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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  September 24, 2013 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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i'm sure jake tapper will talk about this. senator ted cruz talking on the senate floor. keep in mind, the senate taking up the vote tomorrow specifically on keeping the government funded. that's it for me. see you back here tomorrow. in the meantime, to washington we go. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. iran, syria and obama care. issues at the crux of the president's legacy. they all intersect this hour. i'm jake tapper. this is "the lead." the world lead. before now, iran's president has used the u.n. as a forum to fire off at the mouth and insult america but a new man is in office, and he may take a very different tone when he's scheduled to speak this hour. but can he be trusted? and while all eyes are on the u.n. floor, the haggling over syria's chemical weapons continues in the back room this hour. key u.s. and russian diplomats meeting to talk about a u.n. resolution again. what's the holdup here? and the politics lead. president obama has called him
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his unofficial secretary of explaining stuff. this hour, former president bill clinton will try to help him do that for obama care but what can he say to a wary, weary public that has not been said already? good afternoon. i'm jake tapper. welcome to this special edition of "the lead" in new york city. we'll begin with the world lead. a very eventful hour is ahead. it could be a defining one for the obama presidency and you will see much of it unfold here live. here's what's happening. in about 15 minutes, secretary of state john kerry will hold a bilateral meeting with the russian foreign minister, sergey lavrov as they try to hammer out an agreement on a united nations resolution that would require syria to give up its chemical weapons for good in a verifiable way. then later in the hour, president obama will join former president bill clinton onstage in new york city at the clinton foundation conference. they will reach out to the obama care doubters and those who are still confused by the health care law. they are still legion at this
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late date. meanwhile, on the subject of obama care, senator ted cruz is on the senate floor right now back in washington, d.c., after vowing to speak against the health care bill until his legs give out. also scheduled this hour, one of the week's most anticipated events, iran's new president, hassan rouhani will stand at the same podium president obama stood at just hours ago and give his first address to the u.n. general assembly. but that handshake that many were anticipating between president obama and the iranian president, well, forget it. two senior administration officials say they were open to an informal meeting between the two of them on the sidelines of the assembly but in the end, they say it was all quote, too complicated for rouhani back home, so that ain't happening. the last time an american president met with the leader of iran, saturday night fever topped the box office, 1977. optimists hope that rouhani will prove a very different leader than ahmadinejad and others from the past. previously, when iran's president has addressed the u.n.
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it's caused more walkouts than that new dance movie with chris brown, but this year, this year could be different. rouhani is considered a moderate and an insider in the iranian government. he signaled a willingness to defuse tensions with the west. going so far as to extend a hand through an op-ed in last week's "washington post." rouhani swears that iran will never develop nuclear weapons, he says, which led to president obama making this statement during his speech to the u.n. earlier today. >> we are encouraged that president rouhani received from the iranian people a mandate to pursue a more moderate course and given president rouhani's stated commitment to reach an agreement, i am directing john kerry to pursue this effort with the iranian government. the road blocks may prove to be too great, but i firmly believe the diplomatic path must be tested. >> i want to bring in congressman ed royce, republican from california and the chairman of the house foreign affairs committee. congressman, thanks for joining us. let me start by getting your
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reaction to the news that president obama will not be meeting with iran's president at the u.n. or on the sidelines of the u.n. as many had anticipated could happen. what do you think about that development? >> well, i think what will happen instead is the secretary of state will have those meetings and of course, that's just the announcement today. things could change tomorrow as rouhani checks in with the supreme leader, with the ayatollah but at this point, clearly the ayatollah has said no and ultimately, remember, the ayatollah is the one who calls the shots on the nuclear program and on diplomacy. >> president obama in his speech today said that he had ordered kerry, secretary of state kerry, to pursue a dialogue with iran. you have been rather hawkish on this issue. you have legislation with democratic counterpart pushing even tighter sanctions against iran, but surely you don't think there's a problem with kerry meeting with his counterpart to see if there is a diplomatic path out of this crisis. >> we need a path but we need a
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path in which iran agrees to give up its nuclear program, give up its enrichment, give up its weapons-making capability, and it's important we also realize why we're at this point. and that is the existing sanctions we have on iran have forced about $600 billion out of that economy over the last two years, capital flight is rampant, they have mass unemployment, very high inflation, and the bill that we passed bipartisan, 400 votes in the house of representatives into the senate, would compound those sanctions, increase those sanctions on the regime in order to try to force them to give up those weapons. i think that's why rouhani is now, you know, making these offers. i think they realize how much pressure is on their regime and we're basically giving them a chase to capitulate and compromise on their nuclear weapons program or face an implosion of their economy. >> congressman, what do you make of rouhani's public relations
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offensive? he's certainly trying to sound and seem different from ahmadinejad and his pred s predecessors. >> very clever fellow and certainly took credit during the negotiations with the europeans. his words were during that process, he was able to stretch out the negotiations and get the centrifuges spinning, get them online. so today, you've got four times as many and they're spinning four times as fast because they're much more advanced, and he takes credit for doing that. so i think -- i think that's been his past policy. what we need to do is make it very clear that we're wise to that. we know he's playing the same playbook that north korea used to get nuclear weapons, to get out from under the sanctions. so we just need to basically say look, we'll give you 100 days from the day you came into office, give up your weapons program, stop enrichment, turn
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the enriched uranium back and we'll lift the sanctions. but we have to see that action. we can't let him play us the way he played the europeans in the negotiations as he brought the centrifuges online. >> when you refer to the north korean playbook, you mean you think he's going to talk a good game, convince the west and the u.s. to give up these sanctions, to drop some of these sanctions, then he will go full steam ahead into a nuclear weapons program? >> that's right. treasury department in 2005 put sanctions on north korea that just brought everything to a halt, and unfortunately, in retrospect, we believed the offer from north korea that they would come back to the table, they were desperate to get negotiations started again, but once they got those sanctions lifted, they were able to get the hard currency to finish their nuclear program and then from there, they had the weapons they needed.
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i really think that it was a blunder for the united states not to increase those sanctions and keep them on in north korea, and i think he saw that, and saw an opportunity. i think rouhani sees an opportunity to stretch this out the same way the north koreans did without the type of debilitating sanctions that we can impose, and the bill that we just passed out of the house over a month ago that's in the senate truly would bring that economy to a halt and given what's at stake, given the fact that they're working on three stage icbms, and preparing this, you know, enriched uranium for a weapon, i think we need to make it very, very clear. >> congressman ed royce, republican, chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, thank you so much. coming up on "the lead" his first speech on u.s. soil. will iran's new president bash the united states as his predecessors did? minutes from now he'll take the podium. we'll bring it to you live. plus trying to hash out a deal, secretary of state john
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terry is meeting with his russian counterpart right now. will they finally agree on a plan to rid syria of its chemical weapons? we're outside that meeting. that's coming up next. [ male announcer ] let's say you pay your guy around 2% to manage your money. that's not much, you think. except it's 2% every year. go to e-trade and find out how much our advice and guidance costs. spoiler alert: it's low. it's guidance on your terms, not ours. e-trade. less for us. more for you. [ male announcer ] staying warm and dry has never been our priority.
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welcome back to "the lead." there is a lot going on at this hour, including as you see, texas republican senator ted cruz who is speaking and speaking against obama care. he has vowed to keep it up until his legs go out. we'll have more on that in a
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little bit. first, it was a deal that delayed an attack at least for the time being. secretary of state john kerry is meeting again with his russian counterpart, sergey lavrov, to hash out the details of their agreement to push syria's bashar al assad to give up his chemical weapons to the international community. nick paton walsh is live at the u.n. nick, what's at stake at this meeting? >> reporter: they really have to hash out the massive differences they seem to have on two key issues. how will they monitor the process of syria giving up its chemical weapons and what will the text be of a resolution that confirms the framework they have in geneva. the meeting is under way. it's kind of hard to tell with the closed door diplomacy here but lavrov has come out of the room, the two men are supposed to be meeting in, briefly and they have gone back in again. that suggests the meeting is under way. we talk about many ways the personal rapport they're supposed to have. they have a lot to get through. the russians seem to want to have the u.n. security council be the ones who make the judgment if syria is failing to comply with handing over its
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chemical weapons but the americans want the u.n. monitoring group to make that call instead. then there's the next big hurdle they have to overcome. will that resolution suggest in its text that potentially force could be used if syria doesn't comply. i understand from diplomats here there's a bit of fudge potentially in wording. they will make references to chapter 7 which would potentially authorize force if syria doesn't comply but it will also indicate another vote would be needed to work out what the measure would be against syria if syria doesn't disarm fast enough. but remarkably so far, jake, syria has been going along with the geneva frameworks timetable. they wanted to see progress and they got that at the weekend. >> nick paton walsh, thanks. keep us posted. weeks ago, president obama went to the rose garden asking for americans and congress to support military strikes against the syrian regime. today at the u.n., no such indication of any pending strike and a much different tone. the president announced the u.s.
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would be giving $340 million in humanitarian aid to syria. >> the syrian government took a first step by giving an accounting of its stockpiles. now there must be a strong security council resolution to verify that the assad regime is keeping its commitments. and there must be consequences if they fail to do so. if we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the united nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws. >> let's get some reaction now to the president's comments and this meeting between secretary kerry and his russian counterpart with a member of the syrian opposition coalition, who joins me on set here in new york. what did you make of the president's comments today at the u.n.? did he go far enough? i know you have been disappointed by the president in
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the past. you called it a failure in leadership when he basically balked and didn't strike. what did you think of today's speech? >> overall, it was positive. he emphasized the enforcement of this removal of chemical weapons. under security council resolution. we look forward to see that under chapter 7 hopefully. we would have -- i would have -- i would love to see him talk more about stopping the regime from using heavy weaponry like air force and ballistic missiles to deal with the opposition. that has not been addressed. but overall, it was a positive speech. we did like the focus on political solution, forcing the regime to go to the negotiating table and to transfer power to democratic government. >> do you think there's any chance that is going to happen, that assad is just going to willingly give power up?
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it seems to me like the international community has just backed off and said just give up these chemical weapons and we'll leave you alone. >> he will not do that voluntarily. he has to be under pressure. there must be a threat. remember that when he was threatened with military action, he surrendered what he called his strategic weapon overnight and i think with another forceful action on the part of the united states he would have to negotiate surrendering the power to democratic government. >> how much are you filled in on the dialogue between the russians and secretary of state john kerry? we understand things are not going very smoothly. there's really -- it seems like they're having a very tough time coming up with something that both sides can agree on. >> that's true, because you know, the russians have made their decision to stand by bashar. they know they will stand by the dictator. remove him and the whole thing collapses. so they are going to be
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maneuvering a lot and the regime is elusive. they are very good at trying to evade and prolong. they want to gain time so that they can punish the opposition further, hopefully -- i mean, they are hopeful that they can see surrendering. that will not happen, but that will prolong the agony of the syrian people. >> lastly, i want to give you an opportunity quickly if you would to address some of the concerns that have been raised about you in the "dallas morning news." one of the concerns the american people have about the syrian opposition is who are these people, some of them obviously have ties to terrorist groups. there have been questions about some of your friendships, your relationships. how can you assure the american people that you are on the up and up? >> well, actually, i personally have been targeted by the far right, i guess part of seeing every muslim as a dangerous person in this country. they have even targeted president obama because he had
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dialogue with us, he kept us, you know, in the loop. so i think that's their strategy. but if you go after anything they claim, it has no foundation. >> sir, thank you so much for coming in and sharing your views. coming up on "the lead" a shot at freedom. one wife's desperate attempt to free her husband from an iranian jail as she confronts the new iranian president in a new york hotel lobby. she'll tell me what happened next. and later this hour, president obama finds time in his schedule for an hour-long interview with bill clinton. what will the two presidents be talking about? we'll bring it to you live. could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. everybody knows that. well, did you know that when a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, it does make a sound? ohhh...ohhh...oh boy! i'm falling. everybody look out! ahhhhh...ugh.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. here in new york city amid the pomp and circumstance of the united nations general assembly there's a more personal story unfolding. meet a woman whose husband, a u.s. citizen, and a pastor has been imprisoned in iran for a year this week. his crime, well, he's accused of threatening iran's national security with his quote, christian faith and activities, unquote.
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she has been fighting for his release but a shift in iranian leadership has given her some hope something may finally change so she flew to new york for the u.n. meeting and found herself coincidentally staying in the same hotel as the new iranian president. yesterday she spotted his entourage with presumably him in the middle in the lobby and hand delivered a letter to his delegation from her husband written from inside his prison cell, pleading for his freedom and joining me here in new york to talk about this. tell me about this letter. first of all, it must have been strange, bizarre, to see rouhani and his delegation walking through. >> yes. i saw -- i could tell they were speaking farsi but they were securing the area. i saw a big group which i assumed rouhani was in the middle, and as i approached them, i was -- there was a few seconds of what will happen, will i get arrested, but as i approached them, i was able to
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talk to a delegation and hand the letter over to them and introduce myself and ask them if they would make sure president rouhani would receive a copy. >> you have a copy of the letter. can you read us part of the letter? >> yes. towards the end of the letter, he writes my wife and children as well as over a billion christians in the world seek god's justice in your consideration of this matter. please take immediate action in this regard and do not let me and a lot of people in my ward become the victims of the fire that extremists have made, those who have turned iran into a vortex of crisis. considering the fact i came to iran to serve the orphans, please do not let them make my children orphans and my wife without a guardian. >> basically, he's accused of proselytizin proselytizing. you deny that and he denies that but how hard has this year been for you? it must be just awful. >> yes. actually, he wasn't accused of that. his charge was undermining the
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iranian government. the basis for the charge was christian gatherings. >> i'm sorry. i was simplifying. >> it has been a very difficult year. my daughter just celebrated her seventh birthday and this is the second year without him. and she says how many more birthdays, mom. i don't know what to tell her. it's been very emotional. it's been a lonely road for all of us. i have been traveling, mostly my kids have been with people, different people taking care of them, especially my parents have helped, and you know, it's been a very emotional, very trying time, especially for them. they're 7 and 5 and they don't understand that -- >> he was sentenced to eight years in prison? >> yes. which the thought of it is horrible. we don't know if he will survive the eight years. we don't know if the iranian government would up that and just the anniversaries coming up -- >> on the 26th, i think? >> um-hum. the 26th is the one year but the second birthdays and second christmases remind us that really, the kids are growing up
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without him in our family and it's different, you know. looking back to that last year, we were together, we were a family and this year, they spent father's day alone, graduation from kindergarten, they were alone. i was in geneva speaking before the u.n. and our whole family has been torn apart physically. >> it's horrible. i want to bring in your lawyer, you and your husband are represented by the american center for law and justice and its executive director. he joins us now from washington. jordan, you have been receiving some support from the obama administration in calling for sayed's release. secretary of state john kerry put out a few statements recently. the u.s. ambassador to the u.n., samantha power, tweeted last week those missing and unjustly contained must be returned home. she's referring to two other americans being held or missing in iran. you have been working on this case since it happened, basically. do you feel like they are
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getting enough help from the obama administration? >> we did believe, thanks for having us on today, that the president, any preconditions that were set and obviously it looks like this meeting won't be happening between the president of iran and the president of the united states, should be as samantha power, our top ambassador to the u.n., tweeted must be the release of these people. obviously the meeting is not happening, but on september 26th, when those vigils are occurring across the country, people can find out about them at be heard project.com. right before coming over here, i got a note from the state department, the u.s. state department, even though john kerry will be meeting with a delegation from iran and the iranian foreign minister on this date, on thursday, the state department is sending an assistant deputy secretary of state to join our vigil here in d.c. that i'll be at. to join us at the vigil in front of the white house to pray for sayed. that is a very positive sign. i want to thank the state department. i hope secretary kerry is
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reminded of sayed when meeting with that foreign minister on thursday. >> i want to give you the opportunity right now, what would you say to president rouhani if he granted you an audience? what would you ask? >> i would say that this is the best platform for him to prove his words, that he is -- he is moderate and that he wants to bring more freedom to the iranian people, and he does want to free a lot of the political prisoners. and his relationship with the west, this would be the best avenue. recently, billy graham wrote a letter telling him the exact same thing, if you want to work, this would be the best chance for you to start working with a good relationship with the u.s. would be to release these prisoners, especially an american citizen who is imprisoned based on simple violation of human rights. really, just freedom. >> we've had you on before. i hope i don't have to have you on again.
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but if he stays in prison, we will have you on again and we will keep talking about him until he's out. >> we appreciate your coverage. thank you. coming up on "the lead," we're still waiting on the most anticipated speech of the day, the new iranian president as we have been talking about is set to take the podium shortly. does he have the support of his people back home? we will go live to tehran next. one person will miss that speech. senator ted cruz is on the senate floor and has vowed to talk about obama care until he can't stand. we will check in on him and talk about him, coming up. [ male announcer ] this store knows how to handle a saturday crowd. ♪ [ male announcer ] the parking lot helps by letting us know who's coming. the carts keep everyone on the right track. the power tools introduce themselves. all the bits and bulbs keep themselves stocked. and the doors even handle the checkout so we can work on that thing that's stuck in the thing. [ female announcer ] today, cisco is connecting the internet of everything.
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care. why? >> reporter: because he needs some help, certainly, and because americans like bill clinton quite a bit. he has high approval ratings, he's an effective messenger. he connects, and president obama really needs help explaining this program, still unpopular. you look at a recent poll, an nbc news/"wall street journal" poll from earlier this month and it asked how well do you understand the new health care law. by a ratio of more than two to one, americans who were surveyed said that basically they didn't understand it very well. so we saw clinton being the key surrogate for president obama during the election, trying to bolster his economic policies, and now you see president obama doing the same thing, looking to clinton for that, only this time on this still unpopular health care reform law that i'm sure clinton may remind people he wishes he had been able to have during his presidency. >> i believe actually it was ten years and one day ago that he introduced, president clinton introduced his failed health care law. what are we expecting at this
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event today? is it just going to be a bunch of leading questions and well, i'm glad you asked that, bill, and the kind of spoon-fed event we're expecting? >> reporter: i have been told i think that when you're dealing with former president clinton, there is certainly some unpredictability here. i am told it's going to be unscripted, but it will be actually hillary clinton introducing the two men and then you will be seeing president obama and president clinton having this discussion. i suspect you're right, there will be a lot of leading questions, but some of this is just going to be explaining things to people, because as you saw, a lot of them don't understand the program, they don't understand, for instance, that those health care exchanges where some americans will be able to purchase individual insurance policies, that those open here in a week. that's why we're seeing this ramp-up. it's also, jake, sort of the one-two punch, this is the one, two is going to be on thursday when president obama heads to maryland for a health care event to make the case again. but that's going to be more like a campaign style event.
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>> brianna keilar, thank you so much. let's bring in our political panel. editor and publisher of the nation, katrina vanden heuvel, reihan salam and maggie haberman. so nice to be in new york and see you guys in the town in which you live. maggie, what do you make of the bill clinton/president obama health care thing? is this going to be able to get out to the people and do any of this explaining stuff, as president obama hopes? >> i think to the extent that it's possible, it will, but i think there is so much noise right now. you have as we know on the senate floor, you talked about ted cruz is making his sort of play against it. hillary clinton actually stepped up today and talked about it, about two hours ago. she made a very, very impassioned speech at cgi during a panel in defense of obama care and really criticized senate republicans and house republicans in a way we haven't really heard her do in now many, many years. so i think if there's a chance of it breaking through, it's
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because both clintons are pushing it out. but no, i think ultimately there is so much noise surrounding this, people still don't understand it and i don't think this is going to make a huge difference. >> i wonder, do you think that ted cruz is helping the cause of defeating obama care, i guess it's not really officially a filibuster because the vote is going to happen no matter what tomorrow, but he's going to speak until he drops. is that helping the cause of undermining this health care bill and having it defeated or defunded or is it, as maggie refers to, noise? >> well, one thing that happened today is the "wall street journal" editorial page which has taken a leading role in the charge against obama care, issued a really harsh deannunciation of ted cruz, but what it says is that look, we'll let him do his part. if by some miracle this succeeds in convincing the president to sign something that actually undoes his central domestic policy, more power to him but it was really, really harsh, which tells us that conservatives who are staunchly opposed to obama
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care are divided over cruz's tactics. he's alienated a lot of people. i think the best case scenario for him is he makes some stunningly articulate case and maybe wins some friends in the course of that but i think he's just earned a lot of enemies on the right, the people who should be his strongest allies. >> you know what's interesting, katrina, of the opposition to obama care in the latest cnn poll, it was from may, 54% opposed, like 42% support the law. but of the 54% who oppose, 16% thought the bill wasn't liberal enough. there is this core group of progressives who don't like the bill because it didn't go far enough. it wasn't single payer or whatever. that's hurting the president's cause the a degree. he's not communicating effectively with them >> no. this bill has not been communicated to the american people effectively, but the history of social reform in this country, take social security, for example, is something flawed is passed, sure, a lot of people would like medicare for all or single payer, but a bill is
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passed and then it's built on. it's reformed. it begins to include people who were left out at the beginning like african-americans in social security. what's so interesting to me about the clinton/obama meeting today, the irony that bill clinton -- sorry, bill kristol's memo, which was we have to kill clinton's health care plan because if we don't, the middle class will see in government activism, in a government program, the security, the economic security, that they seek and they will stick with this program. what you see in ted cruz today is fear on the floor. it's fear that if this plan is passed, it will never be repealed and it will become part of the economic decency and dignity of the middle class of working people in this country. >> the fear comes from the fact that i think many people agree with you. they saw this program as something that was kind of a trojan horse, was never going to work as it was legislated, that
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the arguments made on its behalf were frankly faulty and that it was going to have to expand enormously, that it would have to lead to something like single payer for it to work. that was the anxiety and the sense there was a lot of dishonesty in selling the law. that's something i think goes to the benefit of cruz and other critics of the law as well, the idea this is a rickety structure that is going to fall apart and now you have resistance from organized labor, harshly criticizing aspects of obama care that weaken their relative position as well. i think that this could go one of two ways. the question is, will republicans unite around a real alternative and that hasn't happened yet. >> there is no real alternative. all we see is resistance. we see resistance and by the way, there is this coverage of this as if it's who's up, who's down, and lives are in the balance. this is the first opportunity both houses of congress have passed it, the supreme court has said it is constitutional, for millions of americans to have a chance, perhaps it's flawed but a chance to get some health care. i think that should not be lost. >> we are not going to settle
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that here. there are a lot of people very concerned about what it will do to employment levels and economic growth and who believe there are ways to increase insurance coverage that are going to be lower cost and more effective. >> i want to bring in maggie for one second. i think katrina makes a good point, which is the substance of the legislation, the substance of the law is kind of fallen by the wayside as the likes of you and me cover the who's saying nasty things about ted cruz and what was ted cruz like at harvard law school and that sort of thing, playing into the weaknesses of political reporters. i don't want to blame you. >> no, no, no. >> just everyone you know. but i do wonder, it is preventing or at least crowding out, this is what i mean by noise, when i used the word noise before, it is crowding out some of the coverage of things that are not great about the bill at least right now, looking at firms that are taking people, making them from full-time to part-time so they don't have to give them insurance, other steps along those lines. >> there are legitimate -- i understand katrina's point. there are legitimate concerns about implementation and this is
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what reihan is talking about. in terms of bill kristol's memo, you still hear shades of that today. when you begin any kind of social welfare program, it is hard once it is in effect to bring it back, to get people off of it. anyone will make that point. this is part of what the concern is about starting it. these are real concerns. nobody is 100% certain how this will go, even people who support this bill will say this is not a perfect bill but it does more good than harm. >> these programs are hard to reverse whether they work well or not. it's amazing when you look at the legislative history of medicare, at what they anticipated it would cost versus what it in fact cost, it's hard to imagine that people would have so blithely embraced it had they known. i think that's very well taken. but i think that's the real concern here. are we seeing history repeat itself. i think the concern that some conservatives have is that a scorched earth approach rather than offering a real viable alternative to obama care means that you're actually just going to get obama care rather than a
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real alternative. so that's where republicans failed to unite. >> last word, quickly. >> to me, the fundamental showdown is lives are in the balance but also, it's about the role of government in our lives, creating a more fair, decent country and one with less inequality. we should be talking about expanding not entitlements but programs like social security, medicare which are social rights, at a time when poverty is rising and inequality is growing. >> thank you so much. we didn't have time to get to international affairs. stay here. a lot more to talk about. [ thunder crashes ] [ female announcer ] some people like to pretend a flood could never happen to them. and that their homeowners insurance protects them. [ thunder crashes ] it doesn't. stop pretending. only flood insurance covers floods.
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welcome back to "the lead." returning to our world lead, when you think of an iranian
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leader taking the mic at the united nations you tend to picture something like this. u.s. delegates so turned off by the propaganda being spewed that they pack up their things and leave. that's what happened back in 2010 when the last iranian president blasted america and israel with the global gathering but there's a new sheriff in town and he's pledged to usher in a new era of u.s. and iranian relations. i guess we'll see. let's go live now to tehran. in the u.s., all eyes have been on president rouhani, what he says and does at the u.n. how closely are the iranians tuned in to all of this? >> reporter: they are watching this very closely and they're watching it with optimism. in fact, we haven't felt this much optimism in iran in a very long time. remember, the iranian population is one of the most sophisticated and educated populations in the region. they know that they have a lot to gain if u.s./iranian relations improve and the source
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of their optimism has been their new president, hassan rouhani, which remarkable is that he's only been in office for about eight weeks but consider what he's done in those eight weeks. he's become pen pals with president obama, exchanging letters. he's pushed for better relations with the u.s. he's released scores of political prisoners and his office has even tweeted happy new year to the community -- the jewish community in the world. so the big issue that remains is the nuclear program. what's encouraging a lot of people is iranian leaders are signaling that they're prepared to make concessions, they signaled that perhaps they're willing to suspend uranium enrichment at 20% which would seemingly make it impossible for them to make a bomb. they also signaled the possibility of accepting broader inspections of their military facilities but naturally, they want something in return. they want to be treated as equals. they want the rights to enrich uranium and obviously, they want an easing of those tough economic sanctions.
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will that happen? it's not clear at this point but there's certainly a lot of hope and optimism that these two countries will get together and improve relations after a very long time. >> thank you so much. wolf blitzer took "the situation room" to the united nations. we're about to hear from the iranian president. tell me, you have covered -- i think you covered some of these when it was the league of nations. tell me how important you think this speech is in particular compared to previous speeches from middle eastern leaders. >> i think this will be indicative of whether or not he wants to continue a more olive branch tone, shall we say, little bit more flexibility, little more moderation than ahmadinejad, his immediate predecessor. we all knew what he was going to say long before he said it. there's a certain degree of mystery now. what is he going to say, this new president of iran. i think that's driving up the interest in this whole potential shift in u.s./iranian relations. as you know, you have been
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reporting, there was no handshake, no meeting, no encounter between president obama and president rouhani, but they're both leaving it hoopen r down the road and there will be a meeting thursday between secretary of state john terry and the iranian foreign minister so things are happening. let's see which direction it moves. we will have live coverage of rouhani's speech and as you know, the president of the united states is going to be having a conversation with the former president, bill clinton. they will be introduced by hillary clinton. not every day you see this kind of get-together. they will be talking about obama care, where we go from here. we'll have a lot coming up in "the situation room." >> coming up in "the situation room" just about eight minutes away. thanks so much. the current president is sitting down with his predecessor, bill clinton to talk about his signature piece of legislation, obama care. meanwhile, senator ted cruz still on the senate floor, speaking until his legs fail him, trying to stop it. stay with us. [ male announcer ] what?! investors could lose
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much going on right now in this hour. just take a look. we have the liberian president speaking at the u.n. we're waiting for the iranian president to come. we also have president bill clinton and president barack obama at the clinton global initiative. any second they will be interviewing one another about health care. then senator ted cruz on the senate floor speaking against obama care, all coming up right now. stay with us. anncr: expedia is giving away a trip every day. where would you go? woman: 'greece.' woman 2: 'i want to go to bora bora.' man: 'i'd always like to go to china.' anncr: download the expedia app and your next trip could be on us. expedia, find yours.
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welcome back to "the lead." we are monitoring three major events at this hour. we'll be waiting to hear iran's president speak for the first time at the u.n. general assembly. that's the president of liberia there. meanwhile, president obama just arrived at the clinton global initiative. where he will sit down with former president clinton in an effort to sell obama care. they're showing a clip in the middle. that's the clinton global initiative thing at the clinton foundation summit in new york. on the right of the screen, you see -- that's appropriate, i suppose, on the right of the screen, senator ted cruz, republican of texas, still going on the senate floor in an effort to suck the funding out of the health care law. let's bring back our panel.
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you guys are so good, we made you stay to give us your closing thoughts on these events of the day. maggie, i'll start with you. ted cruz, the significance of this, if anything. >> the significance of this i think is you're seeing republicans in d.c. who are much more concerned about preserving their own brands than worrying about the larger republican brand. this is not bad for ted cruz back home in texas. >> it's fantastic. >> pretty good for ted cruz back home in texas but this is very problematic for national republicans and congressional republicans who do not want to be dealing with this right now. >> i want to go to you two quickly, about 20 seconds each on rouhani. what are you looking for? >> the lelection of a moderate iranian president is an opportunity for the u.s. to engage iran. it is in the u.s. national security interest to do so. it will lead to more diplomacy, political settlement is the real best way to reset u.s. engagement with the middle east. >> you have faith in him. >> no, i don't have faith. i go back -- >> you have hope? >> i go back to what reagan said
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about gorbachev in 1985. i don't say trust but verify but i say test, test the resolve and what is the alternative? what is the alternative to diplomacy? war with iran would be apocalypse now in the middle east and would endanger the very interest we are trying to resolve through political settlement. iran will be an ally in trying to resolve syria, too. >> rreihan, we have to have you back. hillary clinton is introducing the president. of course, we'll have you on again soon. here is former secretary of state hillary clinton. >> they're both left-handed. they both love golf, a game that does not often reciprocate the love they put into it. they both are fanatic sports fans and go to great lengths to be in front of the tv or on the side of the court or the field. they both are master politicians, each of

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