tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC January 21, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
with lawrence donnell." turns out just yesterday, two women, republican women in the house of representatives withdrew their co-sponsorship of the bill. i had a great script written for this in the show, which we now have to throw out, because it's breaking news. >> fascinating development. >> thank you, rachel. and also in tonight's show, the real work of normalizing relations with cuba will begin tomorrow in havana. >> this new era begins today. >> the historic day in cuba. >> assistant secretary of state roberta jacobson. >> begin negotiations tomorrow
to normalize relations. >> when what you're doing doesn't work for 50 years, it's time to do something else. >> what we're doing with respect to cuba is not a reward for anything.
>> hoping it will pave the way for
secretary of state kerry to come. >> i look forward to traveling to cuba. >> it's unlikely the embargo will be lifted any time soon. >> there is a lot of history to overcome. >> we are ending policy that was long past its expiration date. >> what we keep hearing is "hope." >> we've been waiting for this. >> assistant secretary of state roberta jacobson arrived in cuba to begin talks tomorrow on normalizing relations with cuba. she will discuss opening a cuba embassy in washington, d.c. and american embassy in havana, as well as banking issues, mail service and expanding trail between the two countries. >> with cuba, we are ending a
policy that was long past its expiration date. [ applause ] >> the president, of course, does not have the legal authority to fully dismantle the united states embargo on cuba,
which was finally actually signed into a law by president bill clinton in one of the most misguided and weakest moments of the clinton presidency. because completely removing the embargo requires legal action, just one senator, like florida republican marco rubio, might be able to stop that. last night the president asked congress to do the right thing. >> when what you're doing doesn't work for 50 years, it's time to try something new. [ applause ] and our shift in cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere. it removes a phony excuse for restrictions in cuba, stands up
for democratic values and extends a hand of friendship to the cuban people. this year congress should work on ending the embargo. >> a governing majority
requires 60% and 60% of the american public is with the president on this one. joining me now from havana is amon. what are you anticipating tonightsome >> reporter: it was a big day here today in cuba. with the arrival of this american delegation, the highest level of delegation to arrive in cuba for 38 years. today, what they were talking about is sort of the normal migration talks that exist on an ongoing basis. tomorrow, they get into the nitty gritty of renormalizing relations and whether american diplomats can travel here and whether or not the united states can reopen its embassy here,
which has been closed since the '60s. >> there was that sort of appendage to the story where a russian spy ship, as we call it, found its way into havana -- harbor. >> reporter: it was a spy ship not too far from where we're sitting. we went over there to take a look at it. it is a soviet era 1980s russian navy ship. it's here on active duty. the russians say it's here not to send any particular signal. they're not trying to step on the u.s. visit to cuba. we went to try to get on the ship and talk to the sailors. security stopped us there. but it looked like a normal day there on the ship. we saw the russian sailors meeting with members of their family who had flown in from russia to visit them. a lot of them have been out to sea for a year or more. this is the first time for the
families to be reunited with their loved ones on board. obviously, it went very well noticed here in havana that the russian ship was here. >> before you go, you're reporting for cnbc. of course, you have a lot of knowledge of what's going on in the business community's reaction. >> reporter: american business wants access to the cuban market, particularly in the travel and tourism sectors. a lot of americans who want to come down here. as of now, there are 12 categories opened for american travelers. a lot of those categories weren't open before. we could be talking about billions of dollars of new business for american and cuban businesses. i can tell you with the level of poverty that you see on the ground here in havana, they need some influx of capital here pause there's a lot of improvement that needs to be made here in havana. >> joining us now, congressman
peter welch. congressman welsh, what is your reaction to what the president had to say last night? >> i think it was great. senator rubio may not like normalizing relations, but the cuban people are really excited. we spent 2 1/2 days walking around cuba, interacting with cubans and they where are so excited. they saw our cuban-american lapel pin and came up to talk to us. the opponents are say thing is a reward to castro. this is a threat to castro. you have trade, you have travel, you have transportation, you have interaction, open internet. this is the dynamic that has to get going in order for the cuban people to have a shot at opening
up that society and having a more democratic government. i can see why senator rubio is against it. but the cuban people are quite excited about it. >> and why now -- you know the castro approach to government, having spent real-time with fidel, why did the castro brothers come around now? >> because they had to. they had no choice. their biggest ally is venezuela, which the president is in a very wobbly condition there. they didn't know if they had years, months or even weeks with venezuela, which provides a huge economic subsidy to the island of cuba. 100,000 barrels of oil every day. and the laundry list goes on and on which they have helped them
with. china, not available to be a patron. the russian ruble, you know, collapsing. this is an economic necessity. that doesn't mean it's not the right thing for america to do after 50 years, as president obama said of doing one thing that hasn't worked out, you might want to try something else. but in terms of the castros, and i think they made that clear by making sure there was a soviet spy ship in the harbor on the very day, they made it clear they are reluctant partners. they have resisted this, contrary to conventional wisdom, for some time, because there are -- there are questions of, you know, what will this do to the reign of the castros, serious questions. >> so ann, you don't see the spy ship as a coincidence? >> oh, no, absolutely not. nothing that happens in cuba and with the castro family is coincidence. everything is carefully choreographed. certainly nothing of that scale. it's just to say look, guys, at
the negotiating table, if this doesn't work out with us today, remember we still have the russians very interested. we have their spy station literally on the island, which is very capable of surveilling the united states to a certain extent. and they're sending a signal. now, look, both sides have indicated on day one that they're tamping down expectations. roberta jacobson said look, we're restoring. we're reestablishing diplomatic relations, but we are not normalizing, which she said is going to be a very long process. and the cubans on their side said look, don't think for a minute that this is going to change the status quo with our government. we are run by the communist party and that is the way it's going to be. so both parties said they day one, you know, be ware.
this is the hard part. tomorrow is going to get harder. they each have a list of what they want, and we'll see by the end of the day what is achieved. it's exciting. >> congressman, to restore diplomatic relations, we're going to need an embassy and ambassador. obviously you need to confirm an ambassador, but what other legislative action is necessary for that? does it have to be a specific appropriation for that embassy in havana? >> we have a big building, we have the residents of our resident agent down there, who would be called the ambassador if we had normalized relations. so we have property, it's not a big deal there, but it's much more a political deal here. the fundamental question for us is whether we think hands off the policy of nonengagement is
going to work or the policy of engagement is going to create a dynamic that gives the cuban people more of a shot at changing their own government. and the castros, they are tough. they have no interest in relinquishing power. when we were there with senator leahy, good friend who has done a lot, we were expecting a meeting with raul castro. that was canceled when we told him we were meeting with cuban dissidents in advance. so they had this reaction to the mere fact that we wanted to hear from all sides. this is not about us trying to do regime change, it's trying to give the cuban people more access to information and some of the tools they need and economic opportunity that may help them make determinations about their own future. >> ann, what about the reaction in florida among the cuban community in florida? >> it's mixed. it's generational.
the younger generation, the newer, you know, cubans to florida are very enthusiastic. the older generation tends to be very either unhappy or wary. although everybody is exhausted by a half century cold war. so there is this tremendous cuba or fidel fatigue, as it were. but yes, certain of these items like getting an ambassador is going to require congress. we have eight members of congress who are definitely not going to be helpful in any way. we have three cuban-american senators, any which can put on a hold. so i don't -- you know, i think there's going to be a lot of change in cuba. immediately, you have a huge amount of money flooding into cuba right away from people sending remittances.
but yeah, there's going to be a lot of tough work to do in washington. >> thank you both very much for joining me tonight. coming up, republican paul ryan says he agrees with president obama word for word on at least one part of the president's state of the union address. and we have breaking news tonight from the house of representatives where the speaker has decided to abandon plans for a debate and vote on a restrictive abortion bill tomorrow because of the opposition of republican women in the house of representatives. music: melodic, calm music. hi, this is jennifer... ... i will be out of the office until monday... ... and won't be checking voicemail during this time. i'll reply just as soon as i get back to work.
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>> after the speech, president obama took questions. this is if first question, i can has obamacare? that's not a good question. pro, obama entered the room to the song "hail to the chief." con, biden entered to "cotton eyed joe." ♪ >> coming up, breaking news from the house of representatives. republicans have pulled a restrictive abortion bill. they're not going to have a vote on that tomorrow after a revolt from women in the republican party in the house of representatives.
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♪ we still may not agree on
a woman's right to choose, but surely we can agree that it's a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows and every woman should have access to the health care she needs. >> breaking news tonight. the house of representatives has just canceled a debate and vote tomorrow on a very restrictive abortion bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. the vote was scheduled for tomorrow, but several conservative members, female members of congress, thought the bill was too extreme. and yesterday, two co-sponsors oh of that bill did this. >> for what purpose does the gentlelady speak recognition? >> i speak to remove myself as a co-sponsor.
>> mr. speaker, i ask consent to remove myself from hr-36. >> without objection. >> joining me now, david axelrod, former senior adviser to president obama, and molly redden. david, that's a very surprising moment on the inner of the house of representatives when anyone gets up there and withdraws co-sponsorship. earlier tonight, when i was preparing this segment before the announcement that they weren't going to vote, i thought that was an ominous signal. it turns out it was enough apparently. but did they represent two votes or 20 or 50 votes? it turns out they represented enough to stop this bill tomorrow. >> yeah, now we know. what strikes me is how much things have changed in just ten weeks. ten weeks ago, we were sitting together in the republican
caucus was triumphant, giants on the landscape, on the political landscape and the president was in retreat. now the president is resurgent and this new republican congress has gotten out of the gates very badly. this is just another example of it. a big problem on the immigration bill, now this bill dropped because once again, they mishandled the issue of rape, even in the eyes of conservative women in their caucus. and it's almost as if they're doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. really, a stunning development tonight. >> molly, you've been reporting on the developments of this bill. what was it that the republican women had problems with in this bill? >> well, the comments that they made, they had problems with the rape exception as david said. the bill would require women, in order to get an abortion under circumstances of rape, to first report her assault to law enforcement officials and
republican women thought that was just too restrictive. they know a lot of women who are raped never come forward to the police, and they would really be in dire straits. privately to their caucus, they spoke out about how is this going to look? let's think very carefully what sort of message this will send to voters. i think that's an interesting contrast. i'm sure they believe both are very true. >> david, tomorrow is the, i believe, 42nd anniversary of roe versus wade, the supreme court decision legalizing abortion in this country. every year on that day, the halls of congress are filled with petitioners, kind of grassroots lobbyists going to members of congress, going to senators, their senators, members of congress, lobbying against legal abortion in this country.
every year, congress does nothing about it, including the republican congressmen who swear that's why they got elected, to do something about it. that vote tomorrow was supposed to be that symbolic something. this would have never made it to a vote in the senate. they couldn't have gotten by a filibuster by democrats. so it was a purely symbolic act and now it turns out the republicans aren't capable of that. >> well, look, they have a huge problem, and it shows up every presidential election cycle, which is they have driven off young people, they have driven off women voters in large numbers. they have driven off hispanic voters in large numbers. as i said before, they seem intent on compounding all of those problems in the first weeks of the -- of this congress. if i were a candidate running for president on the republican side, this is my worst
nightmare, which is i've got to live with this republican congress that's dominated by far right voices. once again, defining the republican party in ways that are unhelpful to them. you know, i think they've got a big problem, and clearly have misread their own caucus. lawrence, you're a veteran of the hill. the notion that this bill could get as far as it got, with all the problems they had within the caucus, that nobody thought to stop it before it became a public embarrassment speaks to real mismanagement of the caucus. these guys are like the dog that caught the car. they're in charge before with a caucus larger than ever before and they seem befuddled by it. >> i'm not one who has been critical of john boehner in the
past having to take down bills, like budget bills where he knows he has to test his caucus and see what they're willing to vote for. and that's always -- i've always seen that as boehner enroute to getting something through that they need to get through in terms of budget stuff. this was a pure symbolic vote and to not get the count right on that, or to not see this coming says something about what this republican leadership is able to even understand about its own caucus. >> yeah. it's a really astonishing turn of events. they weren't whipping up votes exactly for this bill. there were early signs that they understood some of the issues with this. at the same time, so many of their conservative members really went to the mat for this legislation in debates as they were getting elected in these last elections. and so there's just this real schism between the people who
are really counting on these symbolic votes. then people who just realize that it's the wrong turn for the party. even representative elmers doesn't seem to fully understand some of the issues with this bill. she said that it might be worth avoiding a vote on this, because younger voters, they don't feel too strongly about social issues. and that is just wildly incorrect. polls have consistently shown that younger voters feel a lot more strongly about abortion access and reproductive rights than other age groups, as other age groups shift to the right on this issue. so even the more moderate voices are still fundamentally misreading the wrong turns their party has made. >> molly redden, thank you very much. and david axelrod, stick around. we're going to need your
guidance on another subject. coming up, speaker john boehner was not happy with senator joni ernst's replay to the president's state of the union address, so he's asked israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu to give his reply to the state of the union address. i've been called a control freak... i like to think of myself as more of a control... enthusiast. mmm, a perfect 177-degrees. and that's why this road warrior rents from national. i can bypass the counter and go straight to my car. and i don't have to talk to any humans, unless i want to. and i don't. and national lets me choose any car in the aisle. control. it's so, what's the word?... sexy. go national. go like a pro. tonight, every dish came out of the cupboard. literally. can this mess be conquered by a little bit of dawn ultra? yes. one bottle has the grease cleaning power of two bottles
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shadow of crisis has past and the state of the union is strong. [ applause ] >> a new poll shows that 49% of americans approve of president obama's handling of the economy. that is the highest that number has been since he won re-election in 2012. today, president obama traveled to idaho where he continued to make the case for middle class economics. >> here's where we're starting in 2015. our economy is growing, our businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. our deficit has been cut by 2/3. our energy production is booming. the verdict is clear -- the ruling on the field stands. [ laughter ] middle class exhibition works. expanding opportunities works. these policies that will keep on
working as long as politics in washington doesn't get in the way of our progress. >> this morning, one republican congressional leader found himself in complete agreement with president obama, on only one point. >> i agree with every word he said with respect to trade and asia and writing the rules instead of china writing the rules. the president is in the middle of negotiationing a trade agreement with asian nations. this is something we have to get on top of and i agree with him on that. >> joining me now is former secretary of labor robert reisch, and also rejoining us is political analyst david axelrod. robert, here we go again with the issue of expanding trade and trade relations in congress, and
the political dynamics seem very similar to the way they were the last time under president clinton this happened on nafta and the world trade agreement. stronger, clearer republican support than democratic support. >> absolutely, lawrence. the reason paul ryan said he agreed with the president is because this is very much on the republican agenda. they do want this so-called transpacific trade agreement. they want it with a fast-track trade promotion authority so nothing can be amended. many democrats are worried it will create more outsourcing of jobs abroad but also it will allow global corporations to attack american regulations, health, safety, and environmental regulations as been nontariff barriers. and that will basically not be a middle class economic agenda, that will hurt the middle class. >> david axelrod, i worked for a united states senator that was
opposed to nafta back in those days when it was passing, and i noticed something about the phenomena of trade in our politics. there is presidential position on international trade and it doesn't make any difference which party the president belongs to. they look at international trade the same way, including no matter what they said during the campaign about international trade. how does that dynamic work, that presidents of each party adopt the same attitude toward international trade? >> look, i think that part of it is the evolution of our economy. when you look at the direction of the world, the influence of china in particular, there is a pull toward trying to do something to make sure that we remain competitive for markets around the world, particularly in that region.
and that's i'm sure is what is motivating the president. here we're becoming a much smaller world, lawrence. you know this better than i, that there are economic pressures forcing us in this direction. but i also think that for the reasons that bob said, for the reasons that pat moynihan opposed the treaty, there's a special burden on the administration and the president to say why is this different? what kinds of protections are built into this treaty that was allay the concerns that people have had in the past? and they need to be involved in a very, very aggressive effort to make that case, because otherwise, i think a lot of democrats are going to walk on them. >> yeah, i'm wondering how different it is, you were secretary of labor when president clinton was moving those two trade bills, nafta and the world trade agreement. on the democratic side, there's always talk about the
environmental and labor side agreements to these deals. ultimately under president clinton, the democrats voted against it, but they did not strenuously work to kill it. even senator moynihan was chairman of the committee, he brought it up and simply voted no but did not try to block it. do you think this will be different this time with the democrats? >> it may be different, lawrence, because unlike the nafta, this transpacific trade agreement really is focusing less on tariffs and more on what are called nontariff barriers, those are regulations like health, safety, and environmental regulations that could get in the way of trade if a global company said, for example, the united states environmental regulations make it very difficult for us to get our goods into the united states, because our goods are -- well, they degrade environmentally, and they're very bad for the environment. you see, under the transpacific
trade agreement, you have this separate tribunal set up outside any nation's legal system that can pass judgment on those kinds of health, safety, and environmental regulations. with nafta, we didn't have anything like that. nafta was a hard sell for democrats notwithstanding. in retrospect, they were not nearly strong enough. >> let's listen how democrats talk about international trade when they're running for president. let's hear president obama when he was a candidate. >> i would immediately call the president of mexico, the president of canada to try to amend nafta, because i think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now and it should reflect the basic principles that our trade agreements should not just be good for wall street, it should also be good for main street.
>> hillary clinton said basically the same thing when she was running, but president obama, when elected, never made that phone call and never talked about nafta again. >> when he was negotiating treaties, lawrence, subsequent treaties, he did insist on provisions that weren't in nafta. but you're right, when you're the president of the united states and you're looking at the -- the competitive position of american business and industry, you have a different perspective than when you're running for president. and i think it's fair to say that the environment, in a democratic primary, is generally hostile to trade. i know that obama had concerns about trade, but i never heard him say we shouldn't do treaties. i never heard him say we should be opposed to agreements ever.
and his point was that we should get better deals. now it's incumbent on him to make the case to the country that this is a better deal. >> and robert reich, president obama is not having what they call fast-track authority is really disarmed on trade. it used to be a standard tool for all presidents to have this negotiating authority. there's nothing particularly fast about the track, it just allows for a reliable negotiation between countries. >> yes, and the trade promotion authority that the president is seeking here would allow this -- it's almost fast track and still allows the measure to go through without amendment. one thing that a lot of democrats are worried about is they don't know exactly what is in the bill. i've given you what has been leaked from the bill or from i should say the draft negotiation. nobody knows what is in it.
it has been negotiated with big business and wall street lobbyists at the table. so a lot of people are nervous. it's not just democrats who are nervous, a lot of economic populists on the republican side, some people call them tea partiers, they are also nervous about big business having too much of a voice setting the terms of the transpacific trade agreement. >> go ahead, david. >> i was just going to say there have been consultations with labor and others on these treaties. it would be hard to imagine that democrats would say we're going to deny this president the same authority every other president has been given. >> i think that's right. i think if the president can sell the transpacific trade agreement to the public, then he's probably going to have to be clearer about what is in it. and the public has got to have confidence that actually it is
going to improve middle class exhibition rather than cost jobs and also jeopardize our health, safety, and environmental regulations. >> we need more time for this. i hope you can both come back. thank you both for joining me tonight. coming up, a hero emerged from the terrorist massacre in paris. a muslim hero. and he's now a french citizen. that's in the rewrite. ameriprise asked people a simple question: in retirement, will you have enough money to live life on your terms? i sure hope so. with healthcare costs,
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in the rewrite tonight, a hero of the paris terror attacks is now a real french hero. lassana bathily arrived in france as a 16-year-old muslim immigrant. he's now 24 years old. on january 9th, he was working in the stock room of the kosher supermarket when a terrorist burst in and started shooting. lassana bathily risked his own life to save others. secretary of state john kerry recounted his heroic actions last week in paris. >> french mothers and fathers will long tell their children and grandchildren that in these days that followed the horrors of january 7th, ordinary men and women became heroes at a moment's notice.
no doubt, you will tell them about lassana bathily, a muslim man from mali, who risked his life to save jewish customers at the market. when he heard the gunman break into the store, he didn't think of himself or his own safety. he helped more than a dozen customers hide downstairs in the stock room's cooler. he got word to the police, and in doing so, he saved lives. asked why he did it, lassana said simply, we are brothers. it's not a question of jews or christians or muslims. we are all in the same boat.
we have to help each other to get out of the crisis. >> after the terrorist attack, more than 300,000 people signed an online petition to grant lassana bathily legal status in france. his application was immediately expedited and yesterday, the french prime minister presented him with his french passport. he also received a letter from the french president and medal for his bravery. lassana bathily said he's not a hero, and though he's proud to become a french citizen, the event is bittersweet, because his friend and co-worker was killed in the attack.
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on this day, in 1977, on his second day in office, president jimmy carter granted unconditional pardons to the men who evaded the draft during the vietnam war by either failing to register with the selective service system or fleeing to another country. an estimated 100,000 american men fled the country from the 1960s until 1973, when the draft ended. with a majority of those people going to canada to avoid the draft. they contributed mightily to the pressure to both end the draft and end that war. their contribution to making peace in vietnam, to getting americans out of vietnam has never and will never be properly recognized. we'll be right back.
mmm, a perfect 177-degrees. and that's why this road warrior rents from national. i can bypass the counter and go straight to my car. and i don't have to talk to any humans, unless i want to. and i don't. and national lets me choose any car in the aisle. control. it's so, what's the word?... sexy. go national. go like a pro. a departure from protocol, that was the phrase used today to describe house speaker john boehner secretly inviting the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu to be the next person to stand where president obama stood last night addressing a joint assembly of the house and senate. it was news to the white house today when speaker boehner announced that netanyahu would be addressing congress on february 11th. normally invitations for foreign heads of state to address
congress are issued with the full cooperation of the president and congressional leaders. but not this time. >> did you consult with the white house before inviting prime minister netanyahu? and secondly, is this just a way to poke the president in the eye on an issue like iran when you know he very much opposes what he wants to do? >> i did not consult with the white house. the congress can make this decision on its own. i don't believe i'm poking anyone in the eye. there is a serious threat that exists in the world, and the president last night kind of papered over it. and the fact is, there needs to be a more serious conversation in america about how serious the threat is, from radical islamic jihadists and the threat posed by iran. >> joining me now, director of
the new international project. phyllis, it seems that john boehner's unsatisfied with the republican response from the state of the union address delivered last night by joni ernst officially and enunofficially by rand paul and a bunch of other republicans doing tea party responses. so now the next response will actually be right where the president stood last night and lit be benjamin netanyahu. what do you expect to hear? >> what we're going to hear goes beyond the partisan side. this is partisan here at home where boehner is trying to undermine obama's initiative, particularly when president obama said specifically that he would veto any new legislation calling for new sanctions against iran. it's not only about the partisan side in israel, where this is clearly also designed to shore up netanyahu's chances in the march elections in israel. but this is much more urgently involved with the political essence of the question of the negotiations with iran.
those negotiations are going forward. there are two deadlines coming. there's a march 1st and july 1st deadline. and what i think president obama back recognizing but not saying as explicitly as he might, those who want new sanctions in iran are supporting war. that's what he's going to hear from benjamin netanyahu. he's going to hear there needs to be new sanctions, there should be no deal with iran. there is no deal that we could accept, and i think it's a very dangerous move, because this is really about the divergence between the policy of the united states and the policy of israel, where there is some real difference. this is not what secretary of state kerry said yesterday, last night when he said there is no difference between the u.s. and israel on what we want to accomplish.
we all want to prevent iran from getting nuclear weapons. the problem is, that is not the israeli position. that is the u.s. position. the israeli position is, we will not allow iran to have the capacity to ever get a nuclear weapon sometime in the future, if they ever decided to, which u.s. intelligence officials have been unanimous in saying they have not made any such decision. but that's a very different so-called red line. israel says they will not be allowed to have the capacity. the u.s. says we will not allow them to do it. there's a vast gap between those two, and what we're seeing is that netanyahu and his office, his ambassador here, ron dermer has been lobbying congress directly, this was in a newspaper in israel today, that there is a direct lobbying campaign by the israeli prime minister to convince members of congress to vote directly against what president obama
says our foreign policy should be. obama shoots for the history books. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. like a ball player shooting from beyond the three-point line, president obama gave it his best for history. he laid out his legacy, what he believes he's done and still wants to do with the time left, with what power he can send to his successors to do. well, we know some of it, the historic economic recovery, since w's financial disaster in 2008, the health care program, his support for marriage equality, the climate deal with
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