is what we're facing in Europe and Bernanke has promised that we will bail out Europe because our banks are involved and we are in the derivatives market and it is sovereign debt. And the American people are likely to end up owning Greek debt at the rate we're going, and that has to devalue the dollar, and I think that devaluation of the dollar and the increase in prices is just beginning.

MORGAN: Let's turn to Iran, Ron. I know your views about this, and you're quite right I think to, you know, warn people about the precedent and Iraq and so on, it's not rushing headlong into more conflict and so on. But let me ask you this. Would you feel comfortable with Ahmadinejad having a nuclear weapon?

PAUL: I wouldn't want that to happen. I wouldn't feel any more uncomfortable than I did when I was drafted in 1962 and the Soviets had 30,000 of them and they had a nuclear weapons in Cuba. It's pretty uncomfortable then. But, you know, we used containment and we worked with it, we negotiated. As ruthless as those thugs were in the Soviet Union, Kennedy was willing to talk to them.

But we're not even willing to talk to the Iranians and they don't even have a weapon. Our own government has no evidence that they have it or they're on the verge of having it and yet the more drums are beating hard. They're ready to go. Just listen to the other three candidates. I mean, they don't hesitate for a minute to be very, very militant, go into Syria, go into Iran, do whatever you can, and our own administration should have most of the knowledge, they're trying to soften this and I got that information a little bit out of Hillary yesterday before the International Relations Committee.

MORGAN: But do you understand why Israel in particular feels very, very vulnerable right now with almost every country around it having the Arab Spring uprisings and given the very outspoken comment by Ahmadinejad in relation to Israel, do you understand why they would feel so vulnerable --

PAUL: Sure.

MORGAN: -- and why they would be so anxious about him having a nuclear weapon capability?

PAUL: Right. That's why they should reclaim their sovereignty rights. They can't do what they need to do with their borders, either peace treaties or defend their borders without getting permission from us, but inadvertently create more problems for them because we propped up Mubarak, gave him $40 to $50 billion and that erodes -- you know, that created the blowback so al Qaeda is now both in Libya and in Egypt, a matter of fact al Qaeda is in Iraq, and the al Qaeda from Iraq is going over into Syria, so it's helping, helping Israel.

You know, Panetta is not anxious to go there. None of them are saying, let's go, we need to bomb these sites. That is -- I can't imagine. The only people that seem to be doing that are some of the Republican candidates who seem to think that in order to look tougher than anybody else, we're ready to go, and I think that's dangerous. I think that is careless and inflammatory and it's not a good way to try to bring peace to the world. That's the way you bring war to the world.

MORGAN: Let's turn to a final question on birth control. You've obviously delivered 4,000 babies in your life. You've cared for women's health for four or five decades. Did you agree with the Senate's decision to not allow any exemptions to Obama's birth control rule?

PAUL: Well, I want the government in insurance, this whole idea that the government can tell the insurance company what they should give and people now when you're talking about mandating, you know, birth control pills in an insurance program, that's no longer insurance. That's a mandate. It's an entitlement. So I mean traditionally I remember when I first bought my first insurance policy, the question was, do you want to have OB care under your policy? And I said yes. They said well, that will cost so many more dollars each month.

So why should they -- how can it be insurance if they don't know what they're insuring you for. So to say that you have to have on this policy with no increase in pricing you're going to give out birth control pills, that becomes a welfare issue and a mandate and a cost to the insurance company.

I just don't like the government in this business. I am much stronger and believe in the market works these things out because then it gets the kind of -- the kind of argument that we're into now. I think it's a rather silly argument about who is going to get free birth control pills. I mean, that is way beyond the pale as far as I am concerned.

MORGAN: Dr. Paul, thank you very much indeed as always.

PAUL: Thank you.

MORGAN: Moving after break to the tragic and untimely death of conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. His close friend, Arianna Huffington, leads the tributes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREITBART: I am so sick of having to be apologetic for who I am. I am so sick of people in middle America being called a flyover country or slope headed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A man on a mission. That was a clip from the upcoming documentary "Hating Breitbart."

Andrew Breitbart was on our show just two nights ago. It would be his final television appearance. This morning we learned the dreadful news of his death at just 43 years old. A conservative blogger, activist, Internet entrepreneur, Andrew loved to fight, as his site Big Government said, a happy warrior. He helped launch "Huffington Post." And with me now is Arianna Huffington.

Arianna, thank you so much for joining me. A really sad day for anyone that likes politics, the Internet, people who just engage in discourse.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: And a really sad day for all of us who are friends of Andrew's, and Andrew and I, despite all of our political differences, remained friends. You know he started working with me in 1997. He helped me launch my first site, ariannaonline, and his wife got pregnant with their first child while he was working with me and Sampson is now 12 years old.

And so I might say, Piers. that all my thoughts all day since I heard the tragic news, you know, around 9:00 this morning, have been around Susie, his amazing wife, who is has always been as peaceful and calm as Andrew has been fiery every time I have spent any moments with him.

MORGAN: Yes, I mean, the strange thing was, he was on this late show on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and actually yesterday technically. And I made a point during the interview saying to him that he looked really well, and that's why I was so surprised. And yet friends of his tell me that he led this kind of crazy, non-stop life. Maybe that added to the stresses.

HUFFINGTON: It was all non-stop around work. And he would work late into the night. He would get up early. He would sleep with his laptop, and I remember that when we started working together, I was working out of my home in Los Angeles, and my children were 5 and 7, and we would all joke, my mother lived with me, too, just as hard to get Andrew out of the house because he loved his work, whatever he was doing.

MORGAN: I think that's the thing. And I think Andrew, just knowing him as I did from his appearances on the show, had probably been amazed by the reaction to his death. I mean it's been a huge news story in America all day, and indeed in other parts of the world.

HUFFINGTON: But, you know, I think, Piers, that's also a function of the fact that most of the time we ignore death. I mean death is the one inevitable certainty in all of our lives, and yet one breath away from not being here, and when someone who is 43 with young children, who seems so full of life, and who has around just literally moments ago on your show, on Tuesday night, is no more, it forces us to actually look at that reality.

And you know the ancient Romans used to have to carve MM, (speaking in foreign language), remember death, on trees and on statues, not out of a sign of morbidity but in order to kind of remind us of the fragility of life.

MORGAN: And Arianna, what do you think? I mean I know that 2,000 people left positive comments about him on the "Huffington Post" Web site today and yet he would be politically the complete opposite end to most of them, so he was a guy that, although he was polarizing, I think a lot of people admired the passion that he brought to his politics and to his commentary, and I certainly felt that although I didn't enjoy -- I didn't agree with a lot of what he was saying, I loved the verve with which he said it.

What was it about him you think will be his legacy?

HUFFINGTON: Andrew was full of passion, exuberance, fearlessness and often coming up with statements that he couldn't prove, although he was also obsessed with facts and wanting to ferret out facts and the truth so there are all these paradoxes. And so this could be the ultimate paradox that a man who thrives on controversy can also help us look at life and put things in perspective because of his tragic, untimely death and also because of the fact that he is living behind four young children.

I think -- I think that's something that catches all our hearts. Everybody who is a parent, everybody who had somebody die in their lives tragically, suddenly, thinks of that first.

MORGAN: Yes. I totally agree. Arianna, thank you very much for joining me.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Andrew Breitbart paved the way for a new breed of bloggers and journalists. Dana Loesch (INAUDIBLE) big journalist was mentored by him and she joins me now.

Dana, a very sad day for anyone who knew Andrew well. Arianna clearly did. I know that you did, too. How -- how do you feel overall about the way that Andrew's death has played out today? It has been an extraordinary day. I mean, it has been a really big event, hasn't it? He clearly touched people in a way that maybe even he didn't realize.

DANA LOESCH, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: I think he would be very pleased with how everything has -- how everything's been going in the media, and his name trended on Twitter. I think that would amuse him and I think please a part of him as well. He would have been happy.

MORGAN: What kind of man was he really away from the public figure that we saw? What was the guy that you knew?

LOESCH: Andrew was -- he could be polarizing. There were people who either loved or hated him. And he definitely had enemies on the left. And there were definitely people on the right that didn't agree with him. But to know Andrew is to like him. I always thought -- I challenge anybody who really thinks that they hate Andrew Breitbart to just get to know him, because you like him. It is very difficult to not like him.

The media only showed us one part of who Andrew was. So many people knew exactly how he was. He had so much energy. He was so positive with everyone with whom he worked. He was everybody's biggest defender.

I looked at him as -- up to him as though he were a big brother. He was definitely a mentor. He was great to his employees. And he was a fierce defender of the grassroots movement. And he leaves behind a huge legacy.

MORGAN: He had this great passion. That's what I liked about him. Whether you agreed with him or not, as I said earlier, he just had a raw passion for politics, an incredible work ethic. And you're right, he did polarize people, but he played up to that. He liked to polarize people. He felt is inspired a healthy debate.

LOESCH: He did. He did. He loved nothing better than to watch things play out. He would just do -- he would do things and be able to think ahead. And by the time the rest of us caught up to him, he was already another chapter ahead. He was a very forward thinker. And he would put something small into play and watch it come about organically. And he was a great debater. He was a great off the cuff speaker. He was -- I mean, there is a lot of really good stuff that I can say about him. But you're right, he did enjoy -- he enjoyed a good fight. He enjoyed a good debate. He loved it.

He loved what he did. And you can't say that about a lot of people, who just truly absolutely love what they do, day in and day out.

MORGAN: There have been reports tonight that he had suffered from some heart problems in the last few years. Were you aware of that? Did you know if he was having health issues?

LOESCH: I know that there were some health concerns. And I can't speak to the full extent of all of that. I know that he had seen a doctor about that a few months ago. But it was very unexpected obviously.

So -- and he lived life to the fullest, and he was always on the go, always very busy. So obviously quite a shock.

MORGAN: Yeah. What will your lasting memory be of him?

LOESCH: Oh, gosh. Well, the last time I saw him was Monday, because the Bigs are rolling out, something fantastical -- he called it Drudge 2.0, that's coming this Monday. And he -- I am going to remember his fearlessness. He really inspired a lot of people. He definitely inspired me to really look at journalism with new eyes and think of it as, you know, citizens being their own watch dog, citizens going out and exposing government corruption, not just at a federal level, but also in their own communities, sometimes doing the work that seems a little bit unglamorous.

Not a lot of people like to talk about local civics, but it is still just as important as the federal stuff that happens. He inspired me and a lot of people in that regard. He inspired us to really search out for the truth.

Andrew believed in everything he said. He believed in every story that he reported. He believed in every piece of video of every -- every post that went up on the Breitbart sites. And that's -- to believe in what you do and to seek the truth, that's something I am always going to remember.

MORGAN: Very well said. Dana Loesch, thank you very much indeed.

LOESCH: Thank you.

MORGAN: When we come back, the political panelist who shared the screen with Andrew Breitbart on this show just two days ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BREITBART: Newt Gingrich is the candidate who, during his flurry there awhile back, was attacking the mainstream media. And this week, they came out to try to frame him -- just as Herman Cain was known as the 999 candidate, they very well made Santorum the 666 candidate, the guy that's worried about Satan and all that type of stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Andrew Breitbart speaking on this show in the early hours of yesterday morning, Wednesday morning, after the primary. Tonight, remember the fierce fighter and commentator who died today in Los Angeles -- he was with us that special primary night, my guests, Amy Holmes of "Glenn Beck TV," Carol Roth, author of "The Entrepreneur Equation," Michael Reagan, author of "The New Reagan Revolution," and the other three join me now.

Michael, incredibly sad day. You guys have been my regular panel for quite a few weeks now. We have a great chemistry together. He was sitting right there literally yesterday in the early hours of the morning. And to wake up this morning and find out that Andrew was dead was a real shock to everybody.

MICHAEL REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Shock to everybody. I was thinking about the clip you just played, because we were back in the green room before we came out that night. He said I got to come up with something for Santorum. And he was so proud, 666, that's the answer for Santorum, with the 999 for Herman Contain.

He was a guy who was excited about life and what have you. And then all of a sudden, for this to happen, we're all -- 43 years old, four children, Susan, the wife -- and the things we talk about in the green room, we talked about his wife and my wife. he said does your wife really like to go places with you? I said, no, she likes to stay at home. So does my wife, likes to stay at home.

Because when you're out there in the public like that, you know, wives say I just want to be home and be waiting for you when you show up. So we talked about those things, the fact we were both adopted. His children, my children -- his children and myself went to the same school, Warner Avenue School in Brentwood.

Just talking about life, which is really great to get to that side because you see him on the political side so often. You get him alone, you can get him talking about those kinds of issues, because his family meant so much to him.

MORGAN: You Tweeted earlier that you were deliberately not wearing a tie in memory of Andrew. He in never wore ties on TV.

REAGAN: You never see him with a tie. You never see him with a tie. He said, I am not wearing a tie and I'm going in with a tie on. I am going to go in without a tie and a blue blazer, like the last time I saw him.

MORGAN: He did like that, yes. Amy, a really big loss I think to the political discourse in America. Andrew was a divisive figure, a controversial figure. He played up to that. But he had an important role, I always felt, in articulating a passionate side of the Republican movement.

AMY HOLMES, "GLENN BECK TV": He absolutely did, a passionate commitment to conservatism. I met Andrew many, many years ago through a mutual friend and regarded Andrew and his wife Susie as personal friends. Part of his passion, too, that really drove him was being a champion and protector of the under dog, and that conservatives don't need to be in a defensive crouch, that they can stand up proudly and declare their values and, in particular, conservatives in the minority community, or the sexual minority community.

Go Proud was very important to him. He was so loyal. And one of the things that Michael touched on, too, that after our show Tuesday night, when I got home -- and it was very late, as you well know -- I e-mailed Andrew. And I teased him. And I said you're very sedate with Piers. Maybe it is that acerbic British humor that puts you in your place. We want that Andrew belly laugh.

And that's a side of Andrew that I hope that people got to see because it was just infectious and so loveable.

MORGAN: I totally agree. I felt the chemistry I had with him was getting better all the time as we got to know each other. I really began to really like him and see him for what I think he really was.

Having said that, Carol, there is another side to Andrew. He wasn't perfect. He made some big, high profile mistakes. He was deliberately divisive. People have pointed out today that when Teddy Kennedy died, he was straight out there hammering Teddy Kennedy.

So I think if he had been here talking about himself under these circumstances, Andrew would have been pretty scathing about part of his character, wouldn't he?

CAROL ROTH, BUSINESS STRATEGIST: He would. I think you know this as well as anyone else. If you're out there doing amazing things, you're going to be divisive. He was not plain vanilla. He was always somebody who was pushing buttons.

In fact, I talked to some of his friends from high school in Brentwood. And they said even back in the day, he had this certain Spanish teacher, Mrs. Redmeile (ph), who would kick him out of class every day. And it became sort of the Brentwood School High School joke, that he would find a way to play a prank and do something to get kicked out, until the one day he decided he had gone too far. And he got down on his knees and begged for forgiveness and everybody cracked up.

So I don't think that he took it too seriously. And it is a very sad day for all of us.

MORGAN: Michael, it is a sad day. I don't want to over sanitize him and make him out to be some kind of saint. That's not the character he said he was. REAGAN: He wouldn't want to you say that.

MORGAN: But what he did do, indisputably, as made a real impact. I have been stunned by how big the story of his death has become today. He has been trending on Twitter all day long, everybody giving views, good and bad. But coming from Democrats and Republicans, a lot of I think acknowledgment that he was an important part of the modern phenomenon of Internet blogging in the political discourse.

REAGAN: It's interesting, we were talking the other night, what brought him to conservatism from liberalism was the fact, you know, that conservatives were brow beat by liberals. And he was angry that conservatives would not stand up and take a stand.

So he moved from liberalism over to conservatism to take a stand. The reason he is so respected, if you will, or loved in so many areas is because he is saying what so many of us are fearful of saying every single day, for fear that there is going to be backlash.

Just look at his Tweets. I remember the first night we were on. He was in the square. OK, he wasn't here. You made mention about his hair. You made mention of him and the guy that he was. He got two hours worth of Tweets out of that that night, because he attacked you back. The video was up 30 seconds after you went off the air. The video was on Breitbart.

And he got two hours worth of Tweets.

MORGAN: I remember I called him evil and all hell broke loose.

REAGAN: Oh my God, he just -- it was great for him. Again, he stood up when so many of the conservative side don't stand up. And that is the problem sometimes with the conservatives, that they -- they're looking for somebody to lead them. And he was one of those people on the blog that went out there and led.

MORGAN: He was. And he was a great character. He was a very intelligent guy, incredible work ethic. And he will be deeply missed, not least by our panel. We had a great time together. And I know that we'll all miss him very much on these primary nights.

He was a one off, Andrew Breitbart. And I really think that he made a hell of an impact. And he himself would have been surprised I think at the scale of that today.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: He certainly was. Thank you.

REAGAN: Thank you.

MORGAN: When we come back, more deaths in Afghanistan in the wake of the Koran burnings. I'll ask a top war correspondent where will this end?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Two NATO soldiers, reportedly Americans, were killed today at a base in southern Afghanistan. The shooters believed to be Afghan soldiers. A total of six Americans have now been killed since U.S. troops mistakenly burned Korans last week.

And joining me now is award winning war correspondent Michael Hastings, author of "The Operators, The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan."

Michael, thank you for joining me. A provocative book at a provocative time. Just starting with this whole issue of the Koran burning -- it seemed to me -- my brother is a British Army colonel. He has fought in Afghanistan.

Everybody there is acutely aware of the sensitivities of this kind of thing. How on Earth did any American armed forces get in a position where they were putting Korans on the incinerator? I couldn't understand how that could happen.

MICHAEL HASTINGS, AUTHOR, "THE OPERATORS": Thanks for having me. Actually, my brother as well is a lieutenant and captain in the army. How does it happen? I don't know.

Right now, we have three investigations that are ongoing into how this Koran burning happened. But what -- my larger point, the point I make in the book and the point I have been making for the last couple years now is we don't need an investigation into how the Koran was burned. We need an investigation into why we're still in Afghanistan.

I think that's the real question. Look, mistakes like this are going to happen. There's a large -- there's -- a lot of the people, the prisoners at Bagram, have Korans. If they need to get rid of them, they're going to figure out a way to get rid of them.

How that one act turned into 30 Afghans dead and half a dozen Americans killed and injured is really extraordinary.

MORGAN: I think the original mistake was inexcusable, but, of course, the deaths of the American troops on the back of it is even worse. You're right, though. I think the whole Afghanistan issue comes down to what is the point of the vision? Because what began as a war has morphed into what is effectively just an anti-terrorist operation.

I mean, the only reason for remaining there, it seems to me, is to just prevent any kind of regrouping by al Qaeda so they can commit terrorist acts. But that's not a war, is it? America and the allied forces there, they're not going to win a war in Afghanistan.

HASTINGS: No, and I think that's right. And I think conventional wisdom has now come around to this idea that we're going to draw down Afghanistan. As President Obama said, the tide of war is receding. We're going to just focus on terrorists.

And in that in itself, we will avoid these sorts of situations. The question I keep going back to is, why are we putting American soldiers in a position where they even have an opportunity to accidentally burn a Koran. I mean, it gets to a level of madness.

Then we apologize for it again and again and again. And today, the United Nations came out and said we need to apologize even more. To me, as an American, as someone who has loved ones who have served, it is just deeply, deeply disturbing.

MORGAN: You have taken on a new job. You're going to be covering the elections for Buzzfeed. This will bring you into touch with President Obama, of course, and reporting on him. How do you think he's doing?

HASTINGS: Well, I'm excited to be -- Buzzfeed is where it's at for 2012, for sure. I'm very excited to be a part of Ben Smith and his operation over there. He has a great political team.

How is President Obama doing? We shall see. The first time I met President Obama was in 2006 in Baghdad, when he was a junior senator. And at the time, I was actually quite impressed by him. He took us journalists aside and told us -- asked us what is really going on here and sort of flattered us. It was quite a moment.

You could tell this guy was obviously one of the most talented politicians around. Clearly, he vindicated that. I think the opinions about his job performance are obviously mixed.

But as a reporter, what I hope to do is go out on the trail, follow him around, go to Chicago, talk to people who know him, and try to make that assessment for myself, and try to hopefully not be boring and get our readers to sort of really pay attention to this election year.

MORGAN: One thing he's done is completely reshape American foreign policy, not by only withdrawing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also I thought the way that he deployed American military operations in Libya, for example, in getting rid of Gadhafi, was a fascinating exercise in perhaps reshaping the way American forces will now behave in that situation, you know taking a backseat, allowing the French and the British to take a lead.

That may well be the way forward for America.

HASTINGS: Certainly, his foreign policy successes are numerous. I mean, the arguments that Republicans have had for years, really since Harry Truman was accused of losing China back in the late 1940s, that Democrats are weak on national security, that's just not going to hold water this year.

You have bin Laden. As you said, you have Libya, which has been -- which has been successful. And you have the fact that he ended the war in Iraq, a very divisive war. And he's on a path out of Afghanistan.

I think there are some troubling aspects, as your first guest, Congressman Paul, would point out, in terms of civil liberties and drone strikes and these things. But yeah, I think -- you know, I call it the taxi cab bump. You know, during the Bush years, when you get in a taxi cab in a foreign country and you tell them you're American, they really, really didn't like that.

But ever since Obama has been in charge, when you get in a taxi cab in Amman or even Baghdad, they're pretty -- you get the bump, and they appreciate the Americanism of it.

MORGAN: No, it's definitely -- that is definitely true.

Mark Hastings, thank you very much. Good luck with the book, "The Operators."

Coming next, Only in America. Do we really need a "Top Gun" sequel?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America concerns the deeply worrying news that Hollywood is planning a sequel to "Top Gun."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: I feel the need, the need for speed!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Don't get me wrong. I love "Top Gun," so much that as a 19-year-old, I watched the original nine times at my local London movie theater. Maverick, Goose, Iceman, "Great Balls of Fire," aviator shades, and that immortal line I used with Chelsea Handler, "you are still dangerous, but you can be my wingman any time."

But some things are best left unrevisited, like temperamental ex- girlfriends, corked wine, and definitely classic movies.

Remember "Jaws Two." The only shocking thing about that fiasco were the dreadful reviews and the dismal box office performance. "Saturday Night Fever" would have burned bright in our dancing hearts for centuries were it not for the brand ruinous follow up "Staying Alive," which ironically wanted most of us who saw it to feel like doing the complete opposite.

George Clooney still shudders at the mention of three simple words, "Batman and Robin." And "Grease Two" still makes me shudder, even though I walked out after 10 minutes.

Think for a moment about some of my other favorite movies, "Casa Blanca," "Citizen Kane," "The Big Lebowski," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Way We Were." On the last two, Robert Redford told me on this very show, we never made sequels because we knew they would never be as good as the originals. Exactly.

The only one that ever was was "Godfather II," and they even ruined that with "Godfather III." So please, Hollywood, I beg you, don't wreck "Top Gun's" place in history too. If Goose was still alive, he would definitely be telling Tom Cruise, no no, Mav, this is not a good idea.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.