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tv   State of the Union  CNN  May 22, 2011 9:00am-10:00am EDT

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he also asks for privacy as he goes through the recovery process. keeping tabs on what they're doing, trying to figure out what they're doing up there -- some work on the international space station. this is a live picture we are able to bring you 200 miles above the earth. the astronauts of the "endeavour" on its last mission are up there right now doing some work on the international space station. just amazing to always be able to bring you these pictures. always happy to bring you candy crowley right now, too. the gang of six becomes the gang of five. and a divide measured in years rattles the sturdiest alliance in the middle east. first that bipartisan group of senators trying to find a solution to the debt problem fell victim to partisanship when republican senator tom coburn walked. he wrote in an op-ed -- the lack of leadership and initiative in the senate is appalling. it is not realistic to expect six members to pull the senate out of its dysfunction andlet that are gi." and on the international front, israeli prime minister benjamin
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netanyahu up close and personal, publicly rejected president obama's starting point proposal for peace between israelis and palestinians. >> while israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines. because these lines are indefensible. >> appalling and indefensible. but are they insolvable equations? today, the congressional impasse over taming a ferocious u.s. debt with the senate's number two democrat, dick durbin. mid aeft promise in peril with leaders of the intelligence committee. chairman mike rogers and ranking member -- and then presidential politics right and left with republican dick armey and democrat ron -- i'm candy crowley and this is "state of the union." we begin this morning here with a budget impasse in
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washington. with me this morning, one of the gang of six, dick durbin. let me just ask you right off the bat, do you have any indications senator coburn will come back? >> no, we don't. i hope he will but here's what it boils down to. after four months of intense negotiation, we followed the bull simpson deficense commissi guidelines and cut by over $10 trillion over four years. senator coburn said no, i'm not part of this and then walked away. the question is whether democrats and republicans on both sides of the aisle will step up and say don't stop, we need do this together, sacrifice and make concessions on both sides if we're ever going to solve this national problem. >> senator coburn in his op-ed hit the senate itself pretty hard, as others have -- by the way, "washington post" had an article about the "do-nothing
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senate," senator rand paul talks about how the senate doesn't do anything. certainly there have been fewer points to this point than there were last year. some of what senator coburn said when he was arguing, put the darn budget on the floor, put the deficit reduction on the floor and let's work it out, have a big public airing of what's going on. he said this in that same op-ed -- if we continue to avoid tough choices we will lose control of our economic destiny and go down in history as the senate that lost america. our epitaph will read never before in the field of legislating was so much ignored by so many for so long." this week that we're ending up, the senate voted on something it knew would not pass and that is taking away loopholes for oil companies. next week the senate is going to vote on two things, we think, that will not pass. the ryan budget plan, as well as the president's budget plan. why bother? why don't you all just get out on the floor and do something that matters, that will come to
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something? >> well, we should, and we will. just remember, when senator harry reid, the majority leader, called the small business research bill, which was really bipartisan from the start, it broke down on the floor because everyone wanted to offer amendments, particularly from the other side, on unrelated issues. so that's been a problem. but here is the bottom line, candy. if we're going to do our job, we have to do it together. democrats can't do it alone. republicans can't do it alone. that's what i hope -- >> it just gets so frustrating i think for people to watch this because sunday after sunday, people come on and they go, we've got to work together and if the democrats would only do this and the democrats come on and say if the republicans would only do that. meanwhile you keep taking votes on things that aren't going to pass. >> but candy, what we need this week is for a bipartisan group of senators to step up and tell us, now the gang of five, we want to sit down with you, we want to proceed with you in a
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bipartisan way to deal with this stuff. we have the framework. the work we've done, we should not abandon all the work we've put into it, it needs to be a bipartisan starting point and we are making that offer to both caucuses. i hope they'll take us up on it. >> what you mean is you need more senators to come join in group? i'm not sure what you're saying. >> yes. yes. that's exactly what i'm saying. if we can have republican and democratic senators saying don't quit, don't stop, we need to continue this effort, i think that's the kind of push that can bring us together in a bipartisan basis. sure, we're going to have a debate on the floor but let's have a good starting point. >> and do you believe that the senate democrats, or dams at all, will come up with a budget plan? i mean the republicans do have one out there. ryan's plan. but the senate democrats don't have one. will you ever? >> well, i can tell you that senator kent conrad has his senate and budget committee together in principle but he and i will say, that's not enough. terms of passing a budget on the
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floor of the senate, meeting with the house and working it out, we need to have bipartisanship. we need some republican buy-in this this. both parties need to sit down and find some accommodation. that's what four months of negotiated has been all about in the gang of six. >> there's also been the vice president's group out there looking for some way, although in much fewer dollars saved as far as we can tell looking from the outside in. which of these three things is most likely to happen, snaert? the biden group comes to some agreement, the gang of five or six comes to some agreement, or the u.s. defaults on its debt? >> listen, the last option is totally unacceptable. a default on the american debt can plunge us into another recession with even more jobs lost and businesses failing. those few -- and i think totally irresponsible members of congress who say, it really doesn't make any difference if we default, are being irresponsible with one of the most significant economic issues we're going to face. we need to acknowledge that no
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singing group, gang of five or six, joe biden, can come to this conclusion. but maybe, just maybe, bringing together the best ideas of all of them we're going to find a solution to this problem. >> so you don't see the biden group or even the gang of five or six, or if you get more people, the gang of 12 or whatever, you think it is going to be some conglom ratierate th going to vote for those on the floor? >> vice president biden could lead to us a successful conclusion here but i think he's likely to take into account a lot of other arguments being made. i really believe the bowl simpson deficit commission which i voted for is a great starting point because it put everything on the table and it was bipartisan and it was real. at the end of the day there were real dramatic cuts in our deficit which everyone wants to see. so let him use that framework, let him be the spokesperson, the
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mediator. i think with his leadership we can come to a positive conclusion. >> why not take the bowl simpson legislation, write it up, put it on the floor and do what senator coburn suggests, add, subtract, do whatever the senate's will is? i don't think people understand why you have to have these little groups. >> i'm with you completely. i'm with you completely. even as we negotiated in this gang of six, we understood that whatever we put on the floor is open to amendment. there will be other ideas, some good, some bad, some controversial and some politically difficult. but we have to walk through the process. rand paul is not wrong. this is ultimately going to be a debate on the floor of some of the most important economic issues of our time. which incidentally, that's why we were elected. >> and time's wasting, senator, as you snow. whatever timothy geithner is doing at treasury department, he says he can mix things up enough to keep us from defaulting, though we're already through the
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debt ceiling, until august. but you only have until then. i guess some of the commentary also this week has been that there's not a lot of pressure out there about this debt ceiling issue. and what i wanted to ask you first, when you were out and about talking to your constituents, do they say to you, hey, i want you to vote to raise the debt ceiling? is it a big issue out there? >> almost no one. almost no one brings it up. you really have to be deep into the policy issues that are involved here. but i'll tell you, everyone talks about creating jobs and getting this economy moving again. whether or not we're dealing with the foreclosures in the chicagoland area, businesses struggling to hire more people, people understand this economy is fragile and i know -- and i hope your listeners and viewers know, that if we default on our debt as several irresponsible congressmen have already called for, we are virtually going to find ourselves in a position where we jeopardize this economy. >> for which there is some bipartisan consensus at least because that's what others are
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saying on the republican side as well. well, good luck to you, senator. another week coming up of business, we hope. thanks so much, senator dick durbin. we appreciate it. up next -- how can president obama get the mideast peace process back on track. we'll ask the top two members of the house intelligence committee.
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joining me now, two top members of the house intelligence committee, republican chairman mike rogers of michigan and the ranking democrat, congressman dutch rupersberger of maryland. thank you both for being here. big question of the week of course is, did the president go too far when he said the words "1967 borders" with land swaps. he also included that. but did he unnecessarily stir up
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israeli anxiety? >> i think so. those are really delicate subjects that should be on the table for negotiation behind closed doors. but now he's drawn a line in the sand. if you're abbas, do you come down from those '67 borders? and if you're netanyahu, how do you come down from the '67 borders knowing that you have to do that for defense? i think it is a bad strategy to try to negotiate. >> he's getting a bit of a do-over here if he wants it at aipac. but did you think it was a bold move to sort of state it as clearly as he did even if it wasn't all that different from past presidents? or was it a diplomatic mistake? >> i think only time will tell. i think there's clearly the president has to state number one that israel is our ally and we will always support them, that israel has to have security. they have to have the ability to defend themselves. now i assume that he made this move to get the peace talks moving again, but only time will tell. so we all need to see what the
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president says in the aipac speech today so that he'll clarify those issues but there's no question it has caused great concern on my constituents in the jewish community. >> the problem is, i think, that the other half of the people i talked to said, this is like pie in the sky. they're nowhere near talking to one another much less where do we start. and part of the problem is that now fatah and hamas have joined forces, if you will, or have come to an agreement, and hamas doesn't recognize israel's right to exist, and the u.s. considers hamas a terrorist group. so aren't we just kind of talking about something that we are nowhere near? can the u.s. ever say, fine, now hamas is part of the equation. >> they would have to have fundamental changes and i don't see it anywhere on the horizon. again, that was the problem about establishing those borders and much of those borders are in place because of the security concerns for israel.
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and so now you have somebody who doesn't want you to exist who now believes the standard is the '67 borders. i don't even have to negotiate down from there, i just get to negotiate up from there. that's why i thought this was such a colossal mistake for negotiations. i just wish the president hadn't done it in public. all of those discussions can happen behind closed doors. that's what negotiations are about. but when you lay it on the table like that you dig people in to saying that's my -- i will get no worse than that position. well, it's unacceptable for israel and of course if you're hamas, the fact that israel exists is unacceptable as well. dangerous. >> so really, it seems to me that we are extraordinarily -- seems to me middle east peace talks are stalled always is a headline somewhere in any decade i've ever covered politics, which has been a while. it seems to me now they're more than stalled. they're nonexistent and further apart and we also seem to have what seems to me a not-great
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relationship between the prime minister of israel and the president of the united states. what's your take? >> first thing, the issue of hamas is clear. how can you have a negotiated agreement with hamas or any country who would not acknowledge the existence of israel? that has to be done. on the other hand, there is a situation where the talks have stalled and i again assume only time will tell that this is what the president was doing to make this an issue. but in the end, israel is not going to agree with any agreement, peace agreement, if they cannot defend their borders, they have the right to defend themselves, and to make sure that those countries that they have an agreement with. and you cannot deal with terrorists and that is hamas. so that has to be dealt with or there will not be an agreement. >> i want to talk more general about the arab spring. that was actually the focus of the president's talk. here was some of the commentary that came out talking about the president and the new u.s.
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policy. came from the arab center for research and policy studies. writing, "most people have realized that what the u.s. does or does not do is no longer important because people took matters into their own hands and decided their own future. so why should people care what president obama says? america is no longer an issue." is that the net result of an arab spring where you see the people themselves, which we have applaud, taking over saying we want our over government -- not many have taken over yet but nonetheless, saying we want our own government. >> if you don't make decisive commitments up front, if you don't have a clear policy throughout, this is exactly what's going to happen. this is one of our concerns with administrations dealing with the middle east crisis as they came up. the one standard they applied to libya, they're not applying to other countries. that inconsistency does cost us friends and allies in the future. i'm hoping that the president
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takes the next few weeks to straighten out and make a solid commitment, and take out the rises and lows in his middle east policy so that we all understand what it is. if you ask, i think the average american today, what is our policy in the middle east, i think we'd be -- all of us, including me -- would be hard-pressed to say i understand what it is. i think the president can get through this, but it is going to take a serious step and clear leadership. he doesn't have to say i'm going to fix this country this way, but we have to have clear plans and operations and commitments as we go forward so we don't have this conclusion so our influence won't wane. >> just quickly before we take a brick, sin break, since he brought up libya, have you seen any sign that what we want out of this, which is a cracking of gadhafi's inner circle, is actually any closer to happening? is. >> i think at this point no. the opposition is not as strong as we thought. nato's been aggressive in
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dealing with the no-fly zone but we cannot be the sheriff for the rest of the world. we need to support these other countries for democracies and issues important to our best interests but we cannot have -- be in afghanistan and leave iraq and yet be in other areas. we can't do that. >> stick with me a bit. we will continue our conversation shortly. but when we come back, a check of the top stories. and then, what to do with the billions of dplaollars in a the u.s. gives to pakistan. tell us what you want to pay. we do our best to make that work. deal! my money. my choice. my meineke.
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time for a check of today's top stories. deadly violence today in baghdad as several bombs killed at least 13 people and injured 67 others. iraqi authorities say a mixture of car and roadside bombs targeted civilians as well as u.s. and iraqi security forces. at least three afghan police officers were killed and four others wounded when suicide bombers attacked a traffic police office in eastern afghanistan today. the police chief of the country's coast province said the attackers parked the vehicle near the building that was full of explosives. one person is dead after a tornado ripped through the town of reading, kansas. the storm also destroyed 20 homes and damaged 200 others. meanwhile, residents in the mississippi river community of st. martin's parish, louisiana have been told that a mandatory evacuation is on hold. the associated press is reporting that the delay is because officials said the river is expected to crest at a lower level than previously thought. a no-go for mitch daniels in
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2012. the indiana governor says he will not seek the republican presidential nomination. in a late-night e-mail to supporters, daniels said, "if you feel that this was a non-courageous or unpatriotic decision, i understand and will not attempt to persuade you otherwise. i only hope that you will accept my sincerity in the judgment i reached." we'll talk presidential politics later this hour with former house majority leader dick armey and former joe biden chief of staff, ron clain. later today the astronauts of the e"endeavour" spacewalk will speak to students at an arizona school. the u.s. enlisted the islamabad government to track down and uncover terrorists and their plots inside pakistan. to aid in the effort as as an incentive, the u.s. ha is given pakistan some $20 billion in
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u.s. taxpayer money since 2001. so when u.s. forces found and killed osama bin laden in a house outside islamabad where he had reportedly been living for five years twhere were big questions. there still are. in a letter to secretaries clinton and gates tuesday, five democratic senators wrote, "it is incongruous to be providing enormous sums to the pakistani military unless we are certain that it is meeting its commitment to locate, disrupt and dismantle terrorist threats inside its borders. it is a bipartisan feeling to the u.s. is giving money to pakistani elements that are either hostile or incompetent. >> most of us are wanting to call time-out on aid until we can astaken what is in our best interest. >> i have a real difficulty explaining to people back home in idaho what we're doing spending billions of dollars in pakistan, particularly on civilian matters when they don't like us. >> pakistan can go elsewhere for what it wants, strengthening alliances the u.s. would rather
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not see flourish. china said recently it will provide 50 or so fighter jets to pakistan. up next, more of our conversation with the two top congressmen on the intelligence committee. [ female announcer ] in and out. out and in. now you can apply sunblock to your kids' wet skin. new neutrogena® wet skin kids with helioplex. the first sunblock designed to be applied directly to wet skin. ordinary sunblock drips and whitens. neutrogena® wet skin kids instantly cuts through water. forms a broad spectrum protective barrier. with wet skin kids, your kids have full strength sun protection. try new wet skin sunblock for adults too.
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we are back with congressman mike rogers and congress dutch ruppe ruppersberg person there will either be repercussions for
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competence or down right hostile views toward american policy, or it will be business as usual. which one is it going to be? >> i'm -- there might and third option there. they are a fair weather friend, at best. but remember, they put troops into the tribal areas at our request and they took thousands of casualties. they have arrested some hundreds of people in the settled areas of pakistan, al qaeda related members and taliban. they provide a logistics hub for our soldiers in afghanistan. i would be very careful about just pulling the plug. it makes great domestic politics but i will tell you there are some very real consequences. i argue continue to build on the relationships that we have and continue to work on the pakistanis that this should be the one embarrassing moment that maybe you become more transparent and more helpful than you had been. >> but isn't that business as usual? like, okay, we don't want to slow down aid. i'm reading you. am i right? don't slow down aid, certainly don't cut off aid and say that's
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the last warning right there. >> i wouldn't say we shouldn't slow down aid. i think we should probably start holding back a little money and start improving or negotiation position in pakistan but i don't think we should cut it off. we need a lot of questions answered but i wouldn't just go in with the suggestion that you're an enemy of the united states, we're going to cut you off completely. i think that would be pretty harmful to our long-term national security interests. >> for starters, they take supplies -- that's the split route into afghanistan so we don't want to do that. but do you you a agree there needs to be a slow-down or pull-back in some of that aid in a tit for tat approach rather than here's some money -- >> first we need to see what's in the best interests of our country especially while we're in afghanistan, with our men and women in the military. the second issue that we have to deal with, did they hide bin laden? it's one of two areas. either they were incompetent as you mentioned or secondly they were complicity. we have to continue to investigate that issue. but we do need them as long as
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we're in afghanistan. another issue which is extremely important is that they have nuclear weapons. and if we -- if pakistan goes very radical, jihad type of government, that can put the whole region at risk and the united states. because they have travel areas where they can train. i think that we have to be wise in our decision here. but i think it is a time to reset our relationship with pakistan. they haven't been cooperating in the last couple of months as we'd like them to do as it deals with the issue of terrorism. i think by the fact that they are in a bad way, either they were complicity or incompetent and either one isn't good for them. this is the time to reset the relationship. >> just to button this up, do you all agree with what we've heard from various administration officials that so far, there's nothing they've been able to discover that suggests pakistan was xlos sit in hiding bin laden's whereabouts. do you agree? >> from the institutional and leadership perspective, institutional intelligence, isi,
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army and government. but i believe and i think dutch believes and i think many believe that there were elements within those organizations that may have provided them safety and at least logistical support to some degree. >> i would agree with mike on that. but there's one issue that's important to show where the relationship might be going. right after we brought bin laden to justice, the pakistanis had a raid and they were able to arrest one of the top al qaeda leaders in pakistan. that was about two or three days after we brought bin laden to justice. >> so there's been some intelligence from inside that house that clearly has helped. i wanted to turn to the general terrorist threat. first of all, there's names that we hear over and over again. one is al zawahiri, the supposed number two -- though he's not the interim leader of al qaeda. then al awlaki who we assume is hiding out in yemen. of the two of those, i assume the u.s. is targeting most, who do you most want? >> one of those. you know what we can do more
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than one thing at a time. our intelligence services ten years after 9/11 are doing some incredible work. what a committed bunch of folks. >> how about who's the most dangerous? >> i would think the al awlaki from yemen. mike and i just came back about three weeks ago from yemen. al awlaki was an american important. he knows our country. he's very smart. he's been recruiting a lot of what we call lone wolves or individuals in the united states to try to do terrorist attacks. he's been using the internet and he has a magazine that literally tries to get americans to do attacks. his focus though is united states. and that's why i think he's so dangerous. bin laden and the other leaders of al qaeda have been tied up in a lot of other areas. stak pa pakistan, afghanistan. but when it comes to the united states i think he's the most dangerous and we have to focus on him with everything that we have. the other thing i want to say, too, is that bin laden, that puts us in a great position in the world. you mentioned earlier what is
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our reputation? i think people were wondering how strong, how powerful, do we have good intelligence. well that was the best i've seen since i've been on the intelligence committee, the team work approach between the cia, nsa, special ops, all coming to the and the message must be sent out now that's clear -- if you're going to attack americans and kill us, we're going to find you and bring you to justice. >> two quick questions in our final minute. the first is, from what you know, both publicly and privately, about the strength of the taliban, the strength of al qaeda and readiness of the karzai government, is the u.s. -- will the u.s. be ready in july for a beginning of a withdrawal that is substantial? >> well, i think the details on the ground -- the ground combat conditions should dictate that. no artificial time lines should be put out there. it can be used as a rally call for the enemy. we see that they're trying to take advantage of this. they've had an increase in attacks. i would argue, this is an important -- that we have to break the back of this spring
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offensive of the taliban if afghanistan is going to be able to defend themselves and we get to come home. don't put an artificial time line on it. it might be june, it might be may. it could be july. we shouldn't -- again, i think it is very dangerous to tell the enemy this is the day you have to hold on to and then we're going to leave. >> let me turn to one of you for the final word about iraq. are you convinced enough about the stability of iraq and its ability to withstand anything iran might do to pull out the remaining u.s. forces, now some 50,000 by the end of the year. >> clearly iran is a serious issue. but as far as your question respect to iraq, i think we're in a position now to make a move. i think what we've done in iraq and what we hope to do in afghanistan is build up the stuart, build up their military, build up their intelligence units. i think we're just about there. we're going to have our intelligence people and we're going to have people on the ground there to work with them and win the hearts and minds of the people in iraq, help them get jobs, work with them on this
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oil that they have so they'll have money and cash flow to help them build infrastructure in that country. i think we've come a long way there and i think we'll be able to do what we need to do. and our intelligence will let us know. we have great intelligence, let us know if there are hotspots and problems. we'll be there to consult and assist but not with boots on the ground. >> congressman rup pechlt persb from maryland, thank you. mish daniels is out, her n mancain is with helioplex. the first sunblock designed to be applied directly to wet skin. ordinary sunblock drips and whitens. neutrogena® wet skin kids instantly cuts through water. forms a broad spectrum protective barrier. with wet skin kids, your kids have full strength sun protection. try new wet skin sunblock for adults too.
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former chief of staff for vice president joe biden, and dick armey, former republican house majority leader. thank you both for being here. so we've had some activity in 2012. newt gingrich we'll talk about a little bit later, had a not very good week but most recently, mitch daniels overnight, sent a letter out. he, governor of indiana, saying, you know what? my family can't take it. does that move the race in any way, shape or form? >> well, it is certainly a big disappointment. there are a lot of us that were talking to mitch and trying to get him to take this race on. my wife and i spent a good afternoon with him and we have about 2 million activists across the country, and frankly, we're disappointed. now obviously we have to start looking and i was just saying this morning, maybe it is time to start drafting paul ryan. >> oh, my goodness. well, there's certainly a lot of concern. we should say you have been heavily involved in the tea party movement and come from sort of that section of the
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party. let me ask you, when the white house looks at this sort of thing, is this now background noise or do they look and say, boy, mitch daniels, he's got a record, pretty good record in indiana if you're a republican. is this a plus or a minus for republicans? >> you know, candy, last time i work at the white house in the clinton years in 1996 we were certain that lamar alexander was going to be the impossible-to-beat republican nominee. think at the white house you have to be very careful not to worry too much about the other party's nominating process. you focus on what you can control which is what the president's doing, building his campaign, reconnecting with the grassroo grassroots, activating those donors, doing what he needs to do to be a good candidate in 2012. republican primary process will work out just how it works out. >> since you brought this up, let me interject here on the money chase at this point. president was out doing a lot of fund-raising and the numbers are out and the rnc has raised only about half as much money as the dnc. does that worry you in any way,
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shape or form when you look at trying to rev up the grassroots to try to change -- >> actually, in the grassroots movement we have a saying -- hard work beats damaged money. if you've got a good energetic activist group, you're much better off than money. and frankly, my observation over all the years i've been involved is politicians waste money on campaigns even as viciously as they do in governance. so quite frankly, they're better candidates if they have less money because that compels them to go out and work like real people. >> on the other hand, you want to be the person with the most money. >> look, a lot of it depends on where the money comes from. in the obama campaign in 2008 and 2012 is going to be a grassroots movement of volunteers, small dollar donors, activists and people really connecting and moving voters. it is going to be a tough campaign. i think the president goes into it very, very strong. he's done a great job but it is a very closely divided country. it was a closer campaign than
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people remember it being in 2008 and i think it is going to be a hard fight in 2012. there's no one in the white house who takes that for granted and no one in the white house who thinks this is a cakewalk. >> jon huntsman is the new kind of flavor of the week because he's -- everybody's heard a lot of talk about how republicans look at the circle of folks that they know are going to get in and they're not satisfied. jon huntsman is now toying with it. i noted he'll have lunch with the george h.w. bushes in ken kennebunkport. does that help or hurt? >> in our circles having lunch with george h.w. bush is a matter of little notice. had he been having lunch with george w. bush who initiated t.a.r.p. and got some of the blood boiling among our activists i think it would be severely noticed. jon huntsman, we don't know him well but we do know that he has a bit of a record of supporting things like t.a.r.p. and so forth and that's going to always be problematic with our
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activists. >> does it hurt him that he worked for president obama as ambassador to china? >> no. i would think most people would understand that when the president called upon him to serve the united states, we just watched a very good discussion on foreign policy and the thing that struck me was absolutely zero domestic politics in the zugs. so i think our folks are sophisticated enough to understand that you rise above politics when you deal on behalf of your country internationally. >> let me turn to you newt gingrich. because he had such a flamingly awful week, having seemed to have dissed almost every republican in the house to voted for the ryan budget. gingrich seemed to go, no w, particularly bad idea, the medicare part. but how bad a week did he have. >> newt gingrich had a bad week. the republican party had a horrible week. what you saw was there's a litmus test now in the republican party.
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you have to be for taking apart medicare to run for president. if that's going to be the enforced position of the republican party on their candidates in 2012, i think th're going to have a very, very tough campaign. >> i want to pick up on the idea of a litmus test after a quick break. when we come back, how the medicare fight will impact the 2012 race. oh, really? how? by bundling. if you get your homeowners and auto insurance together, we give you even more savings. ooh! big bundle. [ chuckling ] home and auto together. it's like peanut butter and jelly. oh, or like burgers and fries. or pickles and ice cream. unicorns and glitter! no? bundling to save you more. now, that's progressive! call or click today.
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we are back with former biden chief of staff ron klain and former republican house majority leader dick armey. i want to wrap up 2012 in this way. there is this great movement now, oh, there's nobody good in the republican race. and you, by mentioning paul ryan, seem to me to be among those, that you're not happy right now with the folks who are flirting with or who have
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already gone into the race. >> well, we've seen some signs particularly in governor pawlenty that he's willing to step up. we understand the fiscal crisis this nation and this nation's government faces is so acute that somebody's got to stand up and take on the big issues. paul ryan has done that. he's taken a ton of abuse for having the courage to do so, even from within his own party. but i have said for years -- on for example the subject of medicare. it is always a debate that's governed by republicans that don't dare and democrats that don't care. at least now we have a republican that dares. he needs to be aploweded, encouraged and his work needs to be appreciated as serious professional work. >> i want to ask a button-up question, then back to medicare. take off your joe biden democratic hat. is president obama beatable as far as you're concerned? is there a vulnerability there that should bring in big republican names? >> well, i think he's going to
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win. anything could happen in politics of course but i think you look at his record, you look at his skill as a candidate and what he's accomplished as o president, you look at what he inherited, where he's brought this country. i think president obama's going to be re-elected. but as i said before, no one in the white house takes it for granted. it is going to be a hard campaign and he's going to have to go out there and win where vulnerability, do you think, for president obama? >> right now he stands on this ground. fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me. we now know who he is. and i don't think you can sell president obama knowing who he is to this country a second time. i just don't believe he's -- >> and yet we've seen poll after poll that shows despite the fact that people think the economy's on the wrong track, who do they blame? they blame george bush. they don't blame president obama. his approval rating is still above 50%. why is that? >> it should be. the president's created 2 million new jobs in the past 14 months, more than president bush ever had.
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he's turned the economy around. he inherited a horrible problem. he's made tremendous progress on the economy, tremendous progress on jobs, tremendous progress on foreign policy. i think that's what voters see. it's a tough time in the world and a tough time at home, but the president's doing the right things. by contrast, the republicans are embracing novel and bizarre economic doctrines. there was a great piece in "politico" about tim pawlenty talking about taking us back to the gold standard. when you compare that to what the president's doing, i think that's a good place for democrats to be. >> your one response i think you'll have is that the president has spent way too much money for very few jobs. and turning to the medicare question. and that is the democrats are keen on making paul ryan's medicare proposal, which is to turn -- to subsidize people's, seniors', health care and let them go out into the private
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market and buy their own. that democrats are just determined to make that a campaign issue because it's such a killer with seniors. why isn't that a campaign issue? >> well, with the democrats, first of all, it's all about let's preserve that big-government program that keeps voting constituencies in our camp. with paul ryan, it's about how do we get a better health care for the american people? clearly the best source of health care insurance is the private sector and the economy. what paul ryan is saying, let's let everybody at all ages be free to choose to acquire their insurance or continue their insurance in the private sector. medicare was born with coercions and prohibitions that forced people into the public health care system, medicare, that didn't need to be. i'm a perfect example of it. i'm perfectly capable of having my own health insurance, that which i've had all my life except, like everybody else at the age of 65, the government --
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the law says i -- can no longer insure me as i was at 64. that's against my personal liberty as well as loading the government up with all kinds of liabilities that they can't afford and will never be able to fulfill. paul ryan is doing more to save grandma's health care than anybody i know right now because medicare is going to go bust and bring the government to going bust if it's not attended to. and he ought to be applauded. >> all the figures do show that medicare is killing us. and that it's just exponentially grows. so it is a suggestion at any rate other than, you know, let's get rid of fagraud and abuse. >> first of all, i don't think giving the seniors to lose their medicare is the freedom they want. and i think the ryan plan, the ryan budget, which gets rid of
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medicare turns into a voucher and then gives $1 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest americans is any form of coercion at all. it's just a choice to take money away from middle-class seniors and give it to the wealthy. look, medicare has worked in this country for 50 years. the idea that now we need to get rid of it and replace it and send people off to the private sector, that's a big mistake. one other thing about the ryan budget, my friend dick armey had the courage to touch defense spending. paul ryan's plan doesn't even touch defense spending. it's a series of hard right choices to push the country in the wrong direction. >> in our final moments here, congressman, has this proposal for medicare become a litmus test? it totally blew up newt gingrich's weight when he seemed to be against it. is it now the litmus test for we're going to support you or we're not? >> no. what blew up on newt gingrich was, first of all, he assailed paul ryan, the only standing
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hero that the grass-roots america has. and secondly, he came back again for mandate. people don't want the government to tell them, you must do this especially -- >> litmus test or no? a quick yes or no. >> no, it's not a litmus test. thank you so much. up next, one bright spot in what was otherwise a rough news week for marriage. to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible.
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what's the big news in priority mail flat rate boxes and envelopes from the postal service? over a billion used.
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personal pricing now on brakes. tell us what you want to pay. we do our best to make that work. deal! my money. my choice. my meineke. and finally, a story about happily ever after, or at least happily ever longer. we thought you could use one in a week that was a banner time for public men behaving badly in private. >> to find out your husband cheated and got you pregnant, that's a punch in the gut. >> reporter: the world's most talked-about accused sex
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offender, dominique strauss-kahn, known as the great seducer, he's admitted infidelity. >> one in five men in america admit to cheating. >> yikes! it's enough to make you run screaming from the altar. but no matter what they say, what you see on tv isn't always the reality, and we come bearing stats. a report released by the u.s. census this week shows marriages are now lasting longer and divorces are leveling off. over half of married couples have been married at least 15 years. 35% have hit the 25-year mark. and a lucky 6% are golden with at least 50 years of marriage. and even in politics where glory is fleeting, marriage doesn't have to be. mitt and ann romney, high school sweethearts, married for 42 years. and despite his 1976 admission of committing, quote, adultery in my heart, jimmy and rosalyn carter celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in july. the bush presidents and their first ladies married for a combined 99


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