tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN April 25, 2012 2:00am-3:00am EDT
states. we have the latest on how this happened. and i'm here in jerusalem tonight. my exclusive interview with prime minister benjamin netanyahu about iran, about mitt and what lines he's drawing in the sand for iran. let's go "outfront" from jerusalem. i'm erin burnett, and i'm live tonight in jerusalem where i sat down for an extensive and exclusive interview with the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu at his home, and we're going to bring that to you in full in just a few moments. but first, voters tonight went to the poll in five states. it was a very big night for mitt romney. new york, connecticut, pennsylvania, delaware and rhode island, ballots were cast and there was a victor, and the general election has begun. it was a very big night for mitt romney. just moments ago he talked to supporters and talked about his democratic rival. >> four years ago, barack obama
dazzled us in front of greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. but after we came down to earth, after all the celebration and the parades, what do we have to show for 3 1/2 years of president obama? >> nothing! >> is it easier to make ends meet? >> no. >> is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? >> no. >> have you saved what you needed for retirement? >> no. >> john avlon is in new york with the latest. john? >> thanks, erin. it is a huge five-state sweep for mitt romney tonight in the northeast, and the general election has begun. in that speech in new hampshire tonight he laid out the themes for the general election, drawing a clear contrast with president obama on the issue of the economy, pointing to his private sector experience and saying that the real hope and change is still on the way with proven economic policies rooted in the free market. romney pulling no punches. gearing up despite the fact his republican rivals newt gingrich and ron paul are still technically in the race. he is looking past them well
into the fall and toward an election victory, lighting up a crowd eager for what's ahead. mitt romney, a strong night. effectively locking up this republican nomination. erin? >> thanks, john. well, as we talk about the election in the u.s., one of the most crucial issues has everything to do with where i'm sitting right now. that is what will israel do about iran? it's a crucial question, and i had a chance to talk about it with the prime minister of israel, benjamin netanyahu. i went to and visited him in his home. it's an important week for israel. memorial day and the country's 64th anniversary as a nation. what does israel as a nation mean? what will they do about iran? and benjamin netanyahu made some news on the palestinian question. here he is on iran. >> mr. prime minister, thank you so much for inviting us and letting us come and see your home. >> well, welcome to jerusalem. take a look around. >> we came here to your courtyard. i know we had to move -- there was a table here earlier. when we got here, there were two coffee cups on it. i guess it was yours and tony
blair's from when you were talking this morning. but how important is this space for you? this is sort of your -- this is your get away space, right? >> no, this is my prison courtyard because the prime minister of israel like i suppose the president of the united states and maybe the pope, one or two other people -- >> so you feel like you're sort of under house arrest? >> for good reason, but i suppose so. but it doesn't mean that there aren't an endless number of people that want to get into this prison cell and live here. >> i'm sure there are. iran. there's been 16 years of diplomac as you've talked about. you've said it repeatedly. you said it in march. i know you said it on the army radio this morning. it's not a problem of days, but it's also not a problem of years. now, you said that first in march, so i would imagine not years plural. that means you think this will be resolved by next spring? >> well, i hope it's resolved.
and i hope it's resolved peacefully. certainly the international community is putting a lot of pressure on iran and make clear that its nuclear program must stop. if it stops with sanctions, the combinations of sanctions diplomacy, other pressures, i as the prime minister of israel will be the happiest person in the world. >> do you think that sanctions are working? i mean, i saw a story today i think it was 56% of iranian -- of iran's fleet of tankers sitting off the coast with oil, full of oil, because they can't sell it. it would appear that sanctions are working. >> well, they're certainly taking a bite out of the iranian economy, but so far they haven't rolled back the iranian program or even stopped it by one iota. i mean, i hope that changes. but so far i can tell you the centrifuges are spinning. they were spinning before the talks began. recently with iran, they were spinning during the talks and they're spinning as we speak. so if the sanctions are going to
work, they'd better work soon. >> how do you know what they're doing? >> oh, we know. >> you know? >> we know and others know and we share what we know. this is not the case of the questions that people had about saddam hussein. >> they say that it's for peaceful purposes. >> they say it's for peaceful purposes. >> they say it's for peaceful purposes. >> when you have a sense of humor. i mean, they said it's for medical isotopes. that's why they're developing icbms to carry medical isotopes to europe or israel or the united states. that's why they're building these underground bunkers, hidden between -- underneath mountains, for medical isotopes. you know, that's why they're telling the world they're going to erase israel, with medical isotopes. this is a farce. nobody can seriously -- nobody can take them seriously. >> no nations with nuclear
weapons have ever gone to war with each other. i mean, take india and pakistan. they haven't used them. could it be that israel and iran could end up in the situation like that where the acquisition of the nuclear weapon ensures it would never be used? >> well, i'm not going to comment on israel's purported capabilities. i will say that to date since the advent of the nuclear age after hiroshima, all nuclear powers have been very careful with the use or, more accurately, the non-use of the nuclear weapon. when it comes to a militant islamic regime, i wouldn't be too sure. because unlike, say, the soviets, they can put their ideology before their survival. so i don't think you can bet on their rationality. iran is giving its terror proxies hamas in gaza, hezbollah
in lebanon, it's giving them the most advanced lethal weapons. whatever weapons they have, they use them. they've fired now 10,000 rockets on israeli cities. they have been helping them to murder diplomats worldwide and to kill american soldiers in afghanistan. think of what they'd do with nuclear weapons. i don't think you want them to bet the peace in the middle east and the security of the world on iran's rational behavior. i think it's a much safer bet to do what i and president obama and others have said, prevent iran from acquiring atomic bombs. >> one thing that's interesting, though, when you talk about the nuclear parts of the regime, there is a jewish member of parliament in tehran. and one of the most popular soap operas there was zero degree turn. the main character, an iranian, falls in love with a jewish woman, he helps smuggle jews out of paris to save them from the holocaust. it's very popular in iran. what makes you so sure that they are anti-semitic in a way that would cause them to use the weapon against israel?
>> well, i draw a distinction between the people of iran and the regime that is tyrannizing them and taking over their lives. >> the regime let the show air, though. >> well, the regime is the one that, you know, has to kill people in the streets and goes into their homes after they cull the internet and they just make people disappear. so this is a regime that is very brutal to its own people. iran is not free. jews in iran have a lot to worry about. but the jewish state that iran openly calls a cancer that has to be excised from the middle east, that has to be eradicated, certainly must take seriously iran's claims to annihilate it. >> the way the talks seem to be going, u.s. negotiators, iranian negotiators, seem to be saying that the sanctions are working and that they may in fact roll back some sanctions. that's what the iranians want and there has not been a direct
rebuttal to that from the other side. the really tough sanction that's are supposed to take effect this summer. what happens -- okay. >> i think it would be a big mistake to rescind the sanctions or lighten the sanctions. i think there has to be a cascade of sanctions. so far, that's the acid test. the sanctions haven't worked. how do we know that? because nothing has been stopped. what has stopped in the iranian program? >> what if they halted full enrichment to 20%, started importing that? would that be enough? >> i think what they need to do are three things. one, they have to stop all enrichment. second, to take -- >> all enrichment, even to 3% for medical? >> yes. because they say they need it for, what medical isotopes? so you can -- the second point is after you stop all enrichment is remove the enriched material. and you'll get these rods from another country that can allow you to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. and third, dismantle the underground bunker at qom.
if they have no military goals, they should respond to this readily. what we want are factual results. we want to see the iranian program rolled back. that's unfortunately not achieved by talks in which iran has one goal -- to stall, delay, run out the clock. that's basically what they're doing. >> do you worry that you're going to put yourself in a position now that you may have to strike, a strike which even former head of the mossad has said would only delay, not end the iranian nuclear program? that by saying it's not days, it's not years you're going to end up with a date where if you don't do it you look like you couldn't or you wouldn't? so you have to. >> i'm not worried about what we look like. i am worried about stopping this. and i think there are really three principles that should guide us and they've been echoed by the united states. and i think any sensible person understands. the first is that iran's nuclear weapons program must be stopped. the second is that containment is not an option.
and the third is that israel, the state of the jewish people, must have the capacity to defend itself by itself against any threat. >> obviously, very significant that the prime minister is saying the only standard israel will accept is that iran not enrich at all. not even the 3% they would need for medical use. there could be an issue that's even bigger for israel right now. and we're going to talk about that next. >> i could deliver a peace agreement. i could get the israeli people to follow me if i believed that i have a serious partner on the other side. [ camera clicks ] ♪ it's hard to resist the craveable nature of a nature valley sweet & salty nut bar. what ?
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well, you just heard a little bit of my exclusive interview with benjamin netanyahu, the prime minister of israel. we are "outfront" tonight live from jerusalem where you can see the old city behind me. israel right now honoring its dead in memorial day. we had a chance to talk about iran, as you just heard. zero enrichment is what he's willing to accept on that front. he said he knows what iran is doing. but there is an issue that could
be bigger, and that issue has to do with palestine, which you haven't heard a whole lot about recently, maybe because iran has been dominating the headlines. but he had something to say about palestine he has never said before. >> i want to ask you about another issue that hasn't gotten much coverage recently because iran has been getting so much coverage. i was in dubai recently interviewing sheik mohammed the prime minister of the uae, ruler of dubai. and we talked about israel and here's what he said. >> you know, i tell you, we have nothing against israel. we have nothing against israel. and what we want is for the palestinian, a country for the palestinian and a country for israel. and i promise to you that if the arab world open to israel israel will benefit more than us because israel have things to offer in the market. >> that's very wise. that's very wise and i agree with him.
i think peace would benefit us, as i think it would benefit the palestinians, as it would benefit the entire region. i think there's one other thing. i think that i could deliver a peace agreement. i could get the israeli people to follow me if i believed that i have a serious partner on the other side willing to make the necessary compromises on the palestinian side. many compromises that people talk about on the israeli side, but there are necessary compromises on the palestinian side, and you know, peace is always a two-way compromise. >> would you accept their belief, though, that they should have a country which is contiguous, not islands here and islands there, but one space? >> yeah, we talked about that. >> no checkpoints. >> i don't think that this is what -- no checkpoints? i am the prime minister who removed 400 checkpoints, barriers, road blocks, and so on to facilitate the growth of the palestinian economy. this is in line with what i believe is essential, that is, the economic growth that is a
great supplement and a great bulwark of actual peace. it's not a substitute for a political peace, but it helps. and i'm very much in favor of that. look, there are so many issues to discuss, but you have to discuss them. you can't discuss them in the press, not even on cnn. you have to sit down opposite one another. that's what leaders do. >> yesterday, i saw some of the best of israel. we saw a winery. we saw the moroccan oil, the hair plant i was telling you about. >> i haven't used it recently. >> at the end of the day, sunset, we went to a refugee camp outside jerusalem, and we were actually -- we were going to talk to some adults, but you know what happen. children come flocking over. and lots of boys came flocking over. and they were playing soccer. football. and i asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up? and they all spoke in arabic. and they said -- and this is pretty amazing considering that
most of them weren't in school. dentist, engineer, and i want to fight israel. every one of them. >> the first two i like. the last one i didn't. >> how can you change that? you talk about hinges of history. isn't this issue more important than iran or anything else? >> how do you change it? you change it by educating people for peace. i think one of the failings of the palestinian authority has been that they air under national media, they control the media, they air all this stuff about israel, doing away with israel. they have kindergartens for reveling in suicide bombers. kindergarten kids. so i'm not surprised that kids grow one this hatred. the only way you change it is by having peace agreements and speaking peace to your people. i spoke three years ago to my people about a solution of a
demilitarized palestinian state that lives alongside -- recognizes the jewish state. because they'll become dentists -- >> how can you have a state that's demilitarized? >> they'll become dent sxifts doctors if they have a peaceful state. >> don't they have a right for rail state? demilitarized. >> well, demilitarized is a real state. it just means they can't field armies or fire rockets. we want to make sure if we have a peace arrangement and we walk away in certain areas they won't be used a third time by iran and it's palestinian proxies on to fire rockets on tel aviv and jerusalem. but we don't want to run their lives. i don't want to govern the palestinians. i don't want them as subjects of israel or citizens of israel. i want them to have their own independent state. but a demilitarized state. >> and to be clear, one that isn't separated by israel as in there's a palestine part here and israel? >> no. swiss cheese, no. >> swiss cheese an analogy that was used by george w. bush years
ago. at that time, benjamin netanyahu did not support it. contiguous a crucial word. is there going to be a contiguous state, not something that the prime minister said before. we talked to sources in the palestine -- the plo today and they said it's not something he had discussed with them. so that could be significant if peace talks do again start, to have a contiguous, to use that word contiguous. a lot of weight in that particular word. well, we're going to hear what the prime minister has to say about the u.s. elections. it's an important issue for him and what he has to say about iran important there. how well does he know mitt romney? we're going to get some answers to that. plus his obsession with the map. and a new case of mad cow disease in the united states. a lot of people are wondering what it means. and we have some answers.
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welcome back. "outfront" tonight, live from the old city in jerusalem. i was spending time with prime minister netanyahu today. one of the interesting things about it was not only that we were talking there in the courtyard where he smokes his cigars because his wife won't let him do in the house, but we also got to go inside and see his study. and while we were there, we saw a map of, well, the middle east. here is a quick glimpse of a kind of interesting moment. >> this is your neighborhood. >> this is gigantic israel. you know, i can cover it with my thumb. i mean, this is the arab world, right? saudi arabia, iran. this is all of -- this is this gigantic israel that you hear about. that's it. from here to here. >> with all the focus on iran, what about egypt? your foreign minister said that could be a bigger threat to you than iran. >> well, you know, i'm not sure
that's a correct quote, but certainly where he's concerned with iran and we're both concerned with the direction of egypt and i hope that any government that is established in egypt understands that peace between egypt and israel is as much an egyptian interest as it is an israeli interest. and i hope they continue the peace. that's our desire. >> just for the record, the quote was in the "jerusalem post" from the foreign minister on egypt. and obviously, it's an ongoing debate over what's really going on between those two countries right now. but the moment he said this is the middle east and he gestured to north africa and put his thumb on israel, that's such an interesting moment. it makes an interesting point. and then, well, someone in our bureau here in jerusalem said, wait a minute, you have to look at this. i said who is that? well, it was prime minister netanyahu, who, at the time deputy foreign minister, back in, was the date, january 18, 1991. take a look. >> this is the arab world. and i'm just going to put my hands on it for the benefit of the viewers.
i have a size 10 shoe, american size 10 shoe. i could walk on this map on the arab world. here's israel. i cover it with my thumb. >> i mean, you've got to say, some things never seem to change in this part of the world. there's always worth putting a little bit of humor when you're talking about very serious subjects. well, one thing we talked about very serious was what does bibi think about mitt? >> do you like him? >> well, look, here's an answer that will -- should satisfy you. ñ
all right, we start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting, do the work and find the "outfront" five. i'm live in jerusalem tonight. more of the netanyahu interview in just a moment, but john avlon has the "outfront" five. hey, john. >> hey, erin. up first, two additional secret service agents have resigned and a third has lost security clearance in the ongoing colombian secret service scandal. one who resigned was staying at the hilton and brought a woman there just five days before the president arrived. the president was asked about the scandal as part of his appearance on "late night with jimmy fallon." he said the agency does a great job 99.9% of the time and that "a couple of knuckleheads
shouldn't detract from the great job the agency does." number two, former aide to john edwards took the stand today, again revealing details about edwards' secret life while he was a presidential contender. testifying for the prosecution andrew young recalled the time he received calls from edwards' mistress rielle hunter. she threatened to go public if she didn't speak to edwards immediately. edwards is accused of using campaign funds to hide the extramarital affair. our joe johns said young's testimony also recalled when he found out about hunter's pregnancy. he's recalled to have said she's a crazy s. stay classy. number three, a new case of the usda said the cow was never presented for slaughter and at in no time presented a risk to humans or the food supply. this is the fourth case of mad cow disease in the united states and the first since 2006. cnn's senior medical expert elizabeth cohen said the potential threat from this one cow is slim to none. number four, it was a blockbuster three months for apple. the numbers are just staggering.
the tech giant reported sales of $39.2 billion. the company sold 35.1 million iphones. almost twice as many as they sold a year ago. they sold 11.8 million ipads making it app 8's fastest-selling device. the company also has $110 billion in cash. it has been 264 days since the united states lost its top credit rating. what are we going to get it back? housing is still a main area of concern for the u.s. economy. new data today showing that new home sales fell in march and home prices sunk a further 3.5% in february. now let's go back to erin in jerusalem. all right. housing obviously a crucial issue for the u.s. election, but so is what's happening here in the middle east. with israel and with iran. israel has some very big decisions to make, but the israeli prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, also an important player in u.s. politics, and a lot of people want to know what he really thinks about barack obama. and how well he really knows mitt romney. well, that was a very
interesting part of our conversation. i'll put it that way and let you judge for yourself. >> i want to talk a little bit about u.s. politics. obviously, you're an important player in u.s. politics, as the prime minister of israel. >> no, i'm not. >> no? >> yeah. i'm going to stop you right there, erin. you know why? >> why? >> because i have enough politics of my own. i don't need to enter american politics. >> well, like it or not, people care about what you think about all kinds of things in the u.s. and you know mitt romney. you worked with him at boston consulting group, right? am i -- >> well, i didn't work with him, but when i entered the boston consulting group 35 years ago, something like that, he was -- well, i was a young recruit and he was already a star manager. he looked the same. >> he's looked the same. >> isn't that disturbing? i don't look the same. he looks the same. >> he has that kind of ken doll look. he always looks young.
>> so but, you know, i didn't see him for many years and then i met him many years later when i was the minister of finance and he was the governor of massachusetts. and we've been in touch since. >> is he a friend of yours? do you like him? >> well, look, here's an answer that will -- should satisfy you. i respect mitt romney. as i respect barack obama, the president of the united states. and that's the end of the ranking and the questions that you will undoubtedly try again and again to draw me into. i have enough politics here. i don't want to get into american politics. >> i want to ask you one thing about, though, the iran issue and mitt romney. he wrote an op-ed in "the washington post" which i'm sure you saw. >> you don't stop, do you? >> no, i'm -- >> you're very talented -- >> i'm paid to be relentless. >> go ahead. and i'll be -- >> as i believe it's your job -- >> no, i'll be relentlessly sending you off. go ahead. try and you'll get the same result. >> okay. he said that he would as pertains iran, press for
ever-tightening sanctions, buttress my diplomacy with a military option and speak out on behalf of democracy. that sounds identical to barack obama. is that your perception, that they would have pretty much the same u.s. policy or not? >> you know, i'm just not going to get into american politics. if you want to talk to me about the american policy, then i think the right policy is to make sure that iran doesn't get nuclear weapons. by the way, that would be a catastrophe for world peace, a greater danger to american interests and to american lives. >> the israel that the world sees is a lot about the start-up nation, it's entrepreneurial, it's creative, it's successful, it's wealthy, it's incredibly powerful. it's not an underdog. and a lot of the narrative about iran or being attacked seems to be more of a victim. everyone is out to get us. but a lot of the israel that we see is a dominant, powerful israel, not a victim.
>> i wouldn't say dominant. i would say israel is a vibrant democracy. tremendously creative. has wild entrepreneurs, sort of changing the -- they're curing diseases around the world. your cell phone probably has four or five israeli i.t. applications inside. >> right. >> it's just changing the world. we have the greatest number of nobel prize winners per capita of any country. so there's tremendous creativity that is used for good, for peaceful means. we're not seeking to dominate anyone. we're seeking to live in peace with our neighbors. i hope they decide to do the same with us. we don't teach our children to say i want to be a doctor, i want to be a dentist or i want to be a technologist and i want to fight the arabs. >> about 40% of the world's jews live in the united states. nearly as many as live in israel. peter beinart's new book "the crisis of zionism" talks a lot about the jews that i know that i'm friends with. they are marrying people who are
not jewish, about half of non-orthodox american junes junes now do. he talks about nonorthodox american jews under the age of 35. i thought this was amazing. they're half as likely as people over age 65 to say they're emotionally attached to israel. less than half of american jews under 35 say they feel a strong sense of belonging to the juewih people. part of the reason appears to be israel seen now more as an occupier than as a victim in the traditional sense. are you worried about american jews? >> no, i think there's a much stronger bond than meets the eye. there's a very strong bond that we can encourage and develop. especially by having young jews from the united states and elsewhere from around the world come here. these fantastic programs that just bring them in by the tens of thousands. just to visit israel. i think ultimately the future of the jewish people is intimately bound with the future of the jewish state. and my job as the prime minister of israel is to ensure that
future. >> mr. prime minister, thank you very much. >> thank you. good to see you. and i'm joined by the columnist from the jerusalem post and john avlon is here. and san francisco townsend, a cnn contributor. and of course national security expert. amos, let me start with you just on the final issue. i think a lot of the issues in that book were very interesting, in peter beinart's book, but among them was the increasing lack of connection that american jews seem to feel for israel by a lot of those polls. younger american jews. is that a real issue for this country? >> we have to separate between what the actual average american jew thinks and what peter beinart thinks. he purports there to speak on behalf of a large audience. that has yet to be proven statistically. that's one thing. secondly, concerning the substance of his argument, one of them we all share. we are all very disenchanted with the fact that life necessitates power. we're sitting here just opposite the place where the hebrew
prophets in ancient times first called on humanity to beat swords into plowshares. and this has inspired jewish history for better and for worse, but it has also disempowered jews along the generations with an exorbitant cost and the need for the jews to have power and to deploy it when necessary unfortunately is imperative. and he's unhappy with that. that is one thing. secondly, i think that more deeply speaking, peter perhaps is unaware of this, but he voices i think a deep disappointment with the fact that israel is becoming the leader of the jewish people. i mean not only inspirationally and morally but also demographically. three years ago the israeli statistical bureau reported matter of factly and hardly made a headline for the first time ever there are more jews in israel than in america. and in fact, you're sitting now in this country as it is home to
the biggest -- the largest jewish community in the world for the first time since antiquity. this is disagreeable to some jews in the world. >> i want to go -- we'll be talking to peter beinart soon about that. it's a controversial and very interesting book. let me ask you, though, about what the prime minister had to say specifically about iran. is he bellicose? is he going too far? what do the israeli people support when it comes to israeli strikes against iran right now? >> i think the average israeli certainly shares netanyahu's and defense minister ehud barak's general alarm. they certainly understand that iran is an implacable enemy. everyone understands. and everyone agrees also that their nuclear program constitutes a menace. all of this is not a subject of debate here. the question is what do to do in the face of this. i think that the average israeli is concerned that somebody might on the spur of the moment be tempted to resort to an adventure. and doing the right thing is one thing, and resorting to an
adventure is another thing. and israelis, at least who are middle-aged remember very, very i would say traumatically the adventure of 1982 in lebanon. this is one thing that people want to avoid. beyond that, there's the longer-term concern that israelis understand, i'm sure netanyahu also understands this, that iran is transarab. it is not an arab country demographically, nationally, historicly, civilizationally speaking and geographically, it is beyond the arab world. and the israelis recall the days when prerevolutionary iran was israel's ally. >> right. which is an interesting point. >> -- the future and we should not harm that kind of future with the wrong kind of action. >> they used to be allies. fran, i want to bring you in here because i'm curious about something that the prime minister said earlier when he seemed to say there was -- there is no negotiating. there is no medical, there's no enriching to 3%. there's nothing. there's nothing israel will settle for. it seems like we could be reaching the real point this summer as talks continue where we have another big decision point. >> well, i think that's absolutely right, erin.
look, israel, the united states, the world understands israel's greatest leverage is before the u.s. election. you know, john can speak to the politics of this, but there's no question that that's the case. the prime minister did say, though, erngs in fairness to him that look, he'd be the happiest man in the world if sanctions worked. but how you define sanctions working, there's no question, again, that sanctions are having an impact, but they need to have an impact on iran's nuclear program to be truly assessed as effective. that's the reason we put them in place. and unless they actually impact iran's nuclear program they're not truly effective. then the third and the final point i'd make here, erin, is look, israel understands the timeline in the united states. the president is facing an election, one. two, you have sequestration for the military budget coming up at the end of the year. and three, we're facing a draw-down. so with less money and less presence after the first of the year, the united states will be in less of a position frankly to
launch an attack in support of any israeli action. >> and erin, while prime minister netanyahu was very careful to say he was going to stay out of american politics, honoring the bipartisan bonds between our two countries, it's a fascinating fact that he has a long-standing relationship, a friendship with mitt romney. going back to the 1970s when they were both young men working at the boston consulting group. it's similarly no secret that he has had differences with president obama in the past. so this has a fascinating personal relationship wrinkle to the backdrop of how the issue of israel plays out in the american election with these pivotal decisions ahead of us before the presidential. >> and fran, how does the u.s. make a decision on what to do here? i mean, if israel goes ahead -- and i know i saw the conversation, not days, not years plural. the prime minister seems to be very adamant about that. and of course that puts you in a time frame of before next spring. i'm just curious what happens here as i asked him. you have a moment where you speak so much about these
deadlines and then if you hit them and you you don't do something you kind of lose all your credibility. >> erin, i think it's a very good point. and in fact, what's going on now behind the scenes, the u.s. military is very actively engaged with their israeli counterparts. one, trying to show them the sort of planning effort that goes on out of public view, frankly. for the u.s., what would we have to do if we had to respond to an israeli action? what would we have to do if we had to actually take action affirmatively on our own? what planning is there? how prepared are we to do that? and so that's in essence to give the israelis a sense of confidence that we are truly taking this seriously. the other piece to this is we are going to have to persuade the israelis that these sanctions are effective against the program. you heard the prime minister say talking is not enough. and if impact on the iranian economy is not enough so it's really going to require policymakers to persuade iran that the sanctions are effective against the specific program. >> all right.
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where a military commander says 1,200 people from south sudan have actually been killed this week in fighting. it's an awful story that continues to go on with fighting in that country. david mckenzie is in nearby nairobi and i asked him how bad the violence has really gotten. >> erin, the conflict continues in the volatile border regions of south sudan and sudan with aerial strikes on monday in the south as well as overnight reports of bombings near the border. and while this hasn't reached a full-scale war, certainly the rhetoric has. omar al bashir, the president of sudan, visiting the hedlig oil fields saying they won't go to the negotiating table and they've spoken with "guns and bullets." the president of the south is in beijing, trying to gain support from china for investment. but for its part china will be trying to protect its investment in a diplomatic dance between the two sides. erin? the other big story we're following tonight is the republican results out of five states in the northeast.
big night for mitt romney. and john avlon's back with the latest. >> thanks, erin. a huge night for mitt romney. he swept all five northeast primaries and he's well on his way to becoming the official republican nominee for president. cnn contributor david frum joins us now. and tal shapir, research editor from american progress and editor-in-chief from think.org. well, the speech was called a better america begins tonight. it might as well be called the general election begins tomorrow. let's take a quick listen to one sound bite. >> to all of the thousands of good and decent americans i have met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you i have a simple message. hold on a little longer. a better america begins tonight. >> it's still about the economy, and we're not stupid. >> now, that twisting of james carville's immortal line had to make you wince, but one of the messages of the speech throughout was that here's mitt
romney riding to the rescue of those americans who are still feeling squeezed in the great recession. doesn't that message put democrats on defense? >> well, it's a clever poll-tested rhetoric. but i think it masks the reality, which you've got 4.1 million jobs being created in the private sector since obama entered office. you've got 25 straight months of job growth. and those are actual measures of progress. and mitt romney is trying to deny the fact that we're on the rebound and is painting a picture of america i think and of president obama that is so dour and basically not in line with people's actual expectations of where we're heading. >> interesting. interesting. david, now, as a former speechwriter, i'm sure you appreciated the reversal of president obama's refrain about fairness in mitt romney's speech. let's take a listen to this. >> we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing.
we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the very taxpayers they serve. and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next. >> now, david, can this reframing of the fairness issue work for a general election audience? >> it can, especially since president obama is going to be fighting back with a highly personal and ad hominem campaign. faiz is right, of course. it isn't quite 4 million private sector jobs. but a million or so have been created since president obama took office. that means half the jobs that were lost still remain lost. this remains a desperate economic situation. and the president's team knows that quite well. so we have here an issue map where the president's team is going to be attacking mitt
romney on personal terms. he's too rich, too out of touch whereas mitt romney is taking what is the president's second best point, the president would really like to be campaigning on the basis of a solid record. he can't do that. so his second best point is to say i'm going to talk about fairness and i'm going to talk about justice. and romney is in this first general election speech seizing that theme and turning it around in a way that is very powerful and showing he's not afraid of that language. >> faiz, now that the republican primaries are over and i'm sure you're a little sad about that, polls are tightening. and is it starting to dawn on democrats that maybe they've been dangerously overconfident in recent months about this general election? >> oh, i think there's no doubt it's going to be a tight race. the structure of the election is that it's going to be tight. the races are going to be very close in a number of battleground states. so we shouldn't take it lightly. i would just say that to david's point there's now a battle of ideas that has been joined and now obama can say to the american public even if you're a little disgruntled with me look
at the alternative and consider how much more terrible that would be. and i think that on the battle of ideas you've got a candidate in mitt romney who continues to advocate that his core plan is to give tax cuts to the rich as the path out of the problems that we face, and that's just not going to ring true i think with the american people as the solution. >> david, final question. looking at the returns tonight, no doubt a huge night for mitt romney. but newt gingrich still saying he's going to stay in. ron paul still in. newt was hoping for a big win in delaware, failed to pull off that upset. but nonetheless, the other republican candidates got roughly 40% of the vote in delaware. and in many of the other states. does this indicate that romney still has some work to do in bringing together that republican base around his candidacy? >> no, it does not. and he'll be making a terrible mistake if he thinks it is. the republican party is, as the saying goes, democrats fall in love, republicans fall in line. republicans have fallen in line. look at how -- i mean, fox news, it's like some russian station. when there is -- when there's a leadership change. they have completely fallen into
line. romney must not allow himself to be any longer boxed in to talking to only a small portion of the country. he began tonight talking to the whole country. keep doing that. and in everything, every decision from here on, vice presidential selection, everything, talk to the whole country and don't let critics on the far right allow to you believe that they are more than a small fraction of the country. >> thank you both. now erin, back to you. >> thanks, john. well, next, final thoughts from jerusalem. what i saw in benjamin netanyahu's study. see life in the best light.
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as part of spending some time with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu today, we went inside his study and, well, i found he likes something that i love, books. >> okay, can i just say something? i know you didn't want to talk about it earlier. do you know people look at your shelf or is it just random that i have mitt romney's book, fidel castro's book, tony blair's book and barack obama's books all up there? >> i have a lot of churchill books. >> yeah. >> i'm just looking, you know? this is a window into someone's mind. >> that's one of the reasons i love those kind of interviews. it gives you a home, just a moment to glimpse what the person's really like, and that makes it all worth it. thanks so much for watching. and on that note here's "piers and on that note here's "piers morgan tonight." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com tonight mitt romney claims victory and takes aim at president obama. just how ugly
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