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Campbell Brown

CEO Pay Cut: Real Change or Politics?; Enough Swine Flu Vaccine For All?

Aired October 22, 2009 - 20:00   ET



CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we will answer.

Does the president's plan to cut CEO pay add up to real change, or will it be business as usual for Wall Street's fat cats?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It does offend our values when executives of big financial firms pay themselves huge bonuses, even as they continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat.

BROWN: Plus, will there be enough H1N1 flu vaccine for everyone who wants it? Tonight, the CDC says one in five children got the flu this month, most of them swine flu.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There ultimately is going to be a vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated.

BROWN: But will we have it in time?

And we're just under an hour from a CNN event, "Latino in America."

JOHN LEGUIZAMO, ACTOR: When I go to L.A., I feel like a little bit I'm in South Africa a little bit.

BROWN (on camera): Really? That extreme?

LEGUIZAMO: All the people that I hang out with who are successful are white, and all the people that are serving them are Latin.

BROWN: Tonight, Soledad O'Brien, John Leguizamo, and Sheila E. join me to answer your questions about the big issues facing Latinos and all Americans.


ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. Here's Campbell Brown.

Hi there, everybody. We're going to start tonight, as we always do, with the "Mash-Up." It is, of course, our look at all the stories making an impact right now, the moments you may have missed. We are watching it all, so you don't have to.

And lots of questions tonight about what caused a Northwest Airlines flight with 147 passengers to fly right past their destination yesterday, not by a little, but by 150 miles. Investigators are looking into whether the pilots were distracted or may have even fallen asleep.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This plane was supposed to start to descend. It never did. It never the power off. It kept flying, flew over Minneapolis and kept right on going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last radio contact with the plane was at 6:46 p.m. Central time -- 10 minutes later at 6:56 Denver controllers tried to hand off the pilot to controllers in Minneapolis. There was no response from the cockpit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An hour and 20 minutes after losing radio contact, controllers reestablished contact with the crew, which requested permission to turn around and land in Minneapolis. Upon landing at 9:00 p.m., the crew told the FBI and airport police they had been in a heated conversation about airline policy and lost situational awareness, according to the NTSB.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly, there were cops all -- the airport police all over the airplane, and they told us to sit back down. So, we all sat back down, wondered what was going on. They went into the cockpit, didn't say anything else, and then said, OK, everybody off the plane.


BROWN: Investigators hope the cockpit voice and flight data recorders will help them figure out what exactly happened.

New critical comments from President Obama about Wall Street pay. Today, he said Americans' values are offended when bailed-out companies write fat checks for their executives.


OBAMA: We don't begrudge anybody for doing well, we believe in success. But it does offend our values when executives of big financial firms -- firms that are struggling -- pay themselves huge bonuses even as they continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Executives at seven firms which received extraordinary government bailouts will on average see their overall compensation cut in half. And most will receive cash salaries of no more than $500,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ken Feinberg detailed his plan to cut cash salaries by 90 percent and to require most pay to be in long-term stock. KENNETH FEINBERG, SPECIAL MASTER FOR EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION: The importance of that bottom line is that there will be funds available in a profitable company to repay the United States taxpayer.


BROWN: Also today, new word that the Federal Reserve Bank could start reviewing pay at thousands of banks, including many that never even received a bailout. We are going to have much more on the government's pay cut plan coming up.

New frightening number on the H1N1 flu epidemic. Centers for Disease Control says about one in five U.S. kids has had the swine flu, one in five. And you can see the impact.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: On Monday of this week, 11 schools in five states were closed thanks to the swine flu. Yesterday, 198 schools in 15 states closed. More than 65,000 students stayed home yesterday.

KATIE COURIC, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Now turning to the flu and the impact it's having on children. Already, 86 have died.

CHARLES GIBSON, HOST, "WORLD NEWS": Our latest ABC News/"Washington Post" poll shows more than half of Americans are worried about getting the disease. But when it comes to taking the vaccine to prevent it, one in three people aren't confident it's safe. And what's more, nearly 40 percent say they will have not had their children vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixty percent of parents say they are intending to vaccinate their children against swine flu. For some age groups, that's more than double what occurs for seasonal flu.


BROWN: The Centers for Disease Control reports the swine flu is now in every state and widespread in 41 states.

The White House today fighting Dick Cheney again -- the former vice president last night criticizing President Obama's decision- making in Afghanistan. This afternoon, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs took the fight right back to Cheney.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What Dick Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public.

CHENEY: Having announced his Afghanistan strategy in March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision.

GIBBS: What the vice president is suggesting the president isn't acting on is what the previous administration didn't act on.

CHENEY: It's time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

GIBBS: It's a curious comment. I think it's pretty safe to say that the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan.


BROWN: The Afghanistan focus for President Obama today was not troops, but round two of the presidential election that is just over two weeks away. President Hamid Karzai faces ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, a runoff President Karzai didn't want. He talked today exclusively to CNN's Fareed Zakaria.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: You were quite critical of the Election Complaint Commissions report. You then changed your mind. What made you change your mind?

HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: There were some mistakes. There were some instances of fraud, but the election as a whole was clean and the result was clear.

I decided, for peace, for stability, and for the future of democracy in Afghanistan and for the future of institutional order in Afghanistan, to call for a runoff, and I find that in the interest of the Afghan people.


BROWN: More from President Karzai Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

And one more note on Afghanistan: A strong 6.2 earthquake hit today in the mountains northeast of Kabul. It was felt as far away as India -- no damage reported yet.

And now your Congress at work. You think show and tell is just for kindergartners. Oh, no. It's good preparation to be a U.S. senator. Take a look.


SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I have here a photograph of a lovely lady. Her name is Marianne Westerman (ph). She reached down and took out a bag of spinach from her refrigerator. She thought this was a good healthy food. She went straight to the hospital for six weeks.

She was diagnosed with E. coli. Americans lot of their peanut butter, but the salmonella outbreak at Peanut Corporation of America led to one of the largest product recalls in history.

Now, last summer -- this is a show and tell -- last summer, it was tomatoes. We remember that story, don't we? We were told initially tomatoes were responsible for a salmonella outbreak. It turned out it was just plain wrong. The real source of the salmonella were jalapeno peppers imported from Mexico.


BROWN: Where are the jalapenos? Your Congress at work there.

A group of top musicians wants to know if their songs were used to interrogate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. They want the government to declassify documents with the information. Now, you may not be a fan of their music, but would you call it torture to listen? You be the judge.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, turn it down, man. Turn that noise down.



BROWN: Yes, Barney and the theme from "Sesame Street" also on the list. That was the Gitmo top 40.

And Gitmo also the topic of tonight's "Punchline." This is courtesy of Jimmy Fallon.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": This is interesting. Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father" is the third most requested book by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, behind the "Harry Potter" books, and, of course, number one, "Tunnelling For Dummies."


FALLON: That's still a classic over there.



BROWN: And that is the "Mash-Up," everybody.

President Obama cracking down on Wall Street tonight, big pay cuts for CEOs that took your bailout money. It may be good politics, but is it good for the economy?

Plus, we're kicking off part two of our special CNN prime-time event, "Latino in America." Our special guests tonight, John Leguizamo, Daisy Fuentes, Sheila E. You can join the conversation online right now. Log on to (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Some Wall Street fat cats may have thought they would wake up today and find out those pay cuts were all a bad dream. Well, not so much. President Obama was beating the drum today for his pay czar's plan to slash executive pay at the nation's biggest bailed-out companies, including AIG, Citigroup, and Bank of America.


OBAMA: I have always believed that our system of free enterprise works best when it rewards hard work. This is America. We don't disparage wealth, we don't begrudge anybody for doing well, we believe in success. But it does offend our values when executives of big financial firms -- firms that are struggling -- pay themselves huge bonuses even as they continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat.


BROWN: But will the president's pay cuts add up to any real change?

We have got Charles Gasparino, on-air editor for CNBC, with us tonight, also author of the upcoming book "The Sellout," and Eamon Javers, Politico's financial correspondent, joining us as well from Washington.

Hey, guys.

Charlie, people are angry out there. You heard the president today, yesterday, too, sounding very tough. How much pressure is he under right now to crack down on these guys?

CHARLES GASPARINO, CNBC: Well, I mean, people are going crazy. IF you think about it, bonuses from Citigroup -- Citigroup was a basket case for two years. Then it needed a bailout, and they're paying people big bonuses. There's justifiable anger.

The only thing I will say is that this is somewhat self- defeating. Think about it. The shareholders of Citigroup, right, the biggest shareholder is the federal government. It's the taxpayer. The biggest shareholder of B-of-A, or one of the biggest shareholders, is the federal government, is the taxpayer.

When you start cutting bonuses or regulating these bonuses, the best people are going to leave these companies. They're going to go to other places. And it's going to hurt both of those companies.

BROWN: But that was going to be my question, because, on the one hand, it's clearly good politics or you might even argue essential politics. People are so angry right now, the White House had to do something. They felt they had to do something. But what is the economic impact of this?

(CROSSTALK) BROWN: Do you think it's bad?

GASPARINO: But it's not even that. And you can ask your other guest this. What is he trying to do with this? You're trying to get the banks not to take so much risk where they take so much risk that they blow up the world's economy.

BROWN: Right.

GASPARINO: I don't think this gets at it. If you look at the history of risk -- my book goes through this -- it's all about the government continuing to bail out firms. Every time they bail them out, they come back. There's been other bailouts, smaller, but others.

Every time they bail them out, they come back and they take more risk. I don't think this pay thing gets at that.

BROWN: So, Eamon, what do you think?


BLITZER: Because the rules only apply to seven companies, I guess.

JAVERS: Right. Right.

BROWN: And according to your reporting, the pay czar is actually helping that other companies choose to adjust their pay on their own, I mean, which sounds kind of crazy and naive.


JAVERS: Well, that was one of the things that Ken Feinberg said when he briefed a bunch of us today over at the Treasury Department on this plan. He said that he really hopes that this goes well beyond just these seven TARP banks and actually goes out into the wider world of corporate America and that people learn a lesson here and sort of follow his pay-slashing ways.

But I got to tell you, the corporate executives that I'm talking to just have enormous amounts of resistance to the idea of the government dictating pay or setting any kind of moral example out of Washington about how people ought to get paid and how much money they ought to make.


BROWN: But just to be clear, too, there are a million loopholes in this, too, right? Ken Lewis, the head of Bank of America, is still getting, like, this $70 million retirement package.

JAVERS: Yes. And, look, and a lot of these people when you look at the numbers that Treasury released today, some of these Citigroup executives are still going to be making $9 million a year when it's all added up. So, it's not like these guys are going to be in the poorhouse, even with a 50 percent or 60 percent pay cut.

GASPARINO: But what did Feinberg say was his goal here? That's what I -- is it just to beat up on these guys, which, they're kind of like an open sore right now to begin with? What is his point? Does he want to eliminate or reduce the amount of risk-taking they take, so they don't destroy the world's economy?


GASPARINO: Because if he -- if that is his goal -- by the way, that should be his goal -- this ain't going to do it.

JAVERS: He said his number-one goal today when he was talking to us was to get these banks is into shape where they can actually pay back this TARP money, and he -- he really acknowledged that there's a fundamental conflict in the statute that governs this pay czar job in the first place.


GASPARINO: That's ridiculous.


JAVERS: He said he is caught between the idea of getting these banks healthy enough to pay back money and also to lowering the salaries.


GASPARINO: But that's ridiculous.


BROWN: OK. You clearly don't think this is the solution. What is the solution?

GASPARINO: If he wants them to pay the TARP money back, if that's his goal, that's what he said today, then basically depriving good people of their bonuses, because there are producers, which means they will leave those firms, right, is making that goal harder to attain.

I'm just saying, I don't understand what they're trying to do, other than class warfare.


BROWN: What would you do? What should we be talking about right now?


GASPARINO: We should be talking about the fact that Goldman Sachs, who is not in that little group, by the way...


BROWN: Right. They paid their money back.

GASPARINO: But it goes beyond that. There is a massive subsidy given right now to every one of these firms.

Goldman Sachs is considered a commercial bank. Can you get a toaster, can you get an ATM card, can you open up a deposit account? You can't. But when they're considered a commercial bank, that means they can borrow in the open market at favorable rates, much more favorable than a plain old investment bank. And they can do these risky trades and make a lot of money.

What they should so is should stop subsidizing these guys' trading. By the way, too big to fail, because that's what they call it, throw that out, and I guarantee you there will be less risk- taking.

BROWN: Do you agree with that, Eamon?

JAVERS: Thank you. There's a real question about too big to fail here in Washington, and policy-makers in the Obama administration have said that what they're doing with this so-called resolution authority, this proposal that they have got to be able to wind down the banks if they get in trouble, really solves that too big to fail problem.

But there are a lot of critics like Charlie who say, you know what, that's not enough. You've got to break these things up Ma Bell style and just sort of go in and take Citigroup and make it into 10 mini-Citis. And, that way, if any one of those little banks fails, it doesn't impact the whole economy and affect all the rest of us.

BROWN: It's a long -- we're a long way, I think, from any moves in that direction.

Charlie Gasparino, good to see you. Appreciate you coming on.

GASPARINO: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: Eamon, as always.

Thanks for your time, guys.

JAVERS: Thank you.

BROWN: And we are less than an hour away from part two of our special CNN prime-time event "Latino in America." Tonight, I am talking with John Leguizamo, Daisy Fuentes, and Sheila E.

You can join the conversation at We're answering your questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Sheila E. and Daisy Fuentes join our all-star panel leading into "Latino in America" at the top of the hour.


BROWN: Tonight, CNN brings you the second part of "Latino in America." We have an all-star panel here to talk about the issues at stake. John Leguizamo, Sheila E., Daisy Fuentes are just some of our guests.

That's really after this break. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell that I'm Latina because I'm brown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of the way I act. Because of the way I dress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I have an accent. I haven't lost my accent, of course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I travel with my coffee maker. Whenever I go anywhere, I bring my (INAUDIBLE) and my coffee maker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way I dance, by my hair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of my family values.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm confident, I got style, and I got flavor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can tell I'm a Latino because the first thing I do when I meet someone is lean over and kiss them.



BROWN: Tonight, in little more than 30 minutes, CNN brings you part two of the groundbreaking documentary "Latino in America." We got a huge response from you last night. So, this evening, we are bringing back some familiar faces, and we're welcoming a few new ones to continue the conversation.

CNN special correspondent Soledad O'Brien, of course, is the host of "Latino in America."


BROWN: Typing away on our blog right now.

She's also co-author of a new companion book with the same name. Also with us, Univision news anchor Maria Elena Salinas, musician and producer Sheila E., TV personality, entrepreneur Daisy Fuentes joining us as well, and Rachel Campos-Duffy, who is the author of "Stay Home, Stay Happy," also with us.

Welcome to everybody.

We should mention John Leguizamo is going to be joining us shortly, along with Xavier Becerra, the congressman. So, we will have a crowd in a few moments.

Soledad, not always easy to define who is Latino. And here's what one viewer named Melody wrote in. She said: "I am a black American, and my husband is Cuban. We have three children. What are they considered to be? Are they Latinos? Are they Americans? Are they both?"

I mean, Melody wasn't the only one asking about this. Latino covers so many races. We're talking about so many countries here. What does it mean? How do you define it?

O'BRIEN: There's how I define it, and then maybe how other people define it.

But I never think of it as sort of being exclusive. If anything, Latinos, and certainly when we were doing our reporting, would say, oh, Soledad, I knew you were one of us. And, you know, my mom is black and Latina. My dad is white and Australia. He has roots in Ireland. My mother has relatives who are Italian.

I have an aunt who is Chinese in Cuba, so she only speaks Spanish. I think that she defines herself as Latina. And she's Chinese, and she only speaks Spanish, because I think Latina is this ethnicity. And so that allows her -- she's Chinese and she's also Cuban. She's Latina.

So, I don't think they're mutually exclusive. I think you can be all of those things. And I think when people try to figure out, well, am I Latino or I'm American, you are all of the above. They fit very comfortably actually in one package.

And you can be black and Latina and also be American very easily.

BROWN: Maria Elena, what does it mean to you? How do you define it?

MARIA ELENA SALINAS, UNIVISION ANCHOR: That's interesting that you should ask that, because my daughters -- well, I'm Mexican- American, and my daughter's father is Cuban-American.

And I always say my daughters are Cu-Mex, which means cute little Mexicans.


SALINAS: But I think that Soledad is perfectly right in what she's saying. Being Latino is being very proud, very proud of your cultural heritage.

And it's something that really defines Latinos. I think it's that pride. A lot of people think, well, why is it that these immigrants are coming to this country and not assimilating?

Well, for Latinos, assimilation doesn't necessarily mean leaving behind your culture and your language. Assimilation means adding on a new one. I grew up as a Latina, as some of these people that Soledad has portrayed on the special.

I grew up in a bicultural, bilingual environment in Los Angeles. And that's one of the things that my parents instilled in me, and that's one of the things that I also instill in my daughters. Be proud of who you are, regardless of the accent in your voice or the color of your skin or the texture of your hair.

BROWN: Rachel, what do you think?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY, PARENTDISH.COM: I agree. My father is Mexican-American. My mother is Spanish.

I think a lot of my Latina identity is tied up in my religion and Catholicism and all the traditions that go along with that. So, I think the social conservative values that we came -- that, you know, my parents came with to this country -- my mother is an immigrant -- my father was born here.

But that really identifies who I am. But it's interesting, because I'm married to an Irish-American man, and my kids look a lot like me, but live in rural Wisconsin and don't come in contact with a lot of Latinos. So it is an interesting question, and one that will be even more interesting for them to answer.

BROWN: Let me ask Daisy and Sheila E. Daisy, you start on this one, because we were talking with John Leguizamo a little bit about this last night about how you define yourself as Latino versus Hispanic. There is a distinction, an important distinction for a lot of people. Do you feel that way, Daisy?

DAISY FUENTES, TV PERSONALITY ENTREPRENEUR: I don't feel like there's a huge distinction. You know, and going back to the question that you just asked, I don't know. Sometimes I have a little bit of trouble trying to figure out, for example, when you're filling out a form at the airport and they ask for the ethnicity and they list black, Asian, Caucasian, and then Latino. And I always think, well, there are Latinos that are black. There are Latinos that are Asian. There are Latinos that are Caucasian. So I describe being Latino more of a culture, and I think we all come from so many different places, and we all come in so many different colors that for me that's tough to identify.

And we're so -- always so busy with putting everybody into a category, whether it's Latino or Hispanic. For me Hispanic also covers Europe, for example. My mom is from Spain, you know, so am I Hispanic or am I Latino? I was born in Cuba. My father is from Cuba. My mother is from Spain. To me it doesn't really matter. I know I am Latina. I know I am half Spanish, and I know I am as American as apple pie.

BROWN: Sheila, what do you think?

SHEILA E., MUSICIAN/PRODUCER: I actually agree with Daisy. I mean, it's -- there's -- to me there's no difference being Latino or Hispanic for me. My dad is Mexican and Indian. My mom is Creole from New Orleans. I don't speak French, and I don't speak Spanish. So it's been kind of challenging for me being now Hispanic or Latin or Latina now.

It is good to be Latin now, which is great. Before it wasn't great to be Latin, so I really don't think that there's a difference for me between being Hispanic and Latino. The other thing that's really strange because on my birth certificate it says that I'm white. I didn't have a choice. It was either black or white.

BROWN: It's so interesting. I want to bring in Congressman Xavier Becerra who just joined us. And, Congressman, we're talking about how you define Latino in this country right now and whether there is a distinction between Hispanic and Latino, whether certain people feel there should be. What's your take on all of this?

REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Campbell, I don't think it matters a whole lot these days. I agree with what some of your guests have said earlier. It's more a definition of opportunity, pride in your heritage, but still at the end of the day I think all of us would say we're very proud of the Americans. We just have a little twist to it. We come with particular food, maybe speaking another language as well, but all of us bring with us a heritage that makes us very proud to be able to share with other American.

BROWN: All right. Stand by, everybody. We've got a lot more to talk about. Politics, the economy, the economic power of Latinos in this country.

And be sure to join the live blog at Soledad, John and CNN producer Rose Arce (ph) are waiting for you there, right now blogging away. Later we're going to be answering some of your questions on-line right here tonight as well.

Again, as I mentioned, we're going to look at the economic power that comes with being "Latino in America" when we come back after the break.


BROWN: We are counting down to "Latino in America" at the top of the hour. Host Soledad O'Brien, our panel back with us again along with John Leguizamo who's joining us as well. Welcome back. You were here last night.


BROWN: He's on-line blogging also.


BROWN: We're trying to get the computer working.

John, I just want to follow-up with you, the conversation we're having with the other members of the panel a moment ago talking a little bit about image, what it means to be Latino. And you've got a lot to say, I know, about Hollywood's image of Latinos and what that means. Explain.

LEGUIZAMO: Well, I feel like a lot of the problems that we have I take responsibility and feel like our community should take responsibility for the amount of high school drop-outs and all the other ails that happen to Latin people. We need to be responsible for that. But I think part of it as I thought as a young man and when I visit high schools and go to prison or whatever, the lack of dreaming. And to me dreaming was seeing yourself on television and recognizing yourself and seeing your future like when you see Soledad's show and you see all these affirmations out, I'm a doctor, I'm a lawyer, I'm this, I'm almost moved to tears. I hold them back because I'm emotionally constipated, but that's something else. But I'm really moved by it.

BROWN: You don't think Hollywood gives enough of that in any form.

LEGUIZAMO: Not at all. I mean, they do work really hard to understand that the Latin market is huge. For "Ice Age," when the biggest animation movies of the world, the biggest demographic was Latin families. So they know how to market to Latin people to get us to come to the movies.

O'BRIEN: Right. And "Fast and Furious, also.

LEGUIZAMO: But they're not giving us our stories the way we deserve and our stories with us in it in a positive image.

O'BRIEN: It's kind of a crazy thing, Campbell, that in 2009 we're doing a story that we could have done in 1960, about some of the stereotypical roles. I mean, the idea that you're still doing a story about people playing the gardener and the maid in 2009.

LEGUIZAMO: If you look at "Mad Men," I love "Mad Men" but when I see that show I get a lot of anxiety because I go, we Latin people, we didn't exist in the 1960s. What happened to us?

BROWN: But there is an acknowledgment now, and I want to play a little clip that will demonstrate this, of the power, the economic power that Latinos do have. Take a look at this from the Super Bowl.


MUSIC: You're going to feel the rhythm in Miami tonight. Show me some Spanish, baby.


BROWN: So that's the ESPN Monday night football. But I mean, clearly now there is a recognition that this is a powerful force.

LEGUIZAMO: Huge market.

BROWN: So there's this dichotomy here. Maria, you're in the media. I mean, you understand that that at the same time you are seeing these stereotypes and, yet, there is a certain acknowledgment that Latinos and the economic power of Latinos can't be ignored.

MARIA ELENA SALINAS, CO-ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: Well, you know, that Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan are now part owners of the Miami Dolphins, and so are Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. And we understand there are other Latin artists that are also trying to become part owners of the Miami Dolphins.

And, you're right. This is what it shows. That Latinos have an incredible buying power. As a matter of fact, now it is about $1 trillion, and it's growing 50 percent faster than it is among non- Hispanics. So definitely marketers are beginning to see that. You see that in football and you see that in almost everything. And the way to get to Latinos, of course, is in Spanish.

I would say that the language -- that's definitely one thing that unites most of Hispanics. It's the language. Even though the majority, about 75 percent are bilingual, a lot of them identify with the language and also because of what they see in Spanish language media is something that they identify with.

This is the first time I can tell you with this "Latino in America" that I see myself portrayed and I see Latinos portrayed in a positive light where people can actually relate to what is happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time --

SALINAS: I think that the future is there. It's in the Latino --

O'BRIEN: When you talk about marketing -- I mean, when you're talking about this marketing power, even more important? The brand loyalty.

LEGUIZAMO: Right, right.

BROWN: Right.

O'BRIEN: So not only do Latinos have these huge dollars to spend, $1 trillion. She's not making up that figure.

BROWN: Right.

O'BRIEN: That is exactly right on. But loyal, loyal, loyal, who doesn't want that?

BROWN: I was struck, Daisy, by something that she also said, which is in the documentary, is really the first time she's seeing, you know, positive role models and positive images. Do you feel that way?

FUENTES: I do. You know, I started in this business about close to -- well, 20 years ago. Yes, more than 20 years ago now. So probably right around the time that John Leguizamo -- I remember John was starting in this business as well.

I remember. And I started trying to audition around that time, and I gave up. I mean, first of all, I hated the auditioning process, but I had a real problem going to auditions where they wanted a Latina, and then had a problem with me because I didn't look like I'm a Latina, and I just -- you know, and I just thought, really? You can't get past the highlights. For real?


So -- right? But I have seen, I have seen the changes. It's not anywhere near where I would like to see it, because the stereotypes in Hollywood still exist. But I think economically the respect is there. There is no way for it not --


LEGUIZAMO: I think Hollywood is so far behind. I mean, in the black community, when was the last female black lead on television? "Julia," in the 1960s, and that's the black community. We haven't even had a lead female in a TV series. I mean, it's so backward. I mean, look at where Sotomayor is.

BROWN: Right.

LEGUIZAMO: Look at all these great ladies and yourself are. I mean, why isn't that representation somewhat equal?

BROWN: We're going to talk about Sotomayor. I want to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll look at politics. You know, are politics and economics way ahead of where Hollywood and the images are?

Stay with us. A lot more when we come back.


BROWN: We are just about 15 minutes away from "Latino in America." Our panel back now to talk about Latino political power, how it's changing the landscape for all Americans, not just Latinos.

And, Congressman, let me go to you on this one. I know politically, Latinos, a key demographic group with the power to swing an election this past year. Latinos went for Barack Obama 2-1 over John McCain. Talk to me about how else Latinos are wielding political power.

BECERRA: Campbell, it's a growing force. Remember, we're a lot younger than most of the rest of the country is. We're also not all citizens yet, so you're going to see over the next several years a large growth in the number of Latinos that are voting.

We're already the fastest growing demographic in terms of voting than there is in the country. But what you're also going to see is a better combined use of our growing voting clout to get things done. We're still a small number within the Congress, of the 435 members in the House of Representatives. There are about 24 of us, but that's going to expand greatly as we continue forward.

BROWN: Rachel, though, Latinos, by no means a monolithic voting bloc. You're a conservative and for a while, do in part to the efforts of George W. Bush, a lot more Latinos were attracted to the Republican Party.

DUFFY: I think one of the frustrations for me as a very assimilated second-generation Hispanic is that when the issue of politics comes up, there's this assumption that we're all concerned almost exclusively with immigration and that's not my experience at all. The Hispanics I know are small business owners. They care about the same things and want the same things that their white neighbors want for their children.

And so, I think that, you know, there was a lot of hand wringing after the last election when people went for Barack Obama within the Republican Party. And I think that some of the answers they come up with again are about immigration. And I think when they stop talking to us or talking down to us or patronizing us and just treat us like Americans and talk about taxes, and let's talk about, you know, education and some of the things that we all have in common and the fears and concerns we have with the economy, that's the way to win back Hispanics. And that's the message I'm trying to give to, you know, Republican leaders when they talk to me and say how do we get back those Hispanics. Just speak to us like Americans. We're Americans, and we have the same concerns as everyone else.

BROWN: Sheila, how do you feel about that, when you think about what issues are of concern to you in the political universe.

SHEILA E.: Well, for me, really, I am really concerned about the children, about the kids. I have a foundation called Elevate Hope Foundation for foster kids, and we see in foster care there's a lot of Hispanics coming to these foster facilities, and the concern is that the parents aren't educated. We need to educate the kids, educate the parents.

There are people that work with us that are not able to read or write, and that is a huge concern. So I think the government helping us to stop cutting the programs and put their foot down and make a stand and make a difference and teach education. Stop taking away these programs for the kids.

BROWN: Maria?

SALINAS: Well, you know, it's interesting when you talk about political power because I've seen it. I've been working for Univision for 28 years, and I have seen it grow tremendously. When I started working, there were 14 million Hispanics in this country. Now, there are over 50 million Hispanics, and really now we see over 5,400 elected Hispanic officials in the country and over nine Hispanics voted in the last election. That was two million more than the previous election.

So Latinos are beginning to be more savvy as an electorate, more outgoing, more outspoken as an electorate. And more important than that is that politicians are beginning to realize that they cannot win an election without the Hispanic vote. That's why you saw the phenomenon, for example, in the last election of politicians speaking Spanish, giving speeches in Spanish, the debates, the famous debates that we had on Univision for both Democrats and Republicans. So I think that that shows the power of the Latino vote, how politicians are doing everything possible to reach the Hispanic voter and they're trying to reach them through Spanish language media.

BROWN: And a big concern for the Republican Party.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. And you covered the story. And we've covered the story as well.

There are people who are sort of on the fence and in some ways would very much like to agree with some of the values of either party and yet at the same time feel like maybe they're not being spoken to on other issues. And that, you know, with all that clout, a couple things can happen. You know, opportunity to change things if they can sort of leverage and mobilize the clout, but also some of the big problems we have and they've been mentioning just a moment ago, education.

You know, you would hope you can get people to realize that some of these problems can be solved. They're really financial problems. You have to put money into -- you can solve -- you can solve some problems. You can't throw money at. Education is one.

You can chuck a lot of money at it and actually make some big inroads. And education is a big issue for Latino kids, for African- American kids, so as there's clout in those areas, that's kind of something we've got to work on.

BROWN: All right. A lot more to talk about. We're going to take a quick break.

Stand by. We've got more time on the other side. "Latino in America" just minutes away. Next, we're going to be asking some of your questions. Log on to We'll be right back.


BROWN: We are live blogging our conversation about "Latino in America" at Hundreds of you joined the chat last night. So do want to bring our panel back right now and they answer some of your on-line questions.

And, John, let me throw this one at you. This came from a viewer named Monica, and she writes -- My question is why are people coming here from Mexico and other Latino countries? Are they ashamed of their own country? If so, why not try to change their own country?

LEGUIZAMO: Right, a lot of pride.

BROWN: I mean, I know, you all feel a lot of pride. Certainly not shame.

LEGUIZAMO: First of all, who discovered this country? I mean --


LEGUIZAMO: ... cowboys, customs (ph) Spanish. Rodeo is a Spanish word. Lasso (ph), all your cities, Florida means flowery city. California means tepid land. Arizona means dry land. We were here.

A lot of Mexican people had been here for hundreds of years. Not everybody is an immigrant. And what this country is built on immigration, no Latin people are coming here for opportunity, to improve themselves, and they feel this economy. And that's what helped us until the point when the recession happened. Latin people were fueling this whole economy, all different levels of it, and then there was the immigration of Latin people that was fuelling that.

So I did leave because of shame. We love our country. We love who we are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that's a huge misconception --

LEGUIZAMO: We love to be back there, but the opportunities weren't the same.


O'BRIEN: You know what, when I would go to border towns and interview people and say, you jump onto a moving train to try to make it through Mexico to get to the border. They'd say I have five children at home and they are starving. What do you suggest I do?

It's not a shame. It's an absolute drive. If you're going to -- if you're thirsty, you're going to try to find a watering hole. That's just a fact.

LEGUIZAMO: And when did the people do when they came to Ellis Island, it was the same need, the same drive, the pilgrims.

BROWN: Looking for opportunity.

LEGUIZAMO: It was the same drive. They came here to this country. It was owned by the Native Americans, and they came. I mean, that's what this whole country is founded and you can't understand it. You can't go back in your own history to understand and be sympathetic?

BROWN: Daisy, jump in. FUENTES: I just think that that's one of the huge misconceptions, and I do read that in blogs a lot, you know. Or are you not proud of your country?

Latinos and Hispanics are the most proud people you will ever meet of their nationality and of their culture. This country -- we all need to remember that it does live because of immigrants. It's full of immigrants, whether it's Irish, Italian, French, Latinos. Let's not try to pretend that it's just the Latinos, and if that's what you are thinking, then you don't really know what this country is all about.

BROWN: Sheila?

FUENTES: We need to really identify what it means to be American.

BROWN: Sheila?

SHEILA E.: Yes. I mean, I agree. I think that we are proud of who we are, and I think that the Hispanics who come in here for opportunity, this is the land of the free. The land of the free and opportunity. And we've seen many success stories here. People coming from not just Hispanic heritage, but also from other countries to come here to make better of themselves if they can't do it where they are.

But absolutely, I agree with Soledad. I mean, if you're thirsty, you're going to go get water.

BROWN: Right.

SHEILA E.: You know, you're going to do whatever you can to survive.

BROWN: Let's hold -- we're almost out of time. I just want to get Maria Elena to address this. And this is one other question we got that really sparked a nerve. We saw this over and over again. It's the issue of Spanish language.

Will wrote, "We are an English speaking nation that created an economy and way of life which you enjoy, therefore, you should respect us and learn English."

What do you think?

SALINAS: They do learn English but assimilation, like I said, before does not mean leaving behind your language and your culture. Besides, Spanish was the first language spoken in this country since 1513, and St. Augustine was the first settlement, the first city in this country founded by Hispanics. So the roots of this country are Hispanic roots. That's the first thing that we need to know.

BECERRA: Campbell, if I could jump in.

SALINAS: The Spanish language enriches this country.

BROWN: Yes. Go ahead, Congressman.

BECERRA: Campbell, my parents are immigrants. My father got to about the sixth grade. My mother came from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico where she married my father at the age of 18. They spoke nothing but Spanish.

Today, I'm having trouble getting my girls to remember how to speak Spanish, and so within a generation or two you see the transition very quickly. I don't think anyone should fear people wanting to know only a different language. The first thing you see when you go to a kindergarten playground is that that young child who doesn't speak English is trying to do everything possible, yearning to be able to associate with the other kids in the playground. They want to learn English, and they will.

BROWN: We got to go. So much more --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a free country. We should be able to speak any language that we want.

BROWN: Absolutely. So much more to explore here. My thanks to all of you for your time tonight, and certainly Soledad who has put this amazing documentary together.


O'BRIEN: Thank you.

BROWN: Bravo.

"Latino in America" less than five minutes away. Log on right now,


BROWN: That's it. Thanks to the panel.

"LATINO IN AMERICA" starts right now.