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Interview with Senators Cornyn, Durbin; Interview with Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer; Interview with Senator Lieberman, Congressman Peter King

Aired May 13, 2012 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: Romney woos the religious right and Obama nags lawmakers. Today the president's to-do list for Congress.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are only five things on this list because I don't want to overload Congress with too much at once.


CROWLEY: Road testing the fall campaign with senators Dick Durbin and John Cornyn.

Then where next for the gay marriage issue with Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado.

Plus --


FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take your kind hospitality today as a sign of good things to come.


CROWLEY: Mitt Romney and conservative Christians with Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer.

And the politics of top secret with homeland security chairman Senator Joe Lieberman and Congressman Peter King.

I'm Candy Crowley. And this is STATE OF THE UNION.

The president's congressional to-do list is as broad as it is unlikely to pass. Job outsourcing, mortgages, small business tax credits, clean energy and jobs for vets.

The beauty of the president's to-do list, what doesn't get done becomes campaign fodder. The question is whether Congress will be anything more this year than a campaign prop.

Joining me now from Springfield, Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin, and here in Washington, the man charged with electing more Republicans to the Senate, Senator John Cornyn. Thank you both for being here.

Let me start out, I want to play something that Senator Durbin said in mid-April to kind of kick off our conversation.

Senator, let me remind you of what you said, which was unless there is some intervening event, some external event, I think the reality is we are not going to take up tough issues involving spending, taxes, Medicare, Social Security before an election.

My question to both of you, and I'll start with you, Senator Cornyn, is why are you all here at this point, because you just are -- nobody wants to do anything big because they think the other might get the advantage, and you're going to do it all in the lame duck or try to and maybe even kick it then. Why even stay in Washington?

CORNYN: Well, Candy, as you know, Senator Reid is the majority leader and is the one that determines what the agenda is on the Senate floor. For the last three years Senator Reid has said we will not take up and pass a budget in the Senate, and you're right.

There's no good reason for us to be here if we're not going to make some of these tough decisions, cast tough votes. That's what we get paid for. That's what we should do, and that's what we should be held accountable for.

But do nothing because the majority leader has said he doesn't want to put Democratic incumbents --

CROWLEY: But you all also blocked --

CORNYN: -- makes no sense.

CROWLEY: -- you all also block so much of the stuff that comes up. And that's certainly -- I imagine I could get Senator Durbin say that and I want to bring him into the conversation. But isn't it -- I mean there is -- I think the country looks at this and it's pretty clear there's fault on both sides here.

CORNYN: Well, there are 12 -- there are a couple -- about a dozen, maybe two dozen bills the House has passed that have come over to the Senate that are dead on arrival because Senator Reid simply refuses to take them up.

And, yes, when Senator Reid refuses to allow the minority an opportunity to offer amendments and debate amendments and vote on amendments, then we have no choice but to say, we have to protect the minority's right to have its voice heard. The people we represent simply cannot be excluded because of Senator Reid's fiat.

CROWLEY: So, Senator Durbin, no kidding, why don't you guys just go home, because no one expects -- not even you all expect anything big is going to happen?

DURBIN: Candy, I think a lot of people on cable are really protesting because the C-SPAN channel has no activity on it. We lurch from one mind-numbing filibuster to the next. Last Tuesday we tried to bring up this provision, a simple provision, which said don't let the interest rate on student loans double on July 1st to 6.8 percent.

We called for a vote on Tuesday and said open to amendments. Bring up -- let's bring up this matter and have a real debate on amendments. Not a single Republican would vote for it. So we got stuck in another filibuster.

But I -- let me just say the blame is on both sides to some extent, but if we're ever going to get anything done, we literally have to reach some level of agreement. I think about the Bowles- Simpson Commission.

Honest to goodness, when Tom Coburn and I can both vote for this and say let's move forward and use this as a template, that should have been a moment, a teachable moment, for all the members of the Senate and the House.

CROWLEY: But it wasn't, and so you can understand why people look and say they're just not going to do anything this year. And do you agree with that, until after the elections, you all aren't going to deal with these tough issues that have to do with the continuation of tax cuts, or the stopping of the tax cuts or the spending cuts that are due to come into place? None of that is going to happen until after the November election?

DURBIN: I think that's an honest appraisal, and I think it may have started with the Republican leader McConnell saying our job is to make sure Obama is a one-term president. And so we had more filibusters than ever in the history of the United States Senate.

We just cannot take up anything constructive. The American voters have the last word in November. Do they want to continue this kind of obstructionism or do they want to see something different?

CROWLEY: It seems like kind of a waste of a year but I don't think I'm going to get you all to agree on who is to blame here. I want to move us into the political realm.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, was at Liberty University in Lynchburg yesterday talking to the largest Christian university, certainly, in the country. I want to play something he had to say.


ROMNEY: Culture, what you believe, what you value, how you live matters. Now, as fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate from time to time. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.


CROWLEY: That was the biggest applause line, as you might imagine. The battle is clearly joined. We had the president this week, coming out, making history, saying that he favors gay marriage. I know Senator Durbin that you also believe that gays should be allowed to marry.

Do you worry, though, that the president could lose some states, North Carolina, Missouri, some of those where the evangelical vote is very strong because of his same-sex position? DURBIN: I can just tell you I don't think it was a political calculation by the president. I think it was a matter of conscience. He talked it over with his wife and his children, and I know I have talked to him over the years. It's a difficult issue, a real challenging issue, but I think the president came down on the right side.

This morning I took a look at Loving versus Virginia, which I'm sure Senator Cornyn remembers, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that said that the Virginia law banning interracial marriages was a violation of equality under the laws and due process. And I think it comes down to the same basic principle, whether we're going to have marriage equality in this country.

CROWLEY: But do you think that it could hurt the president politically in some of these swing states, is the question?

DURBIN: Well, I don't think he's going to lose votes that he otherwise hadn't lost. I'm not sure the evangelicals were going to lean toward President Obama anyway.

CROWLEY: Senator Cornyn, is this something that you think Mitt Romney ought to bring up frequently? Is this an issue that you think is a winning issue for Republicans?

CORNYN: Candy, President Obama brought this issue up because he wants to -- he can't run on his record. Let's put it that way. And so he's trying to raise divisive issues up to solidify his base and to divide the country, and that isn't what we should be focusing on now. We should be focusing on jobs and the economy.

We have two looming things that are going to happen in December and January, and the president is AWOL on both the largest tax increase in American history, that will occur when about 130 different tax provisions expire on December the 31st, and a sequestration in January, which will be a half a trillion dollars in what Secretary Panetta, his own Secretary of Defense, said would be disastrous cuts to the military.

Where is the president? Well, he's raising issues that aren't going to be resolved between now and then and in an attempt to try to distract the country from his record.

CROWLEY: So that's a no, you don't think this ought to be a focal point for Mitt Romney to campaign on, his opposition to gay marriage?

CORNYN: I think we ought to talk about what the American people want, and that is jobs and get the economy on track. They want to know what the president's plan is, once the Supreme Court strikes down his -- the so-called Affordable Care Act, which we find out is the unaffordable care act, but when the Supreme Court rules in June, what's the president's plan? What's his plan B?

CROWLEY: I want to talk to both of you, Senator Durbin to you first. There was a story in "The Washington Post" this week with some firsthand accounts of Mitt Romney's high school years, where, certainly under any definition, he was portrayed as a bully, apparently against a gay student.

He said, "Look, I don't remember it. It certainly wasn't about the student being gay". Do you think this story tells you anything about Mitt Romney? Do you think this is an important point in a campaign where you start looking at who the person is?

DURBIN: Well, here is what it comes down to. I find it hard to believe that you couldn't remember that kind of an episode in your life, even if it occurred in high school, but --

CROWLEY: So you think he's lying?

DURBIN: -- I'm going to say this -- well, I just say it's hard to believe he doesn't remember, but I will say this. There's not a single thing that I know about Mitt Romney in his adult life which suggests this kind of discrimination or this kind of prejudice.

And so I don't believe it was a telling moment in terms of who he is today. It was obviously something he should regret and probably does deeply regret from his youth.

CROWLEY: Senator, I want to just pick up on one more subject, and that is the defeat of Senator Lugar. He's been in the Senate for more than 30 years. He was known as someone who would reach across the aisle. What does this say about Republicans' desire to have someone who actually will work with the other side?

CORNYN: Well, what I think it says, Candy, is that people are mad at what's happening in Washington. The inaction that you have identified early on in important issues where we should be working together to deal with jobs and getting the economy back on track, and where they see nothing but inaction. And so people are tired of just yelling at the TV set. They actually are going to turn out and vote, and they did, and they want to try new leaders. And that's what happened in Indiana. By the way, we will hold that seat. Mr. Mourdock is the state treasurer there. And we will hold that seat in November, but Dick Lugar is a wonderful, wonderful man and a great example of graciousness, and really has done a wonderful job in the Senate. We'll miss him.

CROWLEY: Senator John Cornyn, Senator Dick Durbin, thank you both for joining us. I think people are probably still yelling at their TV sets, but I thank you both very much for getting up this morning and joining us. Appreciate it.

President Obama evolves on same-sex marriage, but Republicans quickly pivot to more friendly ground.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE SPEAKER: I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the president and the Democrats can talk about all this all they want. But the fact is, the American people are focused on our economy, and they're asking a question, where are the jobs.


CROWLEY: Next, sex and politics from a Democratic governor in a battleground state.


CROWLEY: Liberty University was founded by conservative activist and reverend, the late Jerry Falwell. The campus has become a bit of a must-go for Republican politicians in search of the evangelical vote, which is why Mitt Romney was there yesterday.


ROMNEY: People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose when there are so many differences in creed and theology.


CROWLEY: As a quick refresher course, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was not the first or second choice of evangelicals during the primary season.


REV. ROBERT JEFFRESS, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF DALLAS: I think Mitt Romney is a good, moral man, but I think those of us who are born again followers of Christ should always prefer a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney.


CROWLEY: But for all intents and purposes, it's the general election season now, and the choice is Obama or Romney, so it's different. A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute shows they favor Romney over President Obama by 68 to 19 percent. But even if evangelicals will vote for Romney, will they work for his election? Will they stuff the envelopes? Make the calls? Galvanize other voters?


PERKINS: I think the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle when it comes to the enthusiasm issue behind the Romney campaign may have -- that piece may have been handed to him yesterday by the president.


CROWLEY: Up next, two Christian conservatives who opposed Romney in the primaries, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer.


CROWLEY: Joining me now, two leading Christian conservatives, Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins. The presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, had a big, much-anticipated speech at Liberty University. You were there, Tony, correct?

PERKINS: Actually, I wasn't there. I didn't make it down, but I did watch it.

CROWLEY: You did watch the speech. I'm assuming you did too. There has been much made during the primary season about evangelicals being skeptical. Neither of you supported him during the primary season. I want to play a little bit for our viewers of something he had to say down at Liberty.


ROMNEY: People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose when there are so many differences in creed and theology. Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common world view.


CROWLEY: So not about religion, about values, that's where he went with that. Is the Mormon issue now off the table?

BAUER: Well, I'm not sure how much it was on the table. Look, I think in American politics, values ends up being a major part of every election, even if it's not in the headlines. People look for candidates that they think share their views on the most important, deeply held things you care about in life, including family and faith and so forth.

So while the media has been obsessed about this, I think on this coming November, we're going to see that same coalition that's been there for many, many elections, that elected Reagan twice, of people that believe in family and faith, et cetera. And I think Mitt Romney will do very well among Christians.

CROWLEY: You know, it still is true that a number of evangelicals in particular don't see Mormonism as a Christian religion.

CROWLEY: They are troubled by his Mormonism. But I think the question has never been will the conservative Christians come out and vote for Mitt Romney. It's will they be, you know, enthused enough to run a phone bank for him.

PERKINS: It's the intensity issue.


PERKINS: ... which has been the problem all along.

CROWLEY: Is it there yet?

PERKINS: Well, I think this was a great opportunity for Mitt Romney to go to Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world, and be able to speak to these issues, and I think he hit just the right tone. He did talk about the differences. And you can't gloss over the theological differences between the Mormon faith and evangelicals, but he zeroed in on the common values.

And people that have been involved in the states, the 32 states that have worked on marriage, passing those marriage initiatives, the Mormon church has been very involved, working shoulder to shoulder with the evangelical church. I think he helped his campaign tremendously yesterday at Liberty.

CROWLEY: And what does he do from here on out to continue to court evangelicals, conservative Christians who may think -- and I think their problem with him had much more to do with his evolving positions on abortion, stem cell research, things like that.

What -- what now?

BAUER: Well, look, I mean, I don't even like the concept of courting. I think what Mitt Romney needs to do is explain to the American people why he would be a great president, and I think you'd do that by giving your views on a whole range of issues, lower taxes, smaller government, strong national defense, marriage between a man and a woman, the sanctity of human life.

That's not really courting people. That's giving the governing vision of people that believe in conservative Reagan-type issues, and I think he'll -- if he does that, he'll be very successful. I fully expect to be at his swearing-in. I think the president this past week took six or seven states he carried in 2008 and put them in play with this one ill-conceived position that he's taken. CROWLEY: You, of course, are talking about the president's decision to say personally I support gay marriage, although it is up to the states to decide what -- what they want to do about it.

Do you think this is something he should campaign on?

Because we -- in your -- even your immediate response to this was, OK, we all knew how the president felt about this, but where are the jobs?

So is this really something that you think helps Mitt Romney with the general public?

BAUER: Well, I think -- I mean, again, I don't -- I've said this before -- I don't think it should be the central point of his campaign. I think the way he addressed it yesterday is the way to do it. I don't think the way the Republicans on Capitol Hill are addressing it is the way to do it, saying it's a distraction.

Defending the family, the cornerstone of civilization, is not a distraction. It should be a priority. And it should be a part of what Mitt Romney talks about.

Absolutely, jobs, the economy, this president hasn't done those -- hasn't addressed those issues. I don't know that I would say that he put this out there as a political distraction. I think this is who he is, but that's not where America is. Every time a state...

CROWLEY: Well, it, kind of, is where America is. If you look at the polling...

BAUER: The polling is actually shifting.

CROWLEY: You see more than...



CROWLEY: ... that a little more than half of Americans say gay marriage is fine.

BAUER: Where do they live, Candy? There's -- where do all these people that are now in favor of same-sex marriage live? Thirty-two states have voted. It's always overwhelming.

PERKINS: And Gallup -- Gallup shows in the last year a six-point swing toward traditional marriage. As this president pushes this radical agenda, America realizes it's more than marriage. It's about education of our children. It's about religious freedom. It's about public accommodations. It's a lot more than just marriage, and Americans are catching onto that.

CROWLEY: Let me play for you something that Mitt Romney said on Thursday. He says that he is for, you know, relationship -- you know, that people ought to be able to live with who they want to live with and have relationships, and he had this to say about adoption.


ROMNEY: If two people the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship and even want to adopt a child, in my state, individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that's something which people have the right to do, but to call that marriage is in my view a -- a departure for the real meaning of that word.


CROWLEY: Set aside marriage. Gay adoptions: is that a palatable position for the Christian right?

PERKINS: Well, look, he's right that it's a state issue. This is not something that a president affects one way or another. I think the big emergency in America is that too many of our children don't have mothers and fathers, not whether gays should be able to adopt or not. And, by the way, Candy, one other quick thing, you said the president said let every state decide. What a joke. The Defense of Marriage Act guarantees that every state can decide and he won't enforce it. His own Justice Department refuses to defend it. And every time a state wants to vote on this, the president comes out and tells them to vote against traditional marriage.

CROWLEY: Let me turn, Tony, to -- back to the evangelical community in general. This is a man who has said I am against abortion; I am for marriage between a man and a woman; I am for a strong defense. I mean, he has picked up every conservative issue and been on the right side of it. What more do you want from him?

PERKINS: Well, I just think he needs to continue talking about all of the issues that are important to evangelical voters, and I think yesterday was a good start. He didn't dance around the issues. He talked -- he talked about the common values that he shares with the evangelical community.

And I'll have to say, Candy, I think the president is what helped Romney the most this week with his announcement. I've gotten calls from pastors across the nation, white and black pastors, who have said, you know what? I'm not sitting on the sidelines any longer.

CROWLEY: Let me -- I need a two-word answer from both of you, your best V.P. pick for Mitt Romney. Who would you like him to pick, number one?

PERKINS: I'd like to see either -- I think Bobby Jindal would be a good pick, or Mike Huckabee.

BAUER: Marco Rubio.

CROWLEY: There you go. Gentleman, Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, thanks for joining us. PERKINS: Happy Mother's Day.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much.

Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper called his legislature back to deal with civil unions. He tells us why next.


CROWLEY: Colorado banned same-sex marriage in 2006. Advocates of change in the law may have some momentum from the president's new position. Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper recalled legislatures to consider legislation in Colorado that would allow civil unions. The legislature meets tomorrow, and Governor Hickenlooper meets with us this morning. Thank you so much for being here.

Do you think that the president's public position saying he personally favors gay marriage will hurt or help him in Colorado this fall? It went for him pretty big, about nine points, four years ago.

HICKENLOOPER: I think what the president's personal opinion is and how he's wrestled with this is just another example of who he is and the strength of his character. Here is a guy who saved us from going into a depression, who is able to bring down our worst enemy with some difficult decisions, who really saved the Detroit auto industry. He takes -- he's done so much already, and yet he's still wrestling with personal decisions. But I don't think that's going to affect -- have much effect in Colorado. We're really focused on civil unions.

CROWLEY: And do you, does it help you, do you feel that you are evolving or struggling with the issue? How does the president's announcement change anything in your sort of personal outlook toward this issue?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, you know, in Colorado we've been working -- my focus is to -- I don't think we should ever tell any church who they should marry, who they shouldn't marry. That's their right. Our system succeeds because our faith community can be such a great partner with government, but we don't ever get into their territory.

But, you know, who gets the basic rights? Those have to be shared with everyone, and whether you get to visit someone in a hospital room as friends and family, that's the kind of stuff that we're addressing with civil unions.

And we had a majority -- our Senate is Democratic, our House is Republican -- and three different committees in the House brought the civil union bill out. One of them, the Republicans had voted for, one is the chair of the Joint Budget Committee. The other, one of the others is the majority whip in the House. I mean, polls show that 75 percent of the people of Colorado support civil unions, and that includes 56 percent of Republicans and 82 percent independents. I mean, we're talking about trying to make sure everyone gets the same rights.

CROWLEY: You called your state lawmakers back into session to deal with civil unions and a couple of other issues that they didn't get to in their regular session. And Colorado Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty, who is opposed to the civil union legislation, had this to say about the timing. "I suspect it's not coincidence the governor had President Obama's top Colorado political operatives shuttling in and out of his office. It could be more than coincidence that the president came out in favor of gay marriage, and then only hours later Hickenlooper announced a special session."

In what part does politics play in your decision to call this legislature back to deal with civil unions and to try to make them legal in Colorado?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, first, they never came into my office. I don't know where Frank got that, or what he's even talking about.

But, you know, on the next to the last day of our legislative session, the civil unions bill came out of committees, and they just filibustered. They wouldn't let it come to the floor. And when it died, 30 other bills died, and these are important to our businesses. There is over $60 million of water projects. We're reforming our unemployment insurance, which is very important to the business community. So I really had to call a special session to bring the legislature back to discuss it. And once it's come out of all committees, why don't we -- our whole process allows us, almost demands for us, to be able to have an open debate, and then let our elected leaders vote.

CROWLEY: Do you think it will pass? Now that you have called them back in, do you think that civil unions will be passed and approved in the Colorado legislature? Is it going to happen?

HICKENLOOPER: I don't know. It depends on Frank, Speaker McNulty. Frank and I agree on tremendous -- 90 percent of the stuff, but on this issue, he has the power to choose, and he said he's going to start with a blank slate and pick new committees. That doesn't bode well. But I hope as he wrestles with this issue himself and recognizes that we're not talking about marriage. We're talking about civil unions and just making sure that people have the same rights. Everyone has the same rights. We're not talking about marriage.

CROWLEY: Some of the critics say that civil unions is the step right before gay marriage. Do you agree with that?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, in Colorado we have, as you pointed out at the top of the show, we have an amendment on our constitution that said -- that bans same-sex marriage. So we're clearly, we're very focused on civil unions. And again, we don't want to tell any church who they should or should not marry, but we want to make sure that every citizen -- I spent almost 20 years in the restaurant business, and you work side by side with all different kinds of people, right? And you learn that they are -- they work just as hard, they make the same sacrifices. They deserve the same rights. CROWLEY: And finally just a question on a different subject. Your unemployment rate at 7.8 percent has been sort of on a downward trajectory, and because of that, your rate is low enough that Colorado is being taken off the list of those states that qualify for federal benefits for the long- term unemployed. Is that going to make a big difference in your state?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, obviously we still have a large number, over 20,000 people, that have been out of work for over 18 months. So it is still challenging, but we're blessed to have an economy that is coming back. Some businesses are moving in here. There's a lot of the -- our businesses are hiring people, so that helps. You know, our Nuggets lost in the seventh game last night to the Lakers, so that's going to set us back just a teeny bit for a day or two.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry about that.

HICKENLOOPER: But I think we're going to do fine. I think -- I know. We're all a little bit in mourning. But I think our economy is coming back, and I think that's, you know, even though we lose a little bit of that support for the unemployed, we'll make it up by being able to get them jobs more rapidly.

CROWLEY: Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper from Colorado, thank you so much for joining us this morning.


CROWLEY: An Al Qaida plot foiled, and a spy loses his cover.


KING: This isn't an ordinary leak. This really was extremely serious and could have been extremely damaging, and still may be.


CROWLEY: The politics of national security with the leaders of the Congressional Homeland Security Committees.


CROWLEY: Time for a check of today's top stories.

A key peace negotiator was killed Sunday morning in Kabul, Afghanistan. Authorities said Moulavi Arsana Rahmani was a former member of the Taliban who worked to bring the militant group to peace talks. The Taliban has denied involvement in the killing.

Two U.S. drone strikes killed 11 suspected Al Qaida militants in Yemen's Marib province on Saturday. The air assault follows another drone attack Thursday that killed eight suspected militants in southern Yemen.

The U.S. State Department may be on the verge of eliminating a training program for Iraqi police officers. Officials tell the New York Times that the multibillion dollar program will now send just 50 American law enforcement officers to Iraq instead of 350. The program was supposed to be the centerpiece of the U.S. civilian mission. It has already cost U.S. taxpayers $500 million.

Soccer fans in Turkey went ballistic after their team lost the league championship in a 0-0 tie. Spectators stormed the field, lit flares, and battled with police before spilling onto the streets. Amid the broken windows and vandalized cars, there were no reports of injuries.

And those are your headlines.

The race between Al Qaida's evolving tactics and the U.S. efforts to stop them, with Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman and Peter King.


CROWLEY: Joining me now are the chairmen of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Congressman Peter King. Thank you both so much. I want to talk to you first about this breaking news we have of the former Taliban minister who had been helping with trying to bring the Taliban into the peace process is basically assassinated this morning. Congressman King, do you have any feel for how much impact this might have on U.S. efforts to get out, frankly? KING: Well, I think all of these incidents show how difficult it still is in Afghanistan, and quite frankly, I think we should not be giving these target dates for getting out. But apparently this is set now. And it just shows again how tough Afghanistan is, that we shouldn't be leaving prematurely, and there's a lot of work on the ground that has to be done, and it's a very dangerous place in the world.

But the real expert is Joe Lieberman. He spends a lot of time in Afghanistan. And I think he would agree that is really a very, very tough situation.

We made a lot of progress, especially under General Petraeus and General Allen, but more does remain to be done.

CROWLEY: Senator Lieberman, if I were to read these tea leaves, it would say to me the Taliban is not the least bit interested in peace talks.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I agree. They're not interested in genuine peace talks. I mean, we have been integrating, reintegrating lower- level Taliban who have come back over to the side of the Afghan national security forces over the last couple of years, but the people at the top of the Taliban in my opinion are not interested in reconciliation.

This is the second murder of this kind of somebody high up in Afghanistan who turned and tried to be a peacemaker. So it's obvious they don't want peace right now. And until we continue and unless we continue to put pressure on the Taliban, they are never going to come to the table and have genuine peace negotiations.

I think the important message here is to the policy makers right up to the president about the pace of withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan. Right now, we're going to take out about 30,000 that are there now by the end of this year. The big debate will be what to do with the remaining 68,000. I think General Allen, our commander in Afghanistan, has made clear that he wants to leave that 68,000 there through the end of the fighting season in Afghanistan next year, which would be through the fall or early winter.

I sure hope the president as commander in chief supports General Allen's opinion, because I think it's the right one, and the murder yesterday in Kabul makes that very clear.

CROWLEY: Congressman, let me move you on to this discovery or really sort of an intelligence victory of getting a hold of a suicide bomb, sort of the underwear bomb take two. Through the use of an undercover -- apparently a Saudi operative who was working either for the Saudis or for the CIA. Huge leak on who this guy was. You have criticized it. Where do you think the big damage is that leaks came out about how we came to have this bomb?

KING: Well, first of all, this was an extraordinary accomplishment for the intelligence services of the U.S. and other countries as well. Secondly, nothing has been declassified and nothing has been made official as to where this person was from or who he was engaged by, other than the fact that the United States was also involved.

The danger here is that because -- remember, this was more secret than any operation I'm familiar with, even more secret than bin Laden's. The speaker of the House, who is second in line to be president, was not told about it. Neither the chairman or the ranking members of the Intelligence Committees were told about it. Yet the Associated Press apparently had the entire story, and since then more and more details have come out. This caused the operation to be -- first of all, it put people's lives at risk. Secondly, it caused the operation to be cut short before it could get all the information that could have been gotten, and it also sends a signal to countries willing to work with us that we can't be trusted to keep it secret, if, in fact, we're the ones who leaked it out.

That's why I'm saying the FBI has to do a full and complete investigation, because this really is criminal in the literal sense of the world to leak out this type of sensitive, classified information on really almost unparalleled penetration of the enemy. What we were able to get in, as close as we did with AQAP, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, was unprecedented.

CROWLEY: Senator Lieberman, a quick question for you before we go to break, and that is, we see now that they've sort of upgraded the underwear bomb. And the question I think we hear from a lot of people is, are we equally upgrading our defenses here? Is the TSA up to snuff? Are we ready to take on the next level of terrorist interest in coming after the U.S.? LIEBERMAN: The answer is that we are. The amazing -- one of the amazing results of this courageous and brilliant counterterrorism operation was that we not only stopped a planned terrorist attack on a U.S. airplane, but we got the device. We got the bomb. And the FBI has gone over it, and we have a very clear idea now of how they have changed their tactics.

The good news is since the underwear bomb attempt a few years, we've changed our defenses. And the odds are pretty good that our systems, multi-layered as they are, would have detected this device before the individual carrying it could have gotten on a plane.

But now we know what this device looks like and how they've changed it exactly. We assume there are others out there like this, and we're going to alter our defenses to meet the new threat. So the answer is yes, TSA and all of our intelligence services deserve a lot of credit, and our defenses are getting higher than ever.

CROWLEY: Which is good news I think for all of us. Stand by, both of you, for a minute. Congress is getting an update on the Secret Service sex scandal. We'll get a preview.

And later we remember the man who never set out to write children's literature, but ended up revolutionizing it.


CROWLEY: We are back with independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Congressman Peter King.

Senator Lieberman, you are about to get or maybe already have the answers to a lengthy questionnaire you sent to the Secret Service, stemming from the prostitution scandal in Colombia. What is there still that you don't know that you need to know?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I think the Secret Service has done a really thorough job in investigating what happened in Cartagena, and Director Mark Sullivan -- and, of course, they've got a greater motivation than anybody because of their pride in the agency and how upset they are about what happened -- but our committee -- I met with Director Sullivan during last week, and we're going to hold a public hearing. I haven't announced it, but first I'll announce it this morning. On May 23rd, at which we're going to have Director Mark Sullivan of the Secret Service and the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, Charles Edwards.

So two kinds of questions. One is, is the inspector general satisfied with the investigation of what happened at Cartagena that the Secret Service did? Secondly, were there indications before the Colombian scandal of behavior by Secret Service agents off duty, on assignment, that should have been a warning that this was coming? And then, third, what are you going to do, Director Sullivan, to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again?

So this is really a heartbreaking incident, and really a dangerous incident, and we really have got to make sure it never does happen again.

CROWLEY: Congressman, let me ask you. The point No. 2 from Senator Lieberman goes at this question of the culture of the Secret Service. That is, is this something that sort of happens and was winked at, or people looked away from it? Are you convinced that the Cartagena -- you know what you need to know about the Cartagena scandal. Are you equally concerned about the so-called culture issue in the Secret Service?

KING: Well, we've certainly looked into that and looked carefully at what supposedly happened in El Salvador, and I'm sure there have been incidents over the years. But I feel fairly confident in saying this, it's not part of the culture. I've spoken to people in this administration, previous administrations, who worked closely with the Secret Service. They were very surprised by this. And it was -- I've spoken with retired Secret Service agents as well. And again, I believe this was the exception. I don't believe it was tolerated. I have known Mark Sullivan for a number of years, and I just think the way he has carried out this investigation has been very forward, from what we've been able to -- first of all, working closely with the Secret Service, but also using our own sources -- it seems that everything that the Secret Service is saying about what happened is what happened as we compare it with other sources and the other information we're getting.

I can say, for instance, the other day we got a call -- I got a call -- my office got a call from the lawyer from the prostitute, Ms. Suarez (ph) involved, asking to come and meet with me in Washington. We're not going to do that. I think that would just add to a circus atmosphere. I think that whatever has to be done should be done, the way Joe Lieberman is doing it, the way I'm trying to do it.

This is a very, very outstanding agency, the Secret Service. We have to not tear down their reputation while getting at the truth of what happened.

CROWLEY: A phone call you never thought you would be getting as a congressman, I'm sure.

LIEBERMAN: I haven't gotten that call yet, Candy.


CROWLEY: Senator Lieberman, thank you both so much. Happy Mother's Day to the women in your lives.

LIEBERMAN: Happy Mother's Day to you, Candy.

KING: Happy Mother's Day to you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

This Mother's Day, a wild tribute to the genius who made millions of mothers and their children smile.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: Finally, a Mother's Day salute to a mother's helper. A man with a bedtime story and anytime story, really, read across the generations.


OBAMA: When I was really small, I used to love this book that they just made a movie out of called "Where the Wild Things Are."

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I love that book.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind.

OBAMA: His mother called him wild thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Max said I'll eat you up, and so he was sent to bed without eating anything.


CROWLEY: Writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak died this week. Time magazine called him the Picasso of children's literature. The New York Times said he was the Norman Mailer of children's books, which is funny because he didn't see himself that way.


STEPHEN COLBERT: Why write for children?

MAURICE SENDAK: I don't write for children.

COLBERT: You don't?

SENDAK: No. I write, and somebody says that's for children.


CROWLEY: Thirteen sentences and 30 pages. "Where the Wild Things Are" revolutionized modern children's literature previously dominated by the white picket fence genre.


OBAMA: And when he came to the place where the wild things are, they roared their terrible roars.

And they gnashed their terrible teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And rolled their terrible eyes. And showed their terrible claws.


CROWLEY: Max conquers the wild things and returns home to a meal that was still hot. But critics thought "Where the Wild Things Are" was too dark for the picture book set. Just about 20 million copies sold says different. Maybe because Sendak knew reading a story is so much more than the story.


SENDAK: The father and the mother and the child and the body and the laughs and the warmth and the voice and the face and the eyes. It's not just reading. It becomes part of the physicalness of the child with the parent. That can't be lost. That's bonding in the most incredible way, when you're bonding with language. And you hold -- you are being held by your parent. What more can you do?


CROWLEY: Turns out Maury Sendak was right. He didn't write books for children. He wrote them for families. Thanks for watching. Happy Mother's Day to all our State of the Union moms. Let the wild rumpus begin. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.