Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

President Obama's First State of the Union Address; Assessing Afghanistan; Interview With Congressman Ron Paul

Aired January 27, 2010 - 14:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: We've got Josh Levs here. He's on The Stimulus Desk.

We're going to continue to follow "The Stimulus Project." And, of course, on CNN, we're going to be covering -- starting at 8:00 tonight, we're going to be covering the State of the Union.

Robert Reich, we were having a great conversation with him. We will catch up on that again.

Gloria Borger is the one who told me an hour ago that this is an opportunity for the president to change direction with respect to the messages they're sending out. She's back with us right now.

Gloria, what, are we seven hours away from the president's speech, six hours away from our coverage of it? And I'm hearing from everybody that I'm talking to today that there is either a failure of communication of what the White House is trying to accomplish or a failure to explain exactly how what they have done for the last year is meant to be helping the economy.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Or, a little bit of both, Ali. And between when I was here last and now, I have been doing some reporting, so let me tell you a little bit about what I've heard about what we might see tonight in the State of the Union.

This is from Capitol Hill sources. Folks there are being briefed as we speak by people from the White House about what to expect from the president tonight, and I can tell you, there is going to be a lot of jobs and small business. And he is going -- and this is part of the appeal to the middle class to try and get those jobs going to the people who need it.

I'm told that he may well call for the elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment. That's something that I think, Ali, Republicans can go for, tax credits for new hiring and investments and new equipment.

Another thing that Republicans might go for, also, of course, financial regulation. There, the Republicans, it's a little trickier for them because they might have to choose between Main Street and Wall street.

But those are three things we'll be hearing tonight. VELSHI: Let's -- we've seen several different emphases by the president in the last week. We saw the, "I will fight for you as long as I have breath in my body," "I will push back on the banks," "I will push back on the insurers." And then we saw an entirely different message where he said they're going to freeze the discretionary spending in the budget, which means we are not spending on those things that many people who are struggling think it's going to be important to spend on.

That's two different messages to me.

BORGER: Right, and you put your finger on the problem, because it is a mixed message. It's a little nuanced. You say to people, I want to freeze discretionary spending, but what we're going to do is we're just going to freeze the pot, we may give folks inside that pot more money and some folks less.

You know, back in 1983, Ronald Reagan proposed a freeze on all spending. All. Not just this 19 percent that is discretionary, non- defense, but all spending. This is not that message.

VELSHI: Right. Medicare, Medicaid, defense, everything.

BORGER: Everything, except for cost of living adjustment. This is not that. This is different, because the president also has to say to people, I want to help us spend because we need to stimulate employment, and I understand that that's my job. So, it's it is quite nuanced, and we will have to see whether the American public buys it or not, because as your polls have been showing all day, they are really think the country is not back on the right track yet.

VELSHI: You know, back in August, we spoke regularly about this when the president unveiled the health care plan and went on that big push. And then they had the town hall meetings and they had the Tea parties.

A real shift seems to occur from people who say maybe it's about health care, maybe it isn't. It's certainly about how this government continues to spend money.

How best does the president address that? Because this is convoluted.

BORGER: You know, it was back in April, when you really take a look at the polls like I do, pretty closely -- it was back in April when we really started seeing the president having a drop-off with Independent voters. And to me, something went off in my mind saying, uh-oh, those are the voters that Barack Obama appealed to the win this election. Those are the voters that are very important to give him the margins in the Congress.

And suddenly, they started dropping off, because they didn't like what they were seeing in health care reform. And they thought it was business as usual. They asked for change, but not this kind of change, and to them, it looked like not so much change at all.

VELSHI: Well, how does the president address that tonight? What's his message that saves health care reform right now?

BORGER: First of all, I think he's not going to be real specific about, this is the way I'm going to save health care reform. He's going to say, we really want to do something.

I think he's got to get back to the message of being the reformer. People wanted change. They saw him as a reformer, as somebody who was going to change the way Washington does business. And what they have seen with this president is actually somebody who's cut a lot of deals behind closed doors with pharmaceutical companies, with labor unions, with members of the Senate on health care.

And so, he's got to get back and say, I'm the reformer, I'm going to do lobby reform, continue to do it. I'm going to change the way we do business in this town. And then they're going to be watching him on that, too.

VELSHI: All right. Well, we're all going to be watching it very closely.

Gloria, thanks for the great analysis.


VELSHI: I think it's important that we all tune in and just listen to this, because the direction of the country is changing right upon us right now.

Tonight at 8:00, our special coverage.

BORGER: You know...

VELSHI: Yes? Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: Well, one thing I wanted to add, Ali, it's always interesting to me to watch presidents who become the ultimate insiders, of course, then take the turn back and say, I'm an outsider.

VELSHI: Right.

BORGER: They all do. Ronald Reagan did it. They all do it. Bill Clinton did it.

And when they are down, that is what they have to say. They have to say, I'm an outsider again, and I haven't forgotten you.

VELSHI: All right. We're going to take a look at that, and we'll be together through the evening.

Gloria Borger, our senior political analyst.

Tonight at 8:00, our special coverage starts here on CNN. The president's speech is at 9:00 Eastern. We'll be completely on top of that.

When we come back, we're going to talk to Barbara Starr. The world is convening -- there's a special conference beginning about Afghanistan and a look at the situation on the ground and how to make sure that that doesn't continue to be the drawn-out war that it has been.

We'll also talk to Ron Paul about his view on stimulus and the economy.

Our coverage continues. Stay with us.


VELSHI: All right. One of the stories obviously we have to stay on top of is the situation in Afghanistan. So many troops there and still an unstable political and military situation.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is here to give us an assessment of a conference that is getting under way.

An international conference, Barbara, to assess the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

What is supposed to happen here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ali, it is convening tomorrow in London. U.S. allied officials and Afghan officials all getting together to talk about Afghanistan one more time -- more troops, more security, but this time, there might be a new wrinkle.


STARR (voice-over): More than eight years of war in Afghanistan. World leaders will gather Thursday for another international conference. Representatives of 60 nations will meet in London to focus on that well-used phrase, the way ahead in a war that is not going well.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: As you know, more U.S. forces are headed to Afghanistan to increase pressure on the Taliban and reverse a deteriorating security situation.

STARR: There will be talk of sending more troops and more trainers for the Afghans. But after so many years of war, this conference will focus heavily on trying to reach a peace with at least some Taliban fighters. Senator Carl Levin just returned from Afghanistan.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIR, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Another thing to watch is whether or not President Karzai and we can come up with a program for reintegration of those lower level Taliban which will chip away at the power at the Taliban and help to support the efforts of the Afghan security forces.

STARR: U.S. commanders acknowledge the need to bring at least some lower level Taliban leaders into the political and social fabric of Afghanistan. General Stanley McChrystal, the top military commander, when asked if the Taliban could play a role in the future of Afghanistan said, "I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future and not the past."

(on camera): But reality remains harsh. U.S. troops continue their push into Helmand province in the south. The next target? The Marjah area, yet another Taliban stronghold.

And across the border in Pakistan, in North Waziristan, bad news. The Pakistani military has told the U.S. it's delayed further combat operations here.

(voice-over): That will give insurgents more time to consolidate and possibly launch new attacks into Afghanistan. U.S. military intelligence calculates the Taliban now have shadow governments in 33 of 34 provinces, raising questions about whether they see a need to even come to the negotiating table.


STARR: And you know, Ali, that is really the question. The diplomats in London may be sitting around the conference table talking about this idea of an olive branch to the Taliban, but as long as the Taliban think they are making progress, and as long as they think they have the momentum, they have shadow governments, they have the capability to launch attacks, it's hard to see why they might decide to come to that negotiating table.

VELSHI: All right. Well, we'll check in again and see how that conference is going and whether they are able to tackle that very vexing problem.

Barbara, thank you very much for being with us.

Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent.

When we come back, I'm going to tell you something you need to know about because you or somebody you know may have one of eight Toyota models that have been recalled, now have been suspended from sale. There are several factories that are shutting down until Toyota can fix this problem. I'll give you the details and the phone number to call when we come back.


VELSHI: All right. We have been telling you about this Toyota recall. This has been going on for a couple of weeks, but yesterday Toyota announced that it is stopping sales and temporarily shutting down production of eight models because of faulty gas pedals that could cause an accident.

Let's take a look at what those models are, first of all.

At the bottom of the screen we're going to put the phone number that you can call to find out whether your model is affected.

First of all, the Camry, one of the best-selling cars in all of history in America, the 2007-2010 Camry, certain models, are being recalled, and the sales of those have been stopped. Not all of them.

The 2010 Highlander, 2007-2010 Tundra -- that's the pickup truck -- and the 2008-2010 massive Sequoia. Those are four of the models. Let's show you the other four.

The 2009-2010 models of the RAV4, the Corolla and the Matrix, these are the ones that have also been suspend. And the Avalon. This one goes a lot further back, 2005-2010. So that's the one that goes the furthest back.

Call the number on the bottom of your screen. That's Toyota customer service.

There are certain cars, by the way, that are not affected in this. The Prius -- I'm sorry, the Scions are not affected, and the Lexus are not affected. But Lexus is part of an ongoing recall which also involves a gas pedal that could get stuck under a loose floor mat.

You can check with your dealers or you can check with that phone number at the bottom of the screen: 800-331-4331.



Let's go right to the New York Stock Exchange. Susan Lisovicz has the decision from the Federal Reserve on interest rates -- Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No surprise there, Ali. The Federal Reserve deciding that its target rate on interest rates should remain at historic low levels, between zero and 25 percent, and it should remain there for an extended period.

Going beyond that in the statement, the Fed talks about things that are improving and things that remain terrible. Like, for instance, the Fed said in its statement that bank lending continues to contract. It says on the plus side, though, that business spending on things like equipment and software appears to be picking up, that the deterioration in the labor market is abating, and that economic activity overall is strengthening.

But when we say "strengthening," we have to put quotes around it, because we're still seeing the labor market in, you know, where we are losing lots of jobs. I mean, just this week, between Home Depot, Verizon, Wal-Mart, we're talking about thousands of jobs lost.


LISOVICZ: And, you know, when the economy created jobs for the first time in a couple of years, you know, we were talking about only 4,000. An economy that should be creating at least 100,000 a month.

You know, there is one interesting thing in this statement. You know, because we talk a lot about exit strategy, Ali, as you well know, the economy is not as sick as it once was, but it is still not good.

And so there is increasing talk, when is the Fed going to pull away this tremendous amount of medicine that has helped to prop it up? There was a dissenting vote on this for the first time we have seen in a long time. A dissenter on the vote here saying that he believed that the exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted.

So, some dissent within the Federal Reserve itself.

VELSHI: All right, Susan. Thanks very much for that.

Susan says the interest rate is unchanged, and that means that your prime rate, which is what a lot of your loans are based on, the prime rate is always three percentage points higher than the fed rate. So the prime rate is between 3 and 3.25 percent right now.

Let's go to Capitol Hill. Congressman Ron Paul joins us now.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Thank you.

VELSHI: We have been talking extensively this week at CNN -- first of all, we've been undergoing a stimulus project where we are going through the stimulus bill, 57,000 projects, and seeing where the money was spent and whether it has created jobs.

You haven't liked the stimulus bill from the beginning, from the first day it was even talked about. Let's look at it a year later.

What, in your opinion, has it done to the economy?

PAUL: Well, it's hurt the economy, because even if you argue, as the administration does, it saved some jobs, we don't know which jobs were lost or which jobs could have been created if the people were controlling the expenditures, if the capital was delivered by individuals rather than by the government. So, we could have had a lot of jobs created, but we don't know that.

For the government to take a lot of money out of the economy and try to stimulate the economy where it doesn't want stimulated, it's not a surprise that we are not having growth. So I think they are in a failed policy. And how long are they going to keep interest rates at zero percent before they think, well, maybe we're on the wrong track, maybe it's not working?

VELSHI: Well, what is the right track, Congressman? What would you do.


VELSHI: Right now, the White House is looking at perhaps a shift in direction, or at least communicating one.

What's the right track for them? PAUL: Well, I think the market should decide interest rates so we go back to saving and the government quit wasting money, spending, running up the deficits. Because if you had higher interest rates, we would start saving again and we would pay down our debt, and then people would make market decisions, and maybe they would invest when the prices of houses come down low enough and the market is liquidated. Then we'll go back to building houses and producing jobs again.

VELSHI: Congressman, but don't these low...

PAUL: But we don't need more debt, and right now, all we are doing is borrowing more money.

VELSHI: Fair enough. But let's talk about this.

The stimulus bill above $800 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office now. It was $787 billion, they added $75 billion. But, really, I've been looking at the government's intervention since the beginning of this crisis somewhere above $400 trillion.

And a lot of it is money that the Federal Reserve put into the housing agencies to keep mortgage rates low. And that's why we have five percent rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage.

Isn't that better for recovery than raising interest rates? Isn't it better that we've got low mortgage prices?

PAUL: Well, it delays the recovery because the liquidation of the bad debt isn't liquidated, is propped up. The people end up buying these securities and these derivatives of securities, and they're propping up a very bad system.

So, you want the prices of houses to come down faster and more dramatically. They should have done this a year ago. And now people are starting to buy these houses when they are so desperately cheap. And that is what you want.

But we do everything in Washington to prevent the correction, but when something is sick, you want to correct it. But governments can't do that because it doesn't appeal to politicians not to do anything. They have to do something, so they try to, you know, have a correction, or prevent the correction.

We want the market to correct, and as soon as the government gets out of the business of allocating credit and creating credit and money out of thin air, capital has to come from hard work and savings. The rest of this is nonsense. It has nothing to do with capital.

VELSHI: So, what do you want to hear from the president tonight, if you wanted him to go a little further in your direction? What would you want to hear from him?

PAUL: Well, next year, we would not just pretend we're freezing something a year from now, and we know that's not going to happen. But the country is not quite ready for free markets, and so it's not likely to happen.

But what should be said is we're cutting back on spending. We're going to get rid of a lot of programs. We're going to cut our militarism around the world by 50 percent and we're going to go back to free markets and individual liberties and property rights and rule of law, and let bankruptcies occur, and liquidate debt and get the correction over with.

Before the Great Depression, we used to allow corrections to occur, but since the Great Depression, we are compelled to re-inflate all the time, because we are destined to have the destruction of the dollar. That's my biggest concern.

So, I would say to Obama, don't perpetuate this idea that printing money is a solution. And they all say, oh, yes, you're right, Ron, you're right about this, but we'll do that later on.

But right now there's a crisis. But the crisis was brought on by too much spending, too much borrowing, and too much printing and too low of interest rates. That is exactly what we're doing.

You can't solve the problem by doing exactly the same thing. So I don't see the recovery coming very soon.

VELSHI: Congressman Paul, good to talk to you. Thank you very much for joining us today.

PAUL: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Congressman Ron Paul joining us from Capitol Hill.

Obviously, tonight we're going to be covering the State of the Union Address very, very closely with our top political team starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The best political team on television, every last one of them, will be involved in tonight's coverage.

Listen, we told you a little while ago about Apple's tablet that has been announced. Steve Jobs unveiled it today. It's called the iPad, about 10 inches big.

We actually know more about it now, and we're going to come back in just a minute and tell you how much it costs and what it can do.


VELSHI: All right. This is just in.

John King, our chief national correspondent, reporting that a source close to Elizabeth Edwards is saying that she and the former Democratic presidential candidate have separated on Wednesday. This, of course, after John Edwards admitted to fathering a child with Rielle Hunter.

He had denied that he had had an affair with her, and he said that he had had -- when he admitted the affair, he said it was over before she became pregnant. So, what we have now is a source close to Elizabeth Edwards saying that she and John Edwards have separated.


VELSHI: I want to go over to CNN's Errol Burnett. He is dealing with the new announcement from Steve Jobs of Apple about this new tablet. It's called the iPad. All I know is that it's about ten inches and a big screen. Errol knows everything else.

What have you got on this, Errol?

ERROL BARNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the most important detail has just come across, Ali, and that is the price of this device. It will run you as low as $500 for the smaller model. The larger model with more memory is $700. That news just coming into us.

Let me give you other details. Anyone interested in the device will know that you will have to wait to get it. It takes up to three months to get to you for the large 3G models and about full month for the non-3g models. The data plans the 250 megabytes per month will cost you $15 a month and unlimited data for $30 a month. AT&T will remain the provider, and they will allow the free use of Wi-Fi hotspots as well. No contracts and cancel any time.

But Ali, on this news, if you look at Apple's share prices, they have actually fallen some 4 percent -- but there are some specs to the device that make it stand out. Nothing groundbreaking, though.

VELSHI: Interesting. So it's not the -- look. It's always -- Apple's always on a steady plot ahead and head to do something bigger and better. But you are saying that people are disappointed, not as big of a deal as they thought it would be?

BARNETT: Well, look, what Apple does when they approaches this kind of event is they say and reveal absolutely nothing until the moment Steve Jobs takes the stage to build anticipation. The only noteworthy thing I would pull away from this is that they are releasing something called E-books. That essentially makes this iPad a direct competitor with all the other e-readers out there. Amazon's Kindle, for example.

VELSHI: Right.

BARNETT: You rewind to this Christmas. More e-books were sold through Amazon than physical books. So, Apple is wanting to capitalize on the seismic shift of the device -- this is not it -- and it can be in the landscape of portrait view which allows you the read newspapers and magazines. Also academic books as well, Ali.

So, Apple is hoping to hang on to its existing customer base, the folks who love iTunes, the folks who love Google maps and applications and then build on it with e-books and people who enjoy reading the newspapers and magazines on a device. So, this iPad -- seismic shift, we'll have to wait and see. But they kept the price below $1,000 which many analysts believed they would need to do to attract you and I or regular Joes to even think about purchasing this. VELSHI: And this is earlier adopter prices. As we saw with Kindle, they come down pretty quickly. If you get your hands on one of those, Errol, you come right to me.

BARNETT: I'll hang onto it for a short while, and then you will be the next person.

VELSHI: All right, buddy. Errol, good to see you. Errol Burnett at CNN International. And now we will go over to Josh Levs. He is staffing the Stimulus Desk until I'm off this desk and then I'll staff the night shift for him, but he's got some stuff for us. Josh, take it away.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ali, here is something that you have not heard anyone say at the Stimulus Desk so far this week, human robot interaction. What this kind of technology could do for all of us and how it got more than $1 million in your tax funding. Coming right up.


VELSHI: Well, you are not getting a Mercedes-Benz out of the stimulus money. We hope, but if anyone did buy one, the details would be somewhere in here. We would make a phone call, and we'd find out. But that is not what Josh found out. Josh Levs is staffing the Stimulus Desk. This is it. They're all working hard. What have you got?

LEVS: All of the binders represent the 57,000 projects we are looking into. One caught our eye about human robot interaction. Let's take some video here. I want you to take a look at it. While you look, I want to walk over to one of the producers, here, Emily Rust, who will explain what this is all about. You can see $1.277 million.

What is this about, Emily?

EMILY RUST, CNN PRODUCER: Well, they are looking at robots in potentially lifesaving situations. For example, search-and-rescue, hostage negotiations, health care. In these cases, you have people who are dependent on the robots, and what we are finding is that people react to them socially. And when they find that the robot is not communicating to them in a way that they're comfortable with, they may kind of shut down and maybe they could stop communicating with the robot or worst-case scenario, they could do the opposite of what the robot is telling them to do, which would be disastrous in these cases.

LEVS: So we got researchers at two universities Texas A&M and also at Stanford University, and what they are doing is this kind of study. And what we're seeing here is from the day after September 11, something simple used back then, and they are trying to advance the technology?

RUST: Yes, they are trying to find a way to make the robot more human-friendly and make the way it communicates a little more human, so when you have these subjects they will respond better. Even down to finding which voices are more soothing or making it play music to people or make it interactive to touch it and surf the Web, but it could potentially end up saving lives.

VELSHI: This came out of a mine rescue, I thought, right?

LEVS: Yes, the same technology there, and so far five jobs, right?

RUST: A minimum of five job, and they all say they are expecting more to be created.

LEVS: Really interesting. Actually, we have a computer that's up, and I want to look at this which is more on the Web about this. Ali, you can come here.

VELSHI: GR-140 we call this on the computer. He keeps saying, I'm new here. Let's take the GR-140, and I don't know what he is talking about.

LEVS: It is a Web site that's about a survivorbuddy.cse, and it shows some of the technology they are working on. And it is interesting and you can check it out there.

While we are on the computer, two things to show you. First, which is always interesting, but also taking a look at who is going to be in the first lady gallery tonight.

We have information on one of the guys who is going to be there. The White House sent this out today. This is a man named Trevor Jager, and he is saying that the stimulus is responsible for his PR firm getting a whole bunch of new clients over the last year. He is talking basically like a trickle-down recipient of that funding. His position is that because of all of the money out there, more people could afford the hire him. Interesting side note about this guy as we look at the picture about him; the White House sent out information about him, and in that official information that they sent out, they said that he and his partner are looking to adopt a baby. Interesting at a time where President Obama (INAUDIBLE) reaching out to the gay community as well.

So, throughout the day, we've been taking a look at who's going to be at the State of the Union. Tonight, just another example right there.

VELSHI: Very interesting, because the White House talks about direct and indirect jobs and induced jobs, and this is induced, because he is getting money because others have money from the stimulus.

LEVS: And they can afford the hire him for PR.

VELSHI: Thank you very much, Josh.

Let's take a look at top stories in Washington.

The Congressional Budget Office slashes or trimmed the cost -- well, let's call it slashing the cost of TARP, that is the Troubled Asset Relief Program. You may think of it as the bailout. That is not the stimulus bill.

From day one, we were looking at a price tag and you will remember this October 3rd, 2008, and passed in the House, $700 billion. Now, the Congressional Budget Office expects it to cost you, the taxpayer, only $100 billion. That is the money you won't get back. You will get most of it back, just $100 billion.

In Oklahoma, investigators want to find this car, because it is belonging to a man now charged with killing his estranged wife and kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter. This picture comes from a Wal- Mart visited by Lester and Tanya Hobbs on Saturday. Hours later, Tonya Hobbs was dead. The suspect and the victim's child have not been seen since.

And a source close to Elizabeth Edwards says that she and former North Carolina senator John Edwards have separated. Just last week, John Edwards admitted he fathered a child with a woman who was hired to shoot video of his presidential campaign in 2008. That admission preempted, but just barely, the publication of a tell-all book by another aide from the failed campaign.

All right, we're going to see the State of the Union tonight. You notice when you see the president on the State of the Union address, he never has a very good tie on.

But that is not the story with Ed Henry. When we come back, Ed Henry is going to talk to us about ties, tradition and trivia.


VELSHI: Ed Henry, we are going to talk about the State of the Union, and he is part of the, obviously, he is our senior White House correspondent, so he is big, big part of the coverage starting at 8:00 tonight. But he is always part of the coverage right here in the afternoon, and we are going to talk about ties, tradition and trivia. Let's start with that tie, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is not a bad one. It is red, and we have decided because you have been giving me a lot of grief in the "Henry Segment" about my neck tie. So, I decided to go paisley. A little bright. And we've got it from every angle. We've got Kalil, this is the traditional position you see right before the news conference. We've got a robo cam up there as well. We've got Brian over my shoulder; he is giving you a close-up. And behind my back, I have yet another robo cam to give you every angle on the Ed Henry tie.

In fact, we are going to institute a new thing on the segment called Tie Cam from the back which will zoom in directly. So if you have anything to talk about, either the State of the Union or the state of my necktie, you can do that

VELSHI: Well, there are a lot of patterns there, Ed. Anybody tell you not to mix the patterns and stripes and the colors? HENRY: Well, pick the pattern there is your slogan there, Velshi.

VELSHI: Pick the pattern. That's right. Exactly. Ed, let's talk about tradition with the State of the Union. There are actually pre-game rituals involved in watching the State of the Union address.

HENRY: Well, it is great. What goes on here at the White House, one of my favorite traditions, and obviously not something I like that much -- because all of the big-dog anchors come in to town from New York, some from Washington and have lunch with the president. And us mere correspondents get elbowed out of the way. They get to have off- the-record lunch with the president and gives them little tidbits about what he's thinking before the speech.

But it's sort of an odd tradition, because all the anchors come out and can't talk about it several hours until sort of at the broadcast later on. So, we decided instead of staking out the politicians, we decided to stake out the anchors today, and see who would be cooperative with fellow journalists about what happened at lunch. We got some surprising answers.


HENRY: Hey, two questions, Mr. Blitzer. Come on, tell me about the lunch?


HENRY: Mr. King, come on.

KING: We can't tell you about lunch, it's off of the record.

HENRY: It's off the record?

KING: Lunch was off the record.

HENRY: Can you at least talk about what was on the menu?

KING: Beautiful chicken. Wonderful pie, wonderful pie. The pie was good.

HENRY: The president's mood is good?

KING: That is off of the record too, Ed. You know how these work.

HENRY: OK. You have a new show coming out. Can you tell us about that?

KING: It's off of the record.

HENRY: Off the record?

(LAUGHTER) BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: The president is a very interesting person to talk to. And you know, people have asked me over the years, who is the person you would most like to interview. For me, it is whoever is president, because whatever he says is -- makes news and I always get a thrill out of coming over here.

HENRY: Well, that's great. Good to see you here. Take care, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: OK, thanks, Ed. Nice seeing you today.

HENRY: How are you doing?


HENRY: Any big news? Nothing to say?

WILLIAMS: Nothing for you right now.

HENRY: Come on, nothing?

WILLIAMS: No, our talks our full and productive.

HENRY: Productive? This sounds like a normal stakeout here at the White House.

WILLIAMS: And we're looking to a good conclusion, but I think to say anything at this point would prejudice what has been a good process of give and take on both sides.

HENRY: What did you have for lunch?

WILLIAMS: I can't common on anything...

HENRY: You can't comment?

WILLIAMS: ... we did or did not have or whether food was consumed.

I'm going to go spill all of it to Savannah Guthrie, because she is so much better looking than Ed Henry.



HENRY: All right, so I have you dogging me on the neckties, I've got Brian Williams of NBC dogging me about the fact that I'm not a good-looking guy. So I just can't win on this segment anymore, Ali.

VELSHI: Yes, but that was -- they were pushing out there. Bob Schieffer and Brian Williams, and of course, that's the kind of stuff you all have to deal with, answers like that often that don't tell you what you are looking for.

Let's talk about the State of the Union trivia. HENRY: Well, it is fun, who do you think had the shortest State of the Union ever? You want to venture a guess?


HENRY: George Washington, 833 words.

Who had the longest?

VELSHI: I don't know that either.

HENRY: Harry Truman, 1946, over 25,000 words. But what is interesting is that it was just written. So he did not subject the nation to every one of those more than 25,000 words.

VELSHI: Oh, so that's interesting. So, that is the rule, by the way, the State of the Union has to be submitted. So it does not even have to be a speech.

HENRY: Exactly. You know, it is interesting, when you go back, it was started with George Washington of course, but then Thomas Jefferson decided, look, I don't have to give it to Congress directly. He wrote it out and many presidents continued that until Woodrow Wilson. Then it went away again, it was written. FDR started it as a broadcast, then Harry Truman started drifting away. First primetime one was LBJ in 1965, and that's what we have now today. He was pushing civil rights legislation, now we've got a president pushing health care, jobs, bills, other things. It's one real chance with all the diffuse media, all the different things going on, to really grab the nation by the lapels and say, here's what's on my agenda.

VELSHI: Just don't grab one lapel more than the other, it makes your jacket crooked.

HENRY: Yes, lapels is something you would understand, I think.

VELSHI: First State of the Union that was broadcast on the Internet? First one that was sent out on the Internet?

HENRY: It was George W. Bush, I think it was 2002.

VELSHI: Ah, Bill Clinton, 1997.

HENRY: Really? I thought -- well, Katie Couric is here. I don't know if she'll come in and say hi or not, but she is one of the big dog anchors I told you about.

You were just here with Rahm?

KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I'm interviewing him right now. Wait -- are we on the air?

HENRY: Yes, we are right now.


I'm sorry, I hope I'm not -- we're on with Ali Velshi right now.

VELSHI: Hi, Katie.

HENRY: How was lunch? How was lunch?

COURIC: It was nice. It was very nice.

HENRY: Can you talk about it or is it off of the record?

COURIC: It is pretty much off the record. And ask your guy, he was there.

HENRY: I know. John King wouldn't tell me anything.

COURIC: John King? Really

HENRY: I got no luck.

COURIC: All right.

HENRY: All right, thanks. Appreciate it, Katie.

So Ali, there you have it. This is the kind of thing. It's sort of a funny scene, because you are in the briefing room, all of a sudden, Katie Couric walks through -- not something you see every day -- so she was kind enough to join us. We didn't mean to -- she seemed to take it well, Brian Williams had a good sense of humor as well. It is always kind of a wild, wild, wacky day here.

VELSHI: It's always something different with you. Ed Henry and "The Ed Henry Segment" follow him on Twitter @edhenrycnn, but follow me on Twitter too @alivelshi, because what happens is that he has more than I do, and I hear about this all of the time.

Ed, we'll catch you later on. We're going to be together for the rest of the day.

HENRY: See you later.

VELSHI: And he'll probably still be wearing that tie.

Jesse Jackson is going to join me in a couple minutes. We ran into each other the other day and we were talking about the situation in Haiti. Jesse Jackson thinks Haiti needs a bank that takes all the money that everybody's donating for reconstruction so that it can efficiently be distributed and Haiti can be rebuilt. I'm going to talk to him very specifically in just a minute.


VELSHI: Let's tally up the aid that has gone to Haiti. A little over $2 billion at this point -- $1.12 billion international aid pledges; funds received as of Tuesday $783 million; U.S. assistance as of Tuesday, $317 million.

Let's go to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, he is joining us from Los Angeles.

Reverend, you have a very specific idea as to what should happen with money that is going to Haiti so it can be most effectively deployed to rebuild that country. Give me your idea?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, PRESIDENT, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: You know, Ali, beyond the rescue and the relief is a long-term plan for reconstruction. That means targeting projects like roads and bridges, airports and seaports. That is going to require kind of international reconstruction -- relief and reconstruction bank. When you talked about the Marshall Plan, you had a bank, 50 to loans, 2 percent loans -- so there would be many remittances of aid, but to have a long-term plan for a $3 billion to $5 billion deal involves a bank with a plan for development that is transparent and internationally credible.

VELSHI: Any traction on this idea, Reverend Jackson? Has anybody gone up there and said, hey, we should do it this way?

JACKSON: No, but it needs -- and it has happened before. In other words, there is a stage now for a lot of remittances, I mean, $2 billion a year maybe go from Haitian-Americans back to families, that's a part of it. The kind of thing Wyclef is doing, that's a great thing. But now the foreign minister is saying -- Canada -- of a long-term plan to rebuild infrastructure. That's a bank. That's looking at projects that meet approval that is transparent.

I mean, lots of money involved in -- for example, leasing trucks to do removal of debris and hiring Haitians, I might add. That should be a Haitian and not Halliburton-type project. When you look at their need for infrastructure, those roads, those bridges, those sewers, that is a bank. And if the bank is credible enough and transparent enough, it will attract billions of dollars.

VELSHI: Who should run it?

JACKSON: Well, you'd have to have a combination, I think, of Haitians and the donors who make it up, because that is what gives it international transparent credibility. Because if there is any question about the credibility, once the emotional stage is over, you will get a few more donations, not much appropriation. You really want long-term appropriation from governments for that type of project and that is going to require an internationally credible board.

The heart must be Haitian and it must be sovereign Haitian, but it must be international, I think, to be credible and to attract the level of monies in the long term that they need. And also, it involves agriculture policy, it involves immigration policy, it involves a plan for relief and reconstruction.

VELSHI: Reverend, is there a will to make Haiti a better place than it was before the earthquake? The bottom line is Haiti was a forgotten country before the earthquake.

JACKSON: Well, I certainly hope so. That is why I say planning is involved. Our agricultural policy, for example, allowed rice and rice company to drop rice on Haiti, drive Haiti farmers out of business, and then raise the price of rice and have rice riots. It must change.

Right now, we receive Cubans and we reject Haitians. So that immigration policy, that piece of that type thing. But then you go to Haiti, even before the earthquake -- I was there last year -- there are open sewers. I mean, you know, a 7.0 hits San Francisco, 63 dead; 7.0 hits Haiti, 200,000 people dead. So the (INAUDIBLE) poverty not even the earthquake itself.

And so, to rebuild Haiti, to deal with the impact of hurricanes and earthquake force and poverty requires a commitment to -- even our U.S. Embassy there was not damaged, because it is structurally sound. But right now, I tell you that the houses are not structurally -- even the tents that are down there, if a rain comes soon and the wind blows, you're going to have a malaria issue, for example.

VELSHI: Thank you for the idea and thanks for joining us to talk about it. Good to see you again.

JACKSON: Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: Reverend Jesse Jackson joining us from Los Angeles.

Listen, when we come back, last I checked Apple shares were actually down on the news of the new release of its iPad. I have got an opinion on this that it is not just another gadget. I will be back to tell you about that in a minute.


VELSHI: "RICK'S LIST" is coming up in two minutes.

Rick, I ran into Jesse Jackson, Reverend Jesse Jackson, the night of the earthquake in New York and he was already on the case. He does not rest when it comes to coming up with ideas about things.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think of him?

VELSHI: I think he's got a lot of ideas. I think he really, really does think these things are important and he want to get people to think about ideas that they are not talking about.

SANCHEZ: You know what I think of Jesse Jackson? And this is one of the things that strikes me about the man which I didn't know about him, he is extremely transparent. The man is all but invisible. Once you get to know him or -- let me just put it this way, as a TV interviewer, a guy like myself or yourself, you just did an interview with him, within a half hour of interviewing him, he shoots you an e- mail to give you reaction on the interview what he thought and asks you if you want to have a conversation about something. It's just -- it's an intriguing way about a guy you would not think that would be that approachable.

VELSHI: Sometimes his reputation elsewhere belies that. Rick, we're going to be with you in just a couple minutes...

SANCHEZ: Geithner, Geithner, Geithner -- did you see him getting grilled?

VELSHI: I saw him. I watched the whole thing.

SANCHEZ: We got the thing -- well, I'm going to take you through this, it's what you and I have been talking about every day.

VELSHI: All right, we'll watch it. "RICK'S LIST" coming up.

SANCHEZ: I look forward to it.

VELSHI: Let's be clear, this is not about the latest "it" gadget. I told you about the iPad from Apple? This is about game changers -- past, present and potential. The world's just gotten an eyeful of Apple's iPad. Folks, this is something that's going to move the markets and already has, and it's going to move money out of people's pockets.

Beyond all that though, our enormous expectations for this thing -- think about the iPod, it's been around for eight years now, the music industry has been forced into an extreme makeover. The iPhone debuted in 2007, rivals have been chasing it, copying it ever since. The iPad, the publishing industry, bloggers, they have been buzzing for months about it. "It'll save the newspapers!" "It'll save magazines!" "It'll kill the Kindle!"

Well, whether the iPad is truly magical and revolutionary as Steve Jobs told us, we don't know that yet. What we do know is that Apple's rep as a game changer is well earned.

That's it for me. Here's "RICK'S LIST."