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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Karen Santorum; Interview with Senator Scott Brown

Aired March 19, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight Rick Santorum's secret weapon. His wife Karen. The last time they were here, she made the case for her candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN SANTORUM, RICK SANTORUM'S WIFE: He's a man of conviction and deep faith. And he's a man who has the courage to lead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight she speaks out for the first time on her own. My exclusive interview with Karen Santorum.

Plus Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now have Secret Service with them on the campaign trail. And in Santorum's case, I think it's the first time he's actually ever used protection. So --

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A rising Republican star. He's also that increasingly rare thing, a moderate.

Also a man who's never shy about speaking his mind. Frank Bruni on the culture war that is changing the face of the entire Republican race.

And "Only in America." Hollywood's '80s obsession. The Reagan era remakes that are burning up the box office. But is it a good idea?

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. Our big story tonight, the Santorum surge continues. And there's a woman as always behind the man and the surge. Karen Santorum. I'll ask her about tough talk like this from her husband today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's just be brutally honest about it. There's one candidate in this race who can never make this race about freedom. Because he simply abandoned freedom when he was governor of Massachusetts and he abandoned it when he promoted Obamacare in 2009.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Plus on the eve of the Illinois primary, the battle for the soul of the GOP. Can Mitt Romney eventually seal this deal? I'll ask Senator Scott Brown, a Romney supporter and a man not afraid to poke fun at the competition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Listen, you all that Newt Gingrich wants to build a colony on the moon. Forget the moon. I think he should build it on -- whatever planet Ron Paul's from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: But we begin tonight with our big story, my exclusive interview with Karen Santorum, who joins me now.

Mrs. Santorum, how are you?

K. SANTORUM: Hi, Piers. It's good to be with you.

MORGAN: Well, last time I spoke to your husband he basically said that his key strategy going forward was less Rick, more Karen.

K. SANTORUM: Oh, funny.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Now before we go any further, I actually want to play you a little clip. Let's just watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. SANTORUM: Karen, by the way, will be on a CNN interview tonight. She's doing an interview by herself with Piers Morgan tonight. So say a prayer. I've been told by so many people throughout the course of this campaign, you know, the more she talks, the less I talk, the better I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean I was a bit discomforted by the booing that was going on there. I've got to say. But the fact that they all prayed for you, did you feel now you've been strengthened by the power of prayer from that audience before you confront me?

K. SANTORUM: That's good. I always appreciate the prayers.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Now tell me about how your husband is getting on, do you think? Because last time I spoke to you, it was a personal interview with you and your family. And, you know, the full rigors of this campaign hell were beginning to kick in. How do you think he's fairing?

K. SANTORUM: Piers, Rick is amazing. He is so optimistic. He's a guy who stays strong. And he just amazes me. I've known him for a very long time. And he's not the kind of guy who gets down and out or loses his energy. He's just the eternal optimist. And he's staying strong and I just -- I just love that about him. He's a -- he's a really neat guy that way.

MORGAN: He looks -- this is a rather British phrase. He looks to me like he's got his gander up, which is a sort of euphemism for he's beginning to beat his chest with the expectation that he's gone from being this rank outsider to somebody who now wakes up and thinks you know what? I could actually win this.

K. SANTORUM: It's so exciting, Piers. Because he's -- you know, he did hundreds of town hall meetings. And when no one believed in him, he kept at it. He kept at the message and he loves grassroots. He loves going and meeting with people and talking to them about the issues and hearing about what's on their minds and sharing his ideas. And hearing other people's ideas. And that fortified him and it kept him going. And he draws strength from things like that.

So now, it's very exciting to watch this unfold and see what's happening. And, you know, it's just -- it's been a wonderful journey.

MORGAN: Last time I spoke to him was about 10 days ago. Now he looked very fit to me. And then we saw these pictures from Puerto Rico. Let's have a look at this picture. Now, we're not exactly talking --

K. SANTORUM: You don't have to show it, Piers.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You know, there's a bit of work to be done here, isn't there, Karen?

K. SANTORUM: I'm working on it, Piers. I said Rick, you need to start taking more steps and fewer elevators.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's move on to more serious issues. One of the big things that's gripping, I guess, the whole race at the moment is this question of women's rights and women's issues. And John McCain was pretty strong on "Meet the Press." And I'll read you what he said. He said, "There's a perception out there because of the way this whole contraception issue is playing out. We need to get off that issue, in my view. We ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives." What did you think of that?

K. SANTORUM: Exactly. I completely agree. And the unfortunate thing is when Rick was asked the question, he said these are my personal beliefs. And the press kept asking him the issue about it again and again. Rick is brilliant with national security and jobs and the economy, and health care. And for some reason the press wanted to keep wanting to back to it. And really what it is, it's not an issue about contraception. It's an issue about personal freedoms.

And the fact that the government should not be making people go against their conscience. You know we all have -- I think most people in America respect freedom of religion. And I think the real issue is not forcing people to go against their conscience and do things that they really don't think is right.

MORGAN: But when you said you agree with everything John McCain said, I mean do you agree with him when he says we ought to respect of women to make choices in their lives because that's -- that's a pretty fundamental step away, I would say, from what Rick has been saying.

K. SANTORUM: Well, it depends what you're referring to. Absolutely with jobs, contraceptives. We feel differently. But with women wanting to be in the workforce and women wanted to be at home. With how they choose to live their lives. You know, get married, be single. You know there's so many different decisions. So I don't know, I don't know what John McCain was referring to. But I would agree with him with that.

MORGAN: Well, I think he was specifically talking about the issue of contraception which has been so dominant. I know that because of your Catholic faith, and you have a strong position on this, you've also got young daughters, of course. People will say, you know, how do you feel about changing times?

I mean they're going to grow up. They're going to grow up in an era which is -- you know, contraception is very widely prevalent now amongst young women in this country. And many of them are thinking if Rick Santorum becomes president, what does it mean for me? Is he anti-women? Is he anti-us having contraception?

K. SANTORUM: Not at all.

MORGAN: Well, what is his view?

K. SANTORUM: Not at all. He is not anti-woman. And I can tell you, I'm a registered nurse, I'm a lawyer, and an author of two books. When I was doing my book tours, Piers, Rick was the one who was home changing diapers and making meals and cleaning the kitchen. He's been 100 percent supportive of me and my dreams and my career. It was my decision to stay home and be a mom at home. And some day when I come back to work, Rick will be 100 percent behind me.

So it makes me really sad that the media tries to do that to him. They try to make it look like he is something that he's not. Rick is a great guy. He is completely supportive of women. He's surrounded by a lot of very strong women. And I think women have nothing to fear when it comes to contraceptives, he will do nothing on that issue. I think the real issue was when I had said about the religious freedom issue and not allowing the government to be intrusive in our lives and force us to do something against our conscience.

MORGAN: When you say he'll do nothing on the contraception issue, do you mean that if he was to become president that he would basically respect a woman's right to have contraception if that's what she chose to do?

K. SANTORUM: Absolutely. And he has said that.

MORGAN: I mean, that seems to me to be a pretty fundamental conclusion to this debate. Because that's what people have been saying, is that, would Rick Santorum bring his personal religious beliefs to play as president? And from what you just said, I would imagine, the answer is not necessarily.

K. SANTORUM: Not in that area, no, absolutely not. And again, I think the issue is the government forcing people to go against their conscience. That's really the issue here that we're referring to.

MORGAN: Now let's move on to what he told me when he last appeared on my show because I like this. He basically said that after he came out with his snobbery jibe of President Obama, you rang him up and gave him a right earful, Karen. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. SANTORUM: I can get pretty wrapped up about, you know, how important this country is to not just providing a great future for our children but also for the world. And sometimes I get a little -- you know, say the wrong word. And as you know, you know my bride very, very well. Usually the phone rings very quickly if she isn't there in person to say, you know, Rick. You shouldn't have said that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: But come on. How often do you pick that phone up and say, Rick, you shouldn't have said that?

K. SANTORUM: Well, we talk a lot throughout the day, Piers. We talk many times about the campaign and what's happening. And I'm a news junkie so I like to know what's going on and I'm either on the trail with Rick now or I'm at home taking care of the kids. So it's a big juggling act right now. But you know we do that. I think it's part of the joy of being married. You know, where you're always talking things over and correcting each other or talking about how you could have done better or what you should have said or what you maybe should not have said.

MORGAN: You've had to put up as a family with some really tough times. And I discussed this with you in person when we met. And I found it profoundly moving. How is your little girl at the moment? Because it must be an agonizing conflict on a daily basis. Putting the campaign one side, the health of your daughter on the other.

K. SANTORUM: Bella is doing great. Thank you for asking, Piers. I appreciate you asking. She is such a beautiful, sweet girl. And she's healthy. It's funny reading articles. When people would actually write about my little girl and they really aren't accurate at all what they're saying. People have said she has a terminal illness and she doesn't. She's -- her life is fragile, but Bella's doing great. She's strong. She's healthy right now. And I thank God for that. We have so many people praying for her. But some day I want you to meet her. Some day I'm going to bring her to you.

MORGAN: I would love to.

K. SANTORUM: She is -- she's a very joyful child and she has taught us so much about what's most important in life. And it is a juggling act. I mean definitely a big juggling act right now with trying to juggle family life and taking care of a special needs child. I am her caregiver. Rick and I take care of her. We didn't get a night nurse until much later. And it's -- you know, we had to get some sleep. So when I'm there during the day, I love taking care of Bella. And she's just a sweet, sweet angel. And I feel blessed, truly blessed to be her mom.

MORGAN: And you should. And she's very lucky to have you, too, I think.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you.

MORGAN: Let me ask you. I mean we discussed earlier about Rick's reputation. Maybe portrayed by the media as being maybe slightly anti-women's rights. You obviously love him very much. If he becomes president of the United States and there's going to be a chance now this could happen. If he does, why should American women also love your husband?

K. SANTORUM: Well, because he's a man who cares deeply about the heart and soul of America. And he cares deeply about all people. One hundred percent of people. The rich, the poor, the in between. Men, women, children. People with disabilities. We've got a real passion for that at the Santorum house.

But women, Rick has done so much legislatively to support women. And, you know, he is a man of deep faith, a man of conviction. And he's a man of courage. He's consistent. A lot of people say, you know, Rick, I don't agree with everything you say. But I like you and I'm going to vote for you because you're consistent. You know you say the same thing everywhere you go. And I know that I can trust you. And that means a lot to a lot of people.

MORGAN: I think that's a very valid point. Now I've got another guest coming out in a moment. Senator Scott Brown who came out with this little joke at your expense. In Rick Santorum's case, the first time he's ever actually used protection he said about his Secret Service. Did you find that funny? Were you offended? Do you want me to kick him proverbially up (INAUDIBLE)?

(LAUGHTER)

K. SANTORUM: Well, you can do a little bit of each of those. He's -- sometimes you just have to laugh. And I've reached a point now where I shut out a lot of things because I know that it can be pretty nasty. I continue to pray and I ask my children to pray for the other families out there who are also in this campaign. Because it's hard for everyone. You know, I thought that was sort of funny. Sometimes you have to just laugh. And other times you just sort of shut it out and ignore it.

MORGAN: Well, I'm going to bring him out now. We'll confront him with his own humorous demons.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you. Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Karen Santorum, thank you so much for joining me. I really enjoyed it. Good luck with the campaign. It's tough on all the families and you do a terrific job for your husband. And I give everybody respect that.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you.

MORGAN: So thank you very much for joining me.

K. SANTORUM: Thank you so much, Piers. Good to be with you.

MORGAN: Coming up, a man who has caused a bit of a stir this weekend with his joke at Rick Santorum's expense. And let's bring him out here for a public flogging.

Senator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I see that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum now have Secret Service with them on the campaign trail. And in Santorum's case I think it's the first time he's actually ever used protection. So -- yes. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A line that got a laugh from Republicans and Democrats alike. And I laughed myself. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, having fun this weekend at Rick Santorum's expense. But for conservatives contraception and other social issues have become no laughing matter. It's front and center in the campaign. Will the culture wars cost the GOP?

Senator Scott Brown is with me now. His book "Against All Odds" comes out in paperback tomorrow.

Welcome back.

BROWN: Good to see you. MORGAN: Nice to see you.

BROWN: Thank you.

MORGAN: So you heard Mrs. Santorum earlier there. I think she wanted me to give you a good kicking although she was pretending to find it funny.

BROWN: Well, listen, bottom line, that's an event that's historically -- people who are politicians try to be funny. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But I took a whack at everybody. At Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, Ron Paul, myself. And a lot of the elected officials in the audience. And if you don't take a whack, then you might as well (INAUDIBLE) get up there. But it was all in good fun.

MORGAN: Well now, I'm pretty excited about this. Because "Esquire" has done this huge profile on you. But the beauty is you haven't seen it yet, but I have. So I actually have it here. And what is fascinating is the stuff that comes from your wife Gail. Which is brilliant. Because she says this about you.

"I feel it's really difficult for people to see the whole picture. When I see pieces about him, there's always one little aspect of Scott Brown. And I understand. Because Scott is complex. He's not just the regular chocolate. He's the chocolate with all the nougat." Is that how you say it? Nougat.

BROWN: Nougats. Certainly.

MORGAN: And the caramel and the nuts.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Wow.

BROWN: How do you respond to that?

MORGAN: What the hell that does that mean?

BROWN: I'm going to have to ask her.

MORGAN: You're the chocolate with the nougat and the caramel and the nuts.

BROWN: Let's call her right now and find out. You know?

MORGAN: What do you think -- what do you think she meant?

BROWN: Well, I think when you're dealing in snippets with little sound bites you really don't get the full picture of -- who somebody is. I've been married to Gail for 25 years and have been with for a couple of years thereafter. So 27 years, you get to know somebody. Not only the good but the bad. And we're a team. And complexities. You know, we try to work through our own idiosyncrasies and challenges. That's why we've been married for so long and have such a positive relationship.

MORGAN: She sounds fantastic.

BROWN: She's a great lady.

MORGAN: We got a brilliant anecdote here. When -- is it when you first going to get -- apart from anything else, she proposed to you.

BROWN: Yes.

MORGAN: On bended knee in the middle of a street.

BROWN: In Providence, yes.

MORGAN: On the last moment of you being together before you were going to get separate ways.

BROWN: Yes.

MORGAN: I mean that takes some doing.

BROWN: Yes, it was great.

MORGAN: When she was on bended knee proposing, what were you thinking?

BROWN: I said, oh, my gosh. This is the time -- because I remember there was a construction site in Providence and all the guys were looking down, say yes, say yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: And it was something we still joke about. But it was -- we have a very special relationship. I'm really the luckiest guy.

MORGAN: She wants -- you were going to go out for the evening and she was a little bit late as is a woman's prerogative and you were moaning about this.

BROWN: Still do.

MORGAN: And so she eventually came out to the car stark naked and said, is this OK?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Fantastic woman.

BROWN: Well, listen. First of all just so people know, we live in a dead end cul-de-sac. It's very difficult to see the house. And she came out with her clothes underneath her. And just, how's this?

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: And -- and even now when -- and obviously she jumped right in the car and it was pretty funny. But even now when I get money, honey, you're late again, and we need to be, she says, you better watch it or I'll get naked again.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: And I just --

MORGAN: I would be late every time. I mean fantastic, but what I love most about the detail is that you drove for 20 minutes before stopping to allow her to dress. Good work, Senator.

BROWN: Well, thank you. Listen, it was a little bit -- it wasn't quite like that. She was covered up obviously. But the point was that I'm always complaining about her being late and she was trying to make a valid point which is to kind of relax once in awhile.

MORGAN: What was interesting, I thought, about the interview that they conducted with her, "Esquire," was that very ferociously defensive of you. Very protective of you. But also making the point that we have this whole debate about women's rights and the Republican Party. You heard my discussion with Karen Santorum. It's become a very contentious issue. Probably more contentious than it would suit the party to be, actually. Where people's religious beliefs have become the dominant factor in the debate.

And what she said about you is interesting. You've got, you know, young daughters growing up.

BROWN: Sure.

MORGAN: Who are beginning to challenge you now as a political figure and their dad. You know, and you're going to face a lot of these issues.

BROWN: Yes.

MORGAN: You are very much on the more moderate side of the social issue debate. Do you agree with John McCain? It's getting completely out of hand and actually becoming destructive to the party?

BROWN: Well, first of all, I believe there are good people on both sides of almost every issue in that regard. I believe in women's rights. I obviously live in a strong house full of strong accomplished women. And on the debates that folks are bringing up right now, and quite frankly, I think we need to focus on the things that matter. And that's our debt, deficit, taxes, spending, jobs, and national security. The social issues, as I said, there's plenty of -- there's good people on both sides of those issues.

MORGAN: I thought it's interesting, Karen Santorum saying if Rick Santorum became president, he would respect a woman's right to have contraception if she wants to. Even though it was against his personal and religious beliefs. I don't think I've heard a Santorum articulate in the debate in quite such a straightforward matter.

BROWN: Well, listen, I'm with Mitt Romney. He's one of the nicest, honest, hard working men I've ever met. I know him and I don't know the other candidates at all. I've never met Rick. But I know how I feel about those issues. And I've been in favor of contraception rights for women. As I said, really I think it's important to make sure we have religious protections as well as providing rights and freedoms for women.

You know we do it in Massachusetts as part of our health care bill. We can do in the federal health care bill. We didn't get into this mess until the president through the overreach of the federal government said hey, by the way, all those religious institutions and schools and churches, by the way, it doesn't matter. You're going to have to do it anyway.

You're in complete violation of their religious faith. I felt it was important to stand up for that, to say, hey, we've done it in Massachusetts. We provide those religious protections and we provide the care and coverages for women that they deserve.

MORGAN: Senator, we've got to go to a commercial break because your iPad is beeping. And this gives me an excuse to open this iPad because you're --

BROWN: Yes, let me --

MORGAN: Show me do this. This is fantastic. Your screen saver is actually you and Gene Simmons from Kiss. You are a man of many surprises.

We will come back after break and talk about what you've got to do with Gene Simmons and Mitt Romney.

BROWN: OK. Here we go.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I feel personally that if you want to fix a broken economy, let me give you a piece of advice. And it's something that I think of regularly when I think of my challenges here in Washington. If you want to fix something that's broken, especially dealing with economic policies, you have to listen to Governor Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Scott Brown introducing his mentor in the state back conference in 2010. Now a wavering support, maybe a double edged sword.

I'm back now with Senator Scott Brown.

Mitt Romney, you've put all your cards on him. And should be the runaway favorite. In terms of delegates, he's way ahead. And yet there's still this sense he may not win the nomination. That Rick Santorum and his endless surge may actually grab the public opinion in a way that your man can't. What's the problem? BROWN: Well, you'd have to certainly speak to Mitt and his team. But I know that as I said before he's one of the nicest, honest, hard working men I've ever met. And there are four people still on the race and obviously for those folks who thought it would be over overnight, they're wrong. I never thought that. Remember when Hillary and President Obama went at it until June.

Here we are in the third week in March and it's going to continue to go on. And I'm hopeful and confident that he'll continue to work hard and ultimately get the nomination.

MORGAN: Part of the problem is Rick Santorum conveys an air of authenticity. There's no doubt about that. When I've interviewed him, he resonates to either, I would imagine, a viewer, a voter at home in a very compelling way. He tells good stories about his upbringing, his family, and he definitely has a way of bringing his personality forward in the way that Mitt Romney struggles to.

Do you accept that? Is it an issue, do you think, his friends slightly -- it frustrates you that he can't get that side over?

BROWN: Well, I know that when it comes to dealing with the economic issues, there's no one I would trust more than Governor Romney. And because we're in a financial emergency, we need people who are going to make very tough decisions and have the experience to get us out of this economic mess we're in. And so I'm going to continue to do my job and he's going to continue to run his race. I've been doing exactly what I've said I was going to do which is be that independent voter and thinking, and work to solve problems not only for Massachusetts but for our country.

MORGAN: What is the side we don't see of Mitt Romney? I mean, I'd love to see it on the show. I keep inviting him back. He keeps --

BROWN: Well, he's got a very good --

MORGAN: He's avoiding me. Put a good word in. But what is -- what is the side to Mitt Romney that at the moment the public just aren't seeing that you think makes him perfect to be president. Because it can't just be the guy's good with money. If that was the case, anyone in Wall Street could become president, or anyone -- actually that's probably true at the moment, but you get my point. Is it --

BROWN: Sure. And listen, he's got --

MORGAN: It can't just be his fiscal --

BROWN: Listen he's got a great --

MORGAN: -- excellence.

BROWN: He's got a great sense of humor. He's a devoted family man. He cares very deeply about not only my state, but about this country and where we're going economically and into the future, because, as I said, right now, we're in a financial emergency.

We're borrowing 42 cents of every dollar. When I went down there, 11.95 trillion dollar national debt. It's up to 15.3 and rising, with no end in sight. We need people in there who are going to do the very best.

Sometimes you need somebody who's just focused on the economy. They don't tell a lot of good jokes. They're not trying to yuck it up. Because we're in -- this is very serious times. We need serious people.

That's why I'm supporting Governor Romney.

MORGAN: You could be his gag man.

BROWN: I'm going to continue to do my job and he can do his.

MORGAN: Can we just clear up the issue of your beeping iPad? Because according to Twitter, it was beeping. I didn't hear it.

BROWN: It wasn't on. It wasn't even on.

MORGAN: What it Gene Simmons singing through the screen?

BROWN: No phones, no iPad.

MORGAN: Cool enough to bring an iPad on and it goes berserk. What is it with you and Gene Simmons?

BROWN: Actually, I went to a Kiss concert. I've been a Kiss fan since I was a young boy. I had an opportunity to meet him and the band. It turns out he was born in Haifa. His mom was in a concentration camp, very knowledgeable about Middle East politics and the status of what's happening over there.

It was fascinating, really, to meet with him.

MORGAN: I did "Celebrity Apprentice" with him. He is actually a very knowledgeable guy. I mean, infuriating but very knowledgeable.

BROWN: Yes, yes, of course. So are you, though. No, I'm kidding.

MORGAN: Watch it. Watch it. Let's talk about President Obama for a moment, because you have been billed as Mr. Bipartisan in a Congress that is at war almost incessantly. Tell me about that. Tell me about your role in trying to knock over this -- this problem.

BROWN: Well, first of all, there are plenty of ideologues and plenty of partisan folks there. And you need people who are going to work across party lines, because there's no Democrat bill that is going to pass. There's no Republican bill that's going to pass. It needs to be a bipartisan, bicameral bill that the president will sign. That's the reality.

That being said, I read the bills. I understand them. I see how they affect our state, our country, our debt and our deficit, and I vote. And I will work with any person of good will who comes to my door who wants to address these very real issues.

And there's no surprise that the last three out of four bills have passed have been mine, the Higher Hero Veterans Bill, the three percent withholding of the stealth tax against contractors, most recently the insider trading bill. Those are all things that I worked on.

MORGAN: We were seeing a little clip. You might just play that again, actually, because it's you haranguing the president on the State of the Union. There you are. And you're leaning in.

We all thought it was chummy, chummy. In fact, what you were saying to the president was my insider trading bill is on Harry's -- Majority Leader Harry Reid's desk right now. Tell him to get it out. And the president said I'm going to tell him. I'm going to tell him to get it done. How's your daughter?

You said good. How are you daughters? So -- but it was very nice either side of the, you know, hello, hello, how are your daughters. But in the middle of it, business.

BROWN: Of course. That's what I'm there to do, is the people's business. I take that role very seriously. If I have an opportunity to have some one on one time, which, as you know, he has a lot of people around him, I'm going to tell him. And that bill was on Harry Reid's desk.

A lot of bills are on Harry Reid's desk. That's part of the problem. We need to get them out to help move our country forward. That was perfect, because to think that members of Congress can actually get away with insider trading and not go to jail, that's unacceptable.

MORGAN: It just seemed extraordinary to me, on the outside, that they were all apparently filling their boots. And there was no law to stop them.

BROWN: It now applies once we get it out. And I'm hopeful that we will actually find -- finally sign the entire bill. We'll get it passed, because it's in conference right now. I'm encouraging them to get it out, again, get it to the president so he can sign it. I'm hopeful the president will have a signing ceremony to send a very powerful message that we're trying to clean up.

Another bill I just filed was folks who are in the administration or in federal government need to pay their back taxes. It's -- I think it's upwards of a billion dollars. Why can't they pay their taxes? Yet here they are wanting to tax more and more people. Makes no sense.

MORGAN: The Violence Against Women cause you have been following -- I've talked to you before about your own experiences in your household when you were young with various stepfathers coming in and going and abuse to your mother and to you. Tell me why it means so much to you and what you've actually been doing about this.

BROWN: Well, certainly it's personal to me. I think before I answer that question I think it's important that if there are any women listening right now, which I'm sure there are because you are a very good looking man --

MORGAN: Thank you, senator.

BROWN: Seriously. All kidding aside, if there are people listening and they're in that situation, an abusive situation, like I was and my mom was, they should know they're not alone. Because I'm here. I'm working. There are other members, both Democrat and Republican, in the United States Congress that are listening.

And there are many, many groups that are available that weren't available for my mom. So it's something I signed on to quite a few months ago. I take it personally. And I'm excited to try to get it pushed through. This really shouldn't be a Democratic or Republican thing. It should be a people thing about caring and protecting people that are vulnerable.

MORGAN: It certainly should. You're doing a great job of that. I just hope they're all watching. Those who are trying make it a partisan issue should be ashamed of themselves.

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: It's about protecting women who are involved in domestic violence.

BROWN: Listen, I remember, as you've heard in my book, battling my mom's husband, biting the inside of his leg as I was getting pummeled, and then one of my stepfathers, you know, battling in the hallway, just beating the crap out of each other, rushing home, borrowing a bike, a motorcycle, whatever I could do to get home to help my sister and my mom from the death grip.

And so it's personal to me. Anyone who tries to say anything differently is -- quite frankly should be ashamed of themselves.

MORGAN: Good for you. Let's take another break. Let's come back and talk about keeping America great, a running theme of this show. I want to get your ideas for how America doesn't become great again but maintains its greatness. That should be the way this gets told.

BROWN: Amen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back now with Senator Scott Brown. What better person to talk about keeping America great? Before we go any further, a Tweet here from Paul Simard (ph). He's Tweeted me @PiersMorgan to say please ask Senator Brown when he will run for president.

BROWN: You actually want me to comment on that?

MORGAN: Yes.

BROWN: Listen, I'm running for re-election. If he wants to help me, he can go to ScottBrown.com and do just that.

MORGAN: I remember when you came on before. And when you tell that whole story of Massachusetts and winning that seat finally from the Democrats, after Teddy Kennedy left the stage after 30 years, against all the odds.

And I've watched your progress since. You read the "Esquire Profile," and you read your positioning with Mitt Romney going -- you start to think this guy is getting serious. He's thinking in his mind this may be the time coming up now, next two or three years, decision time.

BROWN: No, no. Listen, the only thing I'm deciding is what we're going to have after the show to drink.

MORGAN: You're buying.

BROWN: Of course. I didn't expect anything less. Listen, I am trying to get re-elected. I think it's important to have me in the Senate right now, especially because of the gridlock. I am the second most bipartisan senator there. By me working across party lines and being that bipartisan senator, it's enabling things to get done, free trade agreements, the fact that we did the Hire Hero, the three percent, the insider trading bill.

We just passed the highway bill. By me moving forward -- Start Treaty -- by looking and doing a lot of those very important things, I'm doing my job. And that's --

MORGAN: Massachusetts is one of the states that's approved gay marriage. How do you personally feel about that?

BROWN: Well, it's settled law in Massachusetts. Quite frankly, everybody's moved on.

MORGAN: Do people care that much? I mean, those who argue against it say this is like the end of civilization as we know it.

BROWN: Certainly some people care. And others have moved on. But they're really concerned about how they're going to pay their mortgage. Both people, gay and straight, they're wondering about how they're going to pay their mortgage, or if their kids and families are going to come home safe as they travel around the country and the world.

It's debt, deficit, taxes, spending, jobs, national security. We've moved on. I encourage everyone else to move on. It should be decided state by state basis. I'm focusing on those other things.

MORGAN: The Republicans don't want to be in position when say -- if it is Mitt Romney that wins the nomination, you don't want to be squabbling about social issues with Barack Obama for months.

(CROSS TALK)

BROWN: Listen, that's what the president would like to do, to take away from the fact that we are at record high debt and deficit, that we're borrowing 42 cents on every dollar, that we don't have a balanced budget amendment, that the Post Office is having trouble, that there are so many things that are happening that are coming to -- really coming to fruition.

We need to move very quickly. By the end of this year, this country is going to be just in very difficult shape. So me and others who -- people of good will, are trying to push our leaders and trying to push the administration to kind of start to focus on important these.

MORGAN: What do you do if Barack Obama gets to, say, October and he says look, I told you I would rescue us from the terrible mess the Republicans put us in. And guess what? The jobless figures are now the best they've been since maybe two or three years before I came along. You know, he would have -- maybe said gas prices go back to normal. House prices might be -- say the economy generally --

BROWN: That would be wonderful.

MORGAN: Would it be wonderful? Would you say that's wonderful, Mr. President. Or would you say you're still a disaster.

BROWN: I have commended the president when he's done well. I have also respectfully disagreed with him when I disagree with him. I try to make sure that we don't have the Rush Limbaughs and the Bill Mahers and those types of people hammering away and creating the rhetoric and discourse.

I'm not going to be hammering the president one day and then asking him for help on an issue the next day. We need to work together right now, bottom line.

MORGAN: I agree with this.

BROWN: Whether you like it or not. And listen, gas prices, they're rising. Home ownership is -- home prices are falling. The other issues you were talking about, we're in deep trouble. If we do nothing, then we're going to be like Europe and Greece and other countries.

MORGAN: How do you keep America great?

BROWN: You need to -- we need your debt and deficit under control.

MORGAN: Other than that?

BROWN: No, that's the key.

MORGAN: Assuming you do that, what else do you do to -- to maintain America's greatness in the world?

BROWN: You need to create jobs. You need to create an environment for jobs. I have a crowd funding bill. Crowd funding is a mechanism where you get people to give up to a thousand dollars, a million dollars total, avoid some of the SEC filings and some of the secretary of state filings, using that money as seed money to move forward, to actually create a new -- new set of financing for start up businesses.

That's where the jobs are.

MORGAN: What about my constant nagging problem with a company like Apple, say, who are -- they sold three million of the new iPads in one day, apparently, last week. So they are making squillions of dollars. And yet they still employee massively larger sums of people in China than they do America.

My argument is why don't they just bring 10 percent of that workforce from China back to America? Take the hit. Because I recon they'd sell four million iPads next time. What is wrong with that?

BROWN: Have the president from Apple on.

MORGAN: What do you think of that argument?

BROWN: I think that you need to make America competitive again. There's a lot --

(CROSS TALK)

BROWN: There's a lack of certainty and stability right now. People and businesses don't know what's next. There's this wet blanket right now over people. There's so much indecision, the high corporate tax rate, the high cost of health care and what's happening with that. And it's draining businesses. They don't know what's next.

In Massachusetts, the medical device companies are getting crushed by the medical device tax that's part of Obamacare. That's why I voted to repeal it. I think -- I think for Massachusetts especially, it's crushing Massachusetts.

MORGAN: Wouldn't it be nice if a company as phenomenally successful as Apple, say, we are taking the lead here? Because they're creative geniuses. I love all their products. I don't like the fact they employ so many more people outside of America than in it.

BROWN: Listen, that'd be great if they would come back. You need to make it competitive. You need to create an environment to hire and grow not only in Massachusetts but throughout this country. And when you're paying a 35 percent corporate tax rate compared to Ireland, which I believe is around 12 percent, and your in the lower cost of health care, the lower cost of unemployment, the lower cost of energy -- they have an obligation to their stockholders.

And they -- I'd love them to come back. Amen. Bring them. Come. Come to Massachusetts.

MORGAN: Senator, we are in agreement. Come back again. I'd like you to come back again soon.

BROWN: We're all done. That's it?

MORGAN: That's it. Come back again soon.

BROWN: That was easy.

MORGAN: You have so much more to say, right?

BROWN: I do.

MORGAN: That was easy? You can't say that. That's damning.

Senator Scott Brown, thank you very much.

Coming up, is America's culture war distracting from the real issues of this campaign? We've heard from two sides of the argument. I'll now bring in the "New York Time's" opinionated Frank Bruni for his assessment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: The clock is ticking down to tomorrow's Illinois's primary. Joining me now is a man who has called Mitt Romney a walking, talking dollar sign and blasted what he calls Rick Santorum's frigid sanctimony. Perfect guy to have on the show, "New York Times'" op-ed columnist Frank Bruni is back with me.

Frank, how are you?

FRANK BRUNI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I'm good. How are you?

MORGAN: You've been out there in the Green Room listening to all this, Karen Santorum and then Scott Brown. The big key issue I guess from tonight's show has been I think the Republicans' concerted efforts now, led I think by Rick Santorum, to try and park this social issue debate to one side and get back to what America people, as Scott Brown rightly said, are probably much more interested in: the economy, jobs, things that are really happening in their lives.

BRUNI: Right.

MORGAN: Can they achieve that? Is it their fault that we've been debating little else but abortion and contraception and other social issues like that?

BRUNI: To a large extent, yes, it's been embedded in the dynamics of the Republican primary. You've got Milt Romney, who has many moderate positions in his past, running against two fire brands who are trying to put him on the hot seat. And so Rick Santorum has brought a lot of this up and upon himself. It's interesting that he often now says -- and I think it was in the first segment of your show -- I didn't step out to be a cultural warrior in this campaign; it's been thrust upon me.

This is a guy who just came out against pornography. He has -- he's brought a lot of this on himself. And he's talking out of both sides of his mouth when he says that.

MORGAN: Hasn't it -- to start with, he was like really vociferous about it, because he was trying to drive the core conservative vote. Now he feels he's got them on side. Now he's trying to think like a potential president, a very different argument to then be putting forward.

BRUNI: Now he's got to address the electability question. So if he's going to go the rest of the distance, which, by the way, I don't think he's going to, he has to convince people that if he gets the nomination, he can go against President Obama and he's not going to be completely pigeonholed and sidelined by these extreme social conservative views.

So that's what he's trying to do now, say, no, no, no I'm electable. So you have Karen Santorum saying, oh, he's not going to monkey with contraception whatsoever. That --

MORGAN: Were you surprised to hear her say that?

BRUNI: It was interesting the way she said it. I think she was speaking in a very narrow and disingenuous way. When you talk about putting all institutions through the filter of if you have a religious objection to covering this in insurance, you don't have to do it, you are talking about contraception. She's saying he's not going to outlaw contraception as president, but I don't think anyone ever worried about that specific thing.

MORGAN: On Mitt Romney, I guess people assume he will grudgingly get to win the nomination. There's not a massive, enthusiastic reception. Is that driven by the media, do you think? Is it in the media's interest to keep this pot boiling, so they can say oh, he hasn't got it in the bag? Because on delegates, he's miles ahead.

BRUNI: Yeah, but he doesn't have it in the bag. I don't think this is the media trying to stretch it out. I think this is a realistic look at the numbers and how long it's going to take him to get to that count. It's funny, they talk about people campaigning in poetry and governing in pros. He's campaigning in algebra. It's all about numbers.

I don't know if he's ever going to get to pivot to poetry. But that's a big challenge.

MORGAN: What is his problem, Mitt Romney? Because I've interviewed him a couple times. I have personally liked him very much. He's very personable. He has a blemish free personal life going back 40 years. He's got so many thing going for him. Yet people just don't seem to like him very much.

BRUNI: He has a really tough time conveying any kind of personality on the stump, in interviews like this. He did an interview last week that was very, very stiff. I think his problem is all of his successes to date have been behind closed doors, board meetings, places like that.

And campaigning for president is an entirely different thing. A lot of Republicans who believe very fervently that he would make a good president are shaking their heads about what a distance there is between that and the kind of candidate he is on a day to day basis.

MORGAN: Who would have a better chance of beating Barack Obama, very quickly?

BRUNI: Not --

MORGAN: Santorum or Romney, we'll offer two?

BRUNI: Romney, Romney. I think this is one of those instances in which the conventional wisdom is absolutely right. Rick Santorum has a tone as a candidate that is so extremely socially conservative --

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: -- who's president?

BRUNI: It depends on what happens between now and then.

MORGAN: Once answer?

BRUNI: Not doing that.

MORGAN: Frank Bruni, come back soon. Good to see you.

Next, Only in America; Hollywood's love affair with '80s TV pays off. Or does it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, back to the future. Who could forget the '80s, the stone washed jeans, the bubble perms, the "Frankie says relax" t-shirts?

Actually, I would personally really rather of forget them. But Hollywood loves the '80s, so much, they keep shoving them back down our throats. Let's take a look at the box office.

Number one is "21 Jump Street," that '80s TV show about undercover cops at a high school, the breakout show for a young Johnny Depp. This year's remake, not starring Johnny Depp, earned a whopping 35 million dollars over the weekend. It's been such a huge success, a sequel is already in the works.

And it isn't the first time that Hollywood execs have raided that '80s locker ideas for blockbuster movies. Those annoying little Smurfs were dusted down, and dragged, blinking, wobbling and irritatingly, back into the daylight for a CGI makeover. The "A-Team" minus the only character that ever really mattered, Mr. T., were given an update and a supposed irony injection. The irony, of course, being that there still wasn't any.

The Muppets, including Kermit, reemerged to remind us all why all teen idols should just retire gracefully. Even "Top Gun" is being remade, when, as I've said on this show before, it should remain as dead as Goose.

The reason for this '80s reborn epidemic is obvious. The characters are familiar. So are the plots. There's always that quaint nostalgia factor, the one that drives all Republican candidates to try and prove they're the most like Ronald Reagan.

So it's probably predictable that Hollywood would turn back to that era too. Where will this backward looking Hollywood vision end? I'll tell you where. Listen very carefully, because 30 years from now, we'll all be rushing out to see -- wait for this -- "Jersey Shore, the Movie" or even more calamitously "Growing Pains" in 3D.

I'm already getting growing pains just thinking about this. Come on, Hollywood, move forward, not back. Have your own ideas. You can do it.

Tomorrow night, CNN's team join me for live results of the Illinois primary. And that's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.