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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  April 28, 2012 11:30pm-12:00am PDT

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tonight, the one man who knows president obama better than just about anybody else. >> rahm has exceeded all of my expectations. >> rahm emanuel on president obama, mitt romney, and the battle for the white house. >> if it was up to mitt romney, we wouldn't have an auto industry. he said let them go. >> the democrats' tough-talking champion of bare knuckle politics, his bold plan for keeping america great and his new battle for world peace. >> i wanted the kids to have this opportunity, to speak and learn from people who stood up and made a difference. >> this is "piers morgan tonight."
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a big story tonight. rahm emanuel. we're here at von stuben high school, one of several chicago schools where mayor emanuel has brought nobel peace prize winners to speak with students. he joins me now for a primetime exclusive. mr. mayor, welcome. or rather thank you for welcoming me. are you aware of the history of this school? baron von stuben. >> are you aware of the history? >> i'm aware he was george washington's ruthless chief of staff. >> right. >> and therefore personally responsible for annihilating a lot of brits. >> von steuben did -- actually was in the army, as you know. he was also -- hamilton has a view of whether he was not in fact washington's chief of staff. obviously the history you're missing is my mother graduated from here. >> oh, really? >> yeah. so there's more than just the history of the name of the school. and if i didn't mention that, it would be a long year for me. >> you were born in chicago. you went to school here. and as you just told me -- >> chicago area, yeah. >> and your mother went to this particular school. people say that the bedrock of
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any great nation is education. >> without a doubt. >> do you agree with that? >> piers, we wouldn't -- you and i wouldn't be doing this interview if it wasn't for both the love of our parents and the education we received and their focus on education. that's true for any individual. that's also going to be true for a family. it's going to be true for a city. and it's going to be true for a country. if you educate your students, you educate your young, and even in our lifetime now, lifetime education, you have the potential for anything coming at you and anything you want to do in life. >> america's falling behind in education. >> mm-hmm. >> globally. why is that? >> well, the fact is we haven't focused like we need to on our educational system. and i wouldn't so much say it's america's falling behind as others are catching up and we haven't taken our -- we've taken our lead for granted. we need to focus on college. we need to focus on our what i call our community colleges to make sure we have an entire workforce trained for the economy, whether that's your mba program, your law school, your engineering schools, your
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four-year institutions, and also your technical education. and i think you have to not look at one or the other but the entire i would say menu of higher education because 3/4 of the jobs in the future require a post-high school at least minimum two years college education. >> your mother produced three some would say brilliant men. i would certainly go along with that. you. you rose to the higher echelons of american politics. one of your brothers is a huge hollywood talent superstar. and the third brother, probably the most talented of them all, i think we'd all agree on that, is a brilliant physician. >> except for ari and i. we'd have a veto problem. >> you would disagree. of course you would. but we would all agree with the third brother. tell me about your mother's ethos for her kids. she was educated at this very school. >> albany park is where she grew up. as i talked in that room about -- to the students, my grandfather on my mother's side came to this country 1917, leaving the pogroms of eastern europe.
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the third cousin he never met here, 13 years old. now, the first ethos, if you want to use that, is the importance of being an immigrant. you came to this america because of the unique opportunity. you came to chicago, the most american of american cities, because of the opportunity to give your children something they could not get. >> how does she define the opportunity to you at the time? >> well, first of all, there's a couple things. and it's not -- it's hard to reduce. one of the things my parents had in our family, on our family room, were pictures of relatives who never made it to america. and in the middle of that were the passports of my grandmother and my two great aunts, which was their way of reminding us you're lucky. now use it. second, and you know, something i actually try to learn from, and i think this -- and i say this as a criticism of my generation. i think we're overinvolved in our kids' lives. we need to leave our kids more to fail. we try to protect our kids too much. and i think my parents allowed each of us -- >> i totally agree with this. >> -- to fail --
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>> modern kids aren't encouraged to understand losing. >> to fail. and because if you look at one of the things i say at graduations all the time, while these are great milestones for you, the test of character is what happens when you face adversity, how you pick yourself back up. >> what was your biggest ever failure? >> well, i've had two. one is that i think for me, one was i nearly lost my job working for president clinton. and that was something i'd worked all my life to get to. and i faced a critical juncture, a time at which i may not be there anymore. the other time is i had cut my finger but because of carelessness i was in the hospital for seven weeks, and for a 48-hour period of time nearly died. and my three roommates, if you'd call them that, roommates at different times -- >> which was the finger? >> my middle finger on my right hand. >> because it was semi-amputated, right? >> yeah. they had died at different times. and i think knowing the value of life. so those are different times. and what happened for me after
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that. >> what did you learn about yourself? >> well, from the one incidence in the hospital, never, ever take life for granted. more importantly than that, i wanted to get everything i could out of life because you never know when it can flip on you. second, i'd worked all my time careerwise to get to that point in the white house, i realized at any moment that can go and i needed to change what i was doing and how i was focusing. so my whole thing, though -- and i want to get back to this -- is giving our children an education in school. but remember one thing i want to also emphasize because i believe we have great kids, great teachers locked in a system that is not working with them. do not lose sight of the fact that the most important door a child walks through for an education is the front door of their home. i could not have succeeded at school if my parents didn't teach me the value of an education. and what's missing here is teachers need parents as partners to succeed. they also need a principal like
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mr. alonzo here at von steuben who manage and set a tone for their building, for what happens in each classroom. >> how responsible can a president be and an administration to the reality of a school like this and how much is actually down to a mayor and local education -- >> well, first of all, you have to have from the top all the way through the to the classroom and including the kitchen where parents talk to their kids or their house, you have to have a culture of accountability. a president sets a tone. a secretary of education sets a tone. they're not going to pass on that. and i reward president obama for taking on reform. and that's what the race to the top was. >> well, here in chicago you hosted the world peace summit. and unbelievably, you've managed to persuade mikhail gorbachev to come to this school. and sean penn. so you've got one of the great world leaders, one of the great actors. what is the idea behind bringing them to a school like this? >> well, first of all, we have with robert f. kennedy and the steve chicago, the robert f. kennedy foundation in the city of chicago, the nobel peace prize winners from around the
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world. i wanted the kitds to have this opportunity. as did the robert f. kennedy foundation, to speak and learn from people who stood up and made a difference for peace, made a difference for economic and social and political justice. >> take a short break. i want to come back, and i want you to put your teacher's hat on, to give a little school report on president obama. and also your ideas for how to keep america great. >> we are all very excited for rahm as he takes on a new challenge for which he is extraordinarily well qualified. but we're also losing an incomparable leader of our staff and one who we are going to miss very much.
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so you need a big person for the job. now, rahm's not even six feet tall. he probably weighs about 150 pounds dripping wet. but in all the ways that matter he is a very big person for this job.
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>> president bill clinton campaigning in january last year for rahm emanuel. mayor emanuel is back with me now to talk about one of my favorite topics, keeping america great. president clinton. >> it's okay. i can handle it. he knows when i worked for him i was 6'2." i lost it all there. >> you are obviously famously known as president obama's right-hand guy. you still talk to him regularly. you're still one of the people i guess he listens to most. give me a school report. we're in a school. and you are really being dispassionate and being the teacher, saying president obama, tick, tick, tick, cross, cross, cross, what would you say? >> first of all, it's like everything. he inherited a country that the economy was spiraling more than just a recession into something much more severe. an auto industry, not one company but an entire auto industry that was weeks away from totally shutting down and collapsing, which was about a million-plus manufacturing jobs. the industrial base of america. a financial sector not just a
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savings and loan, frozen up to the point you that couldn't get a car loan, a student loan, or a home loan. nothing could move. or a small business loan. america's reputation around the world because of iraq and afghanistan, a decade worth of war, was not what it was when you think of the american century. we were not held in high regard. and he literally piece by piece put this country back on track. today the auto industry is hiring again. it wasn't. it was literally closing its doors at one point. the financial sector is lending again and much healthier. the economy, rather than losing 800 -- or 750,000 jobs a month, is somewhere around 200,000 a month gaining jobs. and every sector, is it different? is it fast enough? is it diverse enough? he'd be the first to tell you. are the middle class more secure? no. are they where they were before? absolutely much better. but we have a long way to go. >> only one american president in history i think has ever been elected with unemployment above
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8%. >> mm-hmm. >> the polls suggest it's pretty close with the assumed nominee mitt romney. president obama, your guy, has a fight on his hands, doesn't he? how is he going to win the economic argument against mitt romney, who will be chucking the kitchen sink at him and saying i'm the business guy that can get us out of this? >> first of all, the policies mitt romney advocates are the policies that got's into it. it's hard to get you out of something when you advocate the same policies that led you into this crisis. second the president is also, as he looks if you decide to focus on polls, is more trusted when it comes to fighting for and protecting the middle class. and this still, while under assault, the middle class is still the heart and soul of this country. and the policies, and we're going to have a debate in the coming weeks about student loans. so the question is whose side are you going to be on? how are you going to help those students? because as you and i are sitting in this building these kids, we have a 90% graduation rate. if they don't get to college,
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they don't finish college, their individual economic opportunities and gains as well as for the city of chicago and for the country are diminished because we live in an era where you earn what you learn. >> people assume that president obama would come in and fulfill the greatest expectation in the history of american presidents. and clearly, he hasn't because probably nobody could. but has he been frustrated, do you think, that he can't force the rate of change as much as he'd like to? and what does he blame that on? >> i'm not going to speak for him. you have to do that. you have a political system that needs to measure up to the challenges we have and measure up to the greatness of the people of this country. and does he want change? yes. and he wants change in a direction that helps middle class. i would say clearly mitt romney's economic policies want to take to us i appoint in time which actually led to this crisis we've had in the auto industry, the financial sector, and the economy as a whole.
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remember, if it was up to mitt romney, we wouldn't have an auto industry. he said let them go. and president obama said absolutely not, i'm going to double down on the american worker, and whose policies was right for that industry is also who's right for this country. >> america's not the land of opportunity that it was when your mother was at this school. america has got big problems right now. >> no, no. i don't buy that. >> you don't buy that? >> no. i think we have a great opportunity to shape things in the future, to continue america's greatness. and the question is are we willing to take the risks and the challenges head on? you can either shape your future or be shaped by it. >> let's take another break. let's come back and talk about a particular issue that chicago faces, gang crime, black teenagers killing other black teenagers, and how it relates to the trayvon martin case and race in america generally. [ male announcer ] whoa, megan landry alert. and she's looking directly at your new lumia, thank you at&t. first, why don't you show her the curved edge...
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students to encourage them to fight for peace by speaking truth to power. rahm emanuel is back with me talking about keeping america great. chicago. you've been mayor now for still less than a year. but 60% higher homicides in the first quarter of this year is a shocking statistic. everybody looks at chicago now and thinks what the hell is going on, you know, with places like inglewood, with young black teenagers killing young black teenagers indiscriminately. what are you going to do about this and what does it say about race in america right now? >> first of all, i was in englewood yesterday in a church. because we have to bring the ministers and what goes on in that church outside that church. the strength of that church, the strength of that congregation is what we need on the streets. second of all, our overall crime rate is down 11%. but we have a gang problem. and also kids raised with no sense of values when it comes to life. that they can indiscriminately shoot. gang on gang violence. and it's unacceptable.
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and as i said at that church, two very important messages. if a kid's shot in little village or a kid's shot in englewood, that's a tear in our city. no one can walk around in our city and say that's down there, that's over there. no. that's in our city. that's unacceptable. because we have a great city with great people. number two, it is about putting more police on the street and get kids, guns, and drugs off the street. the access to guns are unacceptable. and we need a change in policies. which is why i've talked about that. we've empowered communities to shut down these liquor stores in the neighborhood. okay? but it is working on a strategy that takes guns out of gangs, puts gangs on notice that these streets belong to our kids, belong to our families, they don't belong to you. >> you've been very vocal about gun law in the past. you've been strong on that and consistent. when you look at the trayvon martin case, to me the race element is a slight red herring to the bigger problem. it's not something you can negate, and it may be that the trial reveals there was a form of racial profiling.
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but in relation to what actually happened, george zimmerman is using the stand your ground law in florida and the fact that he was allowed to just walk around with a gun anyway as his defense. what do you think of that part of the debate in the trayvon case? >> well, i'm here the mayor of the city of chicago. i'm focused on what's happening in englewood. i'm focused on what's napping little village. i'm focused on what's happening in our communities and our neighborhoods here. that individual case, there's a gun element to it. there's a race element. there's a criminal justice. i think the policies on those type of gun laws are the exact opposite of why i fought for the brady bill, the assault weapon ban, and a juvenile brady bill. okay? but my concentration, my time, my energy is making sure the kids in our city of chicago can walk to school thinking of their studies, not their safety. >> half the states in america virtually -- >> not illinois -- >> i know that. >> illinois stands out. >> but mayor bloomberg-w it's also not applicable in new york, has been very vocal saying stand your ground is unacceptable in modern america. do you agree with that? >> yeah. it's totally unacceptable.
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i'd like to see our state, which is why i introduced a law as it relates to buying a title for a gun like you do for a car, like you do for anything else. but my focus, my time, my energy, it's not about the case in miami. there's enough voices to that. i have my thoughts on it. my time and energy is making our our police departments do what he this need to do, the people are faith are out not just in their church but out in their communities which is why we're work particularly both in englewood to bring up the neighborhood, little village, west garfield, all our communities to give our kids and our families the sense of security. because without that everything else you're trying to do is all that much harder. >> the secret service scandal. when you see secret service agents protecting the president, behaving in such an amoral way, that doesn't help kids at a school like, this does it? it's gun for the message that comes down from the top. >> i don't want to generalize because i don't even know if the kids are -- what they're thinking about this. so i don't know how could you do it. i can't do it. i haven't talked to them about it. i think anybody in a position of authority or a position with responsibility should act according to that office.
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in the sense of the responsibility that comes with it, the authority that comes with it. that's true, that goes beyond the secret service because there are good men and women in the department. the individuals that did that have besmirched not only their career but the entire department and the culture that lives there. but that doesn't take me off to say that about them. that's also true of all of us in public life. it's true but guys in media. it's true of people in other institutions who have fallen short from the role and responsibility and the voice that our voice carries in the sense of that responsibility. >> mr. mayor, it's been a pleasure. >> see you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. are high. i'm not juice or fancy water, i'm different. i've got nine grams of protein. twist my lid. that's three times more than me! twenty-one vitamins and minerals and zero fat! hmmm. you'll bring a lot to the party. [ all ] yay! [ female announcer ] new ensure clear. nine grams protein. zero fat. twenty-one vitamins and minerals. in blueberry/pomegranate and peach.
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