Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
41st GOP Senator to be Sworn In; Ten Americans Charged in Haiti
Aired February 4, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, thank you.
Happening now, Senator-elect Scott Brown is about to be sworn in. Republicans are only minutes away from getting their filibuster power back. We'll carry Brown's oath live. You'll see it here -- his news conference later this hour, as well.
They're the heart and soul of the first Tea Party convention -- we'll meet some of the people who turned a grassroots movement into a major political phenomenon.
And federal safety officials launch a formal investigation into the Toyota Prius. This hour, the latest information you need to know if you own a Toyota and are worried about your safety.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first, in the U.S. Senate this hour, one man, Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts, is about to give his party some renewed power.
When Brown is sworn in as the United States senator from Massachusetts only a few moments from now, he'll claim the seat long held by Ted Kennedy and deprive Senate Democrats of their filibuster- proof majority.
Our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here, along with "Fortune" magazine columnist, Ben Stein. Also joining us, our senior political analyst, David Gergen.
But let's go to our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana, you're outside the old Ted Kennedy office, where Scott Brown will have his new office.
We're waiting for him to be sworn in.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Let's -- let's start with what's going on right now. You're exactly right, where I am, and I'll get to that in a second, Wolf.
I just, moments ago, walked with Scott Brown down inside this building as he made his way over to the Capitol. And he went inside to the cloakroom. And we are waiting for him to come out onto the Senate floor to be formally sworn in and -- big picture here -- to officially give the Republicans their 41st vote and deprive Democrats of that critical super majority.
Now, on that issue, before Scott Brown even made it into the building here, myself and several other reporters caught up with him as he drove up. He got around to the back of his truck and pulled out his certification papers to make sure that he brought those in, because that is what officially will allow him to be a United States senator today.
And as we were talking with him, we asked him about why did he actually decide to come now, because just until yesterday, we were told by his staff and by his office that he was not going to be sworn in until next week.
So the question is, what's the rush and is it because Senate Democrats are trying to push through some controversial Obama nominees?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS SENATOR-ELECT: Well, obviously it's jobs -- jobs, jobs, jobs. Try to figure out how we can get the economy moving again. We have a budget where we have to rely on 40 percent. We have to borrow 40 percent to even make it work. And that's -- that's troubling. So we need to look at the budget and try to figure out how to, you know, get the economy moving again.
BASH: Now, Mr. Brown, we were told by some Republicans who were talking to your folks that they made pretty clear that they wanted you to come down because some of the president's nominees who they were opposed to were coming up pretty fast and they wanted your 60th vote -- or 40th vote against.
BROWN: All I can tell you is that I've had no contact with the leaders' office or anyone else. I've spoken to Senator McCain a few times only because he's somewhat of a mentor and been helpful getting the office set up. You know, I'm an independent voter and thinker. I always have been. I'm going to spend some time this weekend looking at everybody's qualifications and I'll make my decision known when I -- when I vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, you heard me say 40th vote. Of course, I meant 41st vote.
Let me quickly tell you where -- why I'm standing here in the hallway, Wolf.
If you look down this hall, this is a very large suite that Ted Kennedy had. And it is prime real estate here on the Capitol complex, because it actually, on the other side, has a nice balcony with a beautiful view of the Capitol. And we're actually pretty close to the Capitol as far as Senate offices go. This, of course, will be empty and this will be the office of Scott Brown. So usually these offices are doled out by seniority but because -- as one Senate official told me -- he was coming in mid -- mid-stream, he is going to not only take Senator Ted Kennedy's seat, he will take his office, as well.
BLITZER: And I just want to be precise, Dana. After he's sworn in in the Senate, he'll have a little news conference...
BASH: That's right.
BLITZER: Is that right?
BASH: That's right. We're supposed to -- he was supposed to have been sworn in by now. We expect it any minute. And he will go to the -- to the gallery that senators are able to come to speak to the press and he will speak to us and have his first news conference as a sitting senator.
BLITZER: Yes, we're anxious to see that. You know, he's -- he's obviously an influential player already here in Washington.
Stand -- stand by, Dana.
We're going to get back to you.
And I want David Gergen and Gloria Borger and Ben Stein to stand by, as well.
We're going to watch the swearing-in ceremony.
But right now, I want to quickly go to Port-au-Prince in Haiti. There's the live pictures, by the way, where Senator Brown will be sworn in. He's a state senator and he'll soon be a U.S. senator.
But in Haiti right now, there's breaking news. Ten Americans stand charged formally with child kidnapping. The members of a missionary group said they were trying to rescue 33 young quake victims by taking them out of the country. A judge didn't buy that, saying he found enough evidence to slap them with serious criminal charges.
CNN's Karl Penhaul is in Port-au-Prince.
He's been covering the story for us -- all right, give us the -- the details, Karl.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the 10 Americans spent two hours answering questions to a panel of three prosecutors. And at the end of that, they were taken out by police vehicles back to the cells where they have been being held at the judicial police headquarters.
When we followed them back and got there, by that time, we got official word -- confirmation from the attorney general's office and from the Haitian information ministry -- that all 10 have been charged with kidnapping children and with criminal association.
Now we know from the attorney general that these types of crimes, because of their seriousness, are not eligible for bail. And so the Americans will be held in jail. They will be bailed, from what we know from the attorney general.
We're also working hard to try and find out what the maximum penalty should be. And I believe we just got an answer to that. And I will let you know.
And I'm -- I'm just hearing that the maximum penalty on the kidnapping charges could be nine years and on the criminal association, three to nine years, as well.
Again, under Haitian law, I'm not sure whether those would be a cumulative sentence, but, again, working hard on the details out. But the broad picture is 10 Americans now charged with kidnapping 33 Haitian babies and children. They're also charged with criminal association. Penalties ranging between the three and the nine year mark.
What is not clear to us right now, Wolf, is that -- whether the Haitian prosecutors may widen the net, because we know from our own investigations that the parents of these children themselves handed willingly the children to the Americans. That is also illegal under Haitian law.
We also know that three interprets who were working with the Americans took part in trying to organize this group of 33 children.
Will they be charged?
We don't know yet. All questions we will answer in the coming minutes -- Wolf.
We'll stay in close touch with you, Karl.
Thanks very much.
I also want to stay in close touch with Dan Simon.
He's in Idaho, where this church is based. We'll get their reaction, a lot more on the breaking news out of Haiti. That's coming up.
Take a look at this live picture, though, here in Washington, on Capitol Hill. It's the U.S. Senate floor. The vice president, Joe Biden, getting ready to swear in the Massachusetts Senator-elect, Scott Brown. He's going to be sworn in momentarily. You'll see it live. We're going to have live coverage of and his news conference that will follow.
Other news we're following, as well, including a major blow today to the public's confidence in Toyota -- the new focus on the problems with the Prius, on top of the gas pedal recall affecting millions of cars. We're at a dealership. We'll take you step by step through the process of getting your recalled car repaired.
BLITZER: These are live pictures from Capitol Hill, inside on the Senate floor. Momentarily, the new senator from Massachusetts will be sworn in, Scott Brown, by the vice president, Joe Biden. You see senators beginning to arrive. That should be taking place fairly soon. And they're -- all right, he'll have a little news conference afterwards, Scott Brown. We'll have it all live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But let's check in with Jack Cafferty right now.
He has "The Cafferty File" -- a busy day, Jack.
CAFFERTY: It has become the Tiger Woods of car companies. Never has a company with such a sterling reputation managed to trash it in a matter of just a few weeks. Toyota is now recalling more than eight million vehicles worldwide for gas pedal-related issues. The number could go even higher now that there's a formal government investigation into alleged break braking problems for the Toyota hybrid Prius.
The recalls in the U.S. Europe and Asia are due to several things, including cases where accelerator pedals get stuck in the floor mats, other cases where the accelerator pedals become sticky as they wear and then don't come all the way back up when you take the foot off the gas pedal. Some cars have both problems.
As for the Prius, while it's not one of Toyota's top sellers, it's the bestselling hybrid in the industry. The Japanese automaker insists the cost of the global recall could be as high $2 billion, including the loss of 100,000 vehicle sales in the United States and Europe.
This is a company that had excellent reputation for quality and reliability. In 2008, it overtook General Motors as the world's biggest carmaker, but that reputation has been sorely damaged, with millions of car owners now scared -- very scared. The carmaker shut down several new vehicle assembly lines and is rushing parts to dealers to fix the accelerator problems. And Toyota is going to have to face questions -- a lot of them, probably -- from Congress and other government investigators.
Meanwhile, many consumer groups are asking if the gas pedal fix will even work.
So here's the question: Would you buy a Toyota?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: All right, Jack.
Here's the swearing-in ceremony. The vice president swearing-in Scott Brown.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...upon which you're about to enter, so help you God.
BROWN: I do.
BIDEN: Congratulations, senator.
BROWN: Thank you.
BIDEN: Welcome. Welcome.
BLITZER: There it is. Scott Brown is now the 41th -- 41st Republican senator in the United States Senate. A very significant moment -- the vice president swearing him in. He's getting a nice round of applause from his colleagues. Joe Biden, as you know, as vice president, is the president of the Senate.
This is an important moment -- the difference of one Senate vote critical given the rules of the U.S. Senate -- the difference between 59 Democrats and 60 Democrats is enormous. Here's part -- more of this ceremonial moment that we're watching right now.
Let's talk a little bit about what we're seeing.
Joining us, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; and David Gergen and Ben Stein of "Fortune" magazine -- as we watch these pictures, David, you live up there in Massachusetts.
He's a pretty impressive guy, isn't he?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: He certainly is. And I -- I must say, he ran an excellent campaign. And he's become, perhaps, even more popular since then. He's become sort of a celebrity figure around the country. You know, there's one national survey out now that shows that if he were to run against President Obama, it would be a -- it would be a dead heat. I mean, I don't think he has any ambitions to do that, frankly, nor is he ready.
But I think it -- it illustrates both the president's current weakness and Scott Brown's sudden burst into celebrity hood. And, for the most part, yes, you know, people can snipe at him for one thing or another. I think he's handled himself graciously.
This was sped up, I was told yesterday by someone close to Scott Brown, because there was a fear on the part of the Republicans that the Democrats were going to try to push through the nomination of someone to be chair of the National Labor Relations Board and they thought that this fellow, Craig Becker, they accused him -- the Republicans did -- of -- of someone who was going to try to rewrite the law to allow card check by executive order, in effect. And were trying to block that.
So I think that accounted for the -- for the speedup, if he were -- would in the -- so that he was sworn in today and not next week.
And it's hard to believe -- it -- it's still hard to believe -- and, Gloria, you can weigh in on this -- that Ted Kennedy's Senate seat...
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
BLITZER: ...is now being held by a Republican.
BORGER: Yes, it is. It's a -- it's a different world and it's -- it's hard to believe. As I was watching Joe Biden, who was so close to Ted Kennedy, I'm sure Joe Biden didn't think, Wolf, that he was going to be swearing-in a Republican senator here.
But what -- what he did -- what Scott Brown did so well was really tap into those Independent voters. And while we think of Massachusetts as the bluest of blue states, the truth of the matter is that self-identified Independents are the largest group of voters in that state right now -- about 53 percent.
And so I think that while Republicans may depend on him for certain votes in the Senate, he is much more liberal on social issues. He's conservative fiscally. And he's not always going to be a dependable Republican vote for them.
BLITZER: Yes. He's very liberal on a lot of these social issues, Ben. He supports gay marriage, which is the law in Massachusetts. He says that's established right now. He supports a women's right to have an abortion. And the law in Massachusetts, which provides nearly universal health insurance, he supports that, as well.
BEN STEIN, COLUMNIST, "FORTUNE": He supports them, but he says they've had terrible problems with it and it should not be a guide to national policy.
But what it really proves is that life is like high school. All life is like high school.
STEIN: Here's a guy, he's modest, he's athletic, he's great looking, he's a solid guy. He's the kind of guy you'd want as your best friend or your fraternity brother. And so he wins the election against a kind of a schoolmarmish opponent. And he, as a guy...
BORGER: A woman?
Are you saying life is like high school...
BORGER: ...the handsome guy walks in the room and the woman is sort of left to...
STEIN: I think so.
STEIN: ...the schoolmarm... BORGER: Don't say that.
STEIN: ...the schoolmarm is sort of blown out of the room.
But here's a guy who you would want to have as your friend, you'd want to have him in your foxhole. He is a likable guy and that's what life is about.
BLITZER: All right. You remember high school in Silver Spring, Maryland.
STEIN: Yes. Yes, I certainly do.
BLITZER: All of us remember high school.
BLITZER: And all of us remember the guys like Scott Brown, who were very popular...
STEIN: The guys with cheerleaders.
BLITZER: ...good athletes, got the cheerleaders and had a lot of fun.
All right, guys. Stand by for a moment.
David, we're going to continue this conversation.
We have a lot more discuss beyond high school.
Scott Brown becomes United States Senator Scott Brown. He's the newest senator from Massachusetts. We're watching this.
Also, we're standing by. He's going to be answering reporters' questions partisan. We're going to take that live and see how he does answering some questions. Stand by for that.
Also, we're standing by for the president of the United States. He's raising money for the Democratic Party. We're watching to see what he says. He's supposedly going to be taking questions from Democratic fundraisers. You'll see it all live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: All right. We're waiting for the news conference. Senator Scott Brown -- he's just been sworn in as the 41st Republican senator in the Senate. Once the news conference starts, we'll go there live.
Actually, there are some pictures from the ceremonial area that -- that's his wife that has now come. They've got the bible there. I think they're waiting for Joe Biden for a little ceremonial swearing- in. The formal swearing in already took place.
But we'll watch this. We'll see what he does. We'll see what he says, more importantly.
But let's check back with Lisa Sylvester right now.
She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What else is going on -- Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, concerns about the U.S. jobs outlook took the wind out of Wall Street's sails today. At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrials had lost 268 points. It closed at 10002, but briefly dipped below 10000 earlier in the day for the first time in three months.
On the up side, some surprising good news for retailers. The International Council of Shopping Centers says sales were up 3 percent in January, following a 3.6 percent rise in December.
And Bank of America says the bank and its former CEO, Ken Lewis, will vigorously fight fraud charges brought by the New York attorney general's office today. The lawsuit centers around the bank's purchase of Merrill Lynch at the height of the nation's financial meltdown. The suit says Bank of America's management team, including Lewis, underreported Merrill's losses and billions in employees' bonuses to close that deal.
And thousands of Pakistanis took to the street today, shouting anti-American slogans and burning the U.S. flag. They were protesting yesterday's conviction in New York of a Pakistani woman for trying to kill Americans while she was in U.S. custody in Afghanistan. Thirty- seven-year-old Aafia Siddiqui is accused of shooting at American interrogators after her arrest in 2008. Many Pakistanis say the U.S. fabricated the charges. The U.S. denies it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Lisa, stand by.
I want to go back to that ceremonial swearing-in that the vice president is now having.
Let's listen in a little bit.
BIDEN: ...purpose of evasion and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God.
BROWN: I do.
BIDEN: Again, congratulations.
BROWN: Thank you.
BIDEN: I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
BROWN: I hope to do just as good as you.
BIDEN: Well, I tell you, that won't be hard to do as well as I did. But I really enjoyed it here. I think it's a great, great institution and a great place. I hope you -- I hope you enjoy it.
Now you guys are going to be moving down?
BROWN: No, we're going to be moving to temporary housing for a month...
BROWN: Then we're going to just figure it out.
BIDEN: Yes, no. That's the way to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of changes.
BIDEN: You'll miss the kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, a lot...
BIDEN: A lot of changes (INAUDIBLE). And when -- when there aren't any microphones here, I want to talk to you about kids. I've got a 28-year-old daughter.
BROWN: Yes. No, I know.
BIDEN: I said the exact same thing.
BROWN: Yes, I know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, you get it, right?
BROWN: No. Oh, I get it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you get it.
BROWN: I -- I -- I get it. I appreciate it.
BIDEN: All right. Well...
BROWN: Give my best to the president.
BROWN: ...play him two on two, you know.
BROWN: He can take his best player and I'll take my daughter and we'll just come and...
BIDEN: Well, I'll tell you what. I think it would be a hell of a game.
BROWN: I'd do it for charity.
BIDEN: I'd tell him, as long as he'd do...
BIDEN: I'd tell him, look, you get your best five, I'll get my best five in my office...
BROWN: I'll play for you.
BIDEN: But I said you've got to have three women on the team because I've got a young woman who is the point guard at Boston University, a Secret Service agent who's a point guard at the University of Texas. Like, you know, I might...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, so you're covered. You're covered.
BIDEN: I'm covered.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're covered.
BROWN: All right, I'll play with you then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
BIDEN: And, look, I look forward to having you down not only -- you've got to come down and see me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, thank you.
BIDEN: Is that all right?
BROWN: Thank you.
BIDEN: Thanks (INAUDIBLE).
And looking -- which way are we looking?
All right. Sorry, if we had our back to you guys, I apologize.
BROWN: Thank you. BIDEN: All right?
BROWN: My daughter Ayla has a basketball game in about an hour- and-a-half against Duke. And then my youngest is -- has a test up at Syracuse. She's a pre-med student. And while they would have liked to have been here, we've always taught them to -- if they have commitments, they need to finish them. And that's what they are doing.
We have their bibles here, so we have them in our hearts and in prayer so...
BIDEN: And, by the way, the other reason I like him, Syracuse.
BROWN: Right. That's right.
BIDEN: Syracuse. My son, Syracuse.
BROWN: (INAUDIBLE) a booster. She's a booster.
BIDEN: And -- is that right?
BIDEN: Great. Well, that's great.
BROWN: Yes. It's a great school.
BIDEN: Well, and she -- she learned to really love the snow.
BROWN: Oh, she's learning.
BIDEN: (INAUDIBLE) in Boston, right?
BROWN: There's more snow here than they do up there.
BIDEN: Oh, yes?
Well, right now you do, but overall.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing you...
BROWN: All right, Mr. Vice President, thank you.
BIDEN: ...down at the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
BROWN: Thanks again.
BIDEN: Thanks again.
BROWN: It means a lot to me.
BIDEN: My pleasure...
BROWN: No, no, no, it's a big deal.
BIDEN: As I said, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
All right, guys.
BLITZER: All right. So there you see it. We can eavesdrop a little bit. The microphones were there. We could hear what they were saying -- a little basketball talk. The vice president, he had gone to Syracuse University himself, so they've got something in common there.
The -- what's interesting -- and we're going to talk about this with David Gergen and Gloria Borger and Ben Stein -- they're standing by. What's interesting is that the situation, as a result of his being elected the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, the political situation in Washington has changed dramatically. It's had a huge impact on the fate of health care reform and other issues -- issues that require a 60 vote filibuster-proof majority, which the Democrats no longer have as a result of his election. We'll assess what's going on.
He's going to be answering some reporters' questions fairly soon, as well. We'll go there live to hear what he has to say.
Scott Brown, now the United States senator from Massachusetts -- the junior senator from Massachusetts.
It began as a grassroots response by Americans looking for a voice. Now Tea Partiers are gathering for their first ever convention. We're going to Nashville.
BLITZER: We saw Scott Brown being sworn in as the junior senator from Massachusetts. He's about to hold a news conference. It looks like he's walking in to meet with the reporters right now. There he is. He's going to -- I don't know if he's going to make an opening statement or go right to questions.
But you know what?
Let's listen in.
BROWN: Thank you very much.
I appreciate everybody taking the time to come. I know we have a little storm brewing down here. It's a big storm up our way. It's -- it's just a little dusting.
So I -- I just want to read a statement then I'll take your questions. It's been a great honor to stand before you as the United States senator from Massachusetts and I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to many people, starting with my wife, Gail, who is here. Honey, thank you.
To Vice President Biden, I've always wanted to meet him, so I'm -- I'm finally glad I had an opportunity.
Obviously, Senators Kerry and Kirk and Leader McConnell and so many other people who have been generous through -- with their time and their advice.
I also want to make a special note to Senator McCain. He was one of the first folks -- the first senators who actually came out and supported me.
I especially want to thank the people of Massachusetts who sent me here. I can't promise I will be right in every vote I make, but I -- I'll be sure that I'll make mistakes from time to time. However, I always have tried to learn and grow and I will do the very best job that I can and on -- on an everyday basis.
My daughters couldn't be here today. She has a basketball became in an hour against Duke. My youngest has a test in Syracuse. I felt their presence. You may have noted the bibles I was holding were their bibles they received when they -- in various stages of their lives. It was nice to have them here in spirit.
People have asked me why I wanted to get sworn in so quickly after the results had been certified. The answer is pretty - it was no hidden agenda. The answer is basic. I want to get to work. The secretary of state has certified the results. We gave him initially a fair amount of time. He called the other day and said they were ready. He felt it was appropriate to come down and start working. There are a lot of votes pending I would like to participate in. Even more importantly, there are urgent times for our nation. The president this week submitted a $3.8 trillion budget. As you know, we will have to borrow almost 40 percent of that because we don't have the money to pay for all the spending. I am concerned that we are living beyond our means. I'm hopeful we can work together to try to come up with a strong and responsible budget.
Also this week the CIA director said there will be another al Qaeda attack here in the United States in the next three to five months. Obviously this is frightening news. And we owe the people of America everything we can give them to make sure we keep them safe from any type of attacks. I want to be part of that and have the opportunity to work on these very, very important issues.
So I'm glad to be able to finally fully participate in the affairs that affect our nation and I also want to extend my appreciation to all of you from n the press. Some of you I know from back home. I see many familiar faces and want you to know that I have a little connection and I understand obviously that the work you do and I tried to accommodate each and every one of you. At this point I will take your questions. BASH: You talk about the fact have you and voice and will be independent-minded. Can you give us a specific example? Had you time to think bit. Specific example of how you intend to reach out to Democrats on an issue you think you can work with them and work with the president.
BROWN: I need to see what issues are coming up. I know I'm thankful the delegation was here. Steve lynch and Congressman -- my Congressman. And I worked very closely with no only Senator Kerry and former Senator Kennedy on many, many things. To pinpoint me now as to what I will and won't vote on when I haven't seen a bill.
BASH: Have you had the ability to offer legislation? Whether it is health care or the economy or jobs or --
BROWN: Important to look at the economy first and jobs, job creation, dealing with terrorism and taxation. People back home, I can tell you, were very upset at the amount of spending not only in Massachusetts but couple that with the amount of tax dollars being spent and sometimes wasted, people are fed up and want the ability at least for people to stop working behind closed doors and have transparency to solve these very real problems.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't that precisely the kind of issues that you should be able to go out on a limb on and have been in the military for 30 years? Where are you on that?
BROWN: I don't think I was pushed. I was asked, you know, Barbara Walters interview, my position for first time on that. I thought I answered it clearly. I want to speak to the generals on the field to see what their feelings are. The top priority is to finish the job and make sure we do so and to introduce social change now. I want to rely on the generals on the field to see what their determination is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you participate in a filibuster against -- national labor force nominee?
BROWN: I will vote on procedural issues, nominees and any type of legislation. I'm obviously getting briefing material now. I'm going to look at everybody's qualifications and make my own decision. I have not been asked to do anything either way. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask you about the jobs -- deficit as well. The Democrats are working on a jobs bill. Are you going to be working on the -- have they talked to you yet, reports of a $81 billion bill? What's the bigger concern, adding to the debt or getting a jobs bill?
BROWN: Last stimulus bill didn't create one new job. Some n states the money that was released hasn't even been used yet. We lost another 85,000 jobs again, give or take, last month. Massachusetts has not created one new job. Throughout the country as well. May have retained some but has not created any new jobs. I need to see what's in the bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you had a chance to look at the budget, $260 billion on small businesses --
BROWN: Small businesses, economic engine that are going to create jobs. And to -- I called throughout the campaign and I felt this way forever that you need across-the-board tax cut. JFK style tax cut for businesses and families to put more money in their pockets. Payroll deduction to take what we are dealing with in Massachusetts many of you are not there, sales tax, meals tax, hotel tax, beer tax, increased potentially on gas tax, put a chip in your registration to maybe have a mileage tax and then couple what the government is trying to do. It is getting to the point people are just fed up. They want some type of relief. I have said publicly I support the president's attempt to do targeted tax relief. But everybody is affected. Everybody needs immediate relief. Right here a question. Right here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary of state of Massachusetts, a gal that said -- asked -- called on you to respect the rights of the majority in terms of Obama's nominations. Public do you have any response to that?
BROWN: I'm not quite sure what he meant by that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last time the Republican has 41 votes about a year ago or so before Arlen Specter left the party the way things worked in order to get the 60 votes, Democrats would put together a bill that had the support of just about their entire caucus and then go looking for one or two Republican votes to push it over the limit. Just as a matter of principle or idea, do you mind being among one or two Republicans to Democratic bill over the line as long as you like the bill?
BROWN: Bottom line is it needs to be more communication between both parties. The main thing during my election and thing I heard from the electorate in Massachusetts is they are tired of the back room deals, tired of the bickering and want people to solve their problems. While talking about what people may or may not have said in dealing with things that aren't important p. Terrorists that are trying to kill us. Not only in our airports but in our shopping malls. We have -- people that are losing their homes and can't afford to put food on their table. There are very real problems we are dealing with. If I see a bill that's good for my state first and I don't care where it comes from, if it is good for Massachusetts first, I will look at and it consider it. I have always worked across party lines to solve problems and have a history of 6,000 votes doing just that. I'm looking forward to analyzing each every bill and making a decision when it comes up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Procedurally do you mind being the 60th vote?
BROWN: I would be the 41st vote. I wouldn't be the 60th vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To followup on the question, much has been made that you are going to be the 41st vote against health care reform. I'm wondering now that you are up here in D.C., do you see any room for a bipartisan negotiations? BROWN: I'm hopeful there will be bipartisan negotiations. That's part of the problem. The fact -- always 60-40. And in Massachusetts, we passed a health care bill that was bipartisan. People working in the same room trying to solve these very real problems. I have always said publicly everybody deserves a basic form of health care. The one size fits all especially when states like Massachusetts are going to be subsidizing Medicaid for -- from Nebraska forever, you look at what we already have, it is not perfect, and then you show potentially what would be coming down the pike from the federal government it just wasn't good for Massachusetts. We need to go back to the drawing board and start again. I'm looking forward to being part of it. I will take one more question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Brown in your opening remarks you said the new budget would be financed with 40 percent debt and just a few moments later advocated for more tax relief. Which is more important for you, assuming tax relief would have to be funded with more borrowing? Deficit reduction or job creation through tax cuts?
BROWN: Bottom line, when you offer tax reductions and tax cuts, there will be more people with more money in their pocket and will naturally created more jobs. It will -- I know in my state, one of the biggest problems that the companies and individuals sole proprietorships are having, they don't know between the overregulation, high taxes, between the out-of-control spending in our state, they don't know whether they are coming or going so they are basically stuck in quicksand. We need to -- I'm looking forward to determining what's best, looking forward to seeing the bill and analyzing it. I don't consider tax cuts being a problem for stimulating the economy. I think it is the answer. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the truck?
BROWN: Coming down next week.
BLITZER: There he is, the newly sworn in senator from the state of Massachusetts. Scott Brown. He's answering reporters' questions. Making it clear on big economic issues he is a conservative and wants to cut spending and wants to cut taxes. He also is determined to fight terrorism. These are the two big issues he kept referring to. We are going to digest what we just heard and we are also standing boy hear from President Obama. He is getting ready to meet with Democratic fund-raisers and start answering their questions, TV cameras are inside the room. We will see what the president of the United States has to say and a lot more after this.
BLITZER: Dana Bash is standing by. You are in that room. We saw the question you just asked the newly sworn in senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown. He answer it is questions rapid fire. The journalists will like that.
BASH: He knows to answer a question but I think we are definitely left wanting in terms of detail, whether what legislation he will work on or whether or not he will support a jobs package or whether he will vote for the president's nominees up in the near future. Even next week. I think what we learned is we still have a lot to learn about how the now senator Brown will actually cast his very, very important vote here in the United States Senate.
BLITZER: No one will watch him more closely than you. Full-time job watching to see how he does in the Senate. We are going to get back to you.
Another important story we are watching. I want to remind our viewers we are waiting for the president of the United States. He will be speaking fairly soon. We will have that live coverage coming up. Meeting with Democratic fund-raisers. They let cameras come inside will take questions. Stand by for the president and other news, political news, talking about now.
Members of the tea party movement gathering in Nashville. They are gathering right now for their first -- first national convention. It is a new show the group's political strength and influence in the way it is challenging the status quo. Mary Snow is on the scene in Nashville for us. You have been talking to people gathering for this first tea pear convention. What are you hearing?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of them they say they feel emboldened by Scott Brown's success in Massachusetts. Unlike other tea party events where there have been valleys, they say they call this the maturing of the moment where people -- movement, that is, people are here to try to learn. And they are being taught about grassroots activism. A lot of the people here say they have never been involved, politically involved, before. That has changed for them in the past year. Among some of the people here, organizers say they sold 600 tickets, is Jeff Fenton, who came here from Bar Harbor, Maine. We caught up with him earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF FENTON: I'm interested in having some fiscal responsibility in government. And I don't think that anybody in Washington has gotten the message. And every time turn on the television, there's something that's going on they just don't get. And I think it is time that we had some people represent some ideas and philosophy that would be beneficial to everybody in the country. I think that's what these people are doing this weekend.
BASH: What do you hope to accomplish from in?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hope to come away with a clear feeling of where the movement can take the country. Ways we can send messages to both major parties, to straighten out policies in Washington so that they more clearly reflect the needs of the people that send them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Wolf, the big attraction here, of course, Saturday night. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will be addressing the hundreds of people that are coming here to this convention. But throughout the next two days, they are going to be going to workshops such as grassroots on the ground. Many of them say they hope to take what they learned back to their communities.
BLITZER: I know you are going to be speaking with more of them. We are anxious to get into the minds of some of those that gathered at Nashua, the tea party movement. We are going to get back to you for that. Thank very much. Mary Snow will be in Nashville covering the story for us.
Gloria, this is a significant movement. It is showing political muscle right now.
BORGER: Right now, it has a lot of passion. It doesn't have a lot of organization. And right now it is a movement that's defined as much about what the people are against as what they are for. They are against big government. They are against deficits. They are against taxes. They are against excessive regulation. If it is going to mature into a real political movement they have to define what they are for. They have to good get a leader and they have to start attracting those real independent voters. Some of them are but a lot of the independents are standing back now.
BLITZER: Does this remind you of the Ross Perot phenomenon?
STEIN: I was not impressed when they said they had 600 people at a national convention. That's not very many in a nation of 303 million. What government spend willing they cut? It is the Republicans. I'm Republican. But the Republicans are the ones that destroyed the fiscal integrity of the government. Let's hear something about that. It was the bush tax cuts, not Mr. Obama's destroying the fiscal integrity of the government. Let's hear a few words about that. You can't cut government spending magically and make the problem disappear. It is too big. They have to raise taxes and gigantic way over the next several years and tea partiers can't do a thing about them. I love them. God bless them.
BLITZER: We're going to continue this. Stand by for a moment. We are also standing by for President Obama, getting ready to speak at a Democratic fund-raiser here in Washington. He will make remarks then take questions. They are letting the cameras stay inside the room for Q&A. When the president gets going over there, we will watch and listen. Much more of our coverage coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack with the Cafferty File. Jack?
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is would you buy a Toyota?
Kelsey writes: "I have a '97 4-runner and I've never had any trouble with it, just routine maintenance and over 250,000 miles on it. I think that Toyotas are reliable cars."
Chris in Toronto writes: "I will never buy one of the cars. The devious ham-handed manner in which they conducted the series of recalls and first saying there is no problem and then it was the driver's fault and then it was the floor mats and then it was wear and tear and it could be both is insulting at best and could be deadly at most."
Nancy said: "I would buy a Toyota. If everybody stopped buying vehicles that had malfunctions in the past, we would all be walking, because even bicycles have had problems."
David in North Carolina writes: "The U.S. government is trying to plant doubt in the consumers' minds about Toyota to boost the sales of General parentheses government Motors."
Mike in Tennessee: "When a car company has been hit this hard and looking to save its image and is this closely watched, you can bet they are not only going to try to put out safer automobiles, but will be hurting to sell some of them as well."
Jared says: "I love Toyota. They are extremely reliable and safe vehicles for me. I will continue to buy them."
Mike in Missouri writes: "Just what the U.S. automakers need. A thank you card is in order."
Dave says: "Buy a Toyota? Forget it. I'm going to go to the back lot and see if the old Pinto will start."
We got lots of mail on this subject, and you can go to my blog CNN.com/Caffertyfile for more -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jack thank you. We are waiting for the president of the United States, and he will be speaking soon and taking questions at a Democratic fund-raiser, and we will take questions after this.
BLITZER: Let's assess what we have just seen and about to see, and remember we are standing by for the president of the United States. Let's bring in our strategy session and we will assess what is going on. David Gergen, our senior political analyst, first your thoughts on that little news conference the Q&A from the newly-sworn in senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown?
GERGEN: Well, Scott Brown, the Republican today sounded like a John McCain Republican, didn't you think, Wolf? He echoed most of the positions that John McCain has taken and seem in close alignment as well as allies. We will see more of that. I thought that you were absolutely right that those who have said this is sort of a independent who is a moderate seemed conservative today, and he took mostly conservative positions, and the line is going to get him in trouble claiming that not one new job has been created by the stimulus program.
I think that there are an awful lot of people out there who would dispute the assertion, but the other thing, Wolf, that struck me is how appropriate it seemed to me that the tea party folks are meeting the same day that Scott Brown got sworn in, because they provided the fuel for his election. They are not fully organized, because that I have a fair amount of grass roots power in the country. They started with the town halls back last summer, and they really reversed the public opinion on health care bill, and they had a big impact here in Massachusetts on providing a lot of the early energy for Scott Brown. I think that you heard some echoes in Scott Brown which is the same things we are hearing from the tea party folks.
BLITZER: Ben Stein, as we listen to what Scott Brown said, the last stimulus bill that passed did not create one new job. I think that what he was trying to say is that if you look at the monthly jobs lost it was 700,000 back in January and 600,000 in February, but still every month jobs are lost and as a result, there has not been a net gain.
STEIN: No net gain, but he is quite wrong on that. You cannot spend several hundred billion without creating some jobs and even the Democrats say we have created 600,000 jobs which is 1.2 million per job which is an awful lot of money to spend when the average job is $50,000. Even over three year, it would have created 4 million job, and where is all of that money? Where is this money?
BLITZER: And now between former state Senator Scott Brown who became a senator and then he became the president of the United States. We will hear about him and a lot of comparisons about the backgrounds and styles and what do you think about the comparisons?
BORGER: Both smooth and accomplished and both basketball players, right? The thing that was interesting to me, Wolf, you saw John McCain's influence here, because when he was asked about "don't ask, don't tell," he said, I want to speak to the generals in the field, and that is what John McCain said in the campaign. Now, we have heard from the generals in the field, and they are supporting it.
BLITZER: Admiral Mullen. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
BORGER: And the secretary of defense, and we see him taking the same line that John McCain is taking, and that could cause him some problems in the state of Massachusetts and maybe not, but he would not commit.
BLITZER: And Scott Brown says that John McCain has been his mentor and likes him a lot, and you are right, he did sound like John McCain. Dan Lothian is our White House correspondent, and set the stage for the president. I take it he is getting ready to leave the White House to the fund-raiser.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right. He is heading over there, Wolf, which according to the sources expected to raise $2.5 million and then after the president makes short remarks we are told he will take a few questions, and that is interest, because one of the things I talked to Robert Gibbs about today is why isn't the president taking questions at all from the reporters and taking questions from the fund-raiser and Democrats early and Republicans, but he has not held a prime time news conference since July 22nd of last year. Robert Gibbs says this is a president who he believes has had more interviews than other presidents in recent history. I asked him if he would have a prime time press conference any time soon, and Robert Gibbs said not that I am aware of.
BLITZER: The whole notion of the president taking questions at these Democratic fundraisers, do they normally allow cameras inside or is this unusual what we are about to see?
LOTHIAN: I think sometimes they do allow the cameras inside, but the White House enjoys are having the press there when the president is there at the Q and A event like they had last year, and the White House felt good about that going with the notion of transparency, and they felt that the president was able to take hard questions and handle it well. He likes the opportunity he had this week to do the same thing with Democrats. They are looking forward tonight to the DNC members and others who will get a chance to throw some questions at the president, Wolf.
BLITZER: We will see if they are tough questions or not so tough or softballs or hard balls. We will see what they decide to do. Dan Lothian will watch it with us, and David Gergen is standing by and Gloria Borger and Ben Stein and we will have full analysis of what the president has to say and much more of the political coverage coming up.
To the viewers here in THE SITUATION ROOM.