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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with John McCain; Unemployment Falls to 7.8 Percent

Aired October 5, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, Obama's big break.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent has been trying to do a two-step and reposition and got an extreme makeover.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Crushed by Romney on Wednesday, he gets a huge boost with the new jobs report.

The numbers are surprising, unemployment rate below 8 percent for the first time in his presidency. But is it enough to stop a surging Romney?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: If we were to re-elect President Obama I don't think we would measure up to the test of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight, the one man who has debated both of them -- Senator John McCain joins me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Frankly, I didn't expect the president to do that poorly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Also, he knows when to hold them and when to fold them.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: The legendary Kenny Rogers, taking on politics --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNY ROGERS, MUSICIAN: In all fairness I really wanted Obama to be a great president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And talking about his music and his love life. Oh, yes, and we sing a duet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN (singing): Islands in the stream --

ROGERS (singing): That is what we are --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: We begin with tonight's big story.

With just 32 days before the election, the new jobs report numbers are out and like the Wednesday's debate, they are shaking up the race again. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent, the lowest since January 2009, when President Obama was inaugurated.

Obama is hoping the new numbers will bring him a second term. He and Governor Romney know the election's all about the economy and both men were trading jabs today in the battleground state of Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.

(CHEERS)

ROMNEY: When I'm president of the United States --

(CHEERS)

-- that unemployment rate is going to come down not because people are giving up and dropping out of the work force, but because we're creating more jobs. I will create jobs and get America working again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Let's get right to tonight's big story, with Senator John McCain, the Arizona senator and former presidential candidate, joins me now.

Welcome to you, Senator.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: We are going to come to the debate in a moment. You've had one of those -- you're one of the only people who actually who's debated both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. So you're in a unique place to tell me what you made of the new style Romney and indeed, Obama.

Before we get there, though, today's big news on the jobs front. Whichever way you spin this from the Republican side, this has to be good news not only for the president but also America, that the number's now gone down to 7.8 percent for the first time, going below 8 percent in his presidency.

MCCAIN: Well, I think that's bound to be good news but I also think you have to take it in the context that 7.8 percent is, of course, still unacceptably high. But it is good news, and I think it's going to be of some help to the president. But certainly with the numbers of unemployed Americans, we have now 23 million -- I guess it is -- it's still an unacceptable situation. I think the president will concede that.

MORGAN: Jack Welch has said today, "Unbelievable job numbers," he tweeted, "The Chicago guys will do anything, can't debate so they change the numbers." Is there any merit to the argument that these numbers aren't quite what they seem?

MCCAIN: I would be very cautious about saying that, Piers, unless I had some kind of substantiation to it. And, of course, we don't want to sound like sour grapes over what is good news for America. So, somebody would have to show me the facts and then I would be glad to make the argument.

MORGAN: Do you think that either of these things, in the last 24 hours, Barack Obama's very lackluster, surprisingly poor debate performance, or these job numbers today, do either of them constitute in any form a kind of game change moment?

MCCAIN: I think the debate certainly does. Americans watched those debates that may not watch the next two, that saw a Mitt Romney that was a direct contradiction to the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of attack ads, especially in swing states, that the Obama campaign has spent painting Mitt Romney as some kind of insensitive, clueless, bank accounts at the Cayman islands kind of guy, and he wiped all that away.

And also, I think it was pretty clear that for the first time, the president was put on the defensive as far as his record is concerned. And that's because of this bubble he's been in for the last four years and he obviously couldn't defend it.

And, finally, Piers, I thought one of the seminal moments in that debate was near the end, when Jim Lehrer talked about the lack of bipartisanship, the lack of sitting down together and averting this fiscal cliff that most Americans know we're headed towards, and Mitt talked about being governor of Massachusetts, reaching across the aisle, having to negotiate, et cetera.

The president's responses, sometimes you have to say no to people. Is that -- you know, and the fact is first two years, as Mitt pointed out, first two years of his presidency, they just rammed things through without a single Republican vote.

So I think those were -- that makes it probably one of the really more important debates in American history and perhaps I'm exaggerating because I'm so happy.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I can't blame you. I can't blame any Republicans because it's been a very bruising few weeks for the Republicans and Mitt Romney and then suddenly everything seems to have turned on its head.

You're in a very interesting position as I said earlier because you have debated against both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Interestingly, Romney is believed from the latest polls to have won 67 percent to 25 percent against Barack Obama this time. When you went head-to-head with Obama in 2008, the polls said 51 percent Obama, 38 percent McCain.

Do you think you would have done better against the Obama that was debating this week?

MCCAIN: I think so, Piers, but you know, it would sound like I am now trying to rewrite history or I would have done better. You know, I never tried to do any of that looking back and certainly not in anger or bitterness.

But I think it is true that during the 2008 campaign, the president or then Senator Obama had no record to defend, and one of the reasons why Mitt did so well in this debate was because Mitt was -- I think very legitimately, attacking his record, whether it be the $90 billion in subsidies for energy or a number of the other things that he pointed -- the failure of Dodd-Frank.

And so, the president had a record to defend this time. But one, do not underestimate the president of the United States, he will come back strong. I think Mitt has to be prepared for that. And also, as you mentioned, these job numbers will give him a bit or something of a boost today.

MORGAN: We've got the V.P. debate coming up. You said about Joe Biden, he's the gift that keeps on giving. Are you hoping that he's going to be giving some sprinkling of presents back to you guys?

MCCAIN: I don't know but I hope he repeats this latest one, where the middle class America has been buried for the last four years. Right, Joe. In fact, you might use that in your opening statement.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: By the way, personally, I've got to tell you something, Piers. Personally, Joe Biden and I have been friends for many, many years. I enjoy his company. He's a very good guy, personally.

So it's not as if I -- but honest to God, he still is a heartbeat away from the presidency and when some of the things he says, you know, you're slack-jawed.

But I think he'll be -- I think he'll be well-prepared for this debate. I would remind you, he didn't do that well against Sarah Palin, so -- but also, Paul Ryan is a real policy wonk. He knows all the details.

So if I were advising Paul Ryan, and I am not, I mean, they just haven't asked for it, I would say be careful that you don't come across as somebody who gets down into the weeds about OMB numbers and CBO and sequestration -- you know, a lot of these things that the average Americans are really not familiar with. He wants to be clear.

Joe is a very -- excuse me, the vice president is a very attractive guy and if I were him, I'd be playing on that as well.

MORGAN: Senator, two things, if I may. One is the ongoing situation regarding the death of ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya -- lots of vagueness about what really went on in the days leading up to this and indeed, afterwards.

What is your assessment of where we are now?

MCCAIN: Well, let me tell you what's not vague, and that is five days after, five days after what was very quickly determined by the intelligence committee as a terrorist attack, they trotted out our ambassador to the U.N. to every major news outlet saying that this was a spontaneous demonstration because of a hateful video. That's probably one of the worst things that I have ever observed in my life.

And obviously, there were warnings, and obviously anybody who believes that an attack with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and a very sophisticated attack is the result of a video is -- I mean, it's just ridiculous.

And finally, Piers, it's not the video that's stoking these demonstrations. As you know, it's the radical Islamists that are using the videos as a means of inflaming passion in the Middle East and I'll be damned if I'm ready to abandon the freedom of speech because it might offend the Prophet Muhammad.

MORGAN: I've -- we've heard calls for Ambassador Rice to resign. Are you in favor of that?

MCCAIN: No. I think that's shooting the messenger. She was told to go out and do that. I blame the secretary of state, I blame the operatives in the White House and I blame our national security advisor.

If the president didn't know exactly what happened, he sure as hell should have.

MORGAN: Finally, a border agent called Nicholas Ivie was killed in your home state of Arizona. Mexican authorities arrested two suspects in the shooting. It's been suggested this may have been as a result of friendly fire.

Do you have any information on that?

MCCAIN: I have no information on that. I've heard that rumor and I certainly have no information. That is a known drug corridor. We in Arizona have the terrible misfortune of being the major drug corridor across our Sonora-Arizona border, up to Phoenix and being distributed throughout the nation.

We have made improvements in our border security, but we still have quite a ways to go.

MORGAN: Finally, Senator, I can't let you go without asking you the burning question on everyone's lips in America. Would you or would you not kill Big Bird?

MCCAIN: Actually, I love and cherish Big Bird. Maybe we could have an earmark, pork barrel project, do away with all PBS but have an earmark for Big Bird. I'm not a Big Bird -- I mean, I'm not an earmark fan, but maybe it would justify.

MORGAN: Senator, always good to talk to you. Thank you very much.

MCCAIN: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: Next, a reenergized President Obama goes back on the attack. And did the job numbers stop Mitt Romney's momentum before it could really start? Columnist Nick Kristof from "New York Times."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AD NARRATOR: Why won't Romney level with us about his tax plan which gives the wealthy huge new tax breaks? Because according to experts, he'd have to raise taxes on the middle class, or increase the deficit to pay for it. If we can't trust him here, how could we ever trust him here?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Rollercoaster week hitting a high note for President Obama. The new jobless numbers are easing the pain of his poor debate performance and they bring Romney's sudden momentum to a very sharp stop or it may not.

Joining me now is "New York Times" columnist, Nick Kristof.

Let's start with the job figures today, because it's clearly good news for Barack Obama politically, if nothing else.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES: Not only the numbers today but the revisions for the last two months. We seem to really be on a trajectory and you know, this is going -- apparently what really matters is not the economy for the year but the economy at the moment as people approach the election. People are beginning to vote.

MORGAN: The good news for Barack Obama there. Not so good news his performance at the debate. Common consensus is a bit of a turkey.

KRISTOF: He blew it.

MORGAN: Yes. Why did he blow it? He's such a skillful orator normally. What went wrong?

KRISTOF: I mean, it's a paradox. We have somebody who's the best a skillful communicator at his best and he was really at his worst. I mean, there are various theories. One is that he was coached that it would be unpresidential to attack, that it may be a particular problem for a black president. He doesn't want to fall into this angry black man kind of mental image.

But I think he also may have just not been -- not been training adequately and been unused to being targeted that directly. I think when you're president, people tend to defer to you. And --

MORGAN: Michael Moore tweeted, "We don't need to hear any more of Obama lost the debate." He wanted to know why and how it happened. He wasn't off his game. Something happened.

He's on a belief that he got some awful bit of news before he walked out, trying to explain why his demeanor was so flat.

KRISTOF: You know, when it was happening, I was tweeting that maybe Obama was distracted because a SEAL team was off arresting Zawahiri. But I don't -- I don't -- who knows, maybe it's true but I don't buy it. I think in almost any situation, the best explanation is incompetence rather than conspiracy.

And if you look back, when Gerald Ford made his catastrophic comment in presidential debate about eastern Europe not being under the subjugated by the Soviet Union, that was incompetence.

When Michael Dukakis made his silly statement about his wife, that was incompetence. I think the best explanation here is that he just blew it without any help.

MORGAN: What it has done is completely reenergized Mitt Romney's campaign. It was really I think on its knees building up to this debate and the feeling being that if it had gone badly the first debate, could be all over for Mitt Romney, certainly not all over now. I mean, would you anticipate a tightening of the polls and a very, very close race now?

KRISTOF: I mean, it's certainly closer but there's always going to be good news and bad news. And so, Intrade, for example, the betting side, so Obama's prospects fell slightly. I think it went from 69 percent to 65 percent chance of him winning re-election. You know, that feels about right. It helped Romney but we're just in the second inning of a long, long ball game.

MORGAN: When it gets to the foreign policy debate which is the last one, lots to discuss there, obviously, Syria, also Libya with Ambassador Stevens. But an interesting interview with John McCain. He's saying he's damned if he's going to give up freedom of speech because it may possibly offend the Prophet Muhammad. What do you make of that?

KRISTOF: Well, he's certainly right on that. There's going to be no disagreement there. I mean, I think that the Republicans are increasingly going to focus on what happened in Libya, why there wasn't better security for Ambassador Stevens, and I think that's a legitimate area to poke on.

I do think it's kind of small bore. I mean, this is not something the president is deciding on, the security in Benghazi. I think that also, while Obama has his failures in foreign policy, they are not ones that Romney can easily pick up on.

MORGAN: He could always, I would imagine, in a debate turn on, well, I killed Osama bin Laden. That is an undisputable vote winner for the American public.

KRISTOF: Yes, one of my friends on Facebook was joking that he should have -- they should have cremated Osama bin Laden, should have placed the urn of ashes on the podium beside him. That would have kind of stop the commentary there.

You know, I think that on the national security front right now, Obama is looking pretty good. But a month is a long time. Plenty can still go wrong. Iran can blow up. European economy can blow up.

MORGAN: In the context, though, of the four-year tenure of his presidency, foreign policy's been an area of expertise for a long time. How do you rate it as a president? I mean, he's certainly done it in a very different way to George Bush, for example.

KRISTOF: I think that in general, he's been pretty strong. His big mistake, I think, was the surge in Afghanistan. He wouldn't acknowledge that but I think a lot of people around him would.

On Syria, I think he's widely regarded as kind of behind the curve. But it's defensible. And he gets credit in a sense for just being very articulate and for seeming more sympathetic to the world. So on Guantanamo, he hasn't closed it and the world was very indignant at the U.S. under President Bush but somehow, President Obama gets away with that. I think that is because he has been able to use soft power quite effectively.

MORGAN: Finally, probably most seriously for you, PBS, Mitt Romney's plan to eradicate you from the face of the earth. Never mind Iran. He's got you in his sights.

Your documentary, "Half the Sky," you made with your wife, premiered to big ratings on PBS on Monday night.

How do you feel about the fact Mitt Romney if he gets into power will get rid of you?

KRISTOF: I just took a call from Big Bird before coming on here.

(LAUGHTER)

KRISTOF: We're getting together to form a little alliance.

MORGAN: Does he have a point, Mitt Romney?

KRISTOF: Not in my -- obviously I'm a little conflicted here because my show was just on PBS.

But I do think that it is important, there's a real public good, that in the same way you want to have the government provide a public part because it serves the community, and providing some kind of similar public good on the air waves, whether it's BBC in Britain, whether it's CBS in Canada, or whether PBS, for example, in this country, that there is a real benefit to that. And I wouldn't want to see either half the sky lose that platform or Big Bird.

MORGAN: I've got to say, Big Bird, I think there will be room for big bird on this show if it comes to it. Don't you worry, Big Bird.

Good to see you, Nick.

KRISTOF: Hey, good to see you.

MORGAN: When we come back, battleground America. Political all- star on the economy, next debate and count down to Election Day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The question Ohio families are asking is who can bring back the jobs. Under President Obama, we've lost over a half a million manufacturing jobs and China has passed us in manufacturing. I'll stand up to China. I have a detailed plan to create 12 million new jobs, including producing our own energy in the ground, in Ohio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's the newest Romney attack ad out today in Ohio.

In the race for the White House, the economy is priority one and the focus of tonight's battleground America. The unemployment numbers are giving Obama the boost he needed from poor debate. But Romney says these numbers aren't nearly good enough.

Joining me now is former Clinton press secretary and managing director of the Glover Park Group, Dee Dee Myers, and Republican strategist, John Brabender.

Welcome to you both.

DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you. Good to be here.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: (INAUDIBLE) Piers.

MORGAN: John, let me start with you. I mean, presumably all Republicans are feeling a surge of great excitement following the debate. How much has that been dissipated by what are undeniably very good jobs figures today?

BRABENDER: Well, first of all, I guess I would argue that they are as good as either you're saying or particularly that Obama is saying. If you look at the adjusted numbers for July and August, actually the new numbers aren't any better than that.

If you look, the only reason that unemployment is going down is they're taking more and more people who have basically given up or are underemployed out of the equation and so what has happened is we're now starting to accept and get excitement over mediocrity. So, that's number one.

But I will say this, that the good news for the president is we're discussing the job numbers today and whether they're good, bad or whatever, rather than his debate performance. I think that's actually good for Obama.

MORGAN: Let's see what he had to say today, the president, about jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: There are too many middle class families that are still struggling to pay the bills. They were struggling long before the crisis hit. But today's news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It's a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Dee Dee Myers, I mean, he made a good point there, which is whether you agree or not with these figures, and some Republicans, Jack Welch and others, have questioned them quite openly which most people find a little bit too far even by political gun-slinging standards because these figures are widely accepted as being accurate.

MYERS: Yes, especially when they have to adjust them down, right, in the aftermath of earlier reports.

MORGAN: Also, assume the Republicans were to win in November, they would be saying these figures are accurate when they come out under their watch. So, I think we should part that to one side.

Seven-point-eight percent is crucially under 8 percent. So whether Barack Obama wants to make too much of a big deal of this or not, the reality is it's removed one of the big sticks the Republicans were beating him over the head about, which is hey, look, it's still over 8 percent. Not anymore.

MYERS: Right. As the president said today, it's we're moving in the right direction. We're not there yet but in the last year, we've seen that unemployment rate drop 1.2 percent. We haven't seen a drop like that in nearly 20 years. So that's good news. I think what it reflects is it's consistent with what we've seen in other polls recently that show there's an increasing sense of optimism among voters as they look forward. They think the economy's starting to get better. On the right track/wrong track numbers it's getting a little bit better.

I think this just confirms a growing sense that we're moving forward. We're getting there. It's been a tough slog. We went from an economy that was losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office to a place now where the economy has created 5.2 million new jobs.

So we're getting there. We're not there yet but we're getting there.

MORGAN: John, Mitt Romney yesterday, amid all the ecstasy about his debate performance, took time on FOX to say that he was now very sorry for saying what he said about the 47 percent. Was that a smart political move in a moment of everyone feeling good about you to just bury that away?

BRABENDER: Well, I think the timing was right that he said that, but I do hope he doesn't move away from what the bigger argument that he was trying to make, is that there are two choices in America today. Are we going to become a country very, very dependent on big government that says, give me all your money, give me your taxes, and I will take care of you, or one that really says the individual has the right to keep more of their money, make more of their decisions? And freedom is what made America the country that it is. That is fundamentally the question. But from a strategy or tactical standpoint, I think this was the time for him to get out there and clarify his remarks.

MORGAN: But isn't the problem that once again, Mitt Romney has flip-flopped in spectacular fashion? He's now saying he was completely wrong. And yet when you watch what he said, you know that he meant it. He meant it in that moment, just as he meant it when he said, when he was governor of Massachusetts, that he wanted to outlaw assault rifles or he wanted to be pro-choice with abortion.

The man has a record of constantly flip-flopping on issues, doesn't he?

MYERS: He does. And for the last five years, as he campaigned for president in 2008 and through the interim and certainly in the course of this campaign, he's had every position on virtually every issue. And now he's pretty much debating himself. He's been talking about an economic plan for more than a year that includes basically cutting taxes by five trillion dollars over the next ten years. And he showed up at the debate the other night and said that he didn't have a plan to cut taxes, let alone by five trillion dollars.

You know, the 47 percent is just the most recent example. I agree with you, Piers. When you look at that video, and people have all seen it with their own eyes, he clearly believed that. And he doubled down on it the next day. He said my words were inelegant, but he didn't distance himself from the sentiment. Now he realized how damaging that is to his campaign, and so he's distancing himself all the way.

But I think people looked at it. They know. He's going to try to run as a moderate, when we've seen all of his proposals are extremely conservative. And the American public's going to have to sort it out, and we're going to help them.

MORGAN: John, you had some great moments with Rick Santorum and his campaign, great highs, but he didn't make it across the line. Mitt Romney's had a very good debate here, but he's not over the line yet. And in fact, far from it. What advice would you give him now with the remaining two debates? There's only 30 days left or whatever it may be until the election. What do you say to Mitt Romney?

BRABENDER: Well, first of all, I do think the start of the presidential campaign, in some ways, started with the debate the other night. I think only partisans watch the convention. A lot of the real undecided voters started to tune in.

He had a good night. He can build on that. I think what he has to do, though, is not just become the biggest critic of the president. I think there's other people who can do that effectively. He has to start showing his vision and how to give hope to people of why America is going to be better under Mitt Romney, and also let them see him personally. Get to know him and see that he's actually a pretty darn likeable guy once you get to know him.

MORGAN: Can he win from here, do you think, John?

BRABENDER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we have already seen some of the polls that came out today since the debates show a great tightening. We have also seen that there's been a big influx of money for Mitt Romney, which will for the first time put him on an even parity with Obama on advertising. And like I said, I think this race -- it's game on again. It's a new game. And I think that it's very tight. And I think that the real start of the race happened with the debate the other night.

MORGAN: Dee Dee Myers, what Barack Obama did with that debate is he did put Mitt Romney back in play, didn't he? It was a really bizarrely low key performance by your man.

MYERS: It wasn't the president's best night, that's for sure. And Governor Romney, to his credit, showed up ready to play and really put in a good performance. But we've seen that Mitt Romney can do quite well in a debate, in a controlled environment where he's had a lot of time to practice, where he's had an opportunity to sort of think a lot about what he wants to say and frame his arguments. And he went out and delivered.

But now he's going to have to go out there and defend those arguments. He's going to have to go out on the stump and talk to people, talk to reporters, again, articulate the vision that John was talking about, which he's been unable to do. We'll see if he's able to take that performance out of a controlled environment.

And I think the onus is on the president as well. He certainly came out swinging yesterday and did a lot of things people wished he had done at the debate on Wednesday night. But he's going to have to make the same argument.

MORGAN: Well, the next two debates will be fascinating, as will the VP debate. For now, Dee Dee Myers and John Brabender, thank you both very much.

MYERS: Thanks, Piers.

BRABENDER: Always good talking to you, Piers.

MORGAN: Coming up, education was a key part of the debate the other night. But can Youtube save our schools? I will meet the man who is trying to do that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It means that the teacher that I met in Las Vegas, a wonderful young lady, who describes to me, she's got 42 kids in her class, the first two weeks she's got them sit -- some of them sitting on the floor, until finally they get reassigned. They're using textbooks that are 10 years old.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PIERS MORGAN, HOST: When it comes to keeping America great, Salman Khan is a bit of an expert, with three degrees from MIT, an MBA from Harvard. He's dedicated his life to education. He's the founder of the Khan Academy.

But it's his YouTube channel that has over 3,000 educational videos on everything from physics to history that has set the world alight.

His new book is titled, "The One World Schoolhouse."

He's also made "Time" magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

And Salman Khan joins me now.

Welcome.

You are the most popular teacher in the history of Planet Earth.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSS TALK)

MORGAN: The stats don't lie. Is it four million people now watch your video lessons, for want of a better phrase, right?

KHAN: That's -- yes, that's right. And I -- yes, this last one, it was seven million. And -- and we're not just videos. We have interactive exercises. And it's not just me anymore. So I don't want -- I just want --

MORGAN: Seven million people around the world will go online to see you give, effectively, a lesson.

KHAN: Well, I give lessons. We have a few other folks who are doing it. And we also have an interactive platform. So we have just -- it's -- it's all of the above. We -- our team is 36 people, so I don't want to -- it's not seven million just for me.

MORGAN: Stop being so modest. This is not what you're here for. This is here to celebrate you, right?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: It's a fascinating proposition.

Now, I've got three teenaged sons. And they have the attention span of small gnats, not even a big gnat.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: And you've taken that kind of philosophy and said, right, we're going to make these like a short, sharp shock, right?

KHAN: Yes. And I did it inadvertently. The first time I made one of these lessons, I was making them for my -- my cousin. And I uploaded a 12 minute lesson on YouTube and it was too long. There was a 10 minute limit. So I had to make it, you know, nine-and-a-half minutes.

And -- and since then -- and they're not -- they're not Cliff Notes, because you can still do as many of those videos as you want. So I think we're -- we're at least as comprehensible or comprehensive than what people normally get.

But since then, we've had researchers -- and I -- and I talk a lot about that in the book -- who have said, no, there are studies that back this up, that there's no reason people are sitting in these 55 minute lectures other than logistics. People zone out after 10 to 15 minutes.

MORGAN: With other countries now steaming past America, what is the number one thing you want to see, whoever wins the next election, do about this?

KHAN: I -- I think there's going to be a broad push to making classrooms more human. And when you have 42 people or 30 people, or even 20 people in a room and it's all about a lecture, even if -- no matter how good you get that ratio down, it's still a passive experience. You're -- you know, it's what we all went through. You're -- you're looking at a clock waiting for -- for the period to end.

And so what we're talking about is technology not to replace what's happening in a classroom, but to make the classroom better. Lectures can happen at a student's own pace, a lot of the problem-solving can happen. Can we use the class time for interaction between the peers, interaction between the -- between the teachers?

So even if you have the unfortunate situation of 42 students, at least let them interact with each other and let them -- let them teach each other, let them have more opportunities to actually interact with the teacher.

MORGAN: But is the -- is the -- the right move forward for kids to be doing as much work at home as they do at school and doing it on computers, which is their natural habitat anyway?

KHAN: No. I -- you know, I think, actually, one of the big problems -- and I talk a lot about this -- is we have this culture of homework that -- that creates this illusion of rigor. Oh, we're not good enough. The Estonians are beating us at factoring polynomials, more homework.

(LAUGHTER)

KHAN: And all the studies actually point to, well, the -- the single biggest determinant for student success are dinner with their parents and sleeping. And homework, if there's too much of it, directly goes against both of those things.

And so -- and then we've been working with a lot of schools. What we're seeing is that if you actually allow more engagement in the classroom, if you allow students to learn at their own pace, they actually learn much, much more efficiently.

MORGAN: What was the moment like Bill Gates rang you up.

KHAN: That -- he had -- he had kind of told the world a couple of weeks before that that he uses Khan Academy himself and his kids, you know -- these videos were for my cousin, so it made me nervous.

But two weeks later, I got a call from his chief of staff and said, you know, you might have heard Bill's a fan.

Yes, I heard that. And he -- if -- if you have some time, he'd like to fly you up. And I was looking at my calendar at the moment for the month, you know, completely blank.

(LAUGHTER)

KHAN: So -- so I -- I -- I told him, um, yes, you know, maybe like Wednesday, 2:45.

MORGAN: So an amazing moment there.

KHAN: Yes, it was -- it was surreal. I mean I -- I -- this was two years ago and I was literally operating out of a walk-in closet. So it was a realities colliding.

(LAUGHTER) MORGAN: Well, Salman, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Good luck with the book, "The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined."

It's an exciting proposition.

Good luck with it.

KHAN: Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: Coming up, music, sex and politics with the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do think it's time for the party to get behind Governor Romney. And he was reminding me of Kenny Roger's song, there's a time when to hold them, a time when to fold them. Well, I think it is time for the people to all get behind this good man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

MORGAN: That was former president, George H.W. Bush, in March, referencing what may have been the most important rule in poker, and, indeed, in life -- you've got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them.

The man who made that phrase famous is with me tonight.

Kenny Rogers, his autobiography is "Luck, Or Something Like It."

And he joins me now.

Kenny, welcome.

KENNY ROGERS, SINGER: Thank you so much.

Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: What is it like to hear an American president --

ROGERS: Well, --

MORGAN: -- just casually referencing you like that?

ROGERS: -- you know, I have to tell you, he -- he has always been so nice to me. They used to send me -- he and Romney used to send me birthday greetings every year, handwritten birthday cards. MORGAN: Really?

ROGERS: Yes. And it was a picture of me and Pearl Bailey and Barbara and George H.W. And he -- and he was saying -- she said that's her mountain -- what is it, Mount Vernon?

Mountain -- Rushmore.

MORGAN: Yes, yes.

ROGERS: They've always been so sweet to me.

MORGAN: It's amazing, because -- I mean, do I assume that your politics lean the Republican way?

ROGERS: Well, yes, you can say that.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: So after the debate, you must have been a happy guy this week, yes?

ROGERS: I thought it went really well. I have to admit, I thought it went well. You know, in all fairness, I really wanted Obama to be a great president. I really did.

But, you know, I -- I think -- and I wasn't thrilled with Romney before last night. But I think he came up and he stood up like a man and he made his points. And I believed him. And that's all I care about politics.

MORGAN: How much of it now is performing?

You're one of the great performers in America. It seems to me, for all politicians now, if you can't actually perform on a stage to a high level now, you're never going to win an election, because the television images that go out are so important.

ROGERS: Well, there was a big thing about Al Gore in the last time, when he made all these -- he just started rolling his eyes and making all these expressions. And the people didn't like him. And that's -- that's what happens. You have to present yourself in a very positive way.

MORGAN: Let's turn to music.

Have you ever walked into a karaoke bar and sung one of your own songs without people knowing it's you?

ROGERS: I haven't done that, but I'll tell you what I have done. In Vegas once, as a joke, I went into one of those things where they have the impersonators and I didn't tell anybody except the people there that it was me.

So I go up on the stage and I'm singing with this girl who looks like Dolly, sang great like Dolly. We did "Isles in the Stream" and I did one of my songs, whatever it was. And when it was over, everybody goes out and signs their name.

So I go out next to them. I'm signing my name and this guy says, I'll tell you one thing, you're a hell of a lot better than that real guy.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: I said, well, thank you, I think. Thanks, I think.

MORGAN: Now, I know -- I'm sure people have seen the -- probably the -- the person you owe most in your head is probably Dolly Parton, because it was that duet that became the biggest duet of all time.

ROGERS: Oh, it was awesome.

MORGAN: And even the back of your book here, "I love Kenny Rogers', she says. "I always have. I always will. I always look forward to seeing -- seeing him. I never get tired of hearing him sing. I was a fan before, I'm a bigger fan now I know him."

But then I read another little thank you in here, which I thought was a little bit more near the -- near the mark for me, because great though Dolly has been for you, I actually think you owe it all to Lionel Richie, because you say here, "Lionel Richie, who with one song, "Lady," gave me a connection with every woman in the world."

ROGERS: Right.

MORGAN: I mean no man can do something finer for another man than that, can he?

ROGERS: Absolutely.

MORGAN: He gave you the greatest love song --

ROGERS: That's true.

MORGAN: -- possibly ever written.

ROGERS: I've always said he is the best writer of conversation. If you listen to "Scales," "Three Times A Lady," "Hello," they're like two people talking. And that's what I think -- you know, when I do ballads, I try to do songs that say what every man would like to say and every woman would like to hear.

And if you do that, you touch everybody. And then the other ones are the songs that have historical content of some sort.

MORGAN: When I interviewed Lionel -- I love him. He's a fantastic guy. And when I interviewed him, I asked him if he'd ever made love to his own music.

ROGERS: Lionel?

MORGAN: -- his own songs. Yes. ROGERS: Ask him if he's ever made love. Start there.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: He's a good buddy. He's been my buddy for 40 years. And he's -- he's like me and Dolly. You know, we can say things about each other. I did that whole TV show called "My First 50 Years," where I had Dolly and Lionel and Smokey Robinson and all these guys came to -- to sing with me. And every time I would say, hey, say hello to all my friends and Lionel Richie, I always put him in a separate category.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: But he -- he knows it comes from love. So you don't get angry --

MORGAN: But he's got a great sense of humor, too.

ROGERS: Oh, he does.

MORGAN: But it would only be fair of me to ask you the same question, Kenny.

Have you ever made love to a woman to your own music?

ROGERS: No.

MORGAN: Would you tell me if you had?

ROGERS: Maybe.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You've been married five times.

ROGERS: Yes.

MORGAN: You've -- you're now with one that you've been with, I think, for 15 years.

ROGERS: Twenty years.

MORGAN: Twenty years?

ROGERS: We've been married 15 years.

MORGAN: Right, been married 15 years. The -- it would appear you found, eventually, the path to marital bliss.

ROGERS: Yes, you know, she -- she's a very special girl. First of all, when I met her, she was 26 years old and I was like 54, I think. And so the odds were really against us, stacked against us. But she knows me better than any woman has ever known me before. And I love her for that. You know, we -- we -- we really don't have any problems. And we have identical twin boys that are eight years old now, which, say a prayer for me on that one.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: But it -- it's just -- it's -- it's so perfect for me. And I think the fact that I matured so much, because in the book, I talk about that there's a fine line between being driven and being selfish. And I think I crossed that line a few times. I take full blame for all of my other marriages. And I really loved those women when I married them.

MORGAN: How many times would you say you've been properly in love in your life?

ROGERS: Well, at least five. I was --

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS: -- wouldn't you say?

MORGAN: That might be a record, I think.

ROGERS: Yes, I think so.

MORGAN: I've asked everyone that question. No one has come up with more than five, I don't think.

ROGERS: Well, why do you need more than five?

MORGAN: You're an incurable romantic, really, aren't you, Kenny?

ROGERS: I -- yes, I -- I think I'm codependent. I think I really need someone by my side and I need someone who understands me. But I -- you also have a responsibility to treat them right. And I don't think I did that in the past. So I don't want to make that mistake with Wanda.

MORGAN: Final question, if you could be trapped on a desert island and you could only sing one of your songs again for the rest of your life, what would it be?

ROGERS: Who -- it would probably be "Lady," because I think it -- well, in all fairness, the song I enjoy singing more now, maybe because I haven't done it as much, I'd do "We've Got Tonight" in the show, a song I did with Sheena.

MORGAN: Yes, yes, yes. I remember.

ROGERS: And I just loved it. You know, I feel good when I do it and I love what it says, you know. It's a Bob Seeger song. And we -- when I did it with Sheena, it was such a big hit. And I'm always shocked when I do it, because I don't look at it as one of my big hits. But when I do it, the response is just staggering.

MORGAN: It's a great song. I would go with got "The Coward of the County."

That's my favorite Kenny Rogers song.

ROGERS: That would be nice. That's very nice.

MORGAN: I used to sing that a lot when I was younger.

ROGERS: Yes.

(SINGING)

MORGAN: I've just sung a duet with Kenny Rogers. My life is complete.

ROGERS: We can do this.

MORGAN: Kenny, it's great to see you.

ROGERS: We could do "Islands in the Stream" if you want.

(SINGING)

MORGAN: I'll tell you what, you're singing it better than I did the other night.

Kenny Rogers, "Luck, Or Something Like It," a memoir. Terrific book.

Great to see you.

ROGERS: Thank you so much.

MORGAN: I love your stuff. So it was great to see you at last.

ROGERS: Thank you.

Thanks for having me.

MORGAN: Thank you.

It's good to see you.

Kenny Rogers. We'll be right back.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you OK? Let me help you.

My mom has been sick for as long as a can remember. Helping her out is a bigger priority than going to school. Because I don't know what I would do if something would happen to her. I wouldn't be able to really live. CONNIE SISKOWSKI, CNN HERO: In the United States, there are at least 1.3 million children caring for someone who is ill or injured or elderly or disabled. They can become isolated. There are physical effects, the stresses of it and the worry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, baby. Thank you so much.

SISKOWSKI: But these children suffer silently. People don't know they exist.

I'm Connie Siskowski. I am bringing this precious population into the light to transform their lives so they can stay in school.

Good to see you.

We offer each child a home visit.

Has a ramp been helpful?

We look what we can provide to meet the need. We go into the schools with a peer support group. And we offer out of school activities that give the child a break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is so relaxing.

SISKOWSKI: So they know they are not alone. We give them hope for their future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I'm getting As and Bs and I feel more confident.

SISKOWSKI: We have a long way to go. There are so many more children that really need this help and support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)