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President Obama Muzzling His Generals?; Republican Senator Under Fire
Aired October 07, 2009 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: (voice-over): Here's what's happening right now.
Is President Obama trying to muzzle his top generals as he tries to hammer out what to do in Afghanistan?
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: We will cooperate with any official inquiry. OK?
SANCHEZ: If a confrontation with Dana Bash isn't enough, now Senator John Ensign is facing the possibility that his BFF, Senator Tom Coburn, will testify against him regarding his sex scandal.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Do you believe that these birthers are plum crazy?
SANCHEZ: Talk about confrontations. Did you hear what James Carville said to Michele Bachmann on "LARRY KING"?
In California, a waiting list for parents who aren't Hispanic, but want their kid to go to school where 80 percent of the students are. They want them to be bilingual -- during your national conversation for Wednesday, October 7, 2009.
SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez with the next generation of news. This is a conversation. It's not a speech. And, as always, it is your turn to get involved.
Yes, today does mark the eight years since the invasion of Afghanistan. But this is not about anniversaries. It's about a conflict there, the one being fought with bombs and bullets, and also another conflict, the one being fought here, being fought with words, and egos and attitudes and politics.
Is President Barack Obama trying to muzzle his generals? As many of you have been telling me today, Truman did it to MacArthur, yes. Is Obama doing it to McChrystal? A week ago, McChrystal gave a speech in London where he said that if we scale back troops in Afghanistan, it will be become, his word, Chaos-istan.
According to "The Daily Telegraph" there in London, the White House was shocked and angered by the general's outspokenness when he gave that speech. We're talking about Barack Obama, the president. So much in fact that the general may have gotten called to the woodshed by the president.
In fact, take a look at this picture. The picture itself speaks volumes. That's the commander in chief having a chat with General McChrystal on board Air Force One after the general gave his controversial speech. Look at the body language.
It is a one-sided conversation, at least in looking at that picture. President Obama was, according to sources, not pleased with the level of public chatter on the subject he wants to handle mostly in private.
David A. Patten is a senior editor for "NewsMax" magazine. He wrote the story that certainly caught my eye last night as I was reading it, which made me want to get ahold of him today and have him here.
David, good to see you.
DAVID A. PATTEN, MANAGING EDITOR, "NEWSMAX": Good to be with you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: By the way, the article is called "Obama Moves to Muzzle Top Commanders." It's an eye-catcher.
Also joining us now is Congressman and former Navy Admiral Joe Sestak.
Congressman, good to see you, sir.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Good to see you, Rick.
SANCHEZ: David, let me begin with you. What are your sources telling you that's really going on here between the president of the United States and the generals who are trying to deal with this Afghanistan situation?
PATTEN: Well, one thing that is pretty transparent in the Obama administration is that the word has gone out to McChrystal and not only McChrystal, but also to General Petraeus, that they need to mind what they said and keep it all behind closed doors.
And we know that that message has not only gone out, but has been received, because yesterday General McChrystal's spokesperson released a statement saying that the general understands that his candid advice will now be given privately. And in fact they even added that he's not going to have any more speaking engagements.
SANCHEZ: It sounds like the general took the hint.
Now, let me ask you, Congressman, you were an admiral. You were in a position where you could probably make some speeches that could have probably angered the president, your commander in chief, I should say. Should the general have given a speech like the won he gave last week in London?
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I don't think it was wrong for the general to speak in broad terms. And I have read his speech.
And while he may have been a bit over the line, I think what I learned in the military when I was dealing with my commanders and when I was director of defense policy and in deliberations with the commander in chief, President Clinton, is that those sensitive moments, the chain of command, to be able to give your advice privately, not to critique those on the other side publicly, is the right way to do things.
It's not a question that the general should speak candidly when he's asked his opinion as he comes before Congress or at other moments. And if he's unhappy, he can always depart. But I do believe it's such an important decision moment that there shouldn't even be the perception that he's outside trying to move the debate. And, again, I want to stress...
SANCHEZ: But is it -- but let me...
SESTAK: ... if it was over the line, it was just by a bit.
SANCHEZ: But let me ask you a question. As a military guy, don't you get frustrated sometimes when you see all these politicians putting their heads together trying to come up with an important decision like this by committee, when you're probably sitting there saying, I know more in one finger about war and strategy than these guys know in a lifetime?
SESTAK: You know, while one was feel that way, thank goodness that we have a Constitution that places civilians in control of the military.
I was a registered independent because I wanted to show that we should be nonpartisan. Now, I honestly believe, as messy as it is, that due respect for civilian leadership has to be shown. And while we go outside, we can sway a debate. I don't think that's correct.
SANCHEZ: And I think our viewers would under -- let me put it in a football analogy and throw it back to you, David.
If you were to ask Brett Favre what he wants to do, if a coach came and said, what do you want to do today, Brett, I almost can guarantee you that he would not say I want to hand the ball off 100 times. He's going to say, I want to sling it. I want to throw. I want to chuck the pill.
You ask a general or a fighting man what he wants to do, he's not going to back down. He's going to say, I want to fight.
So, the fact that a general is saying, we ought to go in, give me a bunch of guys, and let's beat the heck out of them really should not come as a surprise to anybody.
PATTEN: Well, military leaders are not always correct. And they don't always advocate the most aggressive policy. I mean, after all, President Bush really had to convince his own Joint Chiefs of Staff during the surge in Iraq that putting more troops into Iraq was the thing to do.
SANCHEZ: That's a good point.
PATTEN: So, sometimes, it works both ways.
But I think the important thing to focus on as far as General McChrystal goes is the actual comments that he made. He said, any policy change that doesn't leave Afghanistan, which neighbors nuclear- powered Pakistan, in a long-term stable position is probably a shortsighted strategy.
And that's the real concern. Is this policy that we're talking about going to be a matter of political triangulation, where you don't want to go and please the left, but you also don't want to please the right, so you pick something down the middle that may not be the best military...
SANCHEZ: But there's something more fundamental about your story that interested me. And I think Americans deserve an answer to this.
And if you got it, just share with us what your sources say, and then I will toss it by the congressman/admiral.
Is there a fundamental problem, conflict, call it what you will, between this president and his top military brass at this point in time? How would you characterize it?
PATTEN: Well, I would say that it's an uneasy relationship, that they have different goals and different concerns.
I wouldn't say that it's gone so far as to be a difficult relationship or something that has to lead to some sort of a schism.
SANCHEZ: Yes. It's not Truman-MacArthur, in other words?
PATTEN: No, way too early to say that.
SANCHEZ: What do you think, Admiral? What is this thing going to result in?
And have you seen situations like this? Does good come out of them or bad come out of them? After all, just because two guys disagree doesn't mean it's not going to come up on good terms.
SESTAK: No. No. Any military commander worth his salt will speak candidly. And, at times, I'm not sure that happened over the last eight years.
But, that said, remember, we want to listen to what General McChrystal has to say about Afghanistan and that area. But, listen, the president has to take into it the whole cloth of our national security...
(CROSSTALK) SESTAK: ... impact in the region of following that particularly strategy.
SANCHEZ: I have just a thought and I'm going to just throw it out there, because I think I heard you say that.
Are we in agreement that a general's comments or opinion should not be -- or an admiral's -- no disrespect -- should not be the end-all? Is that fair?
PATTEN: Oh, absolutely.
SESTAK: Absolutely, because, remember, General McChrystal is charged with one thing: Give me military advice. The national security relies upon diplomacy, our economic strength, our relations with other nations.
So, what we're trying to do here is, the president has to decide, if we pursue this strategy in Afghanistan, not militarily is his real decision being made upon. What's the impact upon our overall national security?
Remember, we have an Army today that is in such a low state of readiness, it cannot respond with an Army unit ready to defend the 27,000 troops in South Korea. He's got to take into account how long will this strategy take? Will it impact our relationships with Pakistan and India?
SESTAK: No, there's a different set of deliberations that the president, as commander in chief, must take into account.
SANCHEZ: No, you're right. There's military. There's geopolitics. There's geography. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going on there.
David Patten with "NewsMax," we will get you back. Good reporting, man. Appreciate it.
PATTEN: You bet.
SANCHEZ: And, Congressman Joe Sestak, as usual, good to see you both.
SESTAK: Good to be back, Rick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: are you considering resigning?
ENSIGN: I am focused on doing my work. And I'm going to continue to focus on doing my work. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Well, this thing is wild to watch. It doesn't stop there, by the way. That's Dana Bash. She's asking the tough questions here. That's Nevada Senator John Ensign trying to answer questions that frankly he doesn't really have answers for. That's a problem.
And now there's a new development in his story. His BFF might now be willing to testify against him. Talk about a conflict.
We have also heard the argument that's been put forward that immigrant kids are draining resources from local community schools. I'm going to tell you a story that has a little bit of a different twist.
These are well-to-do parents in California who are driving their children to a small town because they want them to go to a school where 80 percent of the kids don't speak English. This is a real turn on this story. We will bring it to you. Stay right there. I will tell you why they're doing it.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. We have got a lot of comments coming your way.
By the way, there's a program note I should share with you, two of them, actually. Tomorrow, Sheriff Arpaio, who says the feds are now picking on him and limiting his responsibilities and ability to do his job, is going to join me here live for an exclusive interview.
Also, a little bit later, did you know that Bill Clinton, President Bill Clinton, tape-recorded, just like Richard Nixon, many of his conversations in his office? Well, you're going to find out, because the author who actually handled the tape recorder in the Oval Office is going to be joining me live.
Here's what you're saying about what is going on right now.
Let's start, if we possibly can, all the way over here on MySpace. Let's take it to MySpace, if we can.
"Public war talk is the last thing that needs to be out there. The marriage of a bad economy and talk of war could only end in disaster."
That's a comment having to do with what we just had a conversation regarding the generals and what the president doesn't want the generals to say.
And then this one is one from a West Pointer. Let's go over to the Twitter board, if we can. And on the Twitter board, you will see that this tweet puts me in my place. He is quite critical of what I said moments ago comparing this to Brett Favre.
He says, "As a West Pointer, I can tell you generals are not as simple as egoed athletes who simply want to fight."
So there you go. I thank you for your comments, albeit critical.
Here's what we have coming next that we want you to make sure you stand by for. A skier with a helmet cam is caught in an avalanche. You've got to see this video. We have got it, and we're going to share it with you.
Also, that's a cute little Caucasian girl, and she is not speaking English. She is speaking Spanish. Would you like for your child to be bilingual? Well, you're not going to believe what some parents in California are now doing to make that happen. This is a very unique story. I want to share it with you. I want you to see it and then I want you to tell me what you think on my blog or on Twitter.
Of course, my blog is CNN.com/ricksanchez, where we will see that report as well.
We will be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez. Thanks for being with us once again.
As you know, I am bilingual. It's not because I went to a special school or because I'm any smarter than anybody, in fact, quite to the contrary, as you constantly remind me on the e-mails, the blogs and the tweets that I get.
Fact is, for me, it was necessity. My mom and my dad don't speak English, so I had to speak Spanish at home to communicate with them. I still do, as a matter of fact, English outside the home, not to mention to do stuff for my parents, like translate letters and calls from accountants and lawyers, et cetera. So, OK, I'm bilingual because of that in my background. Big deal, right?
Well, to some parents in California, it is a big deal, so much so that they're willing to send their kids a long way to make sure that they go to a school where other kids generally don't speak English. Talk about turning a story upside down.
Here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're about to meet the Dixons, a family of four who are so determined to get their kids into a rare academic program they moved, changed jobs and commute up and down the mountain for this unique opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me get my stuff.
GUTIERREZ: They live in the foothills on horse property. The Dixons could have sent their kids to any school in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Spanish was huge. GUTIERREZ: Instead, they chose Jefferson Elementary, a small, weathered school in Lindsay, California; a farm town where the population is 80 percent Latino.
This is what you gave everything up for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. We're very happy with the decision.
GUTIERREZ: They did it for the Spanish so that Amos, the fourth- grade fourth-grader, and Roz, the first-grader, would become proficient in the language.
The students who are sitting at this table didn't speak a word of Spanish before they started kindergarten. But now they're in first grade and 70 percent of their day is spent learning in Spanish.
It's a concept called dual immersion. The program which parents have the option to choose begins in kindergarten. The goal: fluency in Spanish and English by sixth grade.
Studies show that over time dual immersion students do as well as and even outperform students taught in one language.
JOE DIXON: We want our children to be educated, highly educated. We consider learning another language being bicultural, being biliterate to be a highly educated person.
GUTIERREZ: When you first started coming to school here did you speak Spanish?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
GUTIERREZ: How long did it take you?
The Dixons who both doctorates in education and now work for the school district say children are most receptive to learning languages before age 7.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A second language is going to help but also the comfort with different cultures.
GUTIERREZ: That's what Amos, Ezekiel, Diana, Abigail and 200 other English speakers who are in this program have learned first-hand on the play ground.
School superintendent Janet Kliegl, started the program 11 years ago. Now, there's a waiting list to get in.
JANET KLIEGL, SUPERINTENDENT, LINDSAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: In fact Mexican children bring their culture to this country and it's not something I'm afraid of. I think we get richer as we learn about more people and learn about more cultures.
GUTIERREZ (on camera): Some parents may worry the dual immersion could hold a student like Amos behind. After all, most of the instruction is in another language. How did he do against the rest of the students in California? In language arts, he's on the top third percentile. And in math, he got a perfect score.
Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Lindsey, California.
SANCHEZ: We have been picking up some amazing video that we want to share with you, tear gas, water cannons, oh, and Molotov cocktails like this one. Can you believe this? That's what's going on outside International Monetary Fund meetings in Turkey. Sometimes, the pictures tell the best story, don't they? We're going to share this one with you in "Fotos."
And then why is CNN's Dana Bash chasing a senator down the halls of Congress? Well, it's got something to do with an allegation that he gave out jobs to cover in part an extramarital affair. And now it gets worse. There may be another investigation having to do with lobbying rules.
And then there's this. Now one of his best friends may also be ready to turn on him, or at least testify against him. We're all over Ensign's story. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENSIGN: As I said in the past, I recommended him for jobs, just like I have recommended a lot of people. But we absolutely did nothing except for comply exactly with what the ethics laws and the ethics rules of the Senate state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Well, that's in question. Republican Senator John Ensign is embroiled in an embarrassing sex scandal that could also turn into a legal nightmare for him.
The Senate Ethics Committee may soon want him to explain why he got a lobbyist a job for his mistress' husband -- stay with me here -- and why he allowed himself to be lobbied by him, the man he got a job for, who was his mistress' husband.
It gets worse. Now, roommate and fellow Republican Senator Tom Coburn says he will testify against Ensign if he is called.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Do you have any indication that the Justice Department (OFF- MIKE)
BASH: Do you have any indication that the Justice Department is going to investigate?
ENSIGN: We fully plan on -- we are going to cooperate with any official inquiries. But as you all know, you can't comment on any of this stuff, on any of those kinds of things. BASH: Well, you can tell us if you've gotten any calls from the Justice Department or your lawyer has.
ENSIGN: Let me state this very carefully. We will cooperate with any official inquiries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Here's what has brought this story back to life.
"The New York Times" is reporting that Hampton -- that's the mistress' husband, seen here -- did lobby him. That is a Senate ethics violation, which brings us to Senator Coburn.
When news of Ensign's affair broke in June, Coburn, who shares a Capitol Hill townhouse with Ensign, seen there, said that his conversations with Ensign were privileged because he is a deacon in church.
Well, now Coburn is making a full 180, it appears. There's Coburn. He is now suggesting he is willing to testify against his colleague and friend. Why? Well, it may be because an ethics watchdog group may be dragging Coburn into Ensign's mess soon as well.
Whatever the case, the outlook does not bode well for Ensign, especially. Few in the Senate are willing to stand behind him now. But Ensign says he is not giving up his Senate seat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Are you considering resigning?
ENSIGN: I am focused on doing my work. And I'm going to continue to focus on doing my work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: All right, this story is coming up. Democrats are saying we should not meddle in Honduras affairs. They want to back off the stalemate there. That's what the Democrats say. Republicans are saying, nope, Zelaya. He's a lefty, not necessarily a good guy, and he should not be the president of this country. So, who is right? This is a country with two presidents. It's really weird.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and I have been talking politics now for something like 30 years, believe it or not. We both hail from South Florida. We're going to be doing it again here in just a little bit.
Stay with us.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: All right, before we do anything else, let me bring you something that's -- well, reaction as I say. It's a national conversation, I want you to get involved in what we talk about. So just moments ago, I had some people shoot off some tweets to me.
For those of you who don't Twitter, no big deal. Many people don't. But this is a way of kind of getting a sense of discourse with the rest of the country while we bring you the news.
On Ensign, "Why doesn't Ensign just resign already? Why is he putting his family through this? It is only going to get worse for him."
On Spanish and fluency, and parents setting their kids to learn it. "As someone fluent in both English and Spanish, I agree that immersion is the best way to learn any language." But look at Velz. He says, "Silly for kids to be burdened with learning another language. More important things to cover. Let Latinos learn English."
We thank you for your comments.
Should the U.S. be involved in the Honduran presidential controversy? This is like a country with two presidents down there right now. It is weird. Today representatives from more than 10 countries are trying to mediate talks over a plan put together by Costa Rica's president, Oscar Arias, who as you probably know, talked with me about this in an interview last week.
Look, this guy's won a Nobel Peace Prize. He's acclaimed as a good mediator. Listen to what he told me about who should be the president of this country, Honduras. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You don't think Micheletti's government is legitimate?
PRES. OSCAR ARIAS, COSTA RICA: (Speaking in foreign language)
SANCHEZ: So what this president from Costa Rica just said is that he doesn't believe that Micheletti's government is constitutional. It's a defacto government and what he is proposing as the mediator in these talks is to bring about or bring back order, constitutional order, and a constitutional government.
But that would mean that you would then have to put Zelaya back in power and the Supreme Court has said that he violated their constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: All right, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She's just back from Honduras. And she happens to be an old friend from our South Florida days.
Ileana, good to see you.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: Nice to see you, Rick, thank you.
SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure. What do you think of what Arias says? He kind of took me by surprise when he said that, because he seems to be saying that Micheletti is in the wrong here and that they need to figure out a way to put Zelaya back in power. Is that right?
No, absolutely not. He may be a good guy, he may be a Nobel Prize Winner, but that doesn't mean that he's always right and always perfect. In this case, he's wrong and he's just not -- he's just flat out wrong.
SANCHEZ: Let's bring the viewers...
ROS-LEHTINEN: Here is the Honduran constitution and it is so clear, Article 239 clearly states that anyone who puts -- who wants to tamper with the terms of office of the presidency in Honduras is automatically excluded from being president and in fact can't even hold office for 10 years.
What did Zelaya do? He put on, as -- he wanted to put on as a referendum the extension of his terms of office, and Rick, automatically, according to the constitution, he is no longer president.
Now you say that Honduras is a country with two presidents. That's not true. Micheletti government, according to the rules and the constitution, the rule of law and the constitution, he is the government. He is the president.
SANCHEZ: I know. This gets...
ROS-LEHTINEN: Not the defacto government.
SANCHEZ: Let me bring the viewers up to date here because a lot of them may be lost in this conversation. I know that we are one of the shows that's been following this consistently.
People have been saying that there was a coup in Honduras. That essentially the military came in, as we always say about, you know, Latin America. The military came in, dragged the president out in his pajamas and took him out of the country.
In fact, Zelaya was being questioned for what you just explained and, for the benefit of the viewers, the Supreme Court decided that this guy should be removed because he had violated the constitution of the country. So that word "coup" that's been bantered about an awful lot...
ROS-LEHTINEN: I know.
SANCHEZ: ... is really a questionable term.
ROS-LEHTINEN: That's right. He should not have been removed from the country. There's no doubt about it. But according to the constitution, the Micheletti government was doing everything exactly right. They said he's no longer in power.
SANCHEZ: Should he be given a trial?
ROS-LEHTINEN: And he...
SANCHEZ: Should this guy get his day in court?
ROS-LEHTINEN: They should have done that. They should have presented charges against him and they should have given him a court date like anyone else would who violated the constitution. And as you pointed out, Rick, it wasn't just the one party or another party, his own party ruled against him.
The congressional -- the Honduran Congress ruled against him, the Supreme Court ruled against him. The electoral tribunal which is an independent part, not part of the government, ruled against him. Every institution in Honduras says he is no longer president.
But what happened? The United States has gotten involved and instead of saying, look, whatever happened, whether it was right or wrong, let's move on from this. We have got a free and fair election coming up on November 29th in Honduras. But the United States' position is to say that it's not going to be a legitimate election.
SANCHEZ: Yes, but they're backing off of that.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Even though...
SANCHEZ: I think -- to be fair, to be fair, my old friend and South Florida cohort.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Quit stressing the old. We're just very young.
SANCHEZ: My producer just told me, don't say that you've known Ileana for 30 years.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Old is a killer. Don't say that.
SANCHEZ: We practically grew up together. But, look, Democrats -- Republicans used to get mad when Democrats, during the Bush administration, would go out and freelance, go to other countries and meet with heads of state and they'd say don't do that. Let our State Department do that.
Is it right for yourself, for Jim DeMint from South Carolina and others, to be going down to Honduras and dealing with an issue that the White House seems to be saying, you guys, stay out of this, we can do this by ourselves?
ROS-LEHTINEN: You know why it's right? Because the State Department has been so wrong on this position. First of all, they have told the Hondurans they cannot have visas to come to the U.S. I would be perfectly fine to come here, stay here and have the government or the Honduran people come here.
But they are prisoners in their country. We have yanked all of their visas, including the Supreme Court, which is totally apolitical. Nobody in Honduras can get out of Honduras. That is not right. So in order to talk to the government, in order to talk to the presidential candidates, in order to talk to all of the institutions in civil society, one has to go there.
This is the tricky part, Rick. The State Department doesn't want us to go there. They say no to the trips, and when we wanted to go down there and we did anyway, the State Department say, well, I don't think you want to do that. And they paint this picture like this is a country under siege. There's no rioting going on there, the children are going to school, the families are going to work.
SANCHEZ: Yes, I agree with you. I agree with you. I think...
ROS-LEHTINEN: And there's a sense of normalcy. But let's respect free and fair and impartial elections. That's a great way out of this mess.
ROS-LEHTINEN: No matter how you feel about it. We even had elections in Gaza with Hamas.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Which was a mistake.
SANCHEZ: And you know what? And...
ROS-LEHTINEN: Let's have them...
SANCHEZ: Let the people decide. By the way...
ROS-LEHTINEN: Let the people decide.
SANCHEZ: Before I let you, I hope your girls are good.
ROS-LEHTINEN: 22 and 23 already.
SANCHEZ: Wow. I only remember...
ROS-LEHTINEN: I had them at a young age.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Yes. You were, what, your teens?
SANCHEZ: Hey, this health care thing is interesting. I'm wondering what your position is on this. I tended to see lately that the insurance companies and the big health care companies are pouring tons of money to make sure that this doesn't happen.
And usually when I see people pouring money into something, it scares me, it makes me think, this must be good for Americans that these corporations are all trying to fight. Am I wrong? ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, the insurance companies and the health care companies, they're covering their bets. No matter where you stand on this health care bill, they're giving to Democrats, they're giving to Republicans, so if you follow the money, it's spread all over the place.
ROS-LEHTINEN: What's important about this health care debate, Rick, we all agree. We need health care reform. The way that it's set up now, there are a lot of people who need to get insurance who can't afford it, it's not accessible to them. But we don't want to burden our small businesses.
These are the engine, the economic engine of our country and we're going to burden them with all of these taxes if they don't provide health care to their employees. Of course they want to do it. They're good citizens. They're good...
SANCHEZ: But if they're such good citizens, why are they making 300 percent in profits? Why are they making ungodly sums and leaving us with what is really not the best health care system in the world?
ROS-LEHTINEN: I don't know what small businesses you're talking about. But I'm talking about the Sanchez and Sons, little mama pop shop...
SANCHEZ: No, I'm talking about the CIGNAs.
SANCHEZ: I'm talking about the big guys. The big insurance guys.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I don't know about them.
SANCHEZ: Can't we squeeze them?
ROS-LEHTINEN: I'm out for the little guy. I'm out for those mom and pop hardware stores and the providers of our economic well-being.
ROS-LEHTINEN: And I'm not an anti-capitalist. I'm not an anti...
SANCHEZ: Well, no!
ROS-LEHTINEN: You know, this kind of program that oh, my gosh this is terrible for people to make a he profit. We want every businessman to make a profit and businesswoman. But I'm talking about the little mom and pop shops. Let's not burden them with a lot of taxation. They're barely getting by in these tough economic times.
SANCHEZ: Well, I'll tell you what, though.
ROS-LEHTINEN: So health care reform...
SANCHEZ: I'll tell you...
SANCHEZ: I'll tell you what those little guys tell me. They tell me it's more expensive to pay for the insurance for their employees than it is to pay for their employees' salaries. So the little guys get you-know-what here as well.
ROS-LEHTINEN: We need to bring down those rates. I am not here to say I'm defending these big insurance companies.
ROS-LEHTINEN: I'm not defending these big conglomerates. I'm out for the little guy, these are the ones who make our economic engine go and I don't want them to be taxed to death. They're already getting over- regulated. The bureaucrats are out to give them more taxes, but let's not tax them to death.
SANCHEZ: All right. Hey...
ROS-LEHTINEN: So health care reform but let's read the bill first, too, that's very important. Let's look at what we're reading and what we're passing before we vote on it.
SANCHEZ: Hey, let's do this again, I really enjoyed it.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Thanks, Rick.
SANCHEZ: We don't catch up enough.
ROS-LEHTINEN: We miss you in Miami.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Hurricane season is almost over, 2 1/2 weeks.
SANCHEZ: Thanks. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Congresswoman.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Take care.
SANCHEZ: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (Speaking in foreign language)
There's a secret White House tapes of former president Bill Clinton just coming out now. And we've got the guy who knows exactly what is on them. But first, I'm going to be showing you what it looks like when a mountain comes alive. This is a skier who was wearing one of those helmet cams and he's actually caught in an avalanche. We've got the tape, that's coming up right here in "Fotos."
SANCHEZ: Well, here's one who like the discussion with Ileana Ros- Lehtinen and one who doesn't. This one says, "Ileana sounds like a Democrat. Are you sure that you have her party right? I like her spunk." The other one says, "Your guest is pretty transparent. There are no mom and pop stores thanks to corporations. She is defending the big guys."
So there you have it, two of the comments after that conversation that we had just moments ago.
Let's get a break in here and I'm going to tell you what I have coming up just on the other side. I don't -- did you see this? Have you seen Nancy Grace going head to head with Jon Gosselin? You know, "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" thing? Who wins? You're going to see it for yourself. Coming up in "Fotos" next.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Take "Jon & Kate plus 8". OK now take out Kate, you're with me? Now take out the 8. All right. Now let's add something -- let's add Nancy Grace? What do you have? You have "Las Fotos del Dia," and that's good.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, ANCHOR: For years, Jon, you had your children on TV, on reality show. But suddenly, when it's no longer "Jon & Kate plus 8". It's "Kate Plus 8." You suddenly have a problem on it and you wanted to all come to an end, and I don't believe that.
JON GOSSELIN, FORMER TV REALITY STAR: Regardless of the timing, I'm their father and I will do what's best for my children.
GRACE: You've got your lawyer here, are you afraid to answer questions? Whatever. What's important is the children and not these two self-absorb husband and wife who argue constantly in front of your children.
Exactly. That's what they're coming up.
GOSSELIN: That's what the show is ...
GRACE: Why don't you quit arguing and work on your marriage? Go back to a happy family. Hey, you talk the talk, but you don't walk the walk. You go out with one 22-year-old after the next while she's at home with the children and say you want to work it out. That's not working it out, Jon Gosselin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Turkey now, and a protest that gives new meaning to the term BYOB. As in bring your own bombs. A Molotov cocktail is not a drink, it's a makeshift bomb and these guys are using them as dangerous as they can be with their precision.
Look at this. Watch this. They're actually protesting a meeting at the World Bank in Istanbul and lighting everything on fire that they possibly can. They're blaming them for the economic meltdown but they're also taking it on local banks. And then there's this. It's amazing to watch, this is an avalanche folks that, and you're about to watch somebody get buried alive. A group of skiers in Alaska and one of them is wearing, one of those helmet cams that you hear so much about. He had just started down the slope when the slope started going down on its own. He ended up buried into the avalanche. He was saved now. Moving forward in the tape about 41/2 minutes, really his buddies were able to dig him out.
Look at this. What a story. Did I mention that he now has to pick up their bar tabs for the rest of their lives? Small price to pay. That's "Fotos."
(START VIDEO CLIP)
Do you believe that these birthers are plum crazy because that's what Senator Graham was saying and it's just a simple question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Michelle Bachman goes on live with James Carville and it turns into an interesting discussion. We'll leave it at that. I'm going to let you decide what happens when you watch it for yourself. Like a battle royal, and remember the after show on cnn.com/live, right here today, talking about the Bill Clinton tapes, like the Nixon tapes. Did you know they even had those? We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: All right. If I didn't hear it myself, I really wouldn't even believe at all. A panel of respected political analysts still, still key word here, debating the whole presidential birth certificate thing which most of us thought was somewhat behind us, really. Is that still part of the serious national conversation? Either way, it's worth a listen. Here from last night on "larry king live."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: There are seven republicans in the house that have birth of legislation before it, and one of the things people don't like is politicians get a simple yes or no question and they try to evade it, just like I heard the congresswoman do. She's known to be very outspoken. I can't believe that she doesn't have the courage just to give us a simple yes or no answer. Do you believe these birthers are plum crazy?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY, PRESIDENT G.W. BUSH: If you ask me there's a loony factor in both parties and I say for everyone who is a little lulu on the right, there's about 1.8 who is lulu on the left.
CARVILLE: Well, I was one.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Mr. Carville, you look excited
The Supreme Court stopped the count that Al Gore was going to win, but that's okay. That -- no, that's not the true.
Ms. Bachmann couldn't answer yes or no.
REP. MICHELE BACHMAN (R), MINNESOTA: I answered the question and I asked you very clearly.
CARVILLE: Are they nutty or not?
BACHMANN: The people in my district want to know where are the jobs?
That's what I hear over and over...
CARVILLE: Again -- again, let me ask you.
BACHMANN: Meeting after meeting, where's the jobs? No one brings this issue up.
KING: Congresswoman, I am - Congresswoman, the only thing was the question was simple. Do you believe the birthers?
Forget the district, forget the jobs for a moment.
Do you believe that President Obama was born in the United States?
BACHMANN: I have no reason to doubt that he wasn't born in the United States. I have none. The only place that this issue comes up is on the left. You don't hear people on the right bringing this issue up. Honest to Pete --
KING: Then where did it start?
BACHMANN: In Minnesota, the only thing people are interested in are where the jobs?
KING: Do you think the left started it?
BACHMANN: I have no idea. It's a non-issue. The jobs are the issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: No direct answers as was shown, and did she really say that the birther controversy was a product of the left. She really did it, and I guess they will have to keep asking her the question. We'll keep checking.
Secret tapes of former President Bill Clinton in the White House. No one knew they even existed except for my next guest. Taylor Branch is his name. He joins me next.
SANCHEZ: Remember America's near national meltdown in the 1990s? I'm sure you do. The one where we nearly had over Bill Clinton's affair with a white house intern. Remember that? Well, right now the Clinton tapes is our breakthrough segment.
What would have happened if we knew back then what we know now, that bill Clinton was keeping a second record of his presidency? That's right, and doing it all on tape and stuffing the tapes away in a sock drawer. Calling Ken Starr. Well, maybe not, but I will tell you who we should call. How about the guy asking the questions who was actually operating the tape machine.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch is joining me as my guest. His brand new book is called "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President."
Mr. Branch, thanks so much for being with us, sir.
TAYLOR BRANCH, AUTHOR, "THE CLINTON TAPES": Glad to be here, thank you.
SANCHEZ: You know, if Richard Nixon hadn't gotten busted, if Bill Clinton had a secret taping system in the oval office. I mean, isn't that what he was trying to accomplish with you, a play-by-play of the presidency?
BRANCH: This was a poor second choice. If America could record the presidents actually conducting the business of the people's government and keep them secret and open them ten years later would be a lot better informed of what goes on with our business in public, but we couldn't do that because of what happened to Nixon and this oral history was the best thing we could do to preserve for the future. The president actually acting unguarded and candid in the moment.
SANCHEZ: You know, you're going in and out of white house at all hours recording secret conversations. I'm getting this image thinking about this, like an inspector close to uniform or something. What would have happened if word of this got out during right smack dab in the middle of the Lewinsky scandal. I mean, bulletin, secret white house tapes out there. This would have been crazy, wouldn't it have?
BRANCH: There would have been a great hue and cry that the answers to everything from what happened to Vince Foster to whitewater were in those tapes and nobody would have rested until they got them which, of course, is why we wanted to keep them secret. We wanted to keep them secret so we could actually make them public.
SANCHEZ: What was it like going in there and talking to the president? Did you ever ask him about the Lewinsky stuff?
BRANCH: Surely. I asked him about everything, but mostly we were talking about what he wanted to talk about and what he felt would -- would candidly not be on the record if he didn't record it right on the spot, so it was a great adventure. Every time I went into the white house up into the private residence. I never knew what was going to happen, and I sat there and talked with him for hours into the wee hours recording whatever he wanted and cared to put on the record. SANCHEZ: You know, it's interesting that he really would then take the tapes and then hold them himself. He wouldn't let them leave the white house, smart move I suppose on his part. By the way, because the Lewinsky thing is such a big part of his presidency, it's sad. I know, it shouldn't be. Many more important things that we've learned that affect us, but were there other scandals we didn't hear of? Were there other women that he was involved with that he felt bad about?
BRANCH: Not that he ever mentioned to me, no. That was more than enough for the time.
BRANCH: You make a great point, tonto. I'll tell you what. Let's continue this conversation. We'll going do it on the other side. It's called "The Clinton Tapes," great book, and we're going to keep talking. I'm going to toss it over to Wolf Blitzer now. You and I are going over to cnn.com/live to continue the conversation. Wolf Blitzer standing by live.