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Piers Morgan Live
Sandusky on Trial; Michael Reagan Recounts Own Abuse; Mark Shriver on Father's Legacy; Interview with Eric Fehrnstrom; Interview with Stephanie Cutter
Aired June 14, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, shocking stories from victim after victim, all saying Jerry Sandusky sexually abused them. The latest on the case that's ripping Penn State apart. Also a man who says listening to the testimony in this case brings back bitter memories of his own childhood abuse. Michael Reagan tells his story.
Plus money talks. Obama versus Romney. Dueling candidates in a showdown over the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama is on the other side of the state delivering a speech on the economy. Talk is cheap. Action speaks very loud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The tough questions to the Romney and the Obama campaign.
And a good man. His father is part of a Kennedy dynasty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK SHRIVER, AUTHOR, "A GOOD MAN": He called us the lucky seven, five kids, my mom and him were the lucky seven.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Now Mark Shriver remembers the man who fought for peace and justice and his life growing up in a legendary family.
Plus, "Only in America," a slice of heaven or hell. The pizza vending machine.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. Our big story tonight is, of course, the stunning revelations out of the trial of Jerry Sandusky. The former Penn State defensive coordinator is accused of sexually abusing at least 10 boys over the span of 15 years. And today, one of those boys, alleged victim number 6, told his harrowing story. A story that triggered a police investigation.
He testified he told his mother about an incident when he was 11 years old that Sandusky showered with him but he said he only told her bits and pieces. Not about everything that happened. His mother called police.
Howard Janet is the attorney for the now young man that is victim number 6.
Mr. Janet, it was very difficult to listen to, this testimony, as so much of it has been this week. I suppose what was striking about it was that despite the abuse that your client suffered, he said he stayed in touch with Sandusky over the years. Sent him holiday greetings. Saying, you're great, you're awesome, and so on.
Why would he have done that? How do you explain that with a jury sitting there, maybe quizzical about why your client would do that?
HOWARD JANET, ATTORNEY FOR ALLEGED VICTIM #6: Well, Piers, let me say this. If the jurors are hearing not only my client but the other young men who were abused as children testify as well, and that story is pretty uniformed as between them. And there's a reason behind that. Because these kids, now young men, to the extent they're able to do it, create a bit of a Chinese wall in their mind.
They bury these events that were so painful to them deep in their subconscious. And they try and move on beyond that. So there's a Chinese wall that's created. And in reality, when you're dealing with someone who is -- as Sandusky is being portrayed to be, a serial child abuser, you're talking about somebody who is successful at it because they're successful at manipulating people.
They're not only successful at manipulating the children, they were successful at manipulating the parents who allowed continuing contact to take place.
MORGAN: And there is a growing pattern that's been emerging day by day, very similar stories, very similar grooming process. Classic, many would say, pedophile behavior. I thought probably the most significant moment today came when the police investigated, testified, that he heard Sandusky tell your client's mother, and I want to quote this directly, "I wish I could ask forgiveness. I know I can't get it from you. I wish I were dead." And he said he felt charges should have been filed against him at the time.
Why were no charges filed after such an astonishing statement to a mother of a victim? Why do you think nothing happened?
JANET: Well, it's the $64,000 question. And when one looks at the circumstances that were known to the police and the police themselves who did the on-the-ground investigations concluded that charges should have been filed and they weren't, the question certainly is why weren't they. Were they not pursued because of who the -- who the perpetrator was, because it was Jerry Sandusky? Were they not pursued because Penn State had some influence in connection with that?
I don't know that we're ever going to know the answer to that. Because the prosecutor who made the official decision apparently no longer is on this earth for us to question about that. So, frankly, even though that was the official discussion that was made, I'm far from convinced that that's what he really believed was the right thing in his heart. And you know, you get some sense about the legitimacy of decisions when you look at the circumstances.
So they decided not only not to prosecute, Piers, they decided to ignore other information that essentially cried out for further investigation. Sandusky specifically admitted when questioned by the officer about his behavior that he had showered with other children before. And now he's expressing remorse for having doing that -- done that. Recognizing his wrong. Saying, I wish I were dead. Yet he acknowledged he's done it with other children and they're not conducting a further investigation to find out some of the details about that? That's another compelling question.
MORGAN: Yes, as the father of three boys myself, when I read some of the transcript of your client's evidence, particularly this line, it really got to me this. Made me very angry. "I didn't want to get him into trouble. I still wanted to hang out with him and go to the games. He told me he had a computer. He'd invite me over. I could sit on his lap and play with the computer. I still wanted to do that."
I mean this is just sickening grooming at its most cynical and precise, isn't it? This is somebody who knows exactly what he's doing, grooming these young boys for sexual abuse.
JANET: Well, what's also clear is that this young man not only talked to police right after this incident, he spoke to a psychologist. And he told the psychologist basically the same thing that he told to the jury here today. Basically the same thing that he said before the grand jury, about what transpired in the shower and the activity that happened on the drive over. And it's -- and it's just amazing that an opportunity was lost here.
And this psychologist who interviewed this young man reached the conclusion back at that time and generated a report to this effect that in her opinion, based on the information she had, Jerry Sandusky exhibited the conduct that is consistent with what you would expect of a pedophile.
MORGAN: I have to obviously say --
JANET: Yet again --
JANET: Compelling evidence and no evidence.
MORGAN: Yes, I have to say Jerry Sandusky remains innocent until proven guilty, obviously. And -- but the -- the evidence is certainly mounting up in a pretty grotesque manner.
For now, Howard Janet, thank you very much for joining me.
JANET: You're very welcome.
MORGAN: And now for more of my big stories, Alan Dershowitz, one of the country's top criminal defense attorneys, and Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist.
Let me start with you, Janet Taylor, because I could see you reacting to what you were hearing there. What is your assessment of what's been going on this week in court?
DR. JANET TAYLOR, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, you know, I'm so thankful that these survivors came forward because maybe we can put an end to the notion that, A, boys don't get sexually abused, or the fact that we can't get enough evidence to get what I think is frankly a monster who has groomed, who used his power of authority to take advantage of these victims -- survivors and survivors and their families.
So I think we're hearing the stories we need to, they're horrible, that maybe we will listen to our children, notice what's going on with them and bring people like this to justice.
MORGAN: Alan Dershowitz, one of the bizarre aspects of this is that the state that is putting this on is the only state in America that doesn't allow expert testimony, which I just find absolutely baffling. Why would they not allow it? And what difference does that make to a jury's ability to comprehend perhaps some of what is going on and what they're hearing?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is going to sound strange but I think the best gift the prosecution has is that they can't put on expert testimony. Juries are very skeptical of expert testimony in cases like this. They think of concepts like grooming and looking at consistent patterns and trying to figure out whether a person is guilty because he fits a diagnostic category.
They're very suspicious of that. And the prosecution doesn't need that in this case. The prosecution has a triangular case. They have the eyewitnesses who seem credible. They seem to have all done well under cross examination. They have people who are corroborating that. They have a kind of admission almost by the defendant. "I wish I were dead." They don't need an expert to come in kind of insult them and tell them, oh, by the way, if you don't understand this, let me explain to you, this is the way pedophiles operate.
They're much better off in a case like this making it factual and specific and not relying on expert testimony, which is often looked at suspiciously.
MORGAN: And I think if you're in that jury, you're hearing day by day, ever worsening accounts. I mean, today, victim number 9 gave probably the most serious, I thought, account of really serious sexual attacks that he was receiving from Sandusky.
DERSHOWITZ: Right. Well --
MORGAN: This goes way beyond showering with boys.
DERSHOWITZ: No question about that. And I'm frankly very glad I'm not the defense attorney in this case. The defense attorneys are going to be spending a very difficult weekend trying to decide which is the most difficult decision a defense attorney ever faces. Do you put on a defense? Do you put the defendant on?
I think the only conceivable defense that could work in a case like this would be not to put the defendant on but to try to get external evidence showing that these young men, these alleged victims, actually got together, talked, compared notes, either themselves or through lawyers, and that what appears to be a pattern, the blowing on the stomach, the showers, all results from a conspiracy among these people or their lawyers to make a strong case.
Now I don't for a moment believe that. But that would be the only kind of defense that could work. Putting this defendant on the witness stand after the letters he's written, after what he said to Bob Costas, after what he said to this woman, I just don't think there's any percentage in doing that.
MORGAN: No, I totally agree with you.
Janet Taylor, let's talk about these boys. They're now all adult men obviously. You've experienced a lot of this over the years. What kind of trauma will they still be suffering? And how traumatic is it to come to a courtroom and relive the abuse that maybe in some cases they've hidden from family and friends?
TAYLOR: Well, unfortunately, when you have been abused the way they were abused, not just abused physically but also emotionally, and abuse of trust, every trauma can be a layer. So on the one hand, telling the story can help because they're getting it out and hopefully they can see the defendant brought to justice. But also, it is another trauma. Listening. There are victims of sexual abuse who are listening to this trial right now who are reliving and also experiencing trauma. So trauma can be real and sustained.
MORGAN: I can rarely remember this volume of witnesses, victims, giving such coherent, compelling, emotional and apparently credible testimony.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, let me tell you that there have been such cases and they've turned out very bad. The case in California, the McMartin case, where the kids gave consistent testimony and it turned out it was all fake. It was all made up. And it was all the fault of experts who came in and kind of fed them the information.
There have been another one, the Amaral (ph) case in Massachusetts. There have been case after case where young people have been brainwashed into giving a totally false testimony about what appeared to be horrendous, monstrous events. I'm not suggesting this happened here.
MORGAN: Let me bring in Dr. Janet there --
TAYLOR: But, Mr. Dershowitz, all due respect there are a number of victims who never come forward at all. And I think we have to be really careful to say just because we come forward and just because there have been cases where maybe it has been fabricated, people, individuals, adults and kids still do not speak enough about abuse and do not bring their abusers to trial.
MORGAN: And also, I mean, Alan, this finally --
DERSHOWITZ: I completely agree.
MORGAN: I mean, if I could just say that finally --
MORGAN: -- the crucial thing here, surely, I think, is that we have adult witnesses, too, who saw what was going on to a certain degree.
MORGAN: And I think that gives it the real edge of credibility that if you were prosecuting this, you'd be after.
DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely. You have objective witnesses who have no stake in this, who are not advocates for young children. A guy who walks into a shower. You know, he loves Sandusky and he sees this going on. How do you contradict that kind of testimony? This seems like a slam dunk for the prosecution. But you never know, with juries, you'd never know.
MORGAN: No, you know -- you never know.
Alan Dershowitz, Dr. Janet Taylor, thank you both very much.
The Sandusky case is ripping Penn State apart and spelled the end of the career of one of the greatest coaches in college sporting history. Joe Paterno. Tomorrow, my interview with the man who knew him well, the man they called Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach of the Duke men's basketball team.
Listen to what he says about Joe Paterno.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, DUKE MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM COACH: It's a difficult situation to encounter but you had somebody who's given six decades of service to the university and done such an incredible job. Somehow you have to let -- something has to play out and respect the fact that you've gone through all these experiences for six decades. It doesn't just go out the window. You know, right at the end. I thought it was a real mistake by Penn State's leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: More from a quite revealing interview with Coach K, not just on that but also about his forthcoming Olympics where he's hoping to take the American All-Stars to gold medal victory. You can hear more about tomorrow night.
And coming up, a man who has strong feelings about the Sandusky trial. Michael Reagan. He was a victim of sexual abuse when he was a child of daycare. We'll hear from him next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAVA ARRINGTON, FORMER PENN STATE FOOTBALL PLAYER: I'm just continuously going through my mind, like, was there something I could have done, like, is there something that I missed? Like, dang, I knew the kid was upset but I'm just -- he's a part of Second Mile. Second Mile is troubled kids. So I'm just thinking the kid is troubled and that's why he's here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was Lavar Arrington who played at Penn State with Joe Paterno from 1997 to 1999. He saw the boy we know as victim number 4 at Jerry Sandusky's Second Mile charity.
And now more on our big story is Michael Reagan, a man who knows all too well what it's like to be a victim of a child sexual attack. He was abused by an official at his daycare as a child. He's also of course the son of former president, Ronald Reagan.
Michael, I'm sure you've been listening to this testimony all week in the Sandusky case with a very heavy heart, given what happened to you. What do you think these boys who are now men have been going through to have to relive in public what they went through?
MICHAEL REAGAN, WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AS A CHILD: Let me tell you, Piers, I don't think there's a child out there who hasn't been sexually abused and isn't right now reliving what these young men are, in fact, testifying, too, and how they're having to relive it as I talk to you tonight.
I just have a knot in my stomach because these stories are so familiar to those of us who in fact have lived these stories with these predators that are out there. And you and I have talked about this before, you know, off-air, the fact that, you know, for a year of my life when I was 8 years old I was sexually abused by a day camp counselor. But this is a man that ultimately took me up to the Santa Monica Mountains, had me take my clothes off, took photographs of me, and had me develop the photographs and said, wouldn't your mother like to have a copy?
My life ended that day. Absolutely ended. I didn't tell my father I loved him until 1991 is the first time I told my father I, in fact, loved him. I didn't tell my wife, my mother, my father, my sister, until 1987 when I wrote my first book. And you never forget these things. This is something you just learned to put in a compartment of your life. But it comes out every once in a while. Because it takes everything away from you when an adult does this to you as a child.
MORGAN: Do you think it's conceivable that Dottie Sandusky, Jerry's wife, knew nothing about any of this?
REAGAN: No, I think -- I think she knew. I think she knew what was going on downstairs but she didn't want to believe what she knew going on downstairs.
REAGAN: Too many -- too many wives are protecting too many husbands in the world that we live in today. And, you know, just to give you -- this is going to scare the hell out of you, Piers, but this is absolutely true. A predator, a sexual abuser of children, will abuse in their lifetimes an average of 117 children and 60 percent of those children will go on to abuse themselves.
When my abuser (INAUDIBLE) died seven years ago, I got a letter from his sister-in-law who'd been in contact with me over the years. And she said, when Don died, he was as evil the day he died as the day he sexually abused you. The days he sexually abused you. And you can finally rest assured, Michael, those photographs have been destroyed.
Those photographs were taken, Piers, in 1953. I have never forgotten those photographs, ever. They weren't destroyed until seven years ago. And I lived with that while my dad ran for president of the United States of America.
MORGAN: Yes, it's -- it's obvious from the way that you're reacting even now, to me, that what these boys, who are now men, who were giving evidence about what happened to them, the scars of what went on at the hands of Jerry Sandusky are going to be very deep, very painful and possibly life scarring.
REAGAN: They are. Thank God for my wife, (INAUDIBLE), who taught me truly how to love again. Because I didn't know how to love. Until she came to my life in 1973. But I still didn't even tell her until 1987. And I didn't tell my father until the occasion of my daughter Ashley's 4th birthday at the ranch in 1987.
MORGAN: How did he react?
REAGAN: My dad, I was literally -- everything out of my body was coming up on his boots. And my dad, my dad said, where is -- he actually said, Will, where is he, I'll kick his butt. And these people, as they get older, don't get better. People trust them even more. Go see grandpa. Go see granddad. And children are put absolutely in harm's way.
And these people, you know, they're predators after children who are looking for -- to be accepted. Remember, I came from a divorced family. My abuser taught me how to throw a football. Taught me how to throw a baseball. Taught me how to do trampoline. Taught me how to yo-yo. Taught me how to do those things so I can impress my father and make me feel good about myself. So he endeared himself to me. And then from that point, it just went absolutely the nth degree. But that night, that night that he took me to his apartment and took a piece of paper and put a pair of tongs and moved my hand from one piece -- from one pan to a second pan to a third pan.
And what came up was a naked picture of me, and he said, wouldn't your mother like to have a copy? I walked away from God, I walked away from everybody. And I was so unsure of my own sexuality. When I was 16 years of age and not sure what people would see me as heterosexual, homosexual, I would steal money from my father's wallet and go to downtown L.A. and buy prostitutes on Friday and Saturday night, because I had to prove to myself that I was heterosexual, and I was a man.
I did not know and I was afraid to ask.
MORGAN: Well, Michael, it takes astonishing courage to be as open about this as you've been. I know you've spoken about this before but it's fascinating to me and very moving that you still get so emotional reliving this. And it just shows me what these victims of Jerry Sandusky have been going through and how traumatic it must be for them to have to take the stand and give evidence.
But I really appreciate you being so candid today. You've given a really intriguing insight, I think, into the mindset of a victim in this sort of case.
REAGAN: May I just say something, if anybody out there is going through or lived through what I went through and these kids went through and so many do, 1-800-4-A-CHILD. That's Child Help, 1-800-4- A-CHILD. Call, get help.
MORGAN: Michael, thank you very much indeed.
REAGAN: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up, he was a member of the Kennedy clan and a man who founded the Peace Corps and you remember his dad. Mark Shriver pays tribute to his famous father, Sargent Shriver.
MORGAN: Sargent Shriver was the ultimate public servant. A true Washington insider, he was part of a Kennedy clan, was American royalty. His son Mark is now giving us a rare and very candid look in his father's life in politics in his new book, "A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver."
Mark joins me now.
SHRIVER: Thank you for having me.
MORGAN: Before we get to this, you do a lot work as the U.S. senior vice president at Save the Children. And we've just been hearing Michael Reagan, obviously, son of a president, talking in really graphic, harrowing terms about the abuse he suffered.
What do you think of the whole Sandusky case?
SHRIVER: Well, I know, you know, having -- before I went to Save the Children, I started a program for juvenile delinquency kids in Baltimore. See, the first rule of any work with kids is if you suspect any inclination that there's abuse, you've got to go right to the cops. It's like the cardinal rule. And if you have any sense of it you've got to report it to the police immediately.
MORGAN: Let's turn to your father who was a remarkable man.
MORGAN: I didn't know how remarkable. You know, not my royal family. We have a -- we have royal family. And you are the nearest thing to it in America. The Kennedy clan. I find it really a gripping read. He is in many ways was a national hero in his own lifetime. Why did you write the book? What was the purpose?
SHRIVER: You know, after he died, I essentially didn't know what to do. And a lot of friends told me that he was a good man. I thought that was just something nice that people said. And I stepped back, my brother said, you ought to write your feelings down. And that's exactly what I did. I try to figure out how he could be happily married for 56 years, raise five kids and all love them, and get an understanding of what made him so joyful.
So I started writing. And that's exactly what this is. It's a son trying to understand how his father ticked. What made him so happy. What gave him so much energy. What made him so successful. And I understand or came to the realization that he was a good man. And it's different than being a great man. There are a lot of great people --
MORGAN: Yes, I agree.
SHRIVER: -- but when the lights turned off, they're not good to the people behind the cameras, they're not good to the people at the restaurant. But Dad was consistent on that.
MORGAN: I was struck by, if you look at his check list of achievements, it's extraordinary, a Washington insider for decades, candidate for president and vice president, founding director of the Peace Corps, served on a Navy submarine in World War II, U.S. ambassador to France, so on and so on.
But I was more struck by a letter, hand written letter that he sent you on graduation day, which I'm going to read. It said, "Mark, congratulations. Always remember number uno, that you are a unique, infinitely valuable person. Your mother and I love you. So you your brothers and sisters and friends. But our love and interest put together cannot compare with the passionate interest that love and love that God himself showers upon you. You are his. He wants you. And he will make you the perfect man you want to be. Love, daddy."
And the reason that it was so powerful is your father was a very, very staunch Catholic. He went to daily mass, I think, right until he died. Clearly believed that his love of God was the underpinning of his entire life.
SHRIVER: That's exactly right. It was a belief, though, in an inclusive God. It was not a God that put people in boxes or in corners. It was a God that reached out to Jews and Protestants and Muslims and Catholics to do Our Father's business. That's what he called it. He was interested in trying to eradicate poverty in this country and abroad, and helping my mother spread special interests all around the world.
I stepped back. I had to figure out what made the guy tick. He wrote me those letters almost every day of my life.
MORGAN: Did he really?
SHRIVER: Yes, he did. He slipped them under the door. When I was in college, he would mail them. When I got married, he mailed a couple every day.
MORGAN: Really? Wow.
SHRIVER: He was a voracious reader. And trying to read those letters and go back and understand what they said, read some of his speeches, and understand how he dealt with problems like when I had problems as a kid growing up. So many families deal with issues like our family did. We're no different. We have a little more publicity maybe. But we deal with issues day in, day out.
MORGAN: Oddly, your father seems to have escaped a lot of the fabled Kennedy curse, in the sense that you look at his life and actually it was a very happy, successful and fulfilling life. I think -- but he put a lot of it down to the love of a great woman. He felt he was lucky to have found your mother.
SHRIVER: He always said that -- he called us the lucky seven. The five kids, my mom and him were the lucky seven. And he really -- we were blessed. There was no question about it. But to figure out how a guy did that and maintained a happy marriage for 56 years, raised all those kids, did all the international work you talked about, is I think one of the joys and one of the mysteries I tried to figure out in this book.
There's so much you can learn from your parents even after they're dead. I learned every day from my dad. I read the letters that he wrote that I put in a file. And I look at them and I read them. They mean something different to me at 48 than they did when I was 18. They mean the power of unconditional love that he gave us all. I'm hoping that the messages in the book resonate with people that are struggling to balance family and friends and faith and commitment to their work.
MORGAN: What would he have made of the extreme partisan nature of modern politics, the fact that Washington is a complete basket case? They all hate each other. They can't get anything done. They don't work together. What would he have made of that?
SHRIVER: I think, you know, political debates, campaigns are tough. They ought to have good, hard discussions about where the country's going to go. The history of America shows that, George Washington right on through until today. I think the difference is everybody who were leaders in the past I think really did care about the country and making compromises in order to move the country forward. It wasn't only about how I'm doing today as compared to four years ago. I think that's what made him special. I think that's what made him so successful.
MORGAN: Couldn't agree more. Well, it's Father's Day on Sunday. I can't think of a better book for people to read than "A Good Man, Rediscovering my Father, Sargent Shriver." He was a great hero. It was a compelling read. I wish you all the very best with it. Thanks for coming in.
SHRIVER: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
MORGAN: Next, the battle for the White House brings Obama and Romney to Ohio. I'll talk to top advisers from both camps coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama is on the other side of the state. And he's going to be delivering a speech on the economy. He's doing that because he hasn't delivered a recovery for the economy. And he's going to be a person of eloquence as he describes his plans for making the economy better. But don't forget, he's been president for 3.5 years. And talk is cheap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tough talk from Mitt Romney today in Ohio. Both he and President Obama were in the battleground state today pushing their plans for the economy and taking shots at one another. It's America's choice 2012. With me now is Eric Fehrnstrom, the senior adviser to Governor Romney.
Eric, tough talk today. Both of the challenges in the same state. Clearly Ohio is going to be a key battleground in this election. What do you think is now the dividing line between Governor Romney and President Obama?
ERIC FEHRNSTROM, SENIOR ADVISOR TO ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I thought their contrasting speeches today were very revealing. Take a look at the president's speech, Piers. Imagine if 3.5 years after you were hired for a job, your employer said he wasn't satisfied with your work and your response was to blame it on the person who held the job before you.
Not only would you not keep that job, you'd probably be laughed out of the building. And the president's speech today was very long on excuses, but short on action. In fact, he didn't bring forward any new ideas or proposals to deal with the jobs crisis facing this country.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, laid out a very specific series of steps that he would take to get this economy back on the right track, from repealing Obamacare, to opening up federal lands to energy development, to constructing the Keystone Pipeline, to confronting China over its unfair trade practices. These are the types of hard and necessary decisions that have to be made in order to create jobs and get this economy moving again.
MORGAN: Is it unthinkable that Mitt Romney, if he was president, would raise taxes at all? Is it completely off the table that he would do that?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think he's laid out a very specific plan with respect to tax policy. What he wants to do is get rates down for corporations and individuals. And for the middle class, he's proposed a special program where they wouldn't have to pay any taxes at all on their savings. He's doing that because he believes the middle class has been harmed the most by this bad Obama economy.
But he's been detailed about his tax plans. It involves pushing for lower rates and broadening that base. And that's something that he would tackle on day one of his presidency.
MORGAN: One of the big problems at the moment, as everyone is in agreement about, oddly -- it's the only they are in agreement about, which is that no one agrees, and that Washington has become paralyzed by this kind of mutual antipathy from the two parties. You're seeing people as experienced as Jeb Bush coming out and saying look, this isn't how it used to be. And it doesn't help the American national interest.
Are you sensitive to that, that charge that actually the drive to push out Barack Obama from the Republican side and Governor Romney's side, that actually the national interest can get damaged here, and that there is a need up to the election for the business of running America to be allowed to continue?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, Piers, one of the unfulfilled promises of the Obama presidency is his explicit pledge to change Washington and to reduce the partisanship there. And instead, Washington is more polarized than ever. It wasn't too long ago, by the way, that this president said, give to me the challenge of fixing this economy. I'm not going to be standing on the sidelines harping and griping.
And yet there he was today in Cleveland, not at the White House meeting with congressional leaders of both parties to fix this economy and find a way out of this mess. Instead, he was on the sidelines harping and griping. That is not the type of leadership that America needs right now.
MORGAN: One word, Eric. Are you feeling increasingly confident in the Romney camp?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think what I would say is we're cognizant of the fact -- well, I don't know if I can say it in one word. I can tell you --
MORGAN: You're either feeling more confident or you're not.
FEHRNSTROM: Well, look, this election is not a brainteaser of an election. If you believe the economy is going in the right direction, if you believe that there are jobs for everyone, then that will improve the re-election prospects of the president. If, however, you believe that we can do better, that we need to take very specific actions to stimulate this economy and get it moving forward, then that improves the prospects of Mitt Romney's election.
So if that's going to be the basis on which this election is decided, then yes, I'm very confident.
MORGAN: That is the longest yes I've ever heard, Eric. But it's been a pleasure talking to you. Eric Fehrnstrom, thank you very much.
FEHRNSTROM: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming up, can President Obama defend his economic record to the American people? I'll ask his deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the vision behind the deficit plan I sent to Congress back in September, a detailed proposal that would reduce our deficit by four trillion dollars through shared sacrifice and shared responsibility. This is the vision I intend to pursue in my second term as president, because I believe --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: America's Choice 2012. And as you just heard, the president's already looking forward to a second term. We heard from the Romney campaign. Now let's hear from the other side. Stephanie Cutter is the deputy campaign manager for President Obama. Stephanie, welcome.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Thank you, thanks for having me. MORGAN: It's pretty clear now what the battleground is. You guys are going to say, look, we inherited the mother of all economic disasters, and we've done OK but could do better. So we deserve to be re-elected. And Mitt Romney's going to say, hang on a second, nobody cares about what happened before you guys came into power. It's actually the last 3.5 years you should be judged on. On that criteria alone, you failed.
CUTTER: Well, I guess, Piers, I would disagree slightly on a couple of things. I think the American people have a good understanding of what the economy was like when we came into office, that we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. And the president took some quick, tough action to stem the crisis, prevent the economy from falling into a depression. And we've been on a road to recovery.
Over the last 27 months, we have created 4.3 million private sector jobs. That's seven times more private sector jobs than were created in the last recovery under George Bush.
MORGAN: You have, you have --
CUTTER: But that --
MORGAN: Let me just jump in on that because consumer confidence is down. Everyone accepts that. You can see if in the high streets. GDP is slowing. Just today, unemployment claims rose to 386,000, up 6,000 from the week before. So you've definitely hit a bit of a wall at a very difficult time for you with the campaign, haven't you?
CUTTER: Well, Piers, what I was going to say, if I were able to finish what I was about to say, was that the president has continuously said, well, we've made progress. We're not there yet. There's a lot more that we need to do. And we need to keep our foot on the pedal, which is why he put out a jobs act. It's been sitting in Congress for almost 10 months.
As he said today in his speech in Ohio, that's a million jobs sitting on the table there. We could have a million more people back to work and a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy if Republicans in Congress just broke their intransigence and, you know, came together with everybody else, with the majority of the American people, and agreed that to get this stuff done, to grow our economy, to make the investments that we need to grow, then we're going to have to ask everybody to pay their fair share.
We know what works. But we also know what doesn't work. That's ultimately about what -- what the speech was about today.
MORGAN: Eric Fehrnstrom said earlier that if any employer was confronted with an employee that said I know I haven't been doing great, but it's all the fault of the guy before me 3.5 years ago, he would be laughed out of the room. What is different about politics? Do you accept that it's been disappointing? Do you accept that the economy is still in a very bad condition?
What are the admissions that you're prepared to make to the American public as we head towards the election?
CUTTER: Well, it's not about whether we need to grow our economy. It's about how we grow our economy in the right way, how we grow the economy from the middle out, instead of the top down. We know what not to do, which is the prescriptions that Republicans in Congress are putting forward, which are the prescriptions that Mitt Romney is putting forward.
You know, the fundamental difference in vision is basically Republicans and Mitt Romney think that if we just get rid of all regulations and cut taxes for the very wealthy, then the private sector will take over and we'll do just fine. We know that doesn't work.
MORGAN: How unhelpful is it that President Clinton has come out and basically endorsed Mitt Romney's record at Bain as being exemplary when this was obviously going to be one of your main assault weapons, that he had been terrible.
CUTTER: Well, because you're misunderstanding what that Bain record is all about. Mitt Romney has made grand promises that his business would turn the economy around. And our point is well, he's made those promises before. He made those promises when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, which is a key part of his resume.
MORGAN: What am I misunderstanding?
CUTTER: It's not about private equity. It's not about whether private equity is good or bad. People can run their businesses how they see fit. It's about whether or not it qualifies you to be the president of the United States. And we disagree. It doesn't. It doesn't qualify you to be the president of the United States because you've taken over companies, loaded them up with debt and bankrupted them, and left middle class workers without jobs, benefits and health care.
As the president said in describing and laying out our message on Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital, if you're the president of the United States, you're the president of everybody.
MORGAN: It's not me that was questioning President Obama's view of Romney's record at Bain. It was President Clinton, who you would have expected to be supporting President Obama in his number one assault weapon, which you've just articulated so passionately. So how did you guys feel when President Clinton comes out and says the complete opposite?
CUTTER: I think that if you look at what Clinton said, Piers, he said there's two different ways that you can conduct business. You can invest in companies and help them grow, or you could go in, take over companies, bankrupt them and take your profit out. Mitt Romney was engaging in the latter part of that exercise and bankrupting companies. Bill Clinton also said that ultimately this election is going to come down to two very competing visions. And the policies that Romney has laid out won't work, and we know that. That's what Bill Clinton said. And how did we feel about that? We agreed with him. Mitt Romney's policies won't work. We've tried them before and they failed. Why would we try them again?
They led to the crash of our financial system, deterioration of our middle class. And that's what Bill Clinton was saying. And he continues to say that, as President Clinton and President Obama campaigned together, as President Clinton continues to put his support behind the re-election of President Obama.
MORGAN: Finally, give me a word answer tot his, do you feel more comfort now winning the election than you did, say, a month ago or less confident?
CUTTER: Neither. We knew that this was going to be a tough election. We knew that we would be in this place. We're exactly where we knew we would be. This is going to be a very close election up until election day. And we're not taking anything for granted.
And Piers, I think that as we move through the next five months and as the American people come to understand these two different competing visions of whether to grow the economy from the middle out or to grow the economy from the top down, as Mitt Romney wants to do, or moving forward in rebuilding an economy that's really meant to last, or going back to the policies that crashed our economy and deteriorated the middle class, that this election is going to come down to that fundamental choice.
It's not about two different candidates or two different parties. It's about that choice, about which direction the American people want to go.
MORGAN: OK. Stephanie Cutter, thank you very much.
CUTTER: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: Coming up next, Only in America, a slice of pizza with a push of a button.
MORGAN: Tonight's Only in America, how to solve a problem like obesity. With millions of Americans statistically getting fatter by the day, especially those who spend 10 hours languishing at their office desks, what better solution than this? Yes, folks, it's the ultimate vending machine heave, the pizza dispenser.
It's not enough apparently that office workers shovel tons of candy and chips down their gullets. What we all really need in the workplace is do it yourself pizza. There it is, bright, red and ready for your order. It's called Let's Pizza. The company promises that from scratch, it can be yours in just 2.5 minutes at the flick of a button. Here's how it works. A big of flower inside is mixed mineral water to make the dough. That dough is shaped into crust and topped with not just tomato sauce, but organic tomato sauce. Then comes the inevitable cheese. And after that a quick trip to the oven.
A hundred and 50 second later, your pizza is ready. For a 10.5 inch mini pie, the suggested retail price is 5.95. And in a neat, patriotic twist, the Let's Pizza machines will be made in the U.S. for the U.S.
Why stop here, people? Surely the next obvious step is a machine dispensing fried chicken, maybe some fattening calamari, perhaps even a vindaloo curry, all available with that one press of a button at work.
I'm just concerned about all those calories people are going to burn off walking to the Let's Pizza vending machine. There has to be some genius watching this who can fuse them onto the end of our computers, perhaps with an electronic shovel that sends the pizza sliding straight into our hungry mouths. Then our inevitable heart attacks can come even sooner.
A cheery thought to leave you with. Good night.